I'm dispensing with the litany of statistics that always dot the landscape of articles on marriage. We all know many marriages fail. In fact, if we haven't personally experienced the demise, we have a relative or close friend who has. No, no stats, I'm jumping to a message from God's heart. He loves marriage and He hates divorce. Does he tolerate divorce? Yes, but He expects an attitude of respect to prevail, even then. Does He redeem the broken? Absolutely! There is only one sin that places a person beyond the flow of His forgiveness, and it isn't divorce. However, my concern in this post is the work involved if I don't want to step from the marriage altar to the divorce court. Here are a few significant ideas.
Marriage takes work. I have to be selfless. I have to be committed. It's not hard to find an excuse to call it quits. In Jesus' day, there was a school of thought, among the Jews, permitting divorce if the wife did something as seemingly incidental as burning the toast. On the one hand, that almost seems laughable, and yet, quite frankly, there are marriages today ending in divorce that have little more to contend for "ending it," than such light weight discontent.
Marriage takes forgiveness. Since when did staying mad and holding a grudge become our right. Trumping such rights, true or false for believers, is the call to forgiveness. Jesus forgives us when we are active enemies. Where do we get off holding out on reconciliation until our partner deserves it?
One final thought...
Marriage takes maturity. I see many people waiting longer to get married today, and yet the incidence of divorce is not declining. One would think it would, that is if waiting longer means two people are more mature, and better prepared. Apparently, that's often not the case. Age does not translate into maturity. And knowing each other longer does not necessarily equate to the ability to have a stronger marriage. Ultimately, regardless of what age you get married, or how long you know your partner before you walk down the aisle, it comes down to you and how you handle yourself, and how you both handle the relationship. So, let me suggest that marriage is not for the immature anymore than it is for the selfish. Do marriages survive where spouses are selfish or immature? By the grace of God, many do. However, divorce is so acceptable in our society that it stands to reason, most won't.
We have to get over this idea that marriage should come easy. It doesn't. It takes work, and we shouldn't be surprised. If we want to build muscles, we hit the gym. If we want to build mental abilities, we read, memorize. If we want to make our marriage stronger, we hit the relational gym. We read helpful books. We pray together. We go to conferences on marriage. We talk, yes talk. We date. We form friendships with other people, particularly couples, who have committed marriages. We plug into a church, so we can consistently diet on spiritual truths. These are a few of things that take us to the relational gym. If we want it to Work Out then we have to Workout!