Let me start by saying that I know this is going to upset some people, and I’m sorry for that. But not sorry enough not to post it.
I’m seeing a growing trend in Christianity regarding divorce. I’m not talking about the growing trend of Christians having divorces, which I’m seeing conflicting data on. I’m talking about the growing trend of Christians supporting divorces. I’m seeing more and more often that Christians are suggesting divorce as an option. To me, this is just appalling. Growing up, I don’t think I ever heard anyone talk about divorce in any light openly. It was something talked about in whispers in very small groups and always as a disdainful practice. Now, I’m not suggesting we should go back to not talking about it. I’m in favour of communication. However, I am not in favour of this growing trend of thinking divorce is OK.
Now, in the Christian circles, at least those who are an active part of the Christian community, I see mostly arguments revolving around Matthew 19:9:
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.Matthew 19:9 NIV
People take this as permission to get divorces for “martial unfaithfulness” which is being stretched to the limits these days. But I’m more interested in the preceding verse:
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.Matthew 19:8 NIV
I got married believing that marriage was for life. I still believe that. I heard Pam Stenzel once say that “monogamy is one person for life, not one person at a time” (paraphrase) and I really like that sentiment. I believe it reflects what marriage was designed to be.
Now, as Christians, I think we are called to live life the way God intended it. We are to be sober, in a world that teaches us to drink, do drugs and escape. We are called to give away money, in a world that teaches us to hoard and spent it on ourselves. We’re called to treat our enemies as loved ones, in a world that teaches retaliation and brutal punishment. And I think we’re called to love our spouses, regardless of what they have done.
So, I think, wherever possible, one should stay married.
I don’t think lack of sex (and I had 8 years of a “sexless” marriage) constitutes a valid reason, though many would argue that it falls under “marital unfaithfulness”. I never once thought of leaving my wife.
I don’t think the use of pornography is a valid reason, and neither does my wife. She didn’t leave me when I came clean about my addiction, though that could fall under “marital unfaithfulness” as well. In fact, she hugged me and cried with me and when I asked “what now?”, her answer was “You’ve just been as open and honest as you’ve ever been. I think we should go have some really hot sex.” (My wife is amazing).
I think physical/emotional abuse is a good reason to leave in order to seek help and to stay away to keep yourself safe so long as you need to, but not a justification for divorce.
I promised to love and support, through thick and thin, good and bad, rich or poor and just about every couple promises those same things, if not in words, then in sentiment.
So, should you always support your spouse? Yes. Should you always support what they are doing? No.
Should you always stay married (in my opinion)? Yes. Should you always stay in the same house? Perhaps not, particularly if there is harm being done, though I think you should always work towards reconciliation, if possible.
Is this easy? No! Who said being a christian would be easy?
Is it fair? No! Who said life was fair?
We are told that we will suffer for following God. Belief does not mean we get to lie in a bed of roses. It means that at the end of the day, we strive to live a perfect life as God intended.
I think much of the time (definitely not all) Christian marriages fail because they did not start with Christian dating/courting boundaries. How many of us got physically involved (not just sex) before we were 100% committed to each other. How many of us took the time to get to know our spouse? How many of us took the time to make sure we were each whole, individuals seeking God independently before getting married? The Bible says that two shall become one, but that implies that you are each a “whole” person to start with.
I guess for me, I’m saying, I would never divorce my wife. If she started cheating on me and left me, and filed for divorce, I wouldn’t sign the papers. She would need to drag me through court kicking and screaming that I still love her, and let the judge force the issue, because, for me, God forbid I end the covenant.
Ultimately it comes down to this in my mind: Our marriage is a reflection of Christ and the church, or the relationship between God and us (if you want to get personal).
I cannot say I’ve been faithful to God.
I cheat every day.
I am bad at maintaining the relationship.
I put other things first.
What if God said “well, he cheated, so he’s out, that’s the rule!”?
So, that’s my opinion. I’m curious, what’s yours? Let me know in the comments below.