“Therefore man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, 25).

One flesh, perfectly united together, glued together in relationship. This is covenant, not a contract. In marriage, God created a covenant where we are glued together; spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

The marital covenant is perfect, but people are not.

We are a mess.

I’m a mess, just ask my wife. But ask me, and I will tell you the same of her. We’re imperfect, sinful people.

This past week I spoke with a number of friends who are divorced. One guy who works in the medical told me, “I will never forget my divorce. It is the most painful thing I ever went through in my entire life. I thought it was an option, but then I discovered after the divorce it was the worst possible option I could have ever chosen.”

He used the medical term avulsion to describe divorce. An avulsion is a nasty tear on the body

When my sister-in-law was young, she slid down a metal slide and her arm caught on a piece of metal that was sticking up. It tore her arm. An avulsion is not a clean cut. It rips apart the skin making it hard to sew back together, leaving behind an ugly scar.

The consequences of divorce cut deeply, jaggedly because when you bind a man and woman together, they become welded. When you rip them apart it begins to create a painful avulsion.

Another statement from a divorced friend was “I have never felt so unloved until I was unloved by Christian brothers and sisters.”

As Christians, we need to be sorry for how we’ve treated divorcees, for shaming and worse. Divorce is not unforgivable. If you are divorced, God loves you, as always. He will never leave you.

We are all flawed. The only perfect person is Jesus Christ.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31).

The issue of divorce is complex. But it is clear that God intends for two imperfect people, bound in union by covenant, to never separate.

I meet with men all the time who come to me as their last hope. It’s a sad situation when I sit down with another man to talk with him about his marriage only to discover that he’s coming to me as a pastor to seek permission for divorce. Sometimes we are looking for a loophole.

What’s so painful is they come with a pre-decided mind. So I know there’s not a lot of hope in that moment. Often, the first statement out of my mouth, “I am not going to give you permission today to divorce.”

I usually make the statement twice.

After a bit of listening, I’ll discover that this man engaged in 15 years of idolatry has welcomed the possibility of divorce. It’s the small moments of idolatry over a long period of time that lead to divorce.

Activities. It starts off small, but over time we become consumed and drift away from the person we said that we love. And we drift away from God, too.

Career. We put in so many hours that work consumes our thinking. We forget how to engage with our wife or husband.

Fantasy. Young, old, women and men–we live in fantasy worlds of Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. We maintain our anonymity so can behave however we want. Graphic pornography, deep emotional connections, or secret little conversations all take us away from intimacy with God, and our spouse.

All toxic but avoidable.

We don’t understand where each tiny step takes us until we’re in deep. We need to wake up and take action. Now. Say no to the idolatry and yes to God, and our spouses.