Thu, Sep 24th - 3:07PM
Divorce -- What about it?
1 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, 2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, 3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
5 If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.
Deuteronomy 24:1-5 (NIV)
1 "If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him and marries another man,
should he return to her again?
Would not the land be completely defiled?
But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers—
would you now return to me?"
declares the LORD.
2 "Look up to the barren heights and see.
Is there any place where you have not been ravished?
By the roadside you sat waiting for lovers,
sat like a nomad [or Arab] in the desert.
You have defiled the land
with your prostitution and wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withheld,
and no spring rains have fallen.
Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute;
you refuse to blush with shame.
4 Have you not just called to me:
'My Father, my friend from my youth,
5 will you always be angry?
Will your wrath continue forever?'
This is how you talk,
but you do all the evil you can."
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, "Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel's immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense," declares the LORD.
11 The LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:
" 'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the LORD,
'I will frown on you no longer,
for I am merciful,' declares the LORD,
'I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the LORD your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,' "
declares the LORD.
14 "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance.
19 "I myself said,
" 'How gladly would I treat you like sons
and give you a desirable land,
the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.'
I thought you would call me 'Father'
and not turn away from following me.
20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband,
so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel,"
declares the LORD.
21 A cry is heard on the barren heights,
the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel,
because they have perverted their ways
and have forgotten the LORD their God.
22 "Return, faithless people;
I will cure you of backsliding."
"Yes, we will come to you,
for you are the LORD our God.
23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills
and mountains is a deception;
surely in the LORD our God
is the salvation of Israel.
24 From our youth shameful gods have consumed
the fruits of our fathers' labor—
their flocks and herds,
their sons and daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame,
and let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the LORD our God,
both we and our fathers;
from our youth till this day
we have not obeyed the LORD our God."
Jeremiah 3 (NIV)
31"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' 32But 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.
Matthew 5:31-32 (NIV)
3And Pharisees came to Him and put Him to the test by asking, Is it lawful and right to dismiss and repudiate and divorce one's wife for any and every cause?
4He replied, Have you never read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female,
5And said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be united firmly (joined inseparably) to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?
6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder (separate).
7They said to Him, Why then did Moses command [us] to give a certificate of divorce and thus to dismiss and repudiate a wife?
8He said to them, Because of the hardness (stubbornness and perversity) of your hearts Moses permitted you to dismiss and repudiate and divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been so [ordained].
9I say to you: whoever dismisses (repudiates, divorces) his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
10The disciples said to Him, If the case of a man with his wife is like this, it is neither profitable nor advisable to marry.
11But He said to them, Not all men can accept this saying, but it is for those to whom [the capacity to receive] it has been given.
Matthew 19:3-11 (AMP)
I put all of this in front of you and ask you: What does God think of Divorce? He allows it because of the hardness of our hearts. By allowing it, he does not sanctify it in any way. Divorce is not anywhere in the plan. It never was. It never will be. Look at Israel, playing the whore -- what do you see? Under the Law expressed in Deuteronomy, should God have ever taken Israel back? What about Judah? And yet, what does He do? Correct, he seeks reconciliation, again and again and again. (this was not the only time, mind you) What is the message of the Cross? Reconciliation through sacrifice!
Now when does divorce happen? Is it when the papers are signed and everyone goes a different way? I think that is what the world wants you to believe. That, dear friends is not the case. The paper is not more important than the person. It never has been and never will be. When you withhold yourself from your spouse to make a point: "You aren't getting any until..." do you think you are not breaking the bond, and divorcing yourself from that person in at least a small way? Is a small sin still a sin? How does one respond when the other is a non-believer? What about if they are a believer but act as if they are not? I would say you have a cross to bear in either case. Consider it an honor, but not an easy one.
Lest you think of me too highly, let me share this:
At one time my wife felt the need to complain about various things in my life. I must admit, it was quite the laundry list. Some of you might find that surprising. Others of you will not. Regardless of that, three items I will mention here:
1) I was spending too much time at work. -- I agreed and cut back. I even cut back and fight with that to this day, despite the pressure I often get at work to do otherwise.
