My old man’s birthday is this week. He’s been married over 60 years. This requires three things; a covenant relationship held together by God, marrying while young, and the blessings of old age. We had to order his birthday present, and with the current problems around delivery chains we ordered it a week early. He got it last week, and opened it, discarded the bumpf from the supplier, and was very pleased. It was a Bible: he destroys one about every two years. He says this one will take him into is dotage. Let’s say that I’m in my 60s and he is still an example of how to live for God.
Christ said that Moses allowed divorce for the hardness of our hearts. That is true, for it takes two hearts to become one, and that means that the heart must soften. And we are commanded to remain in our marriages.
God hates divorce. I’ve had one, and I hate divorce more now than I did before the first marriage ended.
24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.
5 “When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home for one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
I am going to say that, whenever possible, you should keep a marriage going. Though I failed. Though today, it only takes one party to start a divorce. When she walks out (or he walks out) it’s over. This world sees happiness and avoidance of suffering as high goals, and hanging in when the wife is exhausted, or the husband is injured, feeling useless and tempted by despair is seen as a waste of life. But (as I’m older) you learn that the alternative to pain is being limited to what you can do. Pain is inevitable. Scars heal.
And the glory of having a long term marriage is worth it.
For those who marry later, as we have, I think you need to not wait until the 25th anniversary. You celebrate every year, every five years, every decade. You are fighting to restore hope for your children, to undo the damage done.
My regret is that there is an internal border in New Zealand, and I cannot visit my father. At his age, at any age, the next birthday is not guaranteed.