It’s kind of interesting looking at the gospels and trying to harmonize them sometimes. I don’t know if I’m harmonizing Matthew and Mark well here, but it’s amusing to look at these passages this way.
Pharisees: “Is it lawful to divorce your wife for any reason?”
Jesus: “Don’t you know that when husband and wife get married, the two become one? What God has joined together, let no man separate.”
Pharisees: “Why then did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus: “Excuse me? What did Moses command you? He commanded you, ‘Thou shalt divorce your wife?'”
Pharisees: “Well, no. But he did permit a man to divorce his wife.”
Jesus: “That’s right. He permitted it, not commanded it. And the only reason he permitted it was because your hearts were hard. But it was not that way from the beginning.”
All humor aside, the issue is very serious. And in this passage, Jesus lays out why divorce is so common in our day and age. People harden their hearts against God, and they harden their hearts against their spouse.
How do people harden their hearts against God? First, they harden their hearts against his teaching against marriage. That it is to be for life. That you are to be faithful to your spouse. That husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That wives are to submit to their husband as the church does to Christ.
Instead, they make all kinds of excuses as to why it’s impossible for them to do so.
“Well, she doesn’t submit to me, so why should I show that kind of love to her?”
“Well he doesn’t show love to me, so why should I submit to him?”
“You just never know about marriage. Maybe he really isn’t the one, so it’s best to keep your options open in case it doesn’t work out.”
Or during their arguments, God starts speaking to one or both of them saying, “Let it go. Give in. It’s not worth fighting about.” But in their pride or anger, they refuse to heed his voice.
How do people harden their hearts against their spouses? They fail to listen to each other.
When husbands hear their wives complain they are working too much, they dismiss it without thought, saying, “But we need the money.”
When husbands complain about a lack of intimacy, the wives dismiss it because they are “too tired.”
When wives share with their husbands how their actions or words were hurtful, husbands dismiss their wives as being too sensitive.
This list could go on and on.
The end result? Divorce.
So many people wonder why their marriages fail. Some try two or three times, or even more, to get things right, and never do. The reason? They’ve never dealt with their heart. They’ve never learned to soften their hearts to God’s voice and to their spouses.
Are you single? Are you seeking a spouse? Then start by searching your heart. When God speaks to you about your actions now, when he convicts your heart about the way you live, are you listening? Because when you get married, he will start speaking to you about how you treat your spouse. But if you’re hardening your heart to God now when he speaks, you’ll take that attitude into your marriage, and if you do, your marriage won’t last long.
Are you married? Are you frustrated by your spouse? Start by taking your eyes off of them, and put them on you. How have you hardened your heart to your spouse? Let God speak to your heart about the things that you need to do.
Are you divorced and looking for another spouse? Before you do, ask yourself, how did I harden my spouse in the past? How did I harden my heart to God? Because until you address these issues, you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes you committed before. And the first question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I hardening myself to God and my ex-spouse by not working to reconcile with my ex-spouse?”
What is the state of your heart?