JESUS GIVES GOD’S VIEW ON DIVORCE
THE GIFT OF SINGLENESS
THE NEED TO BE LIKE YOUNG CHILDREN
From Galilee, Jesus and his disciples cross the Jordan River and take the route southward through Perea. When Jesus was last in Perea, he had stated for the Pharisees the divine standard on divorce. (Luke 16:18) Now they raise that subject to test Jesus.
Moses wrote that a woman could be divorced over “something indecent” on her part. (Deuteronomy 24:1) There are differing views as to what constitutes grounds for divorce. Some believe that rather minor issues are included. So the Pharisees ask: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on every sort of grounds?”
Rather than appeal to human opinion, Jesus masterfully refers to God’s design of marriage. “Have you not read that the one who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said: ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together, let no man put apart.” (Matthew 19:4-6) When God instituted marriage between Adam and Eve, he did not make provision for dissolving their marriage.
The Pharisees take issue with Jesus, saying: “Why, then, did Moses direct giving a certificate of dismissal and divorcing her?” (Matthew 19:7) Jesus tells them: “Out of regard for your hard-heartedness, Moses made the concession to you of divorcing your wives, but that has not been the case from the beginning.” (Matthew 19:8) That “beginning” was not in Moses’ day; it was when God originated marriage in Eden.
Then Jesus presents an important truth: “I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the grounds of sexual immorality [Greek, por·neiʹa], and marries another commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9) Sexual immorality is thus the only Scriptural grounds for divorce.
The disciples are moved to say: “If that is the situation of a man with his wife, it is not advisable to marry.” (Matthew 19:10) Clearly, one contemplating marriage should consider it to be permanent!
Regarding singleness, Jesus explains that some are born eunuchs, being incapable of marital relations. Others are made eunuchs, becoming disabled sexually. Yet, some suppress their desire to enjoy sexual relations. They do so in order to focus more fully on matters relating to the Kingdom. “Let the one who can make room for [singleness] make room for it,” Jesus urges his listeners.
People now begin to bring their young children to Jesus. However, the disciples scold the people, likely wanting to keep Jesus from being bothered. On seeing this, Jesus becomes indignant and says to them: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such ones. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a young child will by no means enter into it.”
What a fine lesson! To receive God’s Kingdom, we must be meek and teachable, like young children. Jesus now shows his love for little ones by taking them into his arms and blessing them. And he has such tender love for all who “receive the Kingdom of God like a young child.”