Raising the Bar on Marriage
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. ’ ‘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.”
God's people had struggled in their marriages just like the rest of the world. Because even God's holy people could not work out their problems Moses allowed people to write certificates of divorce. The result was that women could be discarded for a multitude of reasons, and generally, it was the result of not being valued as an individual created in the image of God.
Jesus was constantly elevating the status of women and he does so in this statement. He reminds the religious officials that God made male and female. They are both precious in his eyes and the role that they are to play, is as God's original intention for Adam and Eve.
Jesus is coming to restore not only humanity's relationship with God, but with one other. This is why Jesus' message is to love God and love neighbor....and who is our closest neighbor but our spouse?
God's plan was for couples to be united, becoming one flesh, and in doing so to reflect the love and unity found in the holy Trinity. This relationship was to be one in which the world could witness the love of God. Any destruction of this relationship becomes the destruction of the image of God to the world.
We begin to understand why Jesus was raising the bar on marriage in this statement. Humanity had been living in the fallen state for so long that they had accepted the inevitability of failure in regard to their relationship with God and with one another. But sadly, how many believers today are still willing to live in this fallenness?
Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not necessarily easy. It takes self-discipline and continued growth, moving forward on a daily basis. It doesn't just happen without us joining into and working together with God.
The same is true in regard to marriage. A good marriage doesn't just happen. It takes intentionality on the part of both individuals to make it work. Each day there must be effort made to work together, communicate and support one another. When these are lacking the relationship will deteriorate.
The same can be said for our walk with The Lord. Daily neglect will result in a broken relationship.
Yes, Jesus raised the bar on marriage because he knew of the incredible potential for God's followers. The love found in marriage was to be a sweet little foretaste of the marriage supper of the lamb and the love that we would find in God for all of eternity.
Let's raise the bar on marriage. It takes effort and self-discipline, but when two individuals are willing to give of themselves wholeheartedly to one another, the effort is worth it. Jesus knew the destructive results of divorce. So do we. Let's fight for marriage and all that God intended it to be.
Lord, please be with those who are struggling in their marriages and may they seek you and your face together. Amen.