Summary: Today, we live in a divorce culture; a society without “commitment.” Consumerism causes people to always look for the next best model; and disposability and its take-and-toss attitude has translated into a mindset of divorce.
When asked on his fiftieth wedding anniversary about his rule for marital bliss and longevity, Henry Ford replied, “It’s just the same as in the automobile business, stick to one model.”(1) When he made this statement, Henry Ford was talking about commitment. I want to share a definition of commitment, relevant to our message this morning: “Commitment is the dedicated choice to give up other competing choices.”(2)
Today, we live in a divorce culture; which is a society that has lost the meaning of the word “commitment.” For example, “Recent research has found that approximately eighty-five percent of divorced couples indicated a lack of commitment to the marriage and to each other as their reason for divorce.”(3) This divorce culture is based on the premise of tossing the old and pursuing the latest model; and it can result in marital unfaithfulness, and ultimately divorce.
Today’s lack of commitment is fueled by American consumerism and disposability. Consumerism, driven by fancy marketing, creates dissatisfaction within people, so they will always be looking for the next great thing. Disposability, driven by cheap one-use products, has made obsolete the need to repair anything broken. Now, all a person has to do is toss the old item, drive to the nearest department store and pick up an identical one. We live in a “take-and-toss” society, and this behavior has translated into a mindset of divorce.
This mindset is penetrating every area of life, and it’s especially showing up in the realm of interpersonal relationships. For example, when an employee does not perform well, it’s easier to fire him and get another, rather than sit down and try to help resolve his issues; and it tends to be the same way with marriage. Instead of working through their differences, couples will opt for divorce and find a new partner. It is a lack of commitment that leads people to cut ties with anyone they don’t like, rather than trying to work things out.
In our message today, we will look at what the Bible has to say about commitment; because “commitment,” motivated by unconditional love, is the key to countering a divorce mindset and culture.
Many Have Hardened Hearts (Mark 10:2-5)
2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” 5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.”
Why did the Pharisees present Jesus with a question concerning divorce? Commentator Warren Wiersbe says that the question was motivated by a phrase found in Deuteronomy 24:1.(4) This particular verse states, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her,” that he may “write her a certificate of divorce.” The key phrase is “some uncleanness.”
The followers of Rabbi Hillel were quite lenient in their interpretation and permitted a man to divorce his wife for any reason, even burning his food. But the school of Rabbi Shimmai was much more strict and taught that the critical words “some uncleanness” referred only to premarital sin. [For example], if a newly married husband discovered that his wife was not a virgin, then he could put her away.(5)
The Pharisees were hoping that Jesus would agree with either the followers of Hillel or those of Shimmai; but Jesus did not choose sides. He was more interested in heart knowledge than head knowledge; and He referred them to the real issue at hand, which was a serious spiritual condition. Jesus said that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts.
Today, couples get caught up arguing grounds for divorce, trying to prove who’s right or wrong in a disagreement; and they wind up overlooking one crucial question: “How does God view our conflict?”
The Lord is not interested in division; for He is concerned with reconciliation. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the apostle Paul said, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” The Lord desires for marriages and relationships to be reconciled; not broken and separated. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man put asunder (Matthew 19:6).
I wish to point out that it was Moses’ decision to permit divorce; not God’s, for He is against divorce. In Malachi chapter 2, the Lord declared, “Let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:15b-16).