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Jesus' Teaching on Divorce

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2021 8:00 am

Jesus' Teaching on Divorce

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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April 6, 2021 8:00 am

The statistics are staggering. The divorce rate among Americans even among professing Christians is nearly 50 percent! How should we respond to this cultural crisis when God designed marriage to last a lifetime, yet 1 in every 2 marriages today ends in divorce? On this broadcast of The Bible Study Hour, Dr. Boice will share a Biblical perspective on this important topic of marriage.

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The statistics are staggering.

The divorce rate among Americans is nearly 50%. How should we respond to this cultural crisis when God designed marriage to last a lifetime. Yet, one in every two marriages today ends in divorce on this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce will share a biblical perspective on the important topic of marriage to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Bortz bearing you to think and act biblically. Marriage is a good gift created by God, why didn't you both Jesus and Paul admit that sometimes it's better for a person not to marry.

Let's listen in and find out whom therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. As of the words of the current most forms of the marriage service in Christian services like, just before the benediction and yet men are putting asunder, and women to were well aware of that. You're not aware of, and our children are any of you know that it's our pattern here on Sunday mornings for the person who is preaching the morning sermon to go through Sunday school ahead of time and share a little bit with the children what is going to be preached on at the 11 o'clock service. When I did that this morning talking a little bit about divorce trying to talk to them about how we might encourage people that have been held in this way were more responses.

I suppose from our children in this area than anything else in one after another. They began to tell about their friends who are in a divorce family living with one parent and not too many of them travel weekends to be with the other parent are sometimes even other parts of the country so very pressing problem. What are we to make of the statistics know the standard God requires chastity before marriage fidelity in marriage in a lifelong union of man and woman, till death us do part is what some forms of the marriage service that's the case, knowing our sand and the problems we see is not surprising to find people responding much the way the disciples of Jesus Christ. When they got into the discussion that is recorded in Matthew 19 sand listen if this is a situation between a husband and the wife. It's better not to marry. But it's going to marry marriages in our marriage is God's idea was God who created the first woman for the first man brought them together as God, he pronounced the first marriage ceremony. The problem is with the plan of God or the goodness of God. The problems with ourselves. It's our sin and what Jesus Christ refers to as the hardness of your heart. You said in this passage, referring to the Old Testament law about divorce Jesus that Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard but it wasn't this way from the beginning. I'm sure that's one reason why this lengthy discussion of divorce.

In Matthew we find in chapter 19 occurs immediately after the equally long and extensive discussion of forgiveness the end of chapter 18. Marriage is the most intimate of all relationships and therefore it's the relationship in all of life where we experience the most piercing pain so it follows that this relationship above all others that must be upheld by that 777 type of forgiveness that Jesus was talking about with the disciples on this question about divorce came up because Jesus was asked something by the Pharisees. It was a matter that had been seriously debated among the Jewish leaders. Although Matthew says here that it was only asking order to test Jesus. They did was this I came to Emily said look, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason kind of thing that the rabbis had debated, and presumably what they wanted to do here get an answer.

There are some people who love debates more than answers and probably they were among them.

But what they really wanted to do is force Jesus to one side or the other. I figured that if they did that they would be able to alienate him from at least half of those were listening to be treated. The standards of the law in a lax manner. They could say is not faithful to the Bible. On the other hand, if he took strong stand. It would be that he become popular with the masses of the people of this discussion among the rabbis was over the meaning of Deuteronomy 24 verses one through four was the only Old Testament text. The only place in the Old Testament actually mentions divorce and it uses the word something indecent to describe what a man might find in his wife is a ground for divorce. So the question was, what is referred to, and regardless of what it refers to.

Does that passage grant husband the right to get a divorce.

The Jews were divided as I suggested the adherence to this sack that was located at Qumran sect that apparently produced the Dead Sea Scrolls believed that all divorces were all course I was a monastic community they could afford to take a high standard, the well-known Rabbi Shama. I permitted divorce, but only because of what he called gross indecency. But he didn't spell out very clearly what that was equally well-known Rabbi's name was Hillel and he permitted divorce are all kinds of offenses, even he said for preparing bad meals so Hillel was a liberal spokesman on these matters and show him I was the conservative Jesus. Interestingly enough, didn't answer the question directly. At least the first he does do it later on find his answer in verse nine but at first instead of allowing the matter to be debated on their level. When asking about the minimal grounds for getting a divorce Jesus instead raised it to the level of God's original intention in marriage.

