It hasn’t been that long ago that someone told me our church’s position on divorce was wrong. We acknowledge that God permits divorce for habitual, unrepentant, hard-hearted violation of the marriage vows. Sexual unfaithfulness, failure to love and provide for, desertion, and abuse (a kind of desertion) are, we maintain, biblical grounds for divorce. In fact, these violations are what destroy the marriage, not the victim who files the legal paperwork. My caller however, insisted upon her rendition of Malachi 2 – claiming that it says God hates divorce. What she meant by this, of course, was that God hates ALL divorce and thus divorce is never permissible. She is wrong. Very, very wrong. And her words do great hurt and harm to abuse victims. Christians need to stop saying “God hates divorce.”
2 Corinthians 6:15-18 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
Christ rejected evil people and he instructs us to do the same. One of the reasons that the wicked have such a heyday practicing their evil among Christians is that we are not properly instructed in this discipline. Think about it. Your church tells you that Christians are to love all other people. Be kind to everyone. Invite them into your home. We teach our children all of this stuff. We think it is so Christian to stick a sign out on the front lawn of the church that says “Everyone Welcome!” But when was the last time you were taught the Godly principle of rejecting the wicked? That Christ does not want some people to enter His church. How often are our children taught these things? …
Psa 1:1-2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (2) but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Pro 4:14-15 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. (15) Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
The Bible is filled with commands and warnings just like these. The Lord Himself cannot look upon evil. The wicked will never stand in His presence. His holiness consumes them in an instant. And His people are to reflect this holiness in their own lives by separating themselves from the wicked.
Somehow however, I suppose due to the idolatrous status and man-made legalistic traditions in regard to marriage, the wicked are being given a pass. It is sin, so many professing Christians claim, to separate from evil if you are married to it. The marriage vows, even if given under false pretense and broken habitually without repentance, serve as a kind of diabolical grandfather clause that makes the Lord’s commands to separate from evil null and void. “Separate? Sorry, no can do. You said ‘I do’ and so you’d better “do.”
Here are some powerful and refreshing words from David Instone-Brewer’s book on marriage and divorce in the church. This will make you want to get your hands on the book for sure. And by the way – ANY pastor or counselor or Christian who fancies that they are competent to counsel on this subject but who is still ignorant of what Instone-Brewer presents and proves here – is not competent to counsel at all. [The boldface highlighting is mine]-
We will see in later chapters that what defines a broken marriage is broken vows: the vows that marriage partners make to each other in God’s presence. We will find in chapter three that the Old Testament describes God’s relationship with Israel like a marriage that ended in divorce because cause of Israel’s adulteries. So God is a divorcee-and he hates it as much as any victim of divorce. A victim?
Yes, God is a victim of divorce, even though he actually carried it out; in the same way, many victims today are actually the ones who initiate proceedings to bring the marriage to an official end. They call in the lawyers to stop the mockery and pain of constant adultery or the anguish of abuse. But as we will see, the Bible does not regard the victim as the sinner. It is the person who is guilty of causing the marriage to break up whom Jesus addresses when he says, “Those whom God has joined, no one should separate.”
In other words, his warning is not to the person who finally tidies up the legal mess after the marriage has broken down but to those who would violate their marriage vows and, in so doing, cause the marriage to break up. Jesus says that divorce should never happen because when two people marry they are joined by God, who is a witness to the marriage vows and is there to bless the marriage. These vows should never be broken-especially especially since they are made before God. But of course people do break them, just as they break God’s other commands. Jesus never says that these vows are impossible to break-as if God ignores the reality of sin-but but he teaches that if a partner breaks the vows and is then repentant, we should forgive that person.
If the vows are continuously broken, without repentance, then the marriage will be left in shreds. Therefore although the breakup of a marriage is always due to sin, it is not the divorce vorce itself that is the sin; the sin is the breaking of the vows, which causes the divorce. In later chapters we will look at the biblical marriage vows closely We will learn that the Bible allows only the victim to initiate a divorce-that is, it allows them to decide when enough is enough and, if their partner remains unrepentant, to decide that the marriage is over.
Jesus’ main complaint was that the Jews had abandoned this principle. They allowed a man to divorce his wife even when she hadn’t broken her vows-that is, when he had no grounds for divorce. Paul similarly condemned a Greco-Roman groundless divorce. Later on in the book we will look at the Old Testament’s teaching on divorce and remarriage-which allowed divorce on the grounds of neglect or abuse-and discover that Jesus and Paul both affirmed this teaching.
David Instone-Brewer. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities (p. 18-19). Kindle Edition.
We want to make you aware that Pastor Crippen’s sermon today at Christ Reformation Church is on marriage and divorce. Using the sermon text of Matthew 19:1-12 and scripture reading from Deuteronomy 24, Pastor reminds us of the importance of rightly handling the word of truth. And there are very few places in the Bible that have been more abused than the words of Jesus when He speaks to the issue of marriage and divorce.
We are providing a link to the PDF, video, and audio of Pastor’s sermon, Marriage and Divorce – Getting it Right, found at sermonaudio.com.
For those of you who would like to follow the Sunday Service at Christ Reformation Church (CRC) weekly you may go to lightfordarktimes.com where CRC’s weekly Sunday Order of Service is published and links to the video/audio of Pastor Crippen’s sermon are provided. All are welcome to join with the congregation of CRC online!
It looks like evil, wicked people are getting away with it.
Probably most of us have thought this at one time or another, especially when we as victims consider our abusers. It can be easy to get discouraged when we see the wicked continuing to prosper, but Psalm 73 provides us with a reminder of what their reality truly is, and also a caution not to envy them.
Pastor Crippen recently preached a sermon on Psalm 73, and we are providing a link here to that sermon for your encouragement.
Are the Wicked Prospering? (link to the audio, video, and PDF of the sermon)
Additionally you can find more thoughts by Pastor Crippen on Psalm 73 at our Scriptures tab found on the top menu bar. In additional to Psalm 73 there are 12 other Psalms to reflect on.
My husband does not permit me to sin. When I sin, he sends me to my room and tells me to stay there until my attitude is godly again.
Those words were spoken by a pastor’s wife to a group of Christian women/wives. Their response? “Oh, what a model of a godly marriage.”
It was anything but that. And yet, these ladies believed it. They craved it for themselves. They believed that this woman’s husband was high and holy, far above their own husbands. Why? How could they possibly believe that such a thing as this pastor’s wife described is biblical, Christian, genuine marriage? In part, I suggest that the answer is that the enemy is a master counterfeiter. He is a liar and a deceiver. He sends false Jesus figures, false Christs, false pastors, false pastor wives, false Christians into our midst and these counterfeits are quite often, outwardly, genuine in appearance.
Patriarchal abusive marriage is a counterfeit of biblical marriage. It boasts of “submission” but runs with that idea and turns it into slavery. It lauds “headship” and presents the abuser to us as a model of that headship. He tells her what clothes to wear and she wears them, and only them. He tells her she must obey him, and she obeys him. He tells her what the true interpretation of Scripture is, and she believes him. The children appear to be a model of obedience to their parents, and the rest of the families in the church wish their children and homes looked like that.
But the whole thing is false. It is a sham. The marriage. The home. The family. The whole thing is bogus, an imitation, but only an imitation, and a very deceptive one. It is an idol created by man to bring us into bondage.
Do you envy some marriage or family in your church? Are the objects of your envy regarded by the church as a model of godliness? Take care. You may very well have been duped by a deception. The genuine is often in the background, unseen, following Christ humbly rather than blowing trumpets on street corners.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mat 6:1-4)