Why Not Get Divorced?

March 29, 2019 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: I know I’m a Christian, but I’m completely unhappy in this marriage. I don’t love my spouse anymore, and I don’t think my spouse really loves me. I’m miserable, and I deserve to be happy. I just want to get out and start over. Can you give me one good reason not to get divorced?

Answer: I can give several reasons, but I’ll give you three right off the top of my head.

1. God designed your marriage to be an illustration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important thing in the universe. If you take the gift of marriage which God gave you, and you choose to mar the illustration or to portray it inaccurately and misrepresent what it means by getting divorced, then you are telling the world that Jesus does not love His bride, the Church (Christians), with an everlasting, forgiving, unbreakable love. The reality is, in your own life, you have hurt Christ more than your spouse has hurt you, and Christ has been through far worse for you than anything you’ve had to endure in your marriage, yet He loves you eternally. You would be dishonoring the Savior Who died for you if you choose divorce. See Ephesians 5:22-32.

2. You will be breaking a solemn vow that you made before God. Unless you had some sort of whacky pagan wedding ceremony, you and your spouse promised each other that you would stay together until death, and the name of God was invoked. It is a dangerous and foolish thing to break a vow made before the holy God. See Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 and Numbers 30:2.

3. Your children. Children do not benefit from divorce. In most cases they either witness conflict or become a part of it, but, even in cases where the divorcing parents get along relatively well for the sake of the kids, it still sends a message that the two people they love most in the world did not love them enough to stay married, and it will affect them later on if not now.

There are many, many more reasons not to get divorced, including the fact that God hates it, and the choice to do it effectively places your happiness in a place of exaltation above God’s revealed will and the belief that He can overcome temporary unhappiness and misery with eternal joy when we patiently wait, obey, and trust Him.

Finally, I strongly recommend that you meet with someone for serious counseling who knows and understands what the Bible teaches about marriage before you go through with this. Once you announce your intention to be divorced or state that your marriage is making you miserable, you will attract a certain group of people that you love and trust, and who genuinely think they have your best interest at heart, and many if not most will encourage you to get divorced, and tell you that it’s not that bad. You owe it to yourself to speak with someone who will stand up for Christ and present His point of view to you, even if it’s not necessarily what you want to hear, or even if it comes from someone who doesn’t have as close a relationship with you as those who are telling you to go through with it.

Marriage Should Not be Spurious

October 29, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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In previous lessons in this series on Isaiah 62:1-4, I said that marriage should not be secret or static. Now will see that marriage should not be spurious.

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

Isaiah 62:3

Crowns and diadems are terms of royalty, sovereignty, ruling and reigning, kingship, but what do they have to do with marriage?

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:26 (emphasis added)

Men and women are made in the image of God. We are to be accurate representatives of Him in His earth, and we are to exercise authority over every aspect of life in a way that shows who He really is and what He is really like.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:27-28

This is so-called “dominion mandate.” We are to subdue the earth and make it fruitful and productive and a place where every nook and cranny of it glorifies the Creator.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

Eve was a helper that was perfectly suited to Adam, but to help him do what? To help him accurately express God’s image in God’s world by exercising dominion and being fruitful. God made sure Adam understood this.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Genesis 2:19-22

This was the first wedding and the first marriage. This was before sin entered into the world, so this is our ideal for Christian marriage.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 2:23-24

Marriage gives us joy, it gives us companionship, it gives us pleasure, it gives us friendship. It is good for problem-solving. It produces new human beings so that Jesus will get new disciples. But it is very much about symbolizing the crown of God’s royal authority in this world, and the diadem in His hand whereby He issues forth His Word. Married couples play a key role in bringing God’s will to pass and enforcing it in the world, so we must not be spurious image-bearers. We must not be out of order, with the wife leading when she should be following, and the husband following when he should be leading. We must not be at odds with each other, any more than the Persons of the Trinity are at odds with each other, and we must not drop out of the world out of fear or laziness, and let it run to ruin. We are ambassadors of an invisible King, so we must make His presence known with our marriages, in order to bear His image accurately and genuinely (which is the opposite of spuriously).

In the next lesson we will see that marriage must not be somber.

Marriage Should Not be Static

October 11, 2018 at 10:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Last time, I looked at Isaiah 62:1-4 and developed the principle from Verse 1 that marriage should not be secret. Additionally, marriage should not be static.

And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.

