Marriage Conference2023-01-18T18:33:01-04:00

It Takes 3 to Make 2 Become 1 Marriage Conference

“It Takes 3 to Make 2 Become One” will be an enjoyable event where we’ll discover how to realize all the blessings God intends every marriage to enjoy. This opportunity truly is for all marriages in all seasons. Please reserve Feb 24th and 25th on your calendars and plan now on attending, I know you’ll be glad you did. Seats are going to be limited. You can reserve yours now clicking the Register Online Button. The cost for the conference is $30.00 and is simply to cover the cost of the food and materials. Registration will close February 19th. The conference will be held here at Crossroad Community Church at our Georgetown campus on February 24th and 25th. We will meet on Friday evening from 6:30 to 8:00pm and on Saturday from 9:00am until 3:00pm. Lunch will be provided.


“What God has joined together let no one take apart”

6th Biblical Principle for a Highly Successful Marriage – Forgiveness

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to discover how to experience a highly successful marriage. This is the sixth edition in our series 7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage.

Since beginning this series I have shared with you 5 of 7 biblical principles that govern highly successful marriages. I have been careful not to call this series “THE” 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage because though I have chosen to highlight these 7 they are not by any accounting the only biblical principles governing marriage. God’s word contains many, many more that will have an even greater positive impact on your marriage if you will choose to search them out and employ them. Thus far in this series we have considered; Compatibility, Recognizing that your marriage is more about your relationship with God than it is about your relationship with your spouse, Holiness, Selfless Service and Faithfulness. Each of these principles are indeed crucial to a marriage that strives to fulfill its God-given purpose of reflecting Him. However, there are still two more Biblical principles that I wish to uncover from God’s word before I conclude this series.

In this episode we will take a close look at what God’s word says about Forgiveness as the 6th Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage. Forgiveness is an interesting and complex subject. All of us come to understand very quickly in marriage that forgiveness is going to be necessary if the marriage is going to experience any meaningful longevity. 1 Corinthians 13:5 describes the kind of love marriage must be predicated upon to be highly successful as one that keeps no record of wrongdoing. Does wrongdoing take place in marriage…you bet! Often, before the first day of marriage has concluded, the new bride and groom have managed to offend one another, but those wrongs are quickly overlooked in light of their newly established oneness. Unless the same offences repeatedly occur, they will likely not be recorded on a tally-sheet. Why? According to 1 Corinthians 13 Godly love doesn’t have a score card. Consequently, it doesn’t take the newly-weds long at all to come to realize that forgiveness in their new marriage is going to become an important, daily, necessity.

If our marriages must reflect God if they are going to meet their intended purpose…and they must, then our forgiveness for one another must be the same kind God uses when He forgives us. If we are going to forgive as God does…we must have an understanding of what forgiveness means to Him. Any other form of forgiveness that we attempt to invent, will be incorrectly applied and will not have the effect God intends us to experience. God’s brand of forgiveness offers freedom, freedom to move forward unencumbered. In Isaiah 43:25 God says this; “I, I am the One who erases all your sins, for my sake; I will not remember your sins”.

So what are the components of genuine forgiveness that are critical to highly successful marriages? The first important understanding comes from the verse I mentioned just a moment ago from the book of Isaiah. There God mentions a few things about His forgiveness that are noteworthy. First He says that He erases our sins. This is in line with 1 Corinthians 13:5. There we read that love (and according to 1 John, God is love) keeps no record of wrongdoing. God says that He erases the record of our wrongdoing toward Him. He does not say that the wrong never happened, nor does He say our sin against Him wasn’t hurtful…just that He won’t keep considering it when He is interacting with us. The second remarkable thing this simple verse illustrates for us is that forgiveness essentially frees the forgiver as much or more than it does the forgiven. There God says that He erases our sins for His own sake. He forgives us to free Himself of the negative feelings that our sin would otherwise cause Him to experience when interacting with us. He forgives us to free Himself to love us in spite of our sin against Him. As a result, He said, “I will not remember your sins”. When you look at the original Hebrew text the intimation is that of a Judge who chooses to interact with a convict, but who refuses to look at their rap-sheet while doing so. The rap-sheet is real. Both participants are fully aware of its existence, But God says that in His forgiveness of us He refuses to open our file.

When we forgive our spouse we have to learn to do as God does. Get rid of the record of wrongdoing. This doesn’t mean we have to make-believe the wrong didn’t happen. We don’t have to pretend it didn’t cause us pain or have a negative impact on the relationship. It does mean however that we can’t continue to compile a list of reasons our spouse is not worthy of our love and acceptance…or else, we will become unable to continue to love and accept them. Just like God does, for our own sake, so that we can be free, we must choose to quit looking at our spouse’s rap-sheet when we are interacting with them. We must choose to not consider their sins against us if we want to be free. Remember…forgiveness frees the forgiver as much or even more than it does the forgiven. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget what happened…it means we choose to not stare at the offence while interacting with our offender.

Our human condition often makes offering to another the same kind of forgiveness God offers us a very difficult thing to do. We may even think it impossible at times. We know from Jesus own words to His disciples that it is necessary that we learn to do so, but sometimes we just can’t see how God’s brand of forgiveness is something we as mere human beings can ever accomplish. Some hurts after all are just too big. God may be able to erase all of our sins, but we aren’t God. Is it really fair for Him to require genuine forgiveness from us?

Seemingly, God believes it is. When Jesus taught His Disciples to pray, Matthew 6:9-15 says He told them this; So when you pray, you should pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name always be kept holy.
10 May your kingdom come
and what you want be done,
    here on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us the food we need for each day.
12 Forgive us for our sins,
    just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us.
13 And do not cause us to be tempted,
but save us from the Evil One.’ The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.

Then Jesus made this statement;

14 Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.

At first glance the Lord’s Prayer may seem to include one small blurb about forgiveness, but when we take into account the monumental footnote Jesus added after teaching His disciples how to pray, forgiveness begins to take center stage in the prayer. When we choose to forgive our spouse, God’s name is kept Holy. Our marriages reflect Him in the midst of forgiveness, perhaps more than at any other time. God is the ultimate forgiver; no one has ever has to pay as high a price to be able to offer it as He has. When we forgive our spouse their wrongs, we successfully reflect God and represent who and what He is. When we choose to forgive especially in our marriages, God’s will (that which He does) takes place on earth as it does in Heaven. When we choose to forgive another we open ourselves up to being able to experience the amazing forgiveness God offers us in the shed blood of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God would further empower them to resist the temptation from the evil one to fail to forgive. Satan understands that time plus un-forgiveness always equals bitterness. He also knows that there is no better tool at his disposal to kill, steal and destroy marriages than bitterness.

Remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to say that the wrong, wasn’t wrong. If it was wrong, it was wrong. Sin is sin. God’s word doesn’t teach us that forgiveness means sin is no longer wrong. God still says that sin is wrong. Remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery? John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ words of conviction “Let the one among you who is without sin throw the first stone at her” drove away all of her accusers who wanted to put her to death. Jesus then looked at the woman and asked her “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you” She said no one, Lord. And Jesus said to Her, “Neither do I condemn you; [but] go and sin no more”. (John 8:7&10-11) Forgiveness doesn’t make a wrong, right, but nor does it coincide with condemnation.

Again this may seem unfair and impossible, but there is good news! You don’t have to do it. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute Pastor Ken, I thought you just said we have to learn to forgive if God is going to forgive us?” That is correct, but what I mean to say is that YOU don’t have to arrange your offender’s forgiveness…you only have to agree with God’s forgiveness for them. The requirement on you is to agree with God that He was right and just to offer your offender His forgiveness for the hurtful way they treated you. 1 John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Hurt people however, are often looking for justification to hold the person who hurt them accountable. In light if that, they might ask regarding that last scripture, “But what if the person who did me wrong has not confessed their sin to God or to me?” The Bible has an answer for that question as well. Romans 5:8 tells us; But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners. God loves all of us…even those who hurt us…so much that even before a single confession of sin was made, He offered His Son’s life as recompense for our sin. That is why it is just for God to forgive all of us…Jesus already paid the price.

One of our biggest hang-ups when it comes to forgiveness, is this. We are afraid that if we forgive…we have to let our offender off the hook for what they have done to us. That’s not true at all. They are still firmly on the hook for their actions…we simply have to agree to hand the hook to God. We may be the victim of another person’s sin against us but to be a victor, we must realize we are not the judge, jury and executioner. Vengeance is mine says the Lord…and I will repay! (Hebrews 10:30) Forgiveness allows us the freedom to willingly hand the hook to God. He promises He will make it right. And He will make it right. He will either give the person who has wronged us a heart transplant, if they are willing for it, or eternal separation from Him if they refuse His love and forgiveness. Forgiveness on our part is the agreement to let Him work out all of those details. If we don’t have to hold the hook any longer, then we don’t have to hold onto the record of what went wrong either. As we hand those things off to God with whom they rightfully belong, our load is lightened and we become free to interact with our offender in a healthy way again.

Are there times when the damage is too great and trust simply cannot be restored? Are there some relationships that are so damaging that they should not be resumed? Of course, but those are in the minority, not the majority. They are the exception not the rule. Regardless, forgiveness is still a necessity for freedom, and a healthy mind and heart. Because of that, forgiveness is solidly on the list of Biblical principles for a highly successful marriage.

So now, reflecting God in your marriage by agreeing with Him that His forgiveness for your spouse was right and just…Go Be Awesome!

5th Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage – Faithfulness

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to discover how to experience a highly successful marriage. This is the fifth edition in our series 7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage.

In the past few weeks we have looked at four of seven biblical principles pertaining to a highly successful marriage. They have been; #1 Compatibility, #2 Understanding that your marriage is more about your relationship with God than it is about your relationship with your spouse, #3 Holiness and #4 Selfless service.

