I need to pick back up in Matthew and continue what I started earlier this year. Join me in chapter 19 which begins with a discussion of divorce.
1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
When reading this yesterday I was wondering what the test here was. I mean, how did they want him to answer? Was there a trick for him to avoid? Did he pass their test or get caught with the wrong answer?
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
While rereading these few verses I mused at truly what a beautiful picture this is if you stop and think about it. Especially when you take into account other Biblical passages about how men are supposed to treat their wives like Christ treated the Church (the believers). For instance, Paul says Christ nourished and cherished it and so men ought to love their wives this way.
When you leave your momma and your daddy to unite with your wife, you and she become ONE - a unity - in God's eyes. How then can you abuse, disrespect, humiliate or neglect part of yourself? When your tooth is hurting, you do something to help it feel better. You clean and groom your hair, cut your nails, wash your face. You take care of yourself. Men, if your wife is part of you and, women, your husband is part of you, treat that part of you with honor, love and respect!
We don't give up a tooth or toe or arm without some pain ..or without a fight! I don't know many people who would cheerfully and willingly give up a leg. Even people with life-threatening injuries grieve the fact they must sacrifice a toe or leg in order to halt a disease that could kill them. An injured soldier doesn't readily give up a crushed limb. Why then do we often treat our spouses as people we can give up? Why would we fight more to keep a toe or hand than to keep our other half?
|Marriage: when 1 + 1 = 1|
I think Jesus wants us to consider this. We are ONE in God's eyes. Two halves that make a beautiful whole. Don't give that up! Fight for your marriage. Honor, love and serve one another. Consider the other better than you consider yourself. If both men and women seek to do this, I think a lot more marriages would still be intact!
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Only because of the people's hard hearts did Moses allow them to divorce. I've heard Jewish men would sometimes divorce their wives because she burnt dinner, wasn't pleasing to him any more or whatever other reason he could think of. Apparently women back then didn't have anyone much to defend them in this so I am glad Jesus spoke up telling these men "from the beginning" this - divorce for little-to-no-good reason - was not God's plan for marriages.
Remember God is about relationship...and not those fickle, shallow, I'm-only-here-when-things-are-goin'-good kinds. He's there for us in the good and bad and He loves unconditionally and intimately. He has that 'anyway' love as opposed to that 'because' kind. What do I mean by this?
Conditional love says because you are good-looking, kind and make a lot of money, I will stay with you.
Unconditional love says even though you forgot it was our anniversary, have a nasty temper when things are not going in your favor, and ran up massive debt on the credit card, I love you (anyway.)
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
Were these men conditioned to having an easy 'out' if their women didn't please them? I'm puzzling over their statement here. Is the prospect of staying with a spouse for life and actually working on your marriage with honor and love so difficult that they would rather not try?
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
It seems some people would rather stay single in order to devote themselves to God's work. This is fine for those to whom this lifestyle has been given by God. But marriage is honorable as well.
I saw a few headlines just this past week about how the idea of traditional marriage is becoming obsolete for many Americans. Do you agree that the concept is outdated? Do you believe people divorce too easily or are divorces too difficult to obtain? Thoughts? How has divorce (or marriage) impacted you or someone close to you?