Summary: Part 1 of a two part series on Divorce. Part 1 deals with God’s Biblical view of divorce and the church’s attitude toward the divorced.


MATTHEW 19:1-12

INTRODUCTION: “Just Married” Video Clip 2:41

{See illustration file for this sermon for scene from this movie}

Don’t we wish it was that easy? You know, your marriage is crumbling but just one pep talk from Dad and your commitment is renewed for life! But over half of the married couples in this country would answer the question “Is it over?” with “you bet,” rather than saying, “Not even close.”

You know, it is very difficult to preach on something as stressful as broken marriages. This is such a sensitive issue. One word or one phrase can bring out such negative emotions for you that you might stop hearing what I say. For there are some of you here today that have been ravaged by divorce. Some of you hold bitter resentments and deep hurts because of past experiences. So, as we start, let’s make a covenant, an agreement together. I promise to be as tender and truthful as I can, and you promise to be as objective and open as you can. If I use a word or idea that conjures some negative emotions, please don’t storm out on me mentally, stick it through til the end. And if your understanding of Scripture is different than mine please respect the fact that I believe the Bible to be God’s Word too. Let’s understand that this topic is extremely complex and can be incredibly volatile.

Now, I have a 10 point sermon. (Some of you just checked out on me!) Actually they are 10 suggestions on how to handle today’s divorce situation. I will not handle all 10 today so don’t think that the sermon is going to last until 3:00. I want to deal with 3 today and than deal with the final 7 suggestions next week. The 7 we will deal with next week concern the divorced persons attitude toward themselves, others and the Church. But let’s start with the 3 that concern God’s view on divorce and what I believe, from scripture, should be the Church’s attitude toward the divorced person. Now, it is clear that the Bible says that God hates divorce. And yet divorce is still happening at an alarming rate and it is happening amongst Christian homes. We all hate that but we cannot deny it. Now, obviously we would like to keep husbands & wives from breaking up. But let’s admit the facts. A good portion of people in this room have lived through a divorce. They can’t relive the past, they can’t unscramble eggs.. what is the Church’s attitude to be toward them and what is their attitude to be toward the Church and the Christian life? Well, let’s focus on 3 suggestions on how the church should minister to those that are divorced.


First, as a Church, let’s hold high the ideal. Look at our text, where Jesus reiterated God’s ideal for marriage. The Pharisees came to Jesus to test Him. They wanted Him to make a major mistake in public so that His popularity would nose dive. So they asked Him a complex question that was certain to alienate some of the audience no matter how He answered. And so they asked, rather arrogantly.. Vs:3 - “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for any reason?” Now, it’s important to understand that in the O.T. the Jewish leader, Moses had allowed the Israelites to give their wives a certificate of divorcement. Duet. 24:1-2- "A man might marry a woman but later decide she doesn’t please him because he has found something bad about her. He writes out a certificate of divorce for her, gives them to her, and sends her away from his house.”(Msg) Now, as you can imagine that caused all kinds of problems. To the conservative scholars, "she doesn’t please him” or “something bad" meant adultery, to the liberal scholars "something bad" could mean that she was unpleasant, or she burns your food, or she put on a little weight. So, divorce, in Moses’ day was becoming very common. Seneca an early Jewish historian tells about one woman who had been divorced 25 times and she was married to a man who had been divorced 23 times. And so the Pharisees came to catch Jesus, "Let’s talk about divorce."

Jesus answered their question by simply quoting from Gen. 2, He reiterates the ideal. V 4-6- “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’.” From the beginning God set forth the ideal- one man for one woman for one lifetime. Jesus said, "That’s the way it was meant to be from the beginning.”

The Pharisees than asked a follow-up question. Vs:7- “Then why did Moses say a man could merely write an official letter of divorce and send her away?” Jesus answered in vs:8. “Moses permitted divorce as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness, but it was not what God had originally intended.” In other words, people were getting so far away from the ideal that Moses was forced to deal with people in horrendous circumstances. But Jesus was reminding them that God never meant for man to separate what God had joined in marriage. That’s the ideal and Jesus held it high.

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