This week I want to introduce a 5th Biblical Principle of a highly successful marriage – faithfulness. One might think that faithfulness in marriage is a no brainer, an unnecessary focal point in a series such as this one. Even the world thinks for the most part that faithfulness in marriage is important right? Maybe, but why is faithfulness something that every highly successful marriage must possess? It may be for reasons greater than you think.

Admittedly as I have said almost ad nauseam, the primary purpose of marriage as stated by God, it’s originator, is to reflect Him and represent His many characteristics. (Genesis 1:26-27) As God looks into our marital mirrors He expects to see Himself, as the world looks at our marriages they too should see an awesome likeness of who God is. A rudimentary example of this that requires no further explanation is the secondary purpose of marriage as noted by God. Then God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…” Genesis 1:28. God is the creator of life and when joined in marriage a husband and wife are also capable of creating life. That example illustrates the simple truth that marriage is in fact reflective of God, but we can also see the necessity of the requirement that a marriage be only comprised of a man and a woman. Two similar yet uniquely different beings joined as one for the purpose of glorifying God and His vast capabilities. In past episodes I have made note of other unique differences possessed by both men and women that when joined in marriage and made one, more accurately reflect the totality God’s characteristics. One I have noted is the differences in our thinking. Each man a compartmentalized thinker while His wife is relational in her thoughts. Why that difference? Because God thinks both ways as illustrated in my podcast series Differences that Divide. Another example from that series would be the differing relational needs of a man and a woman. A husband is always looking carefully at his wife’s responses to ensure that he is respected by her for what he says, does, thinks, and believes. Likewise, she is also scrutinizing his responses to see that she is loved for those very same things.

If marriage is intended to mirror God’s characteristics, and it most certainly is, then one of the qualities that must be found in every marriage for it to be highly successful at reflecting Him is faithfulness. God is faithful therefore there can be no question that faithfulness is key to a marriage living up to its intended purpose. How do we know that He is faithful? Certainly most of us would say we have more than enough anecdotal evidence to support that claim. However, His word also makes His faithfulness abundantly evident.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments. We can rest assured that the Lord God is faithful. As I said a moment ago, evidence of that from our own experience abounds, however so does proof from His word. Literally thousands of God’s promises recorded in the Bible have already been fulfilled, and there will never be scriptural promise that will go unfulfilled. In the 33 years that Jesus lived on the earth alone, He fulfilled not only the 48 specific messianic prophecies, but many scholars estimate that He fulfilled over 250 other prophesies, when you count the many that are not specific to, but are closely associated with the Messiah. I love that example because of the overwhelming conclusion it draws as to God’s faithfulness. Dr. Peter Stoner author of the book, Science Speaks, calculated that the probability of one man fulfilling just 8 of the 48 messianic prophecies found in the Old Testament to be 1 in a million to the 22nd power. For those not-so-good at math that is the number 1,000,000 with 22 more zeros added! For additional context, if you were to take enough silver dollars to cover the entire state of Texas 2 feet deep, and you marked a small x marked on the back of just one coin, the odds of a blindfolded person picking out the correct coin on the first try would be the same as Jesus fulfilling all 48 of the messianic prophecies, which He in fact did.

God is not simply faithful to keep His promises. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness. Here we read of God’s faithfulness in the sense that He will never let us down. We can count on Him to keep His word to us because of His great and unwavering love for us. This concept of God’s unending faithfulness is described further in Psalm 36:5 where we read, Your steadfast love oh Lord extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Furthermore, God’s word tells us that He is faithful to interact with us in the way that He has promised to. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it. Here the promise is that if we are willing to accept His Son’s sacrifice for our sin, God will keep us and find us blameless when Jesus returns. This verse clearly says that God is faithful and we can count on Him to look at us as righteous because of our acceptance of His free gift of salvation found in His Son, Jesus. I love what is says about this in Philippians 1:6. There we read, Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. The promise here is that God is absolutely going to finish the work of redemption that He has begun in our lives. His word says so. He is faithful, and we can count on it.

God is faithful to us, and therefore, as a part of the covenant with us that our marriages are a representation of, God requires our faithfulness to Him. 1 Corinthians 4:2 tells us that, Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. In other words, the requirement on us as to our part in the Creator/created relationship is to be found to be faithful in all things. Jesus was explaining the importance God places on faithfulness one day and told a story about a businessman who went away on a trip and entrusted money to three of his employees for them to invest in his absence. When the businessman returned two of the employees had doubled his money. To those the employer said “Well done thou good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. (Matthew 25:21 & 23) Jesus then made the point that the third employee had been afraid and had hidden the portion of money he was supposed to invest. When his employer asked for his return on investment from that employee, he was told that only the principle amount originally entrusted to him remained. Jesus called that employee wicked and unfaithful. Faithfulness matters to God. He is faithful to us and He intends and expects that we will be faithful to Him in return.

As I said earlier, our marriages are to reflect God and His character. God is faithful, and we are to be as well. We must be faithful to Him, and quite frankly He desires and expects that our faithfulness will be evident within our marriages too. In fact, according to His own word, God looks to see if we are being faithful to our spouse…to discern if we are being faithful to Him. What should our faithfulness to our spouse look like? Faithfulness is demonstrated in many ways. A few weeks ago I spoke of another of the principles of a highly successful marriage, Holiness. I described God’s holiness as being consistent and trustworthy. Faithfulness in our marriage is illustrated in much the same ways. It is being consistent. Our spouse needs to know that they can count on us to act the same way when we are out of their presence as we do when they are with us. God’s word speaks to this in Matthew 5:37 it says that we should let our ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and our ‘No,’ [be] ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. In other words, people, (our spouse especially) should be able to count on the answers we give to remain the same – no matter who from, or under what circumstances the questions arise.

Faithfulness is being true to the person who is counting on us. Faithfulness in marriage is more than being consistent, and it is also more than being sexually faithful. Those are critical components of faithfulness no doubt, but it is far more than just those things. It is an unwillingness to say or do anything that might call our allegiance to our spouse into question. One of the agreements my wife and I made before we married, was to never allow ourselves to be put into a situation where we would feel the need to explain it to the other should they show up unexpectedly. That means we won’t be found anywhere, participate in anything, or even be caught saying anything that might reasonably lead to questions of our faithfulness from the other. As I said a few moments ago, God takes the level of our faithfulness to our spouse very seriously…because it is reveals our faithfulness to Him. Generally speaking, I quote scripture in my podcasts from the New King James Version, but the meaning of this particular scripture is actually captured extremely well in the paraphrase The Message, so I will read it to you from there. Malachi 2:10-17 say, 10 Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God? So why can’t we get along? Why do we desecrate the covenant of our ancestors that binds us together? 11-12 Judah has cheated on God—a sickening violation of trust in Israel and Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the holiness of God by falling in love and running off with foreign women, women who worship alien gods. God’s curse on those who do this! Drive them out of house and home! They’re no longer fit to be part of the community no matter how many offerings they bring to God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 13-15 And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God. Do you know why? Simple. Because God was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So guard the spirit of marriage within you. Don’t cheat on your spouse. 16 “I hate divorce,” says the God of Israel. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.” So watch yourselves. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t cheat. 17 You make God tired with all your talk. “How do we tire him out?” you ask. By saying, “God loves sinners and sin alike. God loves all.” And also by saying, “Judgment? God’s too nice to judge.”

Faithfulness is so important to God because true faithfulness is a selfless act. Real faithfulness is motivated by a greater desire to do what someone else needs or wants, than to do what you might choose if you had only yourself to consider. Jesus talked about the necessity of that level of faithfulness to Him if we are going to have a correct relationship with Him. In Luke 9:23 He said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Faithfulness is selfless because it requires us to deny ourselves and follow the one we are being faithful to. In Matthew 10:37 Jesus said, He who loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Here Jesus is dramatically illustrating the high level of faithfulness required to be in relationship with Him…because He is that faithful to us. So as we just read in Malachi, God looks to see if we will have that same selfless faithfulness toward our spouse. The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit then penned these commands to help us illustrate our faithfulness to our spouse and to God. In Ephesians 5:22 & 25 Paul wrote, Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. As God watches us to see if we will prefer and submit to our spouse like He commanded us to, He is actually interested in finding out if we are willing to prefer and submit to Him. Faithfulness is the 5th in our list of Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage.

So now, being faithful to the God who has always faithful to you by being a faithful husband or wife…Go Be Awesome!

3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage – Holiness

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to discover how to experience a highly successful marriage. This is the third edition in our series 7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage.

In the first episode we discovered that compatibility is key to success in marriage. If we aren’t of like mind spiritually, marriage becomes exceedingly problematic. Ultimately the difficulty is the result of not having the same goals for the marriage. By God’s design, the primary purpose of marriage is to reflect who He is. When we choose to ask Him to unequally yoke us with an unbeliever that purpose becomes incredibly challenging to fulfill, and the lack of unified effort to that end will be the cause of much frustration.

In the second episode I shared the importance of understanding that your marriage is more about your relationship with God than it is about your relationship with your spouse. We looked at Ephesians 5:21-33 where the Apostle Paul wrote about the intricately intertwined connection between the relationship we have with our spouse and the relationship Christ desires to have with us. There, as in no other scripture I am aware of, the Bible illustrates that correct interaction in marriage is congruent with a right relationship with God. Finally, I mentioned that all of the commands concerning the best way to interact with our spouse come from God’s written word to us. It is not our spouse who gives the commands, they come directly from God. As such our obedience should be directed toward God. We interact with our spouse, but we do so in response to our God.

Today I want to focus on the 3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage. When we consider the Great Analogy I just spoke of, it is important to understand that our marriages are the tangible, physical representation of the relationship between mankind and God. God is Holy and tells us in scripture that our response to His holiness is supposed to be our holiness. In Leviticus 20:26 God told the Hebrew People, “Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine”. In this scripture, God is saying that He has chosen these particular people as His own, just as a groom chooses a bride to be especially his for an uninterrupted lifetime together. Just a few chapters before, it is recorded that God reminded these same people that He had brought them out of a foreign land where they had been in servitude to another (the Egyptian Pharaoh) and had taken them to Himself, and was now taking them to the promised land. Leviticus 11:45 says, “For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.” This language is incredibly analogous of a contemporary wedding for the time. In the Hebrew custom, just as Isaac, and Jacob had done, a groom would go, sometimes a great distance, find a bride, make her a promise of a home and then bring her back to his father’s house to be his wife. Here God has said that He went to the land of Egypt, claimed the people as His own and was now leading them to their new home that He had promised to them.

