There’s no talking about the Gospel without sin, and there’s no meaningful discussion about marriage without mention of divorce. As sons and daughters of Adam, we’re all children of divorce. We’ve all gone astray. We’ve all played the harlot. But the very existence of marriage tells us there’s a greater wedding – and a greater family – to come.
In the age of the “modern family,” an inverse trend has taken shape in many evangelical churches today. While the number of divorces and divorcees in America have increased exponentially, the number of sermons on divorce have steadily declined. The church’s response signals another growing trend, one that allows culture to dictate the message instead of the Scriptures themselves. When a church sets out in this trajectory, the topic of divorce is sure to go missing in favor of more “relevant” topics. However, in reality, there are few more relevant topics for modern families in the 21st century than that of divorce. It’s time we start speaking biblically – and clearly – about divorce. In light of the Gospel, we should have no fear in doing so.
The reason for the church’s silence stems largely from the three P’s: divorces are painful, particular, and pervasive. Due to how common divorces have become in American society, and how many specific reasons there can be for each divorce, and how many wounds can be left in their wake, pastors often walk around texts like Genesis 2, Matthew 19and Mark 10. Meanwhile the bane of divorce continues to devour countless families, giving further evidence to the fact that divorce is more than physical separation of persons; it’s the wrenching of a fleshly, spiritual, and emotional whole. (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:6) Loving our broken families means loving them with the truth about divorce. Unfortunately, two kinds of churches emerge when it comes to the issue of divorce: (1) those that treat divorcees like they’re second-class Christians, (2) and those that treat divorce as if it doesn’t exist. Thankfully the Bible takes a 3rd road. Christ Himself spoke openly and clearly about the sin of divorce, not as a weapon against sinners, but as a spotlight to the purpose and priority of marriage. Parents and pastors are called to do likewise. In the end, the way we talk about divorce speaks volumes about the way we think about marriage.Therefore our view of divorce impacts our commitment to the Gospel. (Eph. 5:22-33)
When I was 10 years old, I wanted to quit my little league baseball team. Looking back, it was probably best for the team’s W-L record, however, it wasn’t the best decision for my spiritual and moral development as a young man. “You made a commitment,” my father said during the car ride home, despite my best tears and complaints. He was right. As an adolescent sinner, I needed to be taught the value of finishing what I began. It was a great lesson in perseverance and honoring my word. Marriages are the same way. While not every divorce is sinful (Matt. 19:9), most divorces stem from brazen selfishness and a sinful aversion to self-sacrifice and love.