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How To Divorce Proof Your Marriage

MarriedIn today’s society, the divorce rate is about 50%, overall.  That is a dismal statistic, and one that is of concern to anyone who is considering marriage, or who is in a shaky marriage relationship.  It seems as if people are getting married for the wrong reasons.  But rather than focusing on the negative, that is, the wrong reasons for getting married, I would like to explore marriage from a Biblical perspective.

So, let’s start at the beginning, literally.  Marriage is first discussed in the Bible in the book of Genesis, as part of the creation account.  Seeing that the creation account, the very first story of the Bible, discusses marriage, we can discern that marriage is basic to human relationships, something that is very close to God’s heart.  But even before we discuss marriage, we can glean an important clue from Genesis 1, verse 27:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Do you see it?  God created Man in His own image.  But then it says, He created them male and female.  So, does that mean that men and women bear the image of God?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.  Let’s move on and see what else we can find.  Next stop, Genesis 2:24.

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

A young man shall leave off the most important relationships in his life, those he shares with his father and mother, and shall cleave unto, or as Paul puts it, shall be joined together, with his wife.  I like the way the traditional marriage vows from the “Book Of Common Prayer” puts it:

“…forsaking all others, be faithful to her (him) as long as you both shall live”

Excepting our relationship with Christ, the marriage relationship must eclipse all others.  It is in this that we begin to build a basis for a strong marriage.  And look what the Bible says in Genesis 2:25, the very next verse:

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

They were not ashamed, even though they were both naked, uncovered physically, emotionally, and spiritually, completely exposed to one another in every sense of the word.  Now, this was the state of Adam and Eve in the Garden, before the fall.  It is highly unlikely that such a perfect state of relational bliss is possible in this fallen world, but this is the ideal, the target that we should all aim for.

Okay, but how?

I believe that the New Testament offers the answers.  But first, before we can tackle how we are to relate to one another in marriage, we must consider an even more important relationship, our relationship with the Lord.

Before I go further, I would like to cite a few statistical comparisons.  If you compare self declaring Born Again Christians to others, you will find that there is almost no difference in the likelihood of divorce or marital infidelity.  So, does this mean that being a Christian is no protection at all for our marriages?

May it never be!

Rather, I feel that a lot of Christians like the idea of being saved, but they are fans of Jesus, not followers.  These are people who go to church and read their Bibles, but they give a wide berth to verses like Matthew 16:24 or Galatians 2:20:

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'”

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Now, I would be the first to admit that I am not capable of loving my wife with the kind of love, agape love,  that God demands.  None of us are.

But let’s leave that for a moment and move on.  We want to discover how we can make our relationships divorce proof, and the answer is found in the book of Ephesians.

Paul gives us our prescription on how to build marriage relationships that will last, relationships that will stand up to any difficulty or hardship.  In fact, his prescription will also, if taken in liberal doses, strengthen all of our relationships.  Let’s look at Ephesians 5:20-21:

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

Paul gives other instruction in the preceding verses, but I wanted to focus mainly on the idea of submission because it is a concept that we all have a difficult time with.  Our egos want us to put ourselves first, but Paul says that we ought to submit ourselves to others.  In other passages, he says that we should put the welfare of others ahead of ourselves.  This is one application of agape love, which can also be thought of as selfless love.  If you like, read 1 Corinthians 13 for a detailed view of what this love is.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul gives instruction to both husbands and wives, how they can create a relationship after God’s perfect plan, and thereby divorce proof their marriages.  And, I believe that in God’s order He intended for the male to be the initiator and the female to be the responder (I know, not a word), I will give Paul’s instruction for the husband first.  Ephesians 5:25-33:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,  that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.   So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.   For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.   For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Husbands?  How did Christ love the Church?  That’s right, He died for it, and, if we want a divorce proof marriage, we must also die to ourselves and put our wives interests ahead of our own.This is not optional.  If we are submitted to Jesus and His will for our lives, then there can be no mistake that our relationship with our wives must be our first priority.  Husbands, if you take your marriage seriously, then you will return to this passage again and again, meditating on it, praying over it, and asking the Lord to make you the husband that He intends you to be.  And always remember, this relationship between husband and wife is a picture of Christ and His Church for all the world to see.

And, Paul also has some instruction for wives:

 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.   For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.   Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”  (Ephesians 5:22-24)

I will not presume to comment to the wives reading this as I did to the husbands.  I will just say as I said to the husbands, if you are serious about divorce proofing your marriage, you too should be returning to this verse often, to ponder it, meditate on it, and pray over it.

And lets all of us concentrate only on those verses that pertain to us directly.  Husbands, it will do your relationship no good if you are pointing out to your wife how she could be submitting better, that is between she and the Lord.  And wives, the same thing applies to you as well.  How your husband puts you first is between he and the Lord.

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May 20, 2014 - Posted by | Christian, Divorce, God's Grace, Marriage | , , , , , , , ,

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