“What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Mark 10:9
As a Christian mediator largely working with divorcing couples, this passage haunts me. Especially when one or both clients profess a faith in Christ. How can committed believers sit in a room and contemplate the ending of one of God’s holiest works? No small question.
The answers aren’t easy. But, they begin with a contemplation of who God is, His power, and His purpose for marriage.
God is all-powerful. He longs to use this power work in hearts to bring about miraculous transformation. Transformation focused on redeeming lost relationships and making them whole.
So, step one in our practice is always to work with clients to see if there is room for Christ to redeem this relationship and bring healing. This begins with considering:
What is God’s purpose in marriage?
God designed marriage to be THE concrete example to the world of God’s union with creation; of Christ’s union with the church. The husband represents Christ as protector, provider, priest, and prophet within the family. He demonstrates God’s faithfulness to guard, guide, and give regardless the cost to himself.
The wife represents the church in joining to her husband’s leadership, offering her gifts to carry out his plan, building on his vision, joining him in all ways. The wife demonstrates the church’s faithfulness in steadfastly adhering to her husband, using her strengths to build him up, lovingly embracing his guidance, and living contently in his provision.
As unbelievers witness the power of God transforming two selfish people into relationship, they desire to know Him. That is the ultimate purpose of marriage.
Can we fulfill this purpose?
For couples whose trust has been compromised or shattered, the question becomes, “What changes would it take in our relationship to live this model for marriage? Are we each willing to make these changes?”
As couples conceive a vision for how to follow God in healing, we come alongside to help them to help transform the relationship into one that conforms to His plan.
If either genuinely can’t or won’t submit to God’s work in them to get to this place, then the marriage is already a lie. And recognizing that they aren’t married as God intended and won’t be is far more honest than faking a relationship which continues to hurt the other person and misrepresents God to the world.
Christians are called to offer an honest witness. Sometimes the most honest is that “what we are together is not what God intended in marriage. And, the trust is so broken, we cannot get there.” Remaining technically married becomes no more obedient than divorce.
If one or both simply can’t make the changes necessary, the most authentic witness may be to say, “This is not working and can’t work. To be faithful to God’s design for marriage–we need to end ours.”
When Christians divorce, they feel keenly the loss not only for themselves but also of their witness. But, there’s good news. Though people living in a sin-impacted world struggle with the pain of all sin’s hurt and loss, God is still God. He will never break His covenant with His people. His love for His children remains steadfast. This love redeems all those places we fall short of His plan–even divorce.