Divorce with God – Matthew 5:31-32

Let No One Tear Apart What God Has Joined Together

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Divorce is Difficult

Back in the time when Jesus walked upon the Earth, the Jews had a particularly low opinion of the permanence of marriage.  At that time, a man could divorce his wife for just about any reason.  Even if she displeased him in something small or facetious, such as burning the toast, a man could give a woman a certificate of divorce and move on to another wife.

In the United States of America, marriage has been reduced from a covenant to a mere contract.  Covenants were made to be binding in a way that compelled us to consider the agreement as sacred, sworn to by an oath before God. Contracts are merely agreements that any party can cancel at any time by paying the penalty.  There is no loyalty to the contract as people view contracts as disposable.  In the event that something better comes along, you can easily dissolve a contract.

We even have no-fault divorce.  This is a truly heinous dissolution of a covenant relationship that states that some of the parties are just tired of the agreement, even if everyone is keeping their end of the agreement.  By allowing the dissolution of this covenant with nothing more than the desire of one or two of the three parties involved (remember that God is the third party there to approve, empower, protect and provide in this covenant…), we have created a mindset that minimizes the seriousness of the oaths that were taken by all parties in the agreement.

Superior Signification

Jesus came to help us better understand the law, and showed us that there was a deeper connection in this than mere choice.  He indicated that there was no reason whatsoever that two people should dissolve the covenant relationship of marriage except marital infidelity.  Jesus later qualifies this by saying that Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts.  As a result, if a man divorces a woman for any reason other than marital infidelity, he was making her an adulterer.  That status and its results would be laid firmly upon his shoulders.  He would bear that burden.

And worse, by doing so, anyone who then married that woman would become an adulterer.  It was as though God did not consider the covenant relationship dissolved, and she was having an unauthorized relationship with another man.  These were serious charges, and the Levitical penalty for adultery was death to both parties.

However, to get to the root of this, we must first understand that this covenant relationship was done in God’s presence for God’s purposes.  The covenant was between one biologically male person (born with XY chromosomes) and one biologically female person (born with XX chromosomes).  Even in this, modern thought in culture has warped the definition of the covenant term “marriage” to be between any two consenting adults (and therefore removing God as the third party).

The good news is, although we can assign different meanings to words, it still doesn’t change what God has created – the marriage covenant and relationship.  Calling a rose a petunia does not make a rose a petunia – it merely clouds the understanding of the meaning of these words as people try to convince other people that they have different meaning.  Marriage is still between a biological man and a biological woman, in a covenant relationship that is made by oaths before God, and is approved and sanctioned by God.  Anything other than this is a perversion of what God has intended, and is neither approved by God nor accepted by God.

God does not join together two men in this relationship, neither does He join together two women in this relationship.  Any attempt to claim that God is approving of this and joins these people together is calling God a liar and impunes the character and nature of God by assigning qualities to God’s character that are false and fictitious.  This is especially grievous for it does so for the purposes of justifying the lusts of people who desire God’s blessing upon their choices when God has clearly indicated that He does not approve of such behavior.

Character Counts

God keeps His word.  Everything that God promises to do He fulfills in His time and His way for His purposes to bring glory to Himself (for which He is more than worthy).  We should do the same.  Compatibility in marriage has more to do with character than it does with how we feel about each other.  We grow compatibility with our spouse as we work on our marriage relationship.  Rather than succumb to the feelings that our spouse is not meeting our expectations, we should instead submit ourselves to our spouse, and pour ourselves out for them as Christ did for us here on Earth, on the cross, and even now at the right hand of God as He prays for us.

Love can conquer anger, misunderstanding, and even betrayal.  It is better to forgive and heal than it is to destroy something that God has created.  God is in the business of restoring that which was broken, defiled, and destroyed.  However, knowing these things now makes us accountable for our actions, and should urge and prompt us to do everything we can to fulfill the covenant relationship that we swore an oath before God and man to uphold.

A Qualifying Question

For those who are married, let’s ask a question:  Am I upholding my part of the covenant relationship that I swore before God to uphold?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for your word and for providing us with guidance on how to live our lives in holiness and alignment with Your character.  Father, strengthen me in my relationship with others.  Give me the ability to love my family in the same way that You love me.  Strengthen my relationships, and guard my heart against hardness when the relationships are tried and tested.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

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