Additionally, God gave the people instruction. He told them that in order for them to be in a right relationship with Him as their Redeemer, they would have to live and act as He lives and acts. So, He told them about Himself and said “I am Holy, so you must also be Holy”. This may sound as if it were simply a command for spiritual perfection, but that would be an incorrect understanding. The word holy means many things. It means set apart, or set aside for a specific purpose. It also means to be kept undefiled. Certainly these meanings are congruent with a successful marriage. There are also some important noteworthy characteristics of holiness that are critical in highly successful marriages. God’s unchangeable nature, the fact that He is immutable is a result of His Holiness. Holiness is true. Holiness is faithful. Holiness is unwavering. God is all of these things, and if we are to be in right relationship, with Him, He says we must be these things as well. As God is true to us, we must also be true to Him. As He is faithful to us, we must be faithful to Him. Just as God is unwavering in His devotion to us we also must be unwavering in our devotion to Him. If the marital oneness between a man and a woman is completed by a Holy God, and is the Great Analogy of the relationship that Holy God desires to have with them, then the 3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful marriage is Holiness.

Marriages that operate at a high level of success understand that the only way to do so is to operate with an uncommon high level of trust. I know full well that I am not the first to say that trust is key to a great marriage. That insight has likely been expressed as long as there have been those offering advice about what makes a marriage tick. Some might even look at my collection of 7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage and think that trust should have been listed as #1.

Correctly placed trust is much more than a high level of confidence. True trust is just that…true. This is because real trust is a two sided coin. On the one side, trust is something we place in someone else. On the other side of the coin, trust is that which has been placed in us. Genuine trust is the relationship between a trustor and a trustee. That being the case, absolute trust is only possible if it cannot fail. It is only obtainable when dealing with someone who is Holy. We know that we can trusty God 100%. God is 100% Holy. He is infallible. He is unchangeable and therefore His word is completely and totally trustworthy. There is nothing that He says that we cannot lean on completely. There is no promise He makes that we cannot trust wholly.

The problem we experience in our marriages is that we are not married to someone who is immutable. Human beings have the capacity, and often, seemingly a propensity for failure. Though we are created in God’s image, we are not perfect in all of our ways as He is. The fact of the matter is that as fallible human beings; we can only really know that someone is keeping their word to us if we can watch them do so with our eyes. If that is the case, and our imperfect nature dictates that it is, and if the 3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful marriage is all about trust, then what are we to do? How can we operate within our marriages with a high level of success if we can’t really trust our spouse unless we are actually watching them? That sounds like a discouraging question but it comes with a truly encouraging answer.

When God told the Israelite people that they were to be holy as He is Holy, God knew that would only possible for them as a result of the relationship He wanted to have with them. Jesus told us, “There is no good in us”. God is good, but we are evil in and of ourselves. It is only when we invite God to dwell inside us…that we become righteous. God knows that we can only be holy if He indwells us, and so, by saying “I Am Holy, so you must be holy” He was imploring His people to allow Him to come and live with them. Peter wrote of the connection between the Hebrews during their exodus from Egypt and Christians being brought out of slavery to sin.

1 Peter 1:13-16 say this, Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy. Peter was essentially saying that holiness is possible for us because of the redeeming blood of Christ that purchases our freedom from sin. If we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and have invited Him to live in us, we have invited His Holiness to live in and through us. So, Peter says, now we have to live lives on the outside which are congruent with the Holy one who lives on the inside.

You might be asking what that has to do with a successful marriage. Everything. As a Christ follower, Christ lives in me. As a Christ follower, Christ indwells my wife also. I am still a fallible human being as is my wife. We both still have the capacity for sin. Our own ability to fail, leaves our 100% value as a trustee in reasonable question. In other words, as I stated before if she cannot see me with her own two eyes, my wife cannot put her absolute trust in me that I will always keep my word. Those who say that they can do this are either; simply fooling themselves, or they already understand that the 3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage is holiness. If trust is critical for a marriage to operate successfully, and it is, and if absolute trust is not something rightly placed in a fallible human being, and it isn’t, then what can we do? Highly successful marriages place their trust in the holiness of their spouse. Where does that holiness originate? With our indwelling God. Highly successful marriages understand that they do not trust their spouse to never fail them, they trust their God who also dwells inside their spouse to never fail them.

For this reason, spiritual intimacy within a marriage is crucial. There must be a common understanding that each spouse is giving God the correct place of highest importance in their life. Real trust becomes possible when each spouse can see their counterpart investing heavily in their relationship with God. This necessary component of trust must be built at all costs. No other form of intimacy is more important or should be allowed to supersede the formation of spiritual intimacy in a marriage. How do we build spiritual intimacy? There are a number of ways to do so successfully. Pray together. Worship together. Minister together. Serve God together. Give to God together. Spend time with God together. These are a great start but are not intended to be an exhaustive list.

The last of the spiritual intimacy builders I mentioned was saved for last so that I could expound on its incredibly high importance. Each morning my wife Lynn and I spend personal time with the Lord. Some would call that our daily devotional time. It is the time that we each spend reading God’s word, and asking Him to show us new truths that will impact our walk with Him. The twist that makes it a wonderful spiritual intimacy builder for us, is that we do it at the same time each day and though we are reading in different places in the Bible, we are doing so in each other’s presence. We sit down in adjacent chairs in our living room and use the same parcel of time to press into God. I see Lynn investing in her relationship with her Lord. She observes me doing the same thing. It gives us the opportunity for much that is good for us, and our marriage. We can ask questions of each other as we desire the other’s input about that which we have just discovered. We can share with each other things that excite us from God’s word. Most importantly however, it allows us to see with our own eyes that the trust we have placed in the indwelling holiness in our spouse is secure.

When you recognize that the 3rd biblical principle of a highly successful marriage is holiness…the only source of real trust, you begin to understand why it is 3rd and not 1st. This principle isn’t possible if we don’t first make sure of our spiritual compatibility and second, understand that our marriages are more about our relationship with God than they are about our relationship with our spouse.

So now, trusting completely in the God who dwells in your spouse, and doing everything possible to build the spiritual intimacy in your marriage…go be awesome!

7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage – Principle #2 – Your Marriage is More About Your Relationship with God Than it is About Your Relationship with Your Spouse

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage.

We are continuing today exploring 7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage. Last time we covered Principle #1 – Compatibility. In that episode I shared with you that God’s word clearly says that in order to enjoy a highly successful marriage a couple must be compatible. Scripture tells us that the most important compatibility marker to consider is that we are equally yoked, meaning that Christians ought to only ask God to join them with another Christ follower.

Today I want to talk about the second Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage – Your Marriage is More About Your Relationship with God Than it is About Your Relationship with Your Spouse.

This is a concept that eludes most people and yet is crucial to enjoying a highly successful marriage. Even honest Christ followers most often look at their marriages as ancillary to their walk with Christ. This misunderstanding causes them to think that their relationship with God can be a healthy one, even if their marriage is failing. At the risk of offending I will emphatically state that notion is simply not possible. God uses marriage as an analogy for the relationship between Himself and His creation of mankind far and away more than any other in scripture. The sheer number of times it is utilized should squelch any claim that God does not see the two as intricately intertwined. It is my hope that this edition will help us to recognize that our marriages are fundamental to our walk with the Lord. When you consider both the primary purpose of marriage as stated by God…A man and a woman joined as one to reflect Him, and the high level of importance God puts on the connection between His relationship with us and our marriages it becomes clearer why the first principle is so important. We need to be equally yoked with another Christ follower if we are going to fulfill the purpose of marriage successfully.

As I mentioned last time, God is completely and totally holy and righteous. He graciously endows us with righteousness through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, and the redemptive work of His shed blood as the perfect lamb of God. If we ask Him to join us inextricably with an unbeliever, we have asked Him to join righteousness (us joined with Christ) with lawlessness (us joined with an unbeliever). The scripture we looked at then asked the logical questions. …what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

When we look at the scriptural evidence, God clearly draws a connection between Himself and the relationship He desires with us as His people and our marriages, the relationship we experience as husbands and wives. Today we will look at a portion of that evidence.

As I illustrated in the first episode of this series the primary purpose of marriage is unmistakably expressed in the very first chapter of the first book of the bible. In Genesis 1:26-27 it says, 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God referenced Himself as “Us” giving the first indication of the Triune Godhead we have come to know as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Before the creation of the first man, woman and marriage, God identified that He enjoys intimate union among the three persons of the singular Godhead. He also clearly stated that His desire was to create mankind in His Image and His likeness, in other words, beings that would reflect Him. Verse 27 tells us that the completion of that design was accomplished in the formation of an intimately created male and a female.

When we look at chapter 2 of the book of Genesis we find in verse 23, when the woman was taken out of the man and presented to him, Adam (the man) proclaimed that they were “one flesh”. There was no wedding ceremony necessary, they had been created married. Adam and Eve were one, though they were also two. They were two human beings, of differing genders, but made from the same flesh and bone. In the final book of the Old Testament, Malachi 2:15 tells us that God joined them with himself in their married state. That verse asks, But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. In this scripture we find that God joined Adam and Eve (and subsequently every husband and wife) with a portion of His Own Spirit (the Holy Spirit) so that we could possess innate knowledge of how to act in godly ways within our marriages which were designed to reflect Him. As a result of God making the man and the woman one flesh and by joining them with a portion of His Spirit, He created marriage to be a triune entity illustrating one of the many ways marriage is in fact, reflective of its Creator. If marriage is purposed to reflect God, and by God’s own words it is, and if God is the supreme participant in that union, and He is, then marriage must be primarily about Him. Additionally, the scripture from Malachi points out that the connection marriages share with a remnant of God’s Spirit, is intended to prohibit them from dealing treacherously with one another. God is making the clear connection that He designates poor interaction between a husband and wife as a personal act of contempt against Him.

