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Divorce July 1, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 19:1-12.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus enters the area of Perea, where He teaches and heals a sizable crowd.

Yet some Pharisees want to discredit Him; thus, they ask Him if He sanctions divorce for any reason. He responds in the negative, quoting from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 to support His position. These passages demonstrate that God has established marriage to display:

  • His divine plan for His creation
  • an unbreakable bond between two partners
  • the oneness of two partners – which cannot be divided
  • a divine action – which should not be reversed.

The Pharisees respond by referencing Deuteronomy 24:1-4, as they believe that God sanctions divorce in that passage. Jesus responds by asserting that God only tolerates divorce – and only when at least one partner has committed adultery.

His disciples respond by asserting that singleness is preferable to marriage. Jesus cautions them on this point, as only the following categories of people can prefer singleness to marriage:

  • those with congenital disorders
  • those who have been castrated
  • those who have chosen singleness to advance the kingdom of God.

Thoughts: Here, Jesus asserts that divorce should be avoided at all costs. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Nations are nothing but a collection of families. The good order of families depends entirely on keeping up the highest standard of respect for the marriage tie…

I am thankful that I was raised in a two-parent household, as I believe that both of my parents provided me with tangible and intangible benefits (e.g. stability at home allowed me to reach my academic potential). If I had been raised in a single-parent household, I wonder how my life would have turned out (e.g. would I have come to faith in Christ). Clearly it is possible for children raised in single-parent households to be “successful”, though my limited understanding of this topic is that being raised in a two-parent household increases one’s “odds of success.” Knowledgeable readers should feel free to correct me on this point if I am mistaken.

This passage does raise several challenging questions regarding God’s view of divorce when neither partner has committed adultery. For example, as a believer, how should you respond if your spouse:

  • renounces their faith in Christ?
  • verbally abuses you on a regular basis?
  • physically abuses you on a regular basis?

My understanding of this passage is that Jesus does not sanction divorce in any of these scenarios, though I wonder if He would sanction a (hopefully) temporary separation in the third case. If your spouse physically abuses you, you should not seek to be in their presence, as placing one’s life in jeopardy would not honor God. Yet refusing to divorce a physically abusive spouse could serve as a powerful testimony to them. That being said, I am fairly ignorant of these matters; thus, I am willing to listen to those with more experience in this regard.

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