It just dawned on me that today would have been my 25th anniversary, had I not escaped from years of mistreatment. As I was going through the separation that she transferred to a divorce, I was counseled by a man who warned me that I would suffer regrets for the rest of my life over what could have been.
Don’t get me wrong. The divorce was hard and painful. So is a root canal. So is hernia surgery. I’ve done all three, and recovered from all three. I don’t celebrate the circumstances leading up to any of them, but I ended up grateful after the recoveries. I had an opportunity to biblically divorce my wife four years prior. My only regret is that I didn’t do it then.
Proverbs 21:9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
I was married for 14 years. For the first six, we went our own ways, drifting down the stream of life without any intentionality. Then I met Jesus and she didn’t. I tried to lead my family, but you cannot lead a woman who refuses to follow. It’s like embracing a broken tooth, or a hemorrhoid, or a venomous snake. We Christians are called to remain married only as long as the unbelieving spouse will keep us. That disclaimer should have been remembered. And no, I’m not seeking out loopholes. Read 1 Corinthians 7:12 for yourself!
It is God who defines marriage. Not some court, some legislature, some bureaucrat. That is why I stand in opposition of the practice of any pastor filing legal documents for any marriage. And how does God define marriage? Let me quote Paul, who was quoting Jesus, who was quoting Moses in the book of Genesis. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
There is so much to unpack in that one sentence. More than I should share in this post. But this is the definition of the marriage covenant. You leave the former familial unit, so that the new unit is now your primary family. You hold fast to each other, you rely on each other, you benefit each other, you encourage each other. You become one flesh, both physically and also on a metaphysical level. You are no longer two, but one.
And if the unbelieving spouse breaks the covenant irreparably, then there was no covenant for you to violate. Divorce sucks. I would counsel to avoid it in most cases. Romans 12:18 has a disclaimer as well. To reject the disclaimers that God has given us is to live as fools.
1 Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.