Their marriage took place around thirty years ago. I was the officiating officer. As a family they have had their fair share of illness and the wife died recently of a sudden and unexpected heart attack. I have married many couples over the years and must say that throughout all the ups and downs this family has gone through, this husband and wife have fulfilled their marital vows one hundred percent. In particular, the husband has been a wonderful example of commitment, love and faithfulness.
Firstly they consented to this question … Will you have ….. to be your husband / wife, to live together as God ordained in the Holy State of marriage? Will you love him / her, cherish him / her, obey him her, honor and protect him / her, submit to him / her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others be faithful to him / her as long as you both shall live? Then their vows followed … I, ………. , take you …………………….. to be my wife / husband, according to God’s Holy Ordinance; to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, to submit to you until we are parted by death. Before God and in the presence of this congregation I give you my word. Then followed the giving and receiving of rings ………………. , with this ring I marry you, with my body I worship you; with all that I am and all that I have I honor you … in the Name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit … Amen.
The example this brother has set is not just to their children. It is a great illustration of honoring marital vows which were taken before God … and kept faithfully. Very few today do what this brother has done. When I compare this to another couple where the husband initiated a divorce after a little over a year of marriage, I see a definite difference in a willingness before God to resolve the problems God’s way, especially since the same vows were taken. Today we come to Jesus saying:
Mt 5:31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”
In the year 2022 this type of talk does not gel with the majority of people, especially in the so called First World. Divorce is so easy now a days. I recall Jenny supporting a lady whose husband was divorcing her. She went to the divorce court with her. The proceedings took a few minutes. The now divorced husband left the court, met up with another woman outside and went into the court next door to be married.
1) Why did Jesus speak of murder / anger and then adultery / looking at women before dealing with marriage and divorce? As mentioned before elsewhere, I have stated that the four main issues causing marriage and relational failure which are:
(1) Not having Jesus as Lord and Savior of both the husband and wife. Paul is very clear that a believer must not be unequally yoked!
2Co 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
It is true that this passage could be applied to questionable Churches; unbelieving business partners; ungodly friends; places of education that are decidedly opposed to the Bible; places of entertainment that are pagan … etc. but the main purpose for us today is marriage. Consider this passage carefully and devotionally, especially if you are single. God wants believers to marry believers. Should you not have a believing spouse, the chances of solving relationally failure will be slim. When the Spirit dwells within husband and wife, both have the power from the Spirit to humble themselves, glorify God, resolves problems … and forgive as God forgave!
(2) For various reasons anger tends to infiltrate every marriage at some stage or the other. Generally this is due to spiritual and relational immaturity. This is why we read:
Eph 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
Communicating is important but communication must be truthful. No lies, no half lies and no deceit. The anger spoken of here is “righteous anger”. Mostly our anger is sinful … this is why we need to resolve our problems before we sleep to prevent carrying today’s problems into tomorrow because should we do that, the problems compound themselves.
(3) Being sensual beings, especially the male, looking at the opposite sex is a huge problem. Jesus says lustful looking is equal to adultery. The Lord Jesus prohibits any intrusion into the husband wife union, even if it is only through fantasy. Whether it is the actual act or fantasy, Jesus calls it adultery. We will get there tomorrow, but for today … although unfaithfulness (adultery) is legitimate grounds for divorce, forgiveness is possible. In fact, God who forgives us for spiritual adultery, gives the offended spouse the opportunity of forgiving the adulterer. This might not be possible, especially if it is repetitive without remorse. But should it be a moment of weakness followed by true confession and repentance … forgiveness is possible when aided by a suitable Christian counselor. The antidote to adultery is healthy intimacy within marriage.
(4) The last matter is how finances are used. Where one or both spouses mismanage the finances resulting in huge debt and the inability to provide the essentials for the home and family, disaster follows. This is the main reason for the need that both spouses commit to running a manageable budget.
Father, as we embark on Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce, please help us to honor You as we honor our marriage vows. Mercifully protect us from marital failure. Amen.