In the beginning God created marriage.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
It was meant to overcome our aloneness, to provide us with an equal but complimentary partner for building a life together and to provide a relationship for sexual expression to build oneness. God created marriage when the first couple Adam and Eve walked with him in the garden of Eden. Their primary identity was as a son and daughter of God. The picture of marriage is developed further by Jesus when he refers to himself as a bridegroom and his followers as a bride. This is further emphasised by Paul in his letters to churches when he describes marriage as a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the church. A Christian marriage is to reflect that relationship – sacrificial love, laying down of a life, submitting to one who loves unconditionally. It is a crucible for developing holiness as sin, repentance, grace and forgiveness are lived out daily in the most intimate of relationships. And in our broken sinful state the sexual component of marriage is a foretaste of a greater ecstasy of knowing Jesus and being fully known by him in our redeemed and restored state beyond this lifetime.
But these Pharisees taking on Jesus over the issue of divorce had twisted God’s view of marriage to support their self-interests. When their wives no longer pleased them, they discarded them. They were loving themselves first. Jesus rebukes them for their hard heartedness and their distortion of marriage. Jesus reminds them of the other-centredness marriage is meant to typify/reflect.
After hearing this encounter, Jesus’ disciples then wonder if marriage is too hard, and wonder who can undertake it successfully on God’s terms. Is it for everyone? Jesus tells them marriage is not for everyone. He says there are some who cannot engage in the sexual component of marriage – the ‘one-fleshness’. Some are born that way and others have become that way through brokenness and/or the sin and actions of others. He also says that some choose to live ‘like eunuchs’ – that is, they give up the opportunity for sexual fulfillment – for the sake of the kingdom of God.
So, Jesus places marriage back where it belongs. He rebukes these Pharisees for their too light a view of marriage in furthering their self-centredness by discarding their wives when they no longer suited them, then he takes the discussion in another direction when he emphasises that marriage is not an ultimate goal for everyone and that the kingdom of God sits above the kingdoms of marriage and other relationships. Some like Jesus himself give up the prospect of marriage to better serve the kingdom of God. He reminds us to put God at the centre of our identity, to put him above all else and so to re-order all our loves – including our sexuality and our marriage love for those of us who are married – so that our identity primarily becomes that as a child of God under his rule in his kingdom.
Head: What beliefs do you hold that reinforce a view of marriage at odds with Jesus and the Bible’s view of marriage?
Heart: Do you view getting married or getting out of your marriage as an answer to a fulfilled and happy life?
Hands: What is one thing you can do today to build contentment in your marriage or in your single state?
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven. As a married man, I thank you for marriage and the benefits I have experienced during my married life. As a broken sinner in need of your grace, I am guilty of expecting too much from my marriage and from my wife when I expect both to satisfy my needs and wants. As a child of the kingdom of God, help me to continually see that my ultimate identity is in you and not in my marriage or my work or anywhere else.
A song to listen to: Only You can satisfy
Tim Hewlett- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina