What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage, singleness, and sex, both inside and outside of marriage? Does the Bible really address those subjects and, if so, does it have any relevance for today?
Also read about some of the amazing animals God has created: the horse with all his strength and fearlessness, the hawk, the eagle and a huge sea creature called leviathan.
Finally, our Proverbs passage talks about the drunkard and how, even after the a hangover, he runs to look for his next drink. The world wants us to believe they can’t help it, that it’s a disease called alcoholism, but what does the Bible say?
Paul has a great deal to say about marriage, divorce, and singleness in this chapter. In verses 1-9 he explains that sex within marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. That has not changed in spite of what our culture tells us.
I know this is a huge challenge for some of you who are single and want to be married. I want to encourage you that God has not forgotten you, that He is good, and that He will give you the grace to respond biblically to this challenge.
And to the married, verse 5 says:
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
For those who are married, sex is to be continual. It is never to be withheld from one’s partner except by agreement and then only for the purpose of prayer and fasting and only temporarily. In the past, this passage was most often applied to women, but as my husband and I counsel, more and more I hear of women whose husbands are not interested in sex.
It’s ironic that in a culture where sex is everywhere—on billboards, on TV, on movie screens, and on the street—this has not freed people to enjoy God’s gift of sexuality. Instead, it has done serious harm. The reasons are many, and if you’re struggling with this situation, I would urge you to seek counseling for both you and your spouse if he or she is willing, or for yourself, if not.
I’ve often heard that the rate of divorce in the US is about 50%, but I’ve discovered that statistics are hard to pin down. Some say the rate of divorce has dropped in the last decade and that as high as 70% of marriages make it to their 15th year. While that’s good, what about the 30% who don’t? And is it possible that the divorce rate is going down because many couples simply live together without marrying?
What does the Bible say about divorce? Is it allowable to divorce because we’re not happy or no longer in love? Is it OK if we’re unequally yoked? Are there, actually, any biblical grounds for divorce?
59 years had passed since the completion of the temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel. In these passages, the second group of former captives had returned led by Ezra. He had learned that the Jews who were already there, including many of the leaders, had taken pagan wives. This was strictly forbidden by the Law, had repeatedly led the people into idolatry, and had caused the nation to be taken into captivity. Yet, they went back to the same practices!
John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible notes that even though there was a decision made that these wives as a group were to be “put away”—that is divorced—each marriage was examined individually, probably to learn whether the wives had become believers. He also notes that other gentile women like Ruth and Rahab who had embraced faith in God were accepted and even included in the lineage of Christ.
So what about today? Can we divorce an unbelieving spouse? Matthew Henry in his commentary says, “As to being unequally yoked with unbelievers, such marriages, it is certain, are sinful, and ought not to be made; but now they are not null, as they were before the gospel did away the separation between Jews and Gentiles.”
2 Corinthians 6.14 says:
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
So while it is wrong for a Christian to marry a non-Christian, if a believer is already married to a non-believer, divorce is not an option in most circumstances.
Biblical Grounds for Divorce
So what does the Bible say about divorce? Is it ever allowable? Jay Adams, in his book Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, says, “Contrary to some opinions, the concept of divorce is biblical. The Bible recognizes and regulates divorce.”
When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, “being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly (Matt. 1.19). He was going to divorce her until an angel convinced him that she had not committed adultery. Continue reading →
Frogs … they’re everywhere! … in their homes, in their beds, in their bowls, in their ovens—everywhere! Yet, when Moses, God’s messenger comes to Pharaoh and asks when he’d like them removed, he says, “Tomorrow.” “Just let me spend one more night with those frogs.” How about you? Are there any frogs you’re keeping around for another sleepover?
It’s time. God is about to deliver His people. But first, He prepares Moses and Aaron for the task ahead:
¹ So the Lord said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.2 You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (Ex. 7.1-5).
“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” At first glance, that might seem a little unfair! Is God on His throne pointing to one person and saying I don’t like the way she looks, I think I’ll harden her heart? God is God and He can certainly do as He sees fit, but that is not the picture we see here.
