Marriage and Divorce
This is the kind of subject that preachers tend to avoid; however, you can’t be an honest teacher and preacher of the word and shy at such difficulties. We have to remember that Jesus was teaching those who were under the law the futility of trying to live under its full demands.
Matthew 5:31-32 “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”
It hath been said,
Here, Jesus is continuing to reveal the wrong-headed approach to life of the Pharisees and Scribes. He has some hard things to say but He loves us enough to tell us the hard things. Remember, the Sermon on the Mount is about His kingdom and His kingdom is where He reigns.
Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
I’m using the KJV because it gets this passage the most right. During the 1st century Judaism was full of injustice and Jesus stood against it. Men were putting their wives away for just about any reason. The phrase “put away” is sometimes translated divorce but I think it is more accurate to say, “put away.” The Greek word is apolyo. It means to put away or set aside. The Hebrew equivalent is “gaw-rar” and is stronger as it carries the idea of casting aside. They were putting their wives away but refusing to give them a bill of divorce. In the 1st century, A woman didn’t have many options so if she was put away, and not divorced, she would be forced into prostitution to support herself. Or forced to live with a man, whom she couldn’t marry without a certificate of divorce. Husbands were doing this out of the hardness of their hearts. The men had all the power in this culture and some had hearts hardened against God. Jesus shifted the burden from the women back onto the men who had the responsibility.
Marriage is a permanent institution. The Christian world view of marriage is that a man and a woman are joined to each other like Christians are joined to the Lord Jesus Christ. The relationship in each case is permanent; marriage for this life and salvation for this life and eternity. Because marriage is an illustration of the Lord Jesus and His bride the possibility of a Christian divorce is unthinkable.
Hosea and Gomer are a picture of God’s marriage to His bride. The story of Hosea and Gomer reveals the relentless pursuit of God’s love and the permanence of marriage. While Gomer played the part of the unfaithful spouse, Hosea showed the unfailing love of God for His unfaithful spouse. She played the part of an unfaithful spouse with multiple lovers just as Israel had done, and as we do, when we love so many other things over God. Does this mean God loves us even when we run away from Him? It does!
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:
There was one cause given by Jesus to permit putting away a spouse and that was fornication, which refers to any sexual impurity. However, then, only because of the hardness of the offended’s heart. The man who puts away a wife must give her a bill of divorcement or he’s forcing her into adultery because she has no other way to survive.
There’s no such thing as casual sex.
We live in a sensual society that falsely thinks you can sleep with someone without consequences. Adultery is not only a sin against your spouse but a sin against yourself.
1 Corinthians 6:16 “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
And whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”
Jesus tells them how it is if they want to live under the Law. The Pharisees had altered it so it was achievable but Jesus was showing us the full intent of the Law. It could be translated, “her that is put away commits adultery.” Remember the problem was they were putting away without divorcing. Regardless of your understanding, adultery is not the unforgivable sin. We are not those who live under the law – but under grace. The only unforgivable sin is that of unbelief. If you’ve been divorced and remarried you know the pain it has brought into your life. As with all sin we acknowledge it before God and we receive His forgiveness and live under His grace.
Divorce must be the option of last resort.
It’s too easy for us to divorce and when the pressure is on many people flee buying into the lie that it can’t work out. Yield yourselves to God and watch Him do miracles. I understand it takes two, and sometimes a spouse is abandoned, and there is nothing you can do.
God’s love and grace meet us at the point of our need, in our heartache and trials. If you attempt to walk under the Law it will only bring you under guilt and condemnation. Walk in the Spirit, getting your life from Christ, and you’ll never have to worry about breaking the Law.
I hope you’re having a great week. It is a delight to be your shepherd. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday. Invite a friend and bring someone with you.
You are loved!