Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ex Marks the Spot

“I hate divorce," says the Lord God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.”

-- Malachi 2:16

Love, romance and marriage are arguably the most popular themes in music, TV and the movies. Who can forget The Love Boat, Love Story and any Lionel Richie or Michael Bolton song from the 1980s (no matter how hard we try)? But on the flipside, it’s also likely that divorce and separation come in a close second on the hit parade. Consider these immortal lyrics penned by country music legend George Strait:

All my ex's live in Texas, and Texas is a place I'd dearly love to be. But all my ex's live in Texas, and that's why I hang my hat in Tennessee.

And then there’s this observation about marital dysfunction from Zsa Zsa Gabor, who has (so far) been divorced six times and married a seventh. “I'm an excellent housekeeper,” once claimed the iconic Hungarian-born actress. “Every time I get a divorce, I keep the house.”

Such are the anything-goes lives of hard-partying celebrities, superstar musicians and millionaire athletes. To them, marriage and divorce must be ordinary big-dollar transactions. There’s nothing personal… it’s only business. How can a Christ-follower ever relate to their far-out attitudes?

Maybe it’s not really so hard. Sobering statistics reveal that more than 40 percent of American marriages end in divorce. And the numbers aren’t much different for those who claim to follow Jesus. This is obviously a tragic situation for many reasons. For Christ-followers, it reflects a pronounced failure to trust God and live up to our promises to stick with our spouse “for better or for worse.” Is it any wonder that so many non-believers ignore or even mock our faith?

Of course, this is nothing new. So-called “religious” people have divorced their spouses for centuries. And for just as long, God has condemned the often heartless practice because it falls far short of His ideal. The Bible explains God’s perspective through this eye-opening Old Testament passage:

“You ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”

The fact is that God hates divorce -- and for many good reasons. It’s emotionally and financially devastating, and wreaks havoc on children and their sense of security. No doubt the specter of their parents’ divorces will haunt their own relationships. There’s now a terrible example to follow.

Marriages are hardly the perfect, blissful unions portrayed in bad grocery store novels and the Lifetime Movie of the Week. But God has called Christ-followers to holiness – not always happiness. We therefore must understand that marriage is a God-created covenant rather than a convenience. And as with anything made and blessed by God, we must recognize that marriage is always worth fighting for.

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