Thursday, December 17, 2009

Newly Married (part 2) Dt: 24:5

"When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken." (Deuteronomy 24:5)
My first thought at reading this verse was "How?" How do I bring joy and happiness to my wife? How do I, as this verse can also be translated, cheer up or gladden my wife? Knowing what to do doesn't help much unless you also know how to do it. As I was pondering this I read the following verse.
"Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full." (John 16:24)
Jesus desires to give us our needs, wants, and desires so that, not only would we have want we need and want but that in receiving them we might also have joy. Joy is the fruit of answered prayer. Sometimes, our lack of joy is just a lack of asking. James said, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask." (James 4:1-2) If we would but ask God for the things we need and desire then we would not only receive the petitions of our hearts but we would also find new joy in the Lord.

The key to bringing joy to our wives (or anyone else for that matter) is learning to become the answer to their prayers. When we learn to recognize the desires of their heart and then find ways to supply those desires then we have found the key to bringing them joy. For some it might be the desire for someone to understand them, for others it might be the need to feel that they are important to someone else. Other might simply need someone to help them and lift them up when they are overwhelmed and overburdened by the demands of everyday life. What ever the need, to the degree to which we can supply the want, we can also bring them joy.

This is not to say that, as husbands, we should expect (or even attempt) to meet every need and desire of our wives hearts for some needs can only be met by the Lord. Some people, when the wed, have the expectation that the other person is going to meet all their needs, that all their desires are going to be met in their spouse, that their spouse is going to rescue them and save them from their present circumstances and that they will never want again. Some people, when they look for a partner, are really looking for a savior. However, a husband or wife can never replace the true savior. As individuals we must learn to go to the Lord for our needs and desires and not expect another human to meat what only the Lord can provide. However, that being said, there are times when God can use us to be the answers to the prayers of others. When we learn to tune into the needs and desires of others then we can find ways to allow God to use us to become the answer to their prayers and a source of great joy to them as well.

David Robison

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Newly Married (part 1) Dt: 24:5

"When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken." (Deuteronomy 24:5)
Unfortunately, this does not mean that the new husband does not have to do any work for a full year, rather this law applies to the state's demands and expectations upon a newly married couple. The health of the family is to be given greater priority over the health of the state. A man's responsibility to his new bride is to take precedents over his responsibility to the state. The state must recognize and respect the importance of families and must not enact policies and behaviors that would intrude into the family in a way that would be destructive, harmful, or counter productive.

This verse deals specifically with required military service and other forced obligations to the state. Couples, in their first year of marriage, were not to be pressed into service by the state but rather were to be given a year to establish their marriage and their family. Unfortunately, such wisdom is not universally practiced in our modern military. It is quite common for couples to get married immediately prior to one or the other deploying for six months or longer. While there are many reasons why couples marry just before joining the military, it often leads to significant hardships and difficulties, especially when faced with prolonged separation due to military deployments. God's wisdom is either to wait to wed or wait to deploy (a choice not available to most new recruits).

I believe that my government, in particular, needs to rethink its policy of deploying newly wed solders. I also believe that the military needs to amend its policies of deploying mothers of young children. There is a surprising number of women deployed who have infants at home under the care of husbands and/or grandparents. I believe that the same wisdom espoused in this scripture can also be applied to deploying parents, especially mothers, with infants under then age of one year old.

While this scripture deals specifically with the government's demands on the family, often the modern church also intrudes upon families with excessive demands, especially for newly married couples. I am amazed how often the church takes newly married couples and places them in "ministry", making them youth pastors, worship leaders, and the like. The church is then in a position to place demands and expectations on them that can interfere with their growth as a married couple. I think it would be wise for churches to remove all expectations and demands on newlyweds for a year to give them time to grow together without the interfering demands of the church. Similarly, I am also concerned with the number of young families that serve as senior pastors or senior leaders in churches. In the first century church, their leaders were called "elders", because they were "elder". They were older saints who, not only had the benefit of years of wisdom, but also had the time to devote to the church, in that they had finished raising their children and could give a greater portion of their time to the church. While this verse does not prohibit young families in position of leadership within the church, such decisions should be based on the principal found in this verse: family first, church and state second.

David Robison

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Divorce, remarriage, and remarriage (Part 2) Dt 24:1-4

"Then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance." (Deuteronomy 24:4)
It is hard, in our modern world, to understand exactly why such an action is so onerous to the Lord, but God sees the remarriage of a woman, after an intervening marriage to another man, a great sin. God says that such sin greatly defines the land. "If a husband divorces his wife and she goes from him and belongs to another man, will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted?" (Jeremiah 3:1) The only clue given here for while it is such a great sin is because the woman has been "defiled". When a woman is divorced and remarries, she is no longer "clean" to her former husband and, while if she is divorced from her second husband she is free to marry another, she is not free to return to her first husband.

What I find interesting is not the defiled state of the woman but who it is who is responsible for her defilement. In speaking on divorce and remarriage, Jesus said, "everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matthew 5:32) Jesus declares that when a man divorces his wife and sends her away he causes her to commit adultery. In relation to the scripture in Deuteronomy, the woman is defiled not because of her actions but because of her husband's. Her husband is responsible for her defilement since he is the one who sent her away. I believe that it is for this reason, because it was the husband that divorced her and sent her away, that she is not to return to him. She is free to marry another but not him. When one divorces their wife or husband, except for the case of sexual immorality, God calls it treachery.
"'This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, 'For what reason?' Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. For I hate divorce,' says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'and him who covers his garment with wrong,' says the Lord of hosts. 'So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.'" (Malachi 2:13-14, 16)
To be sure, God is not speaking about divorce that is the result of sexual infidelity, abandonment, or abuse leading to an unsafe home environment, but in cases where one simply decides they no longer want to be married, their rejection of their spouse is treachery. When we deal treacherously with one another God holds us accountable, not only for our own actions, but also for the pain, hurt, and defilement we force upon others.

David Robison

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