floralfloral2“I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.

These words are spoken in some shape or form in weddings across the United States. The most common type of wedding is the traditional, formal, religious wedding. Many couples choose to get married in some kind of church. This is because religion, especially Christianity, had a large influence in the formation of this country.

Divorce Cake - Universal Life Church MonasteryWe commonly hear that almost half of all first marriages end in divorce. This isn’t necessarily true, and comes from a misreading of the statistics.

According to the National Marriage and Divorce rate trends, there were 2,118,000 marriages and 877,000 divorces or annulments in 2011. If you subtract the divorces from marriages, you get 1,241,000, which would be roughly a %41 divorce rate. But this doesn’t mean those particular marriages in that year failed. These numbers also don’t take into account people who were already married.

Even though marriages are stronger than one would think, divorce still seems like an all too common life event. When a couple is married, they vow to love and cherish each other, in good times and bad, for as long as they live. Maybe not everyone takes these vows as seriously as they should, yet this view doesn’t recognize the complexity of relationships and marriage.

To understand marriage and divorce we’ll turn to Scripture, which contains an account of the creation of marriage, as well as God’s instruction concerning marriage and divorce.

Jesus Speaks About Divorce

While traveling in Judea, Jesus was approached by the Pharisees and asked about divorce. The Pharisees, trying to get him in trouble with Herod, ask if it’s lawful for a man to divorce his wife. “What did Moses command you?” asks Jesus. The Pharisees reply saying that Moses allowed a man to divorce his wife.

Adam and Eve - Universal Life Church Monastery

Adam and Eve in the Garden

Jesus replies, “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.” He then references the Biblical account of the creation of marriage in Genesis 2:24, saying, “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 10:1-10 NIV).

Afterwards Jesus tells his disciples that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery with her. If the woman divorces her husband and marries another man, she also commits adultery.

If two people vow to be together forever, breaking that covenant is a serious offense. In the book of Malachi, we are told that God hates divorce, “‘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'” (Malachi 2:16, NKJV)

 Reasons for Divorce

There are many reasons why a couple can seek divorce. According to a national survey**, the most common reason given for divorce was “lack of commitment” (73%), followed by too much arguing (56%), infidelity (55%), marrying too young (46%), unrealistic expectations (45%), lack of equality in the relationship (44%), lack of preparation for marriage (41%), and abuse (29%). In this survey, people often gave more than one reason, which is why the numbers add up to over 100%.

According to this data, the top reasons for divorce are lack of commitment, too much arguing, and infidelity. Are these legitimate reasons?

Sermon - Universal Life Church

Sermon on the Mount

While giving his famous sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “‘It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew, 5:31-32 NIV). This same idea is repeated in Matthew 19:8,9. So it would seem the only legitimate reason to get a divorce is if the partner has been unfaithful.

What about abuse, does the bible say anything about this? Not directly, which is why it’s important to look deep into the verses concerning divorce. Compellingtruth.org has compiled a synthesis of scriptural support for when abuse can be a legitimate reason for divorce. To summarize, if the abuse is criminal, or if a child is in danger, then the law must be followed and in these cases divorce may be permissible under God’s law. However, if the abuse is not criminal, certain reconciliation and counseling steps must be followed.

Divorce doesn’t usually happen overnight. It can happen slowly, step by step, with little unresolved problems adding up over time into major problems. This is why it’s important for the couple to communicate and work on problems, no matter how small they seem.

Counseling is key to a healthy marriage; sometimes it’s seen in a negative light as something only for troubled relationships. But the reality is that any relationship can benefit from counseling. Just as you would regularly get tune-ups and oil changes for a car, it’s important to work on your marriage, even if the relationship is already healthy. Doing so can mean the difference between a long and happy marriage or a messy divorce.

*statistics from – http://www.divorcestatistics.org/

** Information from – A national survey on marriage in America. (2005). Gaithersburg, MD: The National Fatherhood Initiative.

 

13 comments

  1. Michelle says:

    I was married for 4 years when I saw trouble in my marriage. Taking my vows seriously I asked repeatedly for us to attend counseling and was denied. Then it got worse as he wanted me to attend evenings at strip bars with him and his colleagues, however I was the only wife who would be in attendance, and found out after starting divorce proceedings that it was his intent to have me go on dates with his fellow workers in exchange for “financial favors” to help get us a house, money for vacations etc. My marriage lasted only a little over 5 years and to this day I know that I was left with no choice, receiving and giving forgiveness through God makes it possible for me to never 2nd guess my final decision

    1. Lewis says:

      Michelle, thanks for your reply.

      I am not the authority on the matter, but it sounds like a husband who wants you to come with him to strip bars, and wants to loan you out on dates for favors, is a husband who is not being faithful to his wife, so I think you were right in your decision.

