Divorce is one of those touchy topics that is difficult to deal with, if only because of the emotions and hurt that is often involved. But considering the social climate we’re in, in which marriages fall apart at such a high rate, I think that it is vital for us to take a serious look at what Jesus said about marriage and divorce.
The Pharisees came up to Jesus, asking,
Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason? (Matthew 19:3)
This was a hot topic of the time, much as it is today. And for some of the Pharisees, they did pretty much believe that it was lawful to get divorced for any reason. For others, they held a much stricter view that there had to be some kind of sexual sin involved for a divorce to be lawful.
The truth is, many of the Pharisees did get divorced, and as I mentioned before, often times, it was with the intent of marrying another. They had married, only to meet another woman they desired, but in order to “avoid” the sin of adultery, they simply divorced their wife and married the other woman. And I believe it was this situation that Jesus was specifically addressing in the Sermon on the Mount, and in these passages here.
He was telling the Pharisees and us, “Even if you don’t technically commit adultery by sleeping with a woman you’re not married to, if you divorce your wife because you’ve found another woman, you are still committing adultery in the eyes of God, whether you marry that second woman or not.”
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
In answer to the Pharisees’ question, Jesus replied,
Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Matthew 19:4-6)
Jesus totally bypassed the arguments of the “experts” of the day, and went straight to scripture. And by doing so, he tells us exactly what marriage was supposed to be. A union between a man and a woman where they are no longer two separate entities, but one. The two are “glued” together and become one flesh.
Sometimes people wonder why God says sex is only to be between husband and wife. The main reason is that there is a joining that occurs during the sexual act. Not just a physical joining, but an emotional joining as well. It’s a joining in which the two are glued together as one.
Have you ever used super glue, and gotten your fingers stuck together? What happens if you forcibly try to pull them apart. Your skin rips off. Divorce is the same. There is no clean break. Because of the oneness in body and emotion that occurred, it causes a tearing in the soul when two people divorce. The same is true when two people become sexually intimate outside of marriage. When the relationship breaks up, there is a tearing of soul that occurs because of the oneness that was shared between them.
And that tearing becomes much more painful the longer the relationship goes on, with all that the couple shares together, not just sexually, but all the experiences they go through together, the good and the bad that pull a couple closer together and make them one.
Jesus is telling us the reason divorce is so bad is because it tears apart a part of our soul. What was meant to be one forever, a oneness in body, in heart, in soul, is torn apart. And so he tells us, “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Am I saying there can be no healing from divorce? That there can be no forgiveness? No. But I think we need to understand two things. First, marriage was meant to be forever. It was how God designed it. And second, when we get away from God’s design, pain is inevitable.
Why then do so many people get divorced? We’ll get into that in the next blog.