I read recently on social media a story of a couple with small
children, getting divorced. Without giving away too many identifying details,
the opening of the post said this:
“They told us we built our house on a rock. They didn’t tell us the rock wasn’t real. How can a house stand on an imaginary foundation? The walls cracked. The floor buckled. The entire house groaned. So we’re leaving the house before it collapses and kills us all. Leaving is painful and hard. We were told that divorce is wrong, that it’s the ultimate failure. But it’s not. It’s an act of love.
Poetic, isn’t it? It’s a shame that it’s riddled with so
many things contradictory to the Christian world view.
My issue here is not to address the couple getting divorced
or anything specific to their situation—I wish them both well, and that God
would work in their situation for their good and His glory.
My hope here is to address some of the commonly held misconceptions
that I see in that post. And yes, I know people will disagree and the
disagreement ultimately comes down to conflicting worldviews.
I’m going to start with a few presuppositions: There is a God who has made this universe and everything in it, and He has revealed Himself to us through nature and conscience, and though we may deny it, it is something we all at onetime believed until we suppressed that knowledge (see Romans 1 and Hebrews 1).
“They told us we built our house on a rock. They didn’t
tell us the rock wasn’t real. How can a house stand on an imaginary foundation?”
I could be misreading the intentions of the author here, but
to me, this is a clear reference to the idea of Jesus Christ as the Rock. Some
of you may remember the song from Vacation Bible School or Sunday School, “The
wise man built his house upon the rock” and it is now stuck in your head. You
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus uses the story of two men building houses to illustrate how important it is to follow his teaching. Verse 24 & 25 say “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
Contrast this with the foolish man in verses 26 & 27: “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
There is a Rock. It does exist. The variable here isn’t if the house stood or fell. The root of the difference between these two houses is the choice made by the builder. You see, both men heard the words of Jesus, they both knew there was a rock to build on. One dug down and laid a foundation upon solid stone. The other decided to build on the constantly shifting sand of man’s own inclinations.
What particularly grieves me about society today isn’t so much the fact that people who have never heard of Christ build their lives upon the sand. Yes, of course it burdens me, and saddens me, and our call is to reach those people for Christ. But what really makes me angry and sorrowful at the same time is when I see people who have heard the words of Christ, and simply allow them to go in one ear and out the other.
Of course, we all from time to time fail to live up to God’s
standard. Christians mess up. We fall. We stumble. We sin. But Jesus said that his
sheep hear his voice and they follow him (John 10:27 Hyperlink). We don’t hear
his words and think, “Oh that’s nice. Nah.”
For a Christian to deliberately turn their back on the voice
of Christ, there must surely be intense spiritual and emotional anguish inside
their heart and mind. It is not an easy thing for a sheep to turn back from the
shepherd. And so we are left with two possibilities: either they never heard
the voice of the shepherd to begin with, or they have deluded themselves
entirely. I’ll allow the Calvinists and Arminians to fight this one out.
But the author is right… A house cannot stand on an imaginary
foundation. And yet, that is precisely what it is build on when not built on
The social climate of today is willing to disregard every
standard, every norm, in the name of happiness. Where Christianity teaches
finding contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11) with ultimate
satisfaction and joy found in Christ and eternity with God, mankind’s sinful
lust still cries out for happiness.
Happiness is a feeling. “But Adam, what’s wrong with
happiness?” Nothing. But it’s a really bad idea to base your existence upon a
feeling that can change moment by moment. Yet sadly, for many, this is
precisely what drives them. Not being good, not living out God’s purposes for
them, but focused on what makes them feel good for the moment.
Doing what makes you happy means you make stupid, inconsistent decisions. It means you break your marriage vows because you want to “have some fun” with someone else. It means you leave behind your kids to follow a “dream” that means more to you than our own children. It means throwing everything away for a moment or two of fame, ecstasy, or simply to find something new.
I’ve noticed a major shift in the last few years. More and
more families are breaking up because a spouse decided that they weren’t happy
and wanted to try some new path. You and I both have seen an increase in marriages
breaking up, not because of abuse, or even infidelity, but because someone just
decided they weren’t happy, and come hell or high water they were going to get
Do I want to be happy? Yes. Of course. No one goes around
wanting to be unhappy. And fortunately for me, I have moments of deep
happiness. Watching my children sleep snuggled in bed. The birds singing in the
trees at 7 AM. My wife smiling as we somehow made it through another day. A new
package from Amazon. A flower in my garden. The feel of a new book in my hands
as I turn the pages. A good movie. A good steak. An evening with friends.
Teaching. An afternoon in my hammock.
But my life is not always happy. I get upset. I get hurt. I
get refused or rejected. I fail. I realize how out of shape I am. I have an
argument. I think about something stupid or hurtful someone did or said.
But I’m not going to throw my life away because I am
unhappy. For the Christian, happiness is not the goal. God’s glory is the goal.
“Divorce Is An Act of Love“
Look, I get that people get divorced for all sorts of
reasons. My purpose here is not to litigate the merits or theology of divorce and
remarriage. I recognize that some folks have gotten married who should never
have even gone out on a first date. I have friends who have had unfaithful or abusive
spouses and for them, they have found a new life or new sense of freedom since
that failed marriage.
But let’s recognize divorce for what it is: the tearing
apart of a life. When two people are married, they become one: physically,
sexually, spiritually, and emotionally. Many of my friends who have gone
through a divorce say that is very similar to a death. That’s because it is. It
is the death of who you were during that marriage. Regardless of whether the
marriage was good or bad, or the divorce justified or not, it is not easy.
No one wakes up one morning and decides “Hey, I want to get
married and then go through a divorce in a couple of years.” No sane person
Here’s the mindset of the quoted post: I want to be
happy. Right now I am happy with you. When I stop being happy with you, I will
discard you gently and look for some other way to be happy.
That’s not Godly. It’s not mature. It’s not marriage. What it
is is dating in Jr. High. That kind of mindset takes marriage from being a
covenant made between two people to being a simple social status, a temporary
state of being instead of a lifelong commitment. And because we are so focused on the right
now, on immediate gratification, we throw away relationships like yesterday’s
So what do we do? Is this just the ramblings of an old-fashioned
Bible-thumper? Maybe. But I have a suggestion:
Let’s build our lives, our metaphorical houses, on the Rock
that is Jesus Christ. Let’s actually do what he says instead of doing our own
thing while pretending to follow him. Then we have a foundation for not just
our marriages, but for all of life.
And if you are married, if you and your spouse will both put in to practice the teachings of Jesus, it won’t be easy, but it will endure. And in the end, it will be worth it.