Summary: A great marriage, not a painful divorce, is God’s desire for us

April 29 “Your divorce tears” Matthew 5:31-32

Malachi 2:16 Deuteronomy 24:1 Matthew 19:4-9

Because a great marriage, not a painful divorce, is God’s desire for us

1. Marriage is a covenant union between a man and a woman for life

Man and woman

Covenant: a solemn pledge with, not to, God and another


2. Marriage is the lesser reality of the greater relationship of Christ and the Church.

Ephesians 5:25

3. Marriage is to bring the best of everything for the partners

4. Marriage works best in an atmosphere of love and respect

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

Love: doing what is best for the other

Respect: esteeming the other’s feelings, experiences, and perspectives

5. Marriage is not an arrangement of convenience


Story of Katy Smith????


This morning we are going to tackle one of the most difficult teachings of Jesus and that is His teaching on divorce. Now, I’m well aware that many here this morning have experienced divorce personally, either from a failed marriage or divorced parents or divorced siblings or divorced children. I’m also aware that in many of your cases God showed His grace and mercy in your lives so that even though your previous marriage fell apart, your present marriage is a real blessing. Isn’t that what God does? (draw pile at bottom of sheet) He steps into the messes we create and heals what we’ve broken? He does that in every part of life. It’s not limited to divorce—His grace for those of us in Christ covers all sin from lying to deceiving to thieving to adultery to addiction to murder.

I’m 60 years old and I’ve seen a lot of divorce in my life, but I can’t think of one instance where the divorce itself was anything but an awful experience. Now don’t think about divorce as a piece of paper called a Divorce Decree; don’t think about it as judicial proceeding terminating a legal status called marriage. Divorce is the dissolution of love relationship that began with both partners promising and believing that they would stay married the rest of their lives.

I’ve done 100’s and 100s of weddings and when I come to the part where I say: “Do you ___ take this woman whose hand you hold to be your lawfully wedded wife, and do you sincerely promise before God and these witnesses to cleave only to her, to love, honor and cherish her and to be a true and faithful husband so long as you both shall live?” I have yet to have anyone say: Or “I’ll give it a try!” “Well, I hope so!” At the wedding altar, hope springs eternal. Marriage is intended for life. And divorce begins long before the Divorce Decree is issued. It is the breakdown of the marriage, the hurt, the pain, the disappointment, the lack of respect, the cheating, the lying, the anger that makes divorce an awful experience. That’s why God says in MALACHI 2:16, “I HATE DIVORCE.” Notice He doesn’t hate divorcees; He hates what goes on in a couples life when His dream and vision for a marriage finally expires.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was taking on the permissiveness, and frankly, the arrogance of the Scribes and Pharisees who had reduced the standard of the commands of God so low as to allow themselves to think they were morally upright: If you haven’t killed anyone, or had sex with someone outside of marriage you must be morally pure. Jesus said, “Wait a minute. Outward actions reveal inward sin. Sin begins in the heart. So if you’re angry, if you lust, you’ve violated the standard.”

And it’s in that context that Jesus takes on the popular teaching at the time that if you want to divorce your wife, just give her a notice and it will be done. They had corrupted the teaching of Moses found in Deuteronomy 24:1 “IF A MAN MARRIES A WOMAN, BUT SHE BECOMES DISPLEASING TO HIM BECAUSE HE FINDS SOMETHING IMPROPER ABOUT HER, HE MAY WRITE HER A DIVORCE CERTIFICATE, HAND IT TO HER, AND SEND HER AWAY FROM HIS HOUSE.” DEUTERONOMY 24:1 HCSB (LEAVE ON SCREEN FOR A FEW MOMENTS)

Now everything hinges on the interpretation of the word ‘displeasing.’ See that? Some interpreted that to mean if you didn’t like her chicken soup you could divorce her. Others interpreted it to mean if you didn’t have sex good enough or often enough you could divorce her. But most conservative rabbis interpreted it to mean that she was morally unclean. You probably know that Jewish custom had the couple be betrothed or engaged for a year while the husband went to prepare their dwelling. So Moses said that when they came together to consummate the marriage and found that she was not a virgin, he could put her away. This was the exact dilemma Joseph faced with Mary being pregnant with Jesus.

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