Last week we talked about how we look forward at our marriage to this wonderful person and want to live “happily after ever”. We got married believing that this relationship would last for the rest of our lives. We admire and honor those who have stayed married for entire adult lives. However, way too often, we forget that euphoria and start treating our mate as the enemy to be controlled, changed or gotten rid of. Why are the Pharisees (and so many of us) trying to excuse our divorces? Why do we try to pretend that breaking up a marriage is no big deal? After all, everybody does it and it’s easier to just get a divorce than to try to work out our problems. What does Jesus teach about divorce and why we should not end our marriages?
Someone told me that this title, Dangers of Divorce is negative. I should have a more positive title. So, I’m positive that divorce is dangerous. It is dangerous to husbands, wives, parents, children, relatives, friends, God, your church… Let’s see what Jesus says.
In Matthew 19:7-12; Mark 10:10-12, Jesus continues His answer to the Pharisees, who are trying to justify their getting divorces. Just like us, today, when we try to justify our sin in hopes of not being held accountable for doing something we know is wrong. He is not going to let them dishonor the Mosaic Law to justify their own sinful disregard for God’s commands regarding marriage. This may seem like a lot of attention to so few verses, but considering the state of marriage in much of the world today, I believe we need to come face to face with God and learn to honor His way with our marriages.
Divorce is not God’s Plan – Matthew 19:7-8
The Pharisees continue pushing Jesus with their claim that Moses gave a command for them to divorce their wives. Jesus tells them that they have taken the Law totally out of context. The reason they were to divorce their wives is because they had married women from other nations and religions who God knew would turn them away from following Him. They were taking the Law out of context to justify their sin. They were interpreting part of it out of context and ignoring what God had said more than once regarding the sanctity and permanence of marriage. God never intended for them to divorce their Jewish wives. God always says marriage is for life.
Just like the Pharisees, we often try to bend God’s laws to justify our selfish actions. Divorce means that I don’t trust God in my marriage. The fact is that couples who get divorced end up with more problems than if they had stayed married and worked on their issues. If they would ask God to teach them to love their spouse, they would learn to get through those areas of conflict and find understanding, resolution, love and commitment.
Divorce means that you don’t know how to love. If your spouse was good enough to marry, they are good enough to stay married to (unless they have committed adultery and are unrepentant). It is interesting how a couple will want God to be in their wedding ceremony, but they don’t care to have Him in their marriage. And then, when communication breaks down and love gets hidden behind anger and selfishness, divorce is chosen as the solution instead of going back to God and trying to let Him back into the marriage.
Divorce is Sin – Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:10-12
Jesus continues His answer that divorcing your wife for any reason other than infidelity (her having sexual relations with someone else) and then marrying someone else, is sin. In like manner, it is just as wrong for the husband to have sex outside of the marriage as it is for the wife.
Those who have been divorced must face the music. Divorce means you are selfish. Divorce means you are not a person of your word. Divorce means that I don’t respect the sexual relationship between me and my spouse, nor the promise to keep myself to and her only. (This is now always applicable in a “no fault” state, but is often a contributor even in those locations.)
To have sex with someone you are not married to is a violation of God’s standards for the sexual relationship in marriage. Sex is the most intimate way that a man and woman can express their love for each other. That is partly why it is called “going all the way.” There is nothing more personal, totally self-giving and intimate that the sexual union. To violate that by having sex with someone other than your spouse is like spitting in the face of God. It is showing that you don’t respect Him or your spouse. In like manner, looking at another woman with lust is violating your promise to your wife. You pledged to keep yourself to her and her only. Looking at another woman longingly is violating that promise!
Divorce is Tolerated (It is not the Unforgivable Sin) – Matthew 19:10-12
The Apostles come to Jesus after this remark and suggest that since marriage is so serious and divorce is so wrong, it isn’t even worth it to get married. No matter what we do, we are doomed. They are thinking that almost anything you do is going to be sin or lead to sin, so why try? Jesus advises them that marriage isn’t for everybody, neither is celibacy.
Divorce is certainly sin, especially when accompanied by remarriage. However, it is not unforgivable. At the same time, it is not necessary or important for a person to get married (as long as they remain celibate). As much value as we place on marriage and having children, not everyone is so inclined. Some people are sufficiently fulfilled without a mate. Some are in professions that would make marriage a difficult or dangerous thing to maintain and don’t want to put that danger or risk of their own death on a spouse. There are also some who are so hurt by their parents or some other event in their life that marriage absolutely does not appeal to them. If you do get married, remember that it is for life. We may think that divorce is not looked down on as much as it has been in the past, but this is not God’s design for you and your mate. Marriage is for life.
God bless you and have a great week!