Our services will be online for the time being. We are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream.
The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.
Mark 10:1-12, A Lesson on Marriage & Divorce:
- Heads up, I share this as an encouragement before we even get started. This is a harsh word, but it is comforting and there is a great deal of grace we see nearing the end of our text.
- I mention this because I believe those who are truly remorseful about divorce, having gone through divorce or supporting somehow who has, is stung in some way when divorce is the topic of discussion.
- But there are many truths about divorce and marriage we need to be aware of, especially in a time when divorce has become such a norm, not just in Hollywood, but in the church. Perhaps we can blame it on the world, and the pattern it sets continually.
- Sadly, Christian divorce stats aren’t taken seriously. In equivalent to that of the world, we are not lacking – even within evangelical circles. And so because of this reality, we need to turn to Jesus’ teaching on the issue, therefore we’ll be looking at the realities on divorce & marriage: the misconception of divorce, the truth about marriage, and the clarification of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
- Now just for context before we dive into these realities, the Jews of Jesus’ day had a framework that made divorce acceptable. They’re engaged in it.
- The Misconception of Divorce:
- Text – 10:1-5
- Explanation – Now the point of the Pharisees engaging with Jesus isn’t for truth. They are looking for some way to discredit Jesus. And they began to question Him, and here’s the question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce a wife?” Matthew adds, “For every cause, is it lawful for a man to divorce a wife?”
- The question also comes because divorce was common among the leaders, among the people, and divorce accommodated their sin. In addition, contrary to the Old Testament, the Pharisees were the spiritual examples, leading the parade of free divorce.
- Illustration – However, Malachi 2:16 teaches that God hates divorce. Why was this expressed 400 years before Jesus appears on the scene? The Jews had come back from their captivity in Babylon. They were in Babylon for seventy years, after which they were allowed to return to Israel to rebuild.
- Within twenty years, they had rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and the temple. Within a hundred years, they had made their religion a ritual. And because of this, marriage wasn’t seen as a God-instituted service. But in Malachi’s context, we find Nehemiah!
- And in Nehemiah 13:23, we find the very same sins that Malachi reveals. It reads, “In those days I also saw that the Jews had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab.” This included the priests, and the people followed the example of the leaders.
- Folks pursued mixed marriages, divorcing their Jewish wives to marry these Gentile women. Therefore, through the Prophet Malachi, God denounced these actions!
- That’s how the Old Testament history ends. Nehemiah and Malachi give us the last word, and that is “Do not divorce your wives, I hate divorce.” Four hundred years later, divorce is once again re-established as a noble act, a valour of bravery.
- Application – Divorce was just like it is today, for any reason and every reason. Now, according to Matthew 5, Jesus had said, “I say to you, everyone who divorces his wife except for the reason of un-chastity, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
- What Jesus said is, if you divorce your wife without the only grounds, you both fall in the trap of becoming adulterers. But in the context of our passage, the Jews didn’t care about that, they wanted to show the intolerance of Jesus to the crowds, hoping they could discredit Him.
- What also makes this a hard ground is, they were in the province ruled by Herod Antipas, the wicked man who was married, but lusted after his brother’s wife, and who took her and married her. That led to the encounter with John the Baptist in Mark 6:17.
- Herod had John arrested and bound in prison, why? Because John said, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Addressing the fact that he divorced his wife, and stole another man’s wife. And for this, John was eventually beheaded.
- So the tension is tight, but Jesus answers them in verse 3. He didn’t avoid their question, but went straight to Scripture. Yet they argue, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart, He wrote you this commandment.
- God’s plan from the beginning was for a man & a woman to be joined together! “…the two shall become one flesh… and what God has joined together, let no man separate.”
- Conclusion – So the misconception of divorce is clarified in this. Marriage is God-made. He said, “It’s not good for a man to be alone. I’ll make a help for him.” It was God who brought Eve to Adam. It was God who designed marriage to be honourable!
- Every marriage is therefore, God putting a man and a woman together. It is a covenant union, and it is not share between any others. And pursuing divorce as a way of seeking one’s own desires, or supposed happiness, is never honourable.
- Bridge – We’ll come back to the grounds for divorce in our third point, the purpose here was to clarify the context and the misconception that has been created & floating around. For we move on to…
- The Truth About Marriage:
- Text – 10:6-9
- Explanation – Having read these, I want to share about 4 reasons that reveal the truth about marriage, which also shows us why God hates divorce, specifically unlawful divorce. Reminder, there are two grounds for divorce, but we’ll get to them later.
- So firstly, as we see in verse 6, marriage is a union between one natural born man, and one natural born woman. Here we see Genesis 1:27, “God made them a male and a female.”
- Marriage isn’t designed for polygamy! There isn’t Adam and Eve, and Sara and Esther. There isn’t provision for divorce either. There isn’t same-sex marriage. In the order of creation, there was one man and one woman, and their union was complete, unique, and was the pattern for all to follow.
- Illustration – so the first reason is that marriage is one man and one woman. The second reason in verse 7. Matthew adds, “and shall cling to his wife.” This goes back to Genesis 2:24. This is God’s ordained union of marriage. You leave father and mother, in other words, break the prior family bound – and cling to your wife.
- The idea of that word is glue – you’re stuck together. It is not a 30-day trail, money back guarantee, you are glued together. In fact, the Jewish term for marriage, kiddushin, means sanctification or consecration. It refers to something completely set apart for special use.
- This was used to dedicate something to God, and for no other purpose. And so this became the word for marriage, which speaks of people consecrating themselves to their spouse, setting themselves a total commitment.