God said He had heard the cries of his people in Egypt (Ex. 3.7), cries against which Pharaoh had already hardened his heart. When we harden our hearts and refuse to show compassion on others, why should we be surprised if He withholds compassion from us?
Even as believers, though we don’t lose our salvation, we can damage our fellowship with Him and set in motion laws of sowing and reaping (Gal. 6.7-9). And if we repeatedly harden our hearts, it may be a sign that we are not really saved, because the Bible teaches that though believers may sin, they will repent.
Even in these passages in Exodus, Pharaoh continues to harden his own heart. Ten times it says Pharaoh hardened his heart and ten times God hardened his heart. God’s hardening was judicial hardening in response to Pharaoh’s personal, sinful hardening.
We see a similar picture in Romans 1 beginning in verse 18. We sometimes call this passage the downward spiral of sin. We see men and women refusing to respect God as God though they know the truth and choosing to continue in their sin. In verses 24, 26, and 28 we see the response of God. It says He, “gave them up …,” “gave them up …,” and “gave them over …” John MacArthur says in his Study Bible, “When men consistently abandon God, He will abandon them by removing His restraint and allowing sin to run its inevitable course.”
This results in hearts that are more and more hardened by their own sin. As we look around our world today, we see this in abundance. It’s interesting that the example God uses in Romans 1 is that of homosexuality. Consider that as you listen to the news.
One More Night with the Frogs
One of the plagues God brought on the Egyptians was frogs (Ex. 8.1-15). Can you imagine? Frogs are everywhere—in in their homes, in their beds, in their bowls, in their ovens—everywhere! When Pharaoh had once again promised to let the people go, Moses said, “Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you …” In other words, “When do you want me to get rid of the frogs?” And Pharaoh says, “TOMORROW!” Tomorrow? “Yes, let me spend one more night with the frogs!”
It seems ridiculous, yet, there can be things we refuse to give up in spite of the consequences. Areas where we are saying, in effect, “Let me have one more night with these frogs!”
Then notice verse 15, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.”
How many times have you and I repeated the same pattern? We have a crisis Continue reading →
We’ve all heard the phrase “a marriage made in heaven,” but it may bring to mind different thoughts and images. Perhaps, in your case, it’s of your parents’ marriage and whether it was a good one or a contentious one. Perhaps, it’s your own marriage and of the thoughts, dreams, commitments, even preconceptions, you had when you married. Perhaps, it’s the thing to which you look forward or the one over which you’ve become discouraged. Wherever you are, I believe this series will have something for you. So, whether you’re single or you’ve been married 50+ years, I hope you’ll tune in each week for this study, “A Marriage Made in Heaven?”
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. If you’re new here, either to the LINKUP or you’ve come for this series on marriage, I look forward to learning together and growing in the ability to be the husband or wife God has called us to be and to have the kind of marriages that bring glory to Him. And if you’re single, I pray you’ll take away truths that will help you in any future marriage or help you minister to others who are married.
Last week I talked about the fact that marriage was created in the heart of God (Gen. 2.18-25), but that many marriages, even Christian marriages, fall far short of God’s design. I said that because God created marriage, we need to look at what He has to say about it, if we’re going to enjoy it as He intended.
We, also, need to understand what went wrong in the garden and how Adam and Eve’s decision to go against God’s command and eat the fruit had an immediate effect on all of life, including their marriage.
Today I’d like to share some of “my story” and how my story is really God’s story of redemption and grace.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? “My Story”
My story starts in Maine, actually Dover, New Hampshire, because the small down where my parents lived didn’t have a hospital of it’s own.
My grandparents were hard-working, “salt of the earth” people. My maternal grandparents were good, moral people, but not “church-goers” as they might have said.
My paternal grandfather died of cancer when I was a year old. My grandmother was raised in a Christian home, but didn’t always reflect Christ-likeness to others in the family. I say that only because it had a profound effect on my mother’s view of Christianity.
But I’m profoundly grateful that when my grandmother visited us once or twice a year, she took me with her to church. Seeds were planted. In fact, I remember praying a prayer to accept Jesus when I was about 12-years old.
While I do believe that God was working and drawing me to Himself at that time, I’m not sure if it was a genuine conversion. Only He knows, but I do know that He has had His hand on me.
