Imagine going to a car lot to consider purchasing a new car. Suppose the salesman came out to talk with you about the car you were looking over and said, “This is a great car that you are looking at. It has a smooth ride, drives like a European sports car and is built to last for four years, until the warranty runs out and then it begins to fall apart quickly.” Would you look at the car any longer? Even if we think we will likely purchase another car by the time we’ve had that one for four years, we don’t want to buy something that isn’t built to last. What kind of trade-in value would you have if it was only built to last for four years?
What if you were considering purchasing a new home and the realtor told you that this was a great neighborhood. “The builder is a rather new builder but he has developed a new method of building that looks great when new, but the house is only built to last for ten years so you can purchase it a great deal cheaper than in other neighborhoods. The materials are the cheapest he could find, but it looks great. You can get into it with a very low down payment. You don’t plan to stay here more than ten years, do you?”
Would you be interested in either the car or the house? I wouldn’t think so. We are drawn to things that are built to last. It may well be that we won’t keep a thing for its life time, but we like to know that if we wanted to keep it that it would retain value and still be useful. When God built things, they were generally built to last. Not everything was intended to be permanent. For example, when God gave the Old Testament Law, including the Ten Commandments, they were given with view to the new covenant that would be given when God would write his laws, not on tablets of stone, but on the fleshly tablets of the heart. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-13) But note that even this temporary law was to last for a little over 1500 years for the Nation of Israel.
The three institutions that God has started are all intended to last forever. He set up civil authority or civil government and declares that government is there as ministers of God to execute wrath on the sons of disobedience (Romans 13:1-7). He established the church as the called out body of those who follow Him and declared that we would glorify God in the church, throughout all ages, world without end (Ephesians 3:21). The third institution established by God was the home or family. At the beginning of God’s creation he recognized that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and made the woman and brought her to the man. Adam’s response would become the foundation for teaching on marriage from that time forward. “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She will be called woman. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” Since neither Adam nor Eve had a father or mother, it is obvious his point wasn’t just about them, but about married couples for all time.
From the beginning God’s plan was for marriages to be built to last. When people began turning it into a temporary institution, by putting away the wives of their youth to marry other wives, often wives who didn’t share their faith or commitment to God, God declared that he hated divorce. He pleaded with the men to stop this whole process and to realize that He had joined them together as one flesh and that they had made a covenant of companionship with each other (Malachi 2:10-ft.) When Jesus was on earth he was asked by the religious leaders whether or not it was right for a man to divorce his wife for every cause. Jesus told them “What God has joined together let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). He warned that one who divorces their mate for any reason other than sexual immorality and marries another commits adultery in verse nine. The whole point was that marriage are meant to last.
Does that mean that one who has failed in marriage and divorced a mate for some reason other than sexual immorality and married someone else, is in an unforgivable situation? While there is no doubt that sin has been committed, the notion that this sin is worse than all other sins and that while God can freely forgive murder, incest, thievery, drunkenness and all kinds of other sins, this one is somehow different. It is interesting that Paul would say in I Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.” Notice there was no distinction between adultery and other sins. All were washed, sanctified and justified by God.
When we make marriage a temporary stopping place rather than something built to last we are violating God’s word. But when we treat the one who has failed in doing what God teaches as though they were unforgivable we are also violating the word of God. When an interpretation of what Jesus said, causes us to cut all kinds of people out from the great commission we are in grave error. Too often I hear members of God’s family say, they haven’t invited some neighbor or friend to worship with us because they have been divorced and remarried and they don’t see any hope for them. I just can’t believe that is what the Lord wants from us.
(In coming blogs we will look more closely at this whole topic and what the Bible teaches)