Some things change with time. Some things do not.
Jesus and the Twelve left Galilee and traveled down to Judea. Great multitudes of folks with all kinds of sicknesses and needs followed Him and “He healed them there.” The Pharisees, ignoring the miracles and looking for a chance to catch Jesus in some sort of mistake, asked Him about divorce.
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
They were not concerned about the people; it was simply a test. Jesus answered them as if it were a serious inquiry. He referred them to things they already knew:
- God created people as males and females.
- Marriage between a man and woman was God’s plan.
- This was a reason to grow up, leave home, and form your own home.
- Legally and in the sight of God a married couple had ceased to be two people and were one in the Lord.
- What God has joined together should not be separated by man.
But, times have changed. Haven’t they?
Moses faced the reality that marriage did not always mean love. He made a rule that a man who no longer loved his wife could simply give her a certificate and send her away. Times had changed and Moses changed with them. Implicit in their question was another question: “Do you agree?”
God has not changed.
Moses faced the hardness of men’s hearts and made his exception but this was never God’s plan. Hard-hearted men do not love. They look upon women as objects to satisfy their lusts and as servants to meet their needs. God intended for a man and woman to love each other; that means to live each for the other. The love of a man with a godly heart for a woman lifts her up; it never uses or abuses her. Hard-hearted men do that. The true-hearted man can no more intentionally hurt his wife than he could to drive a nail into his own hand. She is an extension of his very existence.
When Two Become One
When a man and a woman are joined together in holy matrimony, they become one in the eyes of God.
- When He moves the man, the move is also good for the woman.
- When He meets the needs of the woman, the man is also blest.
- When God blesses their union with children, those children will need what the father supplies and what the mother has to give.
The children will learn about life from both a masculine and feminine viewpoint, preparing them for life in the real world. Little boys will love their mothers and want to be like their fathers. Little girls will love their fathers and learn how to be women like their mothers. When two become one and then they become several, the plan of God works wonderfully well.
Do not stop loving.
It may not always be easy to love one’s spouse, especially if the spouse is not a believer. As long as possible, the believing partner should keep on loving the unbelieving one. Paul does not claim that his advice is from God but it is good to consider his wisdom. Jesus also said that some individuals were called to a single life. These people are able to give all their love to the Kingdom of God and should be seen as true heroes.
Back to the Beginning
Regardless of changing times and mores, it is good to refer back to the beginning, to the original intentions of God. Let His plan guide us by loving the one He has given us.
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 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.” His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
1 Corinthians 7:12-16 NKJV
But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
Lord, Jesus, I marvel at Your plan! You created us male and female and this is the fundamental organizational fact of human life. The joy of being one in marriage is one that grows with time. It gets sweeter as the years add up. Help those who are single to find the one You have for them and those who are called to the single life to find joy in their service to You. Help each of us to keep on loving! Amen and Amen.
O Love that Will Not Let Me Go
Words: George Matheson; Music: Albert L. Peace
1. O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller be.
2. O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
may brighter, fairer be.
3. O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain
that morn shall tearless be.
4. O cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
life that shall endless be.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved