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Summary: What does First Baptist Church believe about marriage?"

Our church says: “We define marriage as a life covenant between one man and one woman according to the Scripture.” Last time, we talked about the nature of marriage. Let’s look at two other things regarding marriage that are addressed in this passage. (READ TEXT)

B. The difficulty of marriage - vs. 7-10

Marriage is difficult. It doesn’t matter who the two people are who come together in the marriage relationship, they each bring a certain amount of baggage into it, which is then “unpacked” in the years ahead.

No one has the “perfect” marriage, but that doesn’t mean you cannot have a great one. This was the testimony of Billy Graham in his book, Just As I Am. Writing about his marriage to his late wife, Ruth, he said, “Ruth and I don’t have a perfect marriage, but we have a great one. How can I say two things that seem so contradictory? In a perfect marriage, everything is always the finest and best imaginable; like a Greek statue, the proportions are exact and the finish is unblemished. Who knows any human beings like that? For a married couple to expect perfection in each other is unrealistic. The unblemished ideal exists only in happily-ever-after fairy tales. Ruth likes to say, ‘If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.’ The sooner we accept that as a fact of life, the better we will be able to adjust to each other and enjoy togetherness. ‘Happily incompatible’ is a good adjustment.”

On their 50th anniversary, a couple explained the reason for their long and happy marriage. The husband said, “I have tried never to be selfish. After all, there is no ‘I’ in the word ‘marriage.’” The wife said, “For my part, I have never corrected my husband’s spelling.”

Marriage takes work, but it is worth it. But there are times when sin is allowed to rule the relationship and the inevitable result - the death of the marriage (Romans 6:23a) - divorce, occurs. Let’s talk about what Jesus says here concerning divorce. The question of the Pharisees relates to Deuteronomy 24.

“Suppose a man marries a woman but she does not please him. Having discovered something wrong with her, he writes her a letter of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house. When she leaves his house, she is free to marry another man.” - Deuteronomy 24:1-2 (NLT)

The debate was over the words “discovered something wrong with her.” Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, in his book, What About Divorce, says, “What the Pharisees were after was license to dismiss their wives for any unsubstantiated accusation against them.”

There is much confusion about what Jesus says in verse 9, and other passages, like Matthew 5:31-32. Let’s see if we can clarify things a bit. The problem in Jesus’ day (and also Malachi’s day - see Malachi 2:13-16) was that men were putting women out of their homes for all kinds of reasons WITHOUT giving them a bill of divorcement. They were disregarding the instruction of Deuteronomy 24, and thus, were trampling on the rights of women. Notice, Deuteronomy 24:2 says that the divorced woman is “free to marry another man.”

Dr. Zodhiates explains that Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 said if a wife committed adultery, she could be executed with her lover. But a man had the option, as with Joseph and Mary, of simply sending her away (Matthew 1:18-19) without giving her a bill of divorcement (The word “apoluo” in verse 19, translated “divorce” in the NIV should be translated “put away”). Sending Mary away without a bill of divorcement, would cause her to have to live with the stigma of being an adulterous and Joseph would be seen as the innocent party.

This is what Jesus is referring to Matthew 5:32, when He says that when a man put his wife away without a bill of divorcement for reasons other than adultery, he “causes her to become an adulterous, and anyone who marries the woman also commits adultery.” This is in the passive tense in the original language, which means the woman and anyone who marries her are caused to live with the sigma of being an adulterer and an adulterous.

What was happening in Jesus’ day was that men were disregarding the law of Moses, kicking women out of their homes for reasons other than adultery WITHOUT giving them a bill of divorcement, and were thus, disregarding the rights of the innocent party. Without a bill of

divorcement, they were being caused to live with the stigma of being an adulterer, though that was not really the case.

The whole passage in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 demanded not that a man divorce his wife for certain stated reasons, but that if he decided to divorce her, he ought to at least give her a bill of divorcement. And this was so that she might have the right of remarriage. Otherwise, she could not remarry without giving to her new husband the presumed guilt of adultery falsely assumed from her first husband.

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