Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Epidemic of Divorce

America's epidemic is not AIDS, nor abortion, nor even pornography, although all are widespread and portend terrible trouble. The most virulent disease in the West is divorce. It only kills a relative few (although some are notable), but it is destroying our culture, and worse, something these other plagues could not-- our churches.

The evangelical church has lost her voice and her way in dealing with the dilemma, preferring pop psychology and hedonism to the
Bible when it comes to the subject. As long as American Christians, like any other American, continue to sell their souls to the demon of happiness and the phantom of self-fulfillment, marriage won't stand a ghost of a chance. Our society and our churches will continue to decay and be nothing but shadows of their former and their possible selves.

OT allowed divorce on fairly broad grounds. Anything deemed an uncleanness, or indecency, in a wife (only husbands could divorce) by her husband (how objective was that likely to be?) could result in a pink slip and a "seeya." Who would have guessed that in God's sight "you disgust me" was actionable? Paradoxically, this same God who allowed divorce in the Mosaic code, decried it in no uncertain terms through the prophet Malachi! In explaining the apparent duplicity, Jesus said it was the hardness of our hearts rather than the softness of God's that inspired that provision.

I've pastored long enough now, and have seen enough marital failures to realize just how right Jesus was: we are terribly hard-hearted, absolutely unwilling to give another person what reasonably could preserve a relationship. Every marriage I've ever seen fail has done so because one or both parties were too hard-hearted to do what had to be done to maintain the marriage. Usually, it's not long at all until such parties are at it again in a new marriage, likely there to see the same result as they did with the one they tossed away.

We're naturally self-centered, self-absorbed, fault-finding, unforgiving, ungracious, uncommitted, and that's just the Prince Charming and Snow Whites among us. Trying to maintain a relationship that requires dedication and sacrifice in the face of such hard-hearted human nature yields a recipe for disaster. Yet, God is in the disaster surviving business, if we can just get off our high horses and listen to his instruction.