The Perfect Wedding
1. The Question: Is Divorce Permissible for Any Reason? (Matthew 19:1-3, Deuteronomy 24:1)
Deuteronomy 24:1, “If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house.
Opinion 1: Shammai and his followers interpreted the expression to refer to gross indecency, though not necessarily adultery.
Opinion 2: Hillel extended the meaning beyond sin to all kinds of real or imagined offenses, including an improperly cooked meal. The Hillelite R. Akiba permitted divorce in the case of a roving eye for prettier women (M Gittin 9:10)
Opinion 3: Among the Qumran covenanters, divorce was judged illicit under all circumstances (CD 4:21; and esp. 11QTemple 57:17–19)
Opinion 4: Josephus, for instance, himself a divorcé, was a Pharisee; and in his view divorce was permitted “for any causes whatsoever” (Jos. Antiq. IV, 253 [viii.23])
2. The Answer:
a. Jesus Affirms God’s Intention in Marriage. (Matthew 19:4-6)
b. Jesus Affirms God’s Intention for Permanency in Marriage. (Matthew 19:7-9, Deuteronomy 22:22, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Mark 10:10-12)
Deuteronomy 22:22, If a man is discovered having sexual relations with another man’s wife, both the man who had sex with the woman and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.
1 Corinthians 7:10-11, To the married I give this command—not I, but the Lord—a wife is not to leave her husband. But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband—and a husband is not to divorce his wife.
D.A. Carson, Jesus’ judgments on the matter are therefore both lighter (no capital punishment for adultery) and heavier (the sole exception being sexual sin).
Mark 10:10-12, When they were in the house again, the disciples questioned him about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. Also, if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
c. Jesus Affirms God’s High Calling to Marriage. (Matthew 19:10-12, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, Ephesians 5:31-33)
Hebrews 13:4, Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 7:8-9, I say to the unmarried and to widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am. But if they do not have self-control, they should marry, since it is better to marry than to burn with desire.
Ephesians 5:31-33, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh., This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.