      1. Dennis A. Byers says:

        Look at the word ABUSE. ,It doesn`t have to be physical, but mental as well. If you would have went through with what your husband was asking. Then not only would you be breaking God`s law, but you would be breaking the Human law as well. ” PROSTITUTION”. So you did the right thing in God`s eyes as well as mine. Good morality is better than unhappy marriage.

        1. Geoff Bone says:

          Why is the abuse ALWAYS committed by the man against the woman… my wife abused my mentally for 15 years and was unfaithful over much of that time… after 20 years i gave up and got a divorce and have never regretted it.

  2. Stella says:

    Why is every sermon posted here (there are 5) a Christian sermon with quotes from the bible? I don’t think this is a true universal life ministry. It appears to be pushing christianity.

    1. Michelle says:

      Please, by all means submit a Sermon you would like to see, nothing is being pushed on anyone, as you have the choice to read it or not. Personally I would love to see Sermons from other faiths and religions, bring it on!

    2. E says:

      Please, also, look again. Other Holy Books are quoted and discussed.

  3. reginald d mcneil says:

    I was married once an remarried ,not giving it a second chance ,cause all the werate rong doing was my fault .but there were so many people in her ear,it hard for a come back,im happly married with two children,seperate mothers ,but the brothers are as one ,im learning as a man,an will continue to as I grow.

    1. Spicey says:

      First of all, apologies for massive comments.

      Recently I’ve been through a large ordeal with a christian church regarding marriage, and sexual relations before marriage (even through recently “Pope marries 20 cohabiting couples in sign of papacy shift” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29198491).

      This resulted in me quitting the church and ending up here. Through my study here’s what I’ve found:

      Reading Genesis 2:24 it states “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united (some say cleave) to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NIV). If we analyse this scripture closely, it does not mention how the marriage occurs, it just states that it happens, spontaneously.

      With a subjective perspective, marriage can be fairly stated to be a doctrine of man, and is not of; God / Creator / The architect / whatever you wanna call it – intended. You will observe nowhere in the bible where the creator commands marriage, nor does it suggest / outline how to become married. “They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” (Matthew 15:9 NIV), Also (Isaiah 29:13 NIV).

      The bible is originally translated from a number of different languages (namely Hebrew and Greek) and people have done there best to translate it into English (see Jeremiah 8:8). As we know, a lot of things can be mistranslated / taken to mean different things. It is to my understanding that the word “wife” translated in the bible from the original languages, can mean a number of different alternate possibilities, namely “woman” or “female”. Re-reading the Genesis scripture with this in mind, one can assume sex is marriage in the eyes of God / Creator.

      Knowing this gathered information we can re-read what Jesus said about the topic and we learn;

      4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [Woman / Female], and the two will become one flesh [they have sex] 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

      7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

      8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce [put away] your wives [woman / female – interesting how its plural] because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces [puts away] his wife [woman / female], except for sexual immorality, and marries [has sex with] another woman commits adultery.”

      10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband [man/male] and wife [woman / female], it is better not to marry [have sex).”

      11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs [those who abstain from sex] who were born that way, and there are eunuchs [those who abstain from sex] who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs [those who abstain from sex] for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Matthew 19:4-12 NIV)

      Remember, marriage is human culture, a custom, and is not of God, but of man.

      I eagerly want to point out religion of today can be likened to the Pharasees Jesus had encountered. If Jesus came back again, my bet is, he would see the religious leaders of today in exactly the same way, (read Matthew 23 versus Romans 14). Remember following Jesus is not supposed to be burdensome (read Matthew 11:28-30).

      Further backup to my statements are made via observing some characters of the bible that had sex before marriage including Sampson, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Onan ect. Some of these characters were “led by the spirit of God” but God himself did not condemn them as sinning.

      Finally remember, 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:14-16 NIV)

      1. Pastor Rea says:

        I very much enjoyed your view here. How you interpreted these bibles here hit home for me. I have been in love with men and at the time my love for them was pure. Even if we were not legally married, I still would have held true to all marriage vows with my partner. When with these past paterners, I could not see how sex between us could be wrong. Especially when, like I said, I was very much in love. I don’t condone a peemiscuos lifestyle by any means. But I do see some truth to what you are saying here. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Jason says:

    i was married a little over a year and my wife at the time let her parents get involved in our marriage and they filled for divorce not me

    1. Dennis A. Byers says:

      Look at the word ABUSE, it might not have been physical, but it was emotional. and also if you went on those dates THAT would be criminal, so Divorce is excepted in the eyes of the Lord.

  5. Geoff Bone says:

    Marriage is a commitment between two people to love and cherish each other for life. Unfortunately this is not always possible due to the behaviour of one or both partners so divorce is the legal way to become free of that commitment and start again.

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