31 “It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. 32 But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
A few years ago, a Hollywood wedding took place where the bride and groom replaced the traditional wedding vows with their own version. Instead of the customary “until death do us part” promise, they went with something much more convenient: “until the death of love parts us.” We might ask, “What happened to keeping commitments?”
Frankly, the idea of, shall we say, a non-committal commitment is not just a current cultural phenomenon. This was a problem as far back as the days of Moses. In Deuteronomy 24:1-4, we read about the Hebrew people having the same difficulty with marriage commitments. For Moses’ followers, it was not a question of whether divorce existed. Instead, they were making sure they nailed down the proper grounds for divorce and remarriage. The result of their mindset was a huge concern over following the law, with very few misgivings about not following God’s plan for the permanence of marriage.
In our focus text of Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus was not creating a new law. Instead, in verse 32 He presented the “exception clause” for divorce: “Except in the case of sexual immorality.” Divorce was never a part of God’s design for marriage as described in Genesis 2:24-25. God’s plan for marriage has always been a lifelong covenant between a man, a woman, and God Himself. Jesus did not and does not recommend or encourage divorce. Yet in His sovereignty He recognized that it happens, and to that end He gave parameters for it.
I suspect debates over justifications for divorce have existed since God created marriage. But in Christian circles, I believe we would agree that unhappiness, drifting apart, or simply “we don’t love each other anymore” do not qualify. Is divorce unforgivable? No, it is not. Like any other transgression of God’s will, His grace and forgiveness are more than sufficient to cover any failed marriage.
Marriage is never easy, because the man and woman entering into that covenant relationship with God are broken people. We will not always be happy in marriage. However, the good news is that God wants to make us holy through our marriages, and there is an overwhelming possibility that along with growing in holiness, we will also find happiness! Most importantly, we must remember that the basis for marriage is more than a feeling. Marriage is a commitment!
Questions to Ask Yourself
- If you are married, do you make it a regular practice to reaffirm within your own heart the marriage commitment you made to your spouse and your God?
- If you are entering into marriage, have you and your fiancé asked God to equip you with the acceptance and forgiveness that will support and grow you in your new life together?
- If you are struggling through the aftermath of divorce, are you seeking forgiveness and healing from God as only He can provide?