While our God is unquestionably a God of love (1 John 4:8), there are actually some things the Bible says he hates – among which is the termination of lawful marriages (Malachi 2:16). It goes without saying that God’s people must never teach or practice anything that would condone, endorse, promote, or encourage that which God hates. But what positive steps can be taken to prevent divorce?
Divorce is prevented when spouses fulfill their God-given responsibilities toward each other. If every married couple respected God’s marriage law and followed God’s instruction manual, divorce would be non-existent. “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:3 NKJV). Husbands must love and honor their wives and be Christ-like leaders in the home (Eph. 5:23-33; 1 Pet. 3:7). Wives are to submit to, respect, and love their husbands (Eph. 5:22-33; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). Imagine how many marital problems would be resolved if every spouse was more patient, kind, humble, selfless, and trusting (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
Divorce is prevented when children are taught, by example and instruction, to respect the institution of marriage and to view it as a permanent union. The influence of television, the movie industry, and our worldly society must be superseded by the good examples of Christian couples, the faithful instruction of Bible class teachers, and the healthy environment provided by Christian parents.
Divorce is prevented when we encourage our singles to be faithful Christians and to marry faithful Christians. Granted, marrying a professing Christian will not automatically ensure a successful marriage, but when both partners share the same faith and the same commitment to a divinely-governed marriage, the odds are stacked considerably in their favor.
Divorce is prevented when Christians study their Bibles diligently to understand the Lord’s will concerning marriage. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the will of God (Hos. 4:6). When discussing controversial issues like divorce and remarriage, it’s an easy cop-out to say, “Well, I haven’t really studied it enough.” While this may be a valid excuse for an immature Christian, there comes a time when a child of God must study this subject to the point he or she knows what the Bible teaches. It affects too many lives to be complacent and content with ignorance.
Divorce is prevented when church leaders have enough conviction, courage, and concern to take a firm stand and publicly teach and defend the truth on marriage, divorce and remarriage. Jesus and Paul did not remain silent on this issue, even though it was as controversial in the first century as it is today. Teachers of God’s word will be held accountable both for what they teach and for what they neglect to teach (Acts 20:26-27; 1 Tim. 4:16; James 3:1).
Divorce is prevented when Christians refuse to compromise with the world (Rom. 12:1-2). The devil succeeds when couples divorce and remarry contrary to God’s will, when unscriptural marriages are tolerated in congregations, when the word of God is ignored or twisted to accommodate sinful unions, and when brethren are led to believe this issue is unimportant. By exhibiting lax attitudes toward God’s marriage and moral laws, the church succumbs to the destructive influence of the world.
Divorce is prevented when Christians are united on what the Bible teaches concerning this matter. Accepting a wide variety of interpretations and applications does anything but prevent divorce. If the “agree to disagree” mentality is allowed to prevail, unlawful marriages will continue multiplying in the church, generating more conflict and putting more souls at risk. Divided scholarship must never be used to justify disunity among brethren.
In our attempts to prevent divorce – compassion, patience, and kindness must always be shown (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Confronting sin must never be done in a mean-spirited way, neither should our love for sinners induce us to tolerate or condone sin. We must speak the truth in love and restore the erring in a spirit of gentleness (Eph. 4:15; Gal. 6:1), while being careful not to forget our primary aims of obeying the Lord and saving souls.
–Kevin L. Moore
Originally appearing in The Exhorter (April-June 2000) and republished in The Summit Chronicle 6:1 (January 2008): 6.
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