March 7, Tuesday

markThe AMI QT Devotionals from March 6-12 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F.  Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 (ESV):

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Surprisingly, surveys reveal that the divorce rate for Christian marriages is comparable to that of non-believers, approximately 50%.  I believe that the reason for these high numbers is two-fold:  First, some Christians don’t understand the importance of marriage and don’t give it the proper honor, and so they marry unwisely.  Second, we don’t take seriously the commands regarding divorce and don’t realize that most cases of divorce are prohibited by the Scriptures.  Outside of sexual immorality and unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant, there are no other grounds for divorce.  Irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, falling out of love cannot be used before God as an excuse for divorce.  Even Christians who are married to non-believers are commanded to stay in their marriages.

Jesus lived in a male dominated society, and so the right to divorce was given only to men.  This is why there is no discussion regarding the rights of women to start the divorce process.  In our culture, however, women can initiate divorce, and so we need to look at what valid reasons there are for Christian women to divorce.  In my understanding, there are two reasons for women to dissolve their marriages: The first obviously is sexual unfaithfulness, but the second is abuse at the hands of their husbands.  Abuse is a clear violation of the marriage covenant because the husband is no longer protecting the weaker vessel.  According to 1 Peter 3:7, the duty of every husband is to honor woman as the weaker partner.  And before our women get overly sensitive or offended, this passage is alluding to weakness in the physical sense.  It’s clear that Peter isn’t talking about spiritual or intellectual superiority, because he mentions women as co-heirs with men in the grace of life.  Peter’s main focus is for men to treat their wives with respect, which would include protecting them physically.  To abuse one’s wife is a clear violation against the marriage covenant, and it is biblical grounds for divorce.  Beyond these two circumstances, there are no other valid reasons for divorce.

Now why does God have such stringent requirements for marriage?  Doesn’t God want us to be happy?  And if I’m not happy, why can’t I just leave?  It’s here that we have to realize that marriage is not only for the benefit of man and woman but also for the glory of God.  I know that it is difficult to see that connection in our day-to-day lives, but the Christian marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ’s love for the Church.  Therefore, our witness to the world is dependant on the health of our marriages.  In a world that is questioning the very institution of marriage and redefining its limits, the Christian commitment to marriage as a life-long covenant between one man and one woman is needed more than ever.

Prayer: Lord, help us to honor the institution of marriage as a gift of common grace from Your hand.  If we are unmarried, give us the strength to remain sexually pure until the day of our marriage.  If we are married, help us to honor the vows that we have made before You and before one another.   If by circumstance we are divorced, help us to find healing and restoration through the love of Christ.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 18


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Malachi 2:13-16(ESV): And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does God sometimes reject the offerings of his people?
  2. Why is Christian marriage so important in the eyes of God?
  3. What does God want for our marriages?

Notes

  1. God desires obedience over sacrifice; and in this case, many of the Israelites had divorced their wives in order to marry other women who were leading them towards the worship of foreign gods.
  2. Christian marriage is important because God gives a portion of His Spirit to bless each union between a man and a woman.
  3. Unless you are physically unable, God desires godly offspring from our marriages. God’s desire is that we honor Him with the raising of children who would be taught in the ways of the Lord.

EVENING REFLECTION

Spend some time praying for the marriages and families that you know, in and outside of your church.  Perhaps, there is a couple going through difficult times in their marriage or dealing with a wayward child.  If you are going through a hard season in your marriage, pray and reach out to a friend or a pastor for counsel.

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