Sunday, October 30, 2011
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GODLY HOMES IN AN
UNGODLY WORLD – 3
Divorce (and Remarriage)
As we continue our study of the home, we follow-up last week’s lesson with a lesson on divorce and remarriage. While last week’s lesson dealt with uncomfortable subject matter, this week we deal with unpleasant things.
It is a sad reality, but the subject of divorce must be dealt with. As with last week’s lesson on the purpose of marriage, this is at the beginning of this study because the topic needs to be clearly understood BEFORE marriage takes place. And as we begin discussing preparation for marriage and dating, these thoughts need to be in our mind.
a. In both lessons in our study thus far we have noted this point. It is IMPORTANT! The Bible is unmistakably clear that marriage is intended to last “till death do us part.”
b. Gen. 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
c. Matt. 19:4-6, Jesus added, “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together do not let man separate.” Furthering the pursuit, the Pharisees asked Jesus why Moses permitted divorce. This prompted Jesus to say, “’Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." (Matt. 19:8-9)
d. Romans 7:2-3 says, “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”
e. 1 Corinthians 7:39 repeats this same idea.
f. It CANNOT be disputed that God intends for a marriage to last for life. We MUST build our study of the home and marriage upon this premise.
a. We have shown that marriage in our country is not given the high honor it once had. While a majority still views marriage as an institution to be reverenced, the numbers who believe so are steadily declining.
i. In a recent survey released by the Pew Research Center, 2691 Americans were surveyed. They were asked if marriage is becoming obsolete. 39% percent said it is. This compared to a Time magazine survey in 1978 which only 28% agreed.
ii. Many avoid marriage all together (while seeking the benefits God reserved for it), others end their marriages for multitudes of reasons. Many states have no-fault divorces – permitting divorce for any or no reason at all. Some states, (California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana and Minnesota) do not release divorce statistics. (I wonder why?) Many couples who do marry have taken, “till death do us part” out of their vows. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to see celebrities and other high-profile individuals divorce and remarry at will and at times over and over, with seemingly little concern from society.
b. We have shown that statistics demonstrate the divorce rate is higher now than decades ago. And while it is not at record highs, the numbers are still alarming. There is clearly less commitment to the act of marriage now than in times past in this nation.
CORRECTION: In my
introductory lesson, I noted that the divorce rate is nearly 50%.
That number was based upon the number of marriages and divorces
that take place within a given year. (i.e.
I was informed that such a statistic is not accurate because the
average marriage lasts longer than a year - I believe the number is
somewhere around 8 years).
The 50% number is based upon
statistics (where available) that show that for every 2 marriages there
is 1 divorce (For example, the CDC reported that in 2009 there were 6.8
marriages per 1000 and 3.4 divorces per 1000).
Obtaining accurate divorce statistics are difficult because of a
number of factors involved in census information and numerous surveys
and their methods, and that makes it hard to achieve an accurate number.
But we KNOW the number is HIGH.
AND it is generally PROJECTED (based on numerous surveys and
studies) that the likelihood of a young couple divorcing is between
40-50% if TRENDS continue at current pace.
This is not intended to discourage marriage but to ALARM those getting married to take it more seriously. AND from a Biblical perspective it IS a problem. In fact, the circumstances under which you marry (factors including economic stability, age, education, religion, family marital history, etc.) drastically affect your individual chances of a successful marriage. This is one of the reasons WHY we are engaged in this study!
d. Furthermore, it has been documented that divorce has an overall negative impact on society and the families involved. Children from divorced families are more like to experience problems requiring professional help (Note: To be fair, the majority of children involved in divorce recover without any major issues – but the numbers needing help are higher – i.e. 90% of children in intact family are in “normal range” while 74% of boys and 66% of girls from divorced families are in normal range).
e. Children from divorced families are more likely to have problems with:
i. Parental loss – loss of contact with a parent. Children are the victims of divorce. They often loose contact and time with someone they love and that needs to be in their life.
ii. Economic loss – single parents struggle more to make ends meet.
iii. More stressful life – changes in living environments, dealing with adjustments, etc.
iv. Poor parental adjustments – the stress of parents affects the children.
v. Parental incompetence – how can a mother do the job of a father OR a father do the job of a mother?
vi. Conflict between parents – they experience the hostility and tension. It causes children to feel guilty, confused and alone.
f. Other observations:
i. Children of divorced parents are statistically more likely to divorce themselves or to not marry.
