And Jesus left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.
2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
If something is in the Bible one time, we know it is true. If it is the Bible two times, it is certainly true. What if it is in the Bible four or more times? It is most certainly true! Such is the case of the passage that first appears in Genesis 2:23-24, which Jesus quotes:
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ (Mark 10:7; cf. Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31; Matthew 19:5)
This is a vitally important truth: God made us male and female, and established marriage as the means by which this identity is expressed: within a relationship of one man and one woman for life.
These three elements are part of a marriage relationship:
- Leaving: We become independent from our parents as we establish ourselves as husband and wife. Although we do marry a family as they say, this relationship of one woman to one man is a relationship that requires a new emotional alliance. The hearts of husband and wife are to be centered in each other. The larger family is certainly part of their relational orbit. But the center is no longer the home in which they grew up.
- Holding Fast: This is not a whim-based commitment or relationship. It is not a matter of convenience. It is not simply something to do on a day when there is nothing else to do. Holding fast means sticking together even in the turmoil of struggles over money, child-raising, running a household, and the like.
- Becoming One: The ultimate expression of marriage is the physical and sexual union of husband and wife. God has designed in such a manner that men and women give and receive pleasure in their intimate physical encounters. Nothing to be ashamed of here; sex is a delightful gift of God to be celebrated as such – within the bonds of marriage.
People are trying to trip up Jesus on this issue – the question is one of no fault divorce (exclusively at the husband’s whim). They think that keeping the Law of Moses in regard to marriage is something that is impossible without some sort of loophole. In fact, it is impossible to relate to one another within marriage apart from forgiveness. And whenever people abandon their marriage commitments they even more fully stand in need of God’s forgiveness.
Marriage is not merely a matter of legal morality. It is a precious union which God brings about. If it is broken – and often it is – there is forgiveness and mercy from God. But anyone who has experience that fracture will tell you that divorce is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s just that the gifts it brings are heart ache, nagging guilt, and emotional scarring.
Any marriage that has stood the test of time will also testify to the reality that two people who are united as one are truly Broken Together.