Divorce (3)

Young couple have problems in relationshipMore about divorce

In many trivial and not so trivial cases, some people have a tendency to make decisions that supposedly will not cause others to talk badly about them. Does this principle work? Is it a good guide to make decisions? Will people ever make bad comments about other people? Does the Bible teach that we should please people, or we should rather please God?

Christian principles?

Very often Christian spouses are expected to stay in the marriage and pay all costs, while their partners are given some strange privileges of being taken care of in the name of protecting the values of Christianity. I do not understand this reasoning. Should Christians forget their spiritual values and submit to evil influences, or evil forces, for the sake of remaining in the marriage? Does God want anyone to be trapped in the marriage, which Paul calls unequally yoked.[1] Should not we rather free people from bondage and allow them free growth in relationship with God? If a Christians submits to their spouses and become a servant tied up to their spouse, does this portray Christianity in a better light than leaving the bondage and bring fruits to God? I guess that in too many cases the bondage is viewed as a responsibility of a Christian, while a non-Christian is made to be a master that dictates a lifestyle to a Christian. To me such arrangement is in clear contradiction to Christian principles. If the failing party listens and tries to grow, the matter may be justified, but when the marriage requires giving up Christian principles and submission of a Christian to be ruled by a non-Christian, it should not be tolerated.

Trapped for life

For some people trapped in failed marriage relationships, whether the disaster was predictable (eg. uneven marriage) or occurred later on in the marriage (eg. when one party begins to make decisions that are spiritually or physically destructive to another party some time after the marriage), God allows for breaking of the marriage covenant and releasing the innocent party, thus choosing the lesser of the two evils.

Suppose that a couple gets married, and after the wedding night one party declares: “I tried to imagine that I slept with someone else, and it was dreadful to think that I would like to spend the rest of my life with you.” What should we suggest to the innocent party? Never marry again? Should someone be given the right to decide celibacy of another person? Does God design laws that allow one person to trap another person for life? Not to my understanding of the love of God.

Did Jesus nullify anything?

Some people argue that the only reason approved by God to break marriage vows is unfaithfulness of one partner, and any other divorce ends up in adultery.[2] But Jesus did not say that the laws described by Moses in regard to divorce for another reason than unfaithfulness are becoming invalid; He just emphasized an ideal design of God for mankind, and even mentioned that He was talking about the rules that were given “from the beginning”[3] which is 25 centuries before Moses issued the law of the possible divorce.[4] It would be impossible for Jesus to satisfactory answer Pharisees’ question about reasons for divorce if He did not discuss the original rules given “from the beginning” but instead set principle to distinguish between valid and invalid reasons for divorce. There were other laws added by Moses, because it was better to introduce some laws who advised eg. what to do when a man raped an unmarried woman (he may have her as a wife, but must never divorce her)[5] or what to do when her father invalidated the law because eg. he could predict that it would be better for a raped woman to remain unmarried with a child than to have a husband who would not look after his wife well enough.[6] Would such a woman be allowed to marry? If yes, some additional laws would be required to deal with her case.

Jesus speaks of the original laws

When Jesus spoke with Pharisees,[7] He did not say that some or all additional laws are wrong and invalid; He said that originally these laws did not exist and were introduced to help those for who failed to keep God’s original standard.

Apostle Paul advised to not cooperate with those who have a different system of beliefs because the basic principles of true and false systems make it hard to achieve any significant results.[8] But even when only one spouse decides to follow Jesus, Paul does not advice to divorce if they both can more or less harmoniously maintain their marriage. So, divorce is acceptable, but the decision to divorce should not be taken lightly. Again, in critical situations people are more important than laws. Therefore, the marriage vows should not be kept at any cost, because the cost must not exceed the value of people who are involved. To rescue people is more important than to keep the marriage vows.

