Let No One Separate

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce? Finding God's Truth

Dan Franklin
Feb 4, 2024    46m
Struggling with marriage issues and wondering "what does the Bible say about divorce"? This sermon explores Jesus' teachings on God's intentions for marriage, faithfulness, and biblical grounds for divorce, providing guidance for Christians navigating this difficult topic. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Rich Shores: [00:00:18] Well, good morning church. I don't know if you know this, but you've been miraculously transported to the Pacific Northwest by our weather outside. I myself, I'm from south of Seattle, so I'm eating this up while I can. My name is Rich Shores, and I have the privilege of being one of the leaders of the Go Team to Baja, along with my dear friend Curt Eyster. And what we do is over Memorial Day weekend, we go down to Mexico and we're going to be building three houses this year. We heard from pastor Hunter last week about being a participant, and if you are still on the fence a little bit, you don't need to have construction skills, I'll tell you that, you just need to have a servant's heart. But if you're still on the fence, let me share something with you, I was going through my phone, this past week and came across this quote that I feel is pretty appropriate considering what we do for Go Teams, "His purpose is always found on the other side of the border of my comfort zone." And that convicted me, and I'm leading this thing, so I've got to get out of my comfort zone. So if, if, if you have that servant's heart, I ask you, if you can't participate physically, prayer, financially, whatever, please, help support our Go Teams that go and spread the gospel.

Rich Shores: [00:01:46] Let me share with you today's passage of Scripture that we'll be hearing in the sermon today, it's going to be in Matthew 19, verses 1 through 12, "When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3Some 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,’ 5and 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’? 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 10The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” 11Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” This is God's word. You may be seated.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:36] Well, good morning. So this morning, as we enter back into our series through the Gospel of Matthew, we find the nation of Israel in a pretty tense situation, and really the tension is there because of Jesus. Jesus is this upstart rabbi who didn't go to their seminaries, didn't go through their routes and their avenues for becoming a rabbi, he's sort of outside the system. And as he's outside the system, he's also approaching things differently than is normal. He's not only teaching, but he's teaching as if he himself has authority, saying to people, you've heard it said, but I say to you. And beyond this, he's also doing amazing things like performing miracles and healing people. And so the Pharisees, the religious leaders in Israel, they're concerned about this. And part of the concern, admittedly, is just petty jealousy on their parts. They're looking at the situation, and they're saying when there's a question about God or the Bible or spirituality, we want people coming to us, not to Jesus. So there's some petty jealousy, but on top of the petty jealousy, there's a deeper concern. And the deeper concern is if Jesus ends up causing some unrest or some kind of revolution among the people, then Rome, our occupier, is going to come in and make our lives even more difficult than it already is. So the Pharisees feel like something needs to be done.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:11] At this point in the story, in Matthew 19, where we are today, they haven't yet come to the conclusion that they need to do something violent or legal against Jesus. At this point, they think maybe we can do something that will curb his popularity. And the way that they want to curb his popularity is that they say, what if we ask him about a controversial question and make him take a position that will alienate half the people listening to him? You see this happen in politics all the time, a reporter goes to a politician and really tries to nail them down. No, you're not going to get away with that, you need to give an answer, you need to take a position. And whatever position they take, half the people around them are going to be upset about it. So they say, let's do that with Jesus, let's make him take a position, and the controversial issue that they choose for this tactic is the issue of divorce. Now, I know it's hard to imagine any scenario in which divorce would be an uncomfortable subject, but just trust me, it was in first-century Israel. I know today that's unimaginable. Do you want to get a room quiet, just talk about divorce. See. So it's an uncomfortable subject now, and it was an uncomfortable subject then. And so they decide to go to Jesus, and they say, we're going to make him take a side in either way, this is going to curb his popularity.