Defeating Divorce (2)

From the context of this saying, we find insight into the causes and nature of divorce. Those who initiate divorce have forgotten to be poor in spirit; they do not mourn over their own sins; they are not meek, submitting their happiness to the will of God and accepting His providence in their lives; they do not hunger and thirst for righteousness; nor do they show mercy towards their spouse; they have allowed their heart to be filled with impure thoughts; they do not seek to be peacemakers; they are not willing to suffer for the sake of doing what is right; and they are not looking for a heavenly reward – they want happiness now (Matthew 5:3-12). Divorce arises when we do not focus our thoughts upon the abiding law of God (5:17-20); when we do not seek reconciliation with those whom we have offended (5:21-26); and – often – when we have allowed ourselves to long for someone else (5:27-30). Divorce, like murder and adultery, starts in the heart. Indeed, it is essentially a sin of the heart, as Jesus teaches when He explains that the regulations for divorce in the Old Testament were given “because of the hardness of your heart” (19:8). In the Bible hardness of heart almost always leads to eternal separation from God (Romans 2:5). When we are willing to break a solemn promise (5:33-37); refuse to turn the other cheek to those who “strike” us (5:38-42); will not love our enemies, as God has loved us, His enemies (5:43-48); fail to pray (6:9-13); run after material wealth rather than seeking God’s kingdom (6:19-34); judge others without looking carefully at our own faults (7:1-6) – then we shall be powerless to resist the urge to gratify our own lusts and inflict irreparable harm on our spouse by seeking divorce. Indeed, divorce usually begins before marriage, with the assumption that it is better to give than to get; better to be served than to serve; better to seek the pleasures of this world than to pursue holiness and the kingdom of God; better to follow our own ways rather than the will of God. At the root, the impulse to divorce issues from unbelief. We do not trust that God’s ways are right, or that His will is good for our lives. We do not believe that His grace is sufficient for us, or that His power will transform all who continue to trust in the one who raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-21).