Directing those who raise the question of the first and second chapters of Genesis where this first marriage established by God's plan out how he cites Genesis 127 says, haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female. The implication is that God instituted marriage by the very creation of man into genders, male and female, and that the woman was created for the man just as the corresponding way the man was given to the woman that he quote. Secondly, from Genesis 224, which is part of a longer passage is worth reading.

It goes like this. The Lord God said it's not good for the man to be alone I will make a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs closed up the place with flesh and the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man and he brought her to the man and said this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh shall be called woman. She was taken out of man this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh was at last verse of Jesus referred to, indicating that marriage was instituted by God for man's well-being and that the union that takes place in marriage is the union of one man and one woman becoming one flesh.

And it's to be permanent throughout both of their lives as long as we both shall live. According to one the marriage file with the very least, Jesus was standing against the common lax divorce practices of the day and for the Scriptures when he taught that marriage is to be a permanent institution. Now as I read Matthew's account. I sense that the Pharisees anticipated that answer reason I say that is that they knew that Jesus believe the Bible was faithful in teaching it and also because they apparently were ready immediately with a follow-up question follow-up question had to do with that text in Deuteronomy. Why then they said did Moses command man to give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away. They were suggesting is that Jesus couldn't have been right in his interpretation of Genesis 1 and two because of the book of Deuteronomy here is Moses saying it's all right to get a divorce. I work reading approved text correctly. Jesus was careful to point that out. But look, here's the way they were reading it. If a man marries a wife and she displeases them for some reason whatever that may be to be decided he shall write her a bill of divorce and send her away.

That is what Moses said is very interesting construction in Hebrew is actually a whole string of phrases that setting up we would call a test question or circumstance and case law in the text actually reads like this, so there's a big difference. If a man marries a wife and she does not find favor in his eyes and he writes her a bill of divorce and sends her away and she marries another man, and her second husband also writes her a bill of divorce and sends her away in the first husband not must not marry her again. Text says nothing about divorce being allowed only about the sin of remarriage after the woman is been joined to another man and so far so good.

This is where the chief difficulty comes in our understanding of the text because although it's clear that Jesus calls remarriage after divorce adulterate for bidding. It did add at this point what is usually referred to as the exception clause goes like this.

He said I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.

Most people today understand marital unfaithfulness to meet, adulterate, and they conclude that this is the one valid ground for divorce. The argument would be elderly has already broken the marriage relationship is all you really do is formalize that by getting a divorce in the courts. Now I acknowledge that's the majority view majority view, even among conservative commentators, at least in our diet wasn't in the past, but today I want to argue that interpretation is wrong and that is not what Jesus was referring to when he spoke of marital unfaithfulness.

Actually, you say those words marital unfaithfulness which occur in the new international version prejudge the issue because marital unfaithfulness means adulterate that's not actually the word that Jesus used the Greek word for adultery is what Kayla we don't have any English equivalent of laughs, but Mike K on the Greek word is the equivalent of the Latin words odd ulterior support that actually mean this literally, as to another's bed and it's by a contraction of those three Latin words odd ulterior support and that we get our English word adulterate which is what Mike K. It means that's not the word that occurs here or that occurs here is poor Naya which most of the older versions of the Bible translated correctly is fornication is a broader word than what KIK a means adulterate have to be married to commit adultery report layout refers to different kinds of sexual sin.

Based on the verb per Meme which means to sell refers to prostitution. First of all that into all kinds of bad sexual acts are associated with prostitution conduct outside of marriage. The Latin equivalent for that is a word for Max, which has the same meaning because that's based on the arch of the temple.

That's what the form X was and it was by the arches of the temple that the temple prostitutes connected so that word has given us our English word fornication.

The whites translated as I said in older Bible so you have two entirely different things. There one adulterate and the other one fornication.

Now, if Jesus was referring to adulterate is one legitimate grounds for divorce. The text should abuse the word boy Kayla. In fact, it doesn't and the very fact that it doesn't use that word suggests that we should look for the meeting elsewhere. What cannot be. I want to suggest that if the exception clause doesn't refer to adulterate.

