I heard a story this past week I found hard to believe. A man had come to know Jesus Christ as his Savior and wanted to join and become involved in the church that had introduced him to this new life. His wife was already a believer and had been attending another church for years. When his wife refused to change churches he divorced her and started going to the church he preferred.
I have been studying church history of late and I am well aware of the stupid things people will do in the name of Christianity. What this man did is one of them. While church involvement is important, I wrote about it last week, it should not be the cause for dissolving a marriage.
Marriage was the first human institution ordained by Father God and is the basic social unit of every other institution known to man. This husband may have been ignorant of the importance and biblical teachings regarding marriage. His actions are an indicator he did not hold marriage in as high esteem as God does, indicating he was either ignorant or indifferent to what the Bible has to say about the matter.
The sad thing about all of this is this new convert, if he is indeed a convert, is not much different than many who claim to be Christians. I think it is a paradox that two people who claim to be followers of Christ, and claim to love God and each other, rush into divorce court over trivial excuses. In many cases there is no effort made on the part of either the husband or the wife to correct unbiblical behavior or seek biblical counseling.
When a man and a woman claim to love God and one another but refuse to address marital conflicts according to the word of God one or both of them are lying. God gives us ample marital advice in the Scriptures. I do not know if marriages are made in heaven; I know on earth they have to be maintained. When the biblical principles for marriage are consistently and prayerfully applied they produce a marriage that is heaven on earth. But to make marriage work in this age of anything-goes-and-it’s-all-about-me requires a deeper faith in the Word of God and a stronger commitment to it than many so-called Christians want to make.
When Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees on the issue of divorce, He replies, “Have you not read…” (Matthew 19:4), and goes on to relate the Father’s instituting marriage with the first man and woman, Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:21-25). Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus consistently pointed people to the Scriptures when he was questioned on a host of subjects. The Son of God was setting an example for us to put our confidence in the Word of God as our guide just as He did.
Of course, the low opinion of marriage in our culture is consistent with our equally low opinion of anything the Scriptures have to say on most any subject. I do not think a person can be a Christian and show an indifference to what the Scriptures teach us. Being a Christian means being like Christ, and Jesus was not indifferent to the Word of God. Imagine the impact Christians could have on our culture if we spent as much time at being what we should be as we do at trying to entertain ourselves.
It is an easy thing to claim commitment to Christ it is quite another thing to actually be committed. Commitment does not lie in what we say it lies in what we do. That is what James is getting at when he said “faith without works is dead” James 2:26. His point is there is no dichotomy between faith and practice. What we believe is what we do, and what we do is what we believe.
If we believe marriage is important we will do it God’s way and not our way. If we believe it is important to read the Bible we do it, we do not talk about doing it. In Matthew 7:21-23 and 21:28-31, Jesus makes it clear that it is not what we say but what we do that counts.
Talk is cheap. Well done is better than well said.