Ignorance was never approved by the Savior, therefore, He came teaching to dispel darkness with the light of truth. We must concern ourselves with truth as Jesus taught recorded in the text of Mark 10:1-12.
“And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts Judea by the further side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and he, as he was wont, he taught them again. And the Pharisees came to him and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”
Jesus was constantly being asked questions, and as often as not, the questions were designed to trap Him in His words. The question asked Him on this occasion was a good question, but the motive was impure. People often ask questions today, not to learn or gain information, but for various sinister reasons. But let us study the question and the Lord’s answer with a heart depleted of prejudice and try to learn what is the will of God in this matter of marriage.
To get a clearer picture of the question, consult Matthew 19:3. The answer Jesus gives whether one could divorce or not was obviously a negative one, and He showed it was not God’s will that such take place. While today divorces are granted for almost any reason, even for no reason, this is contrary to the will, intent, and design of marriage as given by the Lord.
Jesus refers to the Mosaic Law under which His questioners lived. What the law taught was what they should obey. God’s Word ought be allowed to be the final chapter on any subject. The Pharisees responded that Moses allowed divorce. Actually what Moses insisted was that there be a writing of divorcement if a divorce occurs. Moses did not command divorce, but he “suffered” or allowed it, and Jesus said it was because the people were so hardened of heart that Moses did it. But it was not true that Moses allowed divorce for just any cause. The morality of the people was so low and rebellious that it was permitted, but never approved. There are things that God has permitted but not approved. This is one instance of that. God will even allow sin, but who would dare say that God approves of sin in any form?
Regardless of what Moses allowed, Jesus referred to God’s original plan for marriage as the standard to follow. “From the beginning it hath not been so.” God never intended that married people divorce. “What God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” The will of God for marriage is that one leave father and mother and cleave to his or her mate until death separate them. How can there be any question in anyone’s mind as to the permanency intended by God in the establishment of marriage? This idea that one is allowed to divorce just so long as they never remarry and God is not offended is as foreign to the truth on the subject as right is foreign to what is wrong.
Marriage is More
Marriage is more than just a social contract designed to propagate the earth and perpetuate the race. It is more than a civil contract entered according to the laws of the state, although these laws must be obeyed. It is not just a convenient economic arrangement. It is a sacred and divine contract, a relationship planned in heaven for mankind. It is ordained of God and should be entered, conducted and terminated only according to the will of Him who gave it. Herein is the fault of many who marry; namely, they fail to include God in their marriage. Marriage involves more than a man and a woman. It must include God who gave it.
The nature and purpose of marriage is for the happiness and welfare of mankind. It is not good for man to be alone. The marriage vow is a vow of perpetual and indissoluble friendship which no fortune or alteration of external circumstances should be allowed to interrupt or weaken. In marriage there is no longer just separate interests, but two become united as one. Often the cause of unhappiness in marriage is due to the dissimilarity of those involved in such as education, finances, religion, race, social status and other factors. These differences often place unbearable and unnecessary strains on the marriage bonds and they ought to be avoided before marriage occurs. Religious division is a burden far heavier than many marriages can bear. Nearly every religious advisor I have ever known or of whom I have heard plead with people to be sure the religion of the man and the woman is the same. Why does this have to be constantly brought to the attention of Christians who ought to recognize this from the start?
You and I Become We
Marriage permits no separate possession but what was once I, my and mine, you and yours, becomes that which belongs to both of us. The two become one flesh. The couple is together in all things. Deviations from this God-given intent invites stress, strain and tensions that ought not be given the right to exist. Such things are avoidable.
Marriage does not always bring perfect happiness to everyone. There are manifold reasons why this is true. Even so, this does not allow the dissolution of marriage. Only the death of one of those involved is the way that a marriage can honorably be terminated. If the record given in Mark was the only inspired information we had concerning this matter, we would have to conclude that death, and only death, ended a marriage in the sight of God. But Matthew 19:9 gives additional teaching that must be respected as we study the will of God in marriage.
God allows divorce for one reason and one reason only. That reason is the cause of fornication. It is not mandatory for marriage to be broken even then because there is the possibility of genuine repentance and forgiveness. But God does not demand that a person live as husband or wife with a mate that is not faithful to their sexual vow to keep themselves only to their mate. The vow of marriage is violated by fornication. This teaching is so clear that there ought not be any dispute regarding it. Death is the only honorable way for marriage to end. Fornication will allow a divorce, but that means sin has entered the picture. How far removed from God’s will our society has drifted! We are paying a terrible price for man’s rebellion.
Have you ever considered the horror of divorce? We read of divorced people more and more, even in the church, and some try so hard to picture it as something beneficial and strain to remove the stigma attached to it. While the shame before mankind of the breakdown of a marriage has been reduced, unfortunately for the guilty and those who suffer divorce, there is no way to ever erase the tragic consequences of it. Divorce has been characterized as tearing a body limb from limb. It is like taking a human body and placing it upon the rack and gradually, painfully, disjointing it until it rips asunder and leaves the victim destroyed. Just think how Jesus teaches in marriage two become one flesh, but in divorce this one flesh is torn apart.
In Jesus’ day, like our own, marriage was not respected as it ought to have been. There was great laxity in meeting marital responsibilities. But the teaching of Jesus restores the standard of marriage as God fixed it from the creation of the world. It reaffirms the permanency of it and the sinfulness of tearing it apart. Woe to the one who is the cause for this tearing! If we love God, we will strive to make our marriage what God intended it to be when He gave it in Eden.
If the institution of marriage, and its sacredness, is not respected in a society we learn from history the inevitable collapse of that society. National greatness cannot continue when the home, the basic unit of society, goes awry. Without respect for God’s marriage law the level of morality of the people of the land plummets downward until the degeneracy of the race is overwhelming. Souls are cast into misery, homes fall, despair and hopelessness reign over the hearts and lives of people, children are neglected and the security, training and righteous upbringing are absent. The attendant evils resulting from all of this are apparent to one and all who will honestly consider the havoc and ruin caused by the ever increasing breakdown of the home and the disregard of marriage vows.
The future success of the nation depends upon a nation where righteousness prevails. With the divorce rate climbing year by year, and the population being flooded with those who have shown little to no respect for God’s moral teaching and the divine edicts regarding marriage, the very foundation of civilization is threatened and nothing is left to sustain.
Homes where there is religious division are very subject to this kind of dissolution. This is not to say that divorce does not occur even in homes where the partners were united religiously. But somewhere along the line one or both abandon the authority of God whenever there is divorce. Religiously divided homes have not the ultimate common ground. They have no final standard by which to measure all matters. There is no common respect for the divine teaching of God. In the very area where people need the support and encouragement of each other the most, it is lacking. The children reared in such divided homes become confused, intimidated, frustrated, not knowing what to believe, and often they strike out into areas where their own destruction, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, is the ultimate result. No home, regardless of how much happiness may exist therein, is as God wants it to be until all who are accountable to God in that home belong to God through Christ. The greatest contribution anyone can make toward the stability of the home and marriage is to be a faithful Christian. When that is the situation the blessings of God will be in evidence and the home will be what God wants for it.
1. Why did some people ask Jesus questions?
2. From what two passages is our lesson taken?
3. What did Moses allow?
4. What was God’s intention from the beginning?
5. What kind of covenant or contract is marriage?
6. What is meant by “the two become one flesh?”
7. What is the only cause Scripture allows for divorce?
8. Discuss the harmful effects of divorce on everyone involved.
9. What does history teach us about a society that fails to respect God’s marriage laws?
10. What is at the root of so much of the divorce tragedy?