I've found that marriages break up not long after people leave their church. It is almost like a gateway drug. You break one solemn covenant (the one with God), it opens the door for you to break the covenant you have with your spouse.
In our day skipping out on a church is a commonplace occurrence. Most people do not realize how henious a sin that is in the eyes of God. To break those vows wherein you knit yourself to a local congregation, is like amputating part of the body of Christ.
Most don't see it this way though. They simply up and go without much thought about it. We leave churches if we are not happy. We have no interest in confronting the sins of the members or leadership. We have no desire to be iron sharpening iron. We just want a place that will suit our needs and make us happy.
Worse yet, people bail out on church altogether. They make lame excuses like, there are no Calvinistic or Reformed churches around here. The churches are just too Arminian. We'll tell ourselves that it is better to have no church than any church that doesn't live up to our expectations.
You see the connection between such attitudes and what happens in a marriage. We've already seared our conscience. We've already opened the vein and let the blood start flowing. Oaths and covenants have already been diluted.
We broke covenant once, and it was good. We tasted of the fruits of sin and now we are ready for more. We are ready now to leave our spouse.
After all, he/she doesn't live up to my expectations. There has got to be a better fit out there for my tastes. Why fight to save this relationship? Neither of us is happy. We can be happier if we just go our separate ways.
So just remember, breaking faith with your church brethren puts you in a dangerous place. It opens the door to divorce.
I just listened to a lecture by Cal Thomas at a past Ligonier conference and he touched on the notion of divorce. He stated that much of the cause of divorce in our day is due to the fact that we have been fed the lie that we deserve to be happy.
He went on to explain that our entitlement attitudes, which are so prevalent in our culture, have seeped into our marriages. We think, "I'm not happy. God wants me to be happy. So I must get a divorce."
Thomas also expressed that love is not a feeling, it is a choice. You choose to love. You choose to repent of your sins. You choose to resist your desire to hate. You love by choosing to obey God through submission or loving leadership.
I couldn't agree more with his synopsis. In marriage we vow to have and to hold "for better and for worse." There is no guarantee that we will be happy. We pledge to love and seek the good of our spouse despite not being happy. The feelings will come and go. The vows will remain binding till death do you part.
The editing process can be quite painful sometimes. I had written this as the conclusion to this week's sermon on divorce and remarriage. But it is getting revamped. I wanted to preserve it though. The exhortation is still valid & useful...
Fourthly, and finally, let me give a word to all of you. If you gain anything from this passage, it should be this: God hates divorce. And we ought not to let our marriages deteriorate. Instead, we should do everything within our power to love our spouse, cling to her, help her, cherish her, and build her up in the Lord.
When Elizabeth and I were doing our pre-maritial counseling, our pastor gave us very good advice. He said, “Divorce is not an option. Do not even think of it. Do not let it even enter your mind.”
This was well said, and it is advice that I give also to you. Do not let it even enter your mind. If you are having trouble with your marriage, seek help. The elders here are more than willing to offer you counsel. And if we cannot, we will find someone who can.
What’s more, do not wait until things have virtually bottomed out and you are calling us as a last resort. Too many marriages end because couples wait too long and do not avail themselves to the options that are available to them.
So do not wait. Even now, seek to give honor to the Lord and cultivate a thriving marriage. Confess your sins, and let not another day go by where you make void your vows.
You have pledged to have and to hold this person. Before God you said you would take this person to be yours until death do you part. And so, what God has brought together, let no man separate.
I am preparing to speak at the local ministerial association meeting this Friday. I will be using 1 Tim. 1:6 as my text because it focuses on the act of preaching. I thought Calvin's comments were exceptionally eloquent and worth recording here.
"To stir up the gift of God which is in you. This exhortation is highly necessary; for it usually happens, and may be said to be natural, that the excellence of gifts produces carelessness, which is also accompanied by sloth; and Satan continually labors to extinguish all that is of God in us. We ought, therefore, on the other hand, to strive to bring to perfection everything that is good in us, and to kindle what is languid; for the metaphor, which Paul employs, is taken from a fire which was feeble, or that was in course of being gradually extinguished, if strength and flame were not added, by blowing upon it and by supplying new fuel. Let us therefore remember that we ought to apply to use the gifts of God, lest, being unemployed and concealed, they gather rust. Let us also remember that we should diligently profit by them, lest they be extinguished by our slothfulness."
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.