7:10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
I realize the causes and issues around divorce are many and complex. While the point made here by Paul that we looked at yesterday remains I wanted to expound further for the sake of those who may have seen it as harsh or narrow or rigid.
Jesus addressed divorce very directly in Matthew 19.
3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made[a] them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality**, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus own disciples were left with their jaws hanging open after what He said. It is a hard teaching because of our brokenness, not because of the teaching. Let me hi light a few things:
1, Moses allowed for divorce through a process because of our brokenness. The process was put in place to make the separation as just as possible. Never forget that grace covers our brokenness but our brokenness never changes God's ideal plan. Lying is a sin. It always has been and always will be. We lie for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes lying seems necessary in certain situations. Whether it is or isn't all lying can be forgiven but that grace to cover our sins doesn't make lying any less of a sin.
2, God loves us and wants us to be happy. Every "rule" is designed to accomplish this even if in our brokenness we can't see how.
3, This one is huge. You will notice in the quote above from Matthew 19 that the phrase sexual immorality has a double asterisk. (**) There is a reason. The original Greek has a word for the sexual betrayal of a marriage. The word is used in the very next sentence where it is translated 'adultery'. The Greek word translated 'sexual immorality' in the NKJV is an entirely different word. In the KJV it is translated 'fornication'. In the NASB it is rendered as simply 'immorality'. The word is not specifically talking about adultery which is having sex with someone who is not your spouse. In fact the word can be translated idolatry. It is much broader than adultery and if only adultery were intended it would have been the word used. So where does that leave us? Marriage is a relationship of mutual self-sacrificing love for the benefit of the other. Anything less is idolatry. Taken to the extreme it means we can all get divorced because at some point we put something else before our spouse. Some translations simply translate the word 'unfaithfulness'.
4, Paul is addressing those who want out of their marriage. The implication of the context is that the one seeking to leave is the one primarily at fault for the situation. However here is a point worthy of deep consideration. In any failed relationship the wise and responsible thing to ask is "What part did I play in this? How did I get here?"
Statistics show that someone who marries an abusive person and divorces is likely to marry another abusive person. Now the abuse was not caused by the victim. An abuser is an abuser and has his or her own brokenness to deal with. However the victim needs to separate themselves from the abuser and the abuse and seek help to find out why they put themselves in that I tuition to begin with. If that important work is not done the pattern is likely to repeat.
This is the point Paul is ultimately making. Two healthy people would never need to get divorced and two unhealthy people should not marry each other or anyone else until they do the work necessary to heal. If a couple marries and because or their mutual brokenness do not have the skills to stay married it is better that they part, seek healing, and then reconcile, as opposed to separating and thinking a new marriage to someone else will solve everything. Likely it will only start a new cycle of pain and heartache.
Remember God loves you. All our brokenness will be forgiven for the asking and His counsel is for our happiness. Find out why it failed. Work on those issues. Seek reconciliation. Running from our problems and failures never solves anything. Trust God. He wants your happiness. Are there exceptions to this? Yes but the vast majority of divorces are not the exceptions. Trust God and seek the healing rather than the illusion that your spouse was the problem.