What God Has Joined
Heavenly Father, as the Spirit impresses Your Word upon me, may I find the direction and strength needed for today.
Read MARK 10:1-16
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Successful marriage is always a triangle: a man, a woman, and God” (T. Cecil Myers). Let married folks never forget it.
As Jesus leaves Galilee, the Pharisees return to the attack with a question on divorce. No doubt they hoped Jesus would declare divorce unlawful. This would have risked infuriating Herod Antipas who divorced his first wife to marry Herodias. It would also have put Jesus at odds with the Law of Moses. However, Jesus neutralizes the danger, first, by asking what Moses had commanded (3). This forces the Pharisees to acknowledge that Moses had “permitted,” not commanded, divorce as a concession to human weakness (Deut. 24:1-4). Second, Jesus quotes Genesis 1:27 where men and women are created as partners, and also 2:24 where husband and wife form a new oneness. Ideally, marriages are made by God and ought not to be dissolved (9). However, Jesus is also pragmatic. In Matthew’s fuller account (Matt. 19:9) he acknowledges that divorce may be permissible in the case of unfaithfulness.
Jesus silences the Pharisees but shocks the disciples (10). Not only does he declare marriage to be monogamous (most Jewish teachers of the time allowed polygamy); he also accords husband and wife equal rights, should divorce occur (11,12). It may have been on the basis of this assertion of equal rights that Paul recognizes divorce on the grounds of desertion by an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor. 7:15). It has been argued that similar inferences regarding other grounds, e.g. cruelty, may also make divorce justifiable.
Jesus’ high view of marriage contrasts sharply with modern trends. In England, a judge declared that obtaining a divorce is easier than getting a driving license. In the USA, divorce figures for Christians are identical with those of the wider population. Attempting to maintain Jesus’ ideal in such contexts, however unpopular, is imperative. Strong marriages honor God, enrich the lives of children and add much to the health of society.
Pray for couples you may know who are struggling to save their marriage. If you’re married, pray for yours, too.
Gentle Shepherd, because of my sin and brokenness, my relationships can be damaged. Help me restore any that are or may become fractured.
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