Jesus reminds about the laws that were embedded in God’s original laws handed down by Moses. Priests clearly broke the Sabbath laws yet they remained without guilt.[9] The above case shows that people are more important than laws. When Jesus healed the sick on Sabbath,[10] or allowed to prepare food,[11] He upheld the same principle — the laws are made for people, not people for the law, which is so beautifully presented in case of the Sabbath: the Sabbath is made for people, not people for the Sabbath.[12]

In ancient Israel when God was in charge of the civil law for His people, He was very firm in case someone rejected Him. For the benefit of the family and the whole nation it was better to stone the person who were to introduce false worship than to put up with it and let others copy the apostasy. We may think it was too harsh, but God knows better, so it is better for us to accept God’s concept. Of course, God’s laws are often spurned at, but after all we experience the results of humans laws on our own skins. We cannot demand the courts of the land to execute our own (or God’s) rules, but we must not ignore the seriousness of the issue.

Tendency of humans

Adam and Eve’s case demonstrates clearly that human beings cling rather to what other humans say or do than to what God commanded. Therefore we should not be surprised that the same God commanded rather to remove the person who was introducing false worship than risk to follow them and perish with them. Although we must not demand capital punishment over anybody (for we are not omniscient as God is), but we should choose to cut off from the person who follows false gods. The decision should not be taken lightly, but should not be delayed for too long, or the risk of damage or a complete loss of relationship with God may follow.

Practice shows that the bonds with existing family members are so strong that they often weaken and break relationship with God. In such cases, instead of losing just one person, God looses at least one more. Therefore it is much better if the apostasizing person is left alone and even excluded from church community, because then the person has the best chance to rethink their position and return to God.[13] Our nagging, ‘preaching,’ begging and other methods hardly ever bring good effects. So, no matter how it hurts, we should follow God’s advice and leave the case to Him.

Marriage was designed to be a little heaven in the world ruled by Satan. It should never and for any reason be allowed to be a hell that damages and destroys all parties involved. If harmony cannot be provided, which often depends on free choice of one spouse, it may be better to end the marriage than trying to rebuild it at any cost. It may save a lot of heartache, pain, guilt, feeling of failure, disappointment, being get stuck, wasted effort, etc.. It may be better to move on and rebuild strength and faith of all individuals involved before making other steps. In some difficult cases it may be appropriate to apply Jesus’s advise to not waste valuables on an unworthy cause and avoid any danger or losses.[14]

People are more important

It is true that Jesus said that “what God has joined together let no man separate”[15] and that the laws for other reasons to divorce than sexual immorality were introduced only because of man have degraded.[16] Disciples were so afraid about the original desire of God for all people that they quickly concluded that it is better to not marry at all than to attempt such high standard[17] and fail. But Jesus calmed them down and promised that it is not as difficult as it seems at first.[18] God’s standard is high indeed, but people are more important than laws. God does not want people to stay in the marriage at any cost and curse God for strict laws that no one is able to obey. If it is too hard to bear, people are more important than laws.

Did God approve all marriages?

We often hang on the words “what God has joined together let no man separate” and insist that no one should break marriage vows. I just wonder why we assume that all marriage vows are made in agreement with God’s advise. How do we know that it was God who joined a particular couple? May be it was Satan who did it(?). Will we insist that the wedding held according to the rules of the worship of the dead was ever accepted by God? Would God insist that marriage vows made by people who were not fully aware that they are partaking in demon worship are binding? If a person realized that his/her marriage is based on such principles, they should end the bondage and break the marriage vows, if the spouse continues in their relationship with demons.[19] Or they risk their eternal life. Much more in the case, when the spouse has experienced relationship with God and then refused it.[20]

Only one spouse begins to follow God

Apostle Paul teaches to not partnership with people who have different belief system[21] because there is hardly anything in common between true and false belief system, which will result in friction, failures, unhappiness, even apostasy.[22] Paul advised that those people who are already married, when one spouse chooses to follow God, and the other does not, do not need to divorce, because a good example of a Christian spouse may encourage another spouse to follow a good example,[23] but it is never guaranteed.[24] And there is hardly any chance when someone who was once baptized, abandons God, turns to the worship of the dead, and openly declares that he/she never felt comfortable with God and never will.

