Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Jesus was a real person who really lived and breathed here on Earth. Do you ever find yourself reading the Bible and plodding along thru the text without pausing to examine the context? Who spoke these words?
The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) give us the account of Jesus life here on Earth. That account includes the words that he spoke and the lessons that he gave. Throughout his ministry, Jesus spoke and taught on many different topics. The sanctity of marriage is one such topic. What did he have to say about marriage?
As Matthew records in chapter 19, Jesus addressed some Pharisees, the self-righteous teachers of the law, when they came and asked about divorce.
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
- Matthew 19:4-6
Jesus’ response to the Pharisees points back to the Old Testament. Knowing that the Pharisees were well read in the Scriptures, he recalls what Genesis 1 and 2 teach about the creation of man.
So God created man in his own image, in image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
- Genesis 1:27
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
- Genesis 2:24
As God outlined in the beginning, when male and female are joined together in marriage, God joins them as one flesh. The term “one flesh” referrs to the fact that the divine intention of marriage is monogamy. Together, the husband and wife form an inseperable union. God sets this up as the very foundation of how humans are to live and flourish on the Earth. The marriage of husband and wife is the most basic form of government in history. It is ordained by God and intended to be a lifelong covenant commitment.
As Matthew 19 continues, the Pharisees pose more follow questions to try and trip up Jesus.
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
- Matthew 19:7-9
As a real person living here on Earth, Jesus addressed questions about marriage and divorce by first pointing to the divine design that God had instituted. With the exception of sexual immorality, he made it pretty clear; once married together by God, man should not separate.