Isaiah 62:2

One day the Lord will give His people a new name. As Christians we are associated now with suffering and failure, unpopularity and persecution, but there there will come a day when non-Christians (described as “Gentiles” in Isaiah 62:2) – even the mightiest of them – will see the glory that our glorious God shares with us.

In marriage, wives get a new name when they get married. Husbands do not, except collectively. A married couple comes to be known as the “Smiths” or the “Joneses” or the “Wilsons.” For Christian married couples we should not be satisfied with a shared and commonly known “new” last name. We want to achieve even more names that reflect glory on the Lord of our marriages. We want to be the married couple about whom people say: “They go to church;” “They teach their children to pray; “They look so IN LOVE.”

When you refer to your spouse in the presence of other people, don’t fall into the worldly practice of speaking disparagingly about him or her, calling your husband, “my old man,” or calling your wife, “the old lady.”

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

Your spouse may know you’re joking, but we’re talking about other people and their perceptions, and what they think of marriage in general and yours in particular. Don’t let the way you talk about your marriage become static. Avoid terms that are presumably supposed to be funny, but, in reality, reveal boredom, dissatisfaction, or exasperation about your spouse or your marriage. Don’t say rude things like “the old ball and chain” or “the battle axe.”

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29

“Hearers” in that verse is plural, and being “edified” means being built up, not remaining static. Unkind words, and, worse, false unkind words, not only fail to minister grace to the one you are saying them ABOUT, or saying them TO, but to everyone else listening in, or to whom they are repeated.

You don’t want your spouse telling his or her friends bad things about you, but the best remedy for that is not to swear your spouse to silence. The best remedy is to give your spouse good things to say – to improve yourself, with God’s help, as a spouse, rather than merely trying to hush up the talk about your relationship.

Next time we will see that marriage should not be spurious.

Marriage Should Not be Secret

September 24, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Isaiah, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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After the initial novelty of marriage wears off, it can be easy for some spouses to view our marriages as just a fact of everyday life – part of who we are and what we are allowed and not allowed to do because of the fact that we are married. Even Christian spouses, if not regularly involved in church ministry that emphasizes the importance of marriage, can forget that what is taught in the Bible must be applied not only to how we think about marriage, but how we live within our marriages. Most secular marriage counseling, and even much church-related marriage counseling and teaching, focuses on things like finances, parenting, scheduling and time management, jobs and careers, hobbies, communication, etc. If we’re not careful we’ll spend so much time and energy trying to figure those things out, that we will miss the significance of God’s true intentions for marriage, and will fail to plumb the depths of the greatest source of wisdom concerning marriage: the Word of God.

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

Isaiah 62:1-4

The children that God has entrusted into my care as a father have some pretty unusual names, and people have been known to occasionally give them a hard time because of it. For this reason, I’m the last person to make fun of someone’s name. However, there are some names – names that in years past were popular – that have simply gone out of style, and that you just don’t hear much anymore. Take, for example, the name “Beulah.” Do you know anyone named Beulah? It was a fairly popular name from 1890 to 1911 (which also happens to be the year that the famous hymn “Dwelling in Beulah Land” was published). In 1901 almost 4000 out of every one million baby girls were named Beulah. However, the popularity of the name plummeted rapidly after the turn of the 20th Century, and last year only ten out of every one million baby girls were named Beulah.

In Isaiah 62:4 the name Beulah means “married,” but the context is not, strictly speaking, marriage itself. Isaiah 62 is talking about how God will restore exiled Israel, and, in a greater sense, how He will regenerate, renew, and restore all His people in the New Covenant Church. However, it is a very relevant passage on the topic of literal marriage because it gives insight into how God – the Creator of marriage – expects marriage to be.

I. Marriage should not be a secret.

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace…

Isiah 62:1

To hold our peace means to be quiet. We should not be quiet about our marriages. They are great vehicles for glorifying God. Fallen sinners do not naturally (nor should they) trust and commit to each other, but as Christians we do not wear the label of fallen sinners as our primary identity. We have been redeemed by God’s grace, and we are allowed and encouraged to advertise this reality.

… I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.

Isaiah 62:1

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Three groups of people immediately come to mind when I think about those who need to hear that Christian marriage is absolutely wonderful:

A. Young people who will soon be of the age to consider marriage or possibly get married

Marriage is not for everyone, but it is for most, and it is a great gift from God. It should be seen as a goal strive for and a victory to obtain, not as the end of freedom and the beginning of a life sentence of fun-denial.

