Do you hope for a happy marriage? Do you want to find your soulmate? Can you still be a caring person if you walk away from your marriage? In the third of this mini-series (Eps. 138-142), Pastor Lutzer exposes 3 modern myths about marriage that keep us from seeing eternity’s perspective.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes With Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again today as we continue our series “Making the Best of a Bad Decision,” specifically, we’re talking about marriage. Many of us can testify that marriage has been very fulfilling. It has its challenges but it has many, many blessings but I don’t need to tell you about the fact that there are many who are in unhappy relationships. Many many years ago, here at the Moody Church, we had a speaker by the name of J. Allan Petersen and he wrote a book, entitled, “The Myth of the Greener Grass.” I remember reading that book way back in the 1980s. I wasn’t able to find my copy in my library but I decided to write down some other myths that people have about marriage and I think it will put marriage in perspective.
The first myth is this, that “my happiness is most important, that’s what’s really critical.” A man said to me, “I want a divorce because I’m unhappy and I can’t imagine that God would want me to be unhappy for the rest of my life.” Well, think of Jesus in Gethsemane. What if Jesus had said, “Father, I’m not going through with this because it makes me unhappy and I don’t think you want me to be unhappy.” Now, of course, I don’t want this man to think that he has to live perpetually in unhappiness. Next time, we’re going to talk about some important principles to improve a marriage but the first issue is not your happiness. To put it as clearly as I possibly can, your holiness is more important than your happiness.
Let me go to a second myth: “I have to just find the right person; I have to find my soulmate.” When I came to Moody Church fourty years ago, there was a man whom I shall call John (his name, actually, was not John but I use that name) and he was involved in ministry and he was leaving his wife for another woman. Many men here at Moody Church, to their everlasting credit, went to where he was working to try to talk him out of his decision but I remember him telling me, “Pastor Lutzer, I’ve been living in a desert. Now, I have found my oasis and you’re telling me to go back to the desert.” He and his wife had a son but he walked away from the marriage and he married his “soulmate,” this “wonderful oasis.” About ten years later, he wrote me a ten-page letter. I think I still have it somewhere. I’ll never forget it. He talked about the devastation of his second marriage. If I remember correctly, his soulmate actually, in effect, kicked him out of the house. She brought children to the marriage. One of them committed suicide. It was horrible and he admitted it would have been better to stay in the desert than to find this oasis which turned out to be a very poisonous oasis indeed.
My friend, it is more important that you be the right person than that you marry the right person. What we must understand is marriage is a very complicated relationship. You take two sinners, both of whom bring their own darkness and their own baggage into the relationship. You put them together and you say, now, please live happily. All marriages have their struggles, their disappointments, their arguments, but in the process of working through these, God works in our lives to show us things about ourselves that we would never discover in any other way. I need to emphasize that it is not just meeting the right person, though I do hope that you have prayed about whom you married. It’s not just about meeting the right person, it is about being the right person.
Now, very quickly let me give you another myth, namely, “I can walk away from my marriage and still be a caring person.” Really? You’ve devastated your family but you’re caring? Like one brother said to the other, “I’m having an affair but don’t tell my wife because I love her very much.” Really? Simple fact is that when you walk away and you devastate others, the consequences are huge. One day, a woman came to Rebecca and me and she said, “You know, my husband walked away. We had four children together and now he wants to be able to attend, you know, their performances, if they’re in a play at school or graduation, he wants us to sit together and pretend that everything is okay and appear happy.” I wrote a letter to him and I wish I had kept that letter, perhaps I have somewhere where I said, “You know that your ex-wife wants exactly what you do, namely for you to live together in some kind of harmony but here you are, you’re pretending that nothing really great happened. You’ve devastated your family, you haven’t even asked forgiveness; you’ve just walked away and you’ve said, ‘Well, you know God can forgive. We have a wonderful deal going. I’m walking away but it’s nothing that God can’t forgive’ — and you have belittled what you have done and you have no understanding of the devastation that you have brought. Now, unless you deal with that in an honest way, don’t pretend that you can be this wonderful Christian and go to see your kids along with their mother and pretend that everything is okay.”
Well, I could say so much more but I want to conclude today with a story and encourage you to look at your marriage from an eternal perspective. It’s the story of a pastor that I knew. Thirty-four years of marriage, he walks away from his marriage because, after all, you know, it wasn’t fulfilling and he marries the woman of his dreams, okay. So, he’s sitting on the couch one day, three months after his marriage and he drops dead. That certainly was not expected but it happened. Now, I want to ask you a question. If he were to look at his marriage from the standpoint of eternity, would he have made this decision? Would he not, as a Christian, have said to himself, “You know, it would be better for me to continue to live within my marriage, even though it isn’t everything I’d like it to be, than, to marry someone, drop dead shortly after, and have to explain all this to Jesus at the judgment seat.” And by the way, here’s an interesting issue. He’s there — his body is there, he’s having a funeral, of course, and people are there and and here’s his casket. Who stands at the head of the casket? The mother who gave birth to four of his children or this new woman whom he just so recently married? You see the complications that happen? I urge you today, look at your marriage from the standpoint of eternity and ask yourself, “What relationship and what commitment brings most glory to God?” It’s not about you. It’s about God. It’s about His faithfulness; it’s about living for Jesus Christ, no matter the cost.
Don’t fall for these myths. Well, next time, I’m going to talk to you about some principles that I think will help you, even if your marriage isn’t everything that it should be and we’re going to move on. Thanks for joining me today but as for today, as you have frequently heard me say, you just go with God.