We live in an age where marriage between one man and one woman is thought of as a thing of the past. This is one of the causes of the breakdown of society, for not only is it the rejection of the first institution ordained by God, but it opens the door to all kinds of immorality. In this study we will look at Christ’s teaching on marriage.
“And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again” (Mark 10:1).
Mark begins this passage of Scripture to show that the Lord continuously taught people the truth wherever He went. Never do we read about Jesus having an idle day, but in the words of the prophet, He sought to “sow beside all waters” (Isaiah 32:20). The Lord will have a great harvest from the seed He sows in teachable hearts, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good” (Ecclesiastes 11:6).
The society we live in needs to know what the Bible teaches even if it rejects it. Jesus laboured on regardless of the fact that the majority of those He taught hardened their hearts and damned their souls. We must never give up teaching the word of God, even if we see no apparent fruit for our labour and exertion. It is our duty to tell this sin-sick world about the only remedy that can deliver it from death. We must plant and water the seed, but it is God’s privilege to receive the harvest, “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7). New laws may forbid the preaching of God’s word, but we must continue to do so regardless, and He will reward us for our faithfulness in this area, “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (1 Corinthians 3:8) … “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).
“And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:2-12).
Here Jesus speaks of the dignity and importance of marriage. Even in that day men had sought ways to undermine marriage by trying to find loopholes in the Law of God and the law of the land. They had come to think that the binding tie of the marriage relationship was not so binding, and that they could divorce their spouses for any trivial reason, but this was not the reason why Moses wrote as he did, “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). The same is evident today in our sinful society; therefore we too are under the judgement of God.
We hardly ever hear anyone speak of their wife or husband, instead the word ‘partner’ is used, largely due to the fact they are not married to the person they are living with. Some people change spouses as quickly as they change their socks. Living together outside of marriage is sin.
Jesus here sets up a high and holy standard. He referred the Pharisees back to Creation, when God ordained the first marriage between the first man and woman. There is nothing in the original marriage that even suggests the possibility of divorce. Sin changed all that! Divorce is always the result of sin in the life of one or both members of the marriage. The Lord makes it very clear that divorce was never intended by God, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God must judge all those who seek to break this principle through permissiveness, homosexuality and other forms of immorality, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). Divorce is only permitted when either the man or woman is unfaithful. “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9). Is this because he or she has broken their marriage vows? Yes, but more importantly it is because they are in breach of the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
We understand that it was through marriage that God ordained that the world would be populated, “Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee … and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth” (Genesis 8:16-17). This was for their happiness and prosperity, but also to produce more souls that might inhabit the Kingdom of Heaven. Anything outside of this rule can only bring about confusion and eventually destroy society. Does divorce and immorality bring happiness to anyone? It is the cause of much heartache in society. Lives are ruined by it. Children need a married father and mother living together if they are ever going to enjoy a stable upbringing. The nearer a nation’s laws are to the law of Christ, the higher the moral tone of that nation will be.
There are some marriages that are entered into very lightly. Marriage, divorce and remarriage have become fashionable amongst celebrities, but they will eventually pay the price for their permissiveness. The vast majority of marriages result from immaturity, passion or selfish motives, so no wonder there is a high amount of divorce today. Even Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, sinned in this area, “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin” (Nehemiah 13:26). Many find out too late that they have married the wrong person. This is the reason why believers ought not marry unbelievers, yet even in this situation God is able to work miracles, “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:12-16).
There is a great need for the world to be reintroduced to the Lord’s teaching about marriage. The devil has sought to undermine what the Creator established as the rule. Wherever he has accomplished his goal, and by whatever means, conflict and confusion have always been the result. It is the cause of much of the immorality in our nation today. Not only does it bring bitterness to the lives concerned, but also it breaks up families, which in turn destroys the very foundation on which a nation is built.