In Ephesians the Apostle Paul wrote of this connection between our marriages and our relationship with Christ as well. In Ephesians 5:21-33 we read, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Here as nowhere else I am aware of in scripture, the connection between the relationship of God and mankind and the relationship between husband and wife is made abundantly clear. Paul vacillates twelve different times in just thirteen verses, back and forth between the two relationships. My personal view of this passage causes me to proclaim that what Paul wrote here explains how the Great Analogy transcends into the current reality.

In verses 30-32 Paul wrote 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. The connection God identified between our relationship with Him and our relationship with our spouse could not be made more clear. First, Paul stated in verse 30 that we are members of Christ’s body. If you and your spouse are Christ followers then you are each one with Christ, members of His body. Second in verse 31 Paul wrote that the two of you are also one (one flesh, members of each other’s body) made so by God. (Matthew 19:6) Finally, Paul eluded to the great mystery (I call it a miracle) that God continues to this day to recreate the one flesh condition between a husband and a wife. Paul then immediately says however, he is writing concerning Christ and the church, and is making note of the “one flesh” condition or the marriage between Christ and believers. Again, if Christ is the supreme being in that marital relationship then our marriages are in fact more about our relationship with Him than they are about our relationship with one another.

Of final note and quite likely greatest importance is this great truth that speaks directly to the 2nd biblical principal for a highly successful marriage. Remember in Genesis 2:23-24, Adam makes the declaration that he and Eve have been created “One flesh” and are therefore married. Then God endorses Adam’s understanding and makes a declaration of His own concerning marriages to come. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This is where we gain the understanding that God recreates that “One flesh” condition enjoyed by Adam and Eve in our marriages. Now, here in Ephesians 5:31 Paul writes of an additional understanding we ought to have. Verse 30 states that we are members of Christ’s body, of His flesh and His bones. Then in Verse 31 Paul says of that truth, “For this reason”, in other words because we are members of Christ’s body, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”. Here I believe Paul is being quite clear that the importance behind our marriages existing is because God exists. We are made one to reflect who He is. What is the thing of greater importance? The reflectiveness of a mirror or the one being reflected in it? I believe that when Paul writes verse 32 He is reiterating that all important point. After quoting Genesis 2:24, Paul is now using God’s declaration concerning marriage to refer to Christ and believers in Christ. This clearly makes our marriages more about our relationship with God, than it is about our relationship with our spouse.

Paul concluded with verse 33 which says, 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. This admonition seems to be redundant when compared with verses 22 and 25 but I believe according to 2 Timothy, it was inspired by the Holy Spirit to be placed here for several important reasons relevant to the 2nd Biblical principle for a highly successful marriage. First I will point out that if it were not for verse 33 it might be possible for us to interpret that only if the wife submits (verse 22) then the husband must love (verse 25) but with the order being reversed in verse 33 (husband is to love, wife is to respect) that mistaken interpretation is less likely to occur. More importantly, with the two commands being given in the closing remarks on the subject in this scriptural context, their connection with the marriage between Christ and the believer is easier to see. Who gives the command to a husband to love his wife? Christ does. Who gives the command to a wife to respect her husband? Christ does. So who is it that they are each responding to when they are obedient to the command? Christ. In this scripture as in others throughout the Bible, husbands and wives are given commands as to how to interact with one another. Their obedience (or disobedience) is a response to Christ and His commands. We interact with our spouse but we do so in response to our Lord.

Biblical Principle #2 for a Highly Successful Marriage – Your Marriage is More About Your Relationship with God Than it is About Your Relationship with Your Spouse.

So now, interacting with your spouse in response to your Lord…Go Be Awesome!

7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage – Principle #1 – Compatibility

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage.

This year I have chosen to offer my Monday Marriage Message podcast in a series format. We have thus far completed a series on Ephesians 5:21-33, and have just completed a series on Marriage and divorce. Though each of these have been expository teaching systematically working through various passages of scripture, my next series is going to follow more of an episodic nature. I am entitling the series 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage, and though each entry will cover an individual principle and its supporting scriptures, each will also contribute to the overall theme. I am looking forward to it this new series, so let’s begin.

I have used several past episodes presenting the truth that God created marriage for the purpose of reflecting Himself, so I won’t take the time now to repeat that teaching. However, I do think it is important to re-register the principle facts that support that theological position.

  • God created mankind to reflect His image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26)
  • God created humankind, male and female. (Genesis 1:27)
  • God identified that man alone is in a state of incomplete ability to reflect the image and likeness of God entirely. (Genesis 2:18)
  • Woman was created to perfectly complement the man that together they might be equipped to fulfill their stated purpose of reflecting God. (Genesis 2:21-22)
  • The man made note of the fact that he and the woman were created “One flesh” a term endorsed by God to describe those who are married. (Genesis 2:23)
  • The union and relationship of man and woman in their ‘One flesh’ condition is reflective of the inseparable unity of the trinity which created them. (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:23-24)
  • Following Adam and Eve, God decided to mysteriously and miraculously “Join” men and women in marriage and recreate of them a “One flesh” condition like that experienced in the original union. (Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:31-32, Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:7-9)
  • The primary purpose of marriage noted by the Creator and Author of the institution is to reflect God and that same purpose has been expressly continued in every marriage from Adam and Eve to the present. (Genesis 2:24)

If you desire to have a fuller understanding of this teaching it is available in past episodes of this podcast entitled The Oneness Factor, posted Aug 9, 2021 or Marital Conflict #1 What is the Purpose of Marriage? released Aug 8, 2022. A prerequisite understanding of this foundational concept is important to the series we are now beginning, so if you are not familiar with it I hope you will take the time to listen to one or both of the episodes I just mentioned.

With that I want to begin with the first of our 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage. Principle #1 – CompatibilityIn order to enjoy a highly successful marriage a couple must be compatible.

In our western society we place a high level of importance on compatibility in marriage. Most dating websites and Apps garner a great deal of information about a person’s likes and dislikes, habits, beliefs, and personality traits in an attempt to be able to match the user with another with whom they will be compatible. In my practice as a marriage counselor when I am offering pre-marital counseling I ask each couple why they have decided to marry. Almost everyone gives me some form of answer that indicates they find themselves compatible. Usually it is the female who will tell me how they share the same interests, or they like to do the same things. I often hear that they feel that they are complete when they are together. As I said these thoughts are most often shared with me by the woman who is the relational thinker of the duo, the man, compartmentalized in his thinking, understands it is in his best interest to agree with her in that moment though I know that if forced to answer prior to her, he would likely say something much more succinct about his thoughts on their compatibility. He would be much more likely to utter something along the lines of, “We love each other and want to spend our lives together”.

Though we do place a high degree of importance on compatibility in our culture, our compatibility markers are not the same as the one from Gods word that I want to look at today. Throughout the bible, and even in some cultures today, marriages were and still are arranged by the parents, sometimes without the intended spouses having ever met. Biblically speaking the marriage between Isaac and Rebecca comes to mind. You can read about that in Genesis chapter 24. There was no indicator of their compatibility except that of prayer offered and answered. God had been petitioned to direct Abraham’s servant to the woman who was to become Isaac’s wife. God answered that prayer very specifically in the exact way that was requested leaving no doubt as to whom God’s choice for Isaac was. The scripture actually states that by this sign, a willingness to draw water not only for the him but also for His compliment of camels, Abraham’s servant knew that the woman who made the offer was the one appointed by God. This is not a facet of compatibility that should be ignored. I often suggest to teens and young adults that they should be praying for God’s direction to the spouse He desires them to join into covenant with. If we expect and believe that God cares about us enough to meet our needs and we ask Him as our Jehovah Jireh (God our provider) to do so, why would we think we could not or should not ask Him to lead us to our spouse? If marriage is the joining of a man and a woman for the purpose of reflecting God, logic alone would dictate that God would be incredibly interested in pairing us with the best person to compliment us in the fulfillment of that endeavor.

However, there is another compatibility factor stated in God’s word in no uncertain terms. It is found in the scripture that I want to focus on today, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? This short verse speaks volumes about the necessity of compatibility for a highly successful marriage.

I have made the following statement many times before. Marriage is a spiritual experience lived out in the physical realm, therefore, it is governed by spiritual principles – not natural ones. Last year in this podcast, I spent several weeks on another series I called Marital Conflict – Worldly Wisdom vs Wordly Wisdom. In that series I pointed out some of the spiritual principles that dictate the marriage experience.

Marriage is indeed a spiritual experience. It was instituted by God, the supreme spiritual authority. According to Genesis 2:24 each marriage subsequent to Adam and Eve’s literal physical “One flesh” merger, is a recreation of that original union. Jesus stated in Mathew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:7-9 that this redevelopment of the original is accomplished by God alone, and is intended to be respected as an act of God not to undone by mere men. Paul went on to write in Ephesians 5:32 that this “one flesh” condition is still mysteriously or miraculously taking place in the present and is the handiwork of God. Marriage is a spiritual experience indeed.

Marriage is a spiritual experience – lived out in the physical realm, therefore, it is governed by spiritual principles – not natural ones. When Adam and Eve were married it was the result of their creation. On the 6th day God created both Adam and Eve. We don’t know how long it was that Adam was on scene without his counterpart, we only know it was not more than 24 hours. I don’t have the time to lay it all out here today but there is considerable evidence that each of the days of creation were in fact 24 hour periods of time. When Eve was taken out of Adam and presented to him, Adam announced that they were “One flesh” (Genesis 2:21-23). Eve was created from Adam’s flesh and bone. Their marriage was the prototype; and yet also unique. They were literally living in a “one flesh” condition. Their marriage was created by God just as yours and mine were, but theirs was not only a spiritual experience it contained a true physical component to it as well. We live out our spiritual experience of marriage in the physical realm. In other words, a husband and wife in the physical realm are two individual human beings, but they are intended to honor the fact that God has joined them and made of them one thing – their “One flesh” condition…their marriage. Jesus said “And so, they are no longer two – but one flesh, what God has joined together let not man take apart”.

