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For many, understanding God's mind concerning divorce is critical to the happiness of life. Remember God created all things, and He is perfectly aware of how each should function. There are, however, grounds for divorce and separation and we will discuss them at the end of this feature. It has been said that God hates divorce and that statement is true.
Divorce
Topic#: 20030123 from WWW.GODSAIDMANSAID.COM

For the past 27 years, I have been pastor of a Christian congregation and have been exercised in dealing with the issues of marriage and divorce. The situation today is in a desperate state. When Americans attended school in the 1950s and 60s, having a classmate who was going through the trauma of a family divorce was rare. But today, a household headed by both the biological mother and father has become the minority. Divorce, as all who have experienced can attest, is a devastator. Many e-mail messages have been sent to GodSaidManSaid concerning this present marital confusion, inquiring what God said about it. NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.           

GOD SAID, Matthew 19: 3-9:

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

MAN SAID:  Divorce is fine. It's good if you're no longer in love with your spouse. Why live in an unhappy marriage? Even your children will be better off in a home where they are no longer exposed to marital arguments and friction. And as far as that goes you can divorce for any reason—we'll just call it, "No fault."

Now THE RECORD.  The cost of divorce and the resulting broken homes is enormous. The more data that's evaluated, the more colossal the cost of divorce becomes. The broken hearts, broken dreams, the confusion, the devastation of the children, the custody battles, the huge financial strain, the stress, the embarrassment, the brokenhearted parents, and more are all part of the sordid legacy of divorce.

Those considering divorce in their quest for love and happiness should beware. According to psychologist Howard Markman from the University of Denver, "Some who divorce think it will make them happier. But people who are depressed and anxious often attribute that to a bad marriage. Then they get divorced and carry it with them." Some proof of Markman's comments are second marriage divorce rates, which are 55 to 60 percent, versus the first-time rate of 50 percent. Should it be a surprise that utopia scarcely exists?

The following passage from Parents Magazine is titled, "Don't Romanticize Divorce:"

Some couples do manage to have what Dr. Wallerstein calls a "cooperative divorce," in which they treat each other kindly and focus on the children's emotional needs together. But they're rare: According to Dr. Booth's research, couples who are unable to make a go of their marriage seldom muster the necessary resources to cooperate after divorce. More commonly, he says, the unhappiness people felt in their marriage is replaced by the unhappiness of divorce and single parenting. In addition, many imagine that being single again means carefree dating and increased socializing—only to discover that being single with small children changes everything.

For most people, the reality of divorce includes a decreased standard of living and heightened conflict, particularly regarding such issues as money, custody, holidays, and household rules.

One young lady who decided against divorce said, "When I look at my divorced friends, they seem to be no better off than I am. Their kids are all having a rough time, and they have huge financial pressures. And nobody's found the perfect partner."

The concept that children are better served via a divorce than in an "unhappy" marriage has typically proven not to be the case. Again from Parents Magazine, in an article titled, "Saying No To Divorce:"

In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (Hyperion, 2000), coauthor Judith Wallerstein, Ph.D., challenges two standard assumptions: first, that divorce gets easier for kids to handle over time; and second, that when parents are happier, their children are too.

To the contrary, Dr. Wallerstein's research found that kids whose parents stayed together despite problems (and remained effective parents) recalled happier childhoods than those whose parents separated, and later had less anxiety forming their own adult relationships.

Furthermore, those whose parents split were significantly more likely to divorce as adults than those from intact families, and were less likely to marry at all. Children of divorce were also less likely to go to college (largely because child support ends at 18 in most states) or—if they did enroll—to graduate. And as adolescents, they were more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse and early sexual experimentation. [End of quote]

I must note here that many believers find themselves and their children in this terrible circumstance called divorce, and in many cases not by their own doing. If this is your situation, take it to the Lord on your knees. He will bring healing, restoration, and the righteous development of your children. Take confidence in the beautiful promise in Romans 8:28:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

The following excerpt is from an article by J. Siegel published in The Jerusalem Post:

Warning: Divorcing your spouse when your children are young can be hazardous to their long-term mental health.

This appears to be the message of a new study on the effects of divorce on clinical depression in children many years later.

