Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Divorce in the Modern World (2) - Application

People who are not Christians can do what they like. We cannot expect them to live up to God’s standards. Where sin abounds, divorce will be inevitable for a huge variety of reasons.

With the current state of the church, we can expect divorce and remarriage to be common among Christians too. Moses’ hardness of heart principle seems to be relevant. When the church is ambivalent about the God’s standards and lacking the fullness of the Spirit, we cannot expect Christians to be walking in his ways.

We must understand that the reason Christians are allowed to divorce and remarry is “hardness of heart”. The spirit of the world is rampant in the church, so divorce naturally follows.

We must recognise that it is not just the people whose marriages have failed, but the “hardness of heart” of the church is almost a greater problem. The modern church provides inadequate discipleship, so it produces weak Christians. It should not be surprised if they fall into sin and want divorce. The modern church, does not understand spiritual protection (partly because it has bought into the “covering” lie) so the spiritual forces of evil are often free to tear couples apart. The increase in Christian divorce represents the failure of the church, not the failure of the people being divorced. If the church does not have the spiritual power to protect couples from attack, it does not have the right to prevent them from divorcing.

Divorce represents a failure of love. We are required to love each other, as Jesus loved us. That should be able to overcome most obstacles. The reasons commonly given for Christians divorcing are usually quite lame:

  • We have different interests;
  • We are going in different directions;
  • We have become different people to what we were when we married;
These are all things that agape love should be able to overcome. There will be failures of love among Christians, but it should not be taken lightly, as it represents our failure to live out the love of Jesus.

Widespread divorce amongst Christians undermines our gospel witness, as it implies that the gospel and the Spirit are not very effective.

The church appears hypocritical when it is vehemently hostile towards homosexuals and intolerant of homosexual marriage, but is tolerant of widespread adultery and divorce among Christians.

Adultery is a more serious sin than divorce. When a Christian separate or divorce, they are deciding to stop loving each other. That is not good, but it is a sin of omission rather than commission. Adultery occurs when one of them hooks up with another person. This is serious because they are uniting themselves with another person, when God has made them one with their spouse. Adultery divides something that God has created. In practice, most people who divorce their husband or wife have already committed adultery in their hearts (Matt 5:28), even if they have not gone there physically.

This is the prophetic perspective. Tomorrow, I will conclude with some more pastoral suggestions.

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