Do we define marriage according to God or according to our government? I’ve really had to address this question and to dig deep with what I believe, and why, about marriage because of my situation. I really don’t think that the majority of Christians, no matter what depth of faith they have, have thought about this or aware of the urgent need to.
It is urgent, if so many of our lives are affected by divorce and if it is something that God hates, then it is an important issue. We all need to get our facts straight, we all need to ask God to convict us where we need to be convicted and show us his will in this matter.
What defines “marriage” in God’s eyes? Is any legal marriage, really marriage in God’s eyes? Just because someone gets married according to our government, does that mean that it is a marriage in front of God? What about divorce? If someone is legally divorced does that make them divorced in God’s eyes?
I used to think that when someone was legally divorced, that meant that they were also divorced in God’s eyes. Now, I don’t believe this is true. Just because our government says something is so, doesn’t mean it is. We need to be careful where we apply this, the bible does tell us that everyone is “subject to governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). But when it comes to marriage and divorce and the Godly definitions of them, that is something that I believe can be done while still respecting governments. And I am convinced that the Christian community has been following what the government says in this area for a long time and it has become destructive. We have allowed the legal definitions of these things to be our spiritual definition as well. We have basically allowed the government to define our sin in this area.
Ultimately, it is God that is our authority and I believe that if we allow ourselves to be sensitive to his Spirit, we will feel and even hear his voice. He will lead us where we need to go. He will show us what his will is in all areas.
The bible clearly says, that divorcing your spouse (the bible says “wife” but I believe that it applies to both spouses) other than for marital unfaithfulness causes them to be adulterous (1 Corinthians 7:10, Mark 10:10, Malachi 2:13-16, Mathew 5:32, Matthew 19:8-9). I have not found a verse that says that remarriage after divorce is acceptable. On top of this, because of my experiences trying to “move on” and the feelings or lack of feelings, the guard my spirit had up that was impossible to tear down and the confirmation of this from friends in similar situations, as well as what I know God has told me, I believe that remarriage after divorce is committing adultery.
It is impossible to feel as though your connection with your spouse is severed. There is a connection, a spiritual connection, which cannot be broken, no matter how hard you try. The commitment you made in front of God on your wedding day, your vows, are a covenant. Not a contract. And a covenant that says “until death do us part” means “until death do you part”, no matter if you feel like you want to be with that person or not. A covenant in front of God cannot be broken. This is different to a contract, which is what most people wrongly think a marriage is.
A covenant means “Regardless of what you give me in return, this is what and how I am committing to you”. A contract means “If you give me ___, I will provide a certain service. When you stop giving me ___, I stop providing that service”.
So being that a marriage is a covenant you and your spouse made and a covenant cannot be broken and your covenant said “until death do us part”, that would mean that regardless of how you feel or how your spouse is treating you in return, or how the government defines your marital status, you are committed to your spouse until one of you passes away. And if you are committed to this covenant until one of you passes away, that would mean that any other marital or sexual relationship or commitment outside of this is committing adultery.
This is why our definition of marriage and divorce needs to be defined by God and God alone. Because according to the covenant we made with our spouse, even if the government defines our marital status as “Divorced”, we are, according to our covenant, in a marriage with our spouse long past that legal definition – until death.
I would even go so far to say, and I know that this is outside the box of what we have been taught to believe but it’s what I have come to believe, only with God’s help (because I certainly didn’t want to believe this!!), that because remarriage after legal divorce is committing adultery, that in that remarriage the couple isn’t tied to each other in front of God any more than two people who are cheating on their spouses would be. I know it’s daring to say that. I know it’s crazy. But I hope that it gets you to start to think about these things in depth. This is an important issue, not only for me because of what I am going through, but because a huge percentage of our population and close friends are going through these issues as well!
After Easter, when my Damascus Road Experience happened, and after I found out that my husband had proposed to his girlfriend that weekend, my thoughts were “Ok, I will wait for him until they are married. At least then I will know I did all that I could and I will be free to move on.”
After looking at a website supporting restored marriages and standing for your marriage, I noticed a commonly used phrase: “covenant spouse”. I didn’t know what this meant, so I asked a friend, and she explained that a “covenant spouse” was an original spouse, the spouse you are tied to before God in a covenant of marriage. She mentioned gently that some people believe that any marriage other than this original covenant marriage is not valid in God’s eyes. I thought this was ridiculous. There was no way I believed that and no way I was going to wait for my husband after his wedding. My friend suggested praying about it and allowing God to speak to me about this issue. So I did, mostly against my will because the thought of waiting for my husband past his wedding to another person seemed impossible and I honestly wasn’t sure if I agreed with it. But I did pray and asked God to show me his will, to change my heart if it was something he wanted me to do.
Within one week, I knew there was no way I could ever move on from my husband. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wanted me to stand for my marriage and wait for my husband, regardless of how impossible the situation seemed. And I suddenly believed that our marriage was the only true marriage in front of God with all of my heart. I believe this so strongly that if you ask me to deny it and if I ever tried to move on and date or marry anyone else, I would also have to deny being a Christian and believing in God.
Pray that God will show you his will on this subject and pray that he shows you how to apply it to your life. I’m not guaranteeing that you will come to the same conclusion I did, but I do know that God needs to be center stage to this thought process for you.
God hates divorce, and as Christians, we need to be educated in why he hates it and what his expectations are for marriage and divorce. We can’t take our spiritual definitions from our unspiritual government. We can’t just go along with the world, we can’t just go with the flow, we need to assess what God would have us do and pray for wisdom and discernment.