Mom married my dad, who was five years older, three days out of high school. Their marriage was tumultuous from the beginning. I asked her about it once and whether or not she saw “red flags” before they were married. She said, “It’s just what you did. You graduated, then you got married.”
But my mother was a good mother. She was very devoted to her three children. I think she resigned herself to making us her life early on. She never worked outside the home while we were growing up. Somewhere along the line she decided that she’d stick it out “for the kids,” at least until we were all grown. When my youngest brother graduated from high school, she left.
My parents’ marriage was characterized by drinking and partying, mostly on my dad’s part, and arguments from which my mother tried to protect us.
My dad, in spite of it all, loved his kids. I don’t remember ever seeing him angry or mean, even when he was drinking. But, addictions are inherently selfish in nature and his cost his family in many ways.
Even so, I don’t remember ever feeling I had a bad childhood. I do remember wanting something different for my life.
Consequently, I married the first time at seventeen. Neither of us had any clue about God’s design for marriage. Like my mom, I focused on my children, but unlike her, I decided I would leave as soon as I could support myself. The marriage lasted less than seven years.
The next few years were a struggle: to make ends meet, to have any energy left for my two kids, and to see where my life was going.
I, eventually, got involved with an older man, in part, because I was just tired. This time, there were “red flags” all over the place, but I rationalized them all away. I left again after seven years of his drinking and infidelity. But he was a person who didn’t “lose.” It took me almost three years to get a divorce. Years that included his stalking me, drunken break-ins, threats to burn the house down with the kids and me in it, and on one occasion, kidnapping our young son. Continue reading →
While we’re not of this world, we are to live in it. But there are times when we may need to remove ourselves and our families from certain environments, whether that is a workplace, a school system, a circle of friends, or a city. Let’s pray for God’s wisdom and grace to know how to stay strong enough in the Lord to be salt and light, yet discerning enough to know when it’s time to go. And what about in a marriage? Is there ever a time to go?
Also, read about God’s view of authority in “Respect for Authority = Great Faith,” His “Mercy in Our Weakness,” and the importance of allowing God’s Word to control our inner attitudes, as well as, our outward actions in “Mercy & Truth Inside & Out.”
As I read and meditated on this portion of Scripture, I was reminded of Romans 15.4 which says:
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
I love the book of Genesis, because it does instruct us, but it often does so by allowing us to see truth through the lives of very real people.
Here in Chapter 19 we see through the lives of Lot and his family how easy it is, even though we may be believers, to compromise and “live” in places and situations where we shouldn’t. 2 Peter 2.7 calls Lot “righteous.” That doesn’t mean everything he did was righteous. He was righteous by faith—faith in the One True God—just as we are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
Yet he chose to live in a city so wicked that God destroyed it!
He had apparently tried to do some good there. When the men of the city came to, basically, gang rape the angels, thinking they were travelers, they said: Continue reading →
Do you need to perform some radical surgery before something in your life causes you to sin? Do you need to set some boundaries to protect your marriage or someone else’s?
What does the Bible say about divorce? Is it ever allowable? Is it OK if you’re just not happy?
And what about loving your enemies? Jesus addressed all these very real issues in the “Sermon on the Mount” in today’s New Testament reading.
Have you wondered why God doesn’t seem to be blessing your plans? Has He, seemingly, withheld some promotion? Could it be that you failed to seek His wisdom beforehand and, merely, asked Him to bless what you wanted? Read more about this in “Hey, by the way, Lord …” from our Old Testament reading.
Also read about “The Lord Who Hears” and “The Fruit of Going Our Own Way.”
There is so much in this section of the Sermon on the Mount.
In verses 27-30 Jesus talks about plucking out eyes and cutting off hands, what we sometimes refer to as “radical surgery.” He wasn’t advocating self-mutilation. He was using exaggeration to make the point that we need to get rid of things that cause us to sin.
For example, let’s say you work with someone to whom you feel attracted. Perhaps you start confiding in one another, going to lunch, etc. If either or both of you are married, it’s not appropriate! You need to cut it off, immediately!
