Yesterday I shared a message from Matthew 19 where Jesus was asked if there was a legitimate reason for a man to divorce his wife. Many opinions have been expressed on the exception clause Jesus mentioned (also see Matthew 5:31-32).
Jesus’ words in vs. 8 seem to be often overlooked. “ He told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning. “” (Emphasis added)
Divorce is always the result of sin. I think there are two issues churches should carefully consider. First, if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Divorce that occurs among non-Christians is a tragedy because of the social and emotional costs. However, I am uncomfortable holding non-believers to a biblical standard of living of which they are unaware. So instead of a stance of condemnation a stance of forgiveness is a more appropriate response.
Second, upon new birth new life occurs. New life means a new standard, a new way of measuring and evaluating relationships. Divorce occurs among Christians and is also a tragedy. BUT EVEN BELIEVERS NEED FORGIVENESS. This is not to excuse behavior. Churches have failed (mine included) in upholding a biblical view of marriage from the pulpit and in the Bible study environment (Sunday School, small groups, and any form of discipleship groups).
Marriage ought not to be confusing. It is given by God, predating the law, the church, the state and any other human institution. Its priority has taken a direct hit in the narcissistic world in which we live. Sin has caused a huge divide between what ought to be and what is. Bridging that divide is what Jesus came to do. I was reminded as I began studying this passage of what is stated in Matthew 19:1-2
When Jesus had finished this instruction, He departed from Galilee and went to the region of Judea across the Jordan. Large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.