If you’ve flown on an airplane, then you know the routine. Before takeoff, some type of instruction is given regarding what to do in the event of an emergency. Printed instructions on how to use the emergency exits are provided for each passenger — you are encouraged to read and understand these instructions before takeoff.
With all due respect to the writers who have prepared these instructions and to the engineers who have designed the plane with these emergency exits, I have no interest in learning how to use them. Having placed myself in the hands of God prior to boarding the plane, I have zero intention of exiting the plane before the flight is complete, so I don’t feel the need to know how I would do so.
The past two blog articles have each described an instance from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus cited a teaching from the Law of Moses (saying, “You have heard it said in old times”) and then contrasted it with His own teaching (saying, “but I say unto you”). Here is another one:
“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)
In this statement, the Law of Moses reference (from Deuteronomy 24) relates to marriage. However, as you can see, it’s not so much about how to be married or how to stay married but rather it describes the process to be followed when a man wants to get rid of a wife. In other words, how to use the emergency exit to get out before the flight is complete.
After this reference, Jesus again encourages His followers to be held to a higher standard. In His previous two statements, He equated hating to murder and lust to adultery. In this statement, He puts what the men of that time were doing in ridding themselves of their wives — often for frivolous reasons — in the same category as adultery.
Putting the above together, Jesus is teaching His followers — then and now — to not be thinking about how to end a marriage but rather to be focused on how to maintain a marriage such that it lasts for a lifetime.
How do we do this? Obviously, there is way more information available on this subject than can ever be addressed in a short article. There are many books, seminars, and specialists that can provide valuable insight into how to have a successful marriage. However, here are a few flying tips (since we’re using an airplane metaphor for this article) that equate to some general marriage advice:
- Prepare for the flight: Prepare for this particular flight by taking advantage of the types of resources mentioned earlier, as well as by speaking with people who have years of successful travel experience with this particular journey.
- Pray for a safe flight: Before embarking in marriage, pray for God to help make it successful. Pray for the right spouse, and pray to BE the right spouse. For the duration of the trip, pray for God’s continual protection and direction.
- Don’t worry about the emergency exit: Don’t even consider divorce as an option. While understanding that something like a prenuptial agreement may have its purpose, think about what it means to be planning your divorce before you even get married.
- Make plans based on a successful flight: Make long-term plans such as a home, retirement, children, grandchildren, and even wills, based on the assumption that you will be together for a lifetime.
- Enjoy the Ride! Remember that God’s intention for marriage is that it be a source of joy, not a source of pain. There may be a little turbulence from time to time, but it’s meant to be mostly a smooth ride.
When we look at marriages in society today, we see heavy use of the emergency exit, as many marriages sadly end in divorce. People who live together as a couple without being married, contrary to the teaching of the scriptures (that’s why it’s called “living in sin”), typically choose that arrangement so they have easy access to the emergency exit. (Again, not God’s intention!)
As followers of Christ, let’s be different! Marriage has not gone out of style. It’s intended to last a lifetime, so let’s do our best to live up to that higher standard that Jesus encourages. May God bless you in your marriage.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.