2007-09-02_Let No Man Separate_Matthew 19.1-12_SL
Let No Man Separate
Matthew 19:1-12 | Shaun LePage | September 2, 2007
A. Lincoln trouble making point with stubborn man; “How many legs does cow have?” “4” “What if we called tail a leg?” “5” “No. Calling a cow’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg!”
B. People: “God said this” or “The Bible teaches that” but doesn’t make it so. Joseph Smith said God ordained polygamy, many say Jesus never condemned homosexuality; some say no div/remarr, others say div/remarr for almost any reason—but that doesn’t make it so; misunderstanding of such matters causes pain and turmoil; Tacitus (Roman historian): “Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay: falsehood by haste and uncertainty.”
C. In one brief section of Mt, Jesus gave clear instruction— treasure if careful “inspection”.
II. Body—Matthew 19:1-12
A. (1-2) The road to Jerusalem: Jesus to Jerusalem attracting attention; mainly teaching disciples, but the crowds must have worried the Pharisees—came to “test” (tempt)
B. (3-9) The debate with the Pharisees. 2 Questions about divorce. The point was to “test” Jesus, to get Him to take sides on the subject of divorce / remarriage. Why? Mt 14:3-4—John martyred! Jesus’ enemies saw crowds—jealous? Fearful? They wanted his head, too!
1. (3-6) Question 1: “Divorce for any reason?” Nothing new under the sun! 2 schools of thought among Jews: Shammai: unchastity only (most popular in Jesus’ day); Hillel: easy divorce (burnt toast / more attractive—eventually most popular! “nothing new”)
a) Jesus affirmed the OT standard of marriage (quoted Genesis 1:27 & 2:24): 1 man with 1 woman for life—“joined” lit. means “glued together”; you become “one flesh”! Don’t do anything that rips flesh! Divorce is destructive!; Pat Conroy: “Each divorce is the death of a small civilization”; God joins so don’t separate
b) By doing so, Jesus taught everything else is a perversion (improper use) of sex
(1) Homosexuality. Many: “Jesus never condemned homosexuality”—but, “male and female…a man (Gn 1.27; Hb eesh means “male, in contrast to female”)… joined to his wife (female)” Jesus never condemned other perversions (see Lev18, etc.)—morally acceptable too? No! Jesus affirmed creation standard.
(2) Premarital or extramarital sex. Jesus said, “A man shall…be joined to his wife (eeshah; different than more general “female”; correctly translated “wife”)…”
(3) Bigamy / Polygamy. “A man…his wife (sing.)… two shall become one”; God patient w/OT men, but multiple wives—multiple problems; creation standard!
2. (7-9) Question 2: “Why did Moses command divorce?”
a) (7) reference to Dt 24:1—interpretation of “indecency”; “command” not in Dt24!
b) (8) Jesus: Moses “permitted” divorce; “hardness of heart” behind every divorce—“but from the beginning it has not been this way”—creation standard! God allowed divorce (like polygamy) but not best; protected women from false adultery charge.
c) (9) Most twisted verse! Simplicity causes fits for those with preconceived notions
(1) “Whoever” is the subject—3 verbs: “divorces…marries…commits adultery (1 word)”; Ignore exception for a moment: “Whoever divorces…and marries another woman commits adultery.” Jesus: “If you divorce, remarriage is adultery. Do you really want to divorce her?” Not only is the liberal interpretation for divorce (any reason) a sin, but those of you who do it make any subsequent marriages adulterous!
(2) With one exception! No textual problems! All evidence says it is original. Mark didn’t include, so some say not original. But oldest / best manuscripts include it here; assume this exception when reading Mark—otherwise deny inerrancy of Scripture!; Jesus gave an exception (also in Mt5:32)—“immorality” (NASV) “marital unfaithfulness” (NIV) “fornication” (KJV); Gk: πορνεία broad term illicit sexual intercourse—incest, homosexuality, prostitution—and yes, adultery; Jesus: If wife (spouse) cheats, divorce and remarriage are permissible.
(3) Many have worked overtime trying to make this verse (and 5:32) say something else, but this is the clear/plain interpretation. God permits, but don’t abuse
(4) BTW: A second exception—abandonment (1 Cor 7:15); discuss another time
C. (10-12) The training of the disciples.
1. (10) Disciples understood part of it: marriage should be permanent, divorce (without Biblical cause) makes remarriage adultery—this is serious business! But, to say “it is better not to marry” shows they didn’t understand entirely. Marriage is good (Gn 2—“not good for the man to be alone”; instituted by God Himself!)—it is lawful for all, honorable for all, though it must be “in the Lord” (1Co7:39). The Song of Solomon celebrates marriage; Pr18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing…”
2. (11-12) But Jesus goes along with their statement—3 kinds of “eunuchs”: 1) “from mother’s womb”—congenital deformities, inability to engage in sexual activity; 2) “made eunuchs by men”—ancient kings castrated harem guards; some pagan religions castrated baby boys as offering to their gods; punishment for adultery; 3) “made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom”—metaphorical for remaining celibate; castration/self-mutilation is purely pagan; Paul developed this issue in 1Co7—his personal choice, but careful not to suggest those who marry are less spiritual; in 1Co9 he upheld the right of the apostles to “take a believing wife along” on their travels; called “forbidding marriage” a “doctrine of demons”!; celibacy is a gift and option, but celibacy is not more spiritual than marriage.
3. Point: Jesus not promoting singleness (not easy either), but marital commitment.
III. Closing: The implications for us are obvious and powerful—write at least two things:
A. Honor marriage because God joins two separate people. Marriage is God-ordained; bigger than two individuals; high and holy serious business—spiritual union
1. First and foremost: Be Biblically educated about marriage; don’t let culture define —throw out what you think you know for the word of God—learn from the Designer; Ex: Eph 5—marriage reflects the love between Christ and His church
2. Prayerfully choose spiritual spouse: Unified beliefs @ Christ, Scriptures, church, family, children, finances, etc. Too many young Christians looking for one who claims to be Christian and “cute”. Higher standard! Biblically—parents involved! Wisdom, not hormones; better to wait / stay single than go into not fully committed
3. Fight for marriage—never say “divorce”; Work! Selfless; few things as rewarding
B. Hate divorce because people separate what God joins.
1. Mal 2:16: “‘I hate divorce’” says the Lord God of Israel.”
2. See divorce as final option even if “immorality”; divorce is so destructive that even if you are unhappy for a time, it is better to stick it out—especially one-time moral lapse rather than persistent practice (Divorce Decision, Gary Richmond, pgs.12-15)
3. ‘98 study MN Fam. Inst.: 66% divorced regret they didn’t give better effort.
4. Having said all that, no stigma / shame for innocent party who decides the marriage is not salvageable, but forgiveness is required; Context—Mt18 “70X7”
5. Also, forgiveness is available for the guilty! If you’ve divorced—but not for biblically justified reasons—there is forgiveness for you. Can you reconcile? Do everything you can. Not possible to reconcile? Seek forgiveness, move on—not the unpardonable sin!—1 John 1:9
6. Isobel Kuhn story, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories; Robert J. Morgan, pgs.538-539