As I sat in a hair salon recently the conversation by the chatty and vociferous ladies turned to marriage. On hearing that I was a Marriage Coach, one lady asked, “What are the reasons the Bible gives for leaving my husband?” I paused for a moment, knowing that I needed to give a delicate but wise response. Finally I proposed, “While there certainly are biblical reasons for leaving a spouse there are a whole lot more reasons to stay.” The conversation quietened.
God said in Malachi 2:16, “I hate divorce.” Have we really stopped to find out why? Certainly God does not wish for us to stay in relationships where there is continuous conflict, emotional pain and even the threat of physical harm. But counselors and therapists will tell you that the pain of divorce is worse than if the other person had died. There is so much loss associated with it. Loss of the spouse, loss of a home, car and other personal comforts, loss of children, loss of ministry or a job, loss of income, loss of family and family celebrations, loss of friends. There may be relocation, dislocation, economic hardship and inconveniences you never anticipated.
Clearly you can see that divorce is not just a bout of anger after which you go for a walk in the park or take a trip to the shopping mall to cool down. There is permanent and pervasive damage not only to you and your spouse but so many others. The expansive debris-field from the divorce explosion now has not only families at risk but entire communities and nations. Do you still wonder why God hates divorce when his entire purpose is to eliminate hurt and brokenness and to reestablish oneness through His Son Jesus Christ?
In my own experience, after marital breakdown at the age of 23, I spent the next 15 years in a wilderness of life, seeking for the perfect husband and family. I endured much humiliation, low self-esteem, economic hardship and loneliness. I didn’t think it could have been worse out there than it was in the marriage. I had wanted out at any cost. It was what I desired. It might have helped if I knew the cost up front. It might have helped if I knew that everything I desired was not the best thing for me. I experienced my greatest hurts and disappointments, not in my previous marriage, but in the futile meaningless relationships that followed.
Many divorce decisions come about when we do not believe God and trust in his salvation (Psalm 78:22). Divorce decisions are often more a reflection of our spiritual condition than that of our marriage relationship. In the same way that God can save us from the brokeness of sin, He can save our marriages from broken expectations and painful experiences. Our God is a God who saves (Psalm 68:20) and there is no limit to His love for us. His love endures forever and as we surrender to him we can discover this amazing love that bears all things, believes all things and hopes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).
My friend, take a moment to explore the biblical reasons to stay with your spouse and experience the vast reach of God’s redemptive grace and power. Don’t rob yourself of an opportunity to see and testify of His miraculous power to transform your life and your spouse.
(First published by Laura Meyer at www.virtuematters.com, 2012/07/10)