Summary: Part of the Sermon on the Mount series where Jesus deals with the topic of divorce and remarriage.
Sermon on the Mount
“Divorce and Remarriage”
Today’s topic hits close to home because I was divorced as a Christian. I remember when the full impact hit as feelings of loneliness, despair, rejection and worthlessness overwhelmed me. But by the grace of God, and because of the love of Christian friends, I was able to endure.
But at the same time I began to understand, to a much smaller degree, what lepers must have felt like, as some people rejected me, making me feel as if I was somehow unclean.
A little over a year had passed and the Lord had healed me of a lot of the hurt and allowed me to attend seminary. Several of the seminaries sent my application back, however, wondering why I would apply, because I could never become a pastor, and one went so far as to say that at least I could still give.
When I attended a seminary I was talking to one missionary agency and there was extreme interest on both ends, especially my going overseas to teach in their seminaries. But when I told them I was divorced they politely closed their binders and told me they couldn’t use my services, and their reason had nothing to do with the bible, but with policy and the giving practices of their donors.
Up to this point I blindly accepted what those in authority and bible teachers taught, but these incidents prompted me to do a thorough study of the Scriptures and see if there was anything for me in God’s kingdom.
Today, I’d like to share with you some of what I found. Now, I’m no way saying my view is the only one, because there are many godly men and women who hold a different view, and it’s just as contentious today as it was in Jesus’ time.
Unfortunately due to time constraints I can’t cover every point or detail. Instead since we’re looking at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, I’ll focus on the principles He brings out.
“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32 NKJV)
This subject is brought up again in Matthew’s gospel which helps us understand better as to what was happening regarding this subject in Jesus’s day and His take on it.
Read Matthew 19:1-12
The Pharisees were testing Jesus, trying to embroil Him into a controversy that would split His support. There raged upon the Jews a controversy regarding divorce and no matter what side Jesus came down on it would alienate part of the crowd that followed.
Solomon rightly said that there’s nothing new under the sun, because the controversy still rages, and churches as well as friendships have been known to split over it. So we must agree to not to let it divide us, but rather to agree to disagree. Paul said that he determined to know nothing else amongst the people but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, 1 Corinthians 2:2.
The controversy stemmed from the word “er-vah” or “uncleanness” as found in the law.
Read Deuteronomy 24:1-4
There existed two schools of thought when it came to this word: the school of Shammai and the school of Hillel.
The school of Shammai adhered closely to the letter of the law and found that divorce was permitted for unfaithfulness.
The school of Hillel believed that it was lawful to divorce for any cause. Today we’d call this “No fault divorce,” or “Irreconcilable differences.”
It could be for the way she cooked, or that they didn’t love each other, or they wanted or didn’t want kids. Or it could be that he wanted a girl just like the girl that married dear old dad, but then remembered why he left home in the first place.
But Jesus refused to get sucked into the controversy. Instead He went back to the beginning, appealing to a higher interpretation. He appealed to God’s original design for marriage.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
Jesus added that marriage was God ordained, and what God joined together no one, not even the laws of the land, was to separate. Clearly God intended marriage to be a permanent life-long union between a man and a woman.
By directing attention back to God’s original design, Jesus was proclaiming that marriage is a divine institution governed by the law of God, not the law of man.
Marriage was not a social institution as many view it as being, seeing how they’ve twisted it into what never was intended. Is it any wonder why so many marriages fail? It’s no longer viewed as God ordained, but ordained by an ever-changing society that no longer knows what truth really is.