Marriage in the church is a lifelong contract


Dear CoULeaders

Greetings to you in the mighty name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, and Happy New Year!

I have come across a local preacher who disagrees with our teaching that marriage is for life. Pr. Bujingo claims to have read the Bible numerous times but failed to find where it says that marriage should be for life. He then says that Protestants and Catholics have believed a lie from Satan, which is causing people to kill their spouses in order to get rid of them. Nevertheless I see in the Bible reasons to seek a life-long marital union. Some pertinent scriptures are here below:

In 1 Corinthians 7:39 Paul says: “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the LORD.” This admonition is similar to Romans 7:2, 3 where Paul says: “For ex-ample, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.”
Malachi 2:16 ‘“The man who hates (fails to love) and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.’ Unfaithfulness is not only sexual. It can also be understood in terms of fulfilling the responsibility of providing for and protecting the spouse. From a pastoral stand-point each couple I have spoken with that has had divorce speaks of how heart-wrenching it is. One divorcee told me: “I wouldn’t wish it on my enemy.”
Perhaps the most poignant of Paul’s admonitions is in Ephesians 5:25 where he says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.” This is such a tall order for the man because we are supposed to compare our love for our wives to Christ’s love for the Church! In other words, if Jesus would “divorce” me (i.e. nullify my being his brother, reject the efficacy of his death on the cross for me and call me no longer a child of God) for whatever reason—my sin, my rebellion, my evil desires, my many failures, etc., then I might do the same to my wife for whatever reason.
The exception is given in Matthew 5:31-32 where Jesus says: “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 sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Those who are struggling with marital infidelity have an out and, according to Jesus, it is the offended spouse that has the right to call for divorce.
There are more verses in the Bible about marriage and divorce. But these will suffice to make my point. The reason why I have written to you, Church of Uganda leaders, is because Pastor Bugingo has publicly pointed his finger at our face. Shall we remain silent as in other cases? Will any of you who are locally present respond to this man–publicly?

The author is a third-generation Anglican priest licensed in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, USA