Defeating Divorce (4)

Divorce moves in two directions, as we have seen: Away from the current spouse, and towards someone else who seems better. People contemplating divorce long for the death of their marriage and are filled with desire for another, ”better,” one. Not all those who want to dissolve their marriage have an alternate lover, though many do. Others entertain fantasies of someone more loving, caring, attractive, and desirable. In either case, they are victims of self-deceit (and maybe actual deceit by the new lover). They vainly believe that they made a mistake with the first partner, and that there is another person more suited for them. They consider only the attractive qualities of their real or imagined future spouse. Just as they did when in love the first time, they imagine that they have found the right person, one who will make them happy. They overlook the faults and failings of the prospective replacement for their now-unattractive spouse. What they forget is that romantic love is based on an illusion. Charm and beauty in a woman lead a man to believe that she is good and kind and sweet, and will be cooperative. Kindness, attentiveness, and competence in a man create the conviction in a woman that he will love her as her current husband does not. Or, if the new man lives only in her mind, she fantasizes life with someone who neither does not exist, nor could not. The brutal fact is that we are all sinners! We are self-centered, proud, lazy, lustful, and consumed with our own covetous cravings. These selfish desires hinder – or prevent – us from loving another as we should (Galatians 5:16-21). Thus, both we and anyone we marry will struggle with constant conflict. It doesn’t matter who lives with us, for two sinners in one house will inevitably collide. That is perhaps one reason Jesus spoke of divorce after He taught that adultery proceeds from lust in the heart (Matthew 5:27-30). He knew that only contentment with God’s provision, including our current mate, will enable us to love the person in front of us and avoid illusory alternatives. The remedy? To focus on our own faults, not those of our spouse (7:1-6). To pray for God to change both us and them (6:9 -13; 7:7-12). To hunger and thirst for righteousness, not earthly “happiness” (5:6; 6:33). To trust God as our heavenly Father, who will provide all we really need (6:8).