by Patrick & Dwaina Six
The fact they were both in my office was enough to give the young wife hope their marriage could be saved. Prior to this meeting, her husband was bound and determined to end their eight year union. During our conversation, we talked about their past, their relationship with God, their joys and their mistakes. We talked about how a divorce would devastate their daughter. We talked about the possibility his daughter could grow to love a step-father to the point she would ask him to walk her down the aisle when she got married instead of her “real dad”.
Sadly, at the end of our meeting he was undeterred in his decision to proceed with the divorce. I watched with hurt in my own heart as the couple walked out of my office. I am now watching a woman and her daughter as they try to pick up the pieces and move forward.
In chapter 2 of Malachi, God makes a statement. The statement isn’t very long, just three words—three very clear, powerful words. In verse 16 God says, “I hate divorce.” Now bear in mind, God doesn’t say He hates divorced people, but He DOES say He hates divorce! If you were to ask a divorced person, most of them would tell you, “I hate it too! Divorce broke my heart and wrecked my family.”
In Genesis 2:24 we read, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” When Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 19:5, He added this comment in the next verse, “Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.” The apostle Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 again in Ephesians 5:31. But this time he was demonstrating the relationship marriage has with Christ and His bride, the church. It is God’s intention that Christian married couples live out their marriage as a witness to a watching world.
If you look at Malachi 2:16 and then back up to verse 13, you will see the context in which God’s statement, “I hate divorce,” was made. God says He is acting as a witness between the husband and the wife. Your marriage, and the way you live out your covenant of marriage, is a witness in at least three ways:
- It is a witness to your relationship with God
- It is a witness to your relationship to one another
- It is a witness to future generations
First, let’s take a look at how your marriage, and the way you live out your marriage covenant, is a witness to your relationship with God.
The book of Malachi was written primarily as a rebuke to the priesthood during Malachi’s day. In this book, Malachi enumerates several issues whereby the priests were being unfaithful to God, including their own marriages. God said to the priests in verse 14, “you have broken faith with her (your wife).” As a result of their unfaithfulness in this area, God said in verse 13 that He no longer paid any attention to their offerings. They were weeping and wailing and covering the Lord’s altar with their tears, but to no avail. Why? Because the way they lived out their covenant of marriage told the truth about their relationship with God. They were being unfaithful to their wives; therefore, they were being unfaithful to God. Why would He bless their unfaithfulness, even if they were going through the right motions and saying the right things?
God spoke through the apostle Peter to give husbands and wives some great instruction about the relationship between our marriage and our relationship with God. In 1 Peter 3:1-6, he tells women to submit to their husbands. This submission is not a bad thing, but our culture has sure seemed successful at making it appear that way. The word “submit” in the Greek language means “to place in order; to place in an orderly fashion.” When a wife has a close relationship with the Lord, and she lives out her marriage covenant by placing her relationship with her husband in the right order, she nurtures an inner beauty in herself that is unfading!
In 1 Peter 3:7, the Christian husband is instructed to be considerate of his wife. He is to treat her with respect, as a weaker (or fragile and precious) partner and as a joint heir as a fellow believer. If he doesn’t do this, the implication is that his prayers will be hindered! In other words, if a man does not treat his wife in a way pleasing to God, his fellowship with God is negatively affected.
Can you see from these passages that the way in which you live out your covenant of marriage with your spouse is a witness to your relationship with God?
Another way in which your marriage is a witness is in your relationship with your spouse. If you call yourself a Christian but treat your husband or wife in an ungodly way, then he or she will have doubts or concerns about your relationship with the Lord. Consider this: in Malachi 2:14, God describes the wife as your partner, and the wife of your marriage covenant.
When we got married, we didn’t understand the concept of a covenant. We had never been taught about covenant. But we did know we loved each other, and we were committed to spending the rest of our lives loving each other. We have learned, since that time, that our wedding ceremony was every bit the establishment of a marriage covenant. A Christian wedding ceremony is a covenant where the couple VOWS to remain together and to take care of each other “til death do us part.”
