“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The Pharisees again tried to trip Jesus up with one of the controversial issues of the day: What were the grounds for divorce? They asked it this way: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Matthew 19:3).
Different groups of Pharisees had different answers for this, but the question was doubly dangerous because when John the Baptist had addressed the lawfulness of Herod’s marriage to Herodias, he was imprisoned and then killed (Matthew 14:1-12).
Jesus’ answer went back to the very beginning. When God created Adam and Eve, He intended for the man and woman to be joined together, and “the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5; quoted from Genesis 2:24).
His strong stand for the sanctity of marriage led to further questions about why Moses had allowed divorce. Jesus replied:
“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.”
Christ’s statements here are not the entirety of the Bible’s teachings on divorce. God recognizes human challenges and shortcomings, and allows for divorce in certain biblically-defined circumstances. For more about marriage, see the section on “How to Have a Happy Marriage.”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “Let the Little Children Come” (Matthew 19:14).