Summary: What did Jesus call it when someone divorced their mate and married another? What do we call this? The Creator wants marriages to last a lifetime. It is no small matter to break such a covenant bond.
Read or quote Mark 10
Mark 10 begins with Jesus teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage. It was a difficult teaching then, and it is a difficult teaching now. Most people want to marry. No one who knows God gets married with the intent of ending the marriage with divorce.
Today we will look at this and my prayer is that God’s word and will may be established in all our hearts and minds as we consider it in our worship this morning.
What is your position on divorce and remarriage? This has been a divisive issue among God’s people for a long time. It was a test issue even in the days of Jesus.
The Pharisees found a legal loophole for divorce. Jesus amazingly enough tells them that Moses only permitted divorce because of the hardness of your hearts. God’s intent for marriage is for keeps. In marriage, 1+1=1 and division is not a divine decision but a hard hearted human one. Notice also that in Mark’s gospel, Jesus doesn’t give an escape clause for divorce and remarriage allowing for an innocent party to remarry as in Matthew’s gospel. And when Mark wrote this Matthew wasn’t written yet.
Jesus teaching on this subject seemed so strict to the disciples that in Matthew 19:10, The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry."
A careful look at 1 Corinthians 7 indicates that Paul agrees with the disciples on this. Just look at verses 1, 7, 8, 9, 28, 32, 35, 38, and 40. Paul openly says that single life over married life is a good choice. Personally, I would argue that marriage is the best choice for me, (I think my wife, Jenny, would agree), as it is for most of us here. But, marriage, whether it is comfortable or very difficult is still a permanent relationship. Jesus makes that clear.
What’s the point? Marriage is serious business. It was instituted by God himself even before there was sin in the world. Marriage was here before the law was given or the church was founded. Marriage was designed by God for one man and one woman for as long as they both shall live. Only later, divorce was permitted in the law of Moses because of sin and the hardness of human hearts. Deuteronomy 24:1 "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, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,
2 "when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife,
3 "if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife,
4 "then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
5 "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.
Even though divorce was permitted, it represents a failed covenant relationship. And the man was the one who had the legal permission to write the certificate of divorce. Interestingly, the woman who is divorced may marry another man. But if he divorces her or dies, she can not return to her former husband. This, God’s law says, “is an abomination before the LORD.”
God also had a higher standard for the spiritual leaders of the people. The priests were not allowed to marry a divorced woman. Leviticus 21: 13 ’And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
14 ’A widow or a divorced woman or a defiled woman or a harlot; these he shall not marry; but he shall take a virgin of his own people as wife.
15 ’Nor shall he profane his posterity among his people, for I the LORD sanctify him.’"
But look at what the scripture says about a priest’s daughter: Levit. 22:13 ’But if the priest’s daughter is a widow or divorced, and has no child, and has returned to her father’s house as in her youth, she may eat her father’s food; but no outsider shall eat it.
We see that divorce was probably practiced when there was no adultery involved, because adultery would have been a capital offence. Yet it seems that even that was rarely practiced.