Since marriage is a spiritual condition established by God it is a Holy creation. What is holy is pure and righteous. As Christ followers, we have been made righteous by the purifying blood of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:21) This righteousness imparted to us is supposed to have a purifying effect on our lives. As we become aware of the impurities in our lives we are to repent and turn from them. It is God’s desire that we choose to love Him more than our fleshly passions. Therefore, when we ask Him in marriage to join us inextricably with another, it is crucial that we ask Him to join us with one who is also made righteous by Him, being perfected by Him, through the redemptive work of His Holy Spirit. Why? Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 6:14 again…For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Holiness is pure, it becomes perverted if lawlessness is invited to mix with righteousness. Darkness isn’t at all compatible with light. Even a little unrighteousness cannot be tolerable by righteousness. [Allow me to illustrate – warning, a graphic gross illustration is about to happen…if you have a weak stomach you may want to stop listening now.] After a big holiday dinner, the trash can is often full of waste from preparing the meal. Hours later when it is removed from the house, at the bottom of the bag is a collection of “juice” that has been released from the various ingredients used to prepare the previously enjoyed feast. 4 or 5 days later when the trash is collected, that “juice” is rotted and disgusting, just as sin is in comparison to holiness. How many drops of that unholy garbage can “juice” would you allow to be put into a glass of pure water that you were supposed to drink and then proclaim how wonderful and refreshing the water was? I hope none! So it is to be in our marriages. We are to reject the idea of being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Righteousness is not compatible with lawlessness and light is not compatible with darkness.

Does this mean that if you have joined yourself with Christ, that you must now turn your back on your unbelieving spouse? Of course not! The Apostle Paul was clear that if faced with that situation the Christ following spouse is to remain in the union and act in accordance with God’s design for marriage. Paul reminds us that it may be through the righteous action of a believing spouse that the unbelieving one comes to be saved. Only if the non-Christian spouse is unwilling to remain in the marriage because of their spouse’s commitment to Christ, and the unbeliever chooses to leave does Paul say that the Christian spouse is free. (1 Corinthians 7:10-16)

Compatibility is key to marriage, it is of the utmost importance that we be very careful to ask God to join us with other believers only. As far as I am concerned it is the 1st of the 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage.

So now, looking to the unity you have with Jesus to increase the compatibility you have with your spouse…Go be Awesome!

Marriage & Divorce Vol. 10

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage.
This will be the final installment in our study of marriage and divorce based on the conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees recorded for us in the 19th chapter of Matthew and the 10th chapter or Mark. I hope this in-depth look at this topic has been both interesting and informative. Most of all I hope it has spurred you on to recommitting to your own covenantal marital relationship. Additionally, if you have been through divorce yourself as I have, I pray you have not found this study to be judgmental or condemning in nature. It is my hope that you have heard what I think Jesus intended even the Pharisees to hear…that there is forgiveness and grace for our failures, but that future blessing relies on our willingness to repent and choose to follow God’s best for us going forward.
Last time we looked to the conclusion of that recorded conversation. Both Mark and Matthew record that after finishing His discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus then spoke privately with His disciples answering some questions they had on their minds after listening to the exchange.
Mark simply tells us that, In the house, the disciples also asked Him about the same matter. So He said to them, “Whoever divorces His wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:10-12 I believe Jesus was saying several important things here. First we know from what we read a few weeks ago in Malachi 2:15-16 that God is seriously opposed to divorce. In fact, in that study we saw that the original Hebrew text intimated that in the context of that passage divorce actually means to be ‘opposite God’. We certainly know that Jesus would not have spoken contradictory to scripture. In His answer to His disciples, Jesus seems to address two separate issues, both divorce and re-marriage. First, He speaks concerning if a man or woman divorce…but mentions no consequence as a result of the divorce. I certainly don’t think this indicates Jesus approves of divorce, nor that there are no consequences if someone chooses to divorce. As I just mentioned God’s word found in Malachi already indicates that one of the consequence is being outside the will of God. That will certainly require repentance and will likely be the catalyst for various other natural consequences often including but not limited to broken homes, familial dysfunction, financial difficulty, etc. The next part of Jesus statement to the disciples addresses the second consideration “and marries another”. This does include a stated consequence. Jesus said that if someone divorces and remarries another, they commit adultery against their former spouse. Why did Jesus include this difficult statement? I believe He did so for several reasons. First I think Jesus meant for us to wrestle heavily with the importance God places on marriage. God endorses marriage…not divorce. I believe whole-heartedly that God recognizes divorce as ending a marriage, but that does not alter the fact that He intends only death to conclude the marital relationship, hence, His graphic description of a violent murder scene in Malachi when talking about the matter. I also believe that Jesus response to the Samaritan woman He encountered at Jacob’s well indicates God’s recognition of divorce concluding marriage. In John 4:16-18 it is recorded that Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said I have no husband, for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband, in that, you spoke truly.” Jesus was clear that the woman had been married five times and was in fact living in a sixth relationship that had not been consecrated by marriage. The intimation is that this poor woman had been a part of several divorces and remarriages. Jesus called each of those marriages valid. The only one not validated was the current one because according to Christ, no marriage between those two had taken place. God clearly validates divorce, but just as clearly does not endorse it. So, what was Jesus point? I think that the point Jesus was making here is that divorce is errantly seen by mankind as a solution for a ‘problematic marriage’. I think that Jesus is simply trying to point out that instead of solving problems, divorce simply creates an additional set of problems that will also have to be dealt with, and does not solve any that formerly existed. If there are problems in our marriages, the solution is to deal with the problems, not compound them.
I in no way desire to minimize what Christ was expressed so succinctly. Divorce goes against God’s best for us and potentially creates all kinds of unintended consequences. Context is incredibly important here. Let’s not forget that Jesus was speaking with His disciples at this point in a private setting. These were the men that He would rely upon to continue spreading the good news of the gospel as well as to teach the soon to be born church how to walk in righteousness. Jesus is not about what we can get away with and still be considered ok spiritually. Jesus is all about righteousness and the perfecting process of His bride.
The book of Matthew records more information about this private exchange with the disciples. In his account Matthew wrote that Jesus told the Pharisees that if someone divorced for any reason other than sexual unfaithfulness and remarried they would be guilty of committing adultery. Remember this was said to Pharisees who thought they were within the bounds of the law to divorce for any reason at all. Jesus stern response to these men apparently got His disciples thinking that such a strict view of the sanctity of marriage was not only unusual but perhaps too difficult to follow through with. We read their response in Matthew 19:10-12. His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only to those whom it has been given; For there are Eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.
Jesus’ disciples were doing what many of us often do when we don’t like direction we have been given. Most of us will counter unwanted guidance with an extreme. We do this because we find what we have just been told to be an extreme, so we respond with one of our own. It is an act of immaturity and is often easy to recognize in our children even if we don’t want to see it in ourselves. A teenager who has just been told they can’t go out with their friends for one reason or another may counter with a statement like “I guess I’ll just have to stay home forever then!” This is essentially what the disciples were doing. Jesus had simply stated a truth concerning the high value God places on His miraculous act of taking a man and a woman and making them one for the purpose of reflecting Himself. The truth Jesus expressed: Unless pornea has impacted marriage there are no grounds for divorce. Essentially Jesus was saying even if a marriage is terrible, if both spouses remain faithful sexually, they should stay put in their “One Flesh” condition and submit to God and look to Him to be the healer of their broken marriage. The disciples responded by saying, “If you have to stay in a marriage that makes you unhappy, maybe it is better to just not get married in the first place!”
Jesus simply illustrated to them that their thinking on the matter was flawed by taking it a step further. He told them that most people would not be cut out for a life of celibacy. There are those who are born unable to experience sexual union, and there are those who have been made that way by others. This latter statement was likely in reference to the practice of slaves sometimes being castrated by their masters to remove their sexual drive and keep them focused on their work. Finally, Jesus said that there are those who willingly give up their own physical desires to further the Kingdom of God. Paul spoke of this as well in 1 Corinthians chapter seven. Jesus response to the extreme statement made by the disciples pointed out that a life of voluntary celibacy was unrealistic without a specific calling on one’s life to do so, and that it was not a viable way of avoiding sin. Choosing not to marry to avoid sin is useless since the opportunity to sin is equally possible for someone who is single. The disciples had essentially said that if divorce without the pornea exception and subsequent remarriage would constitute adultery then better to not marry. Jesus responded that an unmarried person with normal sexual desire would be at an equal or even greater risk of sexual sin.
As a marriage counselor, I have had many people challenge Jesus statements about marriage and divorce. Those who question the validity of what He said in the conversation He had with the Pharisees want to use the Pharisee’s sin as the basis for why Jesus made such strict statements and therefore remove from themselves any need to submit to the same standard. I might be able to go down that road except that both Mark and Matthew also recorded the private conversation Jesus had with His disciples afterward. In that exchange, Jesus made no reference to the Pharisees at all. He spoke directly to the disciples. This can only mean that Jesus words did not apply only to the Pharisees but to the disciples as well. That means if we claim to be Christians, disciples of Jesus, they apply to us too.
I understand that in our society (and we think we have progressed as a society though I believe there is actually much proof to the contrary) there are many reasons good enough for divorce. We believe (as a society) that abuse, physical, emotional, mental, or otherwise is cause for divorce. Jesus does not agree. We think that if our spouse is harsh and we don’t think the way they parent is healthy it is a good enough reason to divorce. Jesus does not agree. We believe that if a marriage is unhealthy for us, (and we alone are the one who can decide if it is or is not healthy), we should be free to divorce. Jesus does not agree. We go so far as to say that if we have irreconcilable differences (whatever they are) it is probably better to divorce. Jesus does not agree. Does Jesus then want us to endure all of the things I mentioned and possibly even other hurtful things in our marriages? Of course not! However, Jesus understands people because He created them. Jesus also understands marriage because He invented it. Jesus understands sin because He died to pay the price for it, none of which had been committed by Him. Jesus understands, and with all of that understanding, Jesus understands something else that your grandmother understood…two wrongs won’t make it right. Having been the one who made people, instituted marriage and died to pay the price for our sin, Jesus understands better than anyone that divorce will not solve any problem…it only complicates it.
So now, understanding more about why it is so important to remain in the one flesh condition God created of us. Trust Him to guide and direct how to work out the problematic difficulties in your marriage…and go be awesome!

