DATING TO DIVORCE AND HOW WE GOT THERE
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)
If you put two sinners in a room (home) for an extended period with no plan for escape, you can expect problems. There may be a lot of love along the way, but there will also be problems. It’s unavoidable.
The dating couple can break-up and go on to the next relationship. Vocational relationships are similar. If you don’t like your boss or the environment in which you work, you can move on to the next thing.
Marriage is different. Though it’s easy to get into, there is no escape plan other than death (Matthew 19:8). Sadly, too many couples ignore the hardness of their hearts and create an alternate plan. It’s called divorce.
By the time two people enter a dating relationship, they come together with baggage: fallen shaping influences given to them by Adam, others, and their poor personal choices. Then after you mix their baggage together, there is no way to avoid sinful combustion in the home.
As you have probably surmised, you and your spouse are sinners. You not only came from your respective mothers’ wombs speaking lies (Psalm 58:3), but you created a whole lot of baggage before you met each other. Some of your baggage was your doing, while other individuals heaped the rest of it upon you. Either way, you both came together with more luggage than Samsonite.
Perhaps you did not perceive all the issues during your dating relationship. Maybe your pre-marriage counseling was inadequate. Too often there is no one with the courage, grace, wisdom, or competence to speak into the lives of engaged couples. And to tell the truth, you were “in love,” so there was very little anyone could say to you anyway, right?
You left your baggage at the dating door and didn’t pick it up again until you were six months into your marriage. If you have been a wise and humble couple, you have sought help for your marriage. You know that the best sanctification happens in a community.
Sometimes couples do not seek help early, and after being married for more than a decade, they cannot keep their problems under wraps any longer. Their marriage problems begin to escape their ability to keep it quiet. The couple’s nest is emptying as their children become older, and they are still without a sin plan. The children are no longer a distraction, and the struggling couple has to decide between four options:
Get a divorce.
Find other distractions like ministry, hobbies, or grandchildren.
Coexist in a house that is not a home, waiting on one of them to die.
My appeal to any couple in trouble, regardless of the length of their marriage, is to get help. God’s grace is greater than your problems, no matter how complex you think your problems are. The Bible has a lot to say about working through conflict. There is a plan for sin, and it begins with the gospel. The only requirement is humility (James 4:6).
Though you may have begun on the wrong foot, it does not mean you have to stay that way. God came to redeem and restore what you cannot fix. Redeeming broken things is at the heart of the gospel. I appeal to you to get help today!
Time to Reflect
Are you still surprised that your spouse sins? If so, why are you surprised?
Rather than being frustrated by your spouse’s failures, what is one way you can cooperate with God in helping your spouse change (Galatians 6:1-2)?