Reducing the Risk
Outside of staying single, it may not be possible to eliminate all risk of divorce. It takes a conscious act of the will by two individuals to make a marriage work. It takes the grace of God to daily resist the temptations that seek to tear a marriage apart.
The following guidelines are given to reduce the risk of divorce:
1. A believer should only marry another believer, preferably, someone who has a proven history of walking with the Lord in good times as well as bad.
2. Marry only with parental or guardian approval. Honoring your father and mother is still good biblical advice. Parents may not be able to choose a mate for you, but they generally have one’s best interest in mind. They may be able to help discern wrong choices.
3. Marry only with the spiritual blessing of the elders of a local congregation. They are given as shepherds to oversee your soul.
4. Realize marriage is a covenant vow before God, as well as a legal contract before men.
5. Avoid sexual involvement before marriage. Premarital sex produces guilt and builds a barrier of distrust.
6. Marry only a believer with biblical convictions on the permanence of marriage. It is not uncommon for a person who believes divorce and remarriage is an option for others, to exercise it themselves. Knowing that divorce is not an option is a motivating force to work through problems and build a stronger marriage.
7. Fulfill your God ordained roles in the home, local church, and society. God has made men and women for different purposes. Men are to be the primary providers for their families. Though certain exceptions may arise, this is the normative standard. Men should be spiritual leaders in the home and local assembly. A lazy or unspiritual man can frustrate a woman who desires to be lovingly led.
8. Practice daily forgiveness. If sin arises in the life of your spouse ask God for the grace to forgive them.
9. Make your spouse a priority in your life. Never withhold sex as a form of punishment.
10. Stay spiritually healthy:
Daily read the Bible.
Fellowship with other believers.
Be humble and dependent on the Lord.
11. Keep financial debt to a minimum. Put spiritual and family life before money and career.
12. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
13. Keep your word.
14. Be involved and ‘work’ on your marriage. Biblical love is an active relationship and decision of the will.
15. Husbands love your wives. Wives submit to your husbands. Pray daily for your spouse.
I am aware that a significant number of sincere Christians believe it is perfectly all right to divorce and remarry. Sincerity is not the issue; obedience to Christ is.
I claim no infallibility. Some arguments may be stronger than others. I have written for the average Christian, not the scholar. More scholarly men than I have capably dealt with these same issues and come to similar conclusions. Their works are in print for those who wish to read them.
Adultery is a serious charge and is not to be taken lightly. If my conclusions are wrong, I will be judged for being an inaccurate teacher of God’s word. If I am right, a significant portion of the Evangelical Church will need to change its teaching and practice. All the church allows, or disallows, must be based upon God’s word.
I stand behind these basic conclusions:
A) God created marriage to be a lifelong one flesh covenant bond between husband and wife.
B) Sin has distorted God’s original plan for marriage.
C) The Mosaic Law did not establish or approve of divorce. It was already occurring and God gave one law that only prohibited the divorced woman from ever returning to her first husband after she had remarried.
D) Christ allowed divorce only in the limited case of porneia. The ‘exception clause’ is only listed in the Jewish Gospel of Matthew.
E) The Rabbinic laws of Christ’s day compelled a man to divorce a fornicating wife. No such law exists in modern Western society. The Christian is to forgive his brother seventy times seven. The Christian should forgive his spouse in the same manner.
F) There is no plain mandate in the entire New Testament which teaches that a divorced person may remarry while their spouse is alive.
G) There are clear statements in the New Testament which call remarriage after divorce adultery.
H) God completely forgives all sin, including divorce and remarriage. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean freedom from consequences of sin in this life.
I) The Evangelical Church must not allow more than Christ allowed. The local church should stand ready to forgive those who repent of divorce and remarriage. It must be willing to teach those who seek truth. It must care enough to emotionally and financially support those people who seek to honor Christ by not remarrying.
Copyright 2008 by Joe Fogle. All rights reserved.