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FIRST PERSON: The marital enemy few speak of

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–My mailbox is deluged weekly with fundraising letters from pro-family organizations that invoke the threat of same-sex “marriage” being legalized by liberal judges in various states.

As important as it is to stand for the truth, these groups are tilting at windmills as long as American Christians continue to have a less-than-biblical respect for opposite-sex marriage.

That point was brought home to me recently with astounding clarity. A young lady who my wife grew up with decided to divorce her husband of two years, with a young daughter relegated to being tossed back and forth in a joint custody arrangement. There was no abuse or adultery, but since marriage is hard when two people are young and broke, she decided they made, in her words, “better friends than marriage partners.”

As far as I know, the young lady has never made a profession of faith, does not attend church and does not claim to know Jesus Christ, so to no one’s surprise she sees no problem with a quickie divorce when things have not worked out the way she wanted.

It’s time we quit being “huffy” when a pagan acts like a pagan — what else do you expect?

What disgusted me was the response of the young lady’s mother and grandmother, which is symptomatic of how lightly modern American Christians esteem marriage. Both the mother and the grandmother claim to be Christians and attend church regularly. The mother said very little except to offer her daughter a place to stay. The grandmother, however, was bolder. “I don’t believe in divorce,” she said, “but sometimes it can’t be avoided.”

Well, in this case we’ll never know if it could have been avoided. No one tried to counsel the young lady or her husband or share with them what God has to say about marriage.

As a quick review for the sake of convenience, God said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NASB). Expounding on the theme, Jesus added, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6, NASB). Jesus went on to add that Moses gave the exception allowing divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts. Therefore, the exception is not absolute and does not have to be followed.

God’s opinion on divorce of any kind is quite clear: Malachi 2:16 says that God hates divorce.

As God’s children, should we not also hate divorce? Of course we should, and we should seek to avoid it wherever and whenever possible. But the simple fact of the matter is that corporately we do not hate divorce, nor do American Christians avoid it any better than our non-believing fellow Americans. A 2001 survey by George Barna showed that the divorce rate among evangelical Christians is “statistically identical” as the divorce rate among the general population.

When marriage means that little to the people of God, why should the broader culture care what we think about the subject?

The pro-homosexual “marriage” crowd is the one making all the noise and actually having the courage to stick up for what they believe, as perverted as it is. They understand that the first rule of getting what you want from the government in a democracy is to make more noise than the other guy.

There is really only one way for Christians to respond to this nightmare and silence the critics of traditional marriage and proponents of homosexual “marriage.” It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. It takes everything a person can give all the time.

It’s called staying married, even when times are tough and you want out more than you want another breath. Beyond that, Christians should seek to glorify not themselves but God with their marriages.

If the broader culture should see the divorce rate among Christians go through the floor, they would know that there really was something different about us. Who knows what kind of opportunities this radical strategy would bring about for evangelism and national revival?

Right now, roughly a third of Americans say they support homosexual “marriage.” But in another few years, homosexual “marriage” will be the law of the land if Christians – too many of whom see no problem with easy, no-fault heterosexual divorce — have not recovered a respect for marriage beyond sending the occasional check to a pro-family organization.
Samuel Smith is a student and a news writer at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

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  • Samuel Smith