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A Few Words from Dennis Rainey

I know you may have been expecting a post from Abiding Marriage to get you and your spouse ready for Valentine's Day. And although we do want to encourage you to celebrate your marriage regularly, this post will definitely NOT be like many you may see from others leading up to February 14th.

My wife and I thought that, in the midst of a month where couples try to have a celebration around their love for one another, we wanted you to hear some challenging words from Dennis Rainey to you. In our years serving at FamilyLife, Dennis was consistently challenging the staff. I am thankful for a man like Dennis who knows both how to challenge us and to encourage us!!

So without further introduction, a few words from Dennis Rainey:

In our culture many people see divorce as a positive solution to a troubled marriage. But we also see a culture full of people who have been devastated by divorce. One woman wrote after her divorce, “Our divorce has been the most painful, horrid, ulcer producing, agonizing event you can imagine…I wish I could put on this piece of paper for all the world to see, a picture of what divorce feels like. Maybe my picture would stop people before it’s too late.”

From this evidence alone it should not be surprising that God declares in Malachi 2:16, that He “hates divorce." Marriage was meant to be a special covenant between a man, a woman, and their God, and divorce tears this apart.

It's true that Jesus talks about exception clauses for divorce in Matthew 19. He says, "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery"· (v. 8, 9).

The Bible also addresses the issue of divorce in passages like Matthew 5:32-33, and in 1 Corinthians 7:15-17. However a person interprets these passages, one thing is clear: God never ordained or created divorce. Humans did. God allowed for divorce because of the hardness of man's sinful heart.

Most Bible teachers believe there are a couple of circumstances in which God releases someone from the lifelong covenant of marriage: 1) In the case of a spouse's consistent, unrepentant immorality, and 2) when an unbelieving spouse deserts a believer.

Most pastors and Christian leaders will discourage divorce even in these situations, but ultimately will not discourage it when all other options have been considered and exhausted. Divorce in these situations should be the last alternative and never the first choice in even a difficult set of circumstances.

What's really sad, however, is that most couples seeking a divorce today do you so for unbiblical reasons. They cite reasons such as poor communication, incompatibility, financial problems, lack of commitment to the relationship, or changes in priorities. In short, when marriage is not working, a common solution is to get out.

At one Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway where I spoke, I heard from numerous couples about the problems they faced in their marriages. One wife with five children under the age of 10 wanted out of her marriage because of an insensitive husband. I was left with the impression that though he definitely had some things to learn, this was a marriage that could be repaired. I looked them both in the eyes and pleaded, “Give one another a chance. Take God at His Word. Don’t get a divorce!”

Throughout the weekend I was struck again by how many couples are hurting today. But I also realized many of today’s divorces do not have to happen. Couples need help and hope to have a successful marriage. And their only hope is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ and the message of the Bible.

SOURCE: Written by Dennis Rainey. Taken from the FamilyLife Marriage Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2007.

IMAGE: Image by John Hain from Pixabay


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