Joined Together

Description

May God protect and strengthen Christian marriages so they will be a strong witness to the world.

Pray: 

Heavenly Father, take me by surprise today with a word for me from Your Word.

Read: 

Matthew 19:1-15

Meditate

Consider:  "God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God" (Max Lucado).

Think Further: 

Divorce is no new issue. It was a concern for the Pharisees (3) and before them the prophets (Mal. 2:14-16). Long before them, Moses had faced it as well (Deut. 24:1-4). Jesus goes back further, however, to first principles. Do we do that or do we tend to look for simple solutions? It's not too surprising if we do: people's lives and happiness are at stake. For that very reason the deeper principles need to be faced. Before unmarrying we need to understand marrying.

The question is a test. Could a man (note, not a woman) divorce for just any reason, or only in certain circumstances? This was a live issue for the Pharisees. Two rabbis, Shammai and Hillel, represented the two sides. The crux was the phrase "something indecent" (Deut. 24:1); did it refer to adultery alone or to less serious things as well? Depending on Jesus' answer, they could box him as a conservative ("traditionalist" in today's media speak) or a liberal. His argument shocks even his disciples (8-10). He goes further: marriage is not a right; it's not for everyone (11-12). That probably did nothing to reduce the shock. Marriage is not simply a human arrangement to be changed at will (4-6). When two people are married, God is involved (whether they recognize it or not) and they are "joined [literally "glued"] together." However, just as Moses permitted (not "commanded," 7-8) divorce in certain circumstances, so Jesus recognizes an imperfect world (9).

Applying this teaching with compassion in today's complex world is a challenge, so it's worth noting that Matthew doesn't record it in isolation. It follows Jesus' teaching about forgiveness (Matt. 18:21-35) and is followed by another reminder about the importance of protecting children (13-14; cf. Matt. 18:1-9). It's so easy for divorce to be the first resort rather than the last.

Apply:  What insights from today's reading and commentary surprised you? If you are not married, what can you do to help strengthen others' marriages?

Pray: 

Father, marriages are under assault, from within and without. Protect and strengthen Christian marriages so that they will be a strong witness to the world.

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