Is God “For Your Marriage”?
“God is for your marriage.” This is one if those statements that a lot of us heard when struggling with the decision of whether or not our marriages could be salvaged. It is meant to be an encouragement, but often can feel like the twist of a knife in the back of a victim who has experienced that being “for” the marriage means being “against” him or her. When the marriage is the tool of an abuser to hurt, how can God be “for” such a tool?
I think the problem lies in the simplicity of a statement that is dealing with a very complex topic: the will of God. Here is a short view on the will of God by RC Sproul that I have found helpful in the past:
The difficult knot to untie regarding God’s will is that evil exists in the world and is allowed within God’s “will”, yet we know this evil is not his pleasure. He does not desire children to starve or women to be raped, so in that sense (his will of disposition) these things are not his “will”. Yet in the sense that they occur and he is in control (his sovereign decretive will) they are his will. Confusing? It can be – but the clear point is that what God WANTS is not always what HAPPENS.
So back to the original question, we need to be very careful about what it means when we say God is “for” something. Does he desire every marriage to survive and flourish? I think so, and barring evil in the world that is exactly what would occur. But we already see that God’s will of disposition can be frustrated, and this is why the statement “God is for your marriage” is unhelpful – it implies that just because God wants something that it will happen.
At this point, I fear some would counter with “Yes, but it is not for you, Christian, to end the marriage”. That is, since we believe that it is God’s pleasure for all marriages to be successful, we should live in accordance with his will of disposition. However, even God being “for” a marriage is not necessarily his will of disposition once an abuser has gone to work. If an abuser does not consent to live with a Christian spouse in peace, the marriage that God is “for” has already been gravely violated – it does not exist. What exists may be a legal marriage (or shell of a marriage), but it is a perversion, and not something that God is “for”.
What I can say with certainty is that if you are a believer, God is “for” you. While your marriage may have become a perversion of what God is “for”, you have not. You have been cleansed and given a new heart. If God cannot be both “for” your marriage and “for” you, which do you think he would choose? Only a Pharisee will choose the former.