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:41] So in Matthew, chapter 19, verse 3, we read, "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?” And there's a specific reason why they worded the question this way, it's because in the first century, amongst the Jewish people, there was a debate about what scenarios allowed for divorce. And there were two schools of thought, and each school of thought was sort of headed by a well-known rabbi. So on one side of the debate was Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Hillel had a stricter view on the subject. His basic take was that divorce is only permitted when there's been marital unfaithfulness, when there's been a sexual affair, in that case, divorce is allowed, but in no other case is divorce allowed. But then the other school of thought was led by a rabbi named Shammai, and Rabbi Shammai's position is what's reflected in this question, here he broadened out the umbrella under which divorce would be permissible. No longer would it be relegated just to the situation where there's been sexual infidelity, now, it would cover a whole lot of ways that a wife could potentially displease a husband that would legitimate his divorce, including, and I promise I'm not making this up, including if she burns his dinner or if he finds a prettier woman. A massive umbrella to cover any way that a man would say, I'm no longer pleased with my wife, I need to divorce her. Now by the way, just put yourself in the sandals of a first century Israelite, which position do you think was gaining in popularity? It was the second position. Sometimes I think here in the 21st-century United States, we can look back and we can say, well, whenever we talk about divorce, we need to understand our culture is so different than theirs. And it's true, it is. But we almost imagine, man, in first-century Israel, they almost couldn't fathom a divorce, it was so rare. That's not true, because of this controversy, divorce was becoming increasingly common in first-century Israel, which made this a real controversial topic.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:00] Jesus is being put in a no-win situation. If, on the one hand, he takes the stricter view and says no, only in cases of adultery, then that's going to put all of the people who have gotten divorced, or maybe thinking they want to get a divorce, under the more permissive view, at odds with him. On the other hand, if Jesus takes the more permissive view and he has a massive umbrella under which divorce is allowed, all the people who really revere the scriptures are no longer going to respect him because he took a position just to please the people. Jesus is in a no-win situation. He's in a no-win situation in the first century Israel, and let's be honest, he's in a no-win situation in this room right now. This is a tough position, this is a tough topic for Jesus to teach us on because we all come to it with our own opinions, but we also all come to this with our own baggage. We have baggage over a variety of different things, and there's not a person in this room that, at least in some way, doesn't have baggage related to divorce. Maybe your parents got divorced and you're still carrying around pain or blame or questions about that. Maybe you got a divorce, and it could have been for a variety of different reasons, maybe you were the initiator of the divorce, or maybe you were the person who was sort of forced into a divorce because we have no-fault divorce in the state of California, maybe it's a divorce that you regret, maybe you don't regret it, it could be a variety of different subjects. But you don't come to this as a blank slate saying, I'm just curious about what Jesus says, you come to this with baggage, and you feel a little uncomfortable that there might be something said that's going to make you feel upset. Jesus is in a difficult position as he's going to answer this question, but here's what I want you to know about how Jesus handles this. Jesus shows he has zero interest in getting into a technical, very specific debate about when divorce is allowed and when divorce is not allowed. Jesus instead is interested in a very different question, which is what is God's attitude towards marriage and divorce in general? And how does that guide us on a question like this?

