Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

Matthew 19: 1-12

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Marriage and Divorce


Marriage and Divorce

General Idea: Jesus challenges the religious establishment to move away from their presumptions and gives us a direct call to take marriage seriously! Jesus is the One who gives us marriage and is the One who can heal a marriage. The theme that marriage is sacred and it is God's plan that we succeed at it is sandwiched in between the scriptural context of forgiveness and abundant possibilities. To succeed in relationships, especially marriage, we have to look to God's precepts and not our desires. Our desires will lead us astray; His way leads to happiness and contentment!

 

Jesus warns us that our customs and practices may be popular and allowed, but they are not necessarily good. We must always look to the precepts of Scripture and not to what we think we want. Divorce is almost always the wrong solution to the problems we face. It indicates walking away from responsibility and God's call. It will only result in our becoming further lost from others and from God. God wants our hearts and minds centered on Him; then our determination will change, as will our behaviors and how we treat one another. Do not be the one who runs away; rather, run to Christ as Lord!

 

1.   The Pharisees also came to Him. Jesus answers several retorts from the religious leaders. Jesus angered them greatly by modeling Biblical character and teaching the ways of God with truth and conviction. They would rather debate, argue, and subjugate the people in the name of authority. Pious frauds hate-with passion-those who walk in the Truth!

a.   The Pharisees dragged Jesus into their sectarian debates. The Shammai sect argued that divorce was appropriate only if the spouse was unfaithful. The Hillel sect argued that divorce was OK for whatever reason, even if she burned the falafel (Jewish fried burrito), or if the man found a better or more attractive woman. All the other sects fell in- between.

b.   The Pharisees were hostile, and were trying to trap Jesus by saying He disagreed with Moses. Jesus defeated their attempt by quoting Scripture! But, Jesus showed them that Moses was not allowing divorce; rather, he was putting a regulator on it.

c.   Women had no grounds for a divorce! Jesus sides with the Shammai sect who tended to be more pious and God-seeking and only considered grave offenses as escape clauses.

d.   The average, male Jew went into an arranged marriage, and then could-and would-use divorce as an escape clause when he felt he was not happy. Sound familiar? We may not have arranged marriages today in families, but we do with lust and bad scrutiny.

e.   It is lawful. The debate was over Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and whose interpretation was right. We must approach Scripture from what it plainly teaches in its words, meaning, and context, not what we think it should say! 

f.    The other side of the Jordan. This indicates the eastern side, later called Perea, and today is the country of Jordan.

g.   Great multitudes followed Him and He healed them. This is a picture of the marvelous, caring Lord. Do you realize how much He loves and cares for you? If so, how has this affected your life and outlook?

 

2.   Have you not read? Jesus is using their contention system to take them to Scripture and not human based logic.

a.   Most Pharisees would argue by quoting other Pharisees, rabbis, or sects who held their presumptions. Rarely were appeals made to Scripture. The Dead Sea Scrolls are basically a series of arguments based on this formula, along with sections of the Torah and Prophets.

b.   Jesus used the Creation, as told by Scripture, as His argument (Gen. 2:24). To do as we please, even though we have the liberty to do so, is to deny God's creation and Lordship over our lives.

c.   One flesh means an inseparable union. A husband and wife become synergistically tied to one another. Each becomes greater together rather than apart. God's intention from Creation was enduring monogamy. When we divorce for trivial reasons outside what Scripture allows (unfaithfulness, abandonment or abuse), we are outside of His will and plan, and that is not a good place to be (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:3-11; 1 Cor. 7:10-17)! 

d.   God's perfect plan, even in a corrupt culture, was always oneness and intimacy that was based on commitment (Gen. 2:19-25). 

e.   Jesus calls us to make the most out of our marriage by serving Him and loving our spouse with our whole heart and mind.

f.    The creation order tells us that God made us (Genesis 2; Matthew 19:4): We must realize, accept, and even be grateful that God made us sexual persons. We are born with organs, physical features, and ways of thinking that are specifically male or female. However, this does not mean we get to do what we want with our goodies! God has chosen that sexual relationships be reserved for the covenant of marriage! If you have been a victim of incest, abuse, or trauma of any kind, you must seek outside help from a qualified Christian pastor or counselor. If not, it will not go away, and you will take that baggage into your marriage!

