“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
“What did Moses command you?” he replied.
They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus addresses a very touchy subject that evokes a lot of emotion in our current culture. Over the last century, we have seen the divorce rate climb to fifty percent. This means one half of all marriages in our country today end in divorce. This is an astonishing number when you consider the fact that the statistics for Christian marriage are not much better. Of course, what Jesus was talking about was rare in His culture. Once again, we must keep in mind that Jesus is raising the standard to show how God’s standard and man’s standard aren’t even close.
It is clear from both passages above that God’s desire is for a husband and wife to remain together and not separate except for death. Jesus told the Pharisees, “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.” It was not God’s intention for a man or woman to get a divorce. Moses permitted divorce because when men got tired of their wives, they would create some pathetic excuse to end their marriage and the women would pay a hefty price, whether the reason was legit or not. Jesus goes back to that which is fundamental, and this is important to see. He turns it from a discussion of divorce to a discussion of marriage. Notice how Jesus handles it. He gives the reason God permitted divorce. It was because of sin that God granted divorce under the Mosaic Law. In Mark chapter ten, Jesus takes them back to God’s ideal at the creation before sin entered the world. Divorce was not in His plan and program at that time. He had something better for man.
Now like in all other areas of sin, we must acknowledge that we fall woefully short. In our modern culture, we have wandered so far away from God’s standard. But just because the culture’s standards have changed does not mean that God’s standards have changed. It is in times like this that we can be grateful for God’s grace. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin. Yet, it is not something that we should enter into lightly. Even in cases of marital infidelity, we must leave room for God’s grace and forgiveness. As believers, everything we do must be redemptive in nature. Marriage is no exception. We should strive to reflect the character of Jesus in all areas of life, especially in marriage.
Once again, we see that man’s standard differs from God’s standard. As we have seen already, God’s Law was to point us to our need for the Savior. As we look at the cultural landscape around us, it is easy to see just how much we need Jesus today. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Questions to Ponder:
How do you feel about Jesus’ words on divorce? What was God’s original purpose for marriage (see Genesis 2)? How have cultural forces changed how we view marriage today? Are you redemptive in your approach to marriage? Do you always leave room for grace and forgiveness in all your relationships?
- Praise God for the gift of marriage and that He uses that relationship to describe His relationship with the Church.
- Thank God that He does not change his mind about His bride, the Church.
- Ask for forgiveness for not reflecting the covenant of marriage. Confess to God that your heart wanders from Him.
Holy and Righteous Father, I lift up all marriages to You and I ask that You grant them Your supernatural power and help to love one another, to submit to each other. I ask that You let respect and love be demonstrated from the inside out. I ask that they cherish and honor one another, and help them to keep their marriage pure.
Lord, I bring to You marriages that are struggling right now. Please heal them by Your blood and Your Spirit. Protect them, watch over them and send to them believers who can walkalong them during this time. I ask for anything in the dark to be exposed in the light.
For those who are divorced, I ask forgiveness to arise. I am asking that You would lead them into Your great heart of mercy and grace. Release wisdom and revelation so each person knows You better. Pour out a spirit of prayer and supplication upon both parties. For everyone who is single, widowed, young and old – I ask that You grant them undivided devotion to You. Raise up in all Your people holy conviction and consecration for we have been set a part for You and Your glory. Grant contentment in their hearts. I pray all these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.