Greg Laurie — How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage
After we say I do there is a lot more to be done. If you think you are done, you are finished. It has been said, "If love is a dream, then marriage is the alarm clock". I think one of the problems is when we see marriages start to unravel it isn't usually overnight. It is over a period of time when there is neglect. Just like your garden. If you neglect your garden it will grow over with weeds. If you don't take care of your body, you are soon going to have problems. If you neglect your marriage it will slowly but surely die.
One comedian said, "The secret of a happy marriage... remains a secret". Is that true though? Or are there actual secrets in the Bible. I believe there are. That is what we have been talking about in this series home sweet home. I also think there are things that are threats to our marriage. I would like to identify some of those in this message "How to divorce proof your marriage". The Bible says in the song of Solomon 2:15, "It is the little foxes that spoil the vines". It is always little things left neglected that ultimately turn into big things that could ultimately become destructive things in your marriage. What are some of the threats against our marriages today?
1. I have already talked about this a little bit but I want to come back to it. I think the number one threat against our marriage is simply selfishness. If you were to sum up why people have marital problems it would be because of selfishness. If you were to pick one word to describe why a marriage ultimately fell apart again, it would be selfishness because we go into a marriage honestly thinking that it is all about us and that person is going to meet all of our needs. We never stop and think maybe the problem is me.
In James 4:1 we read these words. "Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves". That is it. We want our own way. We want her to do what we want her to do. She wants the guy to do what she wants him to do. Of course we live in a culture that is completely self-absorbed. My generation the baby-boomers were described as the me generation. Now they are saying this new generation called the millennials is the me-me generation. How is that even possible? More self-absorbed than we were.
I think we are partly responsible because of the whole inane self-love movement. Self-esteem movement that gained popularity back in the 70s. We were told that the reason we have all of the problems in our culture today is because we don't love ourselves enough. If we would learn to love ourselves more then everything would go much better. There was all of this emphasis on self-image, self-love, and so forth. Did it fix things? No. It actually made things worse. One expert said, "The problem is when people tried to boost self-esteem they boosted narcissism instead. All that self-esteem led people to be disappointed when the world refused to affirm how great they know they are".
Look. We don't need to love ourselves. We already do love ourselves. You love yourself. I love myself. When the Bible says love your neighbor as yourself it is not saying learn to love yourself first then love your neighbor. It is hey, duh, in the original Greek duh is implied. You already love yourself so love your neighbor that much at least. And of course in Ephesians 5:28 husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. It is not that we need to love ourselves. It is that we need to love someone else more than we love ourselves. Or at least as much as we love ourselves. Philippians tells us, "Don't be selfish. Instead be thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think about your own affairs but be interested in others". One of the primary threats against marriage today is selfishness and the antidote to selfishness is selflessness.
Here is another threat against our marriages. Communication breakdown. In a survey that was taken among divorced couples they were asked why their marriage failed. 86% said deficient communication. Men and women are so different from each other. The way we even communicate. You look at a conversation between a man and a woman. A guy will stop and say where do you want to go out to dinner. She will say I want to go to this place. You have to start to learning how to read between the lines with women. Just last night my wife was saying I want to go to dinner. I said great. Where do you want to go? She said you decide. I said good let's go get sushi. I don't want sushi. Ok. Let's go to that place that has those really great burgers. I don't want a hamburger. Let's go over to this other place. No. I don't want to go there. Let's go to the Mexican place. That is where I want to go. Why didn't you just say that in the first place? She told me to choose. Ultimately she had her will.
It is sort of like when a man and a wife are talking. Two different things are heard. She says let's stop and ask for directions. He hears her say you are an idiot. You don't know where you are going. You are not even a man. She says can I have the remote control. He hears her say let's watch something that will bore you beyond belief. I can't believe some of the things Cathe wants to watch. We are complete opposites in every way. She says I would like to redecorate. He hears her say let's take a whole bunch of money and just flush it down the toilet just like that. She says you need to get in touch with your feelings. He hears her say blah, blah, blah. She says are you listening. He hears her say blah, blah, blah. This is part of the problem. Communication breakdown.
Look. You are going to have conflicts in marriage. You are going to have disagreements. You have to learn how to have a fair fight. You have to learn, and I don't mean coming to fisticuffs, I am talking about a disagreement. You have to learn how to disagree agreeably and ultimately find some kind of solution and resolution. I believe the guy should be the one that takes point in that. You have to learn how to listen.