Dan Franklin: [00:11:21] So we see Jesus start to answer this no-win situation in verse 4, he responds and he says, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5and 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’ Now here's why Jesus' answer here is weird, it's weird because the Pharisees, when they asked this question, they have a specific Bible passage in mind that they want Jesus to weigh in on. If you want to look it up later, it's Deuteronomy 24, verses 1 through 4, that's the whole question of can a man divorce his wife for any and every reason. They want Jesus to weigh in on that, and Jesus instead quotes a whole different part of the Bible. He doesn't quote Deuteronomy, what does he quote? Now, for those of you who know, this is Genesis. And not just Genesis, this is the very beginning of Genesis, Genesis 1, and Genesis 2 are the two chapters he quotes from here. Jesus says, I'm not interested in the Deuteronomy passage right now, I want to go back further than that, I want to go back all the way to the beginning and talk about God. Although he doesn't say God, what does he say? The creator.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:38] Jesus is really wanting us to go all the way back to the beginning, in the beginning, there was a creator, and the creator made mankind male and female. Which didn't mean that every male and every female was going to end up getting married, but it set up a scenario in which marriage could happen. And then he quotes Genesis 2 when he says, "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will be one flesh." Jesus says, let's go all the way back before we get into our petty discussions about when exactly divorce is allowed, let's go all the way back to the beginning and remember, the marriage wasn't even our idea. It's not something that human beings came up with and said we need something in order to bond us together and keep families together. He says this wasn't our idea, this was God's idea. Marriage is a gift from God, not an invention from human beings. And marriage was clearly given so that a man and a woman would be in a lifelong commitment together, the two would become one flesh.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:44] And Jesus parlays this into a pronouncement that he then makes in verse 6, he says, "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Now at every wedding that I have the privilege of doing, I say this at the end, "What God has joined together, let no one separate. And the language here points us towards some really powerful realities. the first powerful reality is that it points us toward the idea that God sees himself as the one who ultimately joins every man and woman who are married together. When I do a wedding, I get to make a pronouncement over that couple, I now pronounce you husband and wife. But according to this passage, who ultimately is overseeing every wedding? It's God, god has a vested interest in this. God says, I joined you together, and if I joined you together, who in the world has the audacity to look to undo something that God has done? The language here for separation is violent language because if there are one flesh, this is an amputation going on, this is a violent act for them to be separated. And even in our culture, as much as we try to separate this out and make divorce something that's very amicable, it not only brings deep carnage from the two spouses, but it also brings deep carnage to any children involved. God is a God of redemption; I'm not saying it's irrevocable. What I am saying is there is violence that happens when a marriage is torn apart. And Jesus says, the audacity of anybody thinking, God's brought this together, I'm going to separate it. The audacity of any husband to say, you know what? I know I'm married to her, but I've found a better woman. The idea of any wife to say, yeah, I know I'm married to him, but I think I could do something better with my life. The idea of any third party trying to slip in and cause chaos, or cause dissension, or cause separation, Jesus says, "What God has joined together, let no one separate. He backs us up and he says, you guys want to tinker with the specifics about when technically divorce is allowed, but I want to back up and remind you about what marriage is, and marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman where nothing except death parts them.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:27] And part of the reason why this is so intense for God is because consistently in the Old Testament, God chooses as one of his illustrations about how we relate to him, the illustration of marriage. He depicts himself as a husband to his wife, Israel, and he's faithful to Israel, even when Israel is a really difficult wife to him. You get into the New Testament, and you get Ephesians 5, where the apostle Paul tells us that marriage is a picture of the gospel, that that the husband is meant to be a picture of Christ who loves and sacrifices for his bride, the church, and that the wife gets the privilege of representing the church and responding to her groom, and respecting her groom, and coming under his protection. That marriage is something that's not even about you and I, that marriage is something that has a much bigger purpose. And what Jesus says, what God has joined together, let's have none of us have the audacity to separate it.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:33] But the Pharisees know something, they have another card up their sleeve, and they say, well, wait a second, we know that even though Jesus, you seem to be saying this, and to this point, I think we all would agree, Jesus seems to be giving no scenario in which divorce should be on the table so far. But the Pharisees say, well, wait a second, there's a Bible passage that talks about divorce. And so in verse 7, they interrupt, and they say, “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” They're referencing Deuteronomy 24, and they ask it in a little bit of a deceptive way, they almost make it sound like God commanded certain people to get a divorce, that's not the case at all. But creeping behind their bad motives is a legitimate question here, and here's the legitimate question. They're saying, Jesus, you seem to be depicting this as if divorce should never be on the table, but if that's the case, why do we have a Bible passage that tells us what to do in the case of a divorce? Shouldn't the Bible passage just say you shouldn't be in this situation, so don't worry about it. But instead, it gives instructions about what to do in the situation where a divorce has taken place. So it's a legitimate question hiding behind there, why if divorce seemingly should never be on the table, are there Bible passages that tell us what to do in the case of a divorce?

