Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” — Isaiah 40:8
The marriage relationship is the second most important relationship one will ever enter—second only to a relationship with God. Thus, the decision to marry must not be taken lightly. God’s law on marriage, divorce and remarriage is crystal clear, and it remains the same as when it was first recorded in scripture. As much as culture’s thoughts on the subject have evolved over the years, God’s Word has not. The law of marriage doesn’t just apply to Christians; it applies to all mankind, including what is and is not a scriptural divorce and remarriage.
In Matthew 19, the conflict between Jesus and His enemies is intensifying. Jesus’ popularity is rising, and they’re looking for any way to stop Him. His enemies make an attempt to discredit Him by “testing Him” (v. 3). There were diverse opinions in that culture on the subject, and His enemies believed it’d be an opportunity to trip Jesus up. In v. 4, Jesus takes His critics back to scripture. And that’s the only way for us to learn the truth and teach about marriage, divorce and remarriage. Jesus goes all the way back to the beginning—to creation—when God “made them male and female.”
In v. 5-6, there are three phrases that demand our attention:
* “Be joined” teaches that marriage is not a temporary arrangement. It’s not an experiment to see if it works out. It’s a permanent arrangement.
* “Two shall become one flesh” means the blending of all aspects of your lives. Two people become one; a one-flesh relationship.
* “Let not man separate” what God has joined together. God’s the One in charge. I do not have the right to find someone else or move on. If we choose to do that, we have violated the command of God and openly rebelled against His will.
Under the law of Moses, divorce was allowed, due to the “hardness of your hearts” (v. 8). But permission to divorce was only temporary. God’s intent was that the marriage relationship be permanent: “From the beginning it was not so” (v. 8). That’s why Jesus says what He says in v. 9 when He states, “And I say to you.” Jesus is making a distinction between His law and the law of Moses. And His law applies to all mankind (“whoever”). It’s not just given to the people of Israel or to anyone who’s a Christian. The exception in v. 9 applies to all mankind. One cannot divorce for any reason, “except for sexual immorality.” If this cause is present, the innocent party has the right to divorce and remarry. If that cause is not present, the divorce is unlawful and the remarriage to follow is unlawful in the eyes of God.
My friends, we live in a time when God’s Word is disrespected by the majority. My prayer is that we will respect what the Lord teaches on this subject. This teaching is certainly not popular, and does not draw a crowd. But we have an obligation, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to preach the truth and stand for the truth. With the growing problem of unlawful divorce, it makes it all the more important to preach the truth on this subject.
-- Steven Matthews