TAKE RADICAL STEPS TO NURTURE AND PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGE — MATTHEW 5: 27-32
Some background thoughts to give context to these verses on marriage:
1) Marriage is a reflection of the Trinity and also a reflection of Christ and the church (His bride). So our marriage relationship can be a powerful testimony of the relational oneness in the Trinity and of how Jesus loves us His church, His bride. The "relationship" in our marriage is the third and separate part of the marriage "trinity". We can no longer just think, "what is best for me" but only what is best for "the relationship" for that is what is ultimately best for both parties. "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–" " each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself." (Ephesians 5:28-29,33)
2) Marriage is also to be a testimony of the faithfulness of God to His "wife", His people, believers with whom He has made a covenant as we have made a covenant with our spouses. And He will never divorce us.
3) Marriage and children from marriage is God’s design from the beginning (Genesis 1:27-28, 2:21-25). It is God’s plan and the fundamental structure of society. God wants "godly seeds" godly children, and a godly marriage contributes greatly to the spiritual and emotional wholeness of our children. "Has not the LORD made them (man and wife) one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth."(Malachi 2:15)
So In light of all a godly marriage represents and the implications it can have in our society, we need to do everything we can to protect and nurture our marriages even taking radical steps (whatever it takes) to avoid anything that would harm our marriages. So Jesus is uses hyperbole ("gouge out your right eye", etc.) to make a strong point: take radical steps to protect your marriage. This does not call for mutilation of the body but mortification of the "flesh" by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:13)
In Temptations Men Face by Tom Eisenman he lists "lusting in our hearts" as the second step of twelve that leads to actually committing adultery. Jesus always got to the point, the bottom line in dealing with issues. Most all men struggle with lust and need help such as a support group for accountability that can prevent sinning in even more hurtful ways through adultery and divorce. (See James 5:16) But the greatest antidote is a growing intimacy with the Lord. Satan has taken our strong desire for communion and intimacy and perverted it saying that sexual pleasure will meet that need. The closer we are to the Lord the more we want to please Him and find our highest pleasure through intimacy with Him.
God warns us to take radical action to avoid divorce because it is very painful and it wrongly reflects Him and His character of faithfulness to us His bride.
Divorce is not an unforgivable sin but we also need to take radical steps if we have gone through a divorce: First of all, get right with God by confessing yours sins that contributed to the divorce. Confess and repent of any sinful actions or attitudes on your part even the sin of not taking every possible step to save the marriage. This may include asking your former wife for forgiveness for any sins the Lord reveals to you. This may also involve asking your children for forgiveness for the sins you committed that contributed to the divorce and the hurt it has caused them. Make sure you have forgiven your former wife "from the heart" (Matthew 18:35) for any sins she committed against you in the marriage.
In 1Corinthians 7: 10-11 Paul instructs us to remain unmarried if our divorced spouse has not remarried to give opportunity for reconciliation. But If you are considering remarriage tell your prospective wife that you have truly repented for all your sins against your former wife and ask her, if she is divorced, if she has done the same. If you detect unforgiveness and bitterness against her former husband it is a red flag. Strongly encourage her to get counseling and work toward forgiveness.
Recommended books on Marriage: Every Man’s Marriage by Steve Aterburn and Fred Stoeker; The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason; Temptations Men Face by Tom Eisenman