B. Non-Christians

Whenever I see a pagan couple who claims to have a happy marriage, it is bittersweet. I’m thankful for the “common” grace of God that keeps them from killing each other, but I know that their marriage could be so much better.

C. People having marriage problems (whether they are Christian or not)

Every time you speak of your marriage you might be giving marriage advice or acting as a marriage counselor, whether you intend to be or not. The last thing someone struggling in his/her/their marriage needs to hear is another complaint or gripe about marriage. People need encouragement. They need to see how wonderful marriage truly can be. Is it bragging or boasting to sound off about how much we love our marriages? No! Because people are supposed to see our “good works” not so they can glorify US, but so that they may glorify OUR FATHER which is in Heaven!

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.

Isaiah 62:1

Don’t be bashful or withdrawn about your marriage. A torch is given for the purpose of lighting up the darkness and showing off the Truth.

Next time we will see the importance of spiritual growth within our marriages.

To My Wife: Thank You

December 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As we celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary, I am so thankful for a wife that has been faithful to pray for me over the years. I am convinced that her prayers have been one of the chief means through which God has seen fit to deliver me from many sins, to grant me great blessings, and to protect me from much danger and evil.

I also want her to know how grateful I am for her influence on our daughters. With each passing year I recognize how much they become more and more like her – which is a very good thing! By God’s grace, I desperately want the children that He has entrusted into my care to be faithful, kind, compassionate, joyful, teachable, and to have a desire to know Christ in deeper and more mature ways. God has certainly used my wife to accomplish this in their lives.

My wife and I serve in a local assembly of believers (a “church”). We believe that this is God’s plan and will for nearly every believer. My wife has a strong commitment and love for our church family. There is no doubt that my own ministry there would be much weaker and less effective without her help and partnership.

After 26 years of marriage, my wife and I have certainly had our share of arguments. As someone who grew up playing competitive sports, and who now “argues” for a living, I have a real aversion to losing an argument. I am thankful that when I lose an argument with my wife (which is often, simply because she is usually objectively right while I am objectively wrong), she doesn’t think of it as “winning.” She thinks of it as graciously dealing with a problem, “working things out,” or having a disagreement. I love her for this.

When my wife and I said our wedding vows we promised to love each other for better and for worse. The vast majority of these last 26 years have been “for better” moments (at least for me!), but we have had some “for worse” moments, too. We’ve come through these “for worse” moments by the grace of God, but His grace at these times has shown brightly in and through the faithfulness, strength, wisdom, humility, and perseverance of my beautiful and brilliant wife. I love her very much and thank the Lord for her – and for the gift of 26 years of marriage.

Biased Marriage Counseling

November 10, 2017 at 11:31 am | Posted in Q&A | 3 Comments
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Question: I have Christian friends who are thinking about ending their marriage. Someone told me to give them this advice: “Before making your decision about divorce or reconciliation, seek balanced counsel rather than biased counsel.” What do you think of that advice?

Answer: Sorry to be blunt, but that advice is garbage. I’m sure whoever came up with that had good intentions, and there is a line of thinking out there that says, talk to some people who think you should reconcile, and talk to some people who think you shouldn’t, and weigh the pros and cons. But think about it! Stop and really think. Does the Bible say anything like that about marriage? Tell your friends to talk to people who are EXTREMELY biased – biased in favor of Jesus Christ. He let vile wicked sinners nail Him to a Cross so that we would have the power and the freedom to forgive, to reconcile, to restore, to promote righteousness – not to drag through the mud a relationship that He created to glorify Himself. (See Genesis 2:21-24; Malachi 2:16; Mark 10:6-9; Ephesians 5:23-33; Hebrews 13:4.)

The Big Five-Oh!

September 8, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Because I am joyfully married, and because of the exalted view of marriage given to us by God in the Bible – and because I have been blessed with such a wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent wifeI love marriage. And because I love marriage, I love wedding anniversaries. This weekend my wife’s parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary! What an accomplishment, and what a glorious testimony to the grace of God in a day and age where marriage is so rapidly becoming devalued, desecrated, and even demonized.

It is truly humbling for me to consider all that my father-in-law and mother-in-law have been through in their marriage – from health issues, to financial pressures, to weather catastrophes, to relocations, to family crises – not to mention the challenges and stress of rearing four successful children (with my wife being just one example of the awesome parenting job they have done – and are still doing!)

