Summary: Message based on Jesus’ words regarding divorce.

The Bible and Divorce

Matthew 5:31-32

October 24, 2004


Today is the second message in our series called, "Topics Every Pastor Just LOVES to Talk About."

Last week we started that series by discussing lust and adultery.

We focused on the fact that just as murder begins in the heart and that a murder committed in the heart is as bad as the physical taking of a human life, so wanting someone other than your spouse is as bad as actually committing adultery, because you are lusting after that person in your heart.

Today we look at one of the possible consequences of this lust and adultery, divorce.

Now obviously, this is not the result in every case, and there is no law that if adultery occurs, you should divorce. And just as obvious is the fact that many marriages break for reasons other than adultery.

Let me lay out a HUGE disclaimer here: I will not be discussing all the different aspects of divorce, and will hardly touch at all on the issue of re-marriage. I am still working through my personal theology on re-marriage after divorce. So don’t hold your breath hoping that I’ve got all the answers for you. I don’t.

My aim today is to just give you an idea of how Jesus views divorce, and some of its impacts on who we are and how we live in the world today.

I hope that you will be able to take what I say today and apply it, and hopefully, this will serve as PREVENTATIVE medicine rather than having to be CORRECTIVE medicine.

I also want to be able to speak grace and healing to any who have gone through it.

Let’s read these words of Jesus, from Matthew 5:31-32. Please follow along as I read.

"It has been said, `Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."

Let’s explore four questions that came to my mind as I worked through this passage:

The first is this:

Why does Jesus discourage divorce?

* Because marriage is an image of Christ’s love for the church.

One of the lies being perpetrated by our society today is that marriage is no different than living together, except for a slip of paper.

That’s just not true! A marriage is not a contract; it’s a covenant. What’s the difference?

Well, let me just put it this way. When you sign a contract to buy a house, would you die for that house? No.

But Jesus says that He died for the church. He laid His life down, and the book of Ephesians tells us that Jesus labors to present us as stainless and pure before the Father.

Divorce hurts the image of the church, especially when professing believers in Jesus do it.

And divorce hurts Jesus,...

* Because it hurts those He loves.

I think that the chances of a pain-free divorce are so slim as to be virtually non-existent.

You might hate each other’s guts, and the divorce process might go smoothly in some cases, but the fact is that a marriage has been destroyed, and lives have been impacted negatively.

Who really wins in a divorce? No one. Yeah, you might get the house or the pets, or even custody of the children.

But did you really win? I don’t think so. There is still hurt, there is still pain, there is still shame in not being able to work it out.

I just don’t see how anybody could win in a divorce situation.

Even if the divorce was the result of a dangerous living situation, there is pain involved, and no one really wins.

Folks, Jesus doesn’t want divorce. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day made it very easy, and so does our society today.

But Jesus discourages divorce. Let’s look at the next question,...

When is divorce permissible?

1. Unfaithfulness.

Jesus just talked about adultery. It is one of the Ten Commandments, and Jesus makes it plain that it is still a sin.

It is a sin not only against God, but against your spouse. And it is serious enough for God to allow a divorce if necessary.

Second, divorce is allowable for an...

2. Unbelieving spouse.

1 Corinthians 7:15 -

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

The gist here is that if you were both unbelievers, neither of you were followers of Christ when you were married - and if one of you becomes a follower of Jesus and the other decides to leave because of that, you are free.

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