Marriage & Divorce Vol. 9

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage.

This will be the ninth installment in our series focusing on the topic of marriage and divorce based primarily on a conversation Jesus had with some of the Pharisees recorded for us in Matthew chapter 19 and Mark chapter 10. Over the past several weeks we have looked at that portion of the law from Deuteronomy the Pharisees were using as evidence for their position in the discussion, as well as scripture found in the book of Malachi that clearly states God’s stance on the matter. This week we will resume with the conversation Jesus was involved in that we stepped away from a few episodes back.

When we last visited their conversation, Jesus had just asked the Pharisees a couple of questions. I will remind you as I have shared in past episodes that I believe Jesus was having a three-way conversation between himself, and two opposing groups of Pharisees. Though it is admittedly only my belief that both of these groups were independently questioning Jesus as a part of the overall conversation, the existence of these differing groups is not in question. The two schools, one of Hillel and the other of Shammai were so named after the sages who founded them. Those who followed Shammai were more conservative when it came to matters of divorce believing based on Deuteronomy 24:1-4 that some indecency must be found in one’s wife to justify divorcing her. I believe the book of Mark records the portion of the conversation that was the exchange with them. The school of Hillel was far more liberal in terms of what they believed Deuteronomy 24:1-4 allowed as grounds for divorce. Their position was that all a man needed was be displeased with his wife, literally for any reason, and He could divorce her. It is my thought that Matthew chapter 19 records Jesus’ interaction with these men.

It is recorded for us in Mark 10:3-4 that Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What did Moses Command you?” to which they replied, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and dismiss her.” It is recorded in Matthew 19:4-7 that his question to them was “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 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 put her away?”

In recent episodes I’ve uncovered for you the scripture they were using as the basis for their replies to Jesus. In Volume 6 of this series I went through the portion of the law found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and broke it down explaining its meaning phrase by phrase. In volume 7, I explained the differences between demonstrable law and case law, along with other facts important to the correct interpretation of the aforementioned scripture. Additionally, I explained why the Pharisee’s sinful actions of the time tempted them to misappropriate this particular scripture.

Before moving on to the conclusion of the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees, I want to point out why I believe Jesus to have been speaking with delegates of both of these groups. I think that His questions to each recorded by Mark and then Matthew were intentionally presented because of their varying thought processes. I think Jesus asked each questions that lent themselves specifically to the more conservative or liberal beliefs of the two groups. I also believe that because the Pharisee’s had come to Jesus with only one unified mindset…to test and entrap Jesus in His answers, He turned the tables and allowed their selfish motivations to entrap them in the answers they gave. In doing this, Christ not only avoided the pitfall they were attempting to lay to cause Him a problem, He also exposed the error in both groups thinking, and that it was robbing them of the opportunity to know the fullness of God’s blessing in their own marriages.

Picking up now where we left off, let’s look at what Jesus had to say in response to the Pharisees answers to His questions. Mark 10:5-9 tell us, And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart, he [Moses] wrote you this precept. [Deuteronomy 24:1-4]. But from the beginning of 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. In this account given us by Mark and in my belief, spoken to the more conservative group of Pharisees, this is His reply to their answer to What did Moses command you? This reply clearly indicated to them that their error was in the portion of the law they were turning to when considering the topic. Jesus was redirecting them to the correct answer regarding what Moses had commanded them in Genesis 2:24. Christ was clearly saying that the command once married was to remain in the “One Flesh” condition God had created of them and their spouse. Jesus went on to reiterate that what God does, in this case taking a man and a woman and making them one, man does not have the capacity to undo…and shouldn’t even try.

Matthew 19:8-9 record what Jesus told the Pharisees who asked “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.” What was Jesus saying to these men? Was He saying it to just them, or was it for all of us? In my belief…both. These were the far more liberal group of Pharisees. These were of the school of Hillel who believed that Deuteronomy 24 gave them license to divorce their wives for any reason they found fit. These men were extremely cavalier when it came to their marriages. For them, marriage was little more than an arrangement that allowed them to have sex with a woman without committing fornication. Because of their incredibly casual valuation of marriage, their hearts had become very calloused and hard toward their relationship with God. They were mutilating scriptural guidance meant to direct them into blessing so they could pervert it, and use it to justify their own wanton selfishness. Historical documents of the time reveal that these particular Pharisees were literally marrying and then divorcing as soon as their desire for a new wife emerged. Their use of marriage had nothing to do with covenant and everything to do with covering up their sinful hearts by ensuring they were married to the current woman of their desire. There was never any intention for their marriages to last a lifetime…only as long as their lust endured.

With this historical context in mind, it becomes clearer that Jesus was indeed speaking directly to these men. He was pointing out their hypocrisy by telling them that if they divorced for any reason short of pornea, the unfaithful sexual immorality of a spouse, they were committing adultery, and were causing anyone who married their former spouse to commit adultery. Jesus’ answer contained an incredibly interesting parallel to the facts in evidence in the very case law the Pharisees used to justify their freedom to divorce. If you will recall, the circumstances of the case were that if a man found some indecency short of sexual immorality and divorced his wife, it was insinuated that by unjustifiably putting her in a position to remarry another, her former husband defiled her.

What about Jesus statement that Moses had indeed permitted them to divorce…even if because of the hardness of their hearts? Doesn’t that indicate God says we can divorce? Yes…and no. God will let us divorce, but does not offer His express permission to do so. We can’t accurately cherry pick the parts of Jesus statement we like and ignore the existence of the ones we don’t. His words recorded for us in Matthew 19:8 were “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Considering His complete statement there are several things that must be taken into account if we are going to use this scripture to endorse divorce.

  1. “Because of the hardness of your hearts” Jesus is abundantly clear…divorce is a result of a hard heart. While we might think the hardened heart is toward the spouse of the one seeking a divorce, and that might be true, I believe Jesus was pointing out it really reveals a hard heart toward God. Jesus said that short of pornea we shouldn’t try to undo what God has done. To do so is to act in opposition to God. A person in a “bad marriage” who seeks to divorce, is a person who has decided to end the marriage instead of waiting on God to have His will and way. Am I saying that if people will simply remain in difficult marriages longer God will always change the heart of their spouse…I am not. What I am saying is that to remain in the “One Flesh” condition God created is the best setting for necessary change to take place…in both spouses.
  2. “Moses…permitted you to divorce your wives” first we have to look at the inference in the original text we translate to the English word permitted. Literally it means that Moses suffered them to divorce their wives. the meaning is much the same as when we allow, permit, or suffer our children to make a difficult mistake that we know will have painful consequences. No good parent does this when they might be able to persuade their child to do the right thing. This permission is only given when the child cannot be dissuaded and they are headstrong to do the wrong thing. The parent then stands back, knowing their child is in no uncertain terms headed for a painful outcome, but helplessly remains as close as allowed to help pick up the pieces later. This statement in no way indicated Moses or God had agreed with the people that divorce was a solution to their difficult marriages.
  3. “but from the beginning it was not so” Here Jesus was making the point that divorce has never been the plan when it comes to marriage. Therefore, when we divorce we are acting contrary to God’s plan for us, and we are outside His will. Tough words I know, but Jesus said them, you’ll have to plead for your own exclusion. Or…if you have divorced you can do what should be done, repent. This is one of the most difficult, and freeing things you can do. Ask God to forgive you for stepping outside of His plan for your marriage and your life. If necessary, seek the forgiveness of a former spouse as well. Then regardless of your current marital status, determine in your heart you will never go down that road again. In the future you will allow God to lead and to guide, but you will not seek to undo what He has done.

So now, committing to remain in the “One Flesh” condition God has created of you and your spouse, and seeking His help to make your marriage all He wants it to be…Go Be Awesome!

Marriage & Divorce Vol. 8

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage.

We are continuing with our study of Marriage and Divorce from a biblical view utilizing a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees recorded for us in Matthew chapter 19 and Mark chapter 10. This will be the 8th episode in this series. We began by dissecting the first part of the conversation I referenced a moment ago. Then I spent two sessions looking at the portion of the law (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) that the Pharisees misinterpreted to support their position that they ought to be free to divorce. I shared with you last time several of the reasons I believe their reading of that particular scripture was in fact an intentional misinterpretation. Today I would like to look at another passage from the book of Malachi that I believe goes to further reinforce that their interpretation was severely flawed.

Let’s begin by reading that passage. Malachi 2:10-16 in the New King James Version reads as follows:

10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another By profaning the covenant of the fathers? 11 Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, For Judah has profaned The Lord’s holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob The man who does this, being awake and aware, Yet who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! 13 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. 16 “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

This scripture passage contains one of the most well-known concepts contained in all the Bible concerning divorce. ‘God hates divorce’ found in verse 16. While this concept is most certainly rooted in truth there are several things that I feel important to point out to broaden our understanding of this passage, and how it relates to the others we have been studying.

The passage begins in verse 10 speaking about something that seemingly has little to do with marriage or divorce, so why include it in our study? As you will recall, I’ve made the case many times that the relationship between God and mankind and the marital relationship between husband and wife is the “Great Analogy”. This scriptural analogy is used by God far and away more than any other to describe the relationship He desires to have with us. Verses 10 and 11 of this passage are just such an analogy.