The only thing it can reasonably be thought to refer to as impurity in the woman discovered on the first night of the marriage which case would've been deceit in the marriage contract, Jesus would be saying full-court with the teaching of the day that although a man may divorce a woman immediately after marriage, if he finds that she is not a virgin, in which case he was allowed by law to remarry and was not to be called an adultery is not permitted to divorce her for any other reason, because of the does doesn't. Later he forces her into a position where she may be forced to remarry because of social conditions and, thereby, she becomes an adulterous and he would become an adult or are himself. He remarried out also the true meaning of the passage from Deuteronomy word is translated something indecent or some uncleanness is what the older King James version said is actually the word for nakedness, or nudity widths associated with being unclothed for the purpose of having sexual relations and so it's also often associated with sexual sin or impurity. Now is unadulterated know it couldn't be adulterate in the law because the punishment for adultery was death by stoning and the guilty party was stunned. Obviously there wouldn't be any need for divorce.

In other words, it has to refer to sexual sin before marriage, which is what we mean by fornication. In other words, Jesus was reinforcing the Old Testament teaching by his interpretation of the Deuteronomy passage someone may object if you know the Old Testament law that may occur to you that fornication was also punishable by death. The answer to that is that while it's true in some cases it wasn't true in every case it was true. If it was possible to avoid either the manner the woman didn't which case it's willful sin, but there could also be rape in conditions like that word couldn't be avoided.

In that case is a measure of innocence when he was put to death for. That's certainly not a woman that was abused and she was free to remarry, but of course the condition had to be made known to the planet was marrying her other words, there would have been deceit in the contract. Now I want to go along with one other interesting point to be considered the gospel of Mark also has a discussion of this issuance in the 10th chapter.

What is interesting that in Mark this exception clause because it's been so much trouble for interpreters of Matthew doesn't appear Matthews is the only gospel that actually has this phrase in it and asked the question why is that some liberal commentators and even some conservative commentators argue that Mark's version of the saying is the original one.

That's what Jesus actually said and that Matthew is sort of put this phrase in later because of problems or existing in the church with which he was connected would be a way of saying that Matthew recognize you could live up to Jesus standard and so he put in a little exception clause not I want to suggest that his formal reasonable to explain this addition which Jesus certainly spoke to Jesus words by noticing that Matthew is also the only gospel to record the reaction of Joseph when he learned of Mary's being pregnant, Matthew wrote because Joseph her husband was a righteous man didn't want to expose her to public disgrace. He had in mind to divorce her quietly. Now Joseph and Mary were married they were formally engaged that was regarded as nearly the same thing.

So in order to annul the engagement was virtually to get a divorce unless what Joseph was about to do when he learned it very was expecting a child of somebody read that, followed by Jesus statement in the 19th chapter that any divorce was wrongly my very reasonably conclude that Joseph was willing to break the law by what he planned to do a course that isn't what he was doing and what Matthew is doing is including the explanation to explain what actually happened in the case of Jesus parents so we come to the standard once again chastity before marriage fidelity after marriage, lifelong commitment of one married partner to the other with no thought of divorce is what Jesus taught on a terribly high standard. Wonder the disciples reacted with a cynical comment that I mentioned earlier if this is the situation between husband and wife. It's better not to marry me or something like that today young people are saying that today there saying look I have never known a happily married couple.

I'm never going to get married, what's the answer really obvious answer to such cynicism is the model happy marriages.

That's what Christians aren't able to do in spite of the fact that we are sinners and we are problems in our marriages as we have them in other areas of our life as well. But listen is significant that that's actually not the answer.

Jesus gives disciples say look, it would be better not to marry.

And you would expect Jesus to say at that point, no, no, you misunderstand.

Make marriages good actually takes what they say seriously and respond by saying. In fact, yes, in some cases it is utter for people not to marry. If that's what they're called to do by God refers to those who were unable to marry because of a physical deformity or lack also to others who are called to renounce marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. Verse 12 is exactly what the apostle Paul said later in his letter to the Corinthians 1st of those letters. Chapter 7 where he advised remaining single because of the present crisis was thinking of the difficulty of missionary work those early days and how you could do it a lot better if you were single about trying to maintain a family and carry a family along all of that. That's exactly the situation of the disciples and is why Jesus said what he said to them, to be his missionaries going out of all the world. I said yes that your calling and that is what he called them to. In your case it would be better not to marry. But it doesn't mean marriage itself is not good when it's Jesus teaching is consistent with the teaching of the Bible has a holders. No legitimate way of getting around. But we have to ask the question. Where do we come in. We can acknowledge the Bible's high standard. At this point and still struggle with how to do what's required or we can be in a position where we have failed to live up to Jesus standard have been divorces and remarriages and we say to ourselves well want to do we do now. I want to close just by saying a few things about the application of these principles. First of all, these are standards for Christians, not for the world as means of believers. Some try to impose them on other people generally we can argue that people who are not Christians would be far happier and better off if they were living up to Christian standards and we can point out was justified.

