GODS DESIGN FOR MARRIAGE
In Mark chapter 10 and Matthew chapter 19, we see Jesus give an in-depth teaching on marriage and divorce. What it was intended to be and what it has become. And I believe the reason there is so much confusion on this subject is because when things go bad we respond with our emotions rather than what the Word of God has to say. And thus, by acting upon our emotions, we tend not to do what God desires for us. And I realize you are not at the age where marriage is an issue, I dont want to scare your parents. But the reality is, if you think about it, in only some 4 or 5 years, it might be an issue for you. So I think it is important for you to understand how God feels regarding this issue instead of what society has to say.
1. Remember, Jesus is making His way down from the north country and He is heading to Jerusalem. He has a date with the religious leaders in Jerusalem and they will arrest Him and crucify Him. But before He gets to Jerusalem, He makes a stop in an area called Perea, which was on the east side of the Jordan River, a place that is called Ammon Jordan today. And keep in mind Perea is the area that Herod Antipas had jurisdiction over. This was the man who had John the baptist beheaded because John spoke up against his marrying his brother Phillips wife, his half niece, Herodias. John came against that wicked lifestyle.
2. Now as Jesus crossed over into this area known also as trans-Jordan, crowds gathered around Him and Jesus used that opportunity to teach the people the things of God. He did not waste any opportunity to minister to the people. Now as the crowds grew, we are going to see some of the religious leaders gather to try and disperse this crowd by having the people become disillusioned with Jesus.
1. Now dont think for a minute that these Pharisees really wanted to know the truth. This was all strategically planed out so they might catch Jesus, trip Him up, cause Him to stumble. Now I dont know how many times these guys have to get blasted by Jesus before they realize they are not going to win, but once again they are giving it the old college try with great hopes of victory this time.
2. You see, if Jesus said anything against divorce, adultery, sexual promiscuity, Herod Antipas might hear it, and that would be the end of Jesus ministry. Herod would come and lock Him up and throw away the key, like he did with John the baptist. Herod might even murder Jesus for what He says, that too was a possibility, and Im sure that was one of the things they were hoping for.
3. Also, in Deuteronomy chapter 24, we read of Moses allowing for divorce if there was any "uncleanness" found in the woman. Now there were two schools of thought regarding what "uncleanness" meant. Rabbi Shammai viewed that word to mean sexual misconduct, he took the narrow, conservative view. The other school of thought came from Rabbi Hillel who said you can divorce your wife for almost anything. It might be burning the toast, putting curlers in your hair and that green stuff on your face at night, or whatever. And who do you think was the most popular, who had the biggest following? You bet, the liberal view, Rabbi Hillel! And the Pharisees understood Jesus conservative views on things and figured if He sided with Rabbi Shammai, most of the crowd would walk away and they would be victorious! So this looked like a sure victory, but they forgot who they were up against, JESUS!
1. You have to love Jesus here, because He throws the question right back at them. They were the religious leaders, they should have known the Scriptures and where to look to find the answer. So lets see how they did.
1. They went back to the Law of Moses, Deuteronomy chapter 24, and said "All you need to do is fill out the paper work! Once you do that it is a done deal!" But as we are going to see in a minute, they didnt go back far enough. They only went to that which was supporting their view and they did not look at the whole counsel of God.
2. Marriage used to be a highly respect institution between a man and a woman. And when the couple would say "Till death to us part" they meant it. Now divorce has become the norm and marriage is just one of the many acceptable lifestyles like living together, homosexuality, and-so-on. Today, for many, it is just too difficult to stick with it, and it is much easier to get a divorce than work things out. In just 80 years things have changed dramatically. In 1920 there was 1 divorce for every 7 couples who got married. By 1940, it was 1 in 6. By 1960, 1 in 4. By 1972, 1 in 3. By 1986 it was 1 in 2. And today the divorce rate is pushing 54%. In 1986 the divorce rate was 3,250 couples per day and that left 1.5 million kids a year with a 1 parent family. So I do believe it is important that we understand what God says about divorce because it is vastly different than what our society is saying and doing!
1. This was not the way God intended it to be, but because of mans hard heart, God allowed it. But that was not His desire for marriage. Then what does God desire in marriage? Lets read on.
1. Jesus takes them all the way back to the very beginning, to the book of Genesis, and the creation of man and woman. If you remember, after God created all life, He created man. And as this man, Adam, named all the creatures, he was looking for a companion for himself. The skunk went by, I dont think so! Then the giraffe, just a little too tall! The hippopotamus, I dont even want to go there! There was no help mate or companion for Adam, "And the LORD God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
And God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and He removed a rib from Adams side and formed woman out of it. Do you see the oneness they had with each other. And Eve was not taken from Adams head indicating his lording over her. Nor was Eve formed from his foot so that he might step all over her. Eve was taken from his side, close to his heart, so that he might love her, protect her, care for her!
