Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 18 August 2015

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. ’So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10, verses 5-9.

God made them male and female…we needed the law because our hearts were hard…we have been us since the beginning of creation…two will become one….what God has joined together let no one separate:   these are the foundations of marriage.   Only someone with a willfully blind eye could not see how God intended men and women for marriage.   No, this isn’t a forum for advocating traditional marriage; I’ll leave that to others.

Instead, let’s focus on the hardening of the heart part.

It takes two to tango and two to divorce.   God brings together; people separate.   What’s the difference?   Of course it’s sin.   Some kind of sin, some kind of separating factor is always at the heart of why people divorce.   Even when people marry and simply decide that they aren’t a fit, something separates them, some thing to which they hold fast even when they are intended to cleave together; something hardens a heart.   Boil it all away and it’s always some kind of sin, even a very minor one.

It’s true, a couple can’t save their marriage if they don’t want to work at it. A friend reminded me of this yesterday and her point is valid:   you can try and try and try and sometimes, if both aren’t trying, it just doesn’t work.   Is it any wonder that a marriage would fall apart if both don’t work at keeping it together? And abuse?   Jesus doesn’t ask us to suffer real abuse because real abuse is sin.

Instead, Jesus always brings us back to the fact that, as married people, we are separate but one, we are woman and man yet a couple in Him. He is the third partner in every marriage.   When we divorce, we’re divorcing Him as well.   In my own experience, I found that, to repair my marriage meant really repenting, really accepting the consequences of the wrongs I had done, turning myself around, then starting to really follow Jesus in ways I hadn’t before. In my case, that meant reconciliation because it just so happened that God was telling my wife “try again even though you have every right not to.”

What’s the point here?   As with the previous verses, Jesus doesn’t command us to divorce or marry, to stay together or split. Instead, He tells us to cleave first to Him and let Him guide us, especially in marriage.   Heaven must hold a special place for people who suffer abuse and cling to marriage, and for people who suffer neglect and still hold on.   I wonder, sometimes, if the thing that makes them special is how they cling first to Christ and let Him lead them just one more day in a marriage that may seem dead already but that, instead, may have many more good years ahead. Those years can only become good when we let Jesus soften our sin-hardened hearts. He reminds us that divorce is something we allow not something He commands because all things are possible in Him.

Lord, I pray, soften hearts made hard in troubled marriages.   Heal and lead them.

Read Mark 10, verses 1-12.

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