What is it that is the problem exactly? A guy will ask a girl or his wife in particular what is wrong. She will say nothing. You know something is wrong. Don't accept that answer. You are going to have to take some time to find out. Listen to her. Understand what she is saying. Listen to him. Understand what he is saying. Never let it get elevated to shouting and screaming. In fact the Bible tells us get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander. Instead forgive one another. Don't elevate it. Don't escalate it. De-escalate it. Resolve it. Then once each has said their piece now it is time to forgive one another and again, as the scripture says, let not the sun go down on your wrath. Listen to this. Fight to resolve. Not to win. If you are go into the disagreement to win you have already lost.
Here is the third threat against marriages and this is a big one. Adultery. It is such a big deal it made God's top ten. Sadly every one of us listening to this message knows at least one couple if not more that have had their marriage devastated by adultery. God has warned us about this sin. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 he says, "Don't you know the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Nor the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers". Solomon warned us about going to the house of the prostitute. The house of the rising sun as it was memorialized in a song years ago. Proverbs 7:24. "Listen to me, my son, pay attention to my words: don't let your heart stray toward her. Don't wander down her wayward path: for she has been the ruin of many. Numerous men have been her victims. Her house is the road to the grave. Her bedroom is the den of death".
Jesus of course took this to another level. He said, "You have heard that it has been said you shall not commit adultery. I say unto you if you look on a woman with lust in your heart it effectively is the same thing". We learn in 1 Corinthians 6:13 our bodies were not made for it. We should not seek it out either according to 1 Corinthians 7:2. Finally 1 Corinthians 6:18 we should run from it. Finally we should repent of it if we have fallen prey to it. 1 Corinthians 12:21. You need to run.
Remember the story of Joseph and the original cougar Potiphar's wife. She was an older woman. Attractive no doubt. Laying lustful eyes on the attractive handsome young Joseph. She was very upfront about her intentions. She just said day after day have sex with me. He repelled her advances. One day she just grabbed him and pulled him down on the bed. He did what any clear thinking red blooded young man would do or should do under such circumstances. He ran. Sometimes literally it is simple as running. It is simple as hitting the off button. It is as simple as terminating a conversation. You need to take this step. Because people that get into the trap of adultery lose perspective. Why is it such a bad thing to go down this road?
1. You do incredible damage to yourself. You damage yourself. The Bible even says that when you enter into a sexual union with a prostitute you effectively become one flesh with her. When you say it was a one night stand and it didn't mean anything actually it means a lot. Also you do incredible damage to your spouse. You damage that oneness. You damage that bond. It is a devastating sin. Thirdly you do incredible damage to your children. They are going to find out. Maybe they are young and they don't know at first. Later they will get it figured out. Someone will tell them. So often the sins of the parents are repeated by the children.
The Bible speaks of the sins of the parents being visited on the children. That is not a description of some mystical generational curse. Rather what that is saying is your kids will end up doing what you do. We see this happening in the life of king David. Remember he fell into adultery with Bathsheba. His own children repeated his behavior. David's son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar. Absalom murdered Amnon. As the prophet Nathan said to David, "The sword will never depart from your house".
Here is another thing. When you commit the sin of adultery you do great damage to the church. The scripture says, "When one member suffers the whole body suffers". We are all interconnected as believers. When one of us is exalted, we are all exalted. When one of us falls we all are affected by it. A lot of times people don't think about this. There is your testimony to a lost world. You have told them all about your faith in Christ and how much you love your spouse. Then you go and commit this sin. Lastly. You do great damage to the cause of Christ. After David fell into sin with Bathsheba the prophet Nathan said, "Because you have done this, you have given great opportunity for nonbelievers to blaspheme". Let's not give nonbelievers more ammo to use against us. Of course the worst thing of all is you sin against the Lord himself. Coming back to Joseph. I love the way that he resisted the wife of Potiphar. He said, "How can I do this great sin against God". That is the greatest deterrent.
