Marriage is Sacred and Binding
General Idea: We live in an age of easy divorce and to such a point that we have in the United States what is called "no-fault" divorce, so you can end the marriage without stating a reason! Jesus lived in such a time with similar "no-fault laws." He goes way beyond any Rabbi or law in that time, and ours, by saying that divorce for any reason is wrong, and unlawful, except for unfaithfulness. In so doing, Jesus removes any doubt of how important marriage is! Jesus further tells us, in so many words, that divorce is actual treachery, as it causes, or forces someone else to sin!
This was during a time when women were considered almost as property, and a man could, and many did, divorce them and leave them destitute without a second thought. Adultery under the Law of the Pharisees and the Roman occupiers at that time saw only the unfaithfulness of the women. Men could do as they saw fit. This was just as the Jews did in the time of the Judges, where everyone did as they saw fit (as they liked). They looked to sin, and ignored law and obedience, which nearly ruined the nation of Israel, and wiped out the Benjamanites (Judges 20). If we can see what a mess that was, perhaps it can help us place our focus on the principles that marriage is an exclusive commitment between a man and wife, with no grounds for separation unless heinous abuse is at work (Gen. 2:24; Mal. 2:10-17; Matt. 19:4-6).
1. "Further more it has been said." Again, Jesus attacks the status quo of popular thinking and acceptance. Because others are doing something, it is not OK that you do it!
a. From God's perspective, marriage is for the mutual benefit and help of the man and woman (Gen. 1:23-28; 2:18-23; Ezra. 9-10; Neh. 13:23-27; 1 Cor 7:2-9; 39; 2 Cor. 6:14;).
i. This means they complete each other.
ii. Marriage prevents sin.
iii. Christians must only marry other Believers, or else it will cause deep division later on.
iv. Marriage is for procreation, but not exclusive to it. That means this is not the only reason for marriage.
b. The husband's responsibility is to lead, out of love and care, and to protect and nourish the family (Eph. 5:21-33). He is to love his wife just as Christ loves the church. For most men it is much harder and more intrusive for them to relinquish their will to control for submission rather that earn it in love; Christ calls us to earn it in love! The woman submits out of a response to her husband, which is out of His love to her. The husband's call is to take the lead with caring and have her best interests in hand. Submission is never for 'macho' reasons, or for control; it is purely a response because of love, just as we respond to Christ out of our gratitude for what He has done for us.
i. Submission is not for reasons of inferiority! Both are equal in His sight in equity and value!
ii. Consider this. Submission is not the tyrannical concept most of us harbor in our mind. Rather, it is freedom! It allows us to be free, and to have God's best blessings flowing in and out of us. It is a safe harbor of smooth waters keeping us protected from the storms of wrong actions. It frees us from bad thinking that leads to bad choices that lead to a life of misery and trouble! Wives are asked to submit to their husbands. Husbands are asked to love their wives. "Submit" translates from a military term (Eph. 5:22 Greek: hupotasso), which means "to place under" or "to subordinate" as a line relationship (1 Peter 3:1). This is not because of weakness or inferiority, or that one is better than the other, but because God has placed, in the order of creation, the husband as head of the home, just as Christ is the Head of the Church. They have different roles, yet each one is equal in the sight of God!
iii. Submission is not to exceed the parameters of the Will of God or of love and righteousness. To prove this, submission is not an excuse to batter, or put wives down in any way. The directive to husbands is even more daunting. Husbands are called to love, which is greater than submission! Keep in mind; this was called for in a time and culture where women were considered lower than farm animals! It was taught in a culture where the "alpha" male, i.e. the lead man of the family, ruled in absolute dominance for order, organization, structure, protection, and community. The mandate to love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) was, and still is to some, an extreme wakeup call that commands the husband to thoroughly exhibit all of the qualities of Biblical character in his relationship with his wife. The verb (Greek: agapete) designates a continuous routine of action all of the time, not just when we feel like it. Christ loved the church not because it was holy, but in order to make it holy! Thus, we are not only called to find the person who is best for us, but to work at keeping the relationship within the parameters of love, submission, and commitment. Even if you made that wrong choice through impatience, wrong thinking, lust, and/or sin, you still have the call and opportunity to make it right, to make it work with the mate you have! After all, there must have been some spark, something that got you together in the first place, that can be rekindled.
2. Certificate of divorce, God hates divorce. It was only offered because of the immaturity and hardheartedness of the people, who refused to go God's way. However, in that Certificate of Divorce, the man was responsible to care and provide for her until she remarried (Duet. 24:1-4; Mal, 2:16; Matt. 19:8).
a. In the practice of the Law, many Pharisees had focused on the idea that if they just gave a certificate of divorce, they could have, as many do today, a "no-fault," where one can get rid of their martial commitment for any reason, and still be OK in God's eyes. WRONG! They concluded divorce was permissible as long a Certificate of Divorce was given, totally missing the point of the Law. Other Rabbis taught as Jesus did. They missed the point by placing the importance on the certificate, and not on the commitment, so Jesus challenges them, and their prideful hypocrisy (Deut. 24:1-4; Jer. 3:1)!
i. The first husband could not take his wife back if he changed his mind, because the wife had become "defiled," as he caused her to commit sexual sin, and she would just compound it further (Lev. 18:20 and Num. 5:13,14)!
ii. Paul said the Law bound a woman to her husband as long he lived (Rom. 7:1-3).
iii. Jesus cleared the misconceptions the Pharisees had and simply stated: To divorce a woman for any reason, other than sexual immorality, would cause her to be defiled when she remarried!
b. Paul said that if a Believer has been abandoned by their spouse, they are no longer bound to their marital commitment (1 Cor. 7:15). There are times when one person may decide to have a divorce where their spouse can do nothing to prevent it. I believe this falls under this category.
