Summary: When asked about divorce, Jesus first speaks about the value of marriage. Then he limits divorce. Unlike our culture which does just the opposite.
Matthew 19 – The Value of Marriage, the Dangers of Divorce
Matthew 19:1-3: When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
We have a problem in our culture. Marriage doesn’t have a very good reputation. The divorce rate has increased dramatically over the last 60 years from 1 in 7 marriages ending in divorce to 1 divorce for every 2 marriages. That’s half. However, more recently, those numbers seem to be improving.
More recently statistics say that 45% of people get a divorce. That’s down. You might think that’s good. Not quite. The number of people who live together is increasing.
Current census: 4.3 million couples are instead living together without the commitment of a marriage vow. The most often cited reasons? Because 1) failed prior relationships have made them wary of marriage,
and 2) likely to keep their finances separate.
Another recent study, this one by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 70 percent of those who live together end up getting married – but those marriages are also more likely to end in divorce. After 10 years, 40% of those who lived together and got married ended up divorced, compared with 31% of those who did not live together first.
People think that living together is good for marriage. They say to themselves. Let’s try it out before we buy it. That may be good for buying a car but it doesn’t work for marriage. Marriage is built on commitment.
Marriage as an institution has a tarnished reputation. Respect for marriage among many is at an all time low. It’s time to re evaluate marriage. Is marriage a good idea? Many are looking to the current statistics and saying no. Many are looking to their own experience with marriage, or the marriage of their friends or parents and saying no. It doesn’t work.
I want you to know that those people are looking in the wrong places. I want to suggest today that marriage, done right works. Let’s not look at marriage in the world, in your neighbor, or even in your past experience. Let’s go back to the Bible. If we live by the book then we end up in the right place. Marriage, although hard, and certainly not for everyone, can be a tremendous source of joy, comfort, growth, and companionship.
Now, I’m not suggesting that all marriages will succeed when one person obeys the Lord. Even God, in his Word does not affirm that. I can tell you though that there are a lot of people today who are not following God’s plan for marriage and many of them end up divorced.
Today we’re going to look at divorce. One of the primary things we learn from this passage from Jesus is that – a casual approach to marriage and divorce is destructive.
Jesus, in answering the question of the Pharisee first lifts up the value of marriage.
Matthew 19:4-6 “"Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ’made them male and female,’ 5and said, ’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
Jesus is saying, “Alright, I’ll talk about divorce. But first we have to talk about God’s design for marriage.” Let’s not look at your marriage. Let’s not look at the problems of this world. Because maybe the solution to your relational problems isn’t divorce. Maybe the solution to your marriage problems is to go back to God’s design for marriage. After all, God designed it. If we follow his instructions for marriage then we can move toward success.
Jesus is emphasizing the importance, the sanctity, and the value of marriage. Think about that for a minute. Marriage is a valuable covenant, not to be taken lightly. Ben was telling me that some couples get married in the marines because they can get more pay if they are married than if they are single. Then when they come back from the deployment they get divorced. It was a marriage of convenience, just to make some money. To beat the system.
He was saying, furthermore, many marines treat marriage like dating. We’ll be together for a while and then break up. Jesus starts with a very important truth. Marriage is valuable. In fact, God designed marriage to be a very special gift for us. A special place where two people grow together in love and holiness in a way they might not be able to do otherwise.