- You become the exclusive possession of the other person inside this covenant. So secondly, the truth about marriage is that it is designed to be an unbreakable covenant.
- Application – the third reason that reveals the truth about marriage is in verse 8. This means oneness. It deals with the idea of now sharing a life – having one budget, one timetable, etc. the two are coming together to be one. And the product of this union, the two come together to make one – a child, or children. It leads to one new family.
- The final reason that reveals the truth about marriage, is the fact that it is God’s doing. Look at verse 9. Marriage is a work of God, and that’s all marriage – not just Christian marriage. It is God’s work of bringing two people together – and it is common grace. Yet, it is taken for granted and folks choose to live in sin instead.
- Conclusion – It was God who made the union possible, who said “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth.” It was God who said, “It’s not good for a man to be alone. I’ll make a help for him.” who designed marriage to be an honourable. Marriage is God’s creation of a covenant union for our good, and His glory.
- Bridge – So we’ve dealt with a few misconceptions about divorce, and even four reasons that reveal the truth about marriage. But there still a few more clarifications that we need to look at, so thirdly – let’s look at…
- The Clarification of Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage:
- Text – 10:10-12
- Explanation – Here we learn that the violation of marriage is serious. The death penalty was even prescribed in the Old Testament. But we seem to have a possible issue in verse 4. Why? When we go to Deuteronomy 24, it wasn’t a command, or permission, it was a command not to remarry a divorced woman.
- They say, “Moses permitted it.” And Jesus’ answer is, “the commandment that Moses gave recognizes the hardness of your heart. It’s going to happen because you have a hard heart.”
- The disciples get the message, ‘If you divorce your wife and marry somebody else, you commit adultery. If you divorce your husband and marry somebody else, you commit adultery.’
- The Pharisees believe that because Moses gave permission, God gave permission. Well, Moses never gave permission, it was man’s hardness that led to such separation. Marriage was originally planned with no provision for ending it except by death.
- Illustration – The Mosaic Law nowhere provided for divorce. Deuteronomy 24:1–3 only recognizes that divorce was being practiced, it never prescribes it. In fact, Deuteronomy 22:13–29, describes two circumstances where divorce is forbidden.
- Firstly, when the husband “turned against” his wife and sought to justify a divorce by accusing her of premarital unchastity. If the charge was false, the verdict was clear: “…she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days”
- Does this not say something important to the reason for divorce often expressed today? ‘I’m unhappy, we’re no longer in love; divorce will bring us both happiness…’
- The second is in verse 29, which involved intercourse with an unbetrothed virgin. In this instance the man was required to marry the girl and never to divorce her (v 29). The betrothed couple were legally considered as husband and wife in most respects.
- So the Old Testament does not give any grounds for divorce. What about Malachi 2 & Nehemiah 13, as we saw earlier, both contexts reveal that the act of divorce was already in play as the men divorced their Jewish wives to marry pagan women.
- Plus these passages reveal that intermarriage was forbidden, not because of race, but because of these marriages (1) broke fellowship, so that the Lord did not accept the offerings (Mal 2:13); and (2) it broke the marriage covenant (v 14).
- Application – But what about the New Testament? In Romans 7:1-3, Paul develops the concept that death releases the believer from his obligation to the law. He then illustrates this principle with marriage, stating that a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives
(and no exceptions).
- When and only when he dies is she released from the marriage relationship. If a woman is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. A second marriage while the first mate is living is adultery.
- In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, Paul stresses that we maintain the marriage. If separation occurs (which Paul does not approve of), then there only two options: remain unmarried or be reconciled to the original partner.
- In this advice Paul said he was following the teachings of Christ, and he did not mention any exception that would sanction divorce. In unequally yoked marriage, Paul’s counsel is the same: stay together. His reasons are: (1) for the sake of the family (v 14); (2) for the sake of peace (v 15); and (3) for the sake of personal testimony (v 16).
- In summary, the NT actually presents a higher standard than the OT. There two reasons for a divorce; sexual immorality (Mt 5:32) and if an unbeliever desires a divorce (1 Cor 7:15-16). Although, in both occasions, Paul stresses that the goal is forgiveness & reconciliation.
- The issue gets complicated with remarriage. There are three main views within Christian circles regarding divorce and remarriage:
- No divorce
- Divorce, but no remarriage
- Divorce and remarriage on biblical grounds.
- So even if a legal divorce should occur, the “one flesh” relationship cannot be split, and that is why remarriage is disallowed. Reconciliation is still the goal, and the death of a partner alone breaks all that is involved in the “one flesh” relationship.
- Conclusion – Why so serious? Because Christian marriage is made an example in the NT of the relationship between Christ and his Church. This great mystery is illustrated in Christian marriage. This surely means showing love, forgiving as often as necessary, and being faithful to the vow of commitment each made to the other until death separates.
- Bridge – So having studied our passage in its context, and looking at the broader teaching of divorce, marriage, and remarriage – I want to look at some counsel for our marriages!
- You might have questions like, ‘I’m divorced, now what?’ or “I Divorced and married someone else, should I get divorced?” Listen, Scripture doesn’t give us ground for divorce because it is God’s design to not end! In addition, we don’t see a framework for remarriage apart from a spouse dying, because again – if the plan is for no divorce, then there is no remarriage.
- Marriage is all about love! And ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life.’ (John 3:16); ‘He loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20); ‘…as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’
- Marriage is about giving, giving to one another all that you have that the other needs. It will not always be easy since you have developed patterns of wanting and expecting and demanding rather than patterns of giving. All of that will have to change. And you will have to learn to
give even when the other party is not very loving or lovable toward you.