Scripture-based, interdenominational Christian counselors are confronted daily with couples who are completely confused about their roles, and how to make their marriage pleasing to each other, and to God. So many Christians have followed the ways of the world in dealing with marital difficulties, to the point of divorcing their spouses, that most Christians in marital distress no longer can stand, with confidence, on the admonition that God’s plan for marriage is “til death do we part,” and keep a firm resolve to work things out.
Marital difficulties arise because most couples come into a marriage with subconscious hope that their spouse married them with the intention of setting aside their own personal ambitions and desires so they can focus all of their attention on meeting their every emotional need, so they can live happily ever after.
Soon, very soon, sometimes within a matter of days, or weeks or months, the partners become disenchanted with each other, and are sure they made a mistake because they have not been able to get the other one to forsake their life to meet their expectations. But God never intended marriage to work in such a destructive, and impossible to accomplish, manner.
A quick review of God’s Word gives insight on what God’s plan really is for marriage.
In Genesis we read that in the beginning God created the world and all that is in it. Then He created the man to have dominion over the earth and all that was in it. God recognized that the man needed a companion, so He took a rib from the man and created the woman. God tells us in Genesis 2, “And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helpmate for him.” Notice that God did not create the man from the dust of the earth, and then separately create the woman from the dust of the earth. He created the man, and then from the man he took a rib to create the woman.
God then turned the woman over to the man to provide for and to protect. It is apparent that God gave the responsibility for the welfare of the woman to the man. He even gave the instructions to man about what he was to do, and what he was not to do in the Garden of Eden, before He created the woman, the MAN, not God, named the woman Eve because she was the mother of all living. The woman that He created, from the man, is the mother of all living.
Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” God created male and female, but the male He created in His own image, and FROM the male created in His own image, He took a rib and created the female.
1 Corinthians 11:7-9 tells us that a man ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman’s sake, but the woman for the man’s sake.
God created man to be the physically stronger partner, and woman to be the emotionally stronger of the two, so that the two would compliment and need each other. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 says, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.” Men are at a loss without the emotional strength of a woman in the background of their lives to give them the assurance of their worthiness, and ability. A man can be as brave as a tiger, and roar like a lion, but then turns to the woman for assurance that his roar and demonstration of braveness meet with her approval.
Men, as the partner created in the image of God, are our link to God, and are responsible to impart Godliness and Holiness to their wives and children. Women are responsible to nurture and affirm the Godliness and Holiness in their husbands and the children. When men and women are fulfilling their God-ordained roles in a marriage, peace and harmony flow naturally.
To better understand this reality, think of what you look to God for. Here is a partial list of what people look to God for:
If you are a female, then ask yourself if you have ever looked to your husband for love, or joy, or comfort, or guidance, or provision, or hope, or assurance, or wisdom, or peace, or trust, or protection, or strength, WHETHER YOUR HUSBAND PROVIDED THESE NEEDS FOR YOU OR NOT. If you recall that you LOOKED to your husband, even once, before or during your marriage, to love you, for provision, to provide even a cup of coffee for you, to give you peace, to protect you, to give you joy, hope, to be trustworthy, to provide wisdom, to comfort you, to give you assurance, to give you strength even to move a sofa, to guide you even on which dress to wear, then put a check mark by that attribute.
Then ask yourself if your husband ever, even once, or for a split second provided you love, joy, comfort, guidance, provision, hope, assurance, wisdom, peace, trust, protection, strength, etc. Think of a specific time, or moments when your husband provided these needs for you. Comfort during the birth of a child, strength to move a piece of furniture, hope when life seemed hopeless, protection, etc.
I have yet to meet a woman who has told me that her husband NEVER met these needs for her, even once, or for a split second. I would wonder why a woman would marry a man if she never looked to him for love, joy, peace, provision, protection, wisdom, strength. Men, who are all created in the image of God, even those who do not know God, those who do not acknowledge God, and whether they are saved or not saved, instinctively impart these Godly and Holy attributes to their wives and children. That is what men were created by God, in His image to do!
When men are asked if they impart these attributes to their wives and children, oftentimes they are filled with surprise and joy simultaneously as they come to the realization that they have been fulfilling their God-given responsibilities all along, but because of strife that has arisen in the marriage, lost track of the impact this God-given responsibility has on them, their wives and their children.
It is the woman’s responsibility to nurture and affirm the Godliness and Holiness in the husbands and children. But the marriage starts to go sour when the woman neglects her responsibility to be the nurturing and affirming wife, and focuses her attention rather on what her husband is NOT doing that she things he should be doing, or IS doing that she thinks he should not be doing.
