Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you to the Monday Marriage Message. Last week we concluded our study of Ephesians 5:21-33. That scripture is wonderful for teaching us as husbands and wives how to prefer one another and submit our own words and actions to be used to selflessly build up the one who God has given to us as a spouse. I love that passage as well because it is such a clear reminder that our marriages are intended to reflect God and the relationship He desires to have with each and every one of us. I really enjoyed taking the opportunity to break that scripture down in a methodical way and attempt to glean from it many of the truths that help us to be better husbands and wives, and to enjoy more effective marriages.

Unfortunately, in our society it would be difficult to have a serious discussion about marriage without at the very least confronting the troublesome subject of divorce. When almost half of all marriages end in divorce, it is a topic that must be addressed. According to the most recent Census, 45% of American marriages end in divorce. Nearly 80% of those who divorce will re-marry and of those who do, the divorce rate for second marriages rises to 60%. The failure rate for subsequent marriages only increases from there. I wish it were not so, but as a podcaster focused on the strengthening of marriages through scriptural teaching I understand that a substantial portion of my audience has personally experienced the effects of divorce. I have never hidden nor tried to disguise the fact that my wife and I have both been through divorce. Though it is a tragedy that I wish had not befallen our lives and the lives of our dear children, I understand that one of the purposes God has resurrected from the pain and difficulty of those broken marriages, is our ability to speak authoritatively on the subject. Our ability to do so however, does not come from any knowledge our experience taught us but rather from the knowledge God’s word reveals and our experiences have simply reinforced.

Over what will likely turn out to be the next several months we will open up two scriptural accounts of the same event. Those accounts are the written record of two different disciples. Mark and Matthew, as they recalled a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees. Both accounts are individual perspectives, but are inspired by one Holy Spirit. As such, each will add important information to the discussion but will not contradict each another in any way. Those accounts are central to our discussion on the subject because the question brought to Jesus that day by the Pharisees was essentially this; Can people rightly get divorced for any reason they see fit? Jesus’ answer to those men was complex and informative far beyond their simple question, and I believe that as we dive into it deeply we will uncover many wonderful truths.

As I did when we began our study of Ephesians chapter five, I will read for you both of these passages in their entirety this first week and then as we move forward I will break each down verse by verse, or concept by concept. I will as before use supporting scriptures whenever possible to further our understanding of the play-by-play of these two focal passages. Because we will be looking at the two synoptic gospel accounts of Matthew and Mark, I will refer to them in parallel offering the account of each together to gain fuller understanding of Jesus’ comments. Let’s take a few minutes now though to read through both of the passages we will be looking at so closely.

Matthew 19:1-10 in the New King James Version says:

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” 10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

Now let’s read Mark 10:1-10 in the New King James Version it says:

10 Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again. The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of 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 reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

These are going to be the two focal scriptures for our discussion of marriage and divorce. It is my hope that as we work our way through these you will be encouraged no matter if you have experienced the trauma of divorce or not. If you have not, it is my prayer that this study will help you to see God’s boundless grace and mercy. It is my hope that you will glean from this study inarguable truths that will assist you to finish well the ministry of marriage that God has entrusted you with. If you are like Lynn and I and you have experienced the difficulty that divorce brings I pray that you will also find encouragement in this exposition of God’s word. I hope that you will come away from this study understanding the overwhelming truth that though God does hate divorce for reasons we will discover, He loves divorcees without limits! In most cases, divorce is not the right thing to engage in, and it is my belief for reasons I will share in later editions that it is never His desire for us, but that does not preclude divorced people from experiencing the best of His love and blessing in their lives. Additionally, I hope to be able to successfully illustrate from God’s own word that His forgiveness is for all, and is complete no matter which of His precepts we have acted contrary to. Finally, it is my hope that as we move into this discussion that for those who have remarried after divorce or are considering doing so, that there are instructions in His word that will lovingly guide us into the blessing of successful marriage that is in no way, shape or form…second rate.

I look forward to this time together just as I did our time in Ephesians 5. I hope you will be eager to join in as well and continue to the conclusion of our study of these passages no matter what your current marital standing.

So now, looking to Christ, listening to His Holy Spirit and investigation God’s Word for all of your instruction as you live your life as unto Him…Go be awesome!