The guilty party to be served

Unfortunately it is often the case that the people who are bringing the marriage down and become the reason for divorce get most of the attention and are vindicated to the position where they become the reason to mend the marriage at any cost. On the other hand, the person who struggles to keep the marriage, discouraged and exhausted, is subconsciously and imperceptibly treated as the one who is guilty and responsible for rebuilding the marriage. My question is: why the person who was the reason for marriage breakdown is not given the responsibility for mending the marriage, and the person who struggled to keep it working is not advised to rest and see if the solution offered by the guilty party have a chance to rebuild the marriage?

In some cases the guilty party seeks relief in drinking alcohol or other unholy activities. These activities increase the burden for the other party who already worked hard and, exhausted and distressed, decided to call it quits and seek the way to save themselves, after the hope for mending the marriage has gone down the tubes. I pose a question for the above case: how does one dare to:

  1. ask to mend the marriage by the party who struggled to get themselves out of exhaustion after a long period of struggles to mend the marriage,
  2. and offer to be given all attention and care by the party who are the reason for marriage breakdown and who additionally gets involved in unholy activities instead of mending the marriage?

I can understand why some attempts are done in this direction, but please do not overburden those who already struggle hard enough, and do not ask them to rescue the faulty party at any price. In some cases the faulty party will not make much effort (if at all), and the right party may collapse under the pressure and give up on God who supposedly expects them to do tasks that are beyond their reach.

Too much care

Being a member of various churches I have never seen a case where a church board would make a decision similar to the one advised by Paul to the church in Corinth. We usually bend ourselves backwards to become kind and attractive to those who clearly reject God. For instance, when someone who has been baptised but later on declared that he/she never felt comfortable with God and never will, is it not the case that qualifies for the advice given by Paul? Instead of cushioning the way and providing all kindness, should we not do something to show the person that he/she should not take advantage of the resources that God provides for those who seek Him? What do we teach others by spending God-given resources for those who stay in the church community, enjoy the privileges, yet do not make any efforts to come closer to Him? Aren’t church members responsible for the wrong management of God’s resources?

Paul advised to remove such a person from the community, disconnect them from the resources provided by God for the expansion of His kingdom, and let them experience facing eternal loss before it is too late to wake up?[25] It may be hard to do it, but it may be the only way for a person to start searching for God. To provide for such a person usually distracts from spiritual needs of people and focuses on everyday living without God, which means a disservice to them. Therefore we should remember that sometimes too much care defeats our purpose of helping the person.

Will be continued…

[1]      Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2Co6:14nkjv

[2]      But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. Mt5:32nkjv

[3]      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.” Mt19:8nkjv

[4]      When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, Dt24:1nkjv

[5]      If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days. Dt22:28–29nkjv

[6]      If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. • If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins. Ex22:16–17nasb

[7]      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.  Mt19:8nkjv

[8]      Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  2Co6:14nkjv

[9]      Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?  Mt12:5nkjv

[10]     The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”  Lk13:15–16nkjv

[11]     But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?  Mt12:3–4nkjv

[12]     And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  Mk2:27nkjv

[13]     by analogy: deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  1Co5:5nkjv

[14]     Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.  Mt7:6nkjv

[15]     Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.  Mt19:6nkjv

[16]     Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  Mt19:8nkjv

[17]     His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”  Mt19:10nkjv

[18]     But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given:  Mt19:11nkjv

[19]     Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; Ep5:11nasb

[20]     I know of the case when a husband asked for a baptism, but in a few years rejected God and said: “I never felt comfortable with God and never will.”

[21]     Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  2Co6:14nkjv

[22]     and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.  Ex34:16nkjv

[23]     And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.  1Co7:13nkjv

[24]     For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?  1Co7:16nkjv

[25]     deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  1Co5:5nkjv

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