Jesus teaches on the subject of divorce
Scripture reading 1 Corinthians 7:1-17, 32-40
Today we are going to consider what some may think is a controversial passage. The passage is Matthew 19:1-12 and the topic is
Did you know that in 2003 (the most up to date stats we have) 35% of marriages were expected to end in divorce before the 25th
year of marriage. Quebec had the highest rate at 46% and Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest at 16%.
In this passage some Pharisees come to Jesus looking to test him and to trap him in his words as it regards the subject of divorce.
It may help to note that Jesus just so happened to be the territory governed by Herod the tetrarch, the same one who had John
the Baptist beheaded for his speaking out against his immoral marriage to his brothers wife-- so you can imagine what the
Pharisees had in mind.
It might also help to know that the Pharisees themselves were divided into 2 schools. The one school was very conservative as it
regarded divorce- believing that adultery was basically the only allowable reason for divorce. The other school believed you could
divorce for any reason you want (This may explain why the women of the day wore a lot a jewelry-- so if there husband divorced
then at least they would have something to live off of)
Note: Please don't view today's message as me attacking anybody. We are here to study the Word of God that are lives might
please the Lord and bring praise to His name.
Some consider the Bible's teaching on divorce to be archaic, restrictive, and punitive. However, let us remember together the
purpose of God's commands-- That we may not hurt ourselves, that we might please God, that we might qualify ourselves for His
blessings, that we might be led to Christ. Hence our goal is to bring our thinking in line with the Scriptures.
Many people consider marriage to be just a piece of paper-- It's not. Marriage is God's invention. Marriage is God's sanctioned place
for sexual relations between a man and woman. Marriage is God's sanctioned place for children being brought into the world.
Marriage and family is a building block of a healthy society.
Many people live together outside the bonds of marriage-- pretending to be like husband and wife, thinking that marriage will
damage their relationship, afraid that they might get divorced. The Bible calls this sin. Furthermore, these relationships are very
unstable- compared to marriage.
Please bear in mind that ones response to Matthew 19 will vary depending on how they come to the text: As a single person, as
someone who might have grown up in a family touched by divorce, as a divorced person, as a married person. Regardless of your
feelings, let the Word of God be the Word of God and the final authority for your faith and practice.
Lessons and principles of the text
1. God is the author of marriage v.4-6
Marriage is not the invention of the state. While the state tries to regulate marriage today, marriage is God's invention from the
very beginning. Hence marriage is and always will be a religious act.
Note how God is called the "The Creator" reminding us that we are not products of chance and the imaginary process of
evolution-- calling us to go back to Genesis 1-2 that we might review our origins.
Note also how Jesus quotes the Scriptures in answering the test of the Pharisees. (We always need to be guided in our answers to
peoples questions, by the Scriptures)
2. Marriage is to be between a man and woman v.4-6
The Scriptures do not regard men with men or women with women or people with animals or inanimate objects as being married.
Such are all perversions of God's intention, command and design.
3. Marriage entails one leaving their father and mother v.5
When a man and woman, the legal age being 18 in Canada, decide to get married, they form a new family unit. At this point the
onus is on the parents to step back and not to interfere; rather they are to do all they can to support the marriage.
When a couple faces a challenge in their marriage they are not to "run home to momma or pappa" as if there parents are going to
solve their problem.
4. Marriage results in the man and the woman becoming one v.6
This oneness is physical, spiritual, emotional. This oneness is the result of God joining the two together by their vows
Practical ways a couple can live their oneness out: Joint bank accounts. All things in common. Decisions made together.
5. God intends marriage to be until death do you part
Marriage is not a 5 year contract nor is it a commitment that one makes until they don't feel they love each other any more.
Because marriage is to be until death, be very careful as it pertains the entering into of it. The Bible gives instructions and shares
many principles that relate to this as it regards who is a good match for marriage.
6. Moses gave instructions on divorce in an effort to curtail/slow/regulate its practice v.7-8
In v.7 the Pharisees continue to try to trap Jesus by asking "why then did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of
divorce and send her away"
A few things
a. The Pharisees wrongly use the word "command". Moses commanded no such thing
b. The Pharisees are referring to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 which says; "If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him
because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his
house, 2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, 3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes
her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her,
is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin
upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance."
As Jesus notes, Moses gave these instructions to curtail/slow/regulate divorce-- for men in particular, were divorcing there wives
left and right for all sorts of ridiculous reasons. Moses did give this instruction as a support to divorce but as a way to regulate a
practice that had sprung up.
7. Jesus: "Anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and then marries another woman, commits
So shocked were the disciples that they exclaimed "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry"
Obviously, like we have been, the disciples had been impacted by the low morality of the culture.
-refers to a bundle of sexual sins (homosexuality,sex outside of marriage, incest, prostitution, bestiality, adultery)
Adultery is the sin of having sexual relations, as a married person, with someone you are not married to. In the 10
Commandments it says "Thou shalt not commit adultery" Exodus 20:14
While divorce and remarriage is allowed because of the sin of "sexual immorality" the Bible does not say that divorce is required or
a given. This speaks to the concept that the door be left open for reconciliation
8. Jesus' words indicate that if a person divorces for any reason beyond sexual immorality that they should stay
Because God considers the bond between the man and the woman to be still in effect--- this is why one commits adultery if they
1. In cases of abuse a period of separation is warranted
2. In light of Jesus' words about divorce-- don't rush into marriage-- if you want to be married enter into with great seriousness
and a deep commitment to keep God's word
3. 1 Corinthians 7 indicates that if a Christian spouse is abandoned/divorced by a non Christian spouse that the marriage is viewed
4. If you've been divorced for reasons other than sexual immorality or abandonment and remarried, ask God for forgiveness and
carry on and be the best husband/wife that you can be
5. If you are living with a person outside of marriage, repent and seek Christ's forgiveness, break up, get married, or get your own
apartments and resolve to save sex until you are married. I Corinthians 6:20 says; "You were bought with a price, therefore honor
God with your body."
6. If you are married, do all you can to keep your marriage strong
Tips for a strong marriage
-Prayer for your spouse and your marriage
-Fight fair: No kicking, pinching, punching, slapping, calling names, saying "you always or you never", no bringing up the past, no
comparing your spouse to someone else, no threatening divorce, no bringing in your parents or triangling your children into the
-Specialize in caring behaviors (and not just around holidays and birthdays. Do nice things for each other)
-Do some fun stuff together on a regular basis (shared leisure activities)
-Be careful with your money, but not a tightwad
-Men: love your wife
-Women: respect your husband
-Feed the flames of romance and make sure that you have a regular sex life --I Corinthians 7:1ff-- and don't use this verse as a
club against the other person either!!!!