The Wednesday before Christmas my wife and I both got sick. The kids had been coughing and sputtering the week before, but it didn’t hit us until I developed an excruciating ear-ache and went to the urgent care center. They said I had an ear-infection and gave me some amoxicillin, decongestant, Mucinex, and pain pills.
From that day to the day after New Year’s I felt worse than I ever have.
Fever. Chills. Goop coming out of my eyes. Zero energy. Coughing until my head felt like it would explode.
It was like the flu, but worse. Much worse. In hindsight, it may have been the adenovirus that has been going around the country.
Abby kept the house going. For a while. Then she got sick, too. Acute bronchitis. Then she developed many of the other symptoms that I had. Knocked her off her feet. We both had to take off work.
There we were, half-dead (it seemed like) with three kids running around—still needing to be dressed, cleaned, and fed. If we didn’t have each other to share the load, I don’t know what we would have done.
I’m always thankful to be married—but especially when I’m a big sick baby!
It reminded me of how the Bible describes marriage as a one-flesh union:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 9:7-9).
Our culture no longer considers marriage as a one-flesh union. Instead, marriage has been reduced to a contract, no different, in principle, than any other contract. Every time you buy something at the store, that’s a contract. Milk. Cars. Insurance. Medical services. Lawn care. And now, spouses!
Like any other contract, if you think the other party has not lived up to the agreement, you can walk away, refuse to pay, or have it settled in court. There’s no shame in it. It’s very easy to do. There can be a cost if you’re in the wrong. But breaking a contract happens all the time. Likewise, marriage contracts are often, and fairly easily, broken.
The situation is different with a one-flesh union.
In Biblical marriage, you leave an individual existence and begin living a new two-person-one-flesh existence with your husband or wife. As Jesus said, “they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Getting married is an organic union. You become one flesh, one body, one organism, where kids are the visible manifestation of that objective reality.
Yes, divorce is a possibility even for a one-flesh union. But it’s a possibility in the same way that amputating your arm or leg is a possibility. Amputation isn’t normal.
But in an extreme situation, it can be necessary.
You can cut off your arm or your leg if you absolutely must. But that won’t be your first choice, or your second, or your third. You’ll do everything you can before it comes to that.
When you’re healthy, amputation is not on the table. But even when you’re sick, really sick, amputation is a last resort. Just like divorce.