Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Cause of Divorce: Hardness of Heart

Roger* as a Seventh Day Adventist, who quite frequently visited the church that I attended. One day he approached me, and requesting a listening ear, began to tell me of his marital woes. According to Roger, his wife had lost respect for him, and although he was frustrated and angry, he didn't know what to do. Further, it seems as if most of his friends and family were counseling him to divorce her. Roger, however, didn't agree and after much reflection on his part decided divorce was not the way to go. Wanting to vent his frustrations, and perhaps find a way to salvage his marriage, he turned to me. As I listened to him, I knew he needed more help than I alone could give him. So I suggested that it would be better if I took some time to pray over the matter and then we could meet during the following week and talk again. Not wanting to give him a pat answer or solution to his dilemma, I diligently inquired of the Lord to enlighten my mind that I might both see Roger's situation as He sees it, and respond as He would have me respond.

Sadly, I was strongly impressed that Roger and his wife, I'll call her Julia*, had been sexually involved with each other prior to their marriage, and that their marital troubles stemmed from their guilt at breaking His law, as well as the low level of genuine intimacy they had cultivated with one another. In short they didn't know one another
well in the areas that counted most. Feeling uncertain of how to go about handling this new found information, I requested some of my Godly, trusted friends to pray also. Together in prayer, we intercede before the Lord as to the course of action Roger should take with Julia, and how I was to advise them. I touched base with Roger during the week, and suggested we meet Sabbath. He agreed. The next Sabbath right after church, Roger and I met in a private room. Naturally I was uncomfortable, but I asked him anyway. "Roger, were you and Julia sexually
intimate with one another prior to marrying? With a puzzled look Roger admitted, "yes, we were." When I asked him why he looked puzzled, he indicated that while he understood the question, he didn't understand what it had had to do with the trouble he was having now.

Roger, like many of us, did not understand that there was a relationship between his choice to Sin and the suffering that followed. To explain, I spoke metaphorically but that did not work. Determined, I tried a different approach and at last saw understanding reflected in his face. Despite this, he was having a hard time acknowledging and accepting his mistake. Instead, Roger blamed Julia for their problems. As he told me this I said, "God sees you as the problem too." But Roger wasn't having any of this. No, he just wanted a way to 'fix' his wife, and was blind to the fact that he also needed 'fixing'. Determined to show me that it was Julia's fault, he brought the following Sabbath. Unfortunately, what was more evident was the hardness of his own heart. Lamentably, I don't think he ever accepted the light he saw.

Over the years, I have listened to many individuals who've expressed alienation from their spouse, and dissatisfaction with their marriage. The marriage didn't usually start out that way. It began with hope and plans for a good future. But for one reason or another they give themselves permission to engage in pre-marital sex with one another prior to marrying. Often they tell each other "I love you" and thus reason that the step they are taking is all right. No one could possibly tell them that their heart is not tender toward one another. Yet just a little time later, you know, when the
trials and burdens of everyday life and disappointments come, so does the hardening of the heart. In fact, in some cases, it just grows downright cold, and everyone wonders what went wrong.

According to Jesus, divorce was allowed because of "hardness of heart." Let's take a look at Mark 10:

Mark 10:5 “And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of
your heart he (Moses) wrote you this precept.”

What I am submitting is that hardness of heart was always present - sex merely camouflaged it. This hardness of heart does not go away once a couple marries, on the contrary it worsens. Let's read Paul’s advice in Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto
the Lord.
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is
the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the
wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the
church, and gave himself for it;
Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of
water by the word,
Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not
having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He
that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and
cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his
Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and
shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and
the church.
Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his
wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence
her husband.

Why does Paul advice this? Because, when the male continues to be hard hearted, selfish, self-centered, and immature, his wife loses respect for him. And when she loses respect for him, he stops loving her. And, the cycle continues until Divorce is seen as the last resort. Not surprisingly, even after divorce some still fight. So, what is the solution? A new heart that is soft, serving, humble and loving -- and only God can provide that.

If you are single – never married, divorced, or widowed – follow Adam and Isaac’s example. They waited for the woman (person) the Lord had for them. If you are married, by all means, let the Lord soften your heart. Who knows, through
you, He may also soften your partner's heart as well.

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

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