Thursday, August 19, 2021

Divorced from humility

Matthew 19:1-9 / Mark 10:1-9…

Using what was a dispute between the leading teachers of the day (Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause? / cf. Deuteronomy 24:1-4), the Pharisees were testing Jesus. This is an important point. They were not coming to the Word with humility. Are we guilty of the same thing? Humility isn’t an attitude that thinks we cannot know the interpretation, it is an understanding that we always need to check our motivation (Psalm 19:12-14).

What we must remember is that Jesus was addressing a particular question, and that this is not the whole biblical picture on this topic. Here Jesus presents sexual uncleanness as grounds for divorce. Paul gives another ground as desertion by an unbelieving spouse. Of course when a believing spouse is deserted by an unrepentant “believer”, in the light of appropriate church discipline, the situation becomes that of a believer divorced by an unbeliever. In effect this abandonment of marital obligations can be grounds for divorce (cf. Exodus 21:10-11).

It is unfortunate that some try and shackle people with a chain of guilt. It is just as unfortunate that others will try and give people paper wings. Jesus was restricting divorce, not refusing it, or recommending it. Being biblical doesn’t simply mean technical, but also compassionate, and real. There are many factors involved. If we were to be perfectly technical about it, who can say that they have never committed impurity in their heart (Matthew 5:27-32)? If all we are doing is looking for prohibition or authorization in these passages, we can miss the heart of God.

When Jesus said that man should not separate what God has joined together, He was not saying it was impossible to do it. God hates that divorce happens (Malachi 2:16) but this does not mean He refuses to recognize divorce when it occurs. God wants people to stay together, but He wants each partner to be faithful to their wedding vows too. When Jesus said, “Whoever divorces his wife,” He recognized divorce as a fact of life (cf. John 4:16-18). When He said “except for”, He recognized that there are legitimate grounds (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:10-15). This doesn’t make all divorces right. But it does mean that not all divorces are wrong. 

1 comment:

Even So... said...

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