Is this title something that is foreign to you, or have you also experienced some kind of failure in your life?
If you are a normal human being, male or female; even if you are still in your “teens”, I am sure you have experienced some kind of failure or at least a disappointment in SOMETHING as you have gone through life to the point of where you now are, unless you have had a very sheltered life! It seems to be the normal way of life for most who have lived any length of time to have experienced some failure or at least a set-back of some kind. The key to having some benefit from these failures or set-backs is what have we learned or are we learning from them? Some failures are simply poor planning or no planning at all.
Have you ever found yourself asking the question; why do things in life at one moment seem to be just what we want them to be and then they seem to begin to go all wrong, ending up in failure and disappointment? You may also ask yourself, why do these things happen like this, especially in the lives of people who are trying to be “good people” and may even consider themselves to be Christians, having a desire to do good things? We are all however, even if true Christians and in the COG somewhere; to go thru the trials of life, as the Bible indicates, but it does seem some have more troubles in life than others do; even though all have troubles of some kind. Take the ordinance of marriage for example; some want that special “someone” to spend life with and willingly take the vow to stick together through thick and thin, rich or poor as the words go—in sickness and health until death do they part! Many people who took those vows 30-40, even 50 & 60 years ago are still together simply because they have committed themselves to be and have kept their vows—even through some serious trials. With others, even in the same age bracket, not much commitment is recognizable and that is even showing up in the COG realm again in the last couple of decades. (See the article “Broken Vows” and the two part article titled “Divorce vs. Commitment” for more on this from those perspectives.) Why so much failure in relationships and marriage, which is supposed to join two people together in happiness and cooperation with each other for the rest of their life?
I would like to bring something to your attention in the remainder of this article, especially those in the scattered COG body. Many today seem to have forgotten the very reason they were called out of this world and the main thrust of what the Gospel of Christ is all about. God is building a Family and we personally are to be building a relationship with God and Christ, by the things we do or do not do in this life. Anyone, if truly called and has honestly repented of past sins, been properly baptized, should have received the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands ceremony. (Acts 2:38-39—using NKJ unless otherwise noted) If we have done those things properly, (Acts 5:32) we should not find ourselves in failure or disobedience by choice or of violating any truly covenanted marriage, with God and another convert. If we have covenanted with God and another convert with our own words, then why would this come to failure on our part and end in divorce? It seems it would have to be by the choice of at least one in the marriage! So let us think about this and consider a few things.
There is always a reason why some things end in failure—but it goes deeper than that for the called and chosen—getting right into our own personal lives and the commitments we make; into our very heart and thoughts when we fail to stay committed! We are supposed to, as true Christians, be putting on the mind of Christ (Phil.2:5) and should be totally committed to our relationship with God; certainly not allowing any failure of that to occur. None of us are completely there yet mentally though, or we would not still be here in these physical bodies. We would be resting in our graves along with the Heb.11 faithful and the dead in Christ, at this time. However, we also should know that to see what we need to focus on thru every situation or trial that comes, we have to study and believe every word of God and let the Holy Spirit lead us “into all truth” (John 16:13). That truth, the Bible never contradicts itself, in its original form. Then, we have to be trying to live by that Word, as Christ admonished us to do. I read a COG blog recently that was dealing with marriage and a statement caught my attention. It simply said; “the analogy of a broken marriage leads to the possibility of a divorce,--.” And the sentence went on, but this is the point I want to focus on. The marriage was already broken before any divorce comes into play and someone had to have broken it, which for them is admitting failure. So the title of this article is “Why failure?” because, as I have already noted it would be a deliberate choice of at least one of the two who joined in marriage to opt for divorce. (With the greater emphasis on marriage in the COG and among those claiming conversion)
Both male and female, when married and if converted, are already in a marriage covenant relationship to Christ and for failure to occur in this relationship may remove all chance of being a first fruit; perhaps even the loss of our chance at eternal life altogether, so marriage SHOULD BE taken more seriously by those involving themselves in it. 2Cor 11:2-3, Paul says “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you (applying this to each individual Christian in the COG) to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Marriage has some specific roles and guidelines for both parties; especially for training called and converted individuals for the future Spiritual marriage with Christ. So I hope this can set us to thinking in a right Spiritual mindset on this subject of letting a marriage fail. Satan cannot be allowed to divide our loyalties and change our commitments once made or vows before God—no exceptions can be allowed—the two become one or we may face failure, at least physically and through divorce; possibly lose any Spiritual education we might have obtained through that marriage relationship, had we endured and kept the commitments we initially made.
