I was half listening to an interview of a well-known celebrity’s former wife on television the other day and she said something that caught my attention. What she said was not anything new, in fact I’ve heard it many times as I’m sure you have, as well. She said, “I guess I stayed in a bad marriage too long and things got out of hand.” Two things occurred to me almost immediately and the first is that there is no such thing as a “bad marriage.” Maybe I’m arguing semantics, but I don’t think so. A real marriage is when a man and a woman are joined together by and with God in a covenant relationship. That covenant was and is intended to last “until death do us part.” I would agree that marriage is a state of being for a wife and her husband, completely different and unique in every way. Also, that it is exclusive, and as such carries with it certain privileges and duties, that only exist within the confines of the marriage covenant. But more importantly, what makes it special, unlike any other relationship between two people; it is a creation of God. It is defined by God and is the product of His grace. All this is set down for us in the opening chapters of Genesis for all who care to read.
God was very specific regarding every act of his creation in Genesis, in that He always declared what He made as being “good.” To punctuate His point regarding the creation of mankind, God added that it is and was, “very good (1:31).” God also states when He created Eve for Adam that it was because, “It is not good for man to be alone (2:18).” To restate verse 18 in the positive, it is good that a man and woman be joined in marriage and that this union is therefore “good” as well. So what are the implications of making a statement that a marriage can “go bad” or that it was bad in the first place? The statement is false and misleading on its face. Rather than describing the circumstances that exists for a marriage in crisis in the light of biblical truth, such a statement or belief is the creation of sinful men and women, made to deflect blame, justify the unjustifiable and give license to those who wish to divide what God has joined. The only thing that is bad or corrupt in a failing marriage is one of both parties in the relationship. Marriage isn’t a person and only a person can make good or bad decisions and be influenced by the sin of a lost and dying world. Men and women may wish to redefine marriage in the darkness of their corrupt and sinful ways, but it does not make it so.
The second part of the interviewee’s statement was that, in her view, “things just got out of hand” in her marriage relationship. This reminds me of those who choose to stay in their homes in the face of an impending disaster, such as a hurricane or flood and then seem surprised when tragedy is the result. They will exclaim, “We were just fine until things got out of hand.” It’s as though they were just innocent bystanders and the calamity they experienced was nothing more than bad luck! Some will say, “I was just protecting my home and precious belongings.” Others are more flippant saying, “We decided to have a hurricane party but never dreamed it would get that bad.” In every one of these cases, there was a warning given and received and the hearers chose to ignore it. They chose to ignore and neglect what was really important; they rejected sure and certain deliverance from harm and danger. They chose to put themselves in harm’s way and refused to flee in the face of sure and certain danger.
This is of course a very common response to the dangers that sin presents and is most often caused by our desire to have our own way and to indulge ourselves in the selfish pleasures that we falsely believe will bring us happiness and satisfaction. It isn’t because we haven’t been warned or seen the carnage that sin has wreaked on the world around us. If we read the history of the Israel in the Old Testament, God’s chosen people, this typifies their behavior and emphasizes for us that there is only one solution. It is the same solution that God presented, through the prophets, to Israel long ago and was repeated time and time again. Zechariah, a prophet to the returning exiles told them that simply rebuilding the temple walls and restoring the practice of burnt offerings and blood sacrifice on the altar was not enough nor sufficient for their salvation and deliverance. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me and I will return to you. Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices (Zechariah 1:2-4).’” What is required for deliverance and salvation is repentance, the turning away from our sin and turning back to God. If we do so then our future is sure and guaranteed to bring happiness and satisfaction. This is the only real hope for us as individuals and for our marriages, to return to God and once again to become one with God, in obedience and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tool #278 The problems in your marriage are your fault. Don’t blame the marriage for your failings. Marriage is sacred and set apart by God and for His glory, not yours. Treat it as such!