Summary: Jesus takes us back to God’s design for marriage. What attitude and actions do we take toward those struggling with divorce or any of the other many sins surrounding sex?

Text: Mark 10:2-16

Theme: God’s Defense of Marriage Act

Season: Pentecost 20b

Date: October 11, 2009

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which Jesus speaks to us is Mark 10

"When the Pharisees came, they were asking him [Jesus] whether it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife, testing him.

"He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?"

"They said, "Moses allowed us to write a certificate of separation and so divorce."

"Jesus said to them, "He wrote this command for you due to your hardheartedness. But from the beginning of creation he made them male and female. Because of this a man will leave behind his father and mother and be glued to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no one separate."

"Back in the house, the disciples were asking him about it. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her. And if she, divorcing her husband, marries another, she commits adultery."

"They were bringing little children for him to touch. But the disciples rebuked them. Seeing this Jesus was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me. Stop forbidding them. For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will certainly not enter it." When he had taken them in his arms, he was blessing them, placing his hands on them. " (Mark 10:2-16)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

1. In what ways is marriage under attack?

Marriage is under attack in our country. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont all perform and recognize same-sex marriages. Other states are considering it. More and more churches are blessing such unions, even though they may not call it marriage. Marriage is under attack.

Jesus’ words take us back to God’s own design for marriage from the very beginning of creation. He "made them male and female" (Mark 10:6 NIV), Jesus says, putting his stamp of truth Genesis 1. Then he quotes from Genesis 2 speaking of man and wife, not man-and-man nor woman-and-woman, or as a comic has quipped, "It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." So whether called marriage or civil unions, whether officially recognized or just an informal relationship, whether intended for life or just a one-night stand, same-sex sexual relations pervert God’s design. They attack marriage and family

But marriage was under attack in our country long before same-sex unions became a political issue. Starting in California in 1969 and spreading across the country, no-fault divorce laws made a divorce easier to get. That seems similar to the situation among the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. Many of them followed Rabbi Hillel’s interpretation of Moses. He taught that when Moses prescribed a certificate of divorce in Deuteronomy 24, the husband could write this up for just about any reason, including that his wife burnt supper.

To be honest, even before the no-fault divorce laws were passed, people maneuvered around the stricter laws. They might have manufactured a case of adultery or perjured themselves in court to obtain a divorce. Although the no-fault divorce laws are sometimes blamed for the increase in the divorce rate, they arguably made the system more honest and fair. Whichever is true, the real culprit isn’t the law on the books. Rather as Jesus points out, the real culprit is: "because your hearts were hard" (Mark 10:5 NIV). Divorce was legally allowed to prevent hardhearted sinners from doing even worse, like neglect, abuse, even murder.

2. Describe God’s attitude: a) toward divorce, b) toward sexual relations outside of marriage, and c) toward lust in the heart.

Just because the law allows it, though, did not mean that God condones it. God’s plan never included divorce as Jesus makes clear by taking us back to creation: "And the two will become one flesh" (Mark 10:8 NIV), Jesus quotes from Genesis 2. Then he applies God’s truth: "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together let man not separate" (Mark 10:8, 9 NIV). Through the prophet Malachi God said it plainly, "I hate divorce" (Malachi 2:16 NIV).

Divorce was never part of God’s plan for any marriage. Getting a divorce because you want to marry someone else is just like having an affair. Getting a divorce first may be more honest in the world’s eyes, but in reality it’s still adultery. "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her" (Mark 2:11 NIV). Maybe our modern mindset says, "It’s adultery, so what’s the big deal?" We’ve grown so lax in our morals. But don’t forget the Sixth Commandment. "You shall not commit adultery." In fact, in ancient Israel adultery was punishable by death, just as murder was.

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