What does Jesus have to say about divorce?
It’s interesting to me that the Pharisees would raise the issue of divorce to try and test Jesus. Was it a cultural hot button in that day like gay marriage and gender preference is in ours?
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?”
Any reason? Really? Even in our culture, divorce isn’t acceptable for “any” reason. It might be legally allowable for any reason, but if a man cheats on his wife and then divorces her to marry the “other woman,” that is still something that our culture looks upon with disdain.
Jesus asks the Pharisees, “What did Moses command you?” Interestingly, Moses made divorce permissible. But Jesus is quick to point out that this was not God’s plan and was only permissible because of the hardness of their hearts.
So it seems that man’s standards are more lenient, making divorce permissible for a wider range of reasons that what God would tolerate.
Jesus goes back to God’s intent, His design, that man and woman would be united in marriage and would become one flesh. Because of this, divorce was intolerable.
Jesus gives one “out,” possibly two. If a husband or wife commits adultery, it is permissible for their spouse to divorce them. Not preferable, but permissible. And if it is permissible, then remarriage is also permissible.
The other situation where divorce is permissible is when your spouse chooses to divorce you. Not that you have much of a choice. You can and should fight for your marriage, but ultimately you cannot force someone to stay married to you. In that case, it is also permissible to remarry.
Jesus gives no other “out” for divorce and subsequent remarriage. The question then becomes: Can you expand the meaning of adultery to include unfaithfulness of other kinds? What about cases of abuse? Abandonment? What’s the difference spiritually between divorce and legal separation?
All these questions make me wonder: If Jesus were asked this same question today, how would he answer it? Would he expand the meaning of adultery to the broader scope of “marital unfaithfulness?”
One thing I know would remain the same. Jesus would still say ,“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
God created marriage. It’s His plan. He loves marriage. It’s worth fighting for!
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