Understanding the Mountain of Divorce
This part in the Sermon on the Mount, is skipped perhaps more than others, by preachers.
Jesus talks about adultery and murder, anger and revenge but when he gets to divorce it truly sends a shock through the community.
This is because divorce, like a lot of other things- was interpreted by the Pharisees and Scribes in a false sense.
Pharisees would permit or not permit divorce based on women as property, in a sense verses a partner in marriage.
Jesus lays out plain and simple to his audience that women are to be valued, in fact they have dignity and deserve an opportunity to be set free from an adulterous husband.
Today I would like us to get an overview of Divorce from the OT to the NT and begin to see it’s purpose.
SO LET’S BEGIN, SHALL WE?!
God’s intent for marriage was good and pure.
His desire was to have the two become one flesh and be in union with Himself forever.
Adam and Eve had no shame and no guilt in their lives and were living a perfect life.
However there was a 4th party in the garden.
THE EFFECT OF THE FALL ON MARRIAGE
Genesis 3:7 tells us that Adam and Eve’s eyes were both opened and they realized they were naked.
What once was designed to be pure, innocent and holy became defiled and sinful.
All from one decision.
Because of Adam and Eve’s sin God laid out consequences and one of them for Adam was that God would put enmity between man and woman, as well as their children.
This was giving into what they had first chosen to do, which was go their own way.
To the woman, among other things, God said that her desire would be for her husband and that he will rule over her.
Because of her personal choice to sin and not confront her husband first she reaped what she sowed, so to speak.
From then on out she would submit to her husband and serve him under his rule.
These things, God did not want to do but they were all things given as a direct result of the choice that Adam and Eve made.
Soon after, Adam and Eve were forced to leave the garden and fellowship was broken with God.
As harsh as this all may sound, God is a just and perfect God and He can not be entertained by sin.
It was up to Adam and Eve, and humankind for that matter, to chose whether to be faithful to God or to sin.
So what were some direct results from the Fall to marriage?
The fall hardened people’s hearts toward one another and especially God.
The relational aspect of God’s image was broken.
Satan tempted Eve to rebel against male leadership
Men became dominant and harsh in their leadership.
Sin brought polygamy, concubinage, incest, adultery, rape, prostitution, and all kinds of sexual immorality that have damaged or destroyed the marriage relationship.
Marriage covenants were violated.
Maybe worse yet, sin birthed death to marriages.
Termination or divorce began and was caused by Adam and Eve’s sin that transferred to all of humanity.
DIVORCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
In Deuteronomy 24:1-4, moses sought to regulate it.
Divorce, originally was not instituted by God; it was generated by sin and is against God’s ideal for marriage.
READ Malachi 2:10-17
God does not condone divorce, and even more He does not approve of unfaithfulness.
Divorce is an analogy of Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him in the OT.
Divorce could also be a direct result of our unfaithfulness to Him as well, in certain circumstances.
We will talk about that a bit later...
Going back to Genesis 24:1-4 Moses made grounds for divorce, mainly to protect the woman.
These conditions were made because of man’s hardened heart from sin.
They do not approve of divorce or encourage remarriage but they allow for it to happen, except for remarriage of a woman to her first husband.
In the book of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, the Israelites were leaving their jewish wives for foreign wives.
God said that it was a defilement of the holy race and showed unfaithfulness to Him.
The principle of not marrying unbelievers corrupts the Scriptures and appears to be the major concern of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10.
We know from Malachi 2:16 that God does not approve of divorce, however divorce is permitted in some situations according to the OT.
DIVORCE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Jesus explains to his audience that the true intent of the Mosaic Law was to really show that true righteousness is from the heart, not from external compliance.
Jesus takes the 7th commandment “Thou shall not commit adultery”, and argues that lust, as well as divorce, are the moral equivalents of adultery.
The Pharisees of the day permitted divorce for many petty reasons and they were of course never justifiable.
Jesus is saying that adultery is grounds for divorce and it mainly happened from the men.
Jesus was protecting the woman so that she could remarry and enter into a healthy, godly marriage if she chose later on.
This is a direct analogy of what God does in our lives.
Though Satan tempted Eve and she broke the fellowship she had with God, the Lord continued to extend His hand of fellowship if she chose.
READ MATTHEW 19:1-2 and mention (Mark 10:1-12 is the same)
In this passage, Pharisees are asking Jesus whether it is unlawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason.
Like Jesus always does, He goes back to the heart of the matter.
Jesus takes them back to God’s original intent and design for marriage in Genesis 2:24.
His point is that the two become one flesh and when someone in the marriage goes and commits adultery, they have broken that union and joined flesh with someone else.
That act, sets the other spouse free and enables them to seek a divorce, if they so choose BUT it is not required.
READ 1 CORINTHIANS 7:1-16, 39
Here, Paul argues that married people should stay married.
Spouses shouldn’t leave their partner.
(This is the ideal)
If a spouse leaves their partner they have two options
In verses 12-13 Paul says, a believer should not divorce an unbelieving spouse
BUT if the unbeliever leaves, the believing partner is not bound to maintaining the marriage.
The marriage is then dissolved.
Paul says nothing about remarriage
This is an interesting point because originally God did not design marriage for divorce.
Sin entered the world and divorce and adultery ran ramped.
So Moses permitted divorce only by certain circumstances.
Jesus later acknowledges that the only grounds for divorce is adultery, however reconciliation if at all possible is preferred.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7 sees the issue of divorce as ever increasing and realizes the heart of the matter is that a marriage unequally yoked is not God’s design, however it is ONLY when an unbelieving spouse walks out on a believing spouse, divorce becomes an option.
This subject has had me researching a ton this week and I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer.
In all my years of ministry here, I have never had a call to counsel a couple contemplating divorce.
Well, this week was the first time in almost 10 years where I got that call.
I met with the couple and had a great conversation as well as a time in prayer together.
The husband suggested I share that with you this morning to tell you that divorce may seem like the easy way out but it is first, not God’s way and second is a direct result of our heart conditions.
A lot of what was going on in this couple’s life was just getting back on track with where the Lord was taking them and I know they will continue to seek Him in prayer and we will meet to build their foundation in Christ.
So I guess the question is, are there acceptable reasons for divorce today?
(READ THE ARTICLE- REASONS FOR DIVORCE)
One of the most controversial topics of divorce, in Christian circles is abuse.
What do you do in the case of abuse?
Physical, verbal or sexual?
The Bible seems to be nearly silent on this topic, although God does not condone abuse in any way.
To the person in a chronic abusive relationship I would say get to a safe place.
Especially if you have children.
Separation is better than divorce and may be extended.
The law may need to get involved based on the level of abuse.
Abuse is not okay.