Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Matthew 5:31-32

Today's passage doesn't contain an outright command, but I think it is safe to say that a command is implied.

"Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."

Let me first state that women did not divorce their husbands during this time period.  This is the reason why Jesus speaks to the men.  It is safe to say that in our society where both a man and woman can divorce that this passage speaks to both.

Is this passage really about divorce though.  The implied command is "don't get divorced", but the crux of this passage isn't so much as concerned about divorce as it it about the heart.  Once again, Jesus is attacking the commonly held views of the Pharisees. 

As we saw in our last passage, the radical and drastic thing to do in order to stop sinning is to sacrifice self-will and adopt God's will.  When divorce happens there is at least one party that is in it for selfish reasons.  There is no better place to practice the sacrifice of self-will then in the marriage relationship.  Failure to put one's spouse above themselves reveals the true nature of the heart.

Granted, the relationship between two married people is different then the relationship between say me and a homeless person.  I can freely give to the homeless person not expecting anything in return, but when it comes to our relationships with our spouses we understand that there is a give and take aspect.  If our spouses are not meeting our felt needs we have a tendency to withdraw.  The result, we place our desires and needs over those of our spouse.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us what true love is.  Love does the best thing and the right thing for others regardless of whether they are doing the best thing and right thing for us.  Love is selfless action.

So Jesus implies "don't get divorced" because if there is any relationship that truly should exhibit the love that God has called us to it is that which exists between a man and woman who have committed their lives to one another.  If you really want to do something drastic sacrifice your desires for the needs of your spouse.  Love them the way God loves the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

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