What Does Jesus Say About Divorce?

Divorce

As I've been dealing with teenagers for almost 15 years now, one issue continues to rise to the surface without fail… Divorce.

I would be willing to say 90% of all the kids who end up causing some sort of trouble in school, at church, in sports, or even out here at camp; come from some sort of dysfunctional family, and most often; a divorced home. 

And Here me say, "That's ok with me." 

I love helping kids navigate through tough times.
Whether it's divorce at home, rejection from friends, or just trying to grow up; I love walking with teenagers through the hardest time of their life.

But the issue remains…

It's no secret, Divorce is the plague in today's marriage relationship.
Nobody wants to get Divorced.
I mean think about it…

Bride is all dressed up on her wedding day
Groom is getting ready in the groom's chamber
Bridesmaids are delicately sashaying to the classical music in the background
Pastor stands up front
Vows are said
Reception celebrates the beauty of a new relationship
Nobody is thinking, in the middle of all that, "I can't wait till we end this thing!"

It's the furthest thought from their minds.

But recent statistics show, America's divorce rate centers around 41% for first marriages, 60% for second marriages, and 73% for third marriages. 

The divorce breakdown looks something like this according to the Institute of Professional Psychology…

AGE            BOYS            GIRLS

under 20        11.7%            26.7%
20-24             38.8%            36.6%
25-29             22.3%            16.4%
30-34             11.6%             8.5%
35-39              6.5%              5.1%

It's really sad when I talk to teens and hear the effects of divorce on their own self-worth, self-esteem, and their overall emotional growth through their teenage years. 

It's just sad.

I know there are times in marriage that are hard.
I know we mess up all the time.
I know expectations and failures plague relationships
But it's just super sad when something so good, so right, and so pure ends up in tragedy.

This morning I was reading in Matthew 19, and I found the section where Jesus spoke of divorce. 

 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

 "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, '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. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

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

 Jesus
replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts
were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

 The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

 Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

I'm in the middle of writing a book on teen dating, sexuality, and marriage.  I just wonder…

Is Divorce the plague, because we're in America?
Is it the sign of our times?
Have we missed out on teaching about relationships to teenagers?
Or, what's going on?

Obviously it's not God's design, but there are lots of things that aren't God's design.

Murder isn't God's design, but it happens.
Failure isn't God's design, but we see that every day.
Adultery isn't God's plan, but men and women fall to it on a daily basis
Lying isn't God's design, but every corner of business I deal with navigates little lies here and there, surely God didn't intend on that happening.

So I don't want to overstep my bounds here, but I do want to address the elephant in the room.  I do want to help parents see the effects divorce has on teenagers, and I do want to make sure teenagers understand the commitment of marriage.

What I do know, God is a forgiving God. 

He came to heal the broken hearts of the world. 
He came to mend relationships. 
But in the middle of ugly separation…can anyone help me here? 

Why is divorce such an o.k. thing in our culture today?

8 Comments

  1. Andy, I think about this all the time. Over the past few years I’ve begun seeing more & more Christian couples contemplating divorce in my counseling practice. Something that I’ve contemplated is this: The problem with divorce is MARRIAGE.
    What I mean is that I think that more & more we have lost sight of what God intended marriage to be, of just how weighty and with what importance He fashioned it. Divorce is so incredibly ugly & painful in direct proportion to the beauty and joy that marriage can bring. I look at the “mystery” of Ephesians 5 and believe that marriage was given to us to parallel the intimacy, ecstasy and knowledge we will one day have with God. Such a concept!
    I expect that those who don’t look at scripture as a means for guidance to possibly miss this lofty notion. But what is tragic is that professing Christians who read the Bible have begun to give little credence to the high view of marriage. And why are we surprised? Low views of God have led to low views of sin…and a low view of marriage has followed. When I don’t make much of marriage, when I miss how important it is to God, divorce is actually “on the table”. It’s an option. In fact, it begins to feel like the only option.
    I spend alot of time with couples trying to get them to see what a precious (and precarious!) thing they have in their marriage. This life is very hard. Marriage is terribly hard for me. It reveals all the ugliness, the insecurity, the pettiness in me. When confronted with the pain of all that, divorce sometimes seems easier. But I am learning that to allow myself to be a fellow sinner in need of grace married to another sinner just like myself and to PUSH TOWARDS him in the midst of that pain can be the most sanctifying and safe place for me.
    If my relationship to my husband is a parallel of the heavenly relationship I have with God Almighty, then it makes sense why this earthly relationship would be subject to so much turmoil. If only we would all take marriage much more seriously, entering into it with the greatest of caution and being unwilling to abandon it, no matter the cost.
    And that concludes my novel. 🙂