Another aspect of the husband and wife relationship is the partnership. The two of you are partners in life. This covenant partnership should create a bond of unity evident in two powerful ways. Verse 15 says the husband and wife are to be one physically and spiritually. This union is another way in which we demonstrate that we belong to God.
You may be thinking, “But you don’t understand, we are VERY different.” Well, congratulations! You just matched yourself with about every other couple on the planet. The very fact that you are male and female would make you VERY different. But you may also have different personalities, different temperaments, different tastes when it comes to food since so many people eat little and other eat lots, so they need to use a probiotic supplement for their digestion, different preferences about home décor, different talents. Look at it this way—if the two of you were just alike, one of you would be unnecessary! The key is for you to accept those differences and play to your strengths. If your mate is different from you, they will probably be able to make up for some of your weaknesses, and vice versa.
The two of us are different in a lot of ways. Some of those differences are obvious, and some are not so obvious, but trust us…we are different! So for the last twenty-six years, we have worked to play to one another’s strengths to create a winning blend. We certainly haven’t succeeded in every endeavor, but we both agree that overall we have done a pretty good job. We also realize this will always be an ongoing process.
As covenant partners we discuss matters with each other. We respect each other. We try to sharpen one another while at the same time trying not to grind each other dull. There is an art to it, and we are still working on that art.
Yet another way in which your marriage is a witness is in what you show to future generations. God says, in verse 16, that He is seeking godly offspring from the union the husband and wife share. God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful, fill the earth, multiply, and subdue it.” God told them to have a lot of kids and to work together to raise those kids the right way. My heart goes out to single parents. They work tirelessly and desperately to do a job designed for two. Read Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Ephesians 6:1-4. If God has blessed you with children, then those children are watching how you live out your marriage. They will learn from you how to manage money, how to communicate, how to pray, how to cook and clean, how to live out your faith, what attributes to look for in a spouse – and the list could go on and on.
We live in an extremely disposable society, and our culture has bought into the convenience of disposable marriages as well. There is no other area where this is promoted more than in the mainstream media. Sitcoms make dads look like weak doofuses, and they make marriage look boring. A lot of movies depict couples falling in love and riding together into the sunset, but seldom do these couples get married – and even more seldom do these couples have enough conscience to wait until marriage to have sex. And the celebrities who play these parts often don’t know how to stay committed to a spouse for life. Most of them are clueless about making relationships work. Admire them for their talent, but please look elsewhere for marriage heroes.
We are both blessed to be able to look to our parents as our marriage heroes. Patrick’s mother walked side-by-side, hand-in-hand with his dad as they battled his colon cancer. She has had to learn to walk the rest of this road called life without her covenant marriage partner, but they were faithful to the very end.
Dwaina’s parents celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary a couple of years ago. Although her father’s health is very challenging, her parents still kiss and flirt, and they remind each other often how much they love each other. We are blessed to have such heroes in our lives. We want to be the kind of witnesses for our children and grandchildren that our parents have been for us. By God’s grace we will do it.
By God’s grace, may you do the same!
So what does God tell us to do with what we have learned? How do we live out our covenant marriage in such a way that we are a positive witness of our relationship with God, our relationship with our spouse, and to future generations? God tells us to do two things in Malachi 2:15:
- Guard yourself in your spirit
- Do not break faith
You can guard yourself best by committing yourselves to mutual spiritual growth. Attending church together regularly, reading the Bible together consistently, praying together consistently, and serving the Lord together are all avenues of great spiritual growth.
You can guard yourself in your faithfulness to one another by being accountable, being ethical, being moral, and by spending quality and quantity time together. Make your marriage and your relationship a priority. Work hard to never give unfaithfulness a chance.
May the Lord bless and protect your covenant marriage!
Patrick and Dwaina Six are popular speakers at marriage conferences and retreats as they have a unique style as they teach together.
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