Couples come for counseling who often tell me that the husband is drinking, smoking, gambling, having affairs with other women, or who bury themselves in work or activities that keep them away from the home. When the role of men and women in the marriage is explained, along with going through the list of Godly and Holy attributes, both spouses will tell me that the husband does, or has indeed, imparted these attributes to his wife and children. Often the wife has to admit this through gritted teeth. When the wife is asked when she last nurtured and affirmed her husband’s impartation of Godliness and Holiness, invariably, the answer sheepishly given is, “Never.”
Men cannot function unless there is a woman behind them who is, or has nurtured and affirmed them. Some men were never nurtured and affirmed by their mothers, or by sisters, aunts, grandmothers or girlfriends, so they have no conception of who they are, or why they are. Their entire lives are spent looking for something or someone to nurture and affirm them, to give them a sense of worthiness, and competency, or they indulge in activities or habits to compensate for this loss, and bury the pain of their lost ness.
Quite often a woman will come for counseling stunned because her husband of ten or more years of marriage abruptly left her for another woman, after all she did for him for so many years. She will then complain that she cooked his meals, cleaned his house, washed his clothes, bore and cared for his children, sometimes even cared for his parents, worked while he completed his schooling, etc.
When the woman goes through the list of nurturing and affirming Godly and Holy attributes, however, that is when she realizes the cruelness of what she didn’t do for him. This fact cannot be stressed enough when counseling couples, a man cannot function effectively unless someone somewhere is nurturing and affirming him.
Some women say they would nurture and affirm the Godliness and Holiness in their husbands if they were Godly and Holy. They mean by this that if their husbands went to church, read their Bibles, prayed, and led their perception of a Godly and Holy life. Usually they have a man in mind who appears to be more Godly and Holy than their husband appears to be. But no husband is Godly and Holy unless someone in his life has nurtured and affirmed his Godliness and Holiness, whether he has a personal relationship with the Lord or not.
When a couple whose marriage is in distress, the difficulty can oftentimes be worked out by simply encouraging the wife to start that very day to ask God to bring to her remembrance her husband’s demonstrations of Godliness and Holiness, and then to one by one convey her appreciation to her husband for his specific deeds that imparted Godliness and Holiness to her. When couples review these instances during the counseling session it is often amazing at how fast the tension between the two begins to melt, as they see each other through different eyes.
Sometimes the wife is so filled with bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness that it appears impossible for her to ever be able to see that her husband has imparted Godliness and Holiness to her. But once she starts seeing her role in the marriage from God’s perspective, and starts praying for changes to take place in HER OWN HEART, soon she is able to realize that her situation is not as hopeless as it appeared. Women need to be reminded over and over again that if THEY DON’T NURTURE AND AFFIRM THEIR HUSBANDS, WHO WILL? The husbands will be looking for that nurturing and affirming outside of their marriage. The wives can count on that fact.
Women do not get married with the thought in mind that they are going to provide a place for their husbands to live, and provide for their food, and protect them from harm and danger. That kind of care and protectiveness emanate from the male to the female. Men provide the emotional SECURITY for the female. Women provide the emotional STRENGTH for the male. When a woman does not feel emotional security from her husband and the husband does not feel the emotional strength from his wife that is when the marriage is in trouble.
When a man and woman make a commitment to each other in marriage, God then knits them together spiritually and they become as one and cannot be separated except by death. In Genesis 2:24 God says, “Let no man put asunder what God has joined together as one flesh.” Some people assume that the “one flesh” means an emotional bond that can be broken by separation, when actually God joins a man and woman together and they become as one spiritually, and this spiritual bond is not to be put asunder.
Malachi 2:16 tells us that God hated divorce. The only time divorce was allowed to take place, and be valid in God’s eyes, was when a man discovered that he did not marry a virgin. Then he was permitted to divorce the woman and marry another woman. Jesus says, “except the man get divorced because of fornication (which is something that takes place before marriage, not during marriage,) he is committing adultery IF HE MARRIES ANOTHER WOMAN!”
Adultery does not take place unless there is a marriage to another person. Mark 10:11 says, “And He said to them, Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her, and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” Luke 16:18 says, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”
Adulterers are men and women who are divorced from their wives and husbands, and married to other women and men; or men who are married to women who are divorced from their husbands. According to God’s Word adulterers are people who marry someone who was married before whose spouse is still living. Divorce is a sin against God that occurs when hardness of heart takes place. (Matthew 19:9) To marry another person after you are divorced is committing the sin of adultery. (Luke 16:18)
God makes it very clear that He first of all does not sanction divorce. He tells women to not leave their husbands, but if they do to remain single or else be reconciled to their husbands. He tells men not to marry a woman who has been divorced by her husband. If men and women would simply do what God says by remaining single and not marrying someone who is divorced the way is kept clear for spouses to remarry each other when their hearts are softened, or to keep themselves pure before the Lord for His plan and purpose for their lives.