Dan Franklin: [00:18:54] And Jesus once again responds with the big picture in mind. In verse 8 he says, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard." But again he gives that reminder that it was not this way from the beginning. God didn't give us the gift of marriage, saying, hey, sometimes it'll work out, sometimes it won't. If it doesn't work out, don't feel bad about it, no hard feelings. That's not what God did, God gave the gift of marriage to be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. So Jesus says it wasn't this way from the beginning, that it wouldn't even be permitted, that it would even be on the table. But he says, all right, you were permitted, God through Moses, he did permit you to divorce your wives, but the only reason this concession was even given was because your hearts were hard.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:43] Now, quick segue on this, there's a certain Old Testament character who is associated with a hard heart. Some of you are going to know this person if you're part of men's Wednesday night Bible study, and you're studying through Exodus right now, this person should be easy for you to cite. What Old Testament character was known for having a hard heart? Pharaoh. This is not a character you want to be associated with. Pharaoh in the story of Moses in the book of Exodus, who enslaved the Israelites, killed their babies, and then kept them enslaved despite the consistent ways that God showed his power off to Egypt. Pharaoh, who consistently refused to listen to God or to be responsive to him. Pharaoh, who would have been on the Mount Rushmore of Jewish enemies and antagonists if you were a first-century Jew. And Jesus says, you guys are like Pharaoh, you've got hard hearts, you're unresponsive to God, and that's why you end up in a scenario where he allows for divorce. Now, Jesus is not saying here that if you've been divorced, then it was because of your hard heart. But he's saying if you're divorced, it was because of at least one hard heart. This is not something that happened because two people looked to follow Jesus, tried their absolute hardest, and just had to part. It's because at least one of those people had a hard heart toward God that led them into sin which led to the divorce.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:24] Some of you are listening to this, and one of the reasons why this is uncomfortable is because you feel like you are a victim of divorce. We have a no-fault divorce that was basically thrust upon you, and there was really not much you could do about it. So please hear me when I say this, I know there are a whole bunch of different scenarios that end up in divorce, but what Jesus is saying is none of the scenarios that lead to divorce are two good-hearted people trying to do their absolute best. It's because of the hardness of heart.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:53] And then he makes another pronouncement in verse 9, where he says, "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Now we're going to get to that, except for sexual immorality in a second. I know a lot of you, your eyes went straight to that, and I understand why. But don't miss the bigger picture of what Jesus is saying. He gives one quick exception, he says, all right, I'm going to mention an exception. But here's the big picture of it, the big picture is that in the vast majority of cases, if you get a divorce and you marry somebody else, that's basically equated with adultery because you're being unfaithful to the one that you committed to. By the way, I know everything in this passage is sort of a man divorcing his wife. In Mark, when he records the same story, he has an add-on to this statement that says, and any wife who divorces her husband and marries another commits adultery. He makes sure that it's clear that we're talking about both sides of this situation here. So Jesus says, big picture, he's ramping up the intensity here. He's saying, if you're looking at this and you're saying, well, I had this spouse for a little while, but I'm not super happy right now, I think I'd be happier with them, this isn't a no hard feelings situation. He says that's basically adultery.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:06] Now let's talk about the exception he gives, except for sexual immorality. And here's the problem with what we typically do with that part of the statement. we allow those four words to overshadow the entirety of what Jesus says in this passage. It's like even for some of you, you know, this passage, and so when we started going through it, you were like, oh, this is a passage where Jesus tells us when we're allowed to get divorced. That's a weird summary of this passage. This passage is not Jesus telling us when we can get divorced, this passage is Jesus over and over again, saying, that marriage is a picture of what God wants the world to see he is about, so remain faithful in your marriage, and then he throws in one exception, he says, except for sexual immorality. And a lot of ink has been spilled over this, so you may end up with questions afterward, and that's fine, you can come to me or others if you have questions about how exactly this is to be understood. But the basic understanding of this is that the most clear application of what he's talking about would be an adulterous affair and that there might be some other things that would fall under that umbrella, but basically, the most common scenario would be that he'd be talking about an adulterous affair. It seems that Jesus is saying, gosh, in that case, the marriage has been broken in such a way that divorce is not demanded, in fact, there are people in here who have experienced health and joy on the other side of infidelity, even within their marriage. But he says in this case, there's going to be permission given for divorce.