Covenants of Christ – Part 3

Marriage – In the creational ordering God indicates that it is not good for a man to be alone. Therefore He creates a helper who corresponds appropriately to him. This act of creating woman and rooting marriage in the creation has several implications:

1) Marriage is an interpersonal fusion of two people who become part of each other, constituting two people as one. The number two is important, as Jesus uses that number in describing who will become “one flesh” (Matt. 19:4-5).

2) Man and woman are not independent of each other, and also share all aspects of humanity within their persons.

3) Various sexual aberrations contradict the creational order of marriage.

  • Polygamy violates the “two become one” rule
  • Divorce divides what God has joined
  • Homosexuality denies that a man leaves parents to “cleave to his wife.”

The biggest discussion in this session concerned whether or not Matthew 19:8-9 provides grounds for divorce within the church and what “fornication” or “sexual immorality” means in the context.

It would be good for us to remember the times Jesus was speaking into and the people to whom Jesus is speaking. He was speaking to Jewish people in Israel almost 2000 years ago. This people had been given a law by God at the time their nation was created, and that law allowed divorce under certain circumstances that might be open to some degree of interpretation. The religious liberals of the day, the Pharisees, interpreted those circumstances in such a way that  marriage could be dissolved for any reason if the husband was dissatisfied with the wife.

They were trying to trick Jesus by asking him publicly whether it was “lawful” to divorce for any and every reason. They may have thought that Jesus’ liberal record in teaching the law might bring him to even more liberal divorce standards than they had.

If so, they were in for a shock. Jesus clearly intends to tighten up divorce requirements. The disciples are shocked at Jesus’ hard line against divorce. On the surface, the only acceptable reason for divorce and remarriage is what the KJV translates as “fornication” and newer translations as “sexual immorality.”

Even if Jesus’ words here mean that adultery is the only justification for divorce, we must remember what the penalty for adultery was for that people at that time: stoning to death.

One would think that this particular penalty for adultery makes divorce more than a little bit redundant.

A more reasonable explanation of the Israelite divorce legislation is that it was intended to allow divorce in the case of premarital infidelity that was only discovered after the wedding.

We conclude that modern Christians should not remarry after a divorce. Given what Jesus and the apostle Paul say about the bond between husband and wife, adding another partner to the already broken relationship probably complicates life more than it helps.

Having said that, divorce is not easy. Divorce usually results in a mother trying to raise children alone. Single parenting is a difficult and dangerous life. Those of us who insist on discouraging remarriage had better be prepared to be a “father to the fatherless” and “defender of widows and orphans” to those left trying to rebuild a shattered life.

About John Valade

I facilitate and teach in Wascana Fellowship. I have been married to Wanda since 1984. M.Div. from Briercrest Seminary, SK in 2011 and B.R.E. Canadian Bible College (now Ambrose University College) in 2000.
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