Divorced From Christ
Valentine, Martyr
14 February 2017
If you got your sweetheart something for Valentines Day then everything was sweetness and light. Right? The alternative is not good, as some found out. But Valentines Day is not every day. Instead daily life obtrudes into marriage with all of its trouble and trial. Those other days are the stuff that life is made of. Those other days are full of dirty diapers, financial crises, parents in need of nursing care, family feuds, long hours at work, children gone wrong, doctor visits, homework, and so on. All these things put pressure on marriage and seem to rob it of its glowing pristine beauty, especially at the beginning when these external pressures first crowd in upon the married couple. Young people often wonder if they haven't made a horrible and tragic mistake in their choice of a spouse when that pressure is brought to bear upon their originally happy little household.
 
Too often people in such a marital crisis naively assume that if they could just get rid of the other person in a quick divorce, things would be so much better. The flaw in this plan is that at least half or more of the problems cannot be jettisoned just by divorcing the other, because at least half of the problems are yours. Unless you divorce yourself and your sinful human nature the problems will come right along with you. This is one of the reasons why people who are once divorced have an extremely high rate of subsequent divorce. They get used to divorcing their problems without dealing with the real issue: themselves. It is so easy to presume that the other is at fault. No one wants to point the finger at themselves.
 
Jesus could have divorced us. He had grounds. He was not at fault. And it would have been easier. Yet, He refused to reject us. Instead He allowed Himself to be married to us that He might share with us the one flesh union that occurs by the incarnation of Mary. How different His attitude is from our own in which we think that if we just get rid of the other person, our problems will be solved. He Himself took our problems into Him by a free choice. He accepted the irreconcilable debt of His bride, the Church, paying it in full by taking her place on the cross, reconciling the world to His Father in that act. He who had grounds for divorce resolutely embraces us as His bride covering our shameful spiritual prostitution with the cloak of His righteousness. God has joined us to Christ. No one can sunder us from Him. Can your wife say that you cannot be sundered? Can your husband say that you cannot be sundered? In Christ You have the power to say that to each other.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"Those who want to be Christians should not be divorced, but every man should keep his own spouse, sustaining and bearing good and ill with her, even though she may have her oddities, peculiarities, and faults. If he does get a divorce, he should remain unmarried. We have no right to make marriage a free thing, as though it were in our power to do with as we pleased, changing and exchanging. But the rule is the one Christ pronounces (Mt 19:6): "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder."
 
"The only source of trouble here is the fact that marriage is not thought of on the basis of the Word of God, as His work and ordinance, and His will is ignored. He has given every man his spouse, to keep her and for His sake to put up with the difficulties involved in married life. To them it seems to be nothing more than a purely human and secular state, with which God has nothing to do. Therefore they tire of it so quickly. If it does not go the way they would like, they immediately want a divorce and a change. Then God so arranges things that they are no better off as a consequence. A person who wants to change and improve everything and who refuses to put up with any inadequacies, but insists on having everything clean and comfortable, will usually get in exchange something twice as uncomfortable or ten times as uncomfortable. This is a general rule, not only in this matter but in all others as well.
 
"So it must be on earth. Daily there have to be many troubles and trials in every house, city, and country. No station in life is free of suffering and pain, both from your own, like your wife or children or household help or subjects, and from the outside, from your neighbors and all sorts of accidental trouble. When a person sees and feels all this, he quickly becomes dissatisfied, and he tires of his way of life, or it makes him impatient, irritated, and profane. If he cannot avoid this trouble or get rid of it, he wants to change his station in life, supposing that everyone else's station and condition are better than his own. After changing around for a long time, he discovers that his situation has progressively deteriorated. A change is a fast and easy thing, but an improvement is a rare and doubtful thing. This was what the Jews found out, too, as they divorced and changed their marriage partners."

Martin Luther, Sermon on the Mount, 5.31-32
1 Corinthians 7:1-11

"It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
 
Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
 
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.
 
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. (ESV)
Prayer
Almighty and everlasting God, You kindled the flame of Your love in the heart of Your holy martyr Valentine. Grant to us, Your humble servants, a like faith and the power of love, that we who rejoice in Christ's triumph may embody His love in our lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

For all those suffering from chronic illnesses that God would give them the strength to bear up under that burden and confess God's faithfulness in the midst of suffering, especially Joanna Karner
 
For all those experiencing the enticement of illicit sexual relations that they might be schooled by the Word of God to direct their desire to the gift of holy marriage
 
For the President Trump, that the Lord God would grant him every gift and blessing as he serves the people
Art: MANETTI, Rutilio  Wedding Feast at Cana  (c. 1620)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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