By Revd Dr. Ezeakune
Marriage is a God ordained relationship or union between a man and a woman. In the world today marriage has been interpreted to mean a relationship between man-man, woman-woman or in fact man/woman and animals (bestiality).
It is important to note that the author of marriage is God. Gen 2: 20-25. It is established that God made man in his own image Gen 2: 26. It is therefore important to note that for a believer to do things right in Marriage, it must be done in God s way.
1.1 WHAT IS MARRIAGE?
Marriage according to Advanced Learner s English Dictionary is the legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife. The scripture describes it as the coming together of a man and woman - together to become one flesh. Genesis 2: 24, Ephesians 5: 31.
In Genesis 2:20b God observed that Adam had no suitable helper and so God caused him to fall into a deep sleep and he made a woman(being a suitable helper) from the rib he had taken out of the man and when Adam saw her he called her woman. Genesis 20:23
From that time onward when marriage is to be instituted, a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife so that they become one flesh Genesis 20: 24. Meaning they now have to do everything together and because they are both naked, they do not have to hide anything from each other. Matthew 19: 6, Ephesians 5:33. This also means that the husband and wife are to be independent, such that they are not being influenced or controlled by their parents or extended family.
A Christian marriage should be a home where children are born and nurtured in the fear of the lord. This is the way God has ordained marriage, such that they can live together in love and together seek the face of God for everything.
2. PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE
a) For Companionship- It is God s intention to ensure man is not lonely and he therefore made a woman to be with him. This shows that marriage is designed to provide complete satisfaction for the couple. Ecclesiastes. 2: 9-12
b) To prevent Fornication.
c) For Procreation - Genesis 1:28
d) To raise Godly Children Malachi 2:14-15
3. WHY IS IT DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE TO GET MARRIED TODAY?
1) Lack of Trust: Most people will rather hold back because they donâ€™t want anybody to know the secrets of their lives or they feel they will loose their control and self- esteem.
2) Bad Example: Some people grew up in an environment where the man and woman in a marriage are always quarrelling and fighting.
3) Influence of parents and family: some donâ€™t want to get married when the choices of the man or woman they want to marry have been rejected by their parent and loved ones.
4) Desire to have sex: Pre-marital sex has now become a normal act in our society today. Some women now prefer to just have sex, get pregnant for any man they want, even if they do not marry him because all they want is just for them to have a baby. Such women are sometimes referred to as â€œbaby mamaâ€ which means a mother who is not married to her child s father. Some men and women are only satisfied to have a live-in lover so as to avoid full commitment.
5) Financial issues and high rate of unemployment.
4. CHALLENGES IN MARRIAGE
1) Lack of love: Not seeing each other as one, Lack of mutual respect and submission
2) Unfaithfulness/Adultery Hebrews 13: 4
3) Financial Issues
4) Lack of Job
6) Family influence
7) Influence of the world through friends, social media (sex toys, sex dolls, pornography)
8) Keeping secrets: it is contrary to the intentions of God. God expects couples to be naked and not be ashamed of each other. The moment they refuse to be open to each other, crisis will set in.
9) Domestic Violence: This is on the increase in our society.
10) Cultural, family Background and Religion differences
11) Cultural differences/ Religion
12) Health issues
In view of these challenges highlighted above, one major consequence these challenges will result into (if not properly managed) is DIVORCE.
5. DIVORCE- GOD s PERSPECTIVE
Divorce means the legal dissolution or termination of a marriage conducted under law. The desire of God is to see marriage flourish.
It is the strategy of the devil to see that marriage fails and this is obvious in view of the high rate of divorce in our society today.
Malachi 2: 15-16 When you divorce your spouse, you are causing violence unto her instead of protecting her.
From the above bible verse, it is clear that God hates divorce and it is never the wish of God for any marriage to end in divorce.
6. CONSEQUENCES OF DIVORCE
1. The marriage is dissolved and the institution created by God is destroyed and this affects the society at large.
2. The children do not have the privilege of growing up in a family unit set up by God having the presence of the mother and the father together.
3. The responsibility of two persons as it relates to the children become one person s responsibility.
4. It results in bitterness between the man and woman which can also affect the children negatively.
5. It is not a good precedent for the children.
6. It can lead to promiscuity.
7. SHOULD DIVORCE BE CONSIDERED AT ALL IN A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
It should only be the last resort after all other options have been fully weighed, considered and exercised.
In as much as God hates divorce, he still gives room for exceptions in these areas:
a) Adultery: However this ought not to automatically lead to divorce. The couple should give room for counselling, healing and forgiveness so that the marriage can be restored. Matthew 5:31-32, 1:19, Romans 7:2-3.
b) When one spouse is not a Christian and that spouse willfully and permanently deserts the Christian spouse. 1Corin 7: 15.
8. DIVORCE: THE LEGAL PERSPECTIVE
In order to restrict couples from rushing out of marriage based on the slightest misunderstanding or provocation, it is a general rule that divorce proceedings will not commence within two (2) years of a marriage. This also shows that the law does not encourage immediate termination of a marriage so as to encourage a form of settlement. However there are exceptions to this rule and this includes:
1) Willful and persistent refusal to consummate the marriage
4) Sodomy and Bestiality
Thus, to commence proceedings within 2 years of a marriage, the leave of court must be sought and obtained.
Section 30 (1) and (3) of the Matrimonial Causes Act provides thus:
(1) Subject to this section, proceedings for a decree of dissolution of marriage shall not be instituted within 2 years after the date of the marriage except by leave of court.
3) The court shall not grant leave under this section to institute proceedings except on the ground that to refuse to grant the leave would impose exceptional hardship on the applicant or that the case is one involving exceptional depravity on the part of the other party.
A petition for a decree of dissolution of the marriage can be presented by either party to the marriage upon the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Section 15 (1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act.
The custody, guardianship and welfare of the children of the marriage is paramount to the court in a divorce proceedings because they should not be made to suffer for their parentsâ€™ decision to dissolve their marriage. The Matrimonial Causes Act makes adequate provision for the welfare of the children particularly section 70 and 71of the Act.
The court also gives room for settlement and reconciliation. Section 11 of the Matrimonial Act imposes a duty on the court in which a matrimonial cause has been instituted to give consideration, from time to time, to the possibility of a reconciliation of the parties to the marriage.
A decree of dissolution of marriage can either be:
a) Decree Nisi in first instance: Section 56 of the Matrimonial Causes Act. It simply means that the order does not have any force unless a particular condition is met and once the condition is met it becomes binding.
b) Decree Absolute: Section 58 (1) of Matrimonial Causes Act. The order of the court becomes binding on the parties. Section 33 of the Matrimonial Causes Act specifically provides thus:
Where a decree of dissolution of Marriage under this Act has become absolute, a party to the Marriage may marry again as if the marriage has been dissolved by death.
In a situation where it s the other party that wants the divorce, you may not be able to stop him, you can only persuade him/ her to have a temporary separation so as to allow both parties to consider and resolve the issues.
It is therefore important to encourage those with troubled marriages in our congregation to seek positive solution through Godly counsel and reconciliation.
In peculiar situations, separation can be encouraged (particularly where there is threat to life through domestic violence) so as to give room for counselling and reconciliation.
If our human laws can see the need for reconciliation in marriage, how much more our creator God. As a Christian, we need to pray for God s leading and guidance when we are confronted with marital challenges because the God we serve can also heal our marriages.
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