I've lost track of the number of divorcing Christians who've said to me, "God understands". I'm sure He does. I'm also sure he isn't happy about divorce. It wasn't meant to be that way but is *allowed* because of our hardness of heart. [Matthew 19:8]
I know some people get stuck in really cruddy marriages. Their partner has lied, maybe. It happens. I've heard blokes boast about trolling the churches for a nice Christian girl, one they think will put up with any amount of bad behaviour on their part. And I've heard the girl talk, which is so unrealistic as to defy description.
So I have two thoughts to offer for your consideration.
The first is the Catholic teaching on *sacrament*. Now I do not adhere to the traditional Catholic teaching on sacrament because I do not believe anything can be added to the saving work of Christ ~ & most certainly nothing that I can do. However we have lost our sense of the sacredness of marriage as ordained by God, of it being an outward manifestation of an inward grace. Well, yeah, but...
I just don't love him any more....He runs around on me....he gambles all our money...he's always glued to the t.v ... or his fishing rods ...or his golf clubs. Uh~huh. Secondly, ever heard of a guy called Hosea?
Hosea had it rough. He didn't even get to choose his wife. God did it for him & in the process He didn't pick out a nice obedient, capable Jewish wife. Nope. He picked out a whore. And not the quiet sort of whore where maybe Hosea could hold his head up in public & pretend it just wasn't so. No siree. He chose the flagrant, blatant, very public sort who went haring of after man after man until she ended up sold into prostitution. Can you imagine explaining that at the family dinner?
No, even under Jewish law Hosea was within his rights to write out a certificate of divorce & send Gomer packing for good. Actually I'm not sure that legally he had to do even that much because of her adultery but He didn't. I bet God & Hosea had some interesting conversations behind the scenes about Gomer & her antics & I'd bet Hosea wasn't madly thrilled about the two bit flea circus he found himself starring in.
The thing is though marriage is a symbol in two important ways. As Christians it is a symbol of the covenant Christ has made with His church. Even when our marriages are less than perfect they reflect the love of the Groom for His bride because it endures against the odds. Then our marriages are a witness to an unbelieving world. When we divorce, in effect we are saying that we haven't taken the "until death do us part" bit very seriously because obviously God has not joined us. That being so, why should the world take our god seriously when we so obviously don't.
This is in no way to trivialise those who are in an awful marriage situation but when our divorce rate is no better than the world's we have a problem. Nothing about the Christian walk was ever promised to be easy. "Count the cost", Christ said. "Pick up your cross & follow me", doesn't sound too trouble free to me. It sorta suggests sacrifice. Trouble. Perseverance. Endurance. Hardship.
"But what about love?" you ask. What about it? And what do you mean when you talk about love? Here is how God defines love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
It is the sort of love that sent Hosea to the brothel to buy back Gomer out of prostitution & restore her as his wife. It is the love God has for his people. It is the love we are meant to show to the world. The thing about being God's people is not that we get a free ride out of here. It's not about having things nice or trouble free. It's about when things get rough, when things go cat~a~wumps, when our marriages turn ugly, our finances crash , & our kids head off the rails, God is in there with us. He's there in our marriage, good, bad or indifferent.