(Confessions and Journey in Holy Matrimony)
Acrimony [ ak-ruh-moh-nee ]
noun. Anger and bitterness; harsh or biting sharpness especially of words, manner, or feelings.
Alimony [ al-uh-moh-nee ]
noun. An allowance paid to a person by their former spouse for maintenance, granted by a court upon divorce.
Supply of the means of living; maintenance.
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
I speak to your shame.
Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another.
Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.”
1 Corinthians 6:1-8
Acrimony and alimony. These are two words that are without doubt, contradictory to God’s design for marriage. Divorce can cause the most stoic of people to experience intense acrimony. The Bible speaks very clearly about divorce, however, I’ve never seen Paul’s writings in the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians referenced concerning divorce. They should be. These scriptures confirm just how far off path the Holy gift of marriage has fallen. As it is written, God hates divorce:
“For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” Malachi 2:16
Marriage is created and designed by God. Both the old and the New Testament witness to this. However, throughout time, this Holy and original design of God has been tweaked to suit the needs and customs of the people.
Even Jesus, the Lord God Himself, testified that Moses tweaked God’s original design for marriage due to the condition of men’s hearts:
“He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Matthew 19:8
And the darker this world becomes the further marriage moves from God’s original design.
As mentioned in my Christian artist’s testimony, I was newly married when I made some epic artistic mistakes. Through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, I learned that God’s Word is paramount and that no job and no amount of money is worth disobeying God’s Word.
It’s not so easy with marriage though. Marriage (unlike jobs) is specifically designed by God for the purpose of Glorifying HIM. Let’s be honest, most of our career choices have more to do with gaining finance than with glorifying God. Sadly though, today’s Christian marriages have little to do with glorifying God.
As Christians, we have NO excuse for this sad state of marital affairs. That is, if we claim to be True Followers of The Most High. Those who choose to study God’s Word, will quickly come to know that the entire Bible, from start to finish, is an account of the most divine marriage; the one between God (the Bridegroom) and his Believers (the Bride).
Therefore, marriage between believers should be elevated to more sanctified and holy levels of priority. Marriage relationships should be given the highest priority, next only to our relationship with God. Marriage should be given priority over friendships, over children, and especially over OURSELVES.
Marriages are divine covenants, jobs are not. Covenants are NOT unconditional. They are agreements of the highest order, upon which two or more agree to certain conditions. In the case of Christian marriage, there is an intertwining of three; Husband, Wife and God. Divorce is a ripping apart of one flesh wherein God has been joined along with the two, in union. Divorce is serious business that not only affects the mental, emotional and physical aspects of each person; but also has serious ramifications upon the spiritual lives of all involved.
The breaking of a covenant implies an act that’s similar to treason. The imposition of “No Fault Divorces” in today’s “civil” legal system has completely corrupted the sanctity of the marriage covenant.
Even so-called Christian marriage counselors offer divorce as one potential, albeit last resort, for resolution to hardened hearts.
The phrase “Irreconcilable Differences” has become the cop-out, scape-goat, go-to, get out of jail free card for unwanted marriage covenants; even for so-called, professing Christians. In God’s Word and for those who seek Him, there are NO differences that are irreconcilable! God is the God of miracles. He makes the impossible possible and washes clean the filthiest of filthy.
As we read in the book of Hosea, even adultery is reconcilable. As believers, we are called to love our enemies and sometimes our spouses can behave like our enemies. We are called to forgive seventy times seven. This means, for those who repent, we are to forgive. Adultery is a serious offense and no believing spouse is commanded to endure unrepentant infidelity. This is why God has allowed adultery; (or more accurately the Greek word, Porneia), to be one acceptable and legal reason to divorce a spouse. The other Biblical reason to divorce is found in 1 Corinthians 7, verse 15:
“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.”
If you’re married to an unbelieving spouse, you are commanded to stay with that spouse, however, IF that unbelieving spouse leaves, let them go. In other words, if you are Christian and are married, you are to do anything and everything that’s humanly possible to uphold the covenant you made.
So what makes a spouse “unbelieving”? The description “unbelieving” is the Greek word (571) “Apistos”; from (1) “A”, meaning NOT, and (4103) “pistos”, meaning FAITHFUL. So unbelieving doesn’t always refer to the unconverted (atheist, pagan, Buddhist, etc.) but can describe someone who claims to believe, but is literally “NOT FAITHFUL”. A label for this kind of person would be an INFIDEL. In other words, this is someone who has shown no desire to seek God, walk with God and obey God.
We must, however, be very cautious not to falsely accuse anyone of being an INFIDEL. It should never be used to describe anyone who holds minor theological differences from us. An unbelieving spouse is one who has by all reasonable examination, rejects the Doctrines of Jesus Christ.
Upholding the covenant of marriage, despite irreconcilable differences, is one integral part of Jesus Christ’s doctrine.
So, there are two reasons that are Biblical, for Christians to divorce. Many religious folk state that these Biblical marriage mandates are for all people. I disagree 100%. As aforementioned, we cannot expect unbelievers to hold to the Doctrines of God. The Bible was written for those called to be Believers.
As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 5, verse 12:
“For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?”
So, unlike ungodly jobs or bad habits, we aren’t supposed to “quit” marriages; even if the marriage is causing us unrest, discomfort, inconvenience or even torment.
“Torment?!??? Well, that sound harsh and unreasonable.”
Torment is a subjective term. For example, a wife may be tormented by her husband’s loud snoring. A husband may be tormented by his wife’s poor house cleaning. One man’s torment is another man’s pet peeve.
When we’re tormented by someone, we may do well to consider this: Is this God showing us something about ourselves?
Are we being too harsh, critical, impatient or selfish? Are we projecting our own insecurities and failings onto our spouse? Instead of pointing fingers outward, we are called to examine ourselves inward; make necessary changes, and sacrifice our needs for our spouse’s. Personal sacrifice is one way we glorify God in marriage, as Jesus did on the cross.
Nothing good comes easy and this is why serving the Lord cannot be done without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. This is why marriage mustn’t be entered into lightly.
The ramifications of being unequally yoked can cause immense pain. Nonetheless, whatever happens in our lives, happens only because God has ALLOWED it to happen. Like Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, God has a purpose for all things, even unequal yokings. God can and does mend the most broken of people and the most irreconcilable marriages.
When we yield our lives fully over to Jesus and His Holy Spirit, anything is possible.
Enough has been said on the matter, however, if you wish to read my personal testimony, please go to my Avowal page. You’ll discover why I have an incredibly strong personal conviction concerning marriage & divorce. My hope is that I help minister to someone who’s struggling with similar pain.