Standing in the aisles of Target, I was sorting through purchases. Sufficiently distracted enough to nearly miss an old friend, standing just a few yards away.
We greeted one another, and with that keen fondness of a few shared memories, began to sort through the past handful of years. Kids, jobs, life. Noticing she had not mentioned her husband, I inquired.
How is Jay?
And without missing a beat, Oh, he walked out on us last Christmas.
Heart sunk and confused, I remembered Jay as a great Dad and a sensitive husband.
Oh no! What happened?
Well, my friend replied, I still don’t really know. He hasn’t said.
But I think it is just too easy to be divorced these days, and he chose the easy way.
My friend at Target made a keen observation that day.
Divorce is easy these days. Too easy. Whereas a century ago there was tremendous stigma associated with the notion of breaking a married commitment, to post-moderns adults, divorce is easily explained.
Be Happy is the cry of our entitled hearts, and marriage not-withstanding, we will attain it. In the world of 21st -century singles, self-fulfillment trumps even promises.
Lauri Sessions Stepp, author of Unhooked, has written a fascinating book on the problem with marriage in the 21-century.
And one of the most discerning observations Strauss has made upon speaking with many now-singles, is that the partner who splits and runs often places blame on “the marriage”.
The marriage was not connected.
The marriage was difficult.
The marriage was stifling. We just could not make the marriage work.
To many, The Marriage is handled as an impersonal object, devoid of singular responsibility.
Dave Harvey, author of When Sinners Say I Do, challenges this laissez-faire approach to commitment.
People do not fall out of love, Dave reminds. They fall out of repentance.
Married love is a climb. And due to life’s obstructions, one requiring enormous perseverance.
Alistair Begg preached a sermon a while back, and in it he noted:
Many find that when they cannot reach the summit with all that they hold in their hands, they let go of the summit and pitch their tent in the plain. And the plain is so very full of tents.
Often, marriages stop flourishing when both partners stop climbing up in accountability to God, and fall out of fellowship with those who will hold them to His high standards.
In turning our backs on who and what builds up, we easily turn our attention toward things that slowly undermine us. Without intending to, we find a home in the plains.
And statistically speaking, over 52% of married couples are now pitching their tents there.
Two Good Forgivers
Ruth Bell Graham likes to say that a happy married relationship is a bond of “two good forgivers”.
Don’t you agree?
It is not so much the commonalities shared, mutual agreement, or even perfect sexual connectivity that makes a union “work”. Good marriage is built upon layers and layers of forgiving the un-forgiveable. And this theology of forgiveness links right back to our understanding of God.
Because His grace covers all, our grace needs to do the same.
A marriage grounded in humble repentance can scale the highest mountains of anger and disappointment and still find someone to love at the top.
As Alistair Begg reminds, it IS easier to pitch our tents in the plain. Avoiding the last great haul toward the summit, with all of our baggage strapped on our backs.
But it’s the view from the top we miss if we give up.
And the sun doesn’t shine as bright in the plain, either.