Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Ephesians 5:25, 28-29, 31
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it…So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth itm even as the LORD the church…so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For this cause shall am an leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
1 Peter 3:7-9
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
This week, I heard the news of several long term marriages that are ending in divorce. The marriages to which I am referring were between people who are not believers, but for whatever reason, my heart is broken for them nevertheless. Marriage was created by God…He is the inventor and the source of all marriage relationships. I believe that even in marriages occupied by those who are not believers in the LORD Jesus Christ, the same marriage covenant applies.
I looked the word “covenant” up in the dictionary. The definitions found in the dictionary do not include the one that God placed in His Word. God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, which says,
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
God made this promise to Abraham and He has kept it, even to this day. God told Abraham that He would make him a great nation. God has done that; as we know, Israel is the center of the earthly universe. It is the greatest nation on the earth. It has the strongest military on earth and the wealthiest people. God promised Abraham that He would bless Abraham’s family, and He has done so. God promised that He would make Abraham’s name great, and we know that is true. Here we are, some 4,000 to 5,000 years later, and we are still talking about Abraham. We recognize him as the father of the nation of Israel. We also recognize him as the patriarch of the Christian community, because we are known as the “seed of Abraham” (2 Corinthians 11:22). God promised Abraham that he would be a blessing to the world. Abraham has been that, because through his seed, the Christ Child was born. God promised Abraham that He would bless anyone that blessed the nation of Israel. Here in America, we are the recipients of those blessings because of our history of allegiance with the nation of Israel. There have been times that we have not been faithful to Israel as we should have been, and our country has suffered because of that. But for the most part, we have been blessed partially because we have mainly stood on the right side, which is on Israel’s side. And to note: now we are in a really good place since our current president has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and took the measures to have our embassy moved to its new location in Jerusalem. God also said that He would curse those who curse Israel. As I said before, there have been times that America has not been faithful to our position as Israel’s ally, and we have incurred God’s wrath during those times. God says what He means and means what He says in His Word concerning His chosen people, Israel. We can see how every family on the earth has been blessed by the nation of Israel. If we look at the entertainment industry in America, most of the powerful people in places like Hollywood and New York are Jewish. Many of the owners of the sports teams and people who control the billion dollar sports industry in the United States are Jewish. These are the people who have not only provided the entertainment that we enjoy, but they have also made America the richest nation on earth through their entertainment venues. God’s promise to Abraham has been a blessing to all of the world in more ways than we can count!
My point in all that is that God kept His promise to Abraham. The promise that God made is unbreakable, which is why it is called a covenant. None of the definitions found in the dictionary for the word “covenant” included the word “unbreakable”. The only definitions that I found that were even remotely close to scripture were:
- the conditional promises made to humanity by God, as revealed in Scripture.
- the agreement between God and the ancient Israelites, in which God promised to protect them if they kept His law and were faithful to Him.
God’s promise to Abraham was not based on any conditions. God did not tell Abraham that the promises were only good if he kept the law. As a matter of fact, at the time that God made the covenant with Abraham, He had not yet given the law. The only instruction God gave Abraham was to leave his family home. So, you see how the definition lacks a very important part of what a covenant really is.
All that said, marriage is like the covenant that God made with Abraham: it is not to be broken. Marriage is between one man and one woman for life. Marriage is a picture of Jesus Christ’s relationship with the church. Jesus is called the “bridegroom” in Matthew 9 and 25, Mark 2, Luke 5, John 2 and 3, and Revelation 18. Jesus Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the bride, in Revelation 18, 21 and 22. I point these passages out because never do you read where Jesus leaves His bride. Jesus would never abandon the church the way husbands abandon their wives these days. That is not to say that husbands are the only ones who leave the marriage, but as of this writing, less than 1% of the marriages that have been destroyed are because the wife decided to leave. It appears that no one knows that marriage is a covenant. A covenant is an UNBREAKABLE promise. The vows that two people make at the altar in front of God, each other, a minister, a judge, a magistrate, family and friends are vows that are never to be broken until death.
Last year, a friend’s mother went home to be with the LORD. She left her husband behind, after 61 years of marriage. I know they went through difficult times in their marriage, but never once did I hear that they were on the verge of separation. Another friend’s dad passed away leaving his wife of 51 years. They did struggle in their marriage, and they actually separated for a few months, but they honored the covenant and worked out their issues, and he took very good care of his wife, leaving her financially comfortable after his death. Billy and Ruth Graham were married for 64 years before her death. George Beverly Shea and his first wife, Emma, were married for 42 years before her death, and he and his second wife, Karlene, were married for 28 years before his death. Franklin Graham and his wife, Jane, have been married for 44 years. Adrian and Joyce Rogers were married for 54 years before he went home to be with the LORD in 2005. I mention all these long marriages because these people knew that marriage is a “covenant”. Even through the difficult times, these couples honored the COVENANT.
Today, my heart is broken for the covenant. No longer do people who claim the Name of Christ honor the promise that they made to Him and their spouse to “love, honor and cherish” for as long as they both live. The rate of divorce within the church community is the same as it is outside the church community. Breaking a promise is equal to sin, and God will allow NO SIN to go unpunished. 1 John 2:4 says “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I find it hard to believe that Christian men who walk away from the promise that they made to God and their wives is really a Christian at all. True Christians love the LORD with all their heart and strive to serve Him with every area of their lives. True Christians want to please the LORD. True Christians are convicted when they do wrong, and leaving the person with whom they have made a covenant is a sin of the highest order.
One of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite theologians, Dr. Erwin Lutzer says “God hold fathers accountable for their wives and children.” If you are a wife who has been abandoned by your husband and you are struggling emotionally, spiritually and financially, take comfort in the fact that your Father in heaven sees all and knows all. Every tear you cry will be counted to your husband’s account on the day of judgment. Every sleepless night will be counted to your husband’s account on the day of judgment. Every bill you couldn’t pay, every time the enemy attacked your mind or heart, every time your children were hurting or disappointed or feeling like less than what God made them will all be counted to your husband’s account on the day of judgment. As much as it pains me to think of anyone suffering God’s judgment, it comforts me to know that the man who promised me he would always take care of me is not going to get away with leaving my children and me to fend for ourselves.