Some of you have been divorced and you know the pain that led up to it and followed it. Some of you have had parents or children or some other close relative or friend go through it and you, too, know the pain that surrounds this action.
Regarding the way we as Christians think about divorce, there are many who justify …a divorce regardless of the limitations set on it in Scripture. There are still others who forbid it for any reason and essentially blacklist anyone who has gone through divorce. Then, there are all of those in the middle of these two extremes.
So, I know the dangers of addressing this issue. It carries a lot of emotion on either side of the aisle.
Yet, as I was reading my daily Bible reading in my “Through the Bible in 6 Months” plan this morning, I came across a very interesting passage. We’ll come to it momentarily.
Let’s begin with something Jesus said. It began in Matthew 19:3 – “And Pharisees came up to him (Jesus) and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?’”
Jesus’ response is worthy of a very in-depth study. Yet, let’s race to Matthew 19:9 where Jesus responds: “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
This is not complicated stuff. It’s not difficult to understand what Jesus said. Very clearly, Jesus said that if a spouse divorces their marriage partner for any reason other than infidelity and marries someone else, they commit adultery. Yet, clearly implied is if a spouse commits adultery, a divorce and remarriage is permitted (not commanded) by Almighty God. (Other matters regarding divorce are given in 1 Corinthians 7.)
Where did Jesus get this? Was He just making this rule up on the fly? As God in the flesh, He certainly could have made up this command. If we investigate the Old Testament, we realize that there is no such law. So, is Jesus creating a new rule or did He get it from somewhere else?
If you look at Jeremiah 3:6-8, you’ll see the answer to these questions.
Jeremiah 3:6-8 “During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, ‘Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery.’…”
Did you catch that? God divorced an adulterous Israel. He saw His relationship to Israel as a marriage and, because of her spiritual adultery, divorced her.
As God, He defines by His Words and actions what is righteous and holy. That being the case, since God divorced for the cause of adultery, Jesus said it is allowed (not commanded) in marriages.
Therefore, let’s be careful how we relate to those who have gone through a divorce. There are some who have divorced for the cause of adultery and thus took the same steps that God Himself took and permitted. Those folks need our encouragement and not our condemnation.
Regarding how we are to think about those who have gone through divorce for non-biblical reasons, we must also strive to think biblically about life. We must strive for personal holiness and encourage others to also live by God’s guidelines. Yet, we are to saturate our mind and speech with the attitude and words of forgiveness. That’s the message of the cross, right? All of us sin (yes, that means you and me) and since Christ so freely lavishes us with His grace and forgiveness, shouldn’t we also lavish it upon others who seek it (the message of Matthew 18:21-35)? Let’s refuse to be a self-righteous Pharisee who finds it easy to readily condemn everyone but ourselves.