I woke up feeling pretty sore today. Yowsa! My legs have made it through 6 days of #5kMay2020, and I am feeling the effects of that, but I actually never stopped running at least a 5k every day at the end of #5kMay2019. So technically I am on day 373. I am sore.
Wanting to be a part of “Group Run Wednesday” throughout this challenge, and knowing that my Friday run is typically the longest run of my week, Jodi and I have decided to officially make Thursdays “Take It Easy Thursday”. We went out this morning for a nice, easy-does-it “Triangle Route” run. We even stopped a little earlier than we normally would, so as to walk up the last hill. #Winning
I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but once again I noticed that I felt so much better after the run than I did before the run. That first mile was rough. The second mile loosened up a bit. The third mile was glorious. That seems to be pretty much how it goes.
Daily Run: Jodi and I ended up running 3.2 total miles in 30 minutes and 46 seconds, which was an average pace of 9:35 per mile.
Daily Bible Reading: Every year I read through Matthew 19-21 during this challenge and immediately think, “I should talk about Jesus’ teaching about divorce”. Then I get wise and decide not to.
This time I am just going to go for it. The reality is that divorce is something that has so affected our culture (even church culture). While divorce is no longer taboo, it is still awkward, and uncomfortable. Something inside of us says that divorce is wrong, but we don’t entirely know why. No one gets married hoping to some day get divorced, and yet when the going gets tough, or when a “better offer” comes along, wedding vows get tossed aside and what God has joined together is torn apart by man.
Obviously this is a tough subject. It is a deeply personal and highly emotional subject. Every one of us has a personal relationship with someone who has been through a divorce. Perhaps it was our parents. Perhaps it was our children. Perhaps it was us! I do not want to look at this subject unaware of its emotional implications. However, I also feel it is important to speak truth (in love) even when it hurts. Facts over feelings, but feelings really do matter.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that many godly people have looked at this subject and have come to different conclusions. Entire books have been written on this subject. I am aiming for a simple answer, in blog form, and in several parts:
1. God designed marriage. He designed it to reflect Christ and the church. This is clearly seen in Ephesians 5.
2. Marriage is good. I think this is made clear when God said it was “not good” for Adam to be alone (see Genesis 2:18), and then said that His creation was “very good” after Eve was created to be Adam’s life helper / partner / bride.
*As a side note, I do not believe this point to illustrate that remaining single is bad. In fact, the Apostle Paul lifted singleness as preferable in some circumstances (see 1 Corinthians 7:8).*
3. God hates divorce. This is clearly seen in Malachi 2:16. Some translations literally translate that verse to say, “For I hate divorce! says the LORD…” (see New Living Translation)
4. People are sinful. You can pretty much just look at the entire Bible for this one, but the sad reality is that people do not always follow God’s ways very well. He always has our best in mind, for sure. We, however, rather consistently choose the worst.
5. Because of our sinfulness, God (through Moses) allowed divorce. Deuteronomy 24 is the main text for this. You can also see Jesus’ commentary on what Moses did in Matthew 19. This is tricky, and it is hard for us to understand well in the United States of America in the year 2020. What was happening in the wilderness in Deuteronomy was that sinful men would no longer want their wife, but they also were not permitted to divorce. (Keep in mind that they had lived in slavery as less-than-humans for 400 years.) Since the men were not permitted to divorce their wives, they would simply take another wife and no longer care for their first wife. You could say that they found a “loop hole” in God’s Law. Sin will ALWAYS find a loop hole. So, out of compassion for the no-longer-wanted wives who were now forced into a terrible situation (no longer taken care of by their husband, but also not able to find a new husband), Moses permitted divorce. BUT it was not this way in the beginning. This was not a part of God’s good design, it was a provision granted because of the reality of sin. That is important to remember.