And when Adam woke up, he said "WOW!" That is in the newer translations, or at least mine. He didnt say "What else do you got Lord!" This was a perfect match, you might say a match made in heaven. And in this beautiful garden called Eden, God joined Adam and Eve together in marriage! Notice it wasnt Adam and Steve, or Catherine and Eve, nor do they live together outside of marriage! You see, God was laying down the principles of marriage in the book of Genesis and Jesus says those things continue on today, that is what God desires. In fact, in Genesis and in Mark, the word "male" and "female" are in the singular, not pleural. It did not even lend to the idea of divorce or polygamy, but Gods intentions were that this relationship would last a lifetime!
2. And so the number 1 reason for marriage is companionship, for God said it is not good for man to be alone. In fact, this relationship would become so strong that it would cause you to leave your parents and be joined to that person. God also gave us marriage so that we may enjoy sexual relations, we were made for each other, and that is good, not bad. Also, to create an environment in which to raise children in.
3. Thus, marriage is a beautiful relationship that quickly got perverted as sin entered the world. In Genesis chapter 3, verse 16, we see part of the curse that came upon this world as sin entered it. We read "...your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." That word "desire" is not a loving term but means to long for or to take away someones position. Adam was to be the spiritual leader of the family, not because he was better than Eve, but that is the way God set it up. But now the woman is trying to usurp that position. Also, the man who was to love and care for his wife is LORDING over her. And thus we see the start of the battle of the sexes, which began in the Garden of Eden and continues on today!
4. One of the most powerful human bonds is that between a child and their parents. And Gods desire for marriage is that you leave your parents and be joined to your spouse. When you were born the umbilical cord had to be cut, but in marriage, many times that cord is not cut, and it can run for miles. But if that is not cut, your relationship will not grow or it will be difficult to grow. That is not to say you dishonor your parents, but that new relationship must be nurtured. In Deuteronomy 24:5 we read "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken." Now that is not saying that the guy she married is such a jerk that it is going to take a whole year to convince her that he is not so bad. But the idea is to take that time together so this new relationship can grow together in love, and not be distracted by other things. I think that is a great idea, only it is difficult to put it in practice, but it is something we should work at. Taking that time away from others so that you can grow together.
5. These two individuals become one in marriage, that is how the Lord sees it, and that is how we should look at it. The trouble comes when they live two separate lives, doing their own things with their own friends, and before you know it, they are separated and split apart. God says that He has joined them together or glued them together. It would be like laminating wood together, yes you could pull it apart, but when you do there will be splinters, ruff edges, broken pieces, and that is what happens when a marriage ends. It is never good, or what is best, or what God intended, but because of the hardness of mans heart, God did allow it, but only for a specific reason as we shall see in a minute. In verse 9 that word "separate" means divorce. How does God feel about divorce? Lets see what the Scriptures say, in Malachi 2:16 we read "For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."
6. There is only one provision for divorce, and Jesus gives that to us in Matthew 19:9, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." Adultery is the only provision for divorce, and if that does occur, reconciliation should be tried before any divorce occurs. Hard teachings in a world were divorce is so easy and marriage thought of as nothing. But that is now how God looks at it.
1. At this point the Pharisees are gone and Jesus and His men are together. Now dont think this is only coming against women here, because Matthew 19:9 we saw it speak of the man also. A hard stance to take but one that God will honor if you will! Now in Matthew 19:10, I love what the disciples have to say regarding what Jesus just said. We read "His disciples said to Him, If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry." They understood what Jesus said, that it was a lifetime commitment, and they decided it was not for them. CHICKENS! They must have come from the liberal teaching of Rabbi Hillel and this was just too much for them. But, if anyone has a problem with it, they can take it up with God, He said it!
2. Marriage is great, but you do have to work at it. If you are unwilling to do that, you are better off staying single. But there are tremendous blessings in marriage, the companionship, love, children, and-so-on. But it is a commitment, till death do you part!
3. One last thing, and this not only goes for marriage, but for dating also. As Christians we are only to date and marry other Christians. Why? Because if you marry someone who is not saved you will not have the same love, and chances are, you wont win them to Christ but they will lead you away from the Lord. Two quick examples. In I Kings 11:1-3, we read "But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart." Notice what they did to his relationship with God, they turned his heart away! Be careful!
Also, in II Corinthians 6:14-18 we read "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." Again, not what I have said, but what God has said. You see, it is not bad because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is bad. And God knows best!