June 30, 2011 by Stacy McDonald
Continued from Part 2, Grace Widows: A Scarlet Letter
“My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.” (Hosea 11:7)
This verse should get our attention. Those of us who call on the name of the Lord, are we faithful? Do we truly exalt him in word and deed? In the second chapter of Malachi, the Israelites weep and groan over the fact that God has rejected their offerings. God seems to be turning His back on His covenant people. When they arrogantly question why God would treat them in such a way, Malachi points out:
“Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” (Malachi 2:14)
And it’s not only men who are unfaithful. Women are covenant breakers too. Proverbs instructs young men to embrace wisdom, which will deliver them “from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God.” (Proverbs 2:16-17) emphasis mine
Covenant breaking is no small thing to God. It’s nothing new either. God Himself knows the excruciating pain and injustice of unfaithfulness:
“Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,” says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 3:20)
We have been an unfaithful people. We need to understand that marriage is for life. “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” We need to take seriously our call to honor the marriage bed in all areas of life. The husband and wife are to be a beautiful picture of Christ and His Bride—indescribable oneness—the epitome of faithfulness, purity, and sacrificial love. Married or single, we are to support that by the way we live and think.
As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:5)
However, instead of dealing with sin ahead of time by actively addressing the things that weaken and tear down, stone by stone, the beauty and strength of marriage, we tend to wait until there is a crisis. Adultery or divorce has already happened before we scramble to correct the problem. Important issues that affect marriage, and the sanctity of the marriage bed, are ignored, and in some cases, even accepted.
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4) emphasis mine
Because we have allowed so many things that dishonor marriage to become an accepted part of our culture, we shouldn’t be surprised at the results. The church should be using wisdom and consistency in dealing with the following topics that contribute to the breakdown, and ultimate dishonor, of marriage:
- The cultural acceptance of (at least soft) pornography in movies and television.
- The acceptance of partial public nudity, which either stirs or desensitizes men especially, and causes discontent and insecurity in women.
- Promiscuity and cohabitation before marriage.
- The acceptance (and in some churches, the promotion) of homosexual unions.
- The rejection of children
- The pressure to remove mothers from the home (which divides and stresses the family).
- Easy divorce.
Our culture of unfaithfulness has caused the Church to react in panic. Rather than deal with the most common sins of marriage biblically before the finality of divorce, we react by inventing rules that serve only to further limit the continuance of godly seed.
Satan hates godly seed. If he can’t kill our children, or succeed in making sure they’re never born, then he wants to damage them, so they aren’t useful to the Kingdom. That’s really what he’s after. Satan seeks to destroy what God seeks to produce. And what does God seek? What is His ultimate purpose for godly marriage as a whole? Why did He make them “one flesh?” This is important, so pay attention. Notice in Malachi 2 what God seeks (therefore Satan hates):
But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring… (emphasis mine)
And notice how the rest of the verse plays out. What could it be that might harm the godly seed He seeks?
Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. (Malachi 2:15)
This is one reason why God hates divorce. It’s why He detests unfaithfulness. It’s why adultery, fornication, and the rejection of life in the womb is so very wicked.
Yet, after the treacherous one has forsaken his wife, how can we, the Church, make it worse? By creating a virtual monastery for those whose lives have already been ravaged. This is not only wrong on a personal level, it is wrong in light of Malachi 2:15. It is an additional attack on godly seed. It violates the whole purpose for marriage. It attacks the children left in the home, as well as the children that the forsaken wife may still produce within a future godly marriage.
Then they [The Roman Catholic Church] enacted laws by which they confirmed their tyranny—laws partly impious toward God, partly fraught with injustice toward men…they frame degrees of kindred contrary to the laws of all nations, and even the polity of Moses, and enact that a husband who has repudiated an adulteress may not marry again.” – John Calvin
To protect the purity of the marriage bed, for the sake of loving the brethren and defending true doctrine, and for sake of the continuance of godly seed, we need to understand when divorce is biblically justified. Christians must present a sound and biblical picture of marriage—a picture that doesn’t leave anyone abandoned or in bondage—one that glorifies God and provides hope for future generations.