Crystal Lake’s Methodist minister Steve Bullmer has drawn on his divorce for sermons July a year ago (links below) and last month. Yesterday, I put up the distinctions between the two words translated “divorce” in English Bibles. You may be surprised at the difference, which seems to be glossed over in most translations.
In today’s mini-sermon, Bullmer talks to those who haven’t married yet, but might like to do so someday:
For those of you who are not married, and want to be married somewhere down the road; children, youth, I want you to listen to this.
This is what I think the biblical teaching says to you:
Marriage is a lifetime commitment and you’re supposed to take it very seriously.
But it’s hard to sign up for a lifetime commitment and know that you’re going to be able to keep that commitment for the rest of your life … if you’ve only known that other person for a few weeks.
Now yes, I know couples who knew on the first date that they were meant for each other, and it’s a joy when that turns out to be true.
But for the vast majority of us, we need a lot more time to really get to know that person—get to know their strengths of character and their shortcomings and their failures.
You need to look with eyes wide open at the person you are dating.
When we are dating we tend to overlook the other person’s shortcomings and failures; we tend to think,
“Oh, it will be better; I can live with that; my love will change them”….
It doesn’t work that way.
Here’s what I learned—the hard way:
There are a whole lot of nice people in the world … the vast majority of whom I have no business being married to!
Lyrics to rock and roll love songs and plotlines to romantic comedies are poor guides for choosing your life partner!
Get to know the other person well before you decide to marry them.
And here’s the main thing you need to know about that person:
You can’t change them.
What you see is what you get.
If you don’t love the person as they are, then who exactly are you in love with?
An idealized person that doesn’t exist!
Address the red flags before the marriage; it’s a serious problem when you don’t see eye to eye on your core values and the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the red flags, and not your raging hormones. If you don’t deal with the red flags, if you just sweep them under the rug and think they will work themselves out later, you are wrong.
And guess what?
If you marry that person without talking about the big issues between you, they think you have accepted them for who they are, as they are … and that big, false assumption will come back to bite you sooner rather than later. What are you going to do? Five years down the road say,
“Oh, by the way, I’ve never liked that about you, but I just didn’t say anything about it; and you’ve been irritating the heck out of me.”
And one more thing:
Don’t let “divorce” be a part of your vocabulary.
Don’t think it; don’t speak it.
I know some of you who use the word “divorce” as a weapon, as a threat:
“Well, let’s just get a divorce.”
Words have power.
First you think it; then you begin to say it; then the day comes that you act on it.
Take the word “divorce” out of your vocabulary.
Links to my articles about the sermons (containing much about his divorce) in which Pastor Bullmer used to introduce himself to the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake last summer follow:
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Services at the First United Methodist Church (at the corner of West Crystal Lake Avenue and Dole, both of which intersect with Route 14 at a stop light) are 5 PM on Saturday and 8 AM, 9:30 AM and 11 AM. The 9:30 service is the most traditional. The 11 o’clock one is the most contemporary. That’s when Pastor Steve takes off his coat.
Other parts of this series can be found at the links below: