Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday March 25, 2014 Matthew 5:31,32

It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31, 32 NIV)
As I sit to write a reflection on this passage I ask myself "what was I thinking to give myself THIS  passage?" Quite honestly I was thinking I wouldn't wish it on anyone and I was accurate in my assessment. As a person who has been divorced, I have struggled with this passage long before now. The fact is, the Bible is full of teaching that our modern minds (as well as the minds of Jesus' contemporaries) wish to reject, or at least soften to make more palatable. Surely, this is one for many of us. Yet, I believe and scripture states All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NLT) . We must be careful to examine what we find realizing that God's goal for us is to teach us to do what is right in His eyes, and God's ways are perfect. Our ways? Not so much. Hence the need for instruction.

At the time Jesus was speaking, there were two main schools of thought about divorce among the Jewish people. Interpretations were based on the assumption found in Deuteronomy 24 that a man could divorce his wife if she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, The followers of Rabbi Shammai held that only if a man married a woman and discovered she was not a virgin, or if he discovered her to be unfaithful could he divorce her. Followers of Rabbi Hillel took a much broader view of indecent to mean pretty much anything from cooking a meal her husband was dissatisfied with to being less beautiful than another woman. It seems to me, the followers of Hilell,were not much different from where we stand today, where divorce is sanctioned for any reason, great or small, or indeed no reason (fault) at all. The consequences of divorce for a woman in Jesus' day were truly dire, unto life threatening. Against this backdrop, Jesus sought to teach a "more excellent way".

Jesus reminds his listeners of the purpose of marriage as instituted by God that the two shall become one flesh, therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (Mark 10:8-9). As always, Jesus reminds his listeners of God's original, perfect intent.
“For I hate divorce!” says the lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (Malachi 2:15, 16 NLT). Later in Matthew, Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful. ” (Matthew 19:8, 9 NLT)

Jesus' audience in His own time had wandered far from God's intent. We are no different today. In this passage, The Lord sought remind us of God's way which is perfect and unmutable; never changing, regardless of how we decide to live our lives, then as now. And yet His love for us is so great that he gave His own life in the most sacrificial way that we could be redeemed and restored to relationship with that perfect, holy God, despite ANY actions on our part, if we but believe in Jesus as our savior, and claim the promise.

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