Marriage Failures

Sermon for Sunday, July 16, 2017

Marriage Failures

I had a business professor say onetime that there was value in studying why businesses fail.  I think that is wise.  There is also value in understanding why marriages fail.  If we know why marriages fail, then we can correct what we are doing wrong.

Marriage failure in Jesus day:

Matthew 19:

[3] Some Pharisees came to him to test him.  They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

[4] “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ [5] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  [6] So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

[7] “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

[8] Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning.  [9] I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Context:  The context of this text is that Jesus answering the Pharisees when they test him regarding the subject of marriage.  Note some things about this context:
1) The reason they ask him is to test him.
2) The question is controversial in their day.

Marriage in Jesus’ day:

Our world today is becoming more and more like the world in Jesus’ day when it comes to marriage.

In the first century world, sexual immorality and divorce were acceptable in Roman and Greek culture.  Sexual immorality was permissible for men but often frowned upon for women.  Divorce could be instigated for both men and women.

An important point: Just because this was the prevailing culture does not mean everyone did it.

Among Jews in Jesus day, divorce was practiced among the Jews but it was controversial.  Women could not instigate divorce.

I once thought polygamy was also widespread and I interpreted one of Paul’s qualifications of elders as referring to this (“husband of one wife” 1 Timothy 3:2).  I have learned since that polygamy was rare then like it is today.  Sexual immorality and divorce, however, were not.  Many people did not bother with marriage but lived together. 

Marriage today has become more like marriage in Jesus’ day:

1) The cultural acceptance of sexual immorality.

2) The increase in divorce.

A difference today is that women are more independent and do not need marriage as they did in Jesus’ day.  This has resulted in an increases in:

1) Couples living together before marriage.

2) Couples living together with no plans for marriage.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports:  “Cohabitation, once rare, is now the norm: The researchers found that more than half (54 percent) of all first marriages between 1990 and 1994 began with unmarried cohabitation. They estimate that a majority of young men and women of marriageable age today will spend some time in a cohabiting relationship.  Cohabiting relationships are less stable than marriages and that instability is increasing, the study found.”

Interesting marriage failure statistics:

1) Cohabiting couples have twice the breakup rate of married couples.

2) And yet, about 42 percent of all first marriages end in divorce.

3) Couples who divorce become poorer than couples who stay married.

Failures of men that lead to divorce:

1) Men who do not try to hold down a steady job.

Work is honorable and good for all Christians.  The Bible says, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28).  Work is not a curse because of sin but a blessing from God.  Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were told to work in the garden (Genesis 2:15).  Not working is contrary to God’s plan, and Paul gave this rule to the church: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Some people choose not to work even when it means not providing for their families.  However, the Bible says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

Some men marry women who support them so they do not have to work.  I have seen some men work harder at not working than if they actually worked.

When they do work, it is only for a short time because they always find something wrong with their jobs.

2) Men who abuse drugs or alcohol.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  There are two things taught in this verse relative to addictive behavior. 

First, self-denial is possible.  To follow Christ, disciples can and must deny themselves all kinds of gratification that is not in keeping with the lifestyle of Christ.  In contrast, addiction makes the self the center of everything, which is incompatible with the Christian lifestyle. 

Second, the idea of taking up a cross indicates that we are to live in the way of the cross, as when Jesus bore his own cross, or when Simon from Cyrene was enlisted to bear Jesus’ cross (Luke 23:26). 

Cross bearing suggests that the choice one is asked to make regarding Christian behavior is not always an easy choice.  Addiction is also a choice, although it may not be an easy choice.

3) Men who are not sexually faithful.

God told Hosea, “Go show your love to your wife” (Hosea 3:1).

Hebrews 13:

[4] Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

4) Men who do not attend religious services regularly with their wives.

5) Men who are not emotionally engaged with their wives.

The Success Sequence for Families:

There is a relation between poverty and family disintegration.  In communities where there is a high rate of out-of-wedlock births, there is a corresponding higher rate of poverty and crime.  

Researchers have discovered a success sequence that seems to be an insurance against poverty.

The evidence is in “The Millennial Success Sequence,” published by the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies and written by Wendy Wang of the IFS and W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia and AEI.

The point of the success sequence is that if you do any of the listed things, you must do them in sequence.

Just because you want something now does not mean you need it now.  Remember, wanting is half of having.

Success sequence:

1) Get a high-school diploma.

2) Get a job.

3) Get married.

4) Have children.

The point: These must be done in sequence; that is, you do not have children before you get married, you do not get married before you get a job, and so on.

Marriage benefits:

Ecclesiastes 4:

[9] Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

[10] 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.

[11] Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?

[12] Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

This passage reveals four benefits from being a couple:

1) Mutual effort: 

[9] Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

The work of living is easier when you share it with someone.  The work of making a living, of handling pressures, of dealing with disappointments. 

2) Mutual support: 

[10] 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.

This is a fear of growing old, and shows the need for assisted living. 

Note the blessing of having a partner around when you are feeling down.  Seldom are both down at the same time!

3) Mutual encouragement:

[11] Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?

Note this is literally true when you share the same bed with someone in marriage.

4) Mutual strength. 

[12] Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

J B Myers

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