Monday, January 12, 2009

Jesus's Commands - Matthew 5:31-32

Another controversial passage and one that doesn't contain a direct command but nonetheless contains not one but two implied commands.  What are the commands?  Don't get divorced and don't marry someone who is divorced.  Now this could come across as being very legalistic especially in a society where divorce is common but living together without being married is as well.  A couple of big questions that need answering are "Does Jesus imply that a person is sinning when they divorce for any reason other then adultery?" and "Does Jesus imply that a person sins when they marry a divorced person or remarry themselves?"

Remember that Jesus' intent for the sermon on the mount (the portion of scripture we are currently in) is to reveal where sin comes from.  Sin, though often described as an action committed, actually begins in the heart whether it is physically acted upon or not.  Sin, missing the mark, goes much further then physically doing wrong things.  Sin can be the mere thinking about doing wrong things.  Let me put it another way.  Many times repercussions stop us from acting out the thoughts we hold in our minds and hearts.  A good way to test whether a person is sinning on the inside or not is to ask the question "If I absolutely knew for sure that there would be no repercussions would I go through with what is in my heart."  If the answer is yes, then a person is sinning.

A distinction needs to be made between sin and temptation.  Temptation is not sin.  The unexpected thought about doing something that is wrong is not sin, but the continuing to dwell upon that thought is.

So how does this all tie into the current passage and how do we answer the two questions?  The answer to the first question is "yes."  It is a sin to divorce someone without the reason of adultery.  Many of the problems we face as couples, if not most, are the result of the refusal to live selflessly for one another.  Divorce is the result of selfishness and it is usually from both parties.  Now why is adultery biblical grounds for divorce.  The only reason I can see is that the selfishness of at least one party has gotten so bad that when the line of adultery is crossed it is very hard to come back.  Now does this mean that a divorce must take place because of adultery?  Absolutely not.  The prophet Hosea loved and married a prostitute who was continually unfaithful and yet he never divorced her.

What about the second question?  Is it a sin to marry a divorced person or remarry after a divorce?  Technically, yes it is a sin.  Why?  Because God's plan for marriage is that it be between one man and one woman.  This plan actually goes beyond the physical act of marriage and rests upon the sexual act and the spiritual connection that such an act makes.  How can a man and woman who have been so connected turn around and establish that connection with another person?

I have only been married once and plan to stay married to my wife for as long as we both have breath, but I have also had other sexual relationships in my past and I know from these experiences that it has been hard to completely give myself to my wife.  I sinned every time I had sex with a person who was not going to be my wife.  I can freely admit that, and I can say that it has caused me some grief in my relationship with my wife...grief that she does not deserve.  It is for this reason that sex outside of marriage is a sin as well.

Now I will say this.  As with any other sin it is forgivable.  God will not hold it against those who have accepted His son's gift of forgiveness and sacrifice.  With that said I do want to challenge any Christian who is considering remarriage.  It is between you and God, but you really need to ask yourself "Why am I wanting to get remarried?" because chances are you are getting married for the same selfish reason you got married the first time.  Think about it.  Seek God concerning it.  Do what God wants you to do.

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