Friday, August 20, 2010

Mark 10:1-12 Jesus Teaches on Marriage and Divorce

Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again. 2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” 5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 ‘and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 “And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Jesus having left Capernaum now moves south into the region of Judea on the other side of the Jordan. It was from this region where Moses before entering the promise land assembled the children of Israel; the first covenant people of God. So it seems fitting that here in this area, Jesus being tested by the Pharisees, that He would address the issue of marriage; which in many ways (for those who believe and are married) is a marker of one’s own faithfulness to God. They on the other hand made frequent use of the Laws statute that permitted divorce, (for a reason of uncleanness, see Deut. 24:1-4). Something various priestly elements in Israel had loosely qualified amongst themselves over time, in order to avoid committing adultery, which was utterly treacherous and devastating on their part, both towards their wives and children (Malachi 2:13-16). Nonetheless in the course of giving a stern rebuke of their justifying both their greed and themselves before God, Jesus also said to them in Luke’s gospel: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Luke 16:18

Making it quite clear that in no way does the Lord Jesus Christ endorse dissolving a marriage “for just any reason” as Matthew records their inquiry (See Matt. 19:3-9). Therefore with their “inquiry” Jesus gives us what should’ve been their, and now must be our understanding of marriage. That is, it is only to be broken (though it need not be) if one of the spouses is unfaithful towards the other spouse, in which case the sin of adultery rests with the offender (Malachi 3:5). Not with the party who remains faithful to the marriages covenant relationship. For in the eyes of the Lord marriage is sacred and binding. We see this clearly throughout the Scriptures as the Lord uses the marriage relationship to describe His own covenantal relationship with Israel. But here especially by Jesus’ citing from Genesis; both the creation account (Gen. 1:27); where He quotes the Scriptures which state: in the beginning God ‘made them male and female’ Vs. 6 Indicating that God’s intended purposes for having two distinct sexes was not just for the propagation of the human race, but for the establishment of the human family and it’s relationship’s (and thus greater society) through heterosexual marriages. For Jesus says 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 ‘and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” vs.7-9
Therefore it could not be clearer; what God has joined in matrimonial union, let no man separate. Now the fact that in marriage they (that is the man and the woman) become one flesh moves beyond just sexual union (though that is a part of a marriage union, as the Apostle Paul warns of a believer becoming “one flesh” with a ritual harlot by committing sexual immorality with her (see 1 Cor. 6:14-20). Rather the one flesh union is a joining of their whole person’s (within their natural distinctions and personalities) into one. And because they are one flesh in matrimony, they have emotional as well as physical ties to each other, which is what God intends for them. For the marriage bond is to be the upmost of all relationship bonds. Only ones commitment to the Lord is to excel it (Luke 14:26). Thus there is to be an exclusivity there, an intimacy there (both emotional and physical), and thus a deep trust, faithfulness and appreciating love there. Out of which a family is to be born and reared. Show me a well adjusted marriage, and I will more than likely show you well adjusted people and children.
That’s how important a healthy marriage is to the well being of the individual and the children who are raised in it, and thus society overall. For a healthy marriage builds both self esteem and a sense of security in couples and their children. And by being commitment to each other in the good times and the bad, husband and wife in many ways exemplify how God deals with all His children who keep their trust in Him (Ps. 34:22).

Now notice Jesus’ Words that He says: “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife”. vs. 7 Not his same sex partner! For homosexuality is only propagated by those who are either ignorant of His ways or whom having rejected true knowledge of Him, God has given over to a debased mind (consider Rom. 1:18-32), for homosexuality is thoroughly condemned in the Scriptures, being called an abomination to the Lord (Lev. 18:22-23; 20:13, 15, 16; Deut. 23:17-18) something that does not change in the New Testament (1 Cor. 6:9-11). For all such things are a perversion of the marriage union and what God has designed us as distinct sexes for, and what marriage is also to reflect. That is the covenant relationship of God with His people and Jesus Christ to His church. Therefore it is to be hallowed by those who believe and obey the truth (Eph. 5:31-32), as the Scripture universally teaches “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Heb. 13:4

Again that the two become one flesh indicates the complete union of them, and the care they must have for each other, which then begins the family cycle; of raising children and preparing them for adulthood and thus perpetuates a healthy and caring society. Something that readily falls away when perversion is pursued. As was the case in Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 13:13; 18:1-19:29); which itself is said in the N.T. to be an example of God’s eternal wrath against all such things; “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 7

