“Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value systems.”—John R.W. Stott – Anglican Cleric
On Sunday, we had the honor of performing a reaffirmation of marriage ceremony for a wonderful couple in our congregation. The Millers were celebrating 31 years of marriage. They exemplify for all what loving one another for better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others and pledging faithfulness to each other means. Over the years our congregation has watched them exhibit their favorite word, “sticktoitiveness,” through various serious trials and tests. They reflect Christ’s enduring love for His church, and His Bride’s response, and it is beautiful.
However, many couples are not so fortunate. The US has the 6th highest divorce rate in the world. Approximately 50% of first marriages will end in divorce, 60% and 73% of second and third marriages respectively will split. The younger you marry, the more likely you are to divorce. Not only that, people are showing less and less propensity to marry. The marriage rate has split in half over the last 30 years. In 1990, 10 out of 1000 people chose to tie the knot. In 2022, just 5 out of 1000. There are all kinds of interesting statistics on this.
People choose to separate for many reasons: infidelity, abandonment, financial stressors, marrying too young, addiction and domestic violence are among them. Many couples these days cite “irreconcilable differences” as their reason for splitting. This term means that the end of the marriage was not the fault of one party or a specific reason. Instead, the marriage partnership no longer works and is beyond repair. We recently watched this as the 13-year marriage of NFL star Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bunchen was ‘irretrievably broken.’
IRRECONCILABLE means representing points of view that are so different from each other that they cannot be made compatible. Sometimes irreconcilability entails an implacable hostility that is not limited to marriages. In Genesis 13, Abram and his nephew Lot were traveling together toward the land of promise. God had blessed them both—their herds and cattle were multiplying. Verse 6 says the land could no longer support both of them living so close together, and disputes were occurring between their herdsmen. To reconcile the irreconcilable, in verse 8, “Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! 9 The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” Lot chose the land in the plain of Jordan near Sodom, which eventually got him into trouble, but the conflict between the two family members was abated. Abram took what was at the time the less attractive piece of land, but God blessed him for making peace. Sometimes reconciliation (the restoring of friendly relations) involves separation.