Marriage Is Forever (according to God’s design)
Marriage Is Permanent God’s design for marriage is that it lasts for life. Marriage is for the benefit and happiness of God’s creation, “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone’ I will make him a helper comparable to him.'” (Genesis 2:18). Marriage gets knocked a lot these days. Some view marriage as man’s greatest curse, but God intends for it to bring him happiness, “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9). Marriage is a permanent relationship because we enter into that relationship and responsibility of our own free will. When we make our vows to one another, and to God, then God binds us to our promise, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few… When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it, for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2-5). A person does not have to make such a commitment or pledge–but when he does, he has to stick with it. Marriage is a lifelong partnership–through good times and bad. By taking away our choice about whether or not we remain married, God is not imprisoning us–He is freeing us. Taking away the choice to divorce gives us greater freedom to work together to find a way of making marriage work. “Till death do us part” is more than an empty expression–it is a lifetime commitment “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.” (Romans 7:2-3). Jesus’ disciples said, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus said that not everyone would be able to accept that truth–but that was the truth (Matthew 19:11-12). Temporary Separation There are times when problems become so overwhelming that a couple may need a period of cooling down and internal reflection, before the marriage erupts with destructive, catastrophic force. Sometimes a temporary separation may be in order. The apostle Paul makes such a concession–not as something advisable, but as a concession–“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. But I say this as a concession, not as a command.” (1 Corinthians 7:5-6). This is not a separation to determine whether or not a couple will work out their problems and stay together–it is a separation with the expressed purpose of coming together again. Notice the nature of this separation.
- By agreement between the two (7:5). This is not a decision for one to simply walk out on the other.
- For a limited time (7:5). But not long enough for Satan to tempt one for his/her lack of self-control.
- Devote selves to prayer (7:5). Fervent, penitent, praying hearts have a much better chance of succeeding than others.
- Come together again (7:5). The entire purpose of the separation is to work things out–not decide whether or not to work them out.
- This was a concession (7:6). It was not the ideal situation. It was not the best thing to do. It was arguably not even a good thing to do, but it was better than divorce.