Matthew 19:3-6 – Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” NIV
Just as there are questions about divorce today among religious people, there were questions in Jesus’ day. The Pharisees who asked this question knew what Moses had written in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 about divorce. There were at least two schools of thought about what constituted grounds for divorce. The Hebrew word translated as indecent, uncleanness, or offensive is somewhat vague. Was Moses talking about a moral offense or just any offense?
Jesus’ question pointed them to another passage of Scripture that predates Moses. He points them back to the creation story and God’s intent in Genesis 2:24. God’s perfect will was that a man and a woman leave their birth families and begin a new stable family that was committed to each other. He went on to indicate that God made provision for divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts especially where a moral offense had occurred. Ideally, forgiveness would be exercised and a marriage healed. God knew that this would not always be possible because forgiveness is difficult and not everyone was to remain committed to their marriage. I think that God wanted to help redeem a bad situation and offer a way for individuals to have another chance to live as He intended. It doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be scars on the family members or that people wouldn’t miss the blessings God had in store for them.
This is one area where people miss God’s ideal, but are within the law. Are there other similar areas? Perhaps how we deal with money and our resources? Perhaps how we treat others? We keep the letter of the law and yet miss the spirit of the Lawgiver, and we miss His blessings in the process.