We deceive ourselves into believing we’re not doing anything wrong and we can handle it, but it’s one of the snares of the devil. And if it has already gone too far, you need to find another job, get a transfer to another department, make yourself accountable, and, if you are married, confess it to your spouse (you may need to seek godly counsel about how to do this)! Radical, yes, but that’s exactly what Jesus was talking about here!
I’ve talked to many women and men caught up in sexual immorality. They often say the same thing, “I didn’t mean for this to happen!” But they failed to heed the warnings and do the necessary surgery. Continue reading →
Blended Families Part 1: “The Losses and the Gains”
Blended families—they’re everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. They also face the everyday problems of living with other sinners in a world that’s been damaged by sin.
When couples remarry after death or divorce, one or both may bring children from previous marriages into their new family unit. Sometimes there are children from multiple marriages and, even, other relationships outside of marriage.
They also bring different parenting styles, different traditions, different levels of spiritual maturity, and different expectations. Sometimes, those expectations can be unclear, even unrealistic.
Many of us grew up watching TV shows like The Brady Bunch and Step by Step where blended family issues could be handled during a 30-minute TV show. And engaged couples who’ve been struggling with single-parent issues like loneliness, financial difficulties, and the hazards of the dating scene can view remarriage as the answer to all their problems and be blind-sided by the reality of blending a family. Continue reading →
Divorce, separation, adulterous or unhealthy relationships and break-ups of every kind … who hasn’t experienced the hurt of losing someone or had the need to break off a relationship.
You may be the one who was deserted by someone who said they would never leave you. Sometimes the pain is worsened by the knowledge that your former spouse committed adultery, emotionally or physically.
Or you may be the one breaking off a relationship that you know needs to end, but the sadness seems unbearable. In some cases, you may be the one who went outside of your marriage, either committing full blown adultery or by getting involved in some other inappropriate relationship. While you know the relationship was wrong, how do you get rid of those “lovin’ feelings”?
Or maybe you haven’t personally experienced that kind of hurt or struggle, but you know someone who has. Lou’s book may be just the answer.
From the introduction:
“Will this ache in my heart ever go away?”
As a professional counselor, I’ve been asked that question a hundred times in dozens of ways. If you are reading this book, chances are that you (or someone you love) have been asking this question, too. When a romantic relationship ends, the confluence of potentially depressing emotions can wreak havoc in the lives of those involved. This is especially true for the person who didn’t want the relationship to end. But for the Christian, there is a very good answer to this oft-asked question.
Yes! Your pain will go away in time.
For a Christian who knows and is willing to do what the Bible says, the heartache will be healed. And the more of God’s Word a person implements, the sooner the anguish will stop. If you are the one who is hurting, there are specific things you can do to ease the pain and help yourself get back to the way you were before the breakup.
This book was originally titled, Losing that Lovin’ Feeling and contains thirty-one short chapters, each one based on a song title, to help you or someone else, “lose those lamentable ‘lovin’ feelings’ as quickly and righteously as possible.”
There are chapters like “How Can I Mend My Broken Heart?,” “How Do Fools Fall in Love?,” “Can’t I Stop Loving You?,” “Why Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” “What Good Comes to the Brokenhearted?,” “Won’t Be Cruel,” and “Someday Your Prince Will Come.” Each one is designed to address some aspect of the strong and painful emotions involved when relationships are broken. Continue reading →
It’s easy to condemn and criticize out of hand what is now accepted, condoned, even mandated, especially when it comes to homosexuality, trans-gender issues, and sexual immorality, in general. And as believers we should be concerned about the changes in morality in our nation and the world.
But what is our responsibility? How should we respond to those we meet who are struggling with these issues? How should we respond to those who don’t seem to be struggling at all, but instead, are “in our face” about what they consider our unloving, even hateful, attitudes?
What set the stage for the moral revolution that is taking place in our world today? Does all the responsibility lie with the LGBT community and other non-believers or do we bear some of it?
I recently attended the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky where homosexuality and transgender were the main themes. The conference was incredibly helpful and informative and I want to share some of the information with you in a new series of posts. Much of what I’ll share comes from my conference notes. I’ll endeavor to give specific credit wherever I can. Continue reading →