The Sanctity of Marriage: Mark 10:2-12
“2) Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 3) And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4) They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 6) But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7) For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9) What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. “10) In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11) And He *said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12) and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”” Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭2-12
We now have record of the trap the Pharisees tried to set for Jesus. They wanted a basis of accusing Him of disobeying the Law of God. Unfortunately, they picked the subject of divorce and remarriage. The sanctity of marriage had been thrown under the bus by the Jewish religious leaders. They were using Moses as support for adulterous practices.
Their question as recorded in Mark 10:2 related to “whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.” Matthew 19:3 adds the phrase “for any cause at all?” They were stretching Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to the point of becoming a legal basis for no fault divorce and remarriage. Worse, it became a tapestry to cover an evil practice of legal wife swapping.
Moses wrote Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to be restrictive and not permissive. It is instructive that the Pharisees conveniently ignored Malachi 2:14-17. The practice of divorce and remarriage had destroyed the relationship between many in Israel and God. It had become sinful and even abominable to God. “God hates divorce.” (Malachi 2:16) Divorce destroys people, families, communities and nations. Malachi pointed out that not one had participated in this sinful practice who had a remnant of the Spirit. (Malachi 2:15)
Jesus laid out His position very skillfully. A synopsis of Mark and Matthew is helpful. First, Jesus went back and looked at God’s original design for marriage. It was between male and female until death. (See Romans 7:1-3) Second, He appealed to the permanence of the marriage covenant. Third, He stated that marriage made the two into one. Fourth, He pointed out the destructive consequences of separating what God joined together. Fifth, He concluded the problem behind most divorce and remarriage can be traced to bitter and hard hearts. Finally, He conceded that divorce and remarriage was permissible only if the marriage itself was immoral and therefore unacceptable by God. This included any relationship forbidden in Leviticus 18 and 20.
They undoubtedly did not like the narrow position of Jesus on this subject. It exposed them. It uncovered another area of sin and corruption among the religious leaders. It pointed to willful and immoral hypocrisy. Like Paul in Romans 7:1-3, Jesus summarized the position of the Pharisees as being adulterous. (See Mark 10:10-12)
This subject exposes a serious problem within the modern church. We have become like the religious leaders of Israel practicing divorce and remarriage for any cause at all. We are grieving God and the Holy Spirit in this matter. Why not rather trust God to heal marriage relationships and do a glorious work of redemption? Why contribute the a breakdown in the Sanctity of Marriage and the family structure?
As a side note, this teaching of Jesus on marriage radically impacted the early church. It totally irradiated the ramped Old Testament practice of Polygamy and made a good marriage a qualification for leadership in the church. Jesus brought a level of righteousness and holiness into His church that was unknown by religious Judaism or Greek/Roman secular culture of the time. His view of the Sanctity of Marriage and Family fueled the Christian awakening of the first few centuries of Christianity.
Daily Bible Commentary
By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global