6. By the time that Jesus came around, divorce was understood to be legal by pretty much all religious people. Only the conditions were in question. I think you can see this pretty clearly in Matthew 19:3, leading up to Jesus’ response to the Pharisees. Their question was whether or not it was lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause? The idea is that, of course it is legal for some causes, but is it legal for any cause? There were some who believed a man could divorce his wife if he disliked her cooking. Other, more conservative Jews, believed that only in the case of sexual immorality could you legally divorce your wife. Jesus’ response was interesting. Many people disagree with my understanding of this, but that’s okay. Perhaps I am wrong. I don’t think I am. I see Jesus responding in two ways, primarily. (a) He reminded them that divorce was NOT a part of God’s good creation, and (b) he said that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery. That last part is really tricky. It deserves its own point.
7. According to Jesus, divorcing your wife and remarrying is adultery. What I believe He is actually saying here is that divorce and remarriage is adultery. Period. That part is not so hard to understand. The tricky part, I think, is the “except for sexual immorality” part. What I believe Jesus is saying here is that you are creating an adultery situation by divorcing and remarrying, unless there was already sexual immorality as a part of the divorce. In that case, you are not creating an adultery situation because there already was one. So… in both cases there is adultery, but for the person who divorced for reasons other than sexual immorality and then remarried, they are entering into a situation of sexual immorality. That is what I believe Jesus is saying in Matthew 19. We have to come to grips with that reality before we can move on.
8. Committing adultery clearly breaks one of the 10 Commandments. This is not even debatable. The seventh commandment is clear.
9. We have all broken the 10 Commandments. Also not debatable.
10. Jesus died on the cross for our sins to reconcile us to God. If we are relying on our ability to keep the 10 Commandments in order to avoid hell, we’re in a lot of trouble! Thankfully, that is not really Christianity. Christianity is all about understanding that God has our best interest in mind and His ways always are good and right. We want to honor Him and obey Him and keep His law, but not as a means for salvation. Putting our faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation is the only way that we will ever make it to heaven.
One important question should be addressed. Though it didn’t make it onto my list, I have been asked so many times throughout the years, “If I get divorced and then remarried, does that mean I am bound for hell?” No. I don’t believe that anyone is bound for hell because they got divorced or remarried. I do believe that going through a divorce, and / or considering getting remarried should certainly be a cause to pause and ask yourself if you are really following God well. I don’t mean that in a condemning way. I mean it in a helpful way.
I believe that Christians should absolutely fight for their marriages with everything that they have! I believe that marriage is a good gift from God, and that gift is meant to point others to the goodness, love, mercy, and grace of Christ. I’m so glad that He does not divorce me when I am unfaithful to Him! I want to be that way with my wife, for sure, and I am thankful that she is that way with me.
I also believe that, because of sin and the hardness of our hearts, God permits divorce still today. We have to come to grips with the fact that our sinfulness caused the mess. It had nothing to do with Him or His good design. It has everything to do with our sin and selfishness. Still, as in the days of Moses, I believe that God does not want us to be stuck in a helpless situation. I believe He would allow us to remarry and experience a reboot of His goodness and grace through a second (or even third or fourth, etc.) marriage. But at some point we have to stop and take a real honest look at our hearts and the hearts of the people we have been romantically connected with. Something is not right if we are seeing this kind of disaster in our wake. Perhaps staying single would be best for everyone involved. Maybe not. That’s between you and God.
At the end of the day, I think anyone who is considering getting married (or remarried) should be asking themselves questions like:
- Do I really want God’s best, or do I think I know what’s best?
- Do I want to pursue a relationship because I am lonely, or is God enough?
- Do I want to pursue a relationship because of what I can give away, or because of what I want to receive?
- Am I ready to model for the world how much Christ loves the church? Am I ready to be committed to someone even if they are unfaithful (as Christ has done for me)?
These are hard questions, but I think they are important ones to work through. Marriage, after all, is meant to point to God’s goodness. Divorce, for any reason, fails to do that well on so many levels.