Summary: This sermon provides a historical and biblical framework for understanding divorce. I am indebted to Dr. John Ortberg for some of the research.
Investment Tips For Divorce
(Much of this message comes from me listening to Dr. John Ortberg Of Menlo Presbyterian Church in Menlo CA. You may go to their website and see the message as it was originally done. It is available in print, audio and video on their website. This version is available in audio and video on our website.)
We have been going through our investment tips for building relationships and the one area we have not dealt with fully is divorce. We need a biblical understanding of divorce, because it will affect many of our lives in all different kinds of ways. Divorce can be one of the most painful things that people experience. One of the reasons I left family law, was because I saw just how painful divorce was in people’s lives.
The best way to prevent divorce is to start out right. If you’re thinking about getting married to someone, and you know Jesus, and you have made a commitment to Him, and that other person in your life does not know Jesus, I want to warn you, I want to encourage you, I want to plead with you, I want to say it as strongly as I possibly can: Do not get married to someone who does not share that ultimate faith commitment. Just don’t do it! Let the person go now, before you regret it later.
I encourage those of you who are married and are both following Christ, to reconsider if you think divorce is a viable option for you. I can tell you that the divorce process gets a lot worse before if gets better. There are severe emotional strains, financial strains, and spiritual strains that enter into the couple’s lives that they have not fully considered. There is severe damage to the family and to the church.
In many cases it would be far easier to surrender your situation and your obedience to Christ and try to work things out, rather than ending the marriage. I say this to those in which both people are actually trying to live for Christ. The Bible stresses the sanctity and the commitment involved in marriage.
If you each do what Jesus tells you to do toward the other person, your marriage can be turned around if you really want to turn it around. Remember the marriage you have belongs to more than just the two of you. We all have a duty to help you keep it together.
Yet God knows the human heart, and how wicked and deceitful in can be. One person alone cannot build a great marriage or even turn around a marriage. God recognizes that people change and it is often not for the better. There are provisions in God’s word, for when divorce is allowable. We all need to know what is allowable and what is not. People are going to ask you for your opinion.
As your pastors we want you to be prepared from a biblical perspective on divorce, and what the word of God actually teaches about it. Otherwise you may read a passage like Matthew 19 and walk away feeling condemned and guilty over something that is not actually being taught in the passage.
Now you’re really have to put on your thinking cap this morning, and follow with me in going through both the Scriptures and history to come out with a biblical perspective.
Much of what is said in church about divorce is not what the Bible teaches. Much of what the world says about divorce is also not what the bible teaches. So let’s plow into this together. This will be a teaching message more than a preaching message. We need both to become all that God wants us to be.
I want to say from the outset, that I have Dr. John Ortberg from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church helping me with some of this material. He in turn got some help from David Instone-Brewer with some of the research. Now let’s get into our teaching for today.
Way back in the ancient world, before Jesus and even before the Old Testament, the ancient near east was pretty much governed by the Hammurabi Code. Some of you have heard about this code when you were in highschool. If you were a wife, under that code your husband could divorce you at any time and for any reason just by walking out of the house.
Let’s call the fellow Ray. If Ray went walking, you’d be stuck with the kids, if there were any. You’d have no money. Let’s say that you had sons and found some way to raise them. They might get old enough to work the farm and start making some money.
If Ray found out about it, he could return anytime he wanted to, reclaim you and the kids and the money and the farm. What that meant was, if you were a wife and your husband left, even though technically you could remarry, the reality was that no man would ever marry you if they knew that Ray was hanging around out there somewhere and could come back.