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Eve stood before Adam, and he stood before her. God had made them for each other. As they observed one another, there was wonder. She saw that he was the same yet different. He saw that she was the same yet different. However, in their differences they fit each other. Their differences actually enhanced their relationship. They reveled in the Creator’s design for their bodily union. They would discover over the life of their marriage that there were other crucial differences between them. There were diversities in their emotional and mental processes. Daily, Adam saw that Eve contributed something that he did not. Likewise, Eve saw that Adam brought something she did not. Just as the differences in their bodies corresponded to each other, these other differences made them better as a couple.
Their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual union formed a single, strong foundation for their family. Children flourished as they were nurtured by the unique maleness and femaleness that had been joined together in their parents. That was God’s plan. The family would be the cornerstone of civilization. That holy relationship of marriage—a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual union between one male and one female—is still the absolute norm instituted by the living God for all of civilization.
When mankind sinned, all of creation was profoundly affected. Satan and sin ripped at this basic relationship between husband and wife that formed the foundation of the home. Evil hammered at this cornerstone of civilization as Satan sought to warp and destroy God’s creation. This continues today. In seeking to free itself from the beauty and the life-enriching paradigms the Lord designed, our secular world quotes its iniquitous master: “Hath God said . . . ?” In its insidious rebellion, secular culture seeks to change the unchangeable and redefine not only the institution of marriage, but the very maleness and femaleness of individuals.
When Israel trivialized this covenant relationship by making it easy to set aside a husband or wife, Jesus spoke of the serious nature of their sin. The Pharisees and religious leaders of His day had twisted the Old Testament to provide easy divorces for any man who wanted out of a marriage for any reason. I will paraphrase Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27–32: “By the way, when you attempt to redefine the law and use it to throw away a wife or husband at your convenience so you can marry someone more appealing to you—that is nothing but out-and-out adultery. Your effort to legalize it does not make it into something moral.” Jesus was not setting forth a full treatise on marriage and divorce. He was talking about adultery—that was His subject. The Pharisees were saying, “We would never commit adultery. We simply divorce our wives and then we are free to marry more desirable women.” Jesus was saying, “That is still adultery. You tried to make it look right through a formal divorce, but it is still adultery.”
Can the marital union, then, never be set aside? In that same passage (v. 32) and in other statements in the New Testament, divorce is set forth as an option when there is adultery or desertion (1 Cor. 7:12–15). Now, we may argue what constitutes adultery or desertion, but we cannot debate the truth that God allows divorce in such circumstances. If God condones divorce in some circumstances, it has to mean that in those circumstances divorce is not a sin. God cannot condone sin.
God Himself permits divorce for His people who live in a fallen world so that they might escape the habitual abuse from unrepentant mates who are destroying the holy union through adultery and desertion of the relationship. Divorce under such circumstances also protects children who are being seriously harmed as they assimilate the evil example of a wicked father or mother. At times, Christians and churches have so misunderstood this issue that they have endangered lives by advising wives who are being systematically beaten and abused to remain in the marriage because they believe divorce is inherently evil.
Many churches make people who are divorced for biblical reasons feel like second-class Christians. A man or woman will say to me after they have been divorced, “I know that my divorce was a sin.” I interrupt and say, “I thought you had biblical grounds for divorce.” The person replies, “I did, but it is still a sin.” Where did they get this unbiblical thinking? They got it from well-meaning churches and ministers who do not understand that divorce can be a right and holy choice when lives are being ruined.
Just as the spouse of a deceased husband or wife is not “bound” and is free to remarry, the abused spouse who has been granted a righteous divorce is also free to remarry. Sometimes there is extreme emotional damage as a result of years of psychological or physical abuse. In those cases, it is advisable that the wronged individual go through an excellent counseling program that will promote healing and enable him or her to build and form a healthy marital relationship in the future.
All of these issues have been debated over the centuries as the church has wrestled with living in decadent cultures. Long lists have been made about what is permissible in marriage, divorce, and remarriage. In the United States, we are living in a debauched society that is looking more and more like Corinth or Sodom and Gomorrah. How should we then live? How do we make decisions about marriage, divorce, and remarriage? We must return to the truth and beauty of God’s original intent as He created Adam and Eve for each other. We must once more set before the world the wonder of that physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual union that the Creator gave to be an immutable and incredible blessing to His creation. Even though we are still sinners, as husbands and wives living in His wonderful paradigm for marriage we still have the high standard of His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit transforming us from the inside out. Such marriages will be salt and light in this decaying and dark culture. Your godly home and marriage (where the man as husband and the woman as wife become one flesh physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) will become a lighthouse that pierces the darkness and becomes a guiding beacon to the masses lost on the sea of twisted gender orientations and identities, meaningless and sinful sexual encounters, and marriages whose only goal is materialistic ascendency.