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:49] And I think what a lot of us want to do, is we want to then say, all right, but what else fits under that legitimate divorce umbrella? What else fits under this that would allow for divorce to take place? All right, so Paul, in First Corinthians 7, talks about abandonment, the idea that sometimes you're a Christian married to a non-Christian, and the non-Christian abandons you. And he says, all right, if that's going to happen, just let them go, that's all right, you're not bound under that. Which seems to mean you're allowed to let the divorce go through and get remarried, that's okay. We try to figure out ways to stuff everything that we can under these umbrellas, and what I just want to give as a warning for all of us is to say, if you're ever in a situation with your marriage where you're saying, am I allowed? Does this count? Does this qualify? Does this meet the criteria where I'm allowed to get a divorce? You're asking the wrong question because you're not asking the question, how can I be a part of God bringing restoration into a broken marriage? Jesus is not interested in getting into the minutia of all of this, he's interested in our heart, and our heart on this is that he's saying, don't have a hard heart towards God have a responsive heart toward God, and be willing to move forward with faithfulness in your marriage.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:49] He has ratcheted things up, this is intense, and it's so intense that the disciples feel like they need to chirp in to show how intense they think his words are. In verse 10, "The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” And if you kind of want to laugh at that, it's okay to laugh at that, it's a little bit funny. The disciples are like, if this is really the case, if Jesus, what you're saying is, once I'm married to her, I am married to her for life, then, gosh, maybe we just shouldn't get married because that's a big commitment. There's no escape clause there, that's a big commitment. So maybe we should just not get married. Almost certainly the disciples are being sarcastic here, and here's why, the idea of living as an adult single, especially an adult single man in first-century Israel, was not considered a legitimate option. So they're kind of sarcastically being like, Jesus, what do you want us to do, just not get married? That would be crazy. They're being silly, but Jesus takes it seriously.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:11] Look in verse 11, Jesus says, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.". Here's what Jesus is saying, Jesus is saying, hey, your whole idea about maybe staying single, not everybody can do it, but you should highly consider it. The disciples are like, we were joking. He's like, I'm not joking, this is a legitimate option. And by the way, when he's talking about not getting married, he's not talking about a swinging single life. We're like, I'm not tied down by any woman or by any man, he's talking about singleness and celibacy. Marriage is not a part of your life; sex is not a part of your life, that's what he's talking about right now. They're like, what do you want us to do, not get married? And he's like, consider it. Think about it, it's a real legitimate option. We already know the apostle Paul thought it was a great option, he was like, I wish all of you guys were like me. It's like, it's great, all right, you got a wife, that's fine, but you've got to be worried about making sure she's okay. You've got a husband, that's great, but you've got to be worried about making sure he's okay. He's like, look at me, I can go and travel anywhere and spread the gospel, and I'm not worried about a wife. He is like this is great, you should do it, also. It's considered a legitimate option.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:21] And then Jesus ends with a very strange passage in verse 12. He says, "For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” And I'm just going to say in the little bingo board, who thought eunuchs were going to end this passage? Were you like, yeah, that checks out? If you don't know, in basic terms, a eunuch is somebody who is a man whose sexual organs don't work, you know, for a variety of different reasons. Jesus alludes to it, he says, that sometimes somebody is born with an injury or a deformity, and he's never going to get married because he's not capable of having sex. And then there are other times that an invading army comes in and they castrate some of the men, they make them into eunuchs so that then they can serve in the palace among the women, and there's no fear that an affair is going to take place. And then Jesus says, but then there are people who choose to live like eunuchs, which does not mean self-mutilation, what it means is they're choosing not to get married and to be celibate. Some people are going to do that for the Kingdom of Heaven. Some people are going to get married, and they're going to have a part in the beauty of putting the Gospel of Jesus on display through their marriage, and some are going to stay single and celibate, and through their lives, they're going to be more available for Kingdom work than a married person would be. Some are going to make this choice for the Kingdom of Heaven over the choice of getting married and making sure that you're bound in that marriage for the rest of your life. The disciples make a joke, and Jesus makes it awkward for him. He says you should think about this.