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Friday, February 5, 2010

Hardened Hearts? Guard Your Marriage

In Matthew 19: 1-9, Jesus Christ was confronted by the law makers with the concept of divorce, the legal dissolution of marriage. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (v. 3) and “Why then…did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (v. 7) they asked.

Moses performed such divorces routinely, quite similar to modern no-fault divorce. Nothing has changed in three thousand years. Marriage is still a challenge, and divorce is still an easy way out. Marriages of Christian lawyers are not immune from this concern.

Every state, except for one,* has a statutory method for dissolving marriage “for any and every reason,” where just one party must initiate the divorce proceeding. No-fault divorce allows any person to deem his or her marriage as “irreconcilable,” or “irretrievably broken,” or to simply leave and end the marriage, unilaterally, even if the other spouse disagrees. Yet statistics show that such divorces are opposed by the remaining spouse in four of five cases.** Although the marriage had been willingly entered into by two people, one can unilaterally terminate it.

In any other legal contract the party who breaks the contract is accountable to stiff penalties. Although the Federal Constitution under the 5th and 14th Amendments requires that “no person be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law,” every unilateral no-fault divorce is always granted, as the “fundamental right of marriage”*** allows for the right to adjust that most fundamental of relationships - even unilaterally. Divorce is the result of a hardened heart. But it was not this way from the beginning.

“Haven’t you read, Jesus replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (v. 4-6) ...Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not his way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for martial unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (v.8-9).

Hardened hearts lead to broken marriages. Broken marriages led to broken families. Broken families lead to broken societies.

Don’t allow your heart to get hard. Keep your marriage the way it was from the beginning, as God created it, united as husband and wife in one flesh. Guard your marriage, and don’t allow your heart to harden against God’s design.

If you are married, do not seek to be unmarried (I Corinthians 7:10-11, 27). Give God your heart, and your marriage, and he will soften both, for His glory.

~ Prof. Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

* Only New York State requires bilateral agreement for a no-fault divorce. NY Dom Rel L § 170 Divorce.
See Michael McManus, How To Cut America's Divorce Rate in Half: A Strategy Every State Should Adopt, Marriage Savers (2009).
*** Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

1 comment:

Janet said...

So, I have a question about this. I divorced my ex husband 10 years ago because of continuing abuse, and that was largely because he hated women, because he was gay and would not admit it. Yet publicly, he proclaimed that he was trying to keep the marriage together, trying to humor crazy me. My children were subject to custody litigation for 4 years, 2 of them post judgement. It was hell. Do you mean to tell me that a Christian must stay married in those untenable circumstances and be compelled to live someone else's lie?

It sure cost a lot to be free of this abuse, since he dragged the custody hearings up to the appellate, although he had serious mental health issues regardless of the gay stuff. In the end, he got just what I was willing to have - scheduled visitation, and the kids could also see him whenever they wanted, he volunteered at school, etc. So his whole custody thing was about controlling me.

So you tell me - whose heart is hardened here? I am convinced we would be dead if I had stayed married to him, and that his friends would have molested my kids.