God Just Wants Me Happy (the happiness myth)

“Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith” (Malachi 2:15-16, NIV).

All over the world we are hearing reports of solid believers and Christian leaders filing for divorce or entering into illicit relationships outside of their marriage covenant. We expect this kind of life choice from individuals that have not been saved and who have not had the benefit of Christian training and revelation from the Word of God. It’s quite surprising and disappointing to realize that covenant means little more to believers these days than the to those that do not profess Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. I think a person who abuses his or her spouse should be charged with a felony and go to jail (and not be defended by the Church).  I think that the Lord is able to restore a marriage wrecked by adultery (but I understand a dissolution when serial adultery is involved or when the offending party refuses to repent or does not desire restoration). I also know that some times spouses are literally abandoned by their partners and the Apostle Paul made it clear that a believer is not bound in this situation (1 Corinthians 7:15).

Like me, you have probably observed that most of these marriages are not being dissolved because of abuse, adultery, or abandonment, but because one or both partners is “not happy.” The pursuit of individual happiness has begun to eclipse their obedience to the Word of God after all, they muse, “God wants me to be happy.” No friend, God wants you to honor your word, honor his Word, and honor the nature of the marriage covenant. This “happiness myth” is just one (although a powerful one) of the many delusions sweeping through the Church in these last days. Perhaps we’ve forgotten to “take up our cross daily” or the testimony of Paul, “I died daily – I mean that.”

Happiness that is based on our emotions and that violates the Word is fleeting (it will leave as fast as it came even though “sin is pleasurable for a season”). The Bible offers a deep-seated joy that manifests in happiness but is rooted in our relationship with God and our commitment to his standards and Word. A brief study of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 reveals that “blessedness” or “happiness” stems from pursing things like meekness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peace rather that seeking happiness for happiness’ sake.

It is a good time for the body of Christ to remember that God hates divorce and that he equates this “breaking of faith” with violence (Malachi 2:10-17). It is critical that we remember that according to Jesus, the root of divorce is a hard heart (Matthew 19:1-12). At least one of the marriage partners has hardened the heart and that is the core reason for the demise of the relationship. Every other conceivable reason (other than those mentioned above) stems from the hardening of the heart (in other words they have lost spiritual sensitivity).

If you have been through the demise of a marriage I want to remind you that divorce is not the unpardonable sin nor is it a perpetual sin. That said, the only way to succeed in the future is to repent, and reject the thinking, behavior, and choices that led you down that path to begin with. The Lord is well able and willing to redeem you and make something awesome and beautiful with your life if you will place the hurt, the pain, and the failure in his hands and make up your mind to live your life God’s way rather than the relativistic manner of this post-Christian society. There’s nothing you can do about the eggs that have already been scrambled, but there is plenty you can to stop any more eggs from being scrambled in your life.

I want to exhort you to reject the politically correct mindset that says that the supreme goal for any person including the believer is happiness. Remember that covenant trumps a hard heart and feelings of frustration or unhappiness. In a future blog I will be sharing some simple principles to empower you to stand for marriage in this time of great confusion and compromise and help you to have that Bible-based, healthy, and covenant-keeping marriage that you’ve always wanted.