Words like “congratulations” and “thank you” just don’t seem big enough or profound enough to express the gratitude and esteem I feel for a couple who, knowing that I was bringing far more detriment than benefit into their family when I married their daughter, still accepted me, loved me, and made me welcome. I will never be able to repay the debt I owe them for that, or for their continued love toward me and my family over the years. I could not have asked for better in-laws or for better grandparents for my children. They have set an example of faithfulness, grace, mercy, longsuffering, perseverance, kindness, generosity, and wisdom that I can only scratch the surface of describing. I thank God for them, and ask Him to bless the rest of their lives with joy, fulfillment, and peace.

A Knowledgeable Marriage

April 20, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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In a previous post I discussed I Corinthians 7:1-10, and explained that, if you are married, God wants your marriage to be F.I.N.E., meaning that He wants the physical intimacy between you and your spouse to be frequent, inviting, natural, and exciting. He also wants you to know the real reason for your marriage.

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

I Corinthians 7:11

Marriage was designed by God to be permanent in this life.

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.

I Corinthians 7:12

This is something which the Lord Jesus did not say in person during His earthly ministry, but it is just as authoritative since it is being said by the Holy Spirit through Paul. Believers should only marry other believers, but the failure to do so is not a ground for divorce, nor is the salvation of one spouse after the wedding, even when the other spouse refuses to get saved. Furthermore, the hostility of the unbelieving spouse toward the believing spouse because of his/her conversion is not a ground for divorce.

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

I Corinthians 7:13-14

This does not mean that the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the sense of salvation, but that he is set apart as part of a household with a Holy Spirit influence, and possibly the recipient of special blessings due to one-half of the one-flesh relationship being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Also, a nullification of the marriage would make the children illegitimate in a sense, and would damage the blessing of their exposure to strong Christian influence.

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.

I Corinthians 7:15

This does not authorize divorce for abandonment, as many suppose. It simply prohibits hostile and forceful attempts to prevent physical separation.

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

I Corinthians 7:16

This is an obvious figure of speech, meaning that a Christ-like testimony in the face of opposition and even persecution within the household can often be instrumental in winning an unbelieving spouse to Christ. Remember, your marriage is not primarily for your happiness, for you, or even for your spouse. It is for God to use as a means to illustrate and preach the Gospel in an unbelieving world, and for means of our sanctification.

The Know-Nots view marriage as an institution of convenience or a societal contract. The Knows know that marriage is a holy covenant relationship ordained by God, and that the love between a husband and wife is supposed to be a picture of the love between Christ and His bride, the Church.

Here’s a Quarter, Thanks to the God Who Cares

December 20, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Tomorrow (Deo volente) my beautiful, intelligent, loving wife and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Well, I’ll be celebrating, anyway. Due to financial constraints it may not be all that much of a celebration for her, but we’ll see. 25 years is one of those “big” anniversary markers, but I’m not really sure why. I suppose it’s because of the association of the number 25 with the idea that 25 is a quarter of a century. This makes sense in a larger historical perspective, but has anyone since the days of Noah and Moses lived long enough to be married for 100 years? Not likely. The truth is, my wife deserves to be honored, cherished, and celebrated for every single year she has had to put up with me, and, realistically, for every single day that made up those years. I could not, in my most focused and vivid analytical planning or my wildest dreams, have come up with a wife so wonderful. Only God could have created her.

I am always thankful when God answers my prayers, but He did not answer my prayers concerning what kind of a wife or marriage I thought I would like to have. No, He has done way better than that. Whether we are talking about her faithfulness, her godliness, her dedication, her kindness, her sense of humor, her beauty, her intelligence, or her skills and talents as a mother, what I asked God for fell way short of what He has done. In a striking paradox, not only is she reassuringly consistent, but she manages to surprise me each and every day.

I praise the Lord for the wonderful gift of my wife, my marriage, and the myriad and untold ways in which He has blessed it by His grace. May we, as spouses, friends, parents, and covenant-partners, draw closer to Him and glorify Him with our marriage, in the name of, and for the sake of, Jesus Christ.

Here are a couple of previous anniversary notes which still apply:
Marriage: The Long and the Short of It
One Crazy, Wonderful Day

John Piper: S.W.I.M. to be Married

May 19, 2016 at 10:15 am | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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Marriage is an unfathomable ocean of God-given meaning, not a backyard swimming pool for lounging in as long as we feel like it.

John Piper

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:31-33

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