PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.
READ: Mark 10:1-10
For people who have experienced the pain of divorce and who continue to deal with grief caused by infidelity, this text can be particularly difficult. It can also be difficult for those wrestle with the idea that “God made them male and female” and that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman, ideally dissolved only by death.
We live in an age where autonomy and “the right to be happy” or “the expectation to be affirmed” are some of the highest virtues, and yet for the Christian and non-Christian alike, questions of divorce and marriage cause us to squirm. Why? Because we all know that divorce is painful, and it is in this text we discover why.
In this passage, Jesus outlines the blueprint of marriage, originally given by God in the Garden of Eden, and declares that man was designed to leave his mother and father and begin a permanent, one-flesh union with his female wife. This union reflects the joyful relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:22-33). It is this last part that is essential to our understanding of marriage. Jesus Christ, the bridegroom, laid down His life for His bride—the Church—so that we could be reconciled to God. Although the Church was sinful and remains imperfect, He continues to love her and He refuses to forsake her. Despite our dirty past, He dresses us in His own pure white righteousness and He invites her to the marriage supper (Rev. 16:7-9) and into an eternal, joyful bond with Himself.
Therefore, when Jesus is speaking about the marriage union, He is speaking of a much greater union—the union of Himself to the Church.
Consequently, any distortion or variation from this blueprint for marriage is contrary to God’s will, and will result in pain and joylessness. When husbands do not love their wives well, when a wife abandons her husband, when one spouse commits infidelity, when there are multiple spouses, when the union is a homosexual relationship, when love is conditional—all of it is sinful and all of it will cause grief and hurt because it does not conform to the way Christ loves His bride. So the answer to the Pharisees’ question is simple: You should never divorce because Christ would never divorce His bride.
But this truth makes our marriage to Christ all the more beautiful! In the times when our hearts would be hard, and in the times when our own marriages fail, Christ does not divorce us!
When adultery and divorce have occurred, and when our sexuality causes us to sin, grace and forgiveness abound to those who repent (1 John 1:9). When our earthly marriages fail, the Heavenly marriage remains. He does not view us as “lesser than.” He does not abandon us. And He does not treat us any differently.
At the moment of conversion, Christ clothed us in righteousness— knowing everything we had done and would ever do, how our marriages would succeed and fail, and how we would attempt to find joy outside of Him. Yet even though we are faithless, He is faithful, and forever calls us His bride!
1. How has the fall influenced God’s idea for marriage?
2. What can the church do to help prevent divorce before it happens?
3. Is there ever a time where divorce is permissible?