ii. They are at greater risk to develop health problems
iii. They are more likely to be involved in crime and to be victims of abuse.
a. Where there is divorce, sin is ALWAYS involved. NEVER in the Bible is divorce looked upon favorably. There were times when it was permitted, but that still did not make it good.
i. It was permitted under the Old Law – Matt. 19:8, but it was not what God intended.
ii. It is permitted even now, but ONLY for one cause – fornication (adultery) – Matt. 19:9. NOTE: That even in this circumstance, while the innocent party may be innocent as to the divorce and remarriage, the cause of the divorce IS sin – by the guilty party. The reason divorce is permitted in this case is because the marriage covenant was broken.
– let us start with an Old Testament passage.
“And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord
with tears, With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering
anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say,
"For what reason?" Because the Lord has been witness between you and the
wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is
your companion And your wife by covenant. 15 But did He not make them
one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly
offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal
treacherously with the wife of his youth. 16 "For
the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's
garment with violence" Says the Lord of hosts. "Therefore take heed
to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously."
In this text we learn an absolute truth about God and divorce – HE HATES IT! For us that ought to be the prime factor as we examine what the Bible says about marriage.
Several years ago, a preacher dealing with the subject of divorce said “the best thing that can be said about divorce is that it is worse than death.” In so many instances that is a true statement.
With death there is finality. Studies have shown that children deal better with the death of a parent than with a bitter divorce arrangement. Often in divorce, there is hatred, animosity; children are used as pawns, etc. Add to this all the observations made above, we can understand this statement.
c. Matthew 5:31-32, "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 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.” NOTE how in this text Jesus emphasizes the ONLY acceptable cause for divorce is fornication.
d. Matthew 19:8-9 repeats this exception and permits the innocent party to remarry. We will discuss this text more when we speak of who may remarry.
e. Mark 10:1-12 seems to be Mark’s account of the above occasion. Mark doesn’t deal with the exception but straightforward the answer to the question. What is interesting about this text is that in vs. 12 he speaks of the woman divorcing her husband and marrying another. From this we glean that the message goes both ways (husband divorcing wife OR wife divorcing husband.)
f. 1 Cor. 7:10-16 – “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.” The remainder of the text deals with an unbelieving spouse. Concerning this text we note:
i. VS. 10 - The wife is NOT to depart from her husband (does this include separation?)
ii. Vs. 11 – “But if she does depart” – some are using this as a justification to depart and divorce under certain circumstances so long as one does not remarry. But that is NOT the point of the text. Paul is simply acknowledging that at times it does happen (and when it does there is sin which MUST be repented of). A similar example of this is 1 John 2:1, John is writing “so that you may not sin.” But then he adds, “And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father…” Is John saying that it is permissible to sin? NO! But if it happens, we have a way to be forgiven.
iii. Vs. 11 – the results – remain unmarried OR be reconciled to her husband.
Vs. 12-16 are dealing
with a spiritually “mixed” marriage.
In all probability, one spouse was converted and the other was
not after their marriage. IN
such instances, Paul repeats the preference is that they NOT divorce.
In fact, he notes the unbelieving spouse and children are “sanctified” by the believer (i.e. the home has a better chance of godliness; the spouse and/or children of being converted, etc.)
v. BUT it could be that the unbeliever departs, not wanting to remain with their Christian spouse. If so, Paul states that the spouse is “not under bondage”. This does NOT say they then have a right to remarry. Rather, that if the unbelieving spouse leaves (and divorces), you are not obligated to fulfill your duties as spouse. In other words, you are not in sin, though divorced. NOTE how it is the unbeliever who does the departing. The Christian, versed in God’s law KNOWS BETTER!
vi. AS you examine this passage it is NOT teaching that divorce is acceptable!
Several years ago, an article was published entitled, “What Divorce Papers Say” (Dick Blackford). While not all are true in every circumstance, divorce papers say:
· I have failed in one of the most important and basic relationships in life.
· I have failed to keep one of the most important vows I ever made
· I am self-centered
· I am a weakling
· I may cause my mate to commit adultery
· I have put asunder that which God joined together.
Think about it. In our next lesson we will discuss the even more controversial, remarriage.
 From the U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), Median Duration of Marriages (2004 data): Duration of first marriage for those whose first marriage ended in divorce: Men: 8.1 years Women: 7.8 years