Over the past few years, I have seen a number of couples I knew get divorced. For the record, I am also divorced (and also remarried). I did not plan on getting divorced, and probably wouldn’t have divorced if my ex-wife hadn’t decided she didn’t want to remain married to me anymore. Since then, I have seen a significant number of my friends get divorced. Like me, they were all married over 20 years. They all had seemingly stable marriages. Now I see younger couples marriages last a few years, then they get divorced. It makes me wonder, where was commitment? Why didn’t they try harder to make their marriage work?
On one level, divorce is a private matter between two people. There are some very valid reasons for divorce, like physical abuse, infidelity, etc, but for some people, they just got tired of each other, or they weren’t getting along as well as they did at first. Those things are private, and in some cases can be addressed with counseling. Others shatter the marriage beyond the possibility of repair.
On another level, when couples get divorced, it erodes other people’s hope and diminishes their ideas of the home and family. It just doesn’t seem as permanent when people around you are separating. When I hear of couples splitting up, I always feel bad. Marriage is hope for the future. It is the hope of family. It’s the basic unit of our society. That’s why people rejoice at a wedding.
On yet another level, marriage is a covenant between the couple and God. We take vows of love and responsibility to God, creating a triangular covenant between God, husband, and wife. Violating or destroying that covenant is also a violation against God, because our covenant with Him is also broken. It is for this reason that a marriage should not be entered into lightly, and should not be broken lightly. Yet in today’s culture, marriage has become no more than a legal covenant where we marry our worldly possessions, and divorce is redistributing those possessions when we go our separate ways. What happened to the commitment to one another? What happened to the commitment we made to God? I remember a woman who decided to divorce her husband even though there was no infidelity and no abuse. I asked how she could leave her husband and destroy their family. Her response was that she didn’t believe God would want her to be unhappy, and her husband didn’t make her happy, and being happy was more important than one verse in the Bible.
In life, we all have to do things that make us unhappy. Paying taxes makes me unhappy, but I have to pay them (and I do). Marriage is more than something that makes us happy. Its more foundational. We go through the storms of life together, and are supposed to support one another. We aren’t supposed to bail out the minute things cease to be fun or entertaining.
People were up in arms over the gay marriage issue, but the fact is, when we are not honoring our own commitments, who are we to complain about gay people making commitments of their own? if we are treating marriage as simply a legal status rather than a divine commitment, how can we complain about others trying to do the same thing? The reality is, without the commitment to God, any marriage is no more than a civil union, a legal living together. If that’s all people are going to have, they should just call it what it is, a civil union.
To my way of thinking, it is the commitment to God that should make a marriage a marriage. It gives it staying power. My grandparents were married over 70 years. They loved each other, fought like cats and dogs, and depended on one another to the end. My parents have been married 57 years and counting. Marriage can last a lifetime, as long as both parties are willing to make it happen.