Saturday, November 17, 2012

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 prompted 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 ordinance that permitted divorce (Deut. 24:1-4) “for some sort of uncleanness being found in her”. 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 says 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 the Pharisees “inquiry” Jesus gives us what should’ve been their, and now must be our, understanding of marriage. That is, it is only to be dissolved (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 remained 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 frequently uses the marriage relationship to describe His own covenantal relationship with Israel. And so here, especially by Jesus’ citing from Genesis the creation account (Gen. 1:27); where He quotes the Scriptures which state: in the beginning God ‘made them male and female’ Vs. 6 Not "male and male" or "female and female" thoroughly Indicates to us who believe, 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 and intimacy (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 human 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 and 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 both the husband and wife 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”. Not his same sex "partner". Therefore homosexuality is only propagated by those who are either ignorant of God's ways. Or those whom having rejected true knowledge of God, 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. Therefore those who claim faith in Christ yet would seek to justify moral perversion in the eyes of God, are neither Christian nor known to God. 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 Jesus Christ to His church. Therefore heterosexual marriage is to be hallowed by those who believe (Eph. 5:31-32), as it also reflects our covenantal relationship to Christ. As the Scripture universally teaches: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Heb. 13:4 Those then who seek to undermine that pillar of life, love and society place themselves on a various perilous and unstable footing. Again that the two become one flesh in matrimony 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 in regards to the Pharisees initial response to Jesus' question 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 fail to mention was on what grounds, for some type of "uncleanness". Which if not some moral failing appears to me to have been applicable in situations similar to the women who had a constant flow of blood in the gospels (Mark 5:25-34) whereby she and everything she touched would have become unclean. And thus such a marriage union would have been unworkable under the Law of Moses (consider Lev 15:19-33). Yet 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. Which clearly then went against the Laws intention to preserve a marriages sanctity, not create loopholes for those men who grew tired of their wives could by it find "lawful" grounds for divorcing them and marrying another. Therefore the provision for divorce was only given, 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 again remarry her, if she had remarried another man. Even if the other man died; for to do so was an abomination in the eyes of God, to remarry her after she had been defiled by another man. Jesus thus rebukes their missuse of the Law which they were employing to suite their own desires, by saying: ...“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 to ones marriage spouse and family is often being forfeited for pure selfishness and self seeking pleasure. Infidelty once held as an abhorrent and treacherous act is now openly embraced. Yet marriage is never an act of convenience in the eyes of God, but one of commitment. Now in Matthew's gospel Jesus' Words are stated a little differently, there it says: “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 warns 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 their spouse 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 unlawfully divorced their spouses before they came to faith in Christ? Clearly Jesus Christ was crucified and has risen from the dead and ascended back to the Father so that He might first atone for our sins then justify us all who believe in Him. So in regards to whatever lawlessness and or sinful deeds that were done beforehand, these are completely forgiven the moment we believe in Him (Rom. 4:7-8; Col. 2:13-15). In regards to sin after conversion 1 John 1:9 promises “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thus there is provision for us to repent as we are being transformed into Christ likeness by the Holy Spirit; who has also sealed us for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). For we have Jesus Christ continually 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 (2 Cor. 7:10).

Therefore 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 sinlessness 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 us who believe into Christ likeness. Therefore whatever obedience one may have towards to the Gospel of Christ this must not make them look down on others, since it is only the Lord Jesus Christ's Righteousness that makes us who believe in Him approved before God (the Father (Luke 18:9-14; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 2:21). Only when a person who confesses faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; yet willfully carries on in their sins; are we to shun and put away from ourselves (1 Cor 5:9-13).

For we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ and give an accounting of ourselves. And thus everyone will be rewarded according to what they have done in the flesh. Thus there is strong motivation for us all to obey Him here and now (Prov 16:6; 2 Cor. 5:10-11). As well God’s hands are not tied by His extending to us His 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). Finally if believers have spouses who do not believe and want to dissolve the marriage believers then 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 they may one day 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 (Heb 12:14).


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



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