Divorce • Devotion 5

Pursuit of Holiness
Pastor Patrick Rowland

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32

This is the second reference to adultery made by Jesus in six straight verses. The previous passage connected lust to the moral equivalent of adultery, and now Jesus makes the same connection to divorce. In Old Testament Law, divorce had its place and regulations as a consequence of sexual immorality.

Anyone that has been married for more than a day will confirm that marriage is hard. I have been married for 28 years and not all the moments have been “happily ever after.” I will be the first to admit that I am responsible for a very high percentage of the not-so-happy moments. Marriage was given as a gift from God to share the deepest joys in life as well as the greatest sorrows. My marriage is far from perfect, but I would not trade our pursuit of holiness for all the happiness in the world.

In Genesis chapter 2, in the garden, God created man and woman in His own image and blessed marriage as holy. Author Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Marriage notes that marriage is not designed to make us happy, it is to make us holy. Happiness is the product of holiness and a couple’s pursuit of a holy marriage.

The church has forever placed a value on the sanctity of marriage as a lifelong commitment. Engaged Christian couples are counseled and taught, biblically speaking, that divorce should not be an option unless there is sexual immorality. There are other immoralities that destroy the pursuit of holiness and no one person should be subjected to abuse of any kind. Abuse is not the design of marriage created by God. The purpose of this teaching and counseling is to raise the value of holiness, not strip one from happiness.

We need to be real; we no longer live in the garden and in the physical presence of God’s holiness; therefore, our daily pursuit of holiness is combated by human temptation and sin. As sin makes its way into a person’s life the pursuit of holiness is lost and its impact on marriage and family is devasting. Jesus’ teaching does not conclude that one should not live in the absence of a pursuit of holiness. It is a reminder for all to make a commitment to pursuing holiness as individuals and as a couple, not just the “happily ever after” feeling.

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