Tag Archives: Committed

“WHEN THE VOW BREAKS”

I do not need to tell you that our society has embraced divorce,,, did you hear the one about the woman who was married 4 times? First, to a Millionaire, Then to an Actor, Then, to a Minister, Then, an Undertaker; “One for the money, Two for the show, Three to get ready, and Four to go”
(yeah, I thought this one was corny too)

But sadly, The effects springing from Divorce, are really huge! All kinds of problems result and let’s just face it, men aren’t designed to live by themselves because after just a few months, all the houseplants are dead –- but there’s something growing very successfully in the refrigerator.

STATISTICS: What are the RIPPLE effects of Divorce?
For the Divorcees:
#1. Divorce is the #2 greatest cause of stress,,, with the death of a spouse being #1. (This places it way above the normally recognized stressors, such as: loss of a job, financial failures, a prison sentence, etc.)
#2. Men who are divorced suffer an increased rate of cancer equal to those who are smoking a pack of cigarettes per day
#3. Divorce is like death of a spouse, only it carries the increased stress associated with rejection
#4. 10 years after a divorce, only 10% of divorcee’s say that their life has improved!
#5. 80% of divorcee’s report that they regret their divorce!

RIPPLE effects…
For the Children:
#1. The children of divorce are most certainly the biggest losers
#2. Divorce is destroying the kids… According to Dr. Judith Wallerstein, Family law, author of “Second Chances;” Long-term psychological devastation results in the kids of divorce and there are greater incidences of injury, asthma, headaches, and learning disabilities.
#3. They are involved more frequently in crime and drug abuse, and have higher rates of suicide.
#4. 70% more likely to be expelled from school
#5. 12 times more likely to be sentenced to jail
#6. Much more likely to have divorce in their own lives
#7. Fatherlessness is the #1 predictor of violent, antisocial behavior among children.

RIPPLE effects…
For the Finances:
#1. Divorce is a recipe for Poverty.
A. Time Mag. reported that in 2000 the average total household wealth of those Americans aged {decade} between 51 and 61 was $132,200 if married – If divorced, $33,700
B. Ohio State University researcher, Jay Zagorsky says that “divorce looks like one of the fastest ways to destroy your wealth. Getting married for a few years and then getting divorced is clearly not the path to financial independence.”

RIPPLE effects…
For Re-marriage:
#1. Re-marriage has its own set of dynamics and problems
• kids from the other marriage
• dealing with ex’s
Dr. Laura Schlessinger says that: “Of those who divorce in order to marry someone else, only 10% will actually marry that person, and 70% of them will divorce, i.e; only 3% of remarriages will experience a lasting marriage.

One poor husband in a re-marriage situation was doing his best. He really tried to do everything right – to be romantic with his second wife. He tried to remember all the right dates (birthday, anniversaries), but usually messed up.
One time he actually remembered – all by himself! He was so proud! He went out and bought a big spray of flowers and came into the house bellowing: “Happy 5th anniversary, dear! Bet you’re surprised I remembered!”
She was quick to respond: “You’re right! I am surprised, considering this is the anniversary of your first marriage.”

According to research, “the #1 factor in marital longevity is Endurance.”
1. Greater happiness was found by working through marital difficulty rather than running from it.
2. IN a Study conducted by Dr. Mavis Hethering, of the University of Virginia, “Out of 144 couples who had been divorced one year:
63% of the men, and 73% of the women confessed that they made a mistake by getting divorced. They stated that their marriages might have been saved if they had put in greater effort to just solve the problems instead of leaving them.
3. Another Study: After 10 years of divorce, only 10% of the divorcees said that their life had improved or that they had greater happiness since their divorce.

BUT, SADLY, PEOPLE JUST GIVE UP!
1. During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s, the Iraqi air force was equipped with the Russian built MIG 29 one of the most technologically advanced planes of all time. Even though it was an excellent plane, they suffered a remarkably high loss rate. This was especially odd since Iran had inferior planes.
Here’s what happened. The Mig-29’s were equipped with an alarm that warned the pilot whenever a guided missile had locked on to their plane. The alarm was designed to allow the pilot to take evasive measures, which were often quite successful.
But, the Iraqi pilots would eject rather than fight whenever they heard the alarm. They bailed out rather than fight.
So the Key is: NEVER GIVE UP
Dr. Paul Meier, an experienced Christian counselor, says he has never yet seen any marital conflicts that were not solvable – if both partners were willing to work at it.

