Summary: If you want to live happily ever after with your spouse, then don’t be looking for loopholes or reasons to split up. Instead, look to the Lord and then look only on your spouse. It's more important to BE the right person than to marry the right person.
Ralph and Janice were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and Pastor Jones decided to take advantage of their longevity by using their story as a sermon illustration. He asked Ralph to come on stage and share some insight into how he managed to live with the same woman all those years.
Ralph turned to the congregation and said, “Well, I treated her with respect and spent money on her – but mostly I took her traveling on special occasions.”
The pastor asked, “Trips to where?”
“For our 25th anniversary,” Ralph answered, “I took her to Beijing, China.”
The crowd nodded and murmured in appreciation. When things quieted down, the pastor winked and said: “What a terrific example you are to husbands, Ralph. So, tell us where you're going now for your 50th anniversary?”
Ralph replied, “I'm going to go back and get her.” (Brett Kays, Flat Rock, Michigan; www.PreachingToday.com)
I suppose that’s one way to stay married, especially in a day and age when the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that a couple's odds of reaching their 25th anniversary are below 50% (Houston Chronicle, 09-19-07;). There are a lot of pressures on couples today, pressures that force them apart rather than keep them together.
Even so, there is a way to divorce proof your marriage, whether it’s your first or second marriage. Despite the increased pressures in today’s culture, your marriage can last a lifetime and happily so.
That’s what we’re going to learn from Jesus’ words in the gospel of Mark. You see, Mark wrote his Gospel to an audience much like our own today. He was writing to a Roman audience, who faced the same kind of increased pressures on their marriages that we face.
Now, for the first 520 years of the Roman Republic, there had not been a single recorded divorce. But under the Empire, the time of Christ and beyond, divorce was a matter of impulse. Seneca wrote: “Women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married.” In Rome, the years were identified by the names of the counsels, but it was said that fashionable ladies identified the years by the names of their husbands. Juvenal describes an instance of a woman who had eight husbands in five years. (William Barclay, Commentary on 1 Thessalonians, p.199)
Now, how can any marriage last in a society like that? Well, the Gospel of Mark shows us how where it records Jesus’ comments on divorce. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Mark 10, Mark 10, where we learn how we can live happily ever after with our current mate in a society which doesn’t value marriage at all.
Mark 10:1 Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them. (NIV)
Jesus is teaching in Herod Antipas’ territory. According to Mark 6, Herod Antipas was the one who had married his brother, Philip’s, wife. She had divorced Philip to marry Antipas, and John the Baptist told Herod that what he had done was unlawful. Next we hear that John the Baptist is arrested and Herodias asks for his head on a platter.