October 7, 2018: 20th Sunday of Trinity

Let us pray: Dear Savior, human marriage is a Divine picture of our spiritual marriage to You. It is to be a life-long union. In it the two become so close and intertwined that they literally are one. And nothing should be allowed to separate the two parties. Thank You, dear Lord, that You actually practice all those principles when it comes to Your allegiance to us! May all of us seek to do likewise in our own lives and may we also seek to build up adherence to those principles in the married lives of all we meet. Amen
TEXT: Mark 10: 2-11
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
What are the primary drivers, the over-riding urges, that propel people through life? They are: survival, food, and sexual expression. Survival includes our “fight or flight” mentality when confronted by trouble. Food is necessary for survival, so it undergirds fight or flight, but also becomes pleasurable—when the food is tasty! Then there’s sex. Procreation and furtherance of our genetic make-up comes from the urge to be remembered beyond our three score and ten. Considering the burdens and heartache of raising children, it’s a good thing that God made the act of sex pleasurable! Otherwise, as a race we would have died out long ago!…
But, of course, sin messed this all up. Sex isn’t just about physical urgings and physical pleasure. It has a deeply emotional component part. But humans, being sinners, have often turned it into a weapon to impose their will on another, to get even, to manipulate, and to build their ego. This isn’t new to our generation. It has existed since the Fall into sin. And both sexes have misused the gift of sexual union perhaps more than any other Godly gift to this very day.
The Israelites of Moses’ time were products of their environment. They had come out of Egypt, where when it came to sex anything and any one was fair game. Then, during the Exodus, they were surrounded by heathen tribes of people who might have been even worse. Incest, pedophilia, and any other perversion imaginable was rampant among these people.—One reason why God ordered their Canaanite neighbors wiped out when God’s people entered the promised land. So it should come as no surprise that some rather loose standards of marriage began to creep into the Jewish camp. Remember, when it comes to sex, people are always weak.
So, various Jewish leaders approached Moses and wanted him to loosen up divorce restrictions so that they could get rid of their old wife for a new one with a clean conscience. Moses was the chief religious leader and also the chief of civil affairs. Which hat should he wear in this discussion? Well, Moses put on his civic hat and “permitted” them to write out a certificate of divorce but only under various restrictions. If they were an innocent party and had done nothing wrong, this should not have been a problem. But they had to enumerate their reasons and give specifics—including about themselves and their behavior! Needless to say, this cut down on a lot of divorce proceedings. Few were totally innocent and no one likes to air their dirty linen in public. This wasn’t a command of God. Yet in the civic arena, sometimes the best a judge can do is minimize hurt so that others don’t get trampled and hurt, too. The Pharisees, enemies of Christ, knew all this. So, they pose their question to Christ in order to trip Him up. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” If Jesus says: Yes, then they can accuse Him of loose morals. If He answers: No, then they can accuse Him of going against Moses.
As God’s Son, Jesus knew their thoughts. So, He answers back: “What did Moses command?” Permit is different than command. So, again these enemies try to answer very narrowly and not get ensnared in their own trap: “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” But now Jesus springs the trap back on them in a devastating manner: “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law. But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Any divorce stems from sin. Period. No divorce is God’s will. Period. Right here Jesus reminds everyone that marriage is to be lifelong union of one man and one woman. Nothing, including family ties should come between them.—Not the relatives, not the parents, not the kids, nothing. For in marriage the two become one flesh. There is a unity which should never be violated by anyone in any way.
To be sure, one party is usually more to blame than the other. Sometimes one party can be totally innocent in that they didn’t go out and look for sexual partner and then act on it. But it always takes two to tango. And out of all the divorced people I’ve ever dealt with, in the end, both sides have admitted that they could and should have done certain things differently. That’s an admission that sin influenced them both.
So, the point here is that no one wins when you allow sin to disrupt the marriage in any way. The flash point may be money, work-related, the stress of child-rearing, extended family interference, emotional aloofness or absence of sharing your all with your spouse. The reasons for divorce are as numerous as the people involved. God isn’t in favor of any of them! But our wise God also knows that sometimes “all the kings horses and all the kings men cannot put humpty-dumpty back together again.” That’s just a recognition of reality.
The disciples were troubled by all this. Was Jesus playing loose with the traditional religious definition of marriage and divorce? Was He failing especially to protect seemingly innocent women from being taken advantage of by predatory husbands going through a mid-life crisis? Again, Jesus knew their thoughts, so He then adds to them: “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
This is how seriously people should take marriage. And if one party breaks their marriage vows for ungodly reasons, unless and until they repent of their sins they are living in that sin and God won’t bless them.
But, what happens if and when they do repent? What should you do if and when they admit their faults to God? They are already remarried. Maybe both have remarried. Well, according to the Bible any and all sins that are repented of are also forgiven. Christ died to pay for all human sin. The only exception being: a Sin against the Holy Ghost, which is willful unbelief and a denial of God’s grace. By definition any repented sin doesn’t deny God’s grace, it affirms it, doesn’t it? So when it comes to remarried divorcees, rejoice that God is forgiving, that they have learned much about bad choices, and then support them in trying never to make those same bad choices again! And never, ever, feel superior! Satan is always crouching at all our doors, and feeling superior to another is a quick way to invite him in to pounce on us. For “he who thinks he stands, must be careful lest he fall.”
One final thought to folks younger than I am. Don’t let sexuality define who you are or what you’re about as a person. Marriage is about growing together in all aspects as people. It’s about sharing everything with your soul-mate. Men are incomplete without women. And vice-versa. That’s what God states in Genesis when He speaks of Eve as the “helper suitable” for Adam. It means each sex has unique qualities the other lacks, but together they are literally whole, complete and one. This is a picture of each Christian’s relationship with Jesus Christ. We’re incomplete as humans without Him and He’s not emotionally fulfilled without us.—That’s why He created us to begin with and that’s why He went to the cross willingly to save us. So, don’t sadden His heart by walking away from Him or from your marriage here on this earth. Employ your faith to support your marriage and He will employ His loving power to bless all your efforts. And this is why Christian marriages are the best of the blest! Amen