Now the Scripture teaches that we are to make a distinction between those who willfully give themselves over to their sins, and those who have fallen into sin but need and want restoration (Gal. 6:1-2; Jude 22-23). For the gospel is not a message of sinless obedience approving one before God. But faith in the Lord Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead whose Spirit is the transforming Power of God; who first makes alive, then progressively transforms all who believe Christ's Image. The quintessential Image bearer of God. For that is what we were originally created to be, God's image bearers (Gen. 1:26; 5:1-2). Yet through Adam's sin we all as a human race became separated from God. Until Jesus Christ took our sins penalty upon Himself on the cross and having atoned for it, He has by One sacrifice provided the means for our restoration to God when we repent and believe in Him. Therefore whatever obedience one may have towards to the gospel this is not to make them look down on others, since it is only Jesus Christ's Righteousness that makes us who believe approved before God (Luke 18:9-14; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 2:21).

Now in regards to the Pharisees response to Jesus by saying: “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” Vs. 4 This is true (See Deut. 24:1-4), Moses did indeed permit writing a certificate of divorce and putting her away but what they did not mention was on what grounds, for some type of uncleanness. Which according to various schools of thought of the day could be a serious sexual transgression or just about any sort of displeasure a husband found in his wife. All which goes against the laws intention to preserve a marriages sanctity, therefore the provision for divorce was only as Jesus said because of the hardness of their hearts. For it is also clear in that same statute that a man who divorced his wife could not remarry her, if she had remarried another man. Even if the other man died; to do so was an abomination in the eyes of God, to remarry her after she had been defiled by another man. Jesus than having rebuked their understanding of the passage, which they were employing to suite their own desires, then says: ...“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 “And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” vs. 11-12

Thus by so saying Jesus effectively ends a person divorcing their spouse and marrying another "for any reason" as some of the Priestly elements in Israel were inclined to justify doing. And in light of such things what does Jesus’ teaching say to our culture which has so embraced the notion of personal “liberty” and “rights” to the extent that personal responsibility and faithfulness has been forfeited for pure selfishness and self centeredness. Marriage is never an act of convenience in the eyes of God but one of commitment.

Now in Matthew's gospel it is stated a little differently saying: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Matt. 19:8-9

Again Jesus is quite clear the only just stipulation for one pursuing a divorce is that the other spouse committed sexual immorality and thus broke the marriage covenant. For to do so for any other reason and then go on to marry another is as Jesus says to commit adultery. Same with someone marrying a divorced person. Which effectively ends their (or anyone else’s) using the law of Moses statute to justify divorcing their wives for any reason, except for her committing sexual immorality. For to do so now after Jesus Christ has clarified the matter is only to commit adultery in the eyes of God by doing so. Similarly marrying a woman who is divorced is also to commit adultery because she is already bound (in the eyes of God) to another man.

Which opens up a whole bunch of questions; what about believers who divorced their spouses before they came to faith in Christ? Clearly Jesus Christ was crucified and has risen from the dead and is ascended back to the Father so that He might now justify everyone who believes in Him. So in regards to whatever lawless and or sinful deeds that were done before someone came to faith in the Lord Jesus these are these are unconditionally and completely forgiven the moment we believe (Rom. 4:7-8; Col. 2:13-15). “...For you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor. 6:11
Now in regards to sin after conversion we have the Scriptural promise: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 Thus there is provision for us as we are being transformed into Christ likeness by the Holy Spirit. For we have Jesus Christ advocating for us before the throne of God (1 John 1:16-10; 2:1-2; Heb. 4:14-16) when we turn from our sins and turn to God believing in Him (2 Cor. 7:10).

Now in saying that we each individually must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ and give an accounting of ourselves. For everyone will be rewarded according to what they have done in the flesh. Therefore there is strong motivation for us to obey Him here and now (2 Cor. 5:10-11). As well God’s hands are not tied by His giving us grace, through faith in His Son. For as a loving father chastens his children, so God the Father also chastens us, which produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness in all of us who have been trained by it (See Heb. 12:3-11). Final thought, if believers have spouses who do not believe and their spouses want to dissolve the marriage, believers are under no obligation. For God called has called us to peace (1 Cor. 7:15). However believers are to never divorce their spouses simply because they are unbelievers, for who knows one day they may be won for Christ (1 Cor. 7:16). Therefore believers are to do what they can to keep their marriages both pure and themselves peaceable within them.

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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