The following article was posted by Mark Gungor on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/markgungor). Mark is a church pastor and a popular relationship expert who speaks across the country at marriage seminars.
“UNTIL DEATH DO US PART”
At the end of 2017, my wife of 45 years, Debbie, died after a long and awful battle with breast cancer. In the end it was brutal. I wish I could tell of how wonderful her final days were, but the truth is it was completely and utterly horrid. I will never forget how her panicked eyes fixed on me as she took her final breath. (The look was due to the physical pain. She did not fear death as she had great peace in knowing Jesus.) It was a devastating experience. Then, after the funeral and all was said and done, it was me, her cat and boxes of cornflakes in an empty and quiet house.
As I have written before, statistics show that when women become widows they tend to stay single for years while men tend to remarry within months. Men don’t function well alone (remember Adam?). For me, being a widower was definitely no picnic. With my life as a public pastor and relationship speaker, staying single was just not a good fit for me. I quickly chose someone else and moved on.
Since Debbie’s death, I have heard from and met so many others who have experienced the loss of a spouse and then found someone new. Many of their stories are heartbreaking as they tell of friends and family members who no longer speak to them since they have remarried. They are treated as emotional traitors, like Benedict Arnold who turned his back on his country and defected to the British during the Revolutionary War.
Much of this is rooted in the very flawed concept that a marriage is for eternity. I even recently heard a preacher who, at the end of the wedding he was officiating, said, “Now your love will bind you together forever.”
Despite what you have heard and seen in romantic songs and movies – we do not marry “forever”. Jesus clearly taught there is no marriage in heaven. You are not bound to or answer to the same person for the rest of eternity. A lovely sentiment, I suppose, but utter nonsense.
So, what does the Bible tell us? How long should someone wait after the death of a spouse before moving on?
There is no direct answer to this question in the scriptures. Some remained widows the rest of their lives while others remarried. The Apostle Paul (who wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of marriage) even wrote that the younger widows should remarry. But there is no prolonged waiting period written. In fact, we do see some examples of an almost zero waiting time.
In 1 Samuel 25 we read about David who met a woman by the name of Abigail. He was very impressed with her and the Bible records that she was “an intelligent and beautiful woman”. As soon as her husband died, David immediately sent her a proposal of marriage. We read that “Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.”
Wow. That was pretty fast.
In 2 Samuel 11, we also read about David and Bathsheba. (Now, David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, got her pregnant and then had her husband killed.) After she learns of her husband’s death the bible says “she mourned for him” and then became David’s wife. And this was done fast enough that no one questioned the time frame of the pregnancy.
I wondered, “Good grief, how long did these people mourn???” The answer was a bit shocking. The prescribed length of mourning in the Bible was a minimum of 7 days.
Yep, you read that right – 7 days. (For Moses or other famous leaders they would mourn for a whole 30 days.)
Now, I am not advocating handing out your phone number at your spouse’s funeral and setting up dates for a week later, but you have to admit – some of this stuff in the Bible happened really quickly. Why? Because the promise is till death – not death plus.
Just how quickly someone moves on after the death of a spouse is different for everyone. And at the end of the day a 2nd marriage is just like the first: A choice. How quickly someone choses to move on is up to them. No one else.
“I would hate for my spouse to forget about me so quickly!!”
Well, that is the biggest falsehood of all. No one “forgets” their previous spouse. I still mourn the loss of my Debbie. Just because someone chooses to move on, it is not a sign of forgetting the loved one who passed.
If you have a friend who dies, you should not refuse to have any other friends. In fact, getting new friends can help you with the sorrow of your loss.
The point here is this: The promise is until death. Not death plus X number of months or years. Death. Period.
Don’t judge a widow who moves on. Someday, you may very well find yourself in the same situation. And if you have someone in your life that you have shunned because you, in your great and mighty wisdom have determined that they remarried too quickly, I hope you will turn from your hardness towards them and offer them some kindness and understanding. Perhaps today would be a great day to give them a call or send them a message.
The promise is till death.
(FYI – this post isn’t about me, I do not receive criticism for marrying too soon, so this is not a defensive post. This is for the so many others that have friends and family who won’t talk to them because they remarried. 😊)