Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

All marriages are happy. It's the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. ~Raymond Hull
Did you know born again Christians are more likely to divorce & that the divorce rate is significantly higher amongst conservative Christians? Worse, did you know that atheists & agnostics have the lowest divorce rate of all, something like 21%? Barna Research Group, Dec. 1999

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.


Mrs. C said...

I wonder if atheists are just not under any illusion that being in a marriage means one would be treated well...?

Also thought I'd share this link from Terry:

Amanda said...

Well said Ganeida...

I know there have been times when my husband and I could have easily parted ways. But because we take our relationship with God seriously, it just wasn't an option. Because of that, He got us through and things always got better.

For me, I know that the things that irked me about my husband were really only there because I had the issue, and God wanted to deal with me. He is a good man, so it was nothing to do with bad behaviour on his part. It was just a clashing of personality (for want of a better description).

When I entered this marriage, I had no real idea of what true love was, coming from such a dysfunctional background. I had ideals of love, that were romantic but not based in reality. He then took me through the journey of understanding, living out, what true love really means. Love is an action word, way more than it is a gooey emotional feeling.

Too many people (even Christians) are shaped by Mills & Boon type books and Hollywood movies. Life really is not like those things. As we all know lol.

I am grateful the Lord has given me such a rock solid man, who has ridden the rough times out with me, and who takes God seriously as well.

seekingmyLord said...

Ganeida, I am of two thoughts here...and what is new about that because I am always conflicted!

My very first thought is regarding the stats. I would think that a significant portion of atheists and agnostics do not "marry" but cohabitate: technically no marriage, no divorce.

In regards to Christian marriages, there should be a point in every marriage, particularly marriages of couples with compatible beliefs that the three beings become as one: God, husband, and wife. That is the ideal marriage. To me, a perfect marriage is one of a certain quality that weathers disagreements well so that the couple respects the other more afterward. However, as you have pointed out, not every marriage has that oneness or perfect marriage qualities, even by my definition.

I think we have let Hollywood redefine love and marriage in movies and reduced it to what makes us feel good, but it should be about our commitment to God be the best wives (husbands), unselfishly showing love and respect to our husbands (wives). To, actually, to turn one's heart away from the marriage at any time is be disrespectful of God Himself. I cannot make my husband be a good husband, I can only control my own actions and what he does or does not do is really between him and God, and likewise the same for me. If Christians were to believe God is truly also in the marriage within the core of their being, there would be more care in choosing their spouses (perhaps waiting for God to choose) and far less divorces.

I think "God will understand" is not exactly what many think when they choose a mate, but basically He is pushed aside just like that way too often, so if they had so little respect for God in making the choice to marry, why would we think that it would be less so in the divorce. By the way, I am speaking from experience having done it both ways, there is definitely a difference.

Ganeida said...

MrsC: Interesting link. Thanks

Amanda: Lots of us don't start out with Christ & then the whole boat rocks for all it's worth. ☺

Seeking: Agreed. Am about to take Lib back. Please send up a prayer. I am really, really ill this morning & frankly shouldn't be going anywhere.

joyfulmum said...

Great post Ganeida! I have heard of those stats before and quite frankly are very troubling though I wonder as seekingmylord said that perhaps it's because athiests live together and therefore their separation is not counted as divorce?
Like Amanda I came from a very dysfunctional family as opposed to my dh (and I've had to learn what love truly is:)) Just recently I've been thinking more and more about how I need to focus on the blessing that God gave me in my dh - he is "just the right" person for me, rather than focussing on the minor irritations that creep up:)

Linda said...

Nice post, thanks.

Jo said...

As far as I am concerned the Bible doesn't support divorce at all unless adultery has occurred. It does say that if a non-Christain wants to leave his Christian wife, let him go. Otherwise no divorce - and believe me there have been times when I would have walked out of my marriage, it is very difficult being married to a non-Christian, I have had some very bad times. But walking away says "I am not going to trust in God, I am going to do it my way". To remain in a marriage is putting ones complete trust in God that He will be there through any storm.

I believe that God will take me through my marriage and the lessons I am learning is part of the lesson God wants me to learn - and it brings me closer to Him. God is changing me, I can't change my husband, only God can do that. I must leave that in His hands - and not mine.

I also agree with SEEKINGTHELORD and say that a significant portion of atheists and agnostics do not "marry" but cohabitant so no divorce.

Ruby said...

Get into bed girl ~ and get yourself well ♥
Hope you got home safe.

Ganeida said...

Rosemary: Just a thought; if you're looking at percentages cohabitation doesn't matter because you are only looking at the percentage per hundred who are married & divorce ~ or is that not right. My maths is always wonky & I'm so tired after a nightmare drive.

Thanks Linda. I think I need to check my links because you never seem to come up. I musta done something wrong...

Nice testimony, Jo.

Ruby: I'm about 5 minutes away from my bed. The last hour of the drive was really awful...

joyfulmum said...

hmmm Ganeida, you do make a good point (despite your tiredness etc:)) and I don't want to keep you away from bed any longer but just wanted to say I do see your point:) you are right! praying that you get well soon....

seekingmyLord said...

Ganeida, I am thanking the Lord you made it back home safely! I will pray that the Lord will grant you wellness soon.

Ember said...

I agree wholeheartedly that once we have made our marriage vows we should simply stay together. It doesn't always work out that way as you pointed out.
As a divorced woman married to a divorced man, something that puzzles, intrigues and slightly bewilders me is that, though God would prefer us to stay in our marriages and make them last, His grace is sufficient to bring new possibilities out of the wreckage and distress of what has been lost and broken.
I didn't expect ever to get divorced, nor did my husband, but our karma ran over our dogma and that was what happened. After much grief and guilt and soul-searching, I've learned to live with the past and celebrate the present. The marriage I'm in now is, oddly, also God's good gift; and we have worked hard to ensure that our previous partners are still our friends.
Is what we have second best? Only in the sense that resurrection is.
Hope you are feeling a bit better

Ganeida said...

Ember; I wish I'd been more mentally alert yesterday because I found a fab little site on divorce [after I'd written this] which argued [from the original] that what God was really oppossed to was the men putting away their wives without giving them divorce papers. The divorce papers freed them to marry again. Without them they were legally in adultry. I thought this was interesting. It sits better with my understanding of the mercy of God ~ but I just couldn't get my head round it yesterday & naturally I can no longer find the site to check properly.

Sometimes our choices are taken from us. What we do with what is left then becomes our witness & our testimony. We are a broken people in a fallen world & it can be very disheartening if you find yourself in less than perfect circumstances. Those are the people my heart really goes out to. They find themselves on the cutting edge of their faith, often in unchartered territory & all too often a whole heap of pious platitudes coming their way. Hosea is my reality check on marriage. lol Can you imagine having to live that out?! I don't imagine it was a whole heap of fun.

Jan Lyn said...

Ganeida, I loved the way you weave humor into a serious piece such as this one. I think you are a walking bible concordance and one I could possibly understand! :)
I agree vows before God need to be kept. I come from a family of origin that did not keep it's vows and I don't blame them (my parents) but I see that it is not any easier for them and how it troubles generations to come. My husband seems to be stuck with me for

Jo said...
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