Does “Till Death Do Us Part” Really Mean Physical Death?

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Sadly, it looks like another celebrity divorce is about to take place. Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner have decided to separate after 16 years of marriage and four children. Many of you remember Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls in the TV series, Little House on the Prairie. I loved that show and still enjoy watching reruns with my family. In an article about the separation, there was an interesting comment posted by “Kimberly”:

Blessings to both of you and your children. 'Till death do us part' doesn't necessarily mean physical death. I wish the best to you and your family.
Kimberly would have us believe that when we say those vows on our wedding day, we are not necessarily making a life-long commitment. Just a commitment until we “die” in some other way—mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. What did Jesus say about the permanency of marriage in Matthew 19:4–6?
And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Jesus quotes Genesis 1:28 and 2:24 to provide the foundation of marriage (based on the first marriage) for His listeners, and then He restates the oneness of marriage and infers the permanency of marriage. What Jesus doesn’t say is that if you feel emotionally, intellectually, or mentally “dead” towards your spouse then it’s okay to divorce them. He says that since God has joined them together they should not separate. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). God’s original plan for marriage was for it to be a permanent relationship between a husband and wife. If Adam and Eve had not eaten the forbidden fruit, then they would have lived forever and their marriage would have been eternal. However, they ate, and divorce is a result of living in sin-cursed world.

I hope Kimberly and Melissa and Bruce will come to an understanding of the biblical basis for the phrase in the wedding vows that state, “till death do us part.” Marriage is a commitment, a covenant, a promise that we make to our spouse and to God.

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