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:04] But here's the bigger part of what Jesus is doing all throughout this passage, Jesus is talking not about the technicalities. And I want to say it right now, i know in this sermon, man, if I tried to chase down every question and every rabbit trail about divorce and about remarriage, we'd be here for like seven hours. So some of you, you're going to have legitimate questions afterward, and you're going to say, well, what about this? I mean, what about abuse situations? What about separations? And how does all this work? Legitimate questions, come to me, come to one of the pastors, come to one of the elders, come to your life group leader, and ask those questions. that's all fine. I'm not going to track down every scenario, though. What I am going to do is say Jesus is more concerned with where our heart is toward God and toward marriage. And so he reveals to us God's attitude towards marriage. And then he invites us to this, that our attitude towards marriage and divorce would mirror God's attitude toward marriage and divorce. That instead of looking at marriage as something that we use for our own advantage, we look at it as something beautiful that God has made to put his glory on display. And we realize that Jesus, as our groom, promised to never leave us and never forsake us. And when our marriages reflect that with the kind of faithfulness and hard times, with the kind of faithfulness, when there is strain, when there is conflict, when there is difficulty, when kids are young, when menopause happens, when all of these difficult things take place, throughout each part of that, the faithfulness that we show in marriage is a picture of Jesus's faithfulness toward us.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:38] Our attitude toward marriage and divorce should mirror God's attitude toward marriage and divorce. And so here's what I want to do, I want to make four statements to four kinds of different groups of people in here to talk about what we might do with this.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:56] And the first group that I want to talk to is those of you who have been divorced. So some of you are divorced and you're remarried, some of you are divorced and you're not remarried. Once again, I know that there are 100 different scenarios that got you to where you are. And so please hear me in saying this, man, we want healing and grace for you. Phil was even up here talking about divorce care. We want you to experience God's grace and healing whether this divorce is long in the past or is much more recent. But in light of Jesus' words, I also want to give you this encouragement that Jesus would encourage you to seek the Lord in any way that he's calling you towards repentance and repair related to your divorce. some of you, you're divorced and really, if any of us heard the story, we would say, yeah, that's mostly not your fault, that mostly was the fault of your spouse. And so you might be looking at it right now and you're like, well, that's me, like, I'm divorced, but it was definitely mostly not my fault. You know, maybe you're thinking 10% your fault, maybe you're even like 5% your fault. I'm going to be honest, I don't know your story, but it's probably more than 5. Like, let's be real with ourselves it probably is, maybe it's not. But even if it's 5, even if it's 10, it's worth seeking the Lord and saying, how are you calling me to repent? What was my part in this? Or what was my part in the aftermath of this? Or how did I respond to you in this? In what ways was I hard-hearted in this?

Dan Franklin: [00:33:25] For some of you, this is very scary to do. It's very scary to look back because you're like, if I look back, I'm going to find regret. I don't want to look back, like I'm doing okay right now, I don't want to look back and find regret or or find different ways that I was in sin about this and then have to deal with that. And I totally get why that's scary, I totally get why you'd say I don't want to look back, I just want to move forward. But what I want to say is, first of all, if you're not looking back at this, you're probably missing some healing that you need. There's probably something back there that's so scary that you still need healing on it, and the things that we bury often resurrect. But I also want to say that if you do look back, and you do discover sin that you haven't really dealt with yet, and you're afraid that when you discover that sin, you will be crushed by your sin, I want you to know by God's grace you will not be crushed by your sin. Do you know why? Because Jesus was crushed by your sin. Jesus was crushed by all of our sins. He took our crushing for us. There is nothing any of us are going to discover as we seek to go back into our past and ask God to search us for where we were wrong or where we're in sin, there's nothing any of us are going to discover that wasn't covered by the cross of Jesus. So really, for some of you, this is going to be an opportunity to repent before God, to experience some healing before him, maybe to experience some healing and apologies and repentance before in ex, maybe an opportunity to experience some healing before children who are hurt by this divorce.