“No unhappiness so poignant as the unhappiness of an unhappy marriage”

September 12, 2013
Anglican clergyman and evangelical scholar John Stott, who died in 2011.

Anglican clergyman and evangelical scholar John Stott, who died in 2011.

I said in my sermon on Sunday that I decided to split last Sunday’s sermon text, Matthew 5:27-32, in two. I needed to say more about lust, adultery, marriage, and divorce than any one sermon ought to permit.

How do these megachurch pastors get away with 40-minute sermons? I’m slightly jealous.

I live in the land of 20-minute sermons. And while I usually borrow three or four extra minutes from the other parts of the liturgy, I feel guilty doing so.

Be that as it may, marriage and divorce are this Sunday’s topic, based on vv. 31-32. Another tough text, to say the least.

The following paragraph from John Stott, however, nicely summarize my own thoughts as I consider what to say about this topic.

I confess to a basic reluctance to attempt an exposition of these verses. This is partly because divorce is a controversial and complex subject, but even more because it is a subject which touches people’s emotions at a deep level. There is almost no unhappiness so poignant as the unhappiness of an unhappy marriage, and almost no tragedy so great as the degeneration of what God meant for love and fulfillment into a non-relationship of bitterness, discord and despair. Although I believe that God’s way in most cases is not for divorce, I hope I shall write with sensitivity, for I know the pain which many suffer, and I have no wish to add to their distress. Yet it is because I am convinced that the teaching of Jesus on this and every subject is good—intrinsically good, good for individuals, good for society—that I take my courage in both hands and write on.[†]

Similarly, I will “take my courage in both hands” and preach on. Please come if you’re able. The sermon won’t just be for married people.

John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1978), 92.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s