The broken home has become perhaps the No. 1 social problem of North America, and ultimately it could lead to the destruction of our civilization. The basic unit of any society is the home—so when the home begins to break, the society is on its way to disintegration. This problem does not make screaming headlines, but like termites, it is eating away at the heart and core of our social and moral structure.
Wherever the cancer of the broken home remains unchecked, this malignant growth eats its way into the vitals of national existence. This is one lesson that stands out with prominence on the pages of world history.
Many historians attribute the disintegration of the Roman Empire in part to the broken home. In a study of moral conditions in Greece, Persia and Babylonia, scholars agreed that divorces and broken homes, more than any other single factor, contributed to the downfall of these nations.
Every day letters come to me from broken-hearted persons who are victims of broken homes. Millions of North Americans have come to regard lightly the vows taken at marriage. As a result, we have an alarming rate of divorce, to say nothing of a host of annulments and separations.
The divorce record does not tell the whole story. In some homes where husband and wife continue together, many times their marriage takes on the characteristics of an endurance contest, an attempt to hold together to the bitter end for social and other reasons.
Neither do the divorce courts tell of the thousands of boys and girls under court supervision, in orphanages and in corrective institutions—nor of those living abnormal lives because of broken homes.
What Did God Say?
It is high time that our so-called experts on marriage and the home turn to the Bible.
It was God who made the human race male and female. It was God who commanded, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28, KJV). It was God who said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18, NIV).
It was God Himself who brought the bride to her husband in the first marriage. It was God’s Word that declared for all ages, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NIV).
We speak of “holy matrimony,” and holy it is, for it is the oldest of God’s institutions. It is not merely a social and civil arrangement for the convenience of two people. It is a divine bestowal that takes a man and a woman and makes them one. All through the Old and New Testaments, marriage is exalted as the very highest of relationships.
Writing to the Ephesians, Paul compares the love that a husband has for his wife to the devotion Christ has for His Church.
Marriage Is for Life
When God instituted matrimony, He made no provision for the separation of husband and wife. They are to cleave together. Marriage, according to the divine ordinance, is a lifelong union.
The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Matthew 19:3, NIV).
Christ ruled, after directing their attention to the divine institution of marriage, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6, NIV).
To emphasize the words of Jesus, Paul says in Romans 7:2, “by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive” (NIV).
But perhaps you will ask, “Is there no exception to this comprehensive, sweeping divine rule?”
There is, for in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of divorce: “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32, NIV).
In other words, marital unfaithfulness can break the marriage relation and may be cited by the innocent party as a reason for separation.
The sin of immorality is so terrible in the sight of God that it is the only thing that He allows to break the marriage relationship. Woe unto you if you are guilty of this sin! Unless you confess your sins and forsake them, it would be better had you never been born.
Some years back the Census Bureau listed in a bulletin on marriage and divorce the following reasons for which divorces were granted in the United States: adultery, cruelty, desertion, drunkenness, neglect to provide, vagrancy, conviction of crime, separation, bigamy and incompatibility. At the root of every one of these reasons is sin. Until we do something about sin, we are going to have broken homes.
Tens of thousands of homes are on the rocks. Many couples are fearful lest their homes, too, will be broken someday. There is one great insurance policy that you can take out to guarantee the unity and happiness of your home. It is simple: Make Christ the center of your home.
A home is like a solar system. The sun, the center, holds the solar system together. If it were not for the sun, the solar system would fly to pieces. Unless the Son of God is put at the center of your home, it, too, may fly to pieces. Make the Son of God the center of your home.
Attend church regularly. See to it that your entire family is faithful in Sunday school and church attendance and is integrated into the various activities of the church. Fewer families that are faithful in the church suffer from a broken home.
Be certain that there is loving Christian discipline in the home. Obedience of children to parents is one of the greatest of all virtues. The most effective way for parents to command obedience is by a clean, pure, wholesome, Christian example.
Establish a daily family worship. For instance, say a prayer of thanksgiving at each meal. Have a special time in the morning or evening when all the family gathers together to hear the Bible read and have prayer.
Many women have written to our offices about husbands who are not Christians, who are not in sympathy with religious exercises at home and who live drunken and immoral lives. These wives want to know what to do.
A partial answer for these women can be found in the words of another whose husband was an alcoholic for more than 10 years. After he had found Christ as his personal Savior and their home had become a Christian home, the woman said, “I’m glad I never left him, for now that he has found Christ, I could never love any man more.”
Can It Happen?
But some will say, “Surely it is not as easy as that for a home to become united and happy.”
I believe that it is, for at the very base of your problems is the greater problem of a heart that is not right with God. If the members of the home get right with God, the problems of incompatibility, neglect and other excuses for broken homes will be cleared away.
If the foundations of your home are about to break, make sure that you yourself are a believer in Christ, having had your sins washed away through faith in Him.
Then, ask God for the patience and love to win that wayward husband or that unfaithful wife. That husband or wife can be gloriously changed by the power of God. Your home can be so completely transformed that it will have been worth waiting all these months or years.
Scores of others write, “I am already divorced and remarried. Shall I leave my present husband or wife and go live with my first mate?”
The sins of the past cannot be undone, just as you cannot unscramble eggs. The primary thing for you to do is to confess your past sins and failures, making sure, as far as your responsibility lies, that your home is a Christian home. The Bible promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV).
In our Los Angeles meetings years ago, when the invitation was given one evening, a well-dressed business executive came forward to accept Christ. Down another aisle came a woman wearing a mink coat. Both of them were ushered into the inquiry room. Both were wonderfully converted.
As they were about to leave, they happened to catch sight of one another. Until a few months before, they had been husband and wife. Now they were divorced. As they looked into each other’s eyes, they embraced, and their tears mingled together. They were remarried the next week.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31, NIV).
What Christ has done in thousands of homes, He can do in yours if you will let Him.
Are you sure of your salvation?
Follow the Steps to Peace online to recommit your life to Jesus.