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Gospel-Driven Marriage & Divorce Ceremonies In Japan

The divorce rate in Japan is currently estimated to be 27% of the 128 million population.

“In 2008, a record number of 251,000 divorces took place.  In Japan, the breadwinner of the household was historically the male.  Men used to enjoy the benefits of job security for a lifetime, but this is no longer the case in this climate of economic uncertainty.  Today women are more educated, and as a result, they enjoy more financial independence.  Some argue that this is a contributing factor in the increased number of divorces in Japan.”

Opal Fusion Mag (March 7 2011) goes on to state that:

The divorce rate in some of China’s major cities hovers around the 35-40% range.  As divorce became a less cumbersome process in both Japan and China, the rate of divorce among married couples increased.  As women achieved increased financial independence, women were able to pursue divorce more easily.  It would seem that economic independence and leniency in laws on divorce play a significant role in the uptick in divorces in both countries.

Japan Not Only Has Wedding Ministers But Also A Divorce Ceremony Minister.

In April, 2009, Hiroki Terai, at the age of 29, pioneered ‘divorce ceremonies’. Terai set up a small company in what he calls, a ‘divorce mansion’ in Tokyo and received more than 900 inquiries within the first year.

The ‘bride and groom to divorce’ ride in separate rickshaws to Terai’s ‘divorce mansion’. Friends and family follow closely behind the rickshaws on foot, arriving at the ‘divorce mansion’ for a ceremony where they smash their wedding rings with a gavel, a gesture signifying the end of their partnership. The gavel has a frog’s head as frogs symbolize change in Japanese culture. “By putting an end to our marriage, we wanted to give ourselves a fresh start and give our lives a sense of renewal,” Mr. Fujii, a 33-year-old businessman said. He felt responsible for the failure of his marriage as he had spent too much time away from home and too much money on his various interests including cars — despite numerous complaints from his wife.

“When we smashed the rings, it was the end of our marriage, but my heart and soul felt renewed. Now I feel I can start all over again and have a new life,” said Mr. Fujii.  His wife of eight years also expressed her relief: “The moment I saw the smashed rings, I said to myself, ‘Yes! That feels so good’,” Mrs. Fujii said. (Source: L Moorhead, Reuters, 2010-06-23)

In a nation with such an increase in divorce rate, only a Jesus-like, self-sacrificing, selfless ,sturdy, persevering, lasting-love will win & transform the culture.  Japan’s only hope is a Gospel-centered marriage.   Only in Christ is there true marriage.  Jesus is the Bridegroom; the Church is His bride.  He does not and will not nullify this covenant union.  He died & rose again for His bride- the Church.  In the same way as there was a betrothal period in biblical times during which the bride & groom were separated until the wedding, so is the bride of Christ separate from her Bridegroom during the church age.  Her responsibility during the betrothal period is to be faithful to Him (2 Corinthians 11:2Ephesians 5:24).   At the 2nd coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom,  the great official “wedding ceremony” will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized (Revelation 19:7-921:1-2).

A marriage that holds Jesus Christ at the center will last.  Because a Jesus-kind-of-love does not nullify the marriage covenant union.  It does not, because at the heart of true Christian marriage is the Kingdom of God (not the kingdom of the self).  Self-centeredness destroys marriages more than anything.  Marriages are divided not primarily because of anything outside, but inside the human heart.  The kingdom of the self must constantly be replaced by the Kingdom of God.  Grace in Christ ushers into the heart the Kingdom of God.  If Christ is King in the hearts of husbands and wives, marriages transform into God-centeredness & selfless service.  Husbands & wives are called to, first & foremost, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandmentgreater than these.” (Mark 12: 30, 31).  We are called to love God more than anything or anyone else- including our spouses.  The second is this: We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our spouses are our nearest neighbors.  This is why Paul writes:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5: 25- 27).

As John Piper astutely puts it: “If you want to be a Christian husband, you become a servant, not a boss.”  And the “Christian husband displays what he thinks of Christ by the way he treats his wife” (John MacArthur).  The more husbands love Jesus & the more wives love Jesus, the more will their love for each other flourish.  The Holy Spirit is given for this very purpose: To point us to Christ unceasingly. Marriage will flourish among the Japanese only if God’s great love for sinners is understood and applied.   “Love is a willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that doesn’t demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving” (Paul Tripp).

Martin Luther wrote: 

The ultimate purpose [of marriage] is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one’s wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one’s wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others.

““The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful” (Malachi 2: 16).

What Is True Love? [Watch video clip by Paul Tripp]


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