So I (Lindsey) recently found out that yet another person I know may be facing divorce in the near future due to infidelity and other marital issues. It broke my heart. Though we may not be as close as we once were, it tears me up to see yet another family broken by yet another of society’s lies. The lie I’m talking about this time is that the marital problems you are facing are because of the person you are with and that someone new will be better for you and easier to get along with. This societal myth is the farthest thing from the truth.
We have learned to see divorce as being the easy way out. Its the quick fix all, solve all of my problems with the signing of one piece of paper, and finding our new “meant to be” is icing on the cake. Divorce, however, can never be the easy way out because it is not what God intended for spouses or families. While God is still fully capable of blessing a road that divorce has become a part of, things don't just magically get better and many of the problems that were had in a first marriage are sure to resurface in another.
In Matthew 19 the Pharisees tried to make Jesus stumble over his words and direct the people falsely, but Jesus being God, knew the intent of the marriage covenant and stated plainly the direction God has for marriage. The conversation went like this, Matthew 19: 3-9
Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
“Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”
People often look at some of the rules of the old testament and believe that it was misdirected or that our believing in the bible is ludicrous because of the laws of a time generations ago, but Jesus plainly tells us that some of if not most of the levitical laws were created only as a concession to our hard hearts. Even then, we were a selfish people who wanted instant gratification and to step outside of God’s plan. While divorce may have been permitted by law one can assume that a law developed due to hardened hearts was not without its consequences. We can see many of them still today. Broken families, children who are left feeling abandoned, children who are left feeling like they have to choose one parent over another, custody battles, broken hearts, pieces of intimate lives that were intended for one person now being shared with another, the baggage that comes from having given yourself wholly to someone for many years and then trying to give the same gift to someone else, developing a parental relationship with children who already have two parents, displacing children and making them feel as if a new family is being chosen over the old family that they loved.
These conflicts are very real, and some form of them follows every person who has been a party in divorce. We rarely see this end of things when we are in the midst of it though, especially when we have already found ourselves in the honey moon stage of a new relationship with someone else. Life feels freer, easier. We get so caught up in thinking that the conflict in our marriage belongs only to us, that other people with “healthy” relationships, those that are with the one they are really supposed to be with don’t have to deal with this hard stuff. They don’t know what is like to be in constant conflict, to argue over every little thing when absolutely none of it is the real issue. This is the point where we start comparing everyone else’s highlights reel with our every day in the throws of it life, and this is the point where we become so self-focused that we get it all wrong.
Now my husband and I have never filed for divorce. We have never gone through any real battles with infidelity, but we have been in the trenches of battle and have felt like the only way out was divorce, going so far as to develop a custody agreement so that the divorce process would be as quick and inexpensive as possible. We have had arguments that even now if dwelt upon bring back anger and doubt that would still have its hold on me without the Lord’s guidance and example of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. So many times in the midst of these horribly hard periods I would look enviously at those around me with “perfect” relationships or at those who were getting to just begin a relationship in all its fresh and perfect newness, and I would think that I was alone. That something must obviously be so broken in our relationship if we can’t even go a day without an argument exploding. As the years have passed in my marriage, and we have made it through some pretty rough patches, as well as some pretty amazing highs, I have come to realize that this pattern of ups and downs is not something I was ever alone in. I don’t just mean God being with me either (though that is an important realization), I mean that “Love” is a battlefield. Every day we wake up next to our spouse, whether its a good day or a bad day, we have a choice to make. We can choose to stand next to our spouse, honoring not the “contract” that we signed when we got married, but the oath we made to our spouse and to our God that means forever. We can choose to face the battlefield of a lifelong commitment in this self-serving world holding the hand of our partner in crime or we can choose to believe the lie that says they weren’t ever really our “meant to be” and we must have gotten it wrong.
Unfortunately, the above choice takes two people and sometimes divorce does happen whether you want it to or not. Every divorce situation is different and as even Jesus stated, divorce was given as an option for hardened hearts. I truly believe that the hardened heart does not always refer to those who initiate a divorce or pursue one through to completion without their spouses agreement. Those with hardened hearts may be the spouse who wants to hang onto a relationship yet refuses to acknowledge wrong doing or to continue to pursue a relationship with another person. The hardened heart may belong to the spouse who sees no need for change in order to have reconciliation, but instead wants their wrong doings overlooked so that may have "the best of both worlds". No matter what the situation, divorce is hurtful to both parties in many deep and scarring ways even if in the midst of things they are unable to see it.
To those who may be facing a divorce that is not of their choosing (either because their spouse is choosing to leave or because their is a refusal to change and find reconciliation), I encourage you to pray diligently for your spouse. You may not ever see any results in your relationship with them, but prayer has never been detrimental in any situation. I also want to encourage you to realize that there is a huge difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is an act that takes one person choosing to let things go and move on. Reconciliation requires the decision and dedication of both parties to change the situation and to face the battlefield together. Choose to forgive for yourself because no matter how justified you may be in your anger, we who are not without fault have no real claims to stone throwing. Instead we get to carry around the burden of those stone we picked up to throw. We carry around the hurt and the anger refusing to forgive as if somehow our anger will punish the other person when all it really does is weigh us down. So lay down your stones at the feet of the Just and Almighty God that He may relieve you of your burden and so that no matter what the outcome you may find peace.
Today we will pray for families, those currently facing divorce, those who may see it as an option in the future. We will pray for them with expectation that their hearts will no longer be hardened and that they will allow God to do a mighty restoration in their marriages.
Father of healing and restoration, we come to you today with broken and aching hearts over the failing marriages in our country and others. So many people are buying into the lie that divorce is an easy and simple solution to problems that every married couple faces. We see children being torn apart by parents who allow their hearts to be hardened and who give up on the great task of facing the battle with their other half. Right now Father God, we pray with anticipation that we will begin to see a great healing in the family foundation. We will see husbands stepping up to the plate, taking their wives hand and getting down on their knees to pray for your healing, restoration, and guidance. We will see wives choosing to encourage and respect their husbands spiritual guidance. We will see families looking not to the world for their answers regarding marriage and divorce, but to your word and your original plan. We will see hearts softened and we will see determination grow stronger. We will see father’s showing their sons what it means to be a husband who follows the will of the Lord and sticks with his family no matter what. We will see mother’s who teach their daughters the value of commitment and the stamina it takes to stick things out even when times are tough. We will see marriages resurrected in your name Father God.
We know that you alone are capable of convicting hearts and we believe that it is your desire to see this change occurring. We ask that you give us as fellow believers words of encouragement and spiritual soundness to address our friends and family when a marriage is facing destruction so that we might be a help and not a hinderance in your fight to win back families to you. We ask all of this in your precious and holy name, Jesus, Amen.
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