Cheap divorce?

I saw a billboard a few days ago that screamed: “DIVORCE: $199!” My first reaction was, Wow, that’s cheap.

Then, Wow, that’s terrible.

I’m sure there’s some potentially pricy fine print involved, but it’s hard to believe that you can get a divorce for the amount many families spend on their monthly power bill. The divorced people I know almost unanimously suggest it costs considerably more than that—mostly in ways that can’t be quantified on a billboard.

Whenever you speak or write about divorce, you risk dredging up old feelings of pain or bitterness for those who’ve experienced it. According to some, divorce creates as much stress as almost any other negative experience in life.

But it still needs to be addressed, if for no other reason to remind ourselves again what Jesus said about it, so that we might in turn help our children and grandchildren commit themselves to obey what he said. This isn’t all the Lord said about it, but it’s a helpful summary:

It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32).

Usually we focus on the exception clause here: Jesus allows—but doesn’t demand—divorce and remarriage when a husband or wife has sex outside of the marriage (that’s what “sexual immorality” is).

But we don’t need to get so caught up in figuring out when couples can split up that we miss his main point: he wants marriages to stay together.

He wants a man to say to his bride, “For better or for worse,” and mean it. Right then—when they’re both healthy—as well as the day, God forbid, when one of them isn’t.

He wants a woman to promise “till death do us part” and stick to it—through bad economies, difficult children, and moves and job changes and depleted savings.

He wants them both to be sexually faithful, because breaking that promise destroys intimacy like nothing else can.

Our world is forgetting all this. We’re believing the lie that everything ought to be easy, and when it gets hard, we cut and run.

That goes against the very spirit of the gospel, of course. Jesus took the difficult path because it was the one we needed, and because the good stuff often lies on the other side of the tough stuff.

And that’s what he expects from us—at work, at school, at home. Especially at home, which is the foundation for everything else.

I attended the funeral last week of a Christian lady who was married to her husband for 80 years. Eight decades of richer-and-poorer, sickness-and-health, for-better-or-worse, till-death-do-us-part commitment. I’m almost certain that those eighty years included difficult times that might’ve separated the less dedicated. But the key to longevity and happiness in marriage has always been commitment, hasn’t it? It’s never been about the easy way.

Commitment, Jesus says, is the key to so many things in life, including marriage.

One man for one woman for life.

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