A friend yesterday made this statement in response to our last post and asked me to explain further Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:31-32: “Having had a 3-year ‘practice marriage’ prior to my 32-year ‘life marriage’ I have always been uncomfortable with this passage.”
Matthew 5:31-32 (TNIV) 31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
This verse, I believe is deeply rooted in the context of this time period in history. Men divorced women (not vica-versa and not like today). I believe that what Jesus is sternly telling men here that they cannot just toss aside their wives. I saw it best said this way, “Notice that while the divorced woman would become an adulteress, the man who divorced his wife would be at fault—he causes her to become an adulteress.” as well as, “Jesus would seem to prohibit divorced persons from remarrying, forcing them to live either in celibacy or in sin. Jesus’ main point was that people should not use the divorce laws to dispose of a partner in order to get another one.”
We must always look at Scripture in it’s entirety and full context. Jesus, I believe further explains His strong words here in Matthew 19:3-12. It is here that he speaks of God’s original intent for marriage…..that it is for life. You see, we must learn to understand God’s math. 1 + 1 doesn’t equal two………1 + 1 in marriage = one.
Indeed, Jesus has and expresses a high view on marriage and a low view on divorce. Rightly so, I believe. Divorce is devastating and painful….no matter what the situation. Jesus also proclaimed and stressed a new life, a life full of forgiveness and restoration, to ALL who would come to God in repentance and faith.
In order to fully understand what Jesus is teaching us we need to look at what Jesus taught about divorce in the larger context. That larger context can be found in what Jesus shares in Matthew 19:3-9 below. What I see here is that, as people, we often focus on the divorce part and not the beauty of God’s plan–the joining of two people, a man and a woman, as one.
Matthew 19:3-9 (TNIV) 3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[this comes from Genesis 1:27] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ [this comes from Genesis 2:24]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
There is almost no unhappiness so painful as the unhappiness of an unhappy marriage and almost no tragedy so great as the DEGENERATION of what God wants for us–a relationship of love and fulfillment–rather than a degeneration into a “non-relationship” of bitterness, discord and despair.
Likewise, I have found that there is almost no greater joy and fulfillment than a happy marriage. WHAT A REVELATION–follow God’s plan and find true fulfillment in our lives!
I know that right now there are many things going through your minds the same things that have gone through mine: “Hold on, wait a minute, it’s not that easy!” You’re right–IT’S NOT THAT EASY!
Before we heap guilt on others or ourselves, we need to understand that divorce, as bad as it is, is a sin, one of many. And….that pain will be exacted from that sin. I often joke that I am a “used husband” because I am divorced. I was young, I was not a follower of Christ, I married for all the wrong reasons. My wife and I planned a child and she aborted that child against my wishes. I could not live with this. There are things in my life that I grieve to this day. This particular time is one of the most painful times in my life. It was a time of reexamination….reexamination of everything in my life. It was not long after this that I totally gave up and turned my life over to God in a big way. My life has never been the same since that time over 30 years ago.
My point is not to justify my divorce, but to say that without God, our lives can become a shambles. With God, with repentance, and with a humbleness that comes from accepting that God knows best and that through Him all things are possible….all things ARE possible.
I changed my life have been happily married for 27 years….but now….I follow Jesus….not me and not the world! I have learned to do math God’s way! In marriage, 1 + 1 = one!