2Co 7:3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.
Paul’s use of the above verse is not concerning marriage but Christian love in general especially when it comes to the church’s love and commitment to Paul and his towards them. It is an astounding statement of love. As I was meditating on Christian love and commitment I naturally started applying it to the marriage relationship.
True love is a commitment to the ultimate good of its object and so Christians should be committed to death when it comes to marriage. When divorce is always on the table it will be difficult to take the time and make the effort to work through the problems that marriage will bring. This is why living together without marriage is setting the relationship up for failure; it makes it easy to walk away instead of working through problems. A spouse who knows that their partner is committed to them for life and will put forth the effort to learn how to live with them in love will find it much easier to respond in kind. How many marriages would thrive if there is commitment to live and to die together?
But there is a kind of twisted side to this that I have seen of late. Sometimes it seems that the commitment is not to love your spouse to the end or not to love the Lord until the end but to stay married to the end. Paul is saying above that he is committed to love to death, not to force his leadership over them until death. If we have entered marriage committed to the fact that divorce is the ultimate sin then we might also be setting ourselves up for failure. There is nothing more pathetic than for a couple to say that they don’t believe in divorce and so just endure each other in “obedience” to the Lord. A commitment that doesn’t put the Lord and others first from the heart is just a miserable relationship. Maybe too often we think we are honoring the Lord by staying legally married but we really dishonor him because we make little effort to lavish love on each other and have a good marriage and instead just “stay married”.
I am certainly not advocating divorce apart from the biblical parameters, but the idea that all God cares about is not divorcing or separating but that it is okay to have an ungodly, unloving relationship is ludicrous. I have seen too many men (and I have struggled with this myself) who think the key to a happy marriage is that their wives submit to them in everything. But they don’t hold themselves to the same standard. The key to a happy marriage is not for a woman to just do as she is told but to love your wife as Christ loved you. For a Christian to say that divorcing me or leaving me is wrong but don’t expect me to do the right thing is just hypocritical.
If we make staying together no matter how miserable the marriage is the ultimate goal, then we can be tempted to not work on being a loving spouse. To be an unloving, harsh husband and father that brings misery and an unfulfilled life on your wife and family is every bit as sinful as divorce.
Again, I am not saying that it is okay to divorce someone because they don’t love well, but husbands and wives must be held accountable to make their spouse want to stay married to them and not hold to the idea that divorce is wrong whether I change or not. The greatest sin we can commit is to not love others as Christ has loved us. Divorce is result of the failure to love like this in one way or another.