Oftentimes people whose heart has become hardened lose their God consciousness and form emotional attachments with others and enter into marriage. The commitment lasts only as long as the emotional high. They are able to flit from one marriage to another with no remorse or repentance. This does not make their actions right. In the eyes of God they are accountable for their sin because God tells us in His Word that He has made Himself known to everyone. (Romans 1:18-20)
People who have a God consciousness are aware, consciously or unconsciously, of the spiritual union that takes place when they get married. When they separate, or get divorced, the spiritual pain is sometimes unbearable. That is why the suffering of divorced men and women never ends. It might become suppressed, but it never ends. Even when a marriage has been extremely difficult and it seems better for the couple to live apart, still the pain of separation is oftentimes intense, and the pain continues until a hardness develops around it.
Some people say that divorces that occurred before salvation do not count. But God does not say that. Murders that are committed before salvation count and people still have to pay the penalty for their action. Sins are forgiven and we are washed clean and given a new heart by the blood of Jesus, but the result of some sins are irreversible. Murdered people do not come back to life after the murderer is saved. Sin is sin whether we are saved or not saved.
The Bible clearly says that a woman is bound to her husband until he dies (I Corinthians 6:9), THEN she is free to marry again. The Bible does not say a woman is free to marry again if her husband commits adultery (that is, marries another woman) or if he divorces her. According to God’s Word, a divorced person is not free to marry again until their spouse dies. (Romans 7:3) A divorced person is commanded to remain single or else be reconciled to their spouse that is why God tells women that they are bound to their husbands until they die.
What the Bible tells us about marriage, divorce and remarriage is that God expects Christians to live exemplary lives. We are to live in purity. This purity is not possible until we make the surrender of our lives to Jesus and “die” to ourselves. Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:11 that not everyone will be able to receive the graveness of God’s Word on this issue, only those to whom it has been given by God.
Whatever God commands us to do, He enables us to do. Oftentimes, people think that they cannot LIVE unless they are married. Some people wonder how a loving Heavenly Father can appear to be so mean as to sentence people to years of singlehood especially when He also tells us in His Word that man needs companionship.
To get a proper perspective on this issue we need to turn our attention away from our carnal needs and focus on what God’s plan is for our life. First of all God tells us not to have any other gods before Him, because to do so is idolatry. For some people marriage is an idol. Some people would give anything to be married, just to be married, it does not even make any difference to them if they love the person they are married to, they just idolize marriage. For other people, a person becomes their idol, and they feel that life is not complete unless they can have that person on a permanent basis.
God is not pleased with the way Christians are ignoring His Word on marriage, divorce and remarriage. Many Christians are spending much time trying to prove that God’s Word does not really mean what it seems to mean, rather than standing on His Word, making the decision to obey it, and then seeking how to serve God in whatever marital state they may be in.
God does not say that He will only provide for the needs of a married woman. Yet many women whose husbands have left them feel that they must marry another man (against God’s will) in order to be provided for physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially.
In dealing with the issue of marriage, divorce and remarriage everyone knows of a situation that seems so impossible that they are sure that God can’t really be such a hard taskmaster that He would really mean what He says on this subject. Surely God wouldn’t want women to remain single if their husbands walk out on them. If God didn’t mean it, why would He even deal with the subject in His Word? Why didn’t He leave it up to personal decision or at least say that it doesn’t matter to Him how we handle our marriages.
The reason for this is because God wants us to dig deep to find out what we are doing wrong in our relationships. Working out relationships with others, especially spouses, is how we work out our relationship with God. Walking away from a seemingly “bad” marriage only stops the process and generally we have to start it all over again with another person.
God puts the people into our lives so that we can learn about the Kingdom of God and how to become transformed into the image of Jesus through living with them. Jesus did not have bad relationships. He loved and accepted even those who despised and rejected Him and were mean, miserable and hateful toward Him. He loved those who physically abused Him. He loved those who crucified Him. He never said an unkind word to them when they treated Him poorly.
God wants us to learn how to become like Jesus. He chooses people with particular character traits to train us. There are certain aspects of our Christian life that we will never learn that would be of tremendous benefit to us if we leave people, who we consider to be miserable and unbearable, rather than stay with them and press deeper into God to learn how to live in harmony and peace with them.
Many women are divorced now because of their own attitudes, actions, immaturity and failure to develop their womanhood. They were looking to their husbands to be their “God” rather than looking to God for their provision, and to learn how to be the best wife for their husbands, the kind of wife their HUSBAND needs, not the kind of wife the wife thinks she should be.