10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another By profaning the covenant of the fathers? 11 Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, For Judah has profaned The Lord’s holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god. To fully understand the analogy, we need to first better understand the meaning of the Hebrew word we translate into English as “Treacherously” The translation is correct but our contemporary understanding of the word has come to mean to treat someone dangerously or with malice. The actual definition is to be maliciously unfaithful and to treat someone deceitfully.

God was pointing out that the relationship He had previously enjoyed with Judah was now greatly damaged. He said that Judah had been unfaithful to Him by loving another, and in fact that Judah was acting as if it had divorced God and was married or joined to another. He said that an abomination (meaning intermarriage with idolaters in this context), had been committed ruining the sacredness of the union between God and Judah. However, just as it is in the book of Hosea, the unfaithful are God’s people and never God Himself. God says that He is married to the backslider. (Jeremiah 3:14) God is true to His word and remains faithful to His covenants with His people even if His people do not remain faithful to Him.

The second section of this passage, verses 12 and 13 are God’s complaint against His people and the consequences of their treacherous actions toward Him. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob The man who does this, being awake and aware, Yet who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! 13 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Here God makes the point that it is unreasonable for an unfaithful spouse who deals treacherously to expect that they would continue to receive favor from their offended spouse. God points out to His people that they have been unfaithful to Him and yet they continue to come before Him asking for His favor, and He has grown weary of their disingenuous attitudes. As a result, God told the people that though He had not abandoned them, he was no longer accepting their hypocritical offerings or listening to their insincere prayers.

The people responded by asking God what they had done to illustrate a disingenuous mindset toward Him. His response: 14 …Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant. Now the analogy turns to the reality of their own marriages. God tells His people that the condition of their marital relationships is all the proof He needs that they do not honor Him. This is a striking revelation for us. According to this scripture, we cannot make the claim that we have a good relationship with God if we do not have a good relationship with our spouse. God does not consider our marriages ancillary to our walk with Him. His word clearly indicates that the two are interconnected with the greatest of congruency.

God goes on to point out the fact that it is He who created our marriages by taking two and making of them one. Additionally, He speaks of His position in those marriages as much more than simply the one who fashioned them. He clarified that He has always intended to be an integral part of each of our marriages. 15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. Here in verse 15 God asks some critical questions. Did He not make them one? Is God not the creator of our marriages? Furthermore, He pointed out that as a part of the formation of our marriages He made a personal investment by joining us with a remnant of His Spirit. Throughout the Old Testament when God would leave a remnant of His people existing it was always for one and only one purpose…to be able to reestablish godliness. Here it is no different. In this context the original word remnant means a residue. God is essentially saying that as the holy and perfect creator of marriage, all marriages contain a residue of its Creator’s goodness. His intent is that the residue or remnant of His Spirit will encourage that marriage to seek what is godly and reject what is not. God then asks, “And why one”? in other words “Why do I marry People”? He answers Himself…“For godly offspring”. In the context of this verse, godly offspring does not mean children but rather moral quality. God was expressly saying that He takes two and makes them one with a remnant of His Spirit so that they can act as one in godly ways, reflecting His character (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, God says clearly, listen to your spirit as to how to correctly interact with your spouse so that your marriage can fulfill all of its full God-given potential.

With that understanding we can now better interpret what God meant when He made the declaration many know from Malachi 2:16 16 “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”

God does indeed state with absolute clarity that He hates divorce. The meaning of this term hates divorce means that it goes against His ways and His will. Literally in this verse it means that divorce is against or opposite of God. God says that divorce covers one’s garment with violence. The context of the word violence in this passage means injurious harm. When you connect the injurious harm to covering the perpetrator’s garments it indicates bloody injury, insinuating a death akin to murder. One of the ways divorce is anti-God is that it ends a marriage by violent death instead of the natural death of a spouse. Divorce is death, God is life. Again God gives the warning that married people must pay attention to their spirit which should desire that which its creator would desire. As a result, we should be faithful to our marriages and never willing to intentionally cause their untimely demise.

When you understand why God hates divorce, that it goes against everything He is, and every desire He has for the marriages He lovingly creates, it becomes clearer that He would then never offer us a formula to dissolve our marriages. In the conversation we have been using as the basis for our study Jesus made this exact point. He said, “Therefore they are no longer two but one, and what God has joined, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:6 & Mark 10:9)

So now…with a newfound understanding of the value God places on your marriage, commit to adopting His standard of care for your oneness…and go be awesome!

Marriage and Divorce Vol. 7

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage.

We are currently looking at the topic of Marriage and Divorce, and what God’s word has to say concerning it. This will be our seventh installment in that series. As I have mentioned previously, I understand this is a complex topic, and even as we search the scriptures for answers, it can be daunting. However, all truth originates with God, and if we are to know how to succeed in our marriages we must be willing to explore His truth. We have been exploring the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees where this topic was discussed at length, and using that as our focal scripture. I mentioned that Jesus, desiring to speak primarily about the righteous subject of marriage, asked the Pharisees about the law hoping they would expound on Genesis 2:24. Rather they chose to focus on Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to defend their perspective concerning their ability to divorce.

As we made our way through most of that scripture phrase-by-phrase I pointed out some important details relevant to the correct interpretation of it, and mentioned that the Pharisees, as scholars of the law, would have been well aware of each of those truths.

  1. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is case law not demonstrable law – it’s structure leaves no question as to its classification.
  2. In Old Testament case law, the directive is given only after the facts of the case are presented and no legislation should be derived from those facts-in-evidence unless it had been presented elsewhere in the law previously.
  3. To conclude that the facts-in-evidence equated to demonstrable law where none had formerly existed was an illegitimate reading of the law. This is important in this situation because several errant conclusions were being drawn (though I don’t believe they were arrived at unintentionally)
  • Those from the school of Shammai (the more conservative group who I believe Mark wrote concerning) concluded that some indecency had to be discovered in one’s spouse to justify divorce. They errantly determined that the facts-in-evidence presented in the case law in Deuteronomy 24:1 equated to God-ordained grounds for divorce. This is supported by their initial question to Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” I think they knew they had misrepresented case law as demonstrable law and were as Mark stated, asking this question for the purpose of testing Jesus. If He answered that it was not lawful they would have espoused their inaccurate reading of the law to be correct, if He would have said it was lawful, they would have pointed out that He apparently didn’t know case law from demonstrable law and shouldn’t be trusted as a Rabbi.
  • Those from the school of Hillel (the more liberal group I believe Matthew referred to) also misconstrued the meaning of this scripture. They believed that the example of the second husband detesting his wife without a stated cause should be interpreted to mean that divorce was permissible for any reason a husband found himself displeased with his wife. They too, demonstrated this by their initial question to Jesus recorded for us in Matthew. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” If Jesus had simply said no, He would have begun a heated dispute between the two groups of Pharisees and been the apparent cause of a large public disruption. If He had answered “Yes, any reason will do” the Pharisees from either group could have pointed out that the Rabbi obviously didn’t understand that case law was not demonstrable law.
  • Both groups of Pharisees were misrepresenting that Moses had specifically instructed them as to how to obtain a divorce. Because the listed circumstances of the case included an accepted societal procedure used to validate divorce, The Pharisees were selfishly misappropriating it as Mosaic law. In order for the facts-in-evidence to contain such law, it would have had to already been “on the books” so to speak. This is not the case. The contents of the book of Deuteronomy have long been agreed to be a “Farewell Sermon” from Moses to the people just prior to his death and their entrance into the Promised Land. It is widely accepted to be a summary of much of the law found in the book of Exodus and does not contain any ‘new’ demonstrable law. As such, any legislation contained in Deuteronomy would need to reinforce law already existing in the Pentateuch. Although Leviticus mentions divorce 3 times, Numbers refers to it once and Deuteronomy makes note of it 2 other times prior to chapter 24 none of those examples give any instruction pertaining to the process for divorce. Without any prior mention of demonstrable or case law legislating the procedural format legitimizing divorce, one cannot be justifiably concluded from Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

With that understanding we can now look at the actual legislation found at the conclusion of this passage and determine what its true meaning is. Deuteronomy 24:4 Then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

The law given in response to the circumstances of the case is simple; If a man divorces his wife and she remarries, he is not to marry her again later regardless. The stated reason for this law is slightly more complex. Marriage was always intended to be a covenantal relationship that reflected the image and likeness of God. Divorce mutates that design, and is the reason God said He hates divorce in Malachi 2:15, a scripture we will look at more closely in a future episode. This particular scriptural statute however emphatically dictates that once the woman in this situation remarried, her former husband was never to marry her again no matter what may come in the future. It clearly says, that to do so would be an abomination before the Lord. Let’s consider the reasoning for such strong language.

In Deuteronomy 24:1-4 the reason given for the initial divorce was indecency – this indiscretion would not have been adultery or fornication as the legal remedy for those at the time was death by stoning. The indecency referred to here would have been a lesser offence. The Hebrew word used in the statute is Er-vah and literally means nakedness and might indicate that the wife had shown too much of herself to another man or in a public setting. It’s possible that she have spoken some indecent thing to another man, whatever the case was it was less egregious than the sexual act of adultery, which would have as I said a moment ago carried a penalty of capital punishment. Jesus made it clear in our focal scriptures that anything short of adultery is not considered grounds for divorce in God’s eyes.

Mark recorded that after the conversation with the Pharisees had presumably concluded His disciples asked Him more about the matter privately. There we read that Jesus said to them that if a man divorced his wife and married another he committed adultery, and that if a woman divorced her husband and remarried that she would be committing adultery. (Mark 10:11-12) I believe that Jesus was reinforcing for His disciples that God considers marriage a life-long covenantal relationship that is not designed to end except by the death of a spouse. Earlier Jesus had told the Pharisees that in marriage a man and a woman are joined and made one by God, and that mere man should not try to undo what God has done (Mark 10:8-9).