2. Researchers at the University of Chicago reviewed data on 5,232 marriages. They discovered that 2/3 of those who said they had been unhappily married, but chose to keep trying, reported 5 years later that they were happily married.

Translation: “Divorce is rarely ,a legitimate, or logical solution.

Which brings up the inevitable question of: ” Where does the Divorced person stand with God?”

FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS:

TRUTH #1: God hates Divorce
A. Mal 2:16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel…..

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t’ hate it! Divorce is ALWAYS a terrible solution, much like Amputation is ALWAYS a terrible solution… but sometimes, that’s all that can be done.

TWO AMAZING FACTS:
#1 GOD INVENTED DIVORCE
He instructed Moses to write:
“If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house” (Deut 24:1)
a. Hardhearted men were kicking their wives out of the home, without divorcing them, then marrying their next victim
b. Kicking them out w/o a divorce meant the wife was still married – SHE COULD NOT REMARRY!
c. This created tremendous suffering because women couldn’t survive in that culture without a husband because women weren’t allowed to get jobs in those days, but because her hubby hadn’t divorced her, she couldn’t remarry and they were stuck in abject poverty, and if no one took mercy on them, starvation — or prostitution — were the only options
d. So, in God’s mercy, He created divorce, even though it was against His will
So, if husband decided to kick her out, God’s Law required him to give her a “certificate of divorce” (Deut 24:2) “and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man…”
Notice, she became another man’s “wife” – God recognized her new marriage
e. Clearly, the certificate of divorce had the effect of freeing her to re-marry

Even though God hates divorce, he invented it to protect women from men who would abuse the covenant of marriage!

AMAZING FACT #2:
DID YOU KNOW THAT GOD, IS A DIVORCEE, HIMSELF?
1. God had entered a marriage covenant with Israel
2. God considered Israel to be His bride, and expected her to remain faithful to their marriage bond……just as in a human marriage
3. He didn’t want a divorce any more than any of us would want a divorce, but it happened — Don’t think that God loved Israel any less than you love your spouse
4. Israel was unfaithful to her Husband, and “prostituted” herself with idolatries
5. Jer 3:8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.
6. So….God, Himself, has experienced the pain of being rejected by an adulterous spouse…..and the suffering of divorce.
7. He knows what it feels like to be divorced – he’s been there!!!

TRUTH #2: GOD SEES MARRIAGE AS A LIFE-LONG COMMITMENT

QUESTION #1: Mat 19:3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
a. Divorce was a hot issue in the first century, just like today
b. They all had their own interpretations of what Moses wrote:
c. “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of
divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house” (Deut 24:1)
1. The terms “displeasing” and “something indecent” are the basis of
their question i.e; What is “indecent” or “displeasing”?
2. There were two schools of thought among the Jews:
a. Shammai: Only adultery could bring about divorce
b. Hillel: Anything that displeases the husband, including a few new wrinkles, or talks too much,
3. Needless to say: Hillel’s teachings were by far the most popular!!!!
4. Under Hillel’s teaching, a man could divorce his wife if she burned dinner.

JESUS’ ANSWER TO QUESTION #1
(Matt 19:4-6) “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ (5) and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? (6) So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
a. Jesus looks back to creation of Adam and Eve
b. Jesus is saying that the creation shows God’s intention. Adam and Eve were God’s pattern for marriage
1 man
1 woman
For life
c. It’s not that hard to understand, but many government legislatures – and even churches can’t seem to pick it up!
—————————–

QUESTION #2
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (Mt 19:7)
a. The Pharisees understood what Jesus was saying – – – That marriage
(according to God’s plan is “till death do us part.”
b. Now they ask: If that is so, why does Moses talk about a “certificate of divorce”? Are you saying Moses was wrong when he wrote Deut 24:1?

JESUS’ ANSWER TO QUESTION #2
“Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” (Mt 19:8)
A. Jesus Answer:
1. God’s standards are unchanged – – –
2. But because of the hardness of man’s heart, God permitted divorce
a. God permitted it to mitigate the disaster being caused by man’s hardness
b. He permitted divorce because men refused to come up to His standards, and God needed to protect the wives
B. “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital
unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Mt 19:9)
– – – Just to make sure everyone understands, he says it bluntly,
“So, lets say that you were having struggles with your spouse, you’re
considering divorce, and you wanted to know what you should do. So, you came to COUNSELOR, JESUS, and asked Him what you should do, what would he tell you???

