Faithfulness in Marriage

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Faithfulness in Marriage

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While Jesus passed through the region of Judea headed toward His final destination, Jerusalem, He encountered a group of Pharisees with some hard Bible questions. His answers to them offer a unique take on reality (He is God in the flesh after all). What He has to say may not be what you expect.

Jesus discusses marriage and divorce

Read Matthew 19:3-12 Matthew 19:3-12 [3] The Pharisees also came to him, tempting him, and saying to him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? [4] And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, [5] And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? [6] Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. [7] They say to him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorce, and to put her away? [8] He said to them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. [9] And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoever marries her which is put away does commit adultery. [10] His disciples say to him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. [11] But he said to them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. [12] For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
American King James Version×
, and you’ll find Jesus is asked to weigh in on a controversial subject of His day: divorce and marriage. I won’t get into all the background cultural material in this post, but I will draw your attention to a couple of key issues.

God’s ideal vision for human marriage helps you understand important qualities of His plans for your future.

The Jewish interpretations of divorce laws (and therefore of marriage) were hotly disputed. Some were very strict, insisting that sexual immorality was the only justifiable cause for divorce. Others were much looser, insisting that a man could divorce his wife for any reason he wanted to—too many bad hair days, not enough salt in her stew, etc. At the same time, Roman and Greek cultural attitudes toward marriage and practice of divorce were just as messed up.

For many, marriage was an act of convenience, easily entered into and easily exited as they saw fit. Divorce was rampant, and presumably many people were callously abandoned and emotionally wounded.

God’s intent for marriage

Jesus replies with a view that upholds faithfulness in marriage. But Jesus’ critique of marriage and divorce issues of the day was not built on a foundation of legality, or arguing about what is permitted and what is not. Jesus answer goes back to God’s intent of for marriage: oneness, unity, faithfulness, and purity. To truly walk in God’s commandments you must also walk in them according to the intent with which He gave them. If not, then you’re missing out on living in the fullness of Christ and putting on the mind of God.

The disciples understood what Jesus is teaching and they’re startled. They correctly reasoned that if marriage is as binding and permanent as Jesus indicates, then it’s also kind of a scary commitment. Perhaps “it’s better not to marry.” To which Jesus replies, essentially: “Agreed, if you don’t want to enter into the God-ordained relationship of marriage with that level of commitment, then you shouldn’t get into such a relationship” (that’s my reading of what He is saying in Matthew 19:11-12 Matthew 19:11-12 [11] But he said to them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. [12] For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
American King James Version×
). Better to remain unmarried than to go into it thinking you always have an easy way out.

Be careful to understand: Jesus is not against marriage. He is opposed to faithlessness. God desires perfect faithfulness to commitments. And yes, this can be scary. God is not pleased by those who make vows and commitments and then disregard them. But your takeaway should not be to avoid all commitments. God wants you to learn to be faithful and committed. That’s how He is, how He wants you to become, and how life will be in the Kingdom of God. You become that way by practicing it in your life today. If you never make any commitments, you’ll never learn to be faithful.

Faithfulness is part of God’s character

God our Creator repeatedly makes promises and is careful to keep them. Faithfulness is simply part of who He is. As your father, God desires that you identify with His faithfulness and make it part of who you are. Plus, as an extra benefit, He wants you to enjoy comfort and confidence every day based on His own faithfulness towards you. As you walk with God you’ll find He starts you off with small, short-term promises that He keeps to build your faith and confidence in the amazing long-term promises He offers you: such as eternal life in His Kingdom!

Marriage teaches about your future

God’s ideal vision for human marriage helps you understand important qualities of His plans for your future. God’s Word speaks of your eternal future metaphorically as marriage to His Son Jesus Christ. In God’s mind that means a permanent relationship. Christ will not suddenly offer you a certificate of divorce one day saying, “I’ve changed my mind, I don’t love you anymore.” “It’s not you it’s me.” He won't say, “I don’t want you around anymore” or any of the selfish ways we terminate our human relationships.

The history of human marriage—our own included—rarely (if ever) achieves the high standards of God’s original intent. But the fault lies with us, not with the institution of marriage. We junk up our marriages with our emotional baggage—our selfishness and plenty more. But none of this takes away from the goodness of God’s original intent for human marriage.

God's design and purpose for marriage is a relationship of oneness and unity and permanence. Focus on this friends: God is calling you right now to enter into just such a relationship. A relationship of oneness and a relationship that is permanent. You are called to a commitment to Christ. He wants to be committed to you—faithful and true. He desires to enter into a relationship with you that is permanent, binding, built on love.

Say “yes.”