Divorce • Devotion 6

Love and Respect
Justin Dean

As we continue through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we come to a section where Jesus decides to address divorce. Matthew 5:31-32 says, “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.”

Did you know that every 42 seconds, there is one divorce in America? That equates to 86 divorces per hour, 2,046 divorces per day, 14,364 divorces per week, and 746,971 divorces per year. Unfortunately, divorce has become an incredibly common occurrence in our world today. Either we or someone we know has gone through a divorce in some way, either as the couple or as the child. One thing that we all know for certain, marriages were never intended to end this way. We see Jesus, while addressing the Pharisees as they question Him, giving the reasons for why marriage is such a sacred thing not to be destroyed.

Mark 10:6-9 (NIV) says, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

So, if marriage is something so pure and brought together by God, where do we begin to strengthen it? It starts with submission to Christ, and following His Word. We find littered throughout Scripture the ways we should interact with others. This first and foremost has to do with our family. Showing our spouse, the Fruit of the Spirit is an essential piece to a healthy marriage. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control should all be reflected as we interact with our spouse just as much as with our neighbors. If we cannot live out these characteristics with those whom we claim to love, how can we hope to show them to others outside our family?

Paul also highlights two attitudes that we should seek to treat our spouse within Ephesians. Ephesians 5:33 says, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” He mentions love and respect. These characteristics should define the interactions within our marriages. Notice, Paul did not say, “Husbands only love your wives if she respects your decisions,” or “Wives respect your husbands only if they show love and affection towards you.” He called us to love and respect regardless of the situation and despite how our spouse chooses to act. All fights, hurt, and anger within marriage are caused by a lack of love and respect. Many times, divorce is the result of many of these interactions building up to a breaking point. Instead, even in the heat of pain and frustration, we must remind ourselves to love, respect, and not give up on what God joined together.
 
As we walk through marriage, we must be willing to admit when we are at fault, forgive, and do so in a manner that reflects love and respect. In order to deal with the divorce problem seeking to creep into the church, we need to seek godly principles in our marriages.

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