TRUTH #3: GOD STARTS WITH EVERY ONE OF US, WHERE WE ARE

Consider how things were among the Jews in the first century: 1. As noted earlier, Hillel’s teachings had swept Jewish culture
a. The Pharisees – ultra conservative religious leaders – obviously clung to the teachings of Hillel
b. The common people followed suit
– – – People seem to rise no higher than the lowest acceptable level

Two Shockers:
Shocker #1: 90% OF THE JEWISH POPULATION OF JESUS’ DAY HAD BEEN DIVORCED AND REMARRIED 5 TIMES OR MORE!
a. Remember the Woman at the well???? (John 4)
Q. How many husbands did she have?
A. She had 5 husbands and the man she was currently with was NOT her husband
b. Divorce was far more prevalent than what we see today

Shocker #2: EVEN THE DISCIPLES COULDN’T BELIEVE THAT GOD
INTENDED MARRIAGE TO BE FOR LIFE
a. Remember the passage in Mt 19 where Jesus said God created Adam and Eve, and that we were not to divorce except for adultery?????
b. Do you know what the disciples said in response to this????
“The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (Mt 19:10)
1. That’s Peter, James, John, and the other guys
2. They figured: If it’s one woman for life, it is best to stay single!
3. They considered being stuck with your first wife for life would be like being sentenced to a lifetime in the jail. There’s no escape from that woman!!!
4. “Esposa” = Spanish word for “wife” – also means “Handcuffs”
5. They were still thinking like their culture…..a long way from Christ’s thinking
6. I would not be the least bit surprised if Peter James and John and the others had been divorced and remarried…….
………..especially Peter!
c. BUT WHEN WE COME TO JESUS, WE COME “JUST AS I AM”
1. We come to Him as we are….
2. We would think that in an environment of divorce like we see in 1st century Israel, Jesus would say something like: “All you who were divorced and remarried must Divorce your current spouse and go back to your first spouse and anyone who has been divorced should have no part of the church, and anyone who is married to a divorcee is living in adultery and bound to hell …because that’s what preachers are preaching today!

BUT JESUS’ ATTITUDE TOWARD THE WOMAN AT THE WELL IS INSTRUCTIVE:

A. WHAT DID JESUS SAY TO THE WOMAN AT THE WELL?
John 4:16 “He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” (17) “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. (18) The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (Jn 4:16-18)
1. HE SPOKE OF HER 5 HUSBANDS, WHICH MEANS HE RECOGNIZED EACH OF HER SUCCEEDING MARRIAGES AS VALID
a. He did NOT say: “You had 1 husband and have been living in sin ever since”
b. He did NOT say: “You must divorce your current husband and go back to your first husband – or if that is not possible, live in celibacy all your life”
c. Since He referred to each succeeding man as her “husband” “…you have had 5 husbands….” He must have recognized her previous divorces and remarriages as real marriages
2. IN CONTRAST, JESUS DID NOT RECOGNIZE HER LIVING WITH A MAN AS BEING IN A MARRIED STATE – HE DIFFERENTIATED THAT FROM HER MARRIAGES.
3. MOST IMPORTANT: JESUS WAS NOT RUDE OR BITTER TOWARD HER. HE TREATED HER WITH DIGNITY AND LOVE
a. Even though she was living in an immoral relationship with her boyfriend, roommate, lover – whatever you want to call it
b. He still didn’t treat her with disdain as so many churches treat people today who are living in similar circumstances
c. Notice that Jesus did not ignore her past, but neither did He lock her into her past and allow it to limit her future
d. It’s good to stand for the sanctity of marriage – but we must balance our stand with a Christ-like spirit in accepting people from wherever they come
e. Jesus didn’t approve of her relationships, but He didn’t lock her into her past, either

WHAT SHOULD BE MY ATTITUDE TOWARD THE DIVORCED? SHOULD WE HAVE THE SAME ATTITUDE AS JESUS?
1. What a revolutionary concept!!!
2. Jesus upheld God’s plan of marriage for life…..
….He taught that plan plainly
3. But, at the same time, he loved those whose marriages had not lived up to that standard

CONCLUSION: Wherever you are at this moment, move towards the Cross.
A. God always starts with people where they are
1. If you’re divorced, you probably won’t be able to unscramble the results of your failed marriage
2. If you initiated a divorce for some illegitimate reason, what should you do? Move toward the cross
3. If you did your very best in your home, and your spouse cast you out of his/her life, what do you do? Move toward the cross
4. Jesus said: Jn 6:37b “…and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

B. WHO ARE YOU – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
1. Wherever you are right now – whatever we have done – move toward the cross.

