Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day. ~Gene Perret
Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century. ~Mark Twain
It's easy to understand love at first sight, but how do we explain love after two people have been looking at each other for years? ~Unknown
Maybe not the most noble of reasons for a long marriage: There is so little difference between husbands you might as well keep the first. ~Adela Rogers St. Johns
The last one: Ogden Nash’s thoughts for the secret to a long marriage :
To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.
“My daughter Julie has always enjoyed asking hard questions. When she was only five, she came up with a really tough one. As my wife was tucking her into bed, Julie asked, ‘Mommy, are you and Daddy ever going to get a divorce?’ My wife held Julie's hand and said, "Honey, Mommy and Daddy are never going to get a divorce." In a minute Julie was asleep. And secure.” (JD Branson)
The writer goes on to say: “How should a parent respond to such a question? By saying you don't know if Mommy and Daddy will always be together? By saying that this isn't the time to talk about it? By explaining that lots of people get divorces—but it's not something to worry about? In this day of [so many] divorces, my wife's answer may seem over-confident. But it's not. It's no different from the vow we exchanged on our wedding day when, before God, we made a covenant to stay together "until death separates us." (JD Branson)
In our scripture today, Malachi wrote about the marriage covenant. Marriage is designed by God to be an inseparable, spiritual union that is bound together with absolute faithfulness and loving companionship (READ Malachi 2:15b).
Ask any couple married for a long time for the secrets of their success, and they are likely to have one thing in common: divorce is not part of their vocabulary. Or their thoughts. One Christian couple married for forty-three years put it this way: “Stick to the basics: love, perseverance, commitment. Be true to each other in everything you do and say.” God’s will for marriage is a man and woman joining together in a one-flesh commitment that takes priority over every other human relationship. It deserves high honor by all God’s people.
God reaffirmed through the prophet Malachi that marriage was to be a permanent, lifelong bond. Yet things happen. Divorce is a reality. And God hates it. READ Mal. 2:16. “guard yourself…do not break faith…” i.e. work hard, be deliberate in staying faithful to your husband/wife emotionally, socially, physically…guard yourself, no compromising situations, going the extra mile…you know yourself, your temptations.
In the days of Malachi, the prophet is writing to people who were not taking their wedding vows seriously READ Mal. 2:15… the people are wondering why the spark has gone from their relationship with God. Why says God? ~ because you are not taking any of your commitments seriously ~ the marriage covenant is one major example in Malachi of the people taking their commitments for granted. When you are in turmoil with other people you are in turmoil with God! “Guard yourselves in your spirit… do not break faith” stay faithful… in Mal. 2:17 the prophet goes on to explain that God is wearied by the inconsistency of the people, “words” they are fooling themselves, living with an illusion, justifying themselves…
One person talks about the danger of fooling yourself: “I had just started to back the van away from the loading area. In my rearview mirror I saw two semi trucks side by side. I had plenty of clearance. Just then it appeared that one of the trucks was moving into my path. I stopped. But then I realized that the other truck was actually backing up, creating the illusion that the standing semi was moving forward. An illusion, according to the dictionary, is an "erroneous perception of reality." Sleight-of-hand artists use it to "do the impossible." Most illusions are harmless, but some can be fatal. In a desert, chasing a mirage that looks like water can lead to death.
… the most dangerous illusions are the spiritual and moral ones that people are so prone to believe. In Malachi 2, the Israelites were breaking their marriage vows (vv.14-16). They knew that God hates divorce (v.16), yet they were saying, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord" (v.17). (Dennis J. De Haan) Living by an illusion…
There are biblical reasons for divorce. When the covenant is severed, divorce is allowed. The message of Malachi: don’t you be the one to break the covenant. Examine yourself and take your covenant seriously. “Do not break faith with the wife of your youth” is says in Mal. 2:15... “Guard yourself in your spirit…Do not break faith” Mal. 2:16.
