Even though the government recognises de-facto relationships, it’s interesting that people are still getting married.
And even though some people have experienced a messy break-up and subsequent divorce, many of them go on to get married again – perhaps a few times.
There’s something about marriage that doesn’t go out of fashion. Many of us do not do life well alone. We like the companionship and comfort of doing life together with a husband or wife. Having been married for over 35 years, I reckon that marriage is one of the best ideas God ever came up with. (And yes, a lot of this is because I am married to a saint!)
But it ain’t always easy! Marriage is not self-maintaining. It requires lots of love and understanding, patience and perseverance – from both sides – in order to flourish.
We tend to be lazy: we want great relationships with minimal effort or sacrifice!
We expect the other person to make us happy, and then get upset when they don’t!
When the “me” replaces the “we”, selfishness and hardness of heart can creep in. Over time, hardness of heart can build up layers of apathy, fault finding, conflict, unresolved hurts, resentment, bitterness, and blame. If a couple keep digging their heels in, refusing to apologise and be reconciled, it can end up in divorce.
In this Sunday’s Bible reading, the Pharisees ask Jesus: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2 NIV)
Jesus concedes that divorce happens. Yet he also highlights the root cause of divorce. It because human hearts can harden – even to a person they once loved more than anyone else in the world! Once that happens, we can justify our unwillingness to apologise, to forgive, and to reconcile. Once our hearts are closed to the other person, a broken relationship or marriage is looming.
Jesus points us back to God’s intention for marriage:
“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:6-9 NIV)
How can God keep our hearts soft and wide open to one another? How can God help us foster healthy relationships, so we don’t ‘divorce’ ourselves from God and each other?
Come along this Sunday as we explore these issues, unpack the cultural background to the Pharisees’ question, and discover how God wants us to live.
Please Note: divorce is not the unforgiveable sin. When Jesus met the woman at the well, he offered her living water – that would well up into eternal life (John 4:13-18). Even though she’d had 5 husbands and was currently in another relationship, Jesus wanted her to have life forever with him. No matter how much we’ve messed up in relationships, Jesus wants to give us the same gift!
Joy in Jesus!
Pr Rolly Stahl