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:15] And then before moving on, I want to make sure to be clear on one thing, one of the questions that comes up, because of Jesus' words about a second marriage being adultery is that some of you might be sitting here and being like, I divorced and I'm remarried, does that mean that my current marriage is ongoing adultery? Do I need to divorce my second spouse and go back to my first spouse? So to be totally unambiguous, no, don't do that, don't get a divorce, don't divorce your second spouse. You're not allowed to walk out of here being like, Dan told me, I'm supposed to divorce you and go back to them. No, you're not, you're calling is to be faithful to the spouse you are currently married to. But it may mean that if you're being real about this, you need to look back to even the start of your second marriage and say, this thing didn't start right. This thing technically, according to Jesus, started with adultery, so we need to bring that to him. And that doesn't mean that he's telling you you need to get a divorce or stop sleeping together as a married couple, it simply means that you're acknowledging before God the sin that went into that, and then you're looking to be faithful in the marriage that you're in.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:19] Now let me say a word to those of you who are single, single, and never married. First of all, many of you one day will be married. I'm not all of you, but one of you, not one of you. All right, and that person's name is...No, I'm just kidding, I don't know that stuff. Many of you will one day be married, and your attitude towards marriage and divorce right now is going to affect how you handle your marriage in the future. So my encouragement to you is to enter into marriage with a lifelong perspective, and enter into marriage with a lifelong perspective, not with the expectation that things will always be as wonderful as they seem during courtship. I'm not, man. I have an awesome wife in Karina, I love our marriage, but there are times that both of us would say, man, there have been times when we felt estranged from each other, and there have been times where the things that have kept us leaning into our marriage has not been that either of us has looked at the other and been like, you're worth it, it's been that we've both looked at God and said, you're worth it. So I just want to say, man, if you're not married and you're like, well, I'm going to get married and it's going to be different because we're never going to have those times. I'm just telling you that there's going to be, hopefully, it won't be an extended period of time, but if you get married, there will be some portion of your marriage where divorce will seem like it would make you happier than staying in your marriage. And you need to go in with the commitment of saying, God is in this, and I'm going to trust him to lead us through all of the ups and downs of this.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:58] The third group that I want to say a word to is, is all of us, all of us are included in this group because it's anybody that has at least one friend who's married. And my encouragement to you is to be a friend to your friend's marriage. There are too many scenarios where friends, even Christian friends, empower and enable divorce and separation. If you're a believer in Jesus, so if you're a guy like me and you have another friend, if you're hanging out with that friend, his wife should be super glad you're hanging out with that friend. And if you're a woman and you're hanging out with your friend, her husband should be super glad that his wife is hanging out with you, not worried about what's going to happen in this conversation. How are they going to spin things, am I going to end up becoming the villain? Friends, be a friend to your friend's marriage and if you are married, stay away from friends who aren't friends to your marriage. Don't let those friends into the problems that you're having, if they're going to push you towards divorce or resentment or separation.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:06] Man, Karina and I have both been blessed with really good friends who are friends of our marriage. You know, Rich who is up here reading the scripture, he's one of them. If I were to go to Rich or to anybody with complaints about Karina, first of all, they'd be suspicious because they've met both of us. So they would be like, I'm probably on her side, like, I don't know. But even if I had a legitimate gripe, let's say I had a real legitimate gripe in this, and I was going to my friends about it. I can guarantee that each of them, even if they were like, oh yeah, she shouldn't have done that, or that's a legitimate complaint, they would all point me towards what is God calling you to do to look to bring greater health, greater redemption, and greater patience within your marriage? What is God calling you to do to do that? I can guarantee you that not a single one of them, if I came and said I'm thinking about divorce, would say, that's a good idea. And I can also guarantee you that if I ever said to any of these friends I'm thinking about divorce, none of them would ever say to me, Dan, I'll support you either way, they would not say that, and they should not say that. I'm not saying that if I made a really dumb decision, they would never speak to me again, what I am saying is they would not in any way facilitate that happening. If you're married, look for friends of your marriage. If you're a friend, be a friend to that person's marriage.