Jim Denison on How to Strengthen Our Marriages and Our Witness in the World

In this Jan. 30, 2009 file photo, co-chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USA, Bill Gates, right, and Melinda Gates, sit together prior to an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, file)

Bill and Melinda Gates announced this week that they are divorcing after twenty-seven years of marriage. Forbes reports that their split could yield the largest divorce settlement on record, eclipsing the $35 billion breakup of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott. Yesterday we learned that they have hired “a team of high-profile lawyers” to handle their divorce.

The couple created the $50 billion nonprofit Gates Foundation, one of the biggest philanthropies in the world. It gave $5.1 billion in 2019 to fight “poverty, disease, and inequity around the world.” While the couple has pledged their continued commitment to the foundation, the New York Times reports that “people in its orbit worry that an acrimonious split by its founders could cloud the nonprofit’s plans.”

In other words, the marital struggle of a single couple could affect billions of people they have never met. Their story is a parable for our day.

God loves the family 

I have been writing lately about the priority of personal morality for our public witness. The same is true for our public relationships. Many years ago, a wise counselor in the ministry told me, “The best way you can love your church is to love your wife. And the best way you can love your wife is to love your Lord.”

God loves the family. In fact, he invented it. He knew that “it is not good that the man should be alone,” so he made “a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). His Fifth Commandment teaches children to “honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). His word likewise calls parents to teach his word “diligently” to their children (Deuteronomy 6:7). And he calls husbands and wives to love and serve each other (Ephesians 5:21–28) with honor and integrity (Hebrews 13:4).

Jesus’ first public miracle was not walking on the water or raising the dead but blessing a wedding (John 2:1–11). His commitment to marriage was inviolate: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

However, we cannot give what we do not have. Since love is the first “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), I cannot unconditionally love my wife unless I can share with her the unconditional love of God. She and I can truly forgive each other, encourage each other, and support each other to the degree that we experience and share the forgiveness, encouragement, and support of Jesus.

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SOURCE: Denison Forum, Jim Denison