20th Sun. aft. Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
October 5, 1994
(This sermon will be as painful to preach as it will be painful to hear. The tragedy of divorce has
left an incredible imprint of destruction on individual lives, on families and on our society.)
Who here has not been touched by the tragedy of divorce?
Efforts to ease the pain by redefining "family" are of little help and usually only serve to
confuse the reality of what has happened.
I. MOST DIVORCES OCCUR BECAUSE PEOPLE DO NOT RECOGNIZE THE TRUE NATURE OF
THE ESTATE OF MARRIAGE.
A. While marriage may be a civil act of law, it is first and foremost a sacred estate
established by God.
1. Jesus immediately refers to the beginning of marriage between Adam & Eve.
a. Marriage is a union of man and woman only.
b. Marriage is a union freely entered into by both man and woman.
c. Marriage is a man and a woman who mutually commit themselves
to be united spiritually, emotionally, physically and legally for life.
d. Marriage between a man and a woman has a common purpose of
establishing a home that will bring glory to God and to provide an
environment where God's purposes may be gladly carried out.
2. While meaningful and sometimes life-long marriages occur outside of the
Christian faith, it is only within the boundaries of the Christian faith when
marriage may be all that God intended it to be.
B. Marriage in the Scriptures has to do with God, with growth, with change, with development; and for the post-Fall people, being two people alive together in Christ, with a sanctified life in the Holy Spirit.
1. We have failed as families to live up to the Scriptural understanding of marriage.
a. We have failed to model and teach what it means to be a husband/wife.
b. We have failed to model and teach what it means to be a spiritual household.
c. We have failed as Christian men to teach our sons what it means to be a Christian father.
d. We have failed as Christian women to teach our daughters what it means to be a
2. The Church must share in this failure to instruct.
a. For too long we have been willing to stand on the sidelines and let the assumption remain
that people understood what the Bible teaches about that.
b. For too long we have assumed that men and women knew what they needed to know
to make a marriage work . . . We have been wrong!
II. THE PHARISES ARE ASKING THE SAME QUESTIONS ABOUT DIVORCE MANY ASK TODAY.
A. They are asking, "What is the minimum requirement that we must meet in order to make divorce OK with God?"
1. Jesus quickly points out, that it is the wrong question...Divorce is not OK with God.
a. Divorce has never been OK with God and never will be because the union was
intended for a lifetime by His design.
b. Divorce was no more to be the end of marriage than Christ was to leave His Church.
1.) Again and again marriage is used to portray the Church's relationship to
2.) The union of man and wife is to be ended only at the death of a spouse.
2. The permission God gave His people to divorce in the cases of adultery or abandonment
are not commands to end the marriage, but only options to be exercised if all attempts to
a. Men, when will we learn that the false division we tend to make between sex and love
is an abomination in the sight of God!
b. Young couples, when will you learn that the marriage bed is to be honored both before
and after the marriage...chastity is a life-long condition of sexual purity for both those
who have not had sexual relations as well as those who are now married.
B. Christ is in the business of healing broken relationships!
1. He has healed the brokenness between us and the Heavenly Father through His sacrifice.
a. Healing relationships always requires sacrifice!
b. If, in your marriage you are seeking ultimately to be judged as "right" or "in charge"
you have failed to see the reality of the estate of marriage.
2. I remain convinced that Christ can heal marriages that are on shaky ground, that have been
broken and that have already been finalized by a divorce decree in the courts.
a. A legal decree does not end a marriage in His sight...that is a civil matter.
b. People may give up on broken relationships, God does not!
3. Under what circumstances may a Christian obtain a divorce?
a. In the case in which a spouse has been unfaithful...sexually or not.
b. In the case in which a spouse has abandoned his/her mate:
1.) Abandonment may mean that the unfaithful spouse has left the premises.
2.) Abandonment may also mean that the unfaithful spouse has refused to
willfully in the mutual obligation to support and sexually cohabit with
C. But what if your marriage is not only ended, but beyond reconciliation? What about that, Pastor?
1. While it does happen, it is a rare marriage indeed in which only one party is at fault.
a. It is time to recognize your sin in the divorce...without it, no healing can come.
b. It is time to surrender that sin to Jesus and to claim the promise of forgiveness
from the cross.
c. It is time to place your future in the hands of God and to begin again to walk in
2. Yes, people who have ended their marriages apart from the reasons God permits, may
a. All attempts to reconcile have ended in failure....remarriage of a departed spouse.
b. Sincere repentance of personal sin has occurred.
c. To withhold such forgiveness would be to limit the atoning work of Christ.
III. LET US BE LED TO UPHOLD THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE IN EVERY ARENA OF LIFE.
A. If we fail to hold up the ideal of Christ-centered marriage, everybody loses.
1. The married couples loses the ability to understanding the holy estate of their marriage.
2. The families that surround every divorce must the endure on-going pain of the divorce.
3. The society will continue to deteriorate and our nation will be damaged.
B. God has created a relationship that is beautiful beyond all comparison.
1. It is a personal way to experience the closest thing to Heaven this side of death.
2. It is an incredible way to grow in our understanding of Gods love for His people.
3. It is a divine design in which true earthly fulfillment can occur.
C. If we learn more about holy marriage, everybody wins:
1. We see more clearly what the world is supposed to be.
2. We see the grace of God more clearly in our everyday lives.
3. We come to understand that no amount of tinkering with the family, no amount
of social engineering, and no amount of divorce rationalization can possibly
express the beauty of the wedded relationship better than the Lord has done!
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