Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Divorces Among my Friends

I feel sad about several divorces among my friends.

I know we all see divorces in our social circles and ache for those involved.

When I was fifteen and an older boy wanted to get married, my mother told me, "Marriage is not all moonlight and roses, it is just life. And it can be good and bad. It is life, not a cute Doris Day movie. So don't rush into it."

And I cooled my jets and did not get married until I graduated from college. To someone else, when we were both older and wiser. And we're still married, for better or for worse. And there's plenty of both, LOL

I would love to be able to share with these discouraged, divorcing couples some guidelines from the Lord--guidelines for a happy, healthy family that I don't always find easy to follow, myself, that's for sure. But they make a difference:

Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Again, that's: Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Specifically, here's how:

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved he church and gave himself up for her

Eph 5:28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their
wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves

Eph 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife
as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Read these in context right here for yourself, if you wish.

Then, this from Colossians:

Col 3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Col 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

The Jews have a proverb, "Do not make your wife cry for God counts her every tear."

Wow. They base this on Psalm 56:8 "Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: [are they] not in thy book?"

So God does not ignore it when we make each other cry. Tears and fighting in the home actually grieve the Holy Spirit, God within us. Here, Paul writes to the Ephesians:

Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

I love that last verse, and the word, tenderhearted.

I love these ancient writers, these men so madly in love with God. How they desired the world to love Him and each other!

In some relationships, one's kindness and consideration--and tenderheartedness--may not often be reciprocated. That's when we can do good to the other just for the sake of our love of God. He promises He will reciprocate!

Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Col 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Col 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

I feel responsible to add that forgiveness does not mean staying in harm's way, where there is abuse. And to point out, Paul said, "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace."

I'll stop with this prayer for my family and all families of the whole world for 2007:

Eph 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,

Eph 3:15 from whom his whole family* in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Eph 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

Eph 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

Eph 3:18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, [Description of the cross!]

Eph 3:19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Eph 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Relationships are so complicated. Sometimes I have to wonder if some people have unrealistic expectations of marriage. Good relationships take time and effort. And the chemical PEA which has to do with attraction and which runs out after about two years. By then, other elements of a relationship should ideally be firmly in place.

This is not to make anyone feel guilty.

This is just to make them stop and reconsider.

God still loves and uses divorced people. But God hates divorce because it hurts people. Maybe these scriptures will help some people renew the love in their marriages.

And accepting counseling from an objective outsider demonstrates humility and strength and maturity, too.

For those who tried even that and still gave up, I ache with you.


GeorgianaD said...

Great scriptures! And I love the Jewish proverb. Coming from a home that has always been intact, I didn't understand the depth of the pain of everyone involved in a divorce until close family went through it. It's sad, and no wonder God hates it.

Pray for marriages!

Cathy West said...

Great words of wisdom and scriptures too. Anyone who has been married for more than a day can testify marriage IS hard work. Without Christ in the center, I know it would be impossible to get through the hard times. Divorce is sad. I think it's looked upon as the easy way out, but I think it reeks havoc on all involved.
We do need to pray for our marriages and our spouses. I read somewhere that the divorce rate among Christians is just as high as among non Christians. Ack.

Margo Carmichael said...

Yes, we need to pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on marriages and on the whole church. An encouraging scripture is Ephesians 6:18 about praying for all the saints. I once thought such a prayer was too big, but we're told to do it, so it must not be "too big." Plus, if we all pray....

Alison Strobel Morrow said...

I think you're right, I think people's expectations of marriage are just totally off. There's a great line in "Sleepless in Seattle" that says, "You don't want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie." The girl wants to be swept off her feet by the handsome guy who is both manly and sensitive and quick-witted and charming. The man wants a woman who is beautiful and adores him and willingly looks past all his foibles and faults because she's just so in love. And have you ever noticed how we never see what happens after they fall in love? Well, until we see the movie where the characters are cheating on each other and leaving each other for for someone else and everyone just sort of says, "aw, that sucks, what a shame, oh well, that's live, people just fall out of love sometimes." Which just goes to show they have no idea what love is in the first place.

And the most sickening part is that divorce rates among Christians are just as bad as among the general population. That I just DO NOT understand.

Margo Carmichael said...

I think they just give up too soon, Allison, not knowing what to expect. A Jewish rabbi once said to me "Loving is doing." It's more than a feeling, it's a choice.

God bless His church!

Julia said...

I agree that marriage is becoming more disposable, but not because of "immorality" (gay marriage, birth control, more liberal divorce laws). Rather, marriage is suffering because of financial reasons. Today, it takes too incomes for a middle-class family just to live a decent life, where as, thirty years ago it only took one. If we want marriages to last, we have to be sure our money is stable.
Saying "marriages fail without God" is preposterous. More Christians (Baptists, to be exact) are divorced than any other religious group in the USA (ironically, Catholics and Atheists/Agnostics tie for least amount of divorces). I doubt religion has any impact whatsoever on marriage. My grandparents were married for over 50 years and neither one of them believed in God. Likewise, my parents are not religious and they've been married for almost 19 years. Married people should put more time into their relationship instead of their faith.

Margo Carmichael said...

You make some good points, Julia. It is indeed more difficult financially today. So many women chose to work, employers now pay men less than they used to because they know most families will have two incomes.

And yes, the divorce stats among Christians are high. That's a shame.

You cite the marriages of your parents and grandparents. I congratulate them sincerely.

You say none of them are religious. And you add, "Married people should put more time into their relationship instead of their faith."

Well, now, if you haven't tried inviting the Lord into your life and marriage, you may want to try it. He is a joy and He does make a difference. I don't even want to say how many years we've been married--with the Lord as center of our lives.

Plus, then you can generalize with the voice of experience instead of an opinion. : )

Not putting you down, here.

Thanks for commenting.

Margo Carmichael said...

PS to Julia--I really didn't mean it as a putdown. Just that you did comment having made observations, but not having walked a mile in the moccassins of those who have invited the Lord into their marriages.

I urge you not to judge Christ by the Christians, including me!

He is so awesome and sweet, and He paid the full price for our sin so we could be Kosher--acceptable to God who created us to be a pleasure to Him in the first place! I can love and trust a God like that. I think you could, too.