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Marriage and divorce

“God’s plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for ‘He made them male and female.’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” — Mark 10:6-8

From the beginning of creation, God ordained physical laws for the universe. The law of gravity and the laws of thermodynamics are well-established realities. When we acknowledge and adhere to them in our daily lives, they prove highly beneficial and ensure that life proceeds smoothly. However, should we attempt to contravene natural laws, for instance by stepping off a skyscraper or sitting on a hot stove, then negative things happen and consequences are incurred.

In the same way, God ordained societal laws for the well-being of those of us who are privileged to live in His wonderful world. Jesus reminded His questioners of some of these fundamental laws when He was challenged by a question. The question, designed “to trap him,” was, “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2-3). In our own society, given the high incidence of divorce, it is almost assumed that a man can divorce his wife whenever and why-ever he wishes.

But it was not so in Jesus’ day. In fact, divorce was the subject of heated debate. Some rabbis, like Hillel, taught that divorce was legitimate for the most trivial, flippant reasons—but only for men! Others, like Shammai, adopted a conservative stance about divorce and condemned the teachings and attitudes of men like Hillel.

Jesus’ questioners were trying to get Him to say something on the subject that they could later use against Him. Jesus replied, as He so often did, by asking a question, “What did Moses say about divorce?” (10:3). To this they replied, “Well, he permitted it” (10:4). Jesus established that divorce was permissible during Moses’ time, but only as a “concession” to people’s “hard-hearted wickedness” (10:5).

In other words, divorce was never God’s ideal. Jesus immediately explained, “But God’s plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for, ‘He made them male and female.’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (10:6-8).

God’s ideal is very clear. A man and a woman come together in marriage, they have children whom they raise in the safety and love of a home, the children eventually leave home, they get married, they have children, and the cycle of human life and well-being continues. Like divinely ordained natural laws, these societal principles are designed for mankind’s well-being. And like the physical laws, negative consequences are incurred when we attempt to contravene them.

Society needs to obey God’s laws of marriage and family. But what about people who find themselves divorced? They need care, too!

In fact, one of the greatest challenges facing the contemporary church is, “How do we uphold the divine principles of marriage and family while at the same time caring for those whose marriages have failed and whose families are in shambles?” That is a question we need to think seriously about.

For further study: Mark 10:1-16

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.