In this passage, the Pharisees are trying to test Jesus by asking his view of divorce. Jesus answers the question with another question, "What did Moses say?" In Deut 24:1-5 is the only passage in the Torah that speaks to divorce and a "certificate of divorce". This certificate protected women's rights, their freedom, and their dowry. This passage is all the Pharisees had to go on, and the oral interpretation (the Mishnah) added too much commentary. Since we know there is nothing new under the sun, these Pharisees fell into conservative and liberal sides of the debate. The conservative side stated that no man could divorce his wife unless she was unfaithful. The liberal side stated that a man could divorce his wife if she messed up dinner or if they found someone more attractive.
Jesus points out in verse 5 that it was because of man's hardness of heart that he had to write instructions on divorce. Jesus reminded them "God made them male and female" (from Gen 1:27) and 'that the two shall become one flesh." (from Gen 2;24). Both Jesus and Paul go back to the original intent of marriage. It starts with a covenant (Malachi 2:14). A covenant require relationship between the two parties (in marriage - a one-flesh union). When we have a low view of marriage, divorce can become an easy exit ramp. The only biblical grounds for divorce are sexual impurity and desertion from an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7).
A biblical marriage is a covenant relationship between one man and one woman who are pursuing Christ together so that the gospel is proclaimed.
Marriage is about much more than happiness. There is a call on our lives to pursue the gospel and reflect the relationship of Jesus and His church to the world.
4 Keys to divorce-proof your marriage:
- Remember your marriage is a covenant. Choose to never say the word divorce in your home.
- Celebrate that marriage is a picture of the gospel. Give a lot of grace to one another. Remember, our secret weapon is forgiveness.
- Commit to and practice sexual purity.
- Pray together daily, date each other weekly, and depart with one another often. (3D view of marriage)
As we reflect today, here are a few questions to discuss:
- Pray for the marriages of the people in your life. Pray that these marriages will be based on grace and forgiveness, and that the gospel will be proclaimed through them.
- Whether you are married or single, what commitments will you make in the area of purity that will protect your heart, body, and mind regarding your relationships?