I wasn't really looking forward to this morning's sermon on the mount overview. It's one thing to talk about lofty goals of loving your enemy, or working through lust, but when you start talking divorce in our culture today, everyone has a play.
This morning, the KIVU staff were incredibly gracious. We started with Matthew 5:31, “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 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."
So, what's the deal here?
Is Jesus carving out exceptions to the rule of marriage based on sexual immorality?
On the surface, it seems confusing that Jesus might give any exception for divorce, but we started working through the ideas one at a time.
I think when we survey this divorce section of the sermon on the mount we have to be careful. The culture of Jesus' time was that married women were property, released from their bond of commitment by a certificate. So to try and give any rights to a woman here would be outside the intention the scripture was written.
So what is Jesus saying to the men?
If you go back to Deuteronomy, Moses told the people about certificates of divorce and the ways to release a woman from here duty. But here, it's almost like Jesus is evoking a spirit of mischief. He's telling the people they can make this contract of marriage, and then in the section just following he evokes this spirit of integrity. “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."
I can't imagine a place where Jesus calls it ok to divorce through this line of thinking. Which calls us to another pivotal question, "So what about our culture today?" The current statistic is somewhere around 60% of marriages end in divorce. As I talk with my marriage counselor friends, the Christian community is high on that percentage if not exactly the same. So what gives?
What is the purpose of divorce?
Why should our culture adopt divorce?
And how can the Christian community support it?
I realize everyone has a reason for divorce. Abuse, adultery, just down right inconsistency with who we thought we were marrying; but in the end; the Christian community is supposed to be the salt and light of the world. The divorce idea stands in direct opposition to God's dim shadow of metaphor when referring to marriage, especially when He calls our relationship with Him like a bride and bride groom.
I think we've allowed our culture to run rampant on our excuses, and those who wish to follow the message and teaching of Jesus need to think very carefully about the impact of divorce on their own salt and light to the world.
I'm not saying anyone who is divorced is going to hell.
I'm not saying anyone who is going through a divorce is out of bounds from God's plan.
This is not a message of condemnation, but rather; a look into the heart of God's perfect way for us to live out the difference between what the world thinks is right, and what God thinks is right.
What do you think?