Should Everyone Marry?

Posted in Divorce and Remarriage 1997, Matthew, Matthew 19, New Testament, Sermon Series

Should Everyone Marry?
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Matt. 19:10 (Holman) His disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of a man with his wife is like this, it’s better not to marry!”

Jesus’ high standard for marriage—one man, one woman, till death—terrified the disciples. The Apostles were ordinary guys, products of their raising. Easy divorce was all they had ever known. They had most likely seen lots of divorces work out well for husbands. They were culturally conditioned to think, if things go bad in a marriage, there’s always an easy way out. They had never bargained for anything as radical as what Jesus was presenting.
The disciples’ reply was not only staggering. It was also insightful. The 12 clearly understood what Jesus was saying. They got it! They didn’t agree yet—that came later—but knew exactly what He had commanded. They already knew Jesus wanted them to love others; they hadn’t yet applied it to their wives.
Their gut level reaction has an eerily modern ring to it, especially among young USA men. “Marriage is hazardous, too many restrictions, an inescapable trap, a miserable life. No easy door out? I don’t want to go in. Better no wife than a bad wife. Illicit sex is better than being lassoed in a permanent noose.”

Remarriage After Divorce

Posted in Divorce and Remarriage 1997, Sermon Series

Remarriage After Divorce
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Matt. 19:9 (Holman) “And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

This text has been so battered and bruised by the arguing and wrangling of Christ-followers that it is easy to miss the main message Jesus presented here. Our text is less about the Law than about grace, grace, all of grace.
According to Old Testament law, sexual immorality was punishable by death. Jesus commuted this death sentence to divorce. The guilty, though spared from capital punishment, had committed an act equal, under the Old Law, to having died. Had the guilty one died, the innocent could have married without guilt. Since God’s grace to the guilty should not penalize the innocent, the text extended grace to the innocent, sexually pure, spouse. The innocent can remarry without guilt. Based on this principle of fairness, the early Church looked with favor on a divorcee entering with repentance into another marriage.
Not until the Middle Ages did the Church adopt an immovable, ironclad law absolutely forbidding, on the threat of Hell itself, remarriage after divorce.
As the Reformers broke away, they generally rejected this rigid position. They deemed the law too harsh, not reflective of God’s love and forgiveness.