Marriage is supposed to be forever. With the divorce rate over 50% (even within the church), "forever" may be redefined as “until you don’t make me happy anymore.” After two failed marriages, I am still hopeful that I can change and learn new relationships skills that would make a marriage last “forever”.
Divorce is harder on Christians because we break not only a civil agreement, but also a promise to God. Typically one of the spouses ends up leaving their church and support group where they have been nurtured as a couple because the emotional pain is just too great.
What gives me hope is a service in the Anglican Prayer Book of South Africa: The Introduction for the Remarriage of Divorced Persons. I got a copy signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu when my church visited South Africa last October:
“Those of you who are aware that N (and N) have been married before and that the partner(s) of the marriages(s) are still alive may wonder how it is that this marriage can have the church’s blessing. It is not a matter which has been lightly decided. The breakdown of a marriage is always a falling short of the ideal marriage which God sets before us in the Scriptures…In this instance there is no prospect of re-establishing a true marriage relationship between the partners of the former marriage(s).…there is due penitence for the failure of the previous marriage(s) and a knowledge of God’s forgiveness as well as a readiness to forgive. They are pledged to live their married life within the worshipping and witnessing community of the Church.
1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is just, and may be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every kind of wrong.”
We all need to know the forgiving and healing power of God’s love, for God’s forgiveness brings healing of all the hurts of the past which sin has inflicted.
Let us therefore together ask God’s pardon. Then, in the joy of forgiveness, we can ask his blessing on this marriage.
What a truly wonderful blessing for a new marriage!
Blessings, my friend,