This post is one in a series of reflections for Lent. I invite you to go back and read the previous reflections.
This has the potential to be one of the most controversial things I have ever posted. I can't shy away from it. I simply want to present in humility what Jesus teaches in this passage. If you disagree, then you will need to take it up with him. I will stand behind the words of Christ. It is the only place I am able to stand.
Jesus is approached and asked about marriage and divorce. During the time of Moses rule over the Israelites, a man was able to give his wife a certificate of divorce. They are asking Jesus what he makes of this social arrangement. He passes over their social arrangement and takes it back to God.
First things first, Marriage is not a social convention. It was created by God. He created then male and female. He instituted marriage as a final act of creation in the garden.
Second, marriage is a spiritual combining. The human marriage is an earthly representation of the spiritual reality. The two have become one flesh. This is accomplished through God. There is a spiritual connection created through the union of man and wife. The previous spiritual union of parent and child is altered and a new one is created in its place. Where the man was connected to his parents, now he is connected to his wife. We have to understand the marriage as a mysterious work of God. God has taken two unique individuals and combined them into one. God has done all the leg work. It is not the minister or the judge that has created this new thing. It is truly God that has made two into one.
Third, God has been the one to create this new thing. As the Creator, he retains the sole authority to separate the two. Man should not take that authority from God. There will be serious spiritual consequences for a man orchestrated separation. We know this from the Word and from the experience of life. The break down of a family is devastating to all those involve. It never includes just the husband and wife. It includes the entire extended family and to the community of faith that has witnessed the failing of this family.
It can be very disheartening to read the truth of God. Especially in something that so many of us have experienced, like divorce. God knew from the fall that man did not have the capacity to live out what he had intended. He offered a divorce to the people of Israel, because he knew that we did not have the ability to live out the marriage as he had intended. He knew our failings before we did.
How do we use this teaching in our lives? What does this mean to divorced people? Marriage is sacred. It is so much more than we have made it. We ought to treat it for the sacred thing that it is. More than teaching about divorce, I think Jesus is trying to teach us how we ought to look at marriage. We should not look at marriage as a social convention, that has an escape clause. We should enter marriage with the idea that this is intended to last. We have to take seriously the dangers of a marriage that is approached without the reverence that it deserves. God's grace is sufficient for our failures in marriage, but we should not enter marriage lightly. We should give marriage almost as much consideration as we do the condition of our heart before the Lord's Supper. This is a deep commitment. If you are thinking of how you may be able to get out, then you probably shouldn't get in at all. Take it seriously.
Jesus goes onto to teach us about the kingdom for those who accept it as children. He is not talking about age, but condition of the heart. A child accepts without pretense. They have a pure trust. They are not so concerned about the opinions of men. They is no need to put on a show of faith for children. Children are humble. They have yet to grow wise in their own eyes. They have a simple faith. We must come to God humbly and without pretense. If you seek God, then you must seek him as a child.