  2. I think you have to be careful saying…”no matter the cost.” Of course, God’s perfect plan is pro-marriage. However, I have found in the Christian community that spouses have been guilted into staying in an abusive situations (can be emotional, verbal, financial…not always physical) with counselors saying “Don’t let Satan break up your marriage.” Some weigh the divorce decision as hearbreaking but as the better choice for themselves/children with a spouse/father who professes to be a Christian but continues to make the same destructive decisions over and over and doesn’t listen to wise counsel. So, to heap guilt and judgement on a Christian spouse who has already made a gut wrenching decision to leave without the Christian community knowing the full story is dangerous. Now, I realize people give up on marriages too easily these days. But, coming from a Christian mom who deeply loves my Heavenly Father and has wanted a Christian marriage/family my whole life and that was my dream job to be a wife/mother to giving up that dream and still knowing God is in control but totally not understanding why now I’m a single mom of 4 kids 8 and under. I don’t think you can fully understand it unless you’ve lived it. I’m just offering another side of marriage/divorce as I navigate this new path in my Christian community.
    Thanks for your insights-

  3. Personally, I’m glad my parents divorced when they did. They were married for 8 years, and I was 6 when the separated, 7 when the divorce was final.
    Because of this, I don’t consider myself as having grown up in a broken home. I am so incredibly thankful that my parents had the strength to realize they were no longer meant for each other and I truly believe the final decision was the best for all of us. The first years were tough, but at least I didn’t have to go to bed at night listening to them argue.
    10 years later and I am SO happy. My mom got remarried 5 1/2 years ago and my step dad is incredible, and I can’t imagine my life without him in it. My dad is currently engaged to a wonderful woman and I’ll have a step sister in a few months.
    Today, my parents are easily able to talk about anything when it comes to me. Whether it’s my schooling, figuring out holidays, etc. there’s no more fighting.
    Of course it would have been nice to grow up in 1 house with 2 parents together, but I guess I’ve just become used to my life and have grown to love it. I only go to my dad’s house once a week and every other weekend but we don’t take for granted that time we have together. I’ve become accustomed to adapting to my environment which to me, is so important in this world.

  4. Read all the above comments:) AND….wow, “beck” has nailed it!! I’ve been married, going on 29 years….and, I hung onto everyword “beck” shared!!! They are sooo right with their choice of words and so True in where their marriage, ordained by God, should rest!!
    Amen, “beck”!!! I do believe!!!

  5. I recently came across your blog and have been reading about Divorce later in life. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often..

  6. It was highly contagious.
    –It came on very suddenly and killed very quickly. It was said that
    an infected person could be “dancing at nine o’clock and dead by
    eleven.”
    –It was, as the name suggets, characterized by a high fever and sweating.
    –It wasn’t the plague, and it wasn’t smallpox.

  7. I randomly came across this blog. It’s interesting to note that I have been separated (not divorced) for about two years. My husband and I as of about an hour ago have decided to reconcile our marriage. We have both concluded that we are equally at fault for the events that have taken place and we both equally need to resolve our differences.
    It’s funny because we have four children eight and under who live with me and the last two years satan has robbed me and my husband dearly. But now, everything will be restored and more than ever before. God has ordained our marriage and God will hold true of His promises of giving me and my husband back plenty more than satan stole. I’m sure of it. God word does not come back empty.
    The one thing we laugh about right now is the fact that the lawyers got a good chunk of our savings during the separation.
    C’est la vie!

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