Dr. Ofer Agid and Prof. Binyamin Lerer, of the psychiatric department of Hadassad- University Hospital in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem, examined hundreds of mental patients in cooperation with Herzog, Talbiyeh, and Eitanim psychiatric hospitals in the Jerusalem area.

They were compared with a control group of people who suffered from no mental problems, but were otherwise matched exactly by age, sex, education, and other variables.

The researchers found that the chances of developing clinical depression as an adult are up to three or four times higher among those whose parents divorced before they reached the age of nine than among those whose parents stayed together. Among the mental disorders the researchers looked for was clinical depression and manic depression (bi-polar disorder) that requires treatment with drugs.

The researchers, whose study will soon be published in Molecular Psychology, also examined the records of patients whose parents died when they were children: They were not markedly more likely to develop depression than the population at large. [End of quote]

The subtitle in Prevention Magazine's article reads, "Staying Married Could Be the Happiest Solution." The following excerpt is from that article:

Before you file for divorce, consider some surprising news from the University of Chicago: In studies of 700 miserable, ready-to-split spouses, researchers found that two-thirds of those who stayed married were happy 5 years later.

They toughed out some of the most difficult problems a couple can face, including alcoholism, infidelity, financial straits, and serious illness. Their strategy? A mix of stubborn commitment, a willingness to work together on issues, and a healthy lowering of expectations. The added benefit? They avoided the financial and emotional stresses of divorce, which can be significant whether you have children or not.  [End of quote]

The devastations of divorce on a family are horrendously far reaching. The God of the Bible knew the terrible consequences of divorce and placed great limitations on the grounds for divorce.

For those who choose to marry, selecting a spouse will be one of the most critical decisions of your life. One should approach marriage as a once-in-a-lifetime event. If, in the back of your mind, divorce is an option, when times get tough, you're likely to exercise that option. Times will get tough. But the vast majority of those who reject divorce as an option and work through the hard spots together end up far better off.

There are, however, grounds for divorce and separation and we will discuss them at the end of this feature. It has been said that God hates divorce and that statement is true.

GOD SAID, Matthew 19: 3-9:

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

MAN SAID:  Divorce is fine. It's good if you're no longer in love with your spouse. Why live in an unhappy marriage? Even your children will be better off in a home where they are no longer exposed to marital arguments and friction. And as far as that goes you can divorce for any reason—we'll just call it, "No fault."

For many, understanding God's mind concerning divorce is critical to the happiness of life. Remember God created all things, and He is perfectly aware of how each should function. As is always the case, God's ways are right, and man's ways are wrong when they are different from God's ways. I've attempted to capsulize the Bible position in the following 10 points. Marriage and divorce situations have become very confusing in today's convoluted society, and I would suggest in all cases to council with a pastor who is committed to the Word of God and have him help untangle the confusion.

1) Fornication, and fornication alone, is grounds for divorce.  Matthew 5: 32:

But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

2) Fornication is any manner of illicit sex and that would include pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and so on.

3) Jesus Christ gave a commandment concerning divorce in the context of the law that God gave to Moses. Under the law in the Old Testament, fornication such as adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest were all punishable by death. These issues are grounds for divorce. Some think that the New Testament has softened its judgment concerning divorce because of John 8:3- 11. You will see that this is not the case. The passage reads:

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

This passage demonstrates Christ's power to forgive sin as though it were never committed. This is the principle of the born-again experience—born a second time into a new life where all sins are forgiven by God and forgotten. Jesus' answer to those who wanted Him to cast judgment in this matter was, "...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." In this account, I see three things that need to be considered: 1) Those bringing the woman for judgment were condemned in their own hearts because of hidden sins; 2) Where was the man who was complicit in this adulterous act? He, too, was punishable by death; And 3) Jesus forgave her and said, "...go, and sin no more." In other words, do not continue in this evil.

In John 5:14, it reads:

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

4) Clarification of the New Testament's position of God's social laws is found in I Timothy 1:8-10:

8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;...

The law is not for the righteous man who walks Godly in Christ Jesus, who does not yield himself to murder, rape, and adultery. But, the law is for those who reject salvation, obedience, and God's grace. If the law of the land was the Mosaic Law that was handed down by God, wicked deeds such as adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and their ilk, would be very rare in comparison to what the world sees today.