So let's take some preventative steps to keep our families strong. Here are some closing points and then we are done. 1. Walk with God. This is the greatest thing you can do. Even above keeping your marriage strong. Just walk with God. If you are walking closely with the Lord you will have this relationship with him and the resources you need to do what God has called you to do. There is no way I can love my wife as Christ loves the church without the help and filling of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. There is definitely no way that Cathe can submit to my leadership without the help of the Holy Spirit. We need God's help. We need to walk closely in his presence. David of course fell into sin with Bathsheba. I have mentioned him. It all started when there was a breakdown in his fellowship with the Lord. David was known for his closeness to God. His intimacy with God. That was neglected. Other things began to crowd into his life.
So walk with God point one. 2. Walk with your spouse. Literally walk with your spouse. Take walks together. Long leisurely walks. Even more spend time developing friendship and romance. Don't grow complacent. Enjoy each other's company. Spend time together. Break away from your schedule and do that. I was talking with Cathe recently in this series remember we talked together. She said one of the things I did early on in our marriage that she didn't like at the time was I said we need to take just a little time off. Just you and me. She didn't want to leave the kids. I said we need to do this. Now she looks back on it and says I am glad we did it. I would just periodically say we need a little break just you and me. Let's go somewhere. Let's do something. Even if it is for a day. Just you and me go. Let's put the stinking cell phones away and let's have conversations together and talk together and be together. It doesn't even have to be an exotic or a nice place. Just maybe a different place than you are normally in away from the pressures and demands if possible of your life and just enjoy each other's company.
3. Don't walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Walk with God. Walk with your spouse. Don't walk in the counsel of the ungodly the wise person of Psalm 1 it says of him or her, "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of the scornful but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in it does he meditate day and night". Don't walk in ungodly counsel. Needless to say this would speak of any kind of relationship with a member of the opposite sex especially if it has gotten a little bit flirty. Here is a little word of advice. Don't ever go to a member of the opposite sex for marital counseling.
A girl you work with: I am having problems with my marriage. Can you counsel me? Are you an idiot? That is almost like an invitation. Hey let's see what happens. If it is your mother it is ok. You can talk to your mother. You get my point. Don't walk in the counsel of the ungodly. If you know people that sort of encourage unfaithfulness or encourage illicit activity don't hang out with people like that. Finally. Count the cost. Remember some of the warnings we brought up. Those along with an intense love for God and your spouse will see you through the rough waters of sexual temptation. Pay attention. There is a cost. You cross these lines and your marriage falls apart. That is a heavy cost to pay. You don't want to go down that road.
Someone might say Greg I have gone down that road actually. I have committed adultery. I am divorced. What about me? Is life just over? No it isn't. Because we serve a God who gives second chances. I think of the story of that woman caught in the act of adultery. She was brought before a crowd of people who wanted to stone her. Jesus looked around and said, "Let him that is without sin cast the first stone". Then the Bible says he wrote on the ground. I have always wanted to know what did he write on the ground. Do you think he was just doodling down there? I think he was writing names. It says he looks at them and says, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone". Then he wrote on the ground. Then he stood up and they started leaving from the oldest to the youngest. I think he probably wrote names. Caleb. Maybe commandment 3 that he broke. Or 4, 5, and 6. Or maybe the word. Something that the guy had done. They left. All that was left was this woman. He says, "Woman where are your accusers". She says, "I have none". He says, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more".
Here is the key. He says, "Woman where are your accusers". She says, "Lord I have none". She used the word Lord. That woman who had been caught in adultery, who had sinned, at that moment recognized Jesus Christ as Lord and he forgave her. If I will come to God and say Lord I have failed. I failed in this marriage. I failed in this choice. I failed in this other thing. If you will turn from that sin, he will forgive you of that. Here are your marching orders now. Go and sin no more. Don't go and do it again. You can't change the past any more than you can unscramble an egg. But you can start today to say I am going to do the right thing from this moment forward.
Some of you listening to this message right now may not have a relationship with God. Maybe you have never asked Jesus Christ to come into your life to be your Savior and Lord. There are others of you that have known the Lord for years but you have had a lapse. You have made a big mistake. You have sinned against God. You need to get rid of that sin and get right with the Lord. It was David after he sinned who said in Psalm 51, "Against thee and thee only have I sinned and done this iniquity". Then David said, "Restore to me the joy of my salvation". God wants to forgive you. If you, like that woman caught in the act of adultery need to acknowledge your sin and acknowledge him as Lord and you can be forgiven of everything you have done that is wrong and sinful before God.