Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC

Matthew 5:31-32
It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (NIV) Matthew 5:31-32

My Dad’s father decided to move on from him and my grandmother when he was two years old. But thankfully, God sent Ray and Gola Everly who stood in the gap as Dad’s foster parents.   Unable to have their own biological children, they graciously befriended my grandmother, loved my dad, and treated them like their own family.  My brother, sister, and I became their grandchildren in love.  

We called them Maw and Paw and they poured love into all of us.  Their marriage made a difference because this every day couple from rustic farming roots chose to follow Jesus through commitment rather than convenience!

Marriages based on convenience were far too common back in Jesus’ day. According to early Jewish literature, men were appealing to the Old Testament law of Moses (Deut 24:1-4) to support divorcing their wives for matters as trivial as burning dinner.  

To this practice Jesus issues a strong rebuttal, “But I tell you…”.  and clarifies that he has authority to break long standing traditions and reestablish God’s best regarding the marriage relationship.

In doing so, Jesus commands that a man may divorce his wife only in the case of sexual immorality.  Jesus’ restriction is limited to men because women did not have the legal right to divorce their husbands in ancient Israel’s patriarchal system.

Jesus’ command limiting divorce in this way shows the value that he places on women in general and especially those made vulnerable by callous abandonment.  He elevates the status of women in ancient society and renews the value of marriages staying together.

Jesus is not specifically addressing instances where there are physical, verbal, and emotional abuse in the marriage.  But, this should not be interpreted to mean that he approves of subjecting ourselves to ongoing abuses in any relationship.  

If divorce is part of your past, no words can adequately speak to your pain and disappointment.  Jesus will meet you in your hurt and bring healing in a way that only he can.  The power of the cross and resurrected Christ can heal the deepest pain and help you move forward again.

Let Jesus remind us today to avoid taking scripture out of context to support a trivial excuse for divorce or any action that is not in God’s will.   Marriage is hard work and requires the selfless dying to ourselves each day.  Removing divorce of convenience as an option helps us work through the greatest disappointments and the most hurtful betrayals with God glorifying faith.

Ray (Paw) Everly chose commitment over convenience, loved his wife, and passed down a legacy of love and faithfulness.  It’s the kind of legacy that Jesus desires for every marriage and relationship.  

Dear Lord, thank you for the people you’ve sent to stand in the gap for me.  Help me to choose commitment over convenience in all aspects of life with the wisdom that you promise to provide.  May you bless and strengthen marriages and families and those who’ve gone through the wretched pain of divorce.  Remind me today that all things will be made new when I commit my way to you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

2 Timothy 2:1
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.