In the latter portion of Jesus’ earthly life, the Pharisees asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Matthew 19:3). Jesus did not always give a verbal response when He was asked a question, but in this case He did.
Jesus’ answer: “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 then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4- 6).
From the words which Jesus spoke on that occasion, we learn a number of things about the marriage relationship. Marriage is a relationship that is universal in nature: it is for those of every nationality, every culture, and every race, including those who are in the Lord’s church and those who are not. Because of that, every person in the world needs to give serious consideration to these truths set forth about marriage by the Master:
Marriage is a God-ordained relationship (19:4,5). God Himself is the one who established the marriage bond. For those who get married, God created them and He joins them in this relationship. It is an act of disrespect to the Lord to try and eradicate or even slightly alter the marriage relationship which He has instituted.
Marriage is a male-and-female relationship (19:4,5). In the words of Jesus, it is (1) “male and female,” (2) “father and mother” (two genders), and (3) a man/husband and his wife. Jesus made it plain that, according to God’s plan/will, marriage is for two humans of the opposite gender: female and male. Mockery of such a plan by calling it “outdated, traditional marriage” does not change a thing! Passing civil laws which give human approval to same-gender relationships does not modify a thing! And, religious leaders endorsing same-gender “marriage” cannot nullify the Christ’s decree! Our Lord’s words stand . . . they are final.
Marriage is a God-regulated relationship (19:4,5). God “said” it and we “read” it. He has expressed His will for marriage, and it is mankind’s duty to accept His arrangement. Each of us should possess this mindset about marriage: “I will hear what God the LORD will speak” (Psalm 85:8).
Marriage is a leaving-and-cleaving relationship (19:5). A man leaves his parents and cleaves to his bride, showing a top-level commitment to her and their marriage together. A spouse should be more devoted to his/her marriage mate than they are to anyone except the Lord God.
Marriage is a permanent relationship. May a man divorce His wife for any cause? The Christ’s implied answer was, “No,” as He forbids humans to separate/put asunder the marriage union which God joins (19:6). The same God who established marriage hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).
As Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees continued, He further stated, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality [‘fornication,’ KJV], and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). Thus, if a man divorces his wife when she has not committed fornication, then turns around and enters a “marriage” with a second woman, the Lord calls that new relationship “adultery.” The implication is, if he divorces his original wife because she has committed fornication, then if he goes on to marry a second woman, that new relationship is not an adulterous union. Though not a part of the Matthew 19 context, it also is true that if one’s spouse dies, the surviving spouse no longer is counted as married to the deceased (Romans 7:2,3).
Any society is blessed when it gives heed to what the Lord of heaven and earth says about marriage and the family. Societies which fail to submit to His will for the home must face the unpleasant consequences of their unwise course of action. May God’s church be ready at all times to teach, support, and practice what He says about the marriage relationship.
— Roger D. Campbell