Let us think for a moment, why is there failure in anything, especially marriage relations—and by failure, I mean coming to the conclusion that your present path is leading the wrong way and cannot succeed, as it is. We have already seen above, there has to be a change of direction and mindset, from the original focus and making vows, for this to have occurred—unless there was already some fraudulent thinking going on, which is sin & deciet. (It is God who grants repentance to the sincere—which is the “change” needed for true Spiritual growth in either party.) What reasons can you think of, that brings about failure, using marriage or a very close friendship in the COG as a prime example? You may think of many more reasons than I am going to give, which I am sure there are, but I think these are at the root of it all. So many marriages, even close friendships today fail, or have the potential to come to failure, even in the COG now, so this is a subject we should want to ask and answer; Why Failure? The biggest reason is that of sin and failure to forgive others in their flaws or failure to repent of all of our own!
Some of those situations are easily seen by some—the fact that too many are unequally yoked together with unbelievers—is an obvious pull in the wrong direction for the truly converted—and sometimes those in the ministry are partly to blame for not doing their job well enough. Some knowingly allow this to happen and have even performed the marriage, in some cases of knowing two are being unequally yoked within the COG realm. But that is certainly a minority—because even those who have been determined to be converted are getting divorces, which in a sense is a failure on their own personal part. There are too many passages in the Bible that reveal something about this to go to in one article. However, Christ said this in response to the Pharisees; Mark 10:5-9 “And Jesus answered and said to them, "Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 "But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.' 7 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 'and the two shall become one flesh'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 "Therefore what God has joined together, let not man (or woman) separate."
Let us get some more Biblical perspective; God hates divorce as we find in Mali. 2:16, but God Himself divorced Israel, and of course that God being is the one who became Jesus Christ; who made the statement just read. The divorcing of ones mate (Breaking of covenant vows) has been an ongoing thing for thousands of years, but it certainly does seem to be on the increase in our day and in the COG. Why did this failure in a symbolic marriage with God and Israel happen? Israel was miraculously brought out of Egyptian captivity and after that had stated they would follow thru on their vows, which was to submit and obey God—but they really never did nor did they have a heart to do so from the very beginning. Israel was symbolically baptized in the Red sea and then later given the Law of God. Exo.19:5-8 'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." 7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 Then all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." This was the infamous “I do or I will” for Israel as they made their covenant with God. God was always faithful and never broke any of His promises—but did require obedience and loyalty. (Just like with most humans today who decide for divorce and to have their own way, Israel did not remain loyal.) This is one of the biggest reasons, at least 95% of the time why there is failure—it is broken promises or failure to follow thru with stated commitments and convictions—sometimes these are one and the same and there can be a whole host of other reasons in any physical marriage that ends in divorce. A lot of “marriage counselors” and the writers of books on the subject these days seem to never really get the big picture, when it comes to the Biblical pattern of & for marriage. Many times the man is the greater focus but women can be just as “treacherous” with their mates as men are and sometimes even more-so. These counselors tend to want to shift all or most of the blame onto the man if the marriage fails—but even though the man has the responsibility to lead, God does not do that—holding each partner responsible for their own doings and fulfillment of each ones role in marriage or any braking of the vows they have committed themselves to.
There is always a leadership role in a marriage that many times are forgotten, neglected, abused or misused and the world in general has totally lost sight of that Biblical principle. A man is to be the head of his household, but is mostly portrayed by holly-wood as a bumbling and incompetent person, perhaps committing adultery or setting any one of many wrong examples and is the reason for any failing marriage. Another wrong example, even in the COG today that people will pick up on is where there are many divisions among older ministers in their relationships with one another! These ministers are naturally people the congregation looks to and they are supposedly men who committed themselves to be in unity and peace with fellow workers for Gods purpose. They set a wrong example by this dis-unity and this is creating more COG groups all the time, which may affect families and that is simply not of God. He allows it, yes—and knew it was coming, but it is not His will. It further divides the Family of God and diminishes His work! God does not “take sides” in these matters nor in a failing marriage—unless there is sin involved. Notice what we find in Rom 2:5-11 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds": 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—(Think of this going on in any failing COG marriage) indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.” As hard as this is to grasp, even some ministers in the COG realm (Various groups & organizations) are guilty of the sin of Partiality when it comes to certain other ministers or even divorce and remarriage, especially if it is one of their own!
We are all being tested individually, including the ministry and should know Christ is not divided, nor should those be who are in training to be His Bride. When ministers set a wrong example, this failure on their part can affect their whole congregations or at least some in them. Not everyone in a church congregation are converted however, nor do all have the same depth of conversion. What Paul was inspired to say to the very COG is this; 1Cor.1:9-10 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Apply that to marriage and the two becoming one flesh.
It was inspired to be written; Gen 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This is in fact what Christ was referring to in the passage we read above. If a man & a woman have truly become one through their marriage vows, then who is to take the lead in all matters where there may exist some disagreement, according the Biblical example? 1Cor.11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, (her husband) and the head of Christ is God.” This has not changed with the times and still applies among true Christians. In Eph. 5:23-24 it says; “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He (Christ) is the Savior of the body. (True COG—Spiritual organism) 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Now think about how this also relates to a Marriage in the COG; Eph. 4:1-5 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;”--. Sometimes we forget that just because a person goes to “church” and has for many years—that does not mean they are converted or have a right understanding and ability to correctly apply Scriptural instructions. (2Tim.3:16-17) Some do not even want to, knowing they will not always “get their way” if they do! HWA came to the conclusion that even in the ministry under his leadership some were not converted. That would certainly apply to the professed members.
