Jesus’ Teaching on Marriage, Divorce, & Singleness
Matthew 19:1-12 (Pastor Heo)
19:1-9pp — Mk 10:1-12
1 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. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not 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 marital unfaithfulness, 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 some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Today’s topic is a very controversial issue.
Already, some time ago, the religious leaders, Jesus’ public enemies had attacked him with some Qs to ensnare Jesus. “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath? Show us a sign from heaven.” But Jesus always prevailed.
Today, once again, they tried with the most controversial issue: Marriage and Divorce.
John the B had been in prison and killed because of his public opinion on this topic.
Even today, divorce continues to increase – the rate continues to climb. This even attacks the homes of Christian leaders.
“Today the couples are married ‘for better or for worse, but not for long.’”
This was a hot issue between 2 schools of rabbis.
- Rabbi Hilem? “A man could divorce his wife for ANY reason, even finding a younger, prettier woman.”
- “A man could divorce ONLY if his wife had been unfaithful to him.”
With this background, they attacked Jesus to ensnare him.
They are attacking Jesus based on the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1-4: “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her, and sends her from his house. And if, after she is gone, she remarries, but her second husband also divorces her, or if he dies, then her first husband is not allowed to marry her again after she is defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord.”
Here’s the situation:
- If Jesus supports divorce, he upholds the Pharisee’s procedures – they doubted he would.
- If Jesus supports one of their positions, the other group would hate and attack him.
- If Jesus opposes divorce, they would accuse him of being against the Law of Moses.
Like this, we must seek to serve GOD and not our own wicked desires.
Jesus’ answer (v. 4-6) “Haven’t you read…?”
This implies that they haven’t read their own Scriptures with any understanding. They started their attack with Deuteronomy, but Jesus started his argument with Genesis – BEFORE their argument has any relevance.
Jesus revealed the original design and principle of God from Genesis 1, 2.
As you know, each day of Creation, there is the same comment: “God saw that it was good.” In the last part, it is repeated 7 times. And finally, “God saw that it was VERY good.”
In this story of Creation, there is only ONE time that God said, “hmm, it is NOT good.” This was when God saw that man was alone and he said, “Let me make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:25)
He caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, he took a rib, and made a woman and he brought her to the man. He said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh – she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man. For this reason…” (Jesus’ reference).
The only thing that wasn’t good about Creation was the fact that man was alone. The woman was created to meet this need. The man needed a companion who was equal to him with whom he could find fulfillment.
Marriage makes possible the continuation of the race. God FIRST commandment was “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the whole earth.” From the Beginning, it was God’s command that sex be practiced in the commitment of marriage. Outside of marriage, sex is a destructive force – more than any other sins.
1 Cor “Flee from sexual immorality – all other sins a man commits are outside his body, but a man who sins sexually, sins AGAINST his OWN body.”
- Marriage is one way to escape sexual sins – fornication and adultery.
- Marriage = a dedicated partnership between one man and one woman.
God’s work was not PERFECT until he made woman along with the rest of Creation.
Are you willing to keep this commitment that makes the two of you one? The goal in marriage should be more than friendship, more than fellowship, more than sex, more than kids, more than success, more than a partnership. The goal = ONENESS.
Marriage is a gift from God.
God gave Adam and Eve marriage as a gift. Marriage is not made by any human institutions. But as you know, a happy marriage is not automatic, not easy. It is the result of mutual commitment, sacrifice, understanding, patience.
At that time, Adam and Eve had no idea of divorce. Who else should they remarry?…
In this way, Jesus makes it clear: Once married = lifetime marriage.
But the Pharisees pushed him “Then why did Moses allow divorce?”
Because human’s sinful nature made divorce inevitable, the Mosaic Law was given as a way to help/protect its victims – especially women and to minimize the abuses of divorce.
- The Pharisees here say, “Moses COMMANDED divorce.”
- Jesus says, “Moses PERMITTED divorce because of your stubbornness, hard-heartedness, stubbornness.”
In that day and in our day, marriage has fallen very far from God’s original intention.
Divorce is not good, but it is better than open adultery.
Then, the Pharisees were amazed and silenced and the disciples asked about singleness “Isn’t it much better not to marry?”
In verse 12, Jesus makes it clear that each man and woman must consider God’s will about marriage. Some should not get married because of physical and emotional problems from birth. And some should not get married because of social responsibilities (in history, some people were castrated to serve the king and his harem – without any sexual desire or ability to produce offspring). Also, in church history, there are some who voluntarily give up marriage because they feel they can serve God more (Paul, Jesus).
Marriage is designed by God for all human beings GENERALLY.
But God does not make marriage a prerequisite for a fulfilled life for all people.
The decision to be single must not be forced by man – even parents, pastors, friends (consider Martin Luther). Singleness must be a choice only between the individual and God.
Marriage is used as an illustration of the intimate relationship between God and the church. Eph 5:32? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about the church.”
Just as Eve was taken out of the side of Adam, so the church was born out of the death of Christ. Christ cares for the church just as husbands are to care for, nourish, encourage, build up, grow their wives.
- 1 Cor 6:17 “He who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in Spirit.”
Jesus is the author of this relationship between man and God. This is a life union. Col “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live…”
- Col 3:3-4 “You died but your life is hidden with Jesus Christ in God. Jesus Christ who is your life appears and at that time we also will appear with him in glory.”
The union/life of Christ is the life of believers.
Also the union is a lifetime union – marriage is this way. But the union with Christ is eternal union – even in the afterlife. Marriage union = only for this lifetime.
Jesus says, “Our Father who has given you to me is greater than all. No one can snatch you out of my hand.”
In addition to this, Jesus is holding us all in his hand – his Almighty hand – which assures us that NO ONE (Satan, demons, death, life, depth, future, nor present, angels, height, nor any powers, nor anything else in all Creation can separate us from the love of Christ, our bridegroom (Romans 8:28-38?~)
Let us pray together.