Jesus’ brief teaching on Divorce

I included “brief” in the title for this post because Jesus doesn’t need a lot of words on this topic. It’s clear and concise. Yet this is a volatile and personal topic that demands our attention. No, we don’t need more words from Jesus on the topic. As followers for Christ we enter marriage with the desire for this to be the union of one man and one woman, “and the two will become one flesh.” That is our commitment in marriage.

Matthew’s record of this teaching includes one exception for which divorce: sexual immorality, i.e., adultery, violation of the seventh commandment. Earlier in Matthew (Matthew 5:27-30), Jesus broadens the definition of adultery that convicts us all! Fortunately for us we can come to Jesus for forgiveness and mend our ways.

Both accounts agree that Moses’ law was given because their “hearts were hard.” If we take time to get to know the people Moses was leading we will gain a better appreciation for that description. Their hearts were not open to what God was giving them, they couldn’t see the favor poured out on their behalf. But there were a few that stood out.

It is profound that Jesus reiterates God’s plan for male and female while at the same time recognizing not everyone will marry. Those who choose not to marry are called to a life of celibacy, something the Roman Catholic church demands of Priests and Nuns. Paul would agree with this position and echo Jesus’ words that it would be better for some not to marry.

This is a deep and wide topic that I’m not attempting to cover in 400 words. What I believe with all my heart is this: God honors the marriage of one man and one woman when they seek to honor Him. My prayer is God will be honored in all marriages. For those who do not have God in their marriage I pray they will find Him and reaffirm their vows in tribute to the One that gives us life.

One of the interesting thoughts in the notes in this passage is the idea that the Pharisees were wrestling with John the Baptist’s condemnation of Herod, ultimately the reason for his death. It’s a bit of a rabbit trail from the text, but a note I wanted to capture while thinking about the topic.

(See also comments on Divorce from June 2015)

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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