As the Christmas season draws quickly to a close, we (at least in the United States) are about to enter another season - Across America there are ten of thousands of husbands, wives, and children who will shortly discover that this past Christmas was the final Christmas for their family. A husband or a wife will have decided that it is their spouse that is making them unhappy and seek to end their marriage; “The Divorce Season” will have begun. Shortly after the New Year has commenced, divorce filing surge in the United States. There has been a lot of energy, money and time spent trying to ascertain exactly why that is, which I find particularly disturbing. Does it really matter why or when? There is no good time to divorce. But more disturbing is the reaction to it within the churches and Christian community, as “professing Christians” in greater numbers then agnostics or atheists swell the ranks of the newly divorced.
It seems that in America at least, that the Christian community and churches have decided to pay only lip service to the permanency of marriage. We have become a tolerant culture, individual happiness is what we have decided God wants most for us; being holy is something only radicals concern themselves with. This is snapshot of what that attitude has brought America, all of which cause these words to flash across my mind; ‘Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart… Therefore thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them.” ’ Jeremiah 11:8 & Jeremiah 11:11
America has the highest divorce rate in the world – Twice as high as the next country.
Professing American Christians make up the majority of that number.
The divorce rate among Christians is higher then that of any other religion, agnostics or atheist.
Each 100 additional divorces causes two additional suicides, 1 additional murder, 6 additional rapes, 33 additional armed robberies, and puts another 100 men in prison.
Divorce increases the premature mortality rates of fathers, mothers, and the children of divorce.
Children whose parents have divorced are increasingly the victims of abuse. They exhibit more health, behavioral, and emotional problems, are involved more frequently in and drug abuse, and have higher rates of suicide.
Only 42% of all children between the ages of 14 to 18 live in an intact two-parent family. And each year over 1 million American children are forced to endure the divorce of their parents.
70% of children coming from divorced families consider divorce an adequate answer to marital problems (even if children are present), compared to only 40% of children from non-divorced families.
Recent sociological studies have pointed to a variety of long-term economic, social, physical, and mental health consequences that divorce has on the families, men, women, children, and society. Conversely no study thus far has been able to find even one benefit to society or the family as a result of divorce. However that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is simple and over the next several weeks I will address this issue a couple of times in hopes of perhaps saving one family from the devastating consequences of divorce.
I have mentioned before that it is rare to hear a minister give just one sermon on repentance or obedience, let alone a series. It is so much easier to fill the pews with sermons on prosperity, and immunity. So it should come as no surprise that the topic of divorce as a sin of gigantic proportions, one that leads to the loss of all moral authority, of eternal consequences, as the ultimate act of narcissism and selfishness; a sin that left un-repented, leads to the eternal separation from God. As churches across the nations turn a blind eye to the behavior choices of those who fill the pews on Sunday morning, it is rapidly becoming apparent that divorce is the single most critical issue facing the church today.
With that said, the next statements may offend some of you, perhaps most of you, however they are connected, and if you can not see the connection then you simply do not wish to, and nothing I say or write can alter that.
In an article in the New York Times (12/28/2011) Mr. T.K. (I have omitted his name), a male teacher in Marion, Ill., who was turned away by Catholic Charities three years ago when he and his longtime partner (also a man), tried to adopt a child, said: “We’re both Catholic, we love our church”. Likewise, is the husband or wife who chooses to divorce his or her spouse while professing to be a Christian. You must understand this point – You can not choose to live a lifestyle that chooses to directly disobey the word of God, and then claim to be a Christian (or Catholic), while you may ‘feel’ like you are a Catholic or a Christian, your actions say otherwise. You cannot seek to divorce your spouse and call yourself a Christian. They are mutually exclusive. To do the first and claim the second, simply makes you a liar.
The Church and Christians alike hesitate to take a hard stand against the immorality of those who choose to practice a lifestyle of homosexuality in part, because they have failed to obey God’s command in regards to marriage and divorce (is it any surprise that gay marriages are now becoming the law of the land). You can not excuse your own sexual immorality while opposing another’s without being a hypocrite.
Make no mistake about it; Jesus drew a very hard line on divorce and subsequent remarriage. He repeatedly commanded against it, calling those who chose to do so and especially those who forced it onto their spouse an adulterer. While you may feel differently, as we have exampled in previous postings, what you feel has absolutely no bearing on the truth. If you feel differently it is time you go to the Bible, learn the truth and OBEY it.
Your actions are about to declare for the world to see if your are in fact a Christian or just a ‘fan’ of Christ’s. Saint Ambrose wrote this warning to those who were about to chose this path “You dismiss your wife, therefore, as if by right and without being charged with wrongdoing; and you suppose it is proper for you to do so because no human law forbids it; but divine law forbids it. Anyone who obeys men should stand in awe of God.”
And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, even for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9
“ Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
We will visit this issue again, this is only my opening salvo on this subject as we enter “The Divorce Season” and perhaps I would not have to write as much on it, if our churches and those who fill the pews each Sunday took a more diligent approach to the subject.