2) I was spending too much time at school. -- I agreed and when I finished my Masters Degree (which I was close to) I promised not to go to school unless it was paid for and I was given time off from my job to do so.
3) I was spending too much time with my Military Commitments and needed to quit. -- Sadly, I did not give this the credence it deserved. You see, I was in the military before I met my wife. After knowing her for 2 weeks I left for 2 weeks. In my mind, that meant she understood what she was getting into, and had no right to make such a demand of me. Look at Deut 24:5. Yes, this was well after the first year of our marriage. Tell me, does that matter?
To explain further, let me give you this:
1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command.
1 Corinthians 7:1-6 (NIV)
Now look at this closely. Verse 3 addresses this "holding out" manuever. Don't you do it! Verses 1 and 2 explain Matt 19:10-11 a little more. Understand what you are doing. You are giving yourself and the one you marry an extra line of defense against immorality. How do you think that works? Honestly, does it weaken or strengthen that defense when you neglect the advice of verse 3? If they fall prey to immoral behaviour when you do this do you truely think you are blameless in this? I am not trying to cast a stone -- rather I would wish you not to cast that first stone. Have pity. Reconcile with them. Remember Christ writing in the sand with the Adulteress Standing before him? He had every right to cast that first stone, but in love and compassion chose not to. Christ is our example. It does not get much clearer than this for me, folks!
It was not by mutual understanding that I remained in the Military and she endured our seperation. That violates the spirit of verse 5. That I might be ok with it was not enough. She needed to be ok with it. She was not. I screwed that one up, I guess. Do you think I paid a cost? I thank God for every cost I pay in this life tht will not need to be paid in the next!
On this idea of the Cross, I'd like to go just a little farther with this. Let's take the following passage:
46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.
Luke 11:46 (NLT)
And let us contrast it with this:
1BRETHREN, IF any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.
2Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].
3For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another's load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.
4But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.
5For every person will have to bear (be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [little] load [of oppressive faults].
Galatians 6:1-5 (AMP)
Make no mistake; I am laying a load on the shoulders of some people here. At the same time, I am willing to do what I can to help carry that load. It may be one of the more oppressive ones to deal with. I find it so, at least. There are a lot of verses on purity, and they relate to what I am talking about here. But that is not the underlying message I am trying to get through. What I am trying to get through is that in our relationships, especially this one, we need to have the attitude of Christ. He bore all of our sins on a Cross to reconcile us to Himself, despite our unworthiness. Now, there are times that this might be enabling a person to do more wrong. I am not against a person going against the form of what I am saying here if it truely is something you are doing for the good of the other, not out of some ulterior self interest. However, we have been called to willingly bear a cross. For some of us, this very thing may be the burden we are called to bear. Not very glorious seeming, is it? Who amoung the Jews taunting Christ or even his followers watching from afar that it was Glorious as they watched Jesus being led off to be crucified? And yet I will say to you, that Christ, as this was happening to Him, was at the most Humble He has ever been shown to be and at the Same time, He was being His most Glorious Example -- Giving His Life so that We Might Live! This he did to Glorify the Father, not even Himself! We are not that good, but we are challenged to try! We won't do it on our own. But God sends us Help.
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Matthew 16:23-25 (NIV)
35 For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
40"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.
Matthew 10:35-40 (NIV)
Do this with the attitude of doing this for Christ. Do not do this as the world would, seeking the gain of their love and approval. I cannot say I do this part very well; there is always some small part of me that is doing it for those wrong reasons. Most of the time it is probably more for that than for the right reasons of following Christ. But I will not let tht stop me from doing what I know to be right. I ask God to work on my heart and do it anyway.
32As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Matthew 27:32-37 (NIV)
I leave you with this image. Christ even had someone help carry that cross. Certainly, they bore less of the load than He did, but nevertheless, aid was sent to him. I do not want this lost on you. Christ even was given help to carry the burden. Don't be too proud to take help from others.
I realise this has been a long post. I saw no good place to break this up well, so I did not.
Blessings on All,