The sanctity of marriage and matters of divorce are an area over which I am still learning. There is much about this section of scripture that I do not understand. Some aspects of this scripture seem to be overly harsh, which seems at odds with other parts of the Bible. I recommend that any who have issues in this area do as I am doing. Seek God in prayer to provide you with answers. If you get an answer from the Lord, then please let me know as well so we can all learn together.
Have said that though, the following is my understand of this scripture at this point in time, but I emphasise, I am not confident that I understand this fully yet. What I am confident of though is that in the Lord’s time he will show me what I do not now know. Let us begin…
In an age of quickie marriages and even quicker divorces, the sanctity of marriage has become a farce. People today consider marriage like a set of clothes; something you can put on for a while then take off, discard and replace with something else. This has not always been the case. It is just one of the ways that morality in these latter years is breaking down.
Jesus showed us in this scripture that the sanctity of marriage was something God takes very seriously. The Pharisees were aware of this, but they chose marriage and divorce as a means to test Jesus to try and find fault with him. But they could find no fault and he closed down their malicious argument by quoting the word of God.
When God created man and woman he created them to be joined together in marriage. They were to be partners and helpers for each other. The bond of marriage in God’s eyes was such that he said when a man and woman are joined together they become one flesh. The two become one through marriage. They are no longer individuals but are a unit; a paired set and they are to build a life together.
However the Pharisees said to Jesus that if this was so, why was there the availability of divorce under the Law of Moses? Why did Moses allow the people to divorce if they were joined together in the eyes of God, and as Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Verse 6) And Jesus response shows the compassion of God towards man and God’s understanding of the frailty of the human condition.
Jesus responded saying, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Verse 7) God knew that man was weak. He knew that in many ways men and women could and did make bad decisions. Human passions and the desires of the flesh often led man astray to do the wrong thing and often led to sin. Knowing this, the Lord provided an opportunity to be released from a bad situation.
People sometimes get into bad marriages. They married partners who became physically or mentally abusive or caused all manner of grief through bad attitudes, bad behaviour and wrong decisions. It is not the will of God for people to be in bad situations. His offer under the law was freedom. The law provided discipline for the people and if they followed God’s law they led an exceptionally good standard of life. That being the case, would God then insist a person stay in a marriage that was personally destructive and cause grief to the partners in the marriage? If one partner was a follower of God and the other was not, should the godly person suffer at the hands of the one who was not a follower? Should they suffer especially if the other person was behaving in an unchaste manner?
No. It is not the desire of God to bring man into bondage, but through following God’s ways to lead man to freedom and a life of peace. That is why the law of divorce was provided. It provided an escape from a bad situation. It was never meant to be an easy way out for someone who in the lust of passion wanted to marry someone else if they tired of their first partner. It was meant to allow a person to escape a bad situation so that would not be further harmed, either physically, mentally or in their health and wellbeing.
To emphasise the importance with which God viewed marriage though, Jesus finished this section saying that under the law if someone divorced and married another, they were committing adultery. Or if a person married someone who had been divorced then they too were committing adultery.
The apostle Paul clarified this by saying, “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) –and that the husband should not divorce his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) If a couple are divorced for any reason other than unchastity, Paul says they should be reconciled to one another, or if that is not possible they should remain single. This would be the best course of action, but is not always possible.
As I said in the introduction, I am still questioning and asking the Lord to provide me with guidance about this matter. For I do not believe the Lord would be so strict as to prevent a person from remarrying when or if they subsequently found a partner who offered a union of joy, freedom, happiness and peace. There are things about this teaching that I admit I have no answers for, and thus I am still seeking the wisdom and insight from the Lord over this matter. Although the scripture points in one direction, the compassion and justice of the Lord suggests there is more yet to be understood here, so I await his answer.