Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
Sermon On The Mount (Part 11)
Is Marriage Sacred And Binding?
Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
Matthew 5:31-32 (NKJV)
It has been said too, 'Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a letter of divorce.' But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except for cause of fornication, makes her commit adultery, and whosoever marries one that is put away commits adultery.
Matthew 5:31-32 (Darby Translation)
After 31 years of marriage, I am divorced. Therefore, I am intrigued by Jesus' Words on this tough subject. They begin in the Sermon on the Mount, but continue in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 16.*
In general, the divorce rate among Christians is high. At first glance, it looks like the rest of the world.** But among faithful followers, it is substantially lower. Nevertheless, divorce is a slap in the face of the church. Rather than receiving it as a wakeup call, we seem more than willing to turn the other cheek.
But perhaps we should flee the evil that causes it, seek peace and pursue it, pray not to enter this temptation, obey our husbands, love our wives, humble ourselves and study God's Word more closely. Perhaps we should stop rowing around and around the same problems. Perhaps we should ask His Spirit to guide us in troubled waters--then follow His direction.
Perhaps there's no perhaps about it.
Debate among Christian scholars continues over Jesus' Teachings on divorce. Many believe it is warranted in cases of unrepentant adultery. Others believe the original Greek in Matthew 5:31-32 was misinterpreted in the majority of English translations. Therein, divorce is also acceptable in cases of abandonment (a.k.a. 'put away' in the Darby Translation).***
This much we know for sure: God forgives us all sins when we ask and repent. Nevertheless, God intends us to honor the holy commitment of marriage. Satan intends us to honor no commitment--especially to God. Whom should we follow?
To Be Continued...
* Matthew 19:1-10: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2019:1-10&version=NKJV
* Mark 10:2-12: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2010:2-12&version=NKJV
* Luke 16:18: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2016:18&version=NKJV
** Divorce rates among Christians: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/25/factchecker-divorce-rate-among-christians/; http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-03-14-divorce-christians_N.htm
*** 'The Greek words for "put away" and "divorce" are very different and cannot be used synonymously.
'The Greek word for "put away" is apoluo (#630 in Strong's Concordance) and means to depart, dismiss, or separate. But the word for divorce is apostasion (#647 in Strong's Concordance). Jesus is saying that if a husband wants to divorce his wife, he cannot just throw her out, he must give her a proper bill of divorcement. If he does not give her a bill of divorcement, then, if she marries again - without being properly divorced - both she and her new husband will be guilty of adultery - because she is still legally married to her previous husband.
'The Christian church has erroneously accepted the incorrect translation found in the King James Version and most other modern translations of the Bible. By changing the third phrase "put away" to "divorce" in the last sentence of verse 32, the "church" then can claim that a divorced person who remarries has committed adultery!'
'What Does Jesus Say About Divorce and Remarriage? What is the penalty Jesus advocates for adultery?' article: http://www.goodnewsaboutgod.com/studies/spiritual/home_study/divorce.htm)
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Sermon On The Mount series.