The Way: When Marriage is More Than Paperwork

Matthew 5:31-32

Advice about divorce can be pretty terrible, even in the church.  I know women who stayed in abusive relationships because a pastor told them that leaving their abusive husband would be wrong.  I know couples who were encouraged to get a divorce because their personalities were not compatible and God wants us to be happy.  Both of these are errors when it comes to divorce.

In Jesus’s day, divorce was as easy as giving your wife a certificate.  Some people of that day believed that grounds for divorce could be as simple as the wife ruining a meal.  The grounds for divorce had become so varied and simple that Jesus reminds his hearers that the intent of this law was to protect the sanctity of marriage and not to provide an easy way out.  Jesus is explaining that a divorce on frivolous grounds is perhaps not a divorce at all and this means that the two are still essentially married in God’s eyes.

Divorce is an incredibly complicated topic with so many angles and so many different circumstances, but what Jesus wants us to understand is that marriage is a big deal to God.  The reason is that marriage is one of the ways that we learn about our relationship with God.  Marriage was designed by God to help us see how important it is to be connected to another.  We were created for relationships, and in marriage we get a picture of what it means to give yourself to another.  As we experience marriage, we get a glimpse of what it looks like to give ourselves to God.  When we submit ourselves to our spouse, we learn how we can submit ourselves to God.  When we experience the depth of marriage, we experience the depth of our relationship to God.

Jesus does give one valid reason for divorce.  The term used here is not the same term used earlier for adultery so some commentators believe that what Jesus had in mind is sinful activity that has broken the relationship beyond repair.  This means that Jesus understands that there may come a time in some marriages where the marriage can be terminated for the sake of one of the couples.

As we understand how God sees marriage, we can see why it is important to continually work on and grow in our marriage.  For those who are not married, we see how big a commitment that marriage truly is.  Spend some time today thinking about how marriage helps us understand our relationship with God.