Alarm how our culture declines when the families decline as ours is doing the majority of people are not Christians, and it would be wrong and also irrational to expect them to live up to Christian standards because, of course, apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. They can't do it without observation that led CS Lewis to make what I think is a rather wise suggestion.

He said there really ought to be two distinct kinds of marriages want to be one governed by the state with rules enforced on all citizens, and the other governed by the church with rules enforced by our members and the distinction to be quite sharp so that a man knows which couples are married in the Christian sense in which are not the first observation of the second is this because there are many persons who become Christians after they have been married and divorced, sometimes more than once. We must never forget that their previous conduct, along with all their passions wiped clean by their conversion to Christ, and that therefore they have the right to marry the first time. As Christians the church in Corinth must've been made up largely of persons in this category, and not only divorce people who were done worse things as well and Paul wrote that many of them had been fornicators and adulterers and idolaters before their conversion, but he still calls them. In that letter, new creatures in Christ when new creature in Christ meets another new creature in Christ of my fall in love are they not free to marry as new creatures in Christ established now for the first time a genuinely Christian, I think so.

Third, there are cases in which one of the spouses is a Christian and the other one is not what is a Christian to do in circumstances like that.

Well, that's a situation. Paul faced only in Corinth but in other cities, and this was his advice. He says, first of all, a Christian should remain with the unbelieving spouse of all possible because he says how do you know that you won't be the means by which God will save your husband or your wife. First Corinthians 716, but it is possible that the unbelieving spouse won't stay with the Christian that's the case I'll second point is let the unbeliever go walk in the Christian stuff and in any case, as mere realism.

He says those things happen, but it happened forth.

We live in an imperfect, sinful world and there will always be circumstances in which a Christian will have to choose between the lesser of two evils in some circumstances this could be a divorce. For instance, imagine a woman married to a brute of a husband and alcoholic who beats takes all the money he spends it on drink or drugs or whatever and then desserts his wife while she has to task of staying there and raising and trying to educate the children. She could be doing that faithfully, but under the laws of our country. It would be possible if there's no divorce a lot man to come back years later and claim half of the money to get himself a glutton wasted again.

I think in circumstances like that. The wife at this point has as great if not greater loyalty to the children were her responsibility before God. I think in a circumstance like that it might be right for her to initiate the divorce because that's what you would desire because that's the best thing under these bad circumstances then finally it's true the Christians who marry out of God's will get divorced often remarry frequently to Christians when I notice is that God seems in grace often to sanctify and bless the second marriages always happened quite often it does now doesn't mean that God has modified his standard. No doesn't of course, but it does mean the divorce and remarriage as bad as they may be, are not unforgivable. God is always willing to begin again with us wherever we are, or whatever we have done and bring blessing if at that point we really are beginning to seek his face and try to buy him churches should never be closed. Such people are Christians above all others should be understanding of others and show mercy is hardly a matter in today's church that's treated with more laxity than issues of divorce and remarriage when identifying with seeking to understand and help people who are suffering in this area doesn't mean lowering the standards to maintain the standards love anyway, just as Jesus Christ loved us and we don't maintain the standards we won't be much help to those we do want to help so much pride in her father. When we talk about a subject like this are all very conscious of our own failures. We know the difficulties of living in a Christian way in our relationships with others and especially in a close relationship of marriage.

We recognize the standards we know that we fall short father would by your grace, we led the model plant which is better for the sake of society and also the sake of unbelievers that they might see something of the grace of Jesus Christ in us, we would pray for your special hand upon us in whatever situation we may find ourselves. To enable us to live as you would have us live to be empowered by the spirit of Christ love others even as we have been loved so to glorify you, even in our marriages.

As in all things we pray in Jesus name. You are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.

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