Marriage without Loopholes

Kick him to the curb. Move on. You deserve better. You've got the escape clause, get out now while you can. File for divorce. That's what Matthew 19:9 says, right? If your spouse commits adultery, you've got a get out of marriage free card. It's the loophole scripture, right? When learning your spouse has committed adultery, you are hurt because you feel betrayed in the deepest ways by the one person on this planet who isn't supposed to hurt you. The enemy has a field day with your thoughts, leading you down the trails of your imagination of what your spouse and the other person did, and of all the "what if's." The last thing you feel like doing is entertaining the idea that your marriage could ever be happy again. Confusion and fear fill every nook and cranny of your thoughts. I know, I've been there.

marriage without loopholes

In the midst of your pain and brokenness, you are faced with a choice. You can live in one scripture in the entire bible, or the entirety of the Word of God, filled with relentless grace, generous forgiveness, and mind boggling peace amidst adversity. I love the way Matthew Henry explains the verses (Matthew 19:1-8) that lead up to the "escape clause", and Matthew 19:9:

The Pharisees were desirous of drawing something from Jesus which they might represent as contrary to the law of Moses. Cases about marriage have been numerous, and sometimes perplexed; made so, not by the law of God, but by the lusts and follies of men; and often people fix what they will do, before they ask for advice. Jesus replied by asking whether they had not read the account of the creation, and the first example of marriage; thus pointing out that every departure therefrom was wrong. That condition is best for us, and to be chosen and kept to accordingly, which is best for our souls, and tends most to prepare us for, and preserve us to, the kingdom of heaven. When the gospel is really embraced, it makes men kind relatives and faithful friends; it teaches them to bear the burdens, and to bear with the infirmities of those with whom they are connected, to consider their peace and happiness more than their own. As to ungodly persons, it is proper that they should be restrained by laws, from breaking the peace of society. And we learn that the married state should be entered upon with great seriousness and earnest prayer. - Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

Jesus Christ died for us to have abundant, capital L-I-F-E LIFE! He went to the cross so that we didn't have to look for the loopholes or hope our works could possibly ever be good enough.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. Hebrews 11:1

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. Hebrews 11:1 Msg

Abraham was first named "father" and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do.Romans 4:17 Msg

As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.Romans 4:17 Amplified

Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]-- To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).Ephesians 3:20-21

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. Romans 8:28

It's curious to me that later in Matthew 19, after telling the rich young man to give up everything he owns and all of his rights, Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” What if you believed this for your marriage, taking the chance that the Omnipotent Creator God, Loving Father who wants you to be more Christlike than you do, and wants your marriage redeemed more than you do...may do the impossible?

It's a tough decision, I know that. I reluctantly divorced Scott. When I found out about his adultery in summer 2004, I had a choice. It was a painful choice. I combed God's Word for answers. GOD HATES DIVORCE from Malachi resonated more loudly than any other chapter in the bible. I didn't want to do something God HATES. So I pressed into God and His Word, and He changed me in ways I couldn't imagine over the course of the next year. I filed for divorce to protect our son and me, but I didn't want to grieve God, and I didn't believe I'd actually go through with it. But after more than a year, and seeing Scott spiral into more self destructive behavior, I reluctantly, painfully divorced him. It was the worst day of my life.

But God.

The seeds of kindness, redemption, grace, patience, forgiveness, gentleness, joy, peace, compassion, and mercy I'd sown blossomed three days later when Scott's girlfriend kicked him out, he surrendered to Jesus Christ, and began pursuing me with a gentleness and kindness I'd never known from him before.  We spent a lot of time seeking and granting outrageous forgiveness, including seeking God's forgiveness for so carelessly destroying the gift of marriage He had given us and for the divorce.

Please hear me- I'm not telling you that you HAVE to stay in your marriage.

I'm encouraging you to consider taking the narrow road of redemption, wherever it might lead. Had I initially chosen divorce over redemption, my heart would have spent a short four months pointed to the loophole, missing out on all the refining God planned for me to make me the woman I am today. Instead, my heart remained soft and pointed toward redemption.

I'm encouraging you to consider letting the gospel make your decisions instead of your feelings. The last thing you feel like doing is loving someone who has betrayed you. Yet Jesus does that every day- He loves us in a way that blows our minds, doesn't He? We betray Him too many times a day to count, yet He loves us and doesn't leave us. Your feelings will catch up with your decisions.

I'm encouraging you to realize that I would be sharing this message even if Scott didn't return to our marriage. Our dear friend and team member Nicole walked this similar path, but her husband didn't come back to the marriage. She wouldn't trade a day of her redemption journey, despite the apparent outcome. Had I not pursued God, and let God work on Scott's hardened heart...wow. I think of the thousands of marriages that are different now because of Intentionally Yours.

What you believe about this "escape clause" matters. STOP! Don't take one more step in either direction without praying and seeking godly counsel. Read why you should fight for your marriage, how to stand for your marriage, and five steps to get you started. Be encouraged by couples who have beaten amazing odds, despite the hardness of one spouse's heart, including our story or Rick & Beverly's. As long as you are breathing, there is hope.

Got questions? Us, too. Share your questions with us, we'd love to hear what you think, and we'll pray and respond to your questions.

FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember played a life changing role in our marriage- we attended after our divorce. It was at that getaway that we learned how we both destroyed our marriage one small decision at a time, and learned to build a new marriage together!

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!