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I read this excerpt by Dr. Russell Moore recently. He was asked what to do if someone is in a miserable marriage:
Does God want you to be miserable? Long-term, no. And that’s why God has designed marriage as a life-long covenant signaling the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the long-term, God wants you to be deliriously happy. But by long-term, I mean the next trillion years, and beyond. In the short-term, one often must bear difficulty and, yes, even misery. Remaining faithful to a wife you wish you hadn’t married might seem miserable to you, but taking up a cross and following Jesus is “miserable,” in the short-run. That’s why the Book of Hebrews presents the life of faith in terms of not receiving what was promised (Heb. 11:39), but seeing it and embracing it from afar. Dr. Russell Moore, Source
This seems to be a common thought I’ve heard before – if Christ is our head, then we can and should be able to endure all kinds of suffering and persecution because this life on earth is just a moment in the bigger scheme of things. We look with great anticipation for eternity, in light of our momentary sufferings – you know, the count-it-all-joy gig.
From my Bible reading and teachings in churches, I was always taught that divorce was permissible for desertion and adultery. But read what Piper says:
The Covenant Remains till Christ Removes
One of the reasons that I have emphasized the ultimate meaning of marriage so much in this series is that the meaning of marriage is such that human beings cannot legitimately break it. The ultimate meaning of marriage is the representation of the covenant keeping love between Christ and his church. To live this truth and to show this truth is what it means, most deeply, to be married. This is the ultimate reason why marriage exists. There are other reasons, but this is the main one. Therefore, if Christ ever abandons and discards his church, then a man may divorce his wife. And if the blood-bought church, under the new covenant, ever ceases to be the bride of Christ, then a wife may legitimately divorce her husband. But as long as Christ keeps his covenant with his bride, the church, and as long as the church, by the sustaining grace of God, remains the chosen people of Jesus Christ, then the very meaning of marriage will include: What God has joined, only God can separate, not man. John Piper, What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate, Part 1
I have not paid much attention to the varying views of marriage/divorce/remarriage in Christianity. John Piper holds to a permanence view of marriage. I must have been living in a bubble my whole adult life. I had no idea until a year or so ago that some popular Christian leaders hold to a “permanence view of marriage.” The permanence view of marriage maintains that there are no biblical grounds for divorce or remarriage. Both Voddie Baucham and John Piper ascribe to this belief.
I found an article from the Pyromaniacs blog, On Divorce which had some discussion of this viewpoint in the comments. Here was a helpful comment which fleshes out what the permanence view of marriage can look like after a biblically-sanctioned “permanence” divorce:
The permanence view creates an enigma that leaves the divorced or innocent party defenseless and instructs them to try to be satisfied with a life of singleness, a life of consequent frustration and hardships. They believe for example, that if a man with two small children divorces his wife for another woman and gets remarried, his former wife is to live her life without a companion and raise the children without a father (in the home). The exception clause Jesus gives allows her recourse to deal with a husband that has abandoned God’s will.
A few of these men concede that a spouse can be involved in gross sexual immorality that warrants a divorce, but teach that the innocent party should not remarry. Ironically, most in the permanence view would instruct the man in this example to continue his second marriage while instructing his former wife to remain companionless. I see no biblical justness in that. This position should be shown to be erroneous so that the innocent doesn’t suffer needlessly, attempting to live their whole life without a companion. (Source)
In contrast to the above excerpts, I wanted to share with you a recently published interview with author and blogger, Barbara Roberts from A Cry for Justice. Barbara’s research on divorce was very informative and gives hope to those who are in abusive marriages.
I took a few notes, but strongly urge you to take the time to watch the video. It is excellent. And as an added bonus for watching the video, you get to hear two Aussies!
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A Few Notes from “Does God Hate Divorce?”
Mark Brown interviews Barbara Roberts
Does God Hate Divorce? Barbara begins by explaining that “God hates divorce” is a mistranslation of a widely known slogan from Malachi 2:16.
Abuse “A person who is an abuser and we talk about abuse as a pattern of coercive control that is designed to maintain control over the other spouse and often of the children in the family, too.” Ms. Roberts mentioned that “it’s a pattern of behavior which is intentionally designed to maintain control.”
Idolatry of Marriage “The problem in Christian circles a lot of the time is that they have elevated marriage to be more important than the individuals within it. They have actually made an idol of marriage. . .” Barbara notes that Christians “prioritize the institution rather than the health and well-being of the individuals.”
Doctrine of Suffering Ms. Roberts discusses the common confusion some Christians have about persecution. Suffering persecution for the cause of the gospel is not the same as being persecuted by abuse in marriage.
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