Other women are divorced because their husbands are immature and walk out on the responsibility of marriage. Most, not all, of these women knew before they got married that their spouse was irresponsible. Many of these women got married thinking that they would be able to “love” their husbands into changing, but ended up nagging their husbands out of their lives.
Women who were fulfilling their responsibility, yet are still abandoned by their husbands can be certain that if they turn their eyes upon Jesus, He will open up for them a blessed life of service to Him and provide for them in the singlehood richly and abundantly. God truly honors those who abide by His Word when it seems impossible to do so.
If God commands us not to get divorced or to get married to another person if we have been divorced, then we have to press into Him on a deeper level to find out how we can obey Him on this issue. This is where Christians are falling short. We try to solve our problems from a human perspective based on our physical and emotional needs, rather than bringing our “needs” under subjection to Jesus so that our spiritual needs can be met.
The Christian life is to be lived on a spiritual level. This is done by standing on God’s Word and making the decision to do what God tells us to do, no matter how difficult or impossible it seems. Then the spiritual implications are revealed to us and we are then able to deal with the situation spiritually and have all other aspects of our lives brought under subjection to Jesus. This is the process of “having Faith in things NOT SEEN.” Hebrews 11:1
Too many Christians start out marriage in the spirit but then try to live out their marriages in the flesh. This never works, just like trying to live our Christian lives in the flesh does not work. God gives us the solution to our marital difficulties after we make the decision to obey Him no matter what it takes.
It is not enough to just stay in the marriage with gritted teeth. Effort has to be made to set aside the idea that needs will be met through the spouse, and to focus on meeting the needs of the spouse.
During courtship couples cannot seem to do enough to please each other. After marriage, the mind and heart switches to focus on the spouse meeting personal needs, and off of the focus of solely endeavoring to meet the needs of the spouse. Needs are met through meeting the needs of others, not through demanding that needs be met by another person.
It is most important to remember that we are to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all things are added unto us.” Matthew 6:33 We are not to first seek a fulfilled marriage and then all things are added unto us. If we put God first and discover His plan for our lives, and get that established first, then He adds everything else we need in our lives so that His plan for our life is worked out properly.
Much time and effort is expended by Christians arguing with God and looking for loopholes rather than just standing on His Word until He shows us the solution.
Another issue to deal with concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage is the children. Don’t you think that God would have left instructions for how to deal with “step” parents or “step” children if God intended for people to leave their spouses, and marry again into new families. If certain circumstances allowed for remarriages, why aren’t the children “blessed” when the parents feel they have been so “blessed” by a new spouse. Why are there so many broken-hearted, lifetime-marred children of divorced parents?
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” I Corinthians 7:14
Suppose you have read all of this and that it confirms what you have already felt in your spirit about your remarriage. Now, what do you do? The first thing that God expects of you is to confess your action as sin. God cannot do anything to help you until you stop trying to rationalize and justify your position as unique or your circumstances as different from others, and that your situation is an exception that God would bless.
The first step that you have to take is to confess your action as sin. The second step is to tell your spouse the conclusion that you have come to understand. If possible, ask your spouse to pray with you about the situation. The third step is to confess this sin to all the children involved, acknowledging to them that you did the wrong thing. Most children already are aware of this, that is what causes such confusion, rebellion and upset for them, especially if you are telling them to obey God in their life, and they intuitively know that divorce and remarriage is an abomination against God.
The next step is to confess this sin to our first spouses. These steps may take a very long time to follow based on where you are with the Lord. If you have a spirit of obedience you will be able to follow one step after another and experience the joy and freedom that comes with steps of obedience. However, if you have a spirit of rebellion, it may take a very very long time to even comprehend that what you have read is true.
Many people have been deluded and deceived by churches, pastors and other people that they looked to for “godly” advice into thinking that what they did was all right with God, even though their spirit (and usually the actions of their children) is telling them otherwise. Unfortunately, many people do not discuss remarriage with their children, they simply allow their children to observe what is happening, and they tell them that a new family is coming their way, regardless of what they think. God speaks to us through our children. If we get on a spiritual “working” basis with our children, we will learn a lot about God’s plan for us through them.
After you have made all your confessions to everyone involved in the remarriage, then simply ask God what He wants you to do. By this time you will be in such close communion with Him that He will be able to speak loudly and clearly to you, and you will know without a shadow of doubt what you are supposed to do.
Don’t try to get this answer before you confess your action as sin, however, because this will only prolong getting your situation resolved. You may also fall into deep confusion from the varied reactions you get from people if you ask their “opinion” rather than just simply make a confession to them.
Taking the step of making a complete surrender of our life to God, starts the process of gaining divine revelation regarding whatever situation we are dealing with in life. Here is the process an individual goes through to Surrender their Life to God.