HERE IS MCC’s POSITION PAPER ON DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
Mid-Lakes Christian Church

The Bible says that the institution of marriage was created by God (Gen. 2:21-25). Therefore we believe God’s Word should be our source of authority for defining marriage and setting the boundaries for the marriage relationship. The Bible says that God intends for marriage to be a monogamous, life-long, loving relationship between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:6). Marriage is the highest of all human relationships, provided by God as the best environment for relational intimacy (Gen. 2:18, 25) and child rearing (Gen. 1:27-28). The love between a husband and a wife is to be an illustration of the love and faithfulness between God and his people (Mal. 2:13-16; Eph. 5:22-33).

God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), but because of the influence of sin in the world (Jesus called it “the hardness of your hearts” in Matt. 19:8), the Bible makes some concessions for divorce and remarriage. The Scriptures give two justifiable reasons for divorce: adultery (Matt. 19:9) and abandonment (1 Cor. 7:15). Divorce is allowable in the case of marital unfaithfulness because the marriage covenant has been broken, but this is a concession and not a command. God still hates divorce, and if at all possible, if the unfaithful spouse shows signs of repentance and a willingness to recommit, we encourage the innocent party to seek forgiveness and restoration.

The Mid-Lakes elders have identified five scenarios under which a person who has been previously married may marry again. Any Mid-Lakes member desiring to be remarried by one of our ministers or in our building must meet one of these five criteria:
The former spouse has passed away (1 Cor. 7:39).
The divorce occurred prior to salvation (2 Cor. 5:17).
The former spouse has remarried (Deut. 24:1-4).
Abandonment by the former spouse (1 Cor. 7:15).
Adultery broke the marriage covenant (Matt. 19:9). When the one desiring to remarry was the guilty party, there must first be signs of repentance and a desire to reconcile with his or her former spouse. If the former spouse is unable or unwilling to reconcile, then after prayer and godly counsel we may allow the person to remarry.

We recognize that these biblical parameters do not allow divorce under other circumstances where divorce might seem warranted. The Bible does make a distinction between physical separation and divorce (1 Cor. 7:5), so we would counsel people in certain difficult situations that physical separation may be warranted until a godly counselor advises otherwise.

We counsel those who recognize they were remarried outside of the biblical boundaries to repent of their pattern of divorcing and remain faithful to the one to whom they are currently married (Deut. 24:1-4). The grace of Christ can be extended to those who have been divorced for unbiblical reasons. Those who have made wrong decisions in the past cannot undo their mistakes, but must be faithful to Christ in the situation in which they currently find themselves.

Questions often arise as to whether a person who has been divorced is eligible for a leadership position at Mid-Lakes. Because the Scripture says that an elder must be “the husband of but one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2 – literally “a one-woman man”), some contend that a person desiring to be an elder or pastor in the church must not have been divorced. It is our position that a divorce in a person’s past does not automatically exclude him from future church leadership. The passage in 1 Timothy 3 also says that an elder must not be given to drunkenness or violence. Most Christians agree that if a man got drunk or was in a fight many years ago as a youngster, that event should not disqualify him from leadership. The nature and circumstances of the offense and the length of time of proven credibility are all taken into account in determining whether a person is qualified for a leadership position. The same should apply to a person’s past divorce. If murder didn’t disqualify Paul from becoming an apostle and missionary after a decade of proven credibility, a divorce in someone’s past shouldn’t automatically disqualify that person from serving as a church leader.

We have instituted several policies and practices to help protect the members of our church from the trauma of divorce and to hold high the ideals of biblical marriage and sexual purity. We frequently preach about marriage, and we provide frequent classes, to our church attendees. We confront and counsel those whom we know are unfaithful to their spouses. Unmarried couples who are cohabiting are asked to repent of their sexual impurity and separate before they may be married in the church or by one of our ministers. Cohabiting couples desiring to become members of the church must separate or get married before membership is granted.

According to Jesus Christ’s instructions in the Bible, Christians must live in a manner distinct from that of the world. Christians are commanded to hold to a higher standard of moral virtue and purity, guided by the principles of God’s Holy Word. We have instituted these guidelines and practices in an effort to help our members to reflect Christ’s love for the church in their marriages.