Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we thank You for Christian marriage. We thank You for providing us with God’s blueprint for a blessed family life—one man, one woman, united under Your grace and often blessed with children. May we never take Godly marriage for granted nor allow social pressures to undermine our own marriages. For then not only will we be blest, but our whole nation will reap blessings, too. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE BRIDEGROOM OF HIS BLESSED CHURCH, BELIEVERS JUST LIKE US!
TEXT: Mark 10: 2-16
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Why is marriage important? What makes that little piece of paper, a marriage license, so valuable? Well, if we turn to God’s Word we’ll discover the answer. Point one: God instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden when we made Eve for Adam and gave them to each other so that both sexes could be complete. For the Hebrew word for “ a helper suitable for Adam” literally means one having the “qualities the other is lacking in.” Hence, man is incomplete without woman and vice-versa.—That basically quashes the homosexual marriage agenda being promoted today. Point two: Heterosexual marriage is the building block of all social structure. Governments get their authority from the nuclear family. That’s one reason why the open-ended divorce laws today are really detrimental to social order. For if the family breaks down, so will social order. Three: Christ, Himself, weighs in on marriage in our lesson. He repeats the basic tenets of marriage in Mark’s gospel. If it’s important enough for Jesus to talk about, it’s important enough for us to listen and follow. And four: the beautiful, intertwined, respectful oneness of marriage is held up in the Bible as the ideal for us Christians in that Christ is spoken of as the Bridegroom and we, the Church, are His Bride.
Well, I know all this sounds rather quaint to modern ears. I know people today are quite confused about marriage and the blessings it conveys. They think it is more about taking instead of giving and thus they often deprive themselves of that life-enriching ideal of: loving self-sacrifice. Because of all this, let’s examine our lesson. For in it we see:
MARRIAGE TRUTHS AMID SOCIAL CONFUSION
God’s institution of marriage has always been under attack. Once sin came on the scene, it spread its selfishness to all human relationships. In our lesson, some self-righteous Pharisees approach Christ and try to set Him up. You see the Pharisees were divided into two distinct camps on marriage. One camp followed the great rabbi, Hillel. He was very liberal in his views about marriage and divorce, the breaking of marriage. Today he’d be totally in favor of no-fault divorce where anything goes. (In fact, Hillel said that if you found another woman more desirable than your wife, divorce was just fine!) The other camp followed rabbi Shammai, who said divorce was permissible only on moral grounds—including dressing in a socially immoral way. The Pharisees set Christ up in their question. For in Matthew’s parallel account of this he writes that they added: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Mark doesn’t add that little phrase: “for every cause.” But, it’s open-ended nature is quite telling.
Jesus is God’s Son. He wrote the Bible. He knows what’s in their hearts. So, He takes them back to Moses. “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” Obviously they knew this little reference quite well. But then Christ responds by saying: “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.” In other words, sin is always involved in the dissolution of marriage, and often it is not the woman who is sinning but the men!
Then Jesus goes on to lay out the foundation of marriage taken from Genesis. One man and one woman are to be joined together. They are to have a public recognition of their oneness—a ceremony and a recognized license of sorts. They are to leave mom and dad and create their own nuclear family. “The two become one flesh.” And then He adds: “What God has joined together, let man not separate.” In other words, God is behind this blessed union and sinful humans are behind its dissolution. So learn to repent, take God seriously, live His unselfish love and show it to each other, forgive sins as He has forgiven you and divorce won’t be an option. That’s God’s will for His children.
Easier said than done, isn’t it? Obviously the disciples felt this way since once they arrive at the house they were staying in, they asked Christ about divorce. The Savior’s answer is instructive. “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commit adultery.”
Now, Scripture interprets Scripture. So, we should look at the rest of the Bible to ferret out the parameters of Christ’s words. In Matthew 19 Jesus sheds this light: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Also in I Cor. 7 we read: “If the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances.” Therefore, the Christian Church as always taught that sexual unfaithfulness or malicious desertion are Biblical grounds for divorce. And they are the only grounds.
But, but, but you say: “What about the Christian who has gotten divorced wrongly and then married another? Are they now relegated to a life of perpetual sin apart from God’s blessing upon their marriage?” No. All sins are forgivable apart from turning our back on the Holy Ghost. However, repentance and a renewed spirit of not repeating one’s past mistakes are necessary in that new marriage to reap God’s blessings. And that’s a wonderful comfort for all of us who are married! For who has never, ever, broken their marriage vows in thought, word, or deed? None of us. Only Christ was totally faithful to His Bride, the Church. Only He has exhibited a totally forgiving heart, taking us back when we strayed. And through faith in Him, His holiness becomes ours. His righteousness becomes ours. And His blessings, the one’s He earned with His life and death, become ours.
Right after this discourse, people brought little children to Christ for His blessing upon them. It is here He utters those familiar words: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Children have a natural trust and faith in their parents unless and until they are severely hurt by them. These children, products of Christian marriages, served as an object lesson to the disciples and all others in attendance. The point was: if they can trust me with their lives, you can trust My guidance when it comes to your marriages. And when you do, you’ll be blest and joy-filled just as they are—with Me, Christ, at the center of it all. Amen