Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one 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, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Matthew 19:3-6)
Jesus was against divorce. So is every couple that gets married.
In Jesus’ day, the rabbis were divided on how and when divorces could happen. In the school of Shammai, a man could only divorce his wife for adultery. In the school of Hillel, a man could divorce his wife for almost any reason. When the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife, they were trying to embroil him in a controversial rabbinical debate.
Although there may be some people who do give up on marriage too easily, my experience has shown me that most couples take their vows very seriously. They intend them for life. But sometimes, alas, and only after pain, heartbreak, and soul-searching, they will seek a divorce.
If you’re a married couple who has never been divorced, I encourage you to praise God. While counting your own blessings, please refrain from judging those who have been divorced. No one ever knows what goes on in another couple’s marriage.
If you have been divorced, I encourage you—if need be—to work at forgiving your former spouse and yourself for whatever did or didn’t happen in that marriage.
If you’re married again after having been divorced, then I encourage you to give thanks to Jesus for His grace to have another chance.
Even though Jesus is against divorce, He’s even more for grace. Jesus wouldn’t want anyone to stay in a marriage that was loveless, lifeless, or hopeless. No matter what our circumstances, we all need the grace of Jesus to make love work.
- When I got married the first time, I vowed that I’d never get divorced, but then I did. Sometimes love just dies. When we parted, I had some serious work with forgiveness. If you’ve been divorced, do you have any forgiveness work to do?
- If you’re in your first marriage, have you refrained from judging any couple who might not make it? What I said above is worth repeating: No one ever knows what goes on in another couple’s marriage.
- In all of our relationships, what Jesus cares about more than anything is love and grace, and forgiveness. Does what Jesus cares about define your relationships?