ONE FLESH, TORN APART
Lord, we thank You for establishing the institution of marriage.
Read MATTHEW 19:1–15
19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
The Little Children and Jesus
13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34,35).
The deputation of Pharisees questioning Jesus has no concern for people involved in marriage break-ups. Rather, their question is designed to trap Jesus. In answering, Jesus refers to the original institution of marriage, reminding them that one man and one woman leave their parents and are joined by God in lifetime commitment.
However, in a sinful world the ideal model is not always achieved. Moses’ law permitted a man to divorce if he found “some indecency” in his wife. This exception was debated by the rabbis, with numerous interpretations. Women had no right of divorce. Without a husband, they were destitute in a patriarchal society, so for her protection the law stipulated that a woman be given a certificate of divorce, giving her the freedom to remarry. The issue of divorce raises problems for Christians today. Jesus taught that there is only one situation in which divorce is permissible: sexual immorality. Paul adds another: if an unbelieving partner doesn’t wish to remain married to a believer. That Paul made this further exception leads some Christians to identify others—maybe violence?
In most churches and families today the issue is more than an academic exercise. In addition to the actual couple, it affects children, parents, friends and church. We hold to the sanctity of marriage, but we live with the reality of broken people and fragile marriages. We should make every effort to preserve a marriage, but if it is beyond repair, then those involved should be supported compassionately during the turbulence, assisted in rebuilding their lives, and, hopefully, led to repentance. Children are often the innocent sufferers. Jesus’ example of special care, loving welcome and tender concern for children must extend to them through God’s family.
Give thanks for the stable marriages around you. Pray for those who are divorced or in difficult marriages. Can you support them?
Lord, keep Your hand upon our marriages so that social and spiritual stability will result.
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