5) Because illicit sexual deeds were punishable by death in the Old Testament, it left the innocent member of the marriage unpunished and free to remarry.

6) Because God's social laws of the Old Testament are seldom honored entirely by any government—and certainly not here in the United States—the church stands in to support the principles of the commandment. The ministry of the body of Christ—the church—can dissolve, in the eyes of God, a marriage gone bad due to illicit sex. This principle is displayed in I Corinthians 5:1-5:

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

And then the Apostle Paul continues in I Corinthians 5:9-13:

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?

13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

7) A Christian who is in a marriage in which the partner has committed fornication is free to divorce and remarry, or to forgive the repentant party and remain married. The steering wheel is definitely in the innocent spouse's hands. If one opts to forgive a wayward spouse and stay together, he or she must do it in a Godly way, which also means to forget. This must be accomplished on your knees before God, asking for the ability to forget, because it does not dwell in the natural. If one chooses to divorce, he or she is still required to forgive the guilty spouse. At this point, you may be wondering why you should forgive the one you were permitted to divorce. It is for this reason: so that you can be free—from hatred and bitterness, sure destroyers of the physical body through stress, and destroyers of the spiritual man.

Let's look again at Matthew 19:9. It reads:

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Remember to read this passage in the setting of the law. Jesus came to fulfill the law and not destroy it. The Jews were divorcing for various reasons other than fornication. Divorce, for reasons other than fornication, is not acceptable before God. Therefore, he who has divorced illegitimately (other than because of fornication), and he who marries the wife who was divorced illegitimately, commit adultery. The reason is because the original marriage is still binding according to God. This commandment in Matthew 19:9 works regardless of sex. The male has no preferential treatment over the female. The commandment against adultery in Leviticus 20:10 makes it clear:

And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

As mentioned earlier, if a government does not observe the Old Testament laws of God, the church can dissolve, in the eyes of God, a marriage gone bad due to illicit sex.

8) When a Christian remarries—or marries for the first time as far as that matter goes—he or she is required to marry another Christian. I Corinthians 7:39:

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

In the psychology of marriage, there exists a term called endogamy. If a couple is to endure the eventual travails of marriage, endogamy will be a very powerful ally. Endogamy means to marry in a like group. It is obvious that God knew this simple truth. Therefore we have His instruction, which is always perfect.

II Corinthians 6:14:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

I have been told that when a farmer yokes two oxen, the one which is chosen to lead is just slightly stronger than the other. This is done so they can labor together effectively. This principle of yoking will make a dramatic difference in a marriage. If you are committed to God and His Word and seeking a mate, seek one who has like commitment. An individual giving only lip service to Christ would be a very bad choice and an example of unequal yoking.

9) On the matter of marital separation, the Word of God has this to say in I Corinthians 7:10-16:

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

If one separates from a spouse, he or she must remain unmarried. If the other party later commits fornication, then the innocent believer is free of the marriage vows.

10) Many people are entering into the new birth in Christ Jesus already joined in marriages that are contrary to the Word of God. What should they do? All of us who have been redeemed by Christ Jesus were once laden with many sins that through Christ's blood we were forgiven and cleansed from them all. This would also include marital sins.

II Corinthians 5:17-20:

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

I Corinthians 7:20-22:

20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

Jesus said, "...go, and sin no more."

FINAL NOTE: On one occasion, I was counseling a man who was unhappy with his wife because he said she was fat. I recommended that he take off his shirt and pants when he returned home and check himself out in a three-way mirror and that his attitude should improve. I'm not suggesting that being overweight is the optimal ideal. We all should war against this condition, not only for our own personal health and self-esteem, but also in an effort to make ourselves more acceptable to our mates. But, we all must learn to judge after the spirit and not after the flesh.




References:

King James Bible

Kulig, N., "You Can Work It Out," Prevention Magazine, January 2003, p 46.

Levine, K., "Saying No To Divorce," Parents Magazine.

Siegel, J., "Divorce May Harm Children's Long-Term Mental Stability," The Jerusalem Post, February 19, 1999.

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Views: 34234