“Do Christians give up on marriage too quickly?” #Christians #Divorcing
I asked friends on Facebook. The conversation took off like a fuse on a fast- burning stick of dynamite. The conversation was electrical, passionate and incredibly honest. I love strong women with opinions. It’s what makes the world go around.
As you could imagine, the responses were as varied as the women that shared them. For example, Robyn is a married mother of an adult son. She said “Christians take way too much”. Not advocating speedy separations or divorce, she believes “God doesn’t want you in an unhealthy, unloving marriage.”
I, myself, am a friend, sister; cousin and pastor’s wife and I know for a fact that countless couples are in forlorn, burdensome marriages. These distressing unions cause them to cry out Robyn’s last word on subject: “When is enough enough?”
Christian talk show host, Joni Lamb, hosted a discussion around marital issues on her show. Author, Wendy Treat, described her parent’s marriage this way: ‘they just remained married’. Can you hear the sorrow in that statement? She went on to say their relationship motivates her in hers. She wants a more fulfilling marriage for herself and gives tips in her book.
Struggle, a natural part of life, is often an overlooked element of marriage. Pam, married several years, makes several valid and insightful statements. For one she says, “Marriage is wonderful, but we should not expect a bed of roses”. In an interesting irony, she compared wedded life to “shacking up”. Basically she explained that she “stuck it out” in when she wasn’t married, so she should do the same now as a married woman. Philosophically, Pam thinks “people want the perks of marriage; but not the commitment”. She then compared it to folks yearning for the benefits of salvation, without the “total commitment” to pleasing God. Let the church say…. “OUCH!”
Renee, married three years, represents a younger, contemporary Christian woman. She thinks many folks marry not having a clue of what it really entails. “Our first year of marriage was hard”, she said. She attributes prayer as the glue that held their union solid. Renee was honest to say that she, like many others, almost didn’t make it. What was the solution? She made it plain: “I talked with God and decided to trust Him.” Confidently, she says “No turning back”.
Gayle, married almost 8 years, doesn’t believe Christians give up too quickly on marriage. “If you are in the Word and living in the Word; then there is no way you can give up on marriage easily”. She considers marriage a growth and enduring process and then adds “if you are not able to grow in your faith, then you are not able to grow in your marriage”. I hear my grandmother’s voice in hers. By the way, she’s my cousin.
Gayle was “point on” when she made the theoretical relationship between the two covenants. Marriage is a covenant between you and your spouse and you and your God. As Otealet says, “an irrevocable covenant” to the Father. Marriage is a very individual experience that works best with two, fully engaged, participating parties. God always does his part; but sometimes mates do not. Either way she says marriage should not be taken lightly.
Back to the Question: “Do Christians Give Up on Marriage too soon?”
You know, in my younger days, my answer to the question would have been a resounding, determined and adamant “YES”. But now, I have a few more years and two marriages under my belt (this is my second) and my answer will shock some. I don’t care. I’ve seen too much and I know too much. Wide, sweeping statements simply do not work for this complex of a question. Why? Because two wonderful people can be Christians, with all the privileges and power that it allows, and still be worn, mistreated and rejected in the marriage. This happens when one part of the union has not released past pains, selfish ambition or unrealistic expectations.
Karen (my cousin also) put it well. Married over twenty years to her only husband, she puts it this way “Christians face the same challenges as non-Christians” But here’s the kicker- the challenges of Christian marriages is not “always spiritual; but [they] are given spiritual answers that don’t help with natural problems”.
And there it is. Marriage takes two whole people becoming one before God; not two halves trying to be a whole “something”. Click To TweetJesus came to give us abundant “zoe” life. If one party in the marriage is so wounded and fragmented they cannot love you as God intended; a question of emotional (and at times, spiritual) survival must be posed.
My heart goes out to so many. Few things can break a spirit worse than a terrible marriage. The pain is compounded when one party makes continued investments and the other is simply ignoring them or just taking, taking, taking.
Godsy Girl, God has a plan for your life. He loves you and sees your pain as He saw Hagar’s in the dessert. When she felt ultimately rejected, mistreated and “thrown away”, the Lord sent and angel to call her name. I like to think He gently, lovingly called her as a good dad would when his baby girl is hurting.
If you’re in a terrible marriage waiting for redemption, peace or relief; please know that God knows your name and is calling you, too. In His presence rests all the peace, grace, forgiveness and strength you need. Hang in there.
Note: as you read this, please take a moment to say a short prayer for those suffering and struggling in marriages.
Image source “Young People’s Illustrated Bible”
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