Marriage was created for man's happiness. Solomon wrote, “rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (Pro. 5: 18). A good marriage can be a little taste of heaven here on earth. Little girls often dream of being Cinderella who one day will find her Prince Charming. That day finally comes and the “Princess,” having found her “Prince,” begins her life-journey with him. Understanding that God's plan from the beginning was one man for one woman for a lifetime, they begin their most important earthly relationship together. This is not an impossible dream. This writer knew one couple who celebrated sixty-six happy years together and another who have been married sixty-two years!
Even though marriage was not designed to fail, in America, the catastrophe of divorce strikes in as many as forty to fifty percent of marriages. The destruction from this tragedy is not limited to only the couple, it has a far reaching impact on many lives.
First, the husband and wife are hurt. A common result of a failed marriage is depression which can lead to both physical and mental problems. Some have said that the grief caused by a failed marriage is more difficult than losing a loved one to death! Disappointment is another difficulty faced by the couple. The dreams that once were cherished by both are now crushed. The eyes which once sparkled for their mate now may have a dagger-like stare. The heart which once fluttered at the sound of the other's voice is now stone cold. Financially, both are hurt often for years. The husband's prayers can be hindered when a marriage is failing. Concerning this aspect, Peter wrote, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). The wife's influence is also damaged: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear...” (1 Pet. 3:1-3). Most importantly, souls are at stake. Where is the forgiveness? Jesus said, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15). Often, those who have been divorced enter into a new marriage which is unscriptural, placing two souls in danger. The teaching of Christ on divorce and remarriage is very clear. He said, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). According to Christ, when a spouse has been “put away” because of fornication, he/she will be living in adultery if they remarry. This is a terrible problem that has a far reaching impact, not only on the individuals involved, but also on the Lord’s church.
Second, children are hurt and are often the ones to suffer the most damage. The emotional, mental, and physical health of children with divorced parents are often affected. Innocent children will be forced to divide time between parents, and are frequently used as pawns by the parents. The two people they love the most, are fighting, breaking their hearts. The example they see is one that, if they follow it, will lead to a lifetime of trouble. What opinion of marriage will they hold? What will they consider to be a normal life-style? Will they imitate their parents when they are grown?
Third, grandparents are hurt as they watch their children and grandchildren suffer heartache. They see them going through difficult times. Often, in the case of a bitter dispute, the grandparents and grandchildren rarely see one another.
Broken families are a threat to the stability of any society. Society can only be as strong as the families upon which it is built. As we consider the fact that nearly fifty percent of marriages fail, it is obvious that the foundation of our society has been damaged.
Jeff preaches for the Ridgely church of Christ in Ridgely, TN
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