Matthew records that Jesus had more to say to directly to the Pharisees who had asked Him if they could divorce for just any reason. Matthew wrote that Jesus told them that if they divorced for anything short of pornia  – sexual immorality, and remarried they would be committing adultery. He added that if they married a divorced woman they would also be committing adultery. (Matthew 19:9) There are several theories as to why the book of Matthew is the only one of the synoptic gospels that includes the exception clause for pornia. My belief on this distinction centers around the theory that there were two different groups of Pharisees each asking Jesus their own questions. Allowing that to be accurate, the more conservative of them (spoken of in Mark) would have been experiencing a much lower rate of divorce than the more liberal group written about here in Matthew. I shared in previous episodes that there is far reaching belief among biblical scholars that those of the school of Hillel were using their interpretation that any reason for divorce was permissible, to divorce and remarry with regularity. Many of those scholars go so far as to say that this group of men were using their twisted version of Mosaic law to justify rapid divorce and remarriage, exclusively to satisfy their sexual desire for multiple partners. They felt that as long as they were married while having sexual relations it was permissible by the law so long as they divorced one woman before marrying another. I believe that when Jesus addressed these men He specifically said that pornia (adultery) was the only true grounds for divorce for multiple reasons.

  1. He wanted to drastically narrow and correct the parameters for divorce that these men had so dramatically widened.
  2. He wanted to identify that the condition of their perverse hearts and minds toward the God ordained institution of marriage was indeed sinful.
  3. I believe that He wanted to make the irony clear that the only reason God accepted for divorce was precisely what these sinful men were using a perverted view of the law to accomplish. Jesus had previously stated that if a man even lusted after a woman, God who reads the heart, saw it as the same as if he had actually committed the physical act (Matthew 5:28). I think Jesus was making it abundantly clear to these men that using the law to cover their tracks did not in any way absolve them of the guilt of being adulterers.
  4. Finally, I find it interesting that by making these statements concerning the consequences of marriage, divorce and subsequent remarriage, Jesus was explaining how the woman in the Deuteronomy 24 example became defiled by the 1st husband who divorced her, and why this was an abomination before the Lord!

Next time as we continue our study of Marriage and divorce, we will look at the scripture I mentioned earlier found in Malachi chapter 2.

So now, growing more steadfast each day to honor your marital commitments to your spouse and your God…Go be Awesome!

Marriage and Divorce Vol.5

Hi this is Pastor Ken, thanks for taking part in the Monday Marriage Message. This is the fifth episode in our series of study concerning marriage and divorce. For those who may be checking in for the first time we are primarily basing our study on a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees recorded for us in Matthew 19 and Mark chapter 10.

Last week I took time for a sidebar from that conversation we are looking at so closely. I took the time to explain to you why I think it is so important for us to literally break that scripture down phrase-by-phrase. As we move forward my prayer is that the slow and methodical way we are working our way through this will be a blessing and not a frustration. God’s word is so jam-packed with truths, and His ways and thoughts are so much Higher than ours…as high as the heavens are above the earth…that slow and steady is the only way to not leave too much grain in the field.

The week before last I shared with you the two questions recorded for us in the gospels of Mark and Matthew that Jesus posed in response to the initial questions asked of Him by the Pharisees. There is irrefutable evidence that there were in fact two different factions of the Pharisees who disagreed with each other as to what constituted grounds for divorce. These schools of thought covered far more territory than simply marriage and divorce. They disagreed on matters of ritual practices, ethics and theology. They were known as the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel named for the sages who founded them. Those who followed Shammai’s teaching were the more conservative when it came to divorce and those who subscribed to the teaching of Hillel were the more liberal of the two. I shared with you a few weeks ago that I believe each group came posing a question intended to entrap and discredit Jesus. Mark records the more conservative question and Matthew recorded that the Pharisees asked about a more liberal view of divorce.

I shared with you in that episode that Jesus answered their questions without taking a side as they had hoped He would. Instead He responded to them with a few questions of His own. He asked the first group, “What did Moses command you?” and essentially asked the second group if they had failed to read what Moses had commanded and then quoted the portion of the law (Genesis 2:24) He was referring to in his question to their colleagues. By doing this Jesus was asserting that their question was actually one of Marriage and not divorce. He was pointing out that marriage was the God ordained institution, divorce was man’s created remedy when marriage became too difficult. Essentially Jesus was redirecting the Pharisees into an honest and truthful conversation.

In this edition we will look at the Pharisee’s responses to Jesus’ follow-up questions. When you look carefully at how they answered, it is quite telling and explains the condition of their hearts. Let’s read now what those recorded responses were. I will read each excerpt including the follow-up question Jesus posed and the answer the Pharisees gave. As before we will begin with Marks gospel where I believe Jesus is speaking with the more conservative group. Mark 10:3-4 says, And He answered and said unto them, “What did Moses Command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her”. Now from Matthew; the question to, and the answer from the more liberal group of Pharisees. Matthew 19:4-7; 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 shall be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh’? So 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 put her away”?

The way this conversation is framed is of significance if we want to have a complete understanding of Jesus view (or in other words, God’s view) of marriage and divorce. As I mentioned last week, it is critical to see the different twists and turns the direction of the conversation took. As I said a few moments ago, Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ question with follow-up questions of His own. He did this for two reasons. First, to avoid doing as they wished He might, and take a side that would be then used to discredit Him. Additionally, He did this to redirect the original flawed questions back to a basis of truth. His reasons for answering their questions with questions was to solidify truth rather than to confuse it with falsehoods. They, on the other hand came back at Jesus with retorts designed to drag Him back out into the weeds of their preferred distractions.

There is an old saying that if you say something with confidence you will fool half the people most of the time. This is what the first group of Pharisees attempted to do. Their answer to Jesus question of “What did Moses command you?”, was, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her”. Notice the effort to deceive. It was meant to be a confident retort that contained a discrepancy they hoped Jesus and those listening in would not pick up on. Jesus asked what Moses’ command had been, they told him what Moses permitted. This realization is central to avoiding a common misunderstanding of this scripture. All too often I find that Christians are still being misled by the Pharisee’s intended deception recorded in this passage. Today it is still being read and simply accepted that the answer the Pharisees gave to Jesus question lines up correctly with the portion of the law they were referring to. They were twisting a scripture found in Deuteronomy 24 which we will look at in greater depth in a future episode. I think their answer was worded the way that it was, so they could skew their interpretation of the law to fit their selfish desires. They wanted to be able to divorce when their marriages did not meet their expectations. These conservative Pharisees may not have been as eager to open the grounds for divorce up as wide as their counterparts were, but they did want to be able to infer that divorce was a God given remedy for a problematic marriage.

As I have shared already I think this was one conversation that included three positions, the conservatives, the liberals and Jesus. Jesus having received a confident yet elusive answer from the first group asked the second a more direct question that included the correct answer to His question for those He had just been speaking with. He asked 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 shall be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no Longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together let not man separate.” This group tried to use Jesus own tactic against Him, and answered His question with another of their own. Knowing the passage of scripture from Deuteronomy 24 that the first group had referred to, and seeing their peer’s attempt at deception, they tried to continue with that same falsehood as if it were a truth. So they asked Jesus, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and put her away”? When we look at their response, the attempt to disguise a lie within an apparent truth is even more blatant than that of their associates. This is not all that surprising when you consider that this response came from those who wanted to be free to end their marriages for any reason they chose. Being further from the truth of God’s design for marriage they were willing to go to even greater lengths to avoid it. They asked Jesus to tell them why Moses had done something he had never done. There was never a command in the law as to how to enact a divorce. The more conservative Pharisees knew this and that is why when Jesus asked what Moses had commanded them, they told Him that Moses had permitted them to do something in terms of divorce. I believe the liberal Pharisees were well aware of that, but because of the condition of their hearts toward their own marriages, they were being overtly being dishonest, even with themselves, about the intent of the law.

If we do not take note of the inconstancies employed by the Pharisees in this passage, we can easily become deluded as well. As I said a few minutes ago, all these years later Christians are still being misled by the intentional inaccuracies the Pharisees were using in their argument with Jesus. What would cause the leadership of the Jewish people of the time to want to stray so far from the intent of the law they claimed to love so much? Why would they be willing to go to such lengths to misrepresent the truths contained in the law?

Their aim it seems was gaining the ability to extract themselves from unpleasant marriages and have the freedom to try, try again. This motive did not escape Christ as we will see farther along when He addresses that unrighteous mindset. We also have other contemporary non-scriptural writings on the Pharisee’s disagreement with each other concerning the subject. Those illuminate the Pharisee’s motives behind their search for caveats to God’s original intent of lifelong marital covenant. Some commentaries go so far as to suggest that the more liberal minded of the Pharisees were using repetitive divorce and remarriage as a legal loophole for a steady change of sexual partners. They were making a mockery of marriage just to satisfy their own sexually lustful desire for multiple women without breaking any laws. Essentially, the Pharisees wanted to be able to placate their sinful desires while imagining they were sidestepping consequence. Jesus was fully aware of their heart set and spoke to it directly as we will discover in a future episode in this series.

Questions to answer:

  • Have you ever stopped to consider the intent of the Pharisees to circumvent the intent of the law by twisting the letter of the law?
  • Does it surprise you that they were being stubbornly elusive to satisfy their own desires?
  • When you consider the divorce rate today, do you think there is validity in our currently accepted “Grounds for divorce”?
  • How many people do you know who you would say divorced a spouse for the explicit reason of being free in the future to try, try again?

Actions to take:

  • Talk with your spouse about your personal commitment to remaining married for the rest of your lives.
  • Discuss why divorce should never be looked at as an escape clause from an unhappy marriage.
  • Pray that God will preserve your marriage and give each of you the grace necessary to work through your difficulties without walking away from the marriage.
  • Commit to one another right now that no matter what difficulties or troubles lay ahead that you will walk into them hand-in-hand, and you will walk out of them hand-in-hand as well.

So now, recognizing the sanctity of the marital union God has gifted you with, commit yourselves anew to your “One Flesh” relationship…and go be awesome!

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