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Why ‘Falling Out of Love’ Never Justifies Divorce

Interview with John Piper

Audio Transcript

Happy Friday. Thanks for listening to the podcast! Today, Pastor John joins us over the telephone for a question from a perplexed father who writes in anonymously. “Pastor John, my adult son wants to get a divorce from his wife. They have been married for two years and have a 1-year-old son and a newborn baby girl of [10] days old. I’m totally perplexed by the timing. I don’t understand why he feels unhappy, but he claims he is ‘no longer in love’ with his wife anymore.

What would you say to someone who is ‘falling out of love’ with their spouse, and why that’s no grounds for divorce?”

Well, what I would say to them face to face would depend partly on their demeanor, but I don’t have him face to face. So I’m just going to say what I think he probably needs to hear. Whether I would say it exactly like this, I don’t know. But here we go.

Beyond Reasoning

We would be naïve, I think, to suppose that people, young or old — our own children or those of others — will act on the basis of reason and biblical truth when it comes to justifying divorce. I would guess that 95 cases out of 100 people do what they want to do and then find reasons to do it. Those who claim to believe the Bible will find biblical reasons to do it. They know what they’re going to do. They want to do it. They do it.

We should be realistic as we talk to people, and we should pray. That’s the greatest realism. Pray and fast that God would do what our biblical arguments and reasoning, by themselves, could never do.

Having said that, I totally believe in speaking the truth in love because it’s God’s way. It’s God’s design that people should know the truth and the truth would set them free. And that context is free from sin, like leaving your wife.

I would hang my thoughts on three words: joy, significance, and ownership. I would try to make those three words as compelling and winsome as I can, but also as forceful as Jesus and the apostles did for the sake of staying married. Let me say a word about what I mean by joy, significance, and ownership.

Joy

I would say to this young man who wants a divorce because he’s not in love, “Oh, what joy lies ahead for those who do not break their covenant even when their hearts are broken.” Here’s what I mean. I believe that most couples who stay married for [50] or [60] years fall in and out of love numerous times. I say that with not the slightest hint of trying to be funny.

It is, in my judgment, almost ludicrous to think that we experience “being in love” the same for the entire 60 years, just like we felt at the beginning of that relationship. That’s just utterly crazy. It is naïve and immature to think that staying married is mainly about staying in love.

In a relationship between two sinners forced to live as close as married couples live, it is naïve to think that every season will be one of warmth and sweetness and sexual romance. That’s just contrary to almost the entire history of the world and contrary to every makeup of fallen human nature.

Staying married is not first about staying in love. It’s about covenant keeping, promise-keeping. Be a man and woman of your word, a man and woman who keeps the vows to be committed for better or for worse, a man and a woman of character. That’s what it’s about.

This covenant keeping relates to being in love. We get this. I thought about how to say this. This covenant keeping relates to being in love the way gardening in the fall relates to roses in the spring. This is why I said a minute ago, “Oh, what joy lies ahead for those who do not break their covenant even when their hearts are broken.”

John Piper
John Piper
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, and most recently Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship.

Kevin Bacon Surprises Students at High School Where ‘Footloose’ Was Filmed — Announces He’s Visiting Them for Prom

After some very serious lobbying from students at Payson High School in Payson, Utah, where “Footloose” was filmed, Kevin Bacon announced Friday that he would be returning to the high school for this year’s senior prom. 

“My Last Thought Was a Desperate Plea to God, ‘Lord, Give Me the Strength to Die Well’”: Mom With ‘Invisible Illness’ Shares Her Harrowing...

"'Help me to not look like I am suffocating,' I prayed. 'Lord, please protect my son’s heart from this.’ And I faded away."

“My Husband Turned Blue to Gray”: Wife In Shock Over the One Drink That Killed Her Husband

"The doctor's exact words were 'People drinking these drinks are playing Russian Roulette with their lives.' I was blown away and couldn’t believe just one drink could do this damage"... And KIDS can buy these anywhere.