 

3.   Why did Moses? Jesus responds with an argument about their spiritual maturity, which was pale. The Israelites were allowed to divorce for trivial reasons because they were not mature enough to understand love and relationships. The rest of the community was required to take care of the woman when she was let go. This was to create insult to the man who negated her (Duet. 24:1-4). This method helped restrain divorce; only the most obtuse and socially deformed individual would divorce in a God-fearing Jewish culture. When the culture became corrupt by losing sight of God, as in Jesus' time, divorce became prevalent.

a.   This type of argument is called concession, which means the subject matter is not the best but is allowed for special circumstances. Basically, this is regulating sin and preventing its spread by means of social pressure and God's witness; if it had not been so, they would have done it more (Mal. 2:14-16).

b.   God's Word must always be our final court of arbitration for settling any and all arguments; if it is not, we build a house of straw on a foundation of sand!

c.   And I say to you. Jesus "ups the anti" by including those who remarry divorcées. Most Pharisees and sects did not consider what happens after the divorce, and how sin can continue to spread and cause dysfunctional relationships (1 Cor. 7:10-13).

d.   Some scholars say that remarriage of a divorcée is not sin, because Jesus is using hyperbole speech; however, the context indicates otherwise. Fortunately, we also have grace and forgiveness.

e.   The point is that marriage and divorce are never to be pursued carelessly or taken for granted! Jesus, also by this decree, liberates women, giving, and protecting their rights.

f.     It is better not to marry. The disciples said this out of the frustration from being challenged to follow God and not desires.

g.   Being a Eunuch meant several things. The male indentured servants had themselves castrated to prove their loyalty. It can also mean being born without the equipment to procreate, or a choice to remain single and celibate. To the Jew, being a eunuch was an extreme disgrace and social detriment (Duet. 23:1). Jesus is not calling people to be single per se, but is using the theme of Isaiah, hold fast to my covenant, as single people have less distractions and more free time for His service (Isa. 56:4-5). Later, the Word says it is better to be married (1 Cor. 7:1-7; 26; 32-35).

 

The world considers marriage to be an avenue of satisfaction for the self. This view seems to come from the standpoints of seeking fulfillment in pleasure, companionship, what "I" can get out of it, and how "I" can benefit from it. These are, of course, parts of a relationship, but not the main parts. People get confused, disillusioned, and eventually give up on marriage because they do not feel fulfilled to their satisfaction and expectations. Thus, they are negating what is really important and meaningful in building a marriage! If you want to be successful in life and marriage, you need to get this point: The primary purpose of marriage is not to please ourselves, but to glorify and serve God. The most important guarantee for it to work is to follow His principles from His Word, not what you think, want, or have experienced. Remember, God designed marriage, and us. So, He knows best (Proverbs 5:15-21; 1 Corinthians 7:1-9; Ephesians 5:22-32; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Peter 3:1-7)!

 

 
 

Questions:

 

1.   How have you been affected by divorce? How does divorce affect relationships such as family, friends, children, and multigenerational offspring? When would a divorce be necessary?

 
 

2.   Why does most of society today seem to take marriage faintly? How does this compare to Christians? How about you?

 
 

3.   Can you think of any challenges the religious establishment, which has fallen away from God's sight, may need today?

 
 

4.   What does it take to succeed in relationships, especially marriage?

 
 

5.   Jesus warns us that our customs and practices may be popular and allowed but they are not necessarily good. Can you name some?

 
 

6.   Why did the Pharisees come to Jesus?

 
 

7.   Why would the Pharisees rather debate, argue, and subjugate the people than search out and apply the Scriptures? Why do some people do this today?

 
 

8.   Why would someone use divorce as an escape clause when he feels he is not happy, instead of remaining faithful and obedient?

 
 

9.   Why would Jesus use the creation account as His argument? Have you ever used Scripture to prove an argument or position? How so?

 
 

10. To do as we please, even though we have the liberty to do so, is to deny God's creation and Lordship over our lives. How is this so? Have you ever considered that you may have violated His creation?

 
 

11. What are the benefits of one flesh, enduring monogamy? What are the disadvantages?

 
 

12. The creation order tells us that God made us. How can this fact motivate and fuel our thoughts and behaviors?

 
 

13. How do you think the Pharisees felt when Jesus basically told them that they and their ancestors were immature? How would you feel? How would you feel if the person who says you are immature is right?

 
 

14. In what ways can the passage in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 be a way to limit infidelity and divorce? (Perhaps not today, but, consider the historical situation.)

 
 

15. How does losing sight of God create a corrupt person and/or society?

 
 

16.  Why must God's Word always be our final court of arbitration that settles any and all arguments? What happens when Scripture is not the final authority?

 
 

17. What do you consider to be the primary purpose of marriage?

 
 

18. Why do a lot of people consider marriage only to be an avenue of satisfaction-of seeking fulfillment in pleasure, companionship, what "I" can get out of it, and how "I" can benefit from it? What can you do to make sure you do not do this?

 
 

19. Do you realize how much Jesus loves and cares for you? If so, how has this shaped your life and outlook? How can it?

 
 

20. Jesus calls us to make the most out of our marriage by serving Him and loving our spouse with our whole heart and mind. What would your marriage look like if you really did this all of the time? If you are single, consider this position carefully and how would you apply it.

 

 

© 2004 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org  

 

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