Some people congregate with the COG just for the hope of receiving the benefits and do so selfishly to gain something, which sometimes may include a selfish reason for marriage to a true convert. This is purely inconsideration and absolutely not a sound bases for any marriage, especially one in the COG. There needs to be solid and honest communication—the getting to really know your potential mate and their habits before any marriage vow is expressed. Sometimes people want to rush into a marriage before their true self or their motives can be discovered. This would be considered a fraudulent marriage (Not being honest is certainly cause for failure) and God would not even bind a marriage based on this kind of dishonesty, according to the many aspects of Scripture dealing with marriage. It will become obvious that one who allows this kind of mindset to continue is not converted—not led by the Holy Spirit and that it is an unequally yoked marriage—but damage because of this sin may come out of this deception, even if no children are involved.
The Scriptures that we have looked at above have their application to members of the COG, which has been covenanted in marriage to Christ if converted—so they also apply to any physical & Spiritual marriage within the COG because God is the third party in that marriage, if it truly is bound to start with. When the Holy Spirit is not what ultimately leads in those marriages, ultimate failure in that marriage is likely; even after receiving the Holy Spirit, this kind of thinking can happen. Note this from Rom 8:14-17 (RSV) 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (or daughters) of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of Son-ship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" (Either individual in the marriage) 16 it is the Spirit (it)self bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him (Through trials) in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
When we, as the called and chosen by receiving the Holy Spirit, begin to forget or deliberately ignore our covenant & commitments–we have stopped walking down the straight and narrow path and gone back to the wide and easy way that leads to destruction. This can also be an abandonment of the marriage, even though a divorce has not yet occurred, even as noted above—the mind has already gone there. Some have never really left that wide path, being deceived by their own mind in a desire to get something from a convert for themselves, as already mentioned—really still wanting to have things go their own way in the end. This also happens in marriage. Any schism or division actually begins with a person in their mind—just as sin does, influenced by Satan the devil—when that person chooses to be less than honest and upfront on anything. That will open the door for Satan to come in and turn things sour. God can look on the heart, but we as humans cannot do that with our mates. Trust and confidence has to be built over time and that happens when we communicate with each other in open honesty, even in the bitterest disagreement. This builds up a relationship and works toward more compatibility and we must always seek reconciliation with one another. The opposite will begin to tear down and destroy even what is there—if not recognized and changed in time.
Many women today also don’t like the “submissive” part to a man, which includes some in the COG who like to “wear the pants” in the family. This also will lead to sin and frustration in the marriage. 1 Pet 3:5-7 “For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. (Certainly if there is threat of bodily harm to the wife or husband from the other party, this can be considered terror.) V.7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” These principles are not debatable, as this is what the word of God reveals. Unwillingness to acknowledge any cause of division and repent, will lead to eventual failure, even in Spiritual matters. We, as true Christians have committed ourselves to a marriage covenant relationship with Christ. Sometimes we may not see things realistically from Scripture because we twist it around to our way of thinking—but that is not being obedient to the word of God nor letting the Holy Spirit lead, even if we convince ourselves that it is.
There has to be and always is a CAUSE for every EFFECT. If the “old man or woman” is allowed to resurrect itself carnality will set in again and the marriage will certainly be affected. When we have lived a lie and failed to repent, then it is only natural to continue that right on into a marriage relationship. There are Biblical reasons for divorce and everyone who is a divorcee may not have brought that divorce on. Jesus Christ is not going to marry anyone who cannot be totally honest and ready to give up everything for Him, even physical life if called on to do so. Many Scriptures teach us these things. Human marriages sometimes fail because those involved do not know when the other person is being secretive or knowingly deceptive before the marriage—and then it comes out later. Deceptions do occur and the unwitting and innocent suffer, ending up being taken advantage of by the un-repentant and unconverted.
So again, Why failure in marriages?
The short answer is SIN and a willingness to break the Commandments of God for selfish desires, but in marriage it can be almost anything that is allowed to lead to broken covenants and commitments that have been previously made. Normally these are some kind of sins. These will also cause a spiritual failure as well, if not overcome in time and repented of. (Rev. 3:19) Some people think they can knowingly break the Commandments to “Get” their way and then just repent later. However, that is not a repentant mindset. It is the sincerely repentant who strive to avoid sin in the first place and are the over-comers who will inherit eternal life, to be in the most important marriage of all, which is what all true Christians are in training for. There can be no failure or deliberate neglect in that relationship or we have no hope! Sin is the cause of failure, even in marriage—especially those who have planned for divorce long before it happens.
(Written by the editor for TCOGMSO)