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:35] And finally, to all of us in this room who are married, my encouragement to us is to seek to put Jesus at the center of your marriage and put him on display. Now, in some ways you could say, well, Dan, isn't the application of this for us married folks just don't get divorced. It's like, yes, that's true, that's good, that's a proper application of this. But Jesus' message isn't simply don't get divorced, Jesus' message is marriage is this wonderful gift that God has given us for our joy, for our pleasure, for our thriving, to experience some picture of the kind of closeness that we get to experience with God, and it's also a way that we put the gospel on display. So don't simply make it your goal not to get divorced, although that's better than other scenarios, make it your goal to foster the kind of oneness and togetherness that will make people look at your marriage and say, that's a picture of what God is like to us, of his love and his care and his patience and his commitment.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:45] And I want to actually invite all the married folks in this room to make a commitment today, maybe it's one that you've already made. Here's the commitment I want to invite you to, if there ever comes a time when in your marriage, things are dark enough that divorce is starting to become an option in your mind, you're starting to entertain the idea that this isn't just a far-off scenario, I'm starting to think about this. I'm asking you to make the commitment that at that point, you would bring some Christian leader into your situation, it could be one of the pastors, it could be one of the elders, it could be your life group leader or your Bible study leader. And here's the reason why I ask you to do that, it's not because the person that you would come to would necessarily have all the answers for you, but it is because that would be a way of you bringing things into the light instead of hiding. Too many people have things start to go bad in their marriage and they disappear, and they isolate, and then divorce just seems inevitable because nobody could deal with the problems that they have. When you bring things out into the light, you find out you're not quite alone. You even find out that a lot of people have recovered from worse things than you're going through right now, and you open yourself up to the help or to the counseling that you need to be able to experience growth and freshness within your marriage.

Dan Franklin: [00:43:14] Man, I want our church to be a place where if you've experienced divorce, you get all the grace and all the healing that you can handle from that. But if it's okay to say this even more so, I want us to be a church where we stem the tide so that 20 years from now, we're not dealing with the same kind of carnage from divorce. We don't just want to heal from divorce, we want to save marriages. So there might even be some of you right now that you're like, all right, we're pretty bad right now, things are pretty bad between us right now. I don't know where it's going, and we need help. Open invitation, please go to your life group leader, go to your Bible study leader, go to me, or even start with a member of the prayer ministry team just at least say I need to talk to somebody, start to bring it to the light and anticipate that God has something for you.

Dan Franklin: [00:44:05] And as I say that, and as I get ready to close, I am going to invite the members of the prayer ministry team to go ahead and come forward. You know, every Sunday we do this, and so I want to say, before we go into this, if you decide to come forward, that is not you saying like, I'm on the verge of divorce. If you're on the verge of divorce, though, don't feel bad, this is an opportunity to come forward. But maybe you're saying you know what? Things are pretty good in our marriage, but we feel like we've got a little bit lazy, and we just want to be prayed over that our marriage really would be all that God wants it to be. Maybe you're a single person and you're like, gosh, I'm just afraid that I'm going to end up like so many statistics, and so I just want to pray for God's leading over my life. Maybe you're still healing from a divorce, and you want help with that. Maybe you just need some prayer over some area of your life, the prayer ministry team would love to be a part of your crying out to God.

Dan Franklin: [00:44:58] So let me pray for us as we move into that. Father, thank you so much that even as we think about the best that marriage can be is just a whisper of your goodness to us, of your love for us, of your forgiveness of us, of your patience, of the fact that you are committed to us even when we haven't earned that commitment. And thank you, Father, also, that regardless of our past, whatever we've been through, you have paid it all through Jesus' death on the cross, and we don't need to be ashamed of bringing any sin or failure to you. Father, I pray that you bring healing where healing is needed, and growth where growth is needed. And Father, I pray that the marriages here at LBF church will put you on display in a way that brings you joy and glory and brings help and joy to our world. In Jesus' name, Amen. Amen. God bless you and thank you so much for being here this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848