Summary: Whether single or not...it’s all about prevention. A tactful, Biblical handling of this delicate subject of the ’putting away’ of a spouse. Presented w/ compassion, mercy, and yet truth. Link inc. to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint.
A Put Away Message
This is a topic often ‘put away’ by churches these days because half of their people are divorced. But I believe we should talk about it, and see what Jesus has to say about it...for the same reason. One thing is certain—we need more compassion in our preaching and more mercy...so long as it’s not at the expense of the truth.
As we go verse by verse thru Matthew, this is where we’re at. Now I know there’s good people who differ on this topic and interpretation. If I err, it’s on the safe side of being too literal...let’s just let the Word speak for itself, and you’ll know where I stand and what GBC officially believes. If you differ and can base it on Scripture, then I won’t fall out with you if you won’t with me. But we can all agree w/ God in Mal. 2:16 that ideally there would be no ‘putting away.’
I want to be a church that forever lifts up God’s institution called marriage. I want to be a church that forever lifts and loves people who have been divorced. I want to be a church that takes Biblical steps to help prevent divorce.
The purpose of this sermon is preventative…we’re not throwing stones at people who have been divorced. You can’t unscramble eggs!
To the divorced person we offer acceptance, love, help and healing…and a fresh start. Some of the sweetest, most fruitful Christians you’ll ever meet, are people that God loves, that have been divorced.
And I believe that the divorced of this church are my strongest supporters for giving this message of prevention.
With that said, I will say that one of the biggest problem that faces families today is easy, quick, cheap divorce. We live in the age of the throw-away, disposable marriage.
1920 1 in 7 marriages resulted in divorce
1940 1 in 6
1960 1 in 4
1972 1 in 3
1977 1 in 2
Today, divorces outnumber marriages! It is an epidemic! The mindset is “if it doesn’t work out, just bail out!”
Divorce is so common today, and so widely accepted as just a normal part of life, that churches like ours are considered old-fashioned for preaching against it.
Today’s popular culture says, just live together…and Hollywood portrays a couple deciding to move in together as “taking a big step…making a major commitment.” Again, it’s become so commonplace, that today it’s just accepted as normal. And the sad reality is, in America, until just recently, you’d be penalized financially if you got married.
As commonplace as cohabitation is today, why do people get married anyway? Perhaps because if it goes wrong, it’s so easy to dispose of.
In Malachi 2:16, the Bible says that God hates divorce. Where many people are offended is what they think they hear in that statement. A divorced person is usually more defensive about their situation, naturally, and all too often they think they hear, “God hates people who divorce.” And nothing could be further from the truth. While God hates divorce, certainly He loves the divorcee. Just like God hates alcohol, yet loves alcoholics / hates homosexuality, loves the homosexual… in each and every case, the God who hates the sin, loves the sinner! Our God is not a cosmic killjoy, looking for ways to make life miserable, and if the Lord God Almighty says that He hates something, it is only because He knows that it will bring heartache and turmoil into our lives.
Mt. 19, let’s look at 3 things:
The Original Pattern*
v. 3-6 The Lord narrows it down to 3 things:
How couples are made / married / merged
How couples are made: Divorce was controversial back then, just as it is now, and the Pharisees would love to trip our Lord on this one, so they decided to come to Jesus before a large crowd to ask, what are the valid grounds for divorce?
2 schools of thought in those days, named after 2 leading Jewish Rabbi’s:
Rabbi Shammai (conservative) He and his followers believed there was only 1 justification for divorce, and that was marital infidelity.
Rabbi Hallel (liberal) He and his followers believed you could divorce for any reason.
The Pharisees here ask Jesus to choose sides…asking Him, “which way do you believe?”
You’d expect Jesus in His answer to go back to Deuteronomy, to the law of Moses…but Jesus goes all the way back to Genesis…for in Genesis we see the original pattern
v. 4 “male and female”
In the garden of Eden, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. By the way, v. 4 puts to rest the idea of same sex marriage. Homosexuals cannot reproduce…only recruit…think about it!