JESUS'S TEACHINGS ON MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

Marriage and Divorce
Matthew 19

Jesus is about to head to Jerusalem to die for us in obedience to His Father.  In this context we are given vital teachings about living in the kingdom of heaven.  These instructions began with who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, offenses that lead others to sin, the lost sheep and eternal life, dealing with a sinful fellow believer, and unforgiveness.
Now Jesus will teach us more of the most important aspects of life: marriage and divorce, celibacy, children in reference to His previous teachings concerning becoming like a child, and eternal life.  He continues to come back to His child illustration and eternal life in Matthew 19.  If one does not have eternal life all is lost.
Marriage was one of the first teachings and actions of God in Genesis, a man and a woman will become one connecting the concept of God as One and that we are created in the image of God.   Marriage reflects the image of God in us and is to lead us to deeper understanding and intimacy with God and one another.
Marriage is a sacred covenant that is never to be broken except in the most horrendous of circumstances.  I fear we have lost much of God’s intent for marriage and made it more of a secular act with a little bit of God thrown in.  We need to rediscover why we should marry and what we are to learn about each other and God in connection with love and holiness.
Jesus in His teaching turns His legalistic religious world upside down.  Moses allowed for easy divorce because of the sinfulness of humanity.  All a man had to do was serve a certificate of divorce and the marriage was over.  As He always did, Jesus goes beyond the Law as in the Sermon on the Mount.  You have heard, but I say to you…
In fact, Jesus’s instructions on marriage are so important, that one should remain celibate if one is not prepared to live up to God’s expectations of marriage.  We have far too often gone in two wrong directions.  Living together before marriage is now common even in the church or divorce is too common even in the church.
Both reflect the corruption of the last days as Paul wrote to Timothy that in the days before Jesus returns people will be told they do not need to marry.  This is given in the context of the doctrine of demons.  We need a wake up call to instruct our children in the home and in the church of what marriage and covenant and holiness mean for sexual relationships and the image of God.
All too often neither is taught from the pulpit or in the home or in small groups.  Divorce is not an option except in the most extreme circumstances.  All those I know who have been divorced went through great trials and much pain before they came to divorce.  I am not minimizing their heartache, but we cannot avoid Jesus’s teachings on the beauty and wonder of marriage because of the prevalence of divorce or people who have lived together before marriage.  We must speak the truth in love.
One final word, the last statistics I heard concerning divorce in the Body of Christ was quite encouraging.  Couples who attend worship services weekly, pray together on a regular basis and participate in a small group, the divorce rate is only 2%.  What a contrast to the usual near 50% in our culture.  God’s way will lead to life and fruitfulness.

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