God's Laws on Sexual Sins--Part 6
Mar 16, 2009
In Matthew 19 Jesus discussed marriage and divorce with the Pharisees, who came to tempt him with the question, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife FOR EVERY CAUSE?" This was, of course, a "loaded question."
First of all, it was understood that the man would divorce her before putting her away. We can see this by the nature of the rest of the discussion.
Secondly, they were asking Him about the grounds for divorce, since Deut. 24:1 says virtually nothing on that topic.The law assumes that there are lawful grounds, saying, "because he has found some uncleanness (indecency) in her." This lack of clarity gave many an opportunity to exploit, and men often divorced their wives for little or no cause at all.
Jesus' first response was to address the spirit of the law. Verses 4-6 says,
" (4) And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, (5) and said, For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? (6)Consequently, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
This quotation is from Genesis 2:24. It is a New Covenant marriage instruction, which was given prior to the sin of Adam and Eve. Marriage was meant to be forever, because they were to be "one flesh." That means far more than unity in a physical relationship. It is a union on all levels--spirit, soul, and body.
Adam was created to have authority and responsibility in the earth. Eve was created to be His "helper," fellow-laborer, and joint-heir. You see, ownership is based upon one's labor. We own what we produce, and since Eve was a fellow worker in the Kingdom, she was to be honored, Peter said, as a "fellow heir" (1 Pet. 3:7). Having different duties was no reason for her to be Adam's slave. Eve was not a bondwoman, but a freewoman.
New Covenant marriage actually preceded Old Covenant marriage, even as the Melchizedek priesthood preceded the Levitical, and faith (Abraham) preceded law (Moses).
The relationship between Adam and Eve changed after they sinned. The introduction of sin also ensured that couples thereafter would not always be in agreement. They would not always hear God's voice. They would not always be able to work together in harmony. In such cases, the law was established to mediate disputes. In this case, the woman was essentially told to submit to the will of her husband.
In other words, the marriage was reduced to an Old Covenant marriage (to a bondwoman). This preserved the marriage itself, but it also greatly impaired the family's ability to establish the Kingdom of God in the earth. In fact, as we see in later types and shadows, Hagar, the bondwoman, could not bring forth the heir, because the marriage relationship was not based upon the New Covenant that was established by God at the beginning.
So when Jesus says in Matt. 19:8, "from the beginning, it was not so," He is making reference to the fact that there are two kinds of marriage relationships: Old and New Covenant marriage. The Pharisees were asking a question based upon Old Covenant marriage and its need for legal regulation because of sin. Jesus took it further back to the beginning to show them what God had in mind for marriage.
He was telling the Pharisees that God intended marriage to be based upon complete unity and agreement. No divorce is necessary in such cases. In fact, divorce would make no sense at all when a couple enjoy such a relationship. That is what God intended for us to experience. "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
The divorce law came after the fall, because it too was necessary under man's fallen condition.
" (7) They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce[apostasion] and put her away?" (apoluo) (8) He said to them, Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been this way."
I have heard it said that when God permitted divorce under Moses, He was actually violating His own conscience or will. It is implied that God made a mistake, or that God indulged sin. The people somehow demanded that God permit divorce and were ready to mutiny if He did not do so--and so God permitted them, in effect, to commit sin.
I strenuously disagree, because this would make God's law imperfect, and since the law is a reflection of His mind and will, it would make God Himself imperfect. God does not accommodate sin. He judges it. All of God's judgments were instituted because of sin, i.e., the hardness of their hearts. Divorce is one of those judgments. It does not mean that divorce is good. Neither was an Old Covenant marriage the best kind available. Judgment for sin is not the best way to go either. It is better not to sin at all. But having sinned, the law is there to judge it.
The day will come when all men are perfect once again, and when all sin and death have been eradicated. When that happens, the law will cease to be relevant, like an unemployed servant. In fact, every aspect of the Old Covenant will cease to be relevant, because the earth will return to its created purpose. In such an arrangement, wives will all be freewomen and fellow heirs in the fullest sense.
Consider that when a man and a woman are in complete agreement, there is never any need to exercise authority. One does not need to tell the other what to do. Everyone already knows the will of God and therefore knows what to do without the need for orders.
In fact, Jesus Christ Himself is looking for such a bride. He was married to a bondwoman (Israel) under an Old Covenant marriage, and this failed, because the bride was a sinner. During the Age of Pentecost, the Church has had opportunity to learn obedience as a good bondwoman. That, after all, is the primary purpose of Pentecost--to learn obedience as a good servant. However, the purpose of learning servanthood is to become a "friend." Jesus said in John 15:15,
"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you FRIENDS, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you."
For this reason, Moses was called a friend of God (Ex. 33:11). So was Abraham (James 2:23). Why? Because they were in agreement with God. They enjoyed a New Covenant relationship with God--not just Abraham, but Moses, too. The law was written in their hearts. They grew spiritually until they knew the will of God and did it instinctively.
Hence, I strive to be a good servant of God, so that I may attain to friendship with Him. I learn His law in order to know how to be obedient, so that I may do it by nature, rather than by compulsion as the law is written in my heart.
Finally, let me add that my wife and I have been married nearly 38 years. Neither of us has been divorced. My viewpoint is not an attempt to justify myself in any way. Yet our own relationship progressed from Old Covenant to New Covenant, the transition being in 1992. My wife was taught from early childhood to be a perfect servant-wife (Hagar), but we discovered that something more was necessary in order to complete the work that we are called to do.
In 1992 the revelation of God changed our relationship. We have enjoyed a New Covenant relationship since then.
This is the final part of a series titled "God's Laws on Sexual Sins." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones