Marriage, An Introduction

Okay, so I’m done not talking about it. After seven years in the pastorate I have spent more time working with couples going through divorces and the broken horrid aftermath than I have doing anything else. I am surrounded by divorce. It’s in my water. It’s in my food. It’s in the keys of my computer. It’s in my closet on my clothes because it won’t wash out in the laundry. It smells like tears and broken bones and sulfur. It tastes like sorrow and blood.  Scripture says God hates it and I know why. I recently read a blog about one woman’s experience with divorce and how she understood why God hated it. I’m not divorced and don’t believe I’m in any danger of facing it, my marriage seems strong; but I’ve heard that before so I have redoubled my efforts as a husband..  It’s hard to address in sermons and so during my week lay-off from writing on the blog I decided, I’m starting a blog series on getting married, being married and staying married. So, a few introductory words are in order today.

First of all, I’m no expert, there aren’t any.  If that statement bothers you, let me throw out some evidence. DivorceRate.org reports that very nearly 50% of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.  The rate has dropped somewhat due to more couples living together without marriage, more on that in a bit.  There is some debate over the divorce rate among practicing Christians, placing it somewhere between the mid twentieth percentile and 42% or so.  I’m not putting up a reference for that one because of the generally biased reports I read from both sides of the issue. It’s a controversial subject to be sure, but even if the number is as low as 26 or 27% it doesn’t mean anything. Those of us that have observed the state of marriage within Christian circles realize that staying together for the family or because of  spiritual commitment, though laudable, does not necessarily indicate a good, happy marriage. And those percentages are STILL too high for a people who teach that God hates divorce.

God hates divorce for the same reason He hates any sin: He hates what it does to His children and He loves us so much.

He hates the broken hearts. He hates the dashed hopes. He hates how it teaches us to hate. He hates what it does to our children. God hates it when man and wife break up because one or both of them were so selfish that they gave up and ran away rather than risk being hurt for sticking it out. He hates how used and useless it makes us feel. He hates how the cycle of divorce tears down communities. He hates how unforgiveness rips out our hearts from our living bodies and turns us to bitter automatons. He hates how it steals our futures and leaves us in the ashes of our past. He hates how it makes us despise marriage.

He hates to see a woman crying for the loss of her home. He hates to hear her racking sobs and see her tears rain from her clouded eyes for the injustice she has endured. He hates to see the broken husband who no longer believes he is worth anything because he has lost his whole world and feels like he has failed at the most important task in his life.  He hates the debilitating pain that strikes people down for decades at the loss of their marriage. He hates the financial ruin that divorce brings, forcing people out of yet another dream. He hates what it does to our children who live in false hope of reconciliation or grow up without a mom or a dad; or worse, with the lingering suspicion that it was somehow their fault that mommy or daddy left.

Marriage is a beautiful gift. Sometimes, like the Cohen song says, it’s ‘not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah,” but at the end of the day, the destination is worth the journey. It requires work, sacrifice, blood, sweat and work to build a life together. And then we just quit, or get a better offer, or decide ‘we can’t  take it anymore.’  We’re like children when do this.  But God loves us as people, no matter what we’ve done or been through so it’s time for us to restore marriage to the simple, joyful, practical thing it was meant to be.One in four marriages failing is not a great indicator that we are teaching the right things or believing the right things. And certainly it is not the desire of a loving God that we have unhappy marriages.  I think some mythology has sprung up in place of sound ethical, biblical if you will, teaching. I intend to debunk some of that, but make no mistake, it’s still just my opinion.

Secondly, as I set some parameters  I need to remind everyone I will be writing from a Christian perspective. I think the ethics are sound and so you could get something no matter what your belief system is, but please, don’t be offended when I state things that come from that perspective. I’m the pastor of a Christian church, read accordingly.

Third, I plan on addressing issues that involve singles as well, and many of the things that I write here will apply to long term, unmarried, partners as well. So if you are not married I would still ask you to read and stay with me.

Finally, I am interested in your opinion as anything I learn about marriage helps me in my ministry and makes for a better blog experience for everyone.

I’ll start tomorrow with a working definition of marriage and then post as often as I can based on schedule and inspiration.

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