Biblical reasons for divorce. When the covenant is severed and there is no marriage, divorce is allowed! As a very young pastor feeling all alone and inexperienced in San Francisco, a former member of the church living across the Bay Bridge in Oakland called and asked if she could see me. She came and explained her husband recently physically beat her for the umpteenth time. This time something was different. He beat her in front of their small children. As he had her on the ground one of the small children jumped on daddy’s back. Her husband flung the child off, unharmed, but shocked the mother: “I can take the beatings, but now the beatings have escalated involving the children. What should I do?” I could not think of a scripture that specifically said you may divorce a husband that beats you, but I knew beating your wife was a violation of the marriage covenant. I assumed the woman was asking for help. I started exploring the idea of moving in with relatives; she could not think of any. I explored the idea of emergency shelters for women and children. She just stared at me. Then the woman said one of the most shocking things I’ve heard in my entire pastoral ministry: “Doesn’t the Bible say the wife is supposed to be obedient to her husband?” it was my turn to stare at her! I finally understood ~ the woman wanted to hear me say she was supposed to be an obedient wife. She left, conflicted…, and I never heard from her again...
“I hate divorce” God declares. Doesn’t everybody? In my experience those who hate divorce the most are those who have been divorced. To be intimate with another, share your thoughts, your heart, yourself, “till death do us part” and then divorced… Don’t be the one to break that covenant! The Bible gives two grounds for divorce: sexual immorality (Matt. 5:32; 19:9) and abandonment (1 Cor. 7:15). Even in these two instances, though, divorce is not required. Clearly an opportunity for repentance and reconciliation is to part of the equation…
Are there any grounds for divorce beyond what the Bible explicitly says? The most frequent additional thoughts are spousal abuse (emotional or physical), child abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), addiction to pornography, drug / alcohol use, crime / imprisonment, and mismanagement of finances (such as through a gambling addiction). My personal filter is to consider the marriage covenant ~ at what point is it broken? The believer should first look for a resolution through repentance and forgiveness. Yet things happen. And God hates divorce. And so do you. Divorce affects the husband and wife, children, the larger family, and society…
You know why God hates divorce? Promise keeping is the foundation for stability and for building each other up. It is the basis for peace and assurance. But I believe there is even a more fundamental and basic reason for why God hates divorce: BECAUSE GOD HAS BEEN DIVORCED. He knows the pain of what it is to be rejected by those whom he has made a commitment! ….
For those of you who have suffered from being torn apart by divorce, whether in your own marriage or the marriage of family or friends, take encouragement from the fact that God can sympathize with you! Listen to these verses:
The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. Although I was like a husband to them, they did not keep that covenant. (Jer. 31:31-32).
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (John 3:36)
And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. (1 Chron. 28:9)
Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26)
Marriage is a profound relationship based on a covenant between a man and woman, not so different as the covenant God has offered every one of us. Marriage is designed by God to be an inseparable, spiritual union glued together with absolute faithfulness and loving companionship. God hates divorce because he has experienced divorce. He wants wholeness, faithfulness, stick-to-itiveness. Keep your promises. Embrace those to whom you are honored to be married. Pray for strong and healthy marriages among us.
Marriage is wonderful. When a husband and wife work together with the Holy Spirit, it is one of the most amazing experiences any human can ever have. Ecc. 4:9-12: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
When two cords of husband and wife are bound together, they are not easily broken. But braid in a third cord, going from a good marriage to a great marriage. When three strands are woven together the cords are not quickly broken. The third cord is God.
Postscript: The Best Sermon of all are the amazing examples of marriage among us. Today we honor those that have been married 50 years or more! No words are needed, but I invite any of the nine couples who are in this church if they want to say anything, the floor is yours. We want to simply say thank you for your encouragement, your example, your love for each other, your inspiration. We honor and appreciate you….Jack will hand a red balloon.
Pictured in the photo are eight of the couples, from left to right:
Joe and Bernita Bronkema
Dwayne and Barbara Dunlap
Al and Geri Carlson
Bob and Dorothy Bronkema
Horace and Mary Stokes
Jerry and Norma Stenevich
Richard and Karen Larson
Herb and Grace Killam
(not pictured is Jim and Mary Gonser)