3. But I say:
a. Sexual immorality is being unfaithful, and this will cause major distrust that may never be fully restored (Matt. 19:8-9). However, reconciliation is always preferable. Divorce is only a last resort, when no hope remains, and all options of reconciliation have been sought. Some teach that ongoing abuse fits in this category. I can find no Biblical reason to refute this view.
b. Causes them to commit sin means when a partner renounces their marriage vows. Even though in their eyes the marriage has ended, in God's eyes they are still married. This, in effect, causes the other person to commit adultery!
c. Marry a divorced woman? Jesus exposes the treachery of divorce, because when a man divorces his wife (or visa versa) for any cause other than sexual immorality or other Biblical reasons, they cause the other to commit the sin of adultery! That means it places the other person in a situation where they are likely to remarry and become defiled as in adultery (Mal. 2:13-16)!
4. In the matter we have today where we have so many divorced women and men in the church who did not divorce under Biblical reasons, we have to ask, "What do we do?" The Bible says, "Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery". So, does this mean they cannot remarry? Many teach yes, and that would be Biblically correct. However, we have to remember grace, and forgiveness. This is a complicated manner that requires solid Biblical counseling by a trained, qualified, Biblical centered person. Each situation is unique, and requires understanding, encouragement, and healing.
a. We have to understand the harmful effects that divorce creates that are passed on to many generations!
i. Making divorce permissive, because it is popular and legal, with "no-fault" arguments, is a reflection of society's immorality and loss of virtue. It does not negate the destruction of divorce, and sin that it is. It does not change the fact that God hates it! If you love Christ as your Lord, you will respect His authority, and you will abide by His teaching! Not your Will, but His Will be done!
ii. The church must teach the proper ways to build solid Christian relationships, and offer counseling and acceptance, or the statistics will keep climbing!
iii. We have to be on guard against the erosion of Biblical values, and damage to our beliefs and Biblical mindset (Psalm 123:3; Mark 4:19)!
iv. The only Biblically acceptable grounds for divorce are sexual immorality or abandonment.
We all need to remember that God is a God of grace and forgiveness. However, remember also that even though you have grace, you will live with the destruction and effects that you have caused! True repentance requires that if you are in that adulterous association, you must stop it now (Matt. 19:11-12)! If you have found yourself in a sinful adulterous association, or have made mistakes, and even divorced, yes, there is hope in our Lord (1 Co 6:7-11)!
1. How has your view of the marriage commitment/covenant changed as you have grown in Christ?
2. What is your opinion about having a "no-fault" divorce in your state/country (a person can divorce their spouse for any reason, or for no reason, and the other spouse has no say)?
3. Why do you think the Rabbis and Pharisees interpreted the Law (Duet 24:1-4) so it says any man can, for any reason, divorce his wife?
4. What kind of society did the Rabbis and Pharisees promote with such a callous attitude toward marriage, and how does that compare with our society's attitude today?
5. What do you think Jesus intended marriage to do?
6. How do you feel when Christian leaders attack the status quo of popular way of thinking and acceptance, and do you think there should be a stronger willingness to stand up to the bad values of society?
7. Why do you suppose that popular thinking says, "Since others are doing something, it is OK for me to do it too," attitude?
8. How would you describe God's perspective for marriage?
9. What reasons can you think of that Christians must never marry unbelievers?
10. How would you describe the husband's responsibility in marriage?
11. How would you describe the wife's responsibility in marriage?
12. Most people in secular society have a big problem with submission. Why do you suppose that is?
13. What does Biblical submission in marriage mean to you, and how would you implement it--or why would you not?
14. What are the benefits of submission in marriage?
15. What would happen to a rocky marriage if the couple made a commitment to respond to each other out of an attitude of gratitude for what Christ has done for us?
16. How many reasons can you come up with for why God hates divorce?
17. The Pharisees missed the point of the Certificate of Divorce, by placing the importance on the certificate and not on the commitment. What was their motivation to do this, and how do those same motivations creep into your relationships? What can you do to stop those bad motivations?
18. Why should divorce be only a last resort, when no hope remains, and all options of reconciliation have been sought, even in the case of Sexual immorality?
19. If you love Christ as your Lord, you will respect His authority and you will abide by His teaching! So, what are the reasons that block this from fully happening in you?
20. What, and how can your church teach the proper ways to build solid Christian relationships, and offer programs, such as counseling and acceptance, to those who have made mistakes?
© 2002 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org