“Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again, crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’
‘What did Moses command you?’ he replied.
They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and sent her away.’
‘It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.’ Jesus replied. ‘But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.’”
The religious Pharisees were always trying to trap Jesus with cleverly disguised questions. Outwardly, they always appeared to be interested in Jesus’ answers; however, they were not. They were simply trying to trap Him, to get Him to say something which would cause the masses to turn against Him. In this case, the Pharisees thought they could use divorce to drive a wedge between Jesus and the people if they got Him to contradict Moses (Deut. 24:1-4).
During the 1st century, there was a raging debate concerning divorce between two different schools of thought: that of Hillel and that of Shammi. These two scholars based their beliefs on Moses’ words found in Deuteronomy 24:1, which permitted divorce when a wife proved unfaithful. According to Wetherell Johnson, the author of BSF commentary, “The school of Shammi held strictly to the letter of the law and insisted that a wife could not be divorced except for marital unfaithfulness. Even if a woman were ‘as mischievous as Jezebel,’ if she did not commit actual adultery, she could not be put away. On the contrary, the school of Hillel, noted for its [progressiveness,] allowed a husband to put away his wife ‘for [any and] every cause.’ They said that he could divorce her if he disliked her, if he fancied another woman, if her cooking were not his taste, if [her hair was a mess], or she spoke disrespectfully of her parents in his presence. Tragically enough… the view point of the Hillel school prevailed.” The masses supported Hillel. If Jesus went against him, then perhaps the masses would turn against Jesus.
So, what did Jesus do? He bypassed both Shammi and Hillel and pointed back to God’s Word — to the Scriptures. This is what Jesus always did; and it is what we should always do when we have a question. Consult God’s Word. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, Ge said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
In the Matthew account of this same incident, we learn that Jesus pointed out the error of these Pharisees, when He said, “Have you not read?” In other words, He charged then with ignorance of the word of God. In Matthew 22:29, Jesus said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
Jesus took them, and He takes us, back to the very beginning to understand the sacredness and importance of marriage as God defines it. Genesis 1:27-28 says, “So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’” Genesis 2:18, 20-24 says, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So, the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man and He brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
There is so much that could be said, and that needs to be said, in light of our society’s struggle and confusion over marriage, divorce and same-sex relationships. Let me just give you a few very important truths:
God is the One who created, established and defines marriage between one man and one woman. Thus, we have no right to redefine this holy estate. Marriage, as God defines it, is between one man and one woman. It is that simple.
Marriage was the very first institution that He created. The other two are government and the church. But notice, the family unit came first.
The husband and wife are to be united together and become one flesh. They are the glue that should work to hold the family together.
The family, then, is to be the glue that holds society together.
Marriage is a covenantal relationship, not a contractual one. Contracts are agreements whereby each party agrees to certain conditions in order to keep the contract valid. In covenant relationships, people make unconditional promises. These are the vows a man and woman make as they stand before God at the altar and in the presence of many witnesses. Covenant relationships are based on enduring and permanent love. Covenant relationships encounter disagreements or arguments that require understanding and forgiveness.
The pattern of marriage points to something greater — the gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the most important reason marriage is so sacred to God is because it serves as a picture of the intimate, personal relationship He desires to have with each one of us. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ love the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless… For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
Marriage is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His church — between God and His true children — between you and Jesus, if you truly belong to Him. It is a covenantal relationship. One that can never be dissolved, for once you become the bride of Christ, there is nothing you can ever do that will cause this relationship to be severed. There is no divorce allowed in our relationship with God. Not now, not ever.