Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. Luke 16:18
At a wedding last weekend, I had cause to look back over my own twenty years of marriage. Our wedding was a beautiful day on which we took vows to love and cherish each other for the rest of our lives. I meant what I said at the time, but I also had things growing in my life that were antithetical to pursuing a good marriage. I never planned to get divorced, but in my addictive, selfish behaviors, more than once, I’ve pushed my marriage the brink. I may not have consciously pursued divorce, but my behavior exposed the fact that I certainly wasn’t pursuing a good marriage either.
In today’s passage, Jesus equated divorce (and subsequent remarriage) with adultery. Having been prohibited by the ten commandments, adultery was a big deal to his audience, so it was a big deal for Christ to say that divorce led to adultery.
The marriage commitment means something to God, and it should mean something to me. I took a vow to love my wife, and so, this is something I should take seriously. No one pursues divorce from the day he or she is married, but many of us have consistently acted in a manner that has destroyed our marriages.
In my first attempts at recovery, I promised my wife that I would never relapse again. I meant it, but I didn’t back it up with any real life changes and so, the behavior that drove us apart eventually returned. In recovery now, I can see that what my marriage needs is not more flowery promises. What my marriage needs, is for me to pursue a life that is consistent with a healthy marriage.
Though I’ve been sober for a few years, I’m still far from a perfect husband. Pursuing a good marriage, instead of divorce, isn’t just about not using drugs. I’m still naturally selfish. Daily, I must examine my behavior and ask if I’m simply pursuing me or if I’m pursuing a relationship with my wife. I love my wife. Daily, I must live like it, seeking what’s best for her and our marriage. If I’m not working on a good marriage, I’m likely working on a bad one.
Divorce is what I pursue when I seek my way above all. If I want a healthy, loving marriage, I must daily abandon my selfishness to work on it.