What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:9 ESV)
It seems as if regularly the institution of marriage comes under attack. Whether it’s the continual profaning of marriage in our entertainment culture, our divorce happy society, or the recent efforts of the homosexual community for the acceptance of same sex unions as valid marriages, there are no shortage of attempts by the world to either marginalize marriage or redefine it (which is marginalization by another name).
Why all this rage against traditional marriage? The only answer that coalesces all of the various attacks on marriage into one cohesive answer is that this is just one phase in the overall rebellion of sinful man against God and his kingdom. How this relates to marriage is that all of these seeming disparate attacks on marriage have one thing in common — they seek to redefine marriage from a covenant relationship established by God into a vehicle of personal fulfillment. You see, God had a purpose behind marriage — a good and holy purpose — that man, in his sinful and fallen state, has perverted into a selfish purpose.
In the passage before us today, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees who try to entrap him on the question of divorce and whether or not it is legal for a man to divorce his wife. Now in the Judaism of Jesus’ day, there were two main lines of thought on divorce. The hard line view was that divorce was only permissible in the case of adultery. The more liberal view was that divorce was permissible for nearly any reason as long as the husband presented his wife with a certificate of divorce.
Jesus concurs with the hard line view (cf. Matthew 19:9), but goes on to say that divorce was allowed because of the hardness of their hearts; i.e., because of their inability to reconcile and forgive. He then launches into what God’s purpose for marriage is; namely, the creation of a “one flesh” union between one man and one woman for the proliferation and preservation of society and for the glory of God.
The human perversion of marriage due to sin turns this beautiful institution into a vehicle of selfish personal fulfillment. This is evident in divorce. Why do people get divorced? There are many reasons, but most of them boil down to a lack of fulfillment of one partner in the other. If marriage exists to make me happy and fulfilled, then once my partner ceases to fulfill me I can replace him/her with another partner. This is also evident in the same-sex marriage (SSM) controversy. People who define themselves as homosexual want to be able to marry whomever they want. Who cares if this involves a radical redefinition of marriage. Who care if this same sex union cannot perform the God-ordained purpose for marriage — i.e., produce children. They want what they want.
God created humanity as male and female for a reason, and that reason is that together they will form a one flesh union. In other words, man and woman are complimentary. It is only in this covenantal complimentary relationship that children can be produced and nurtured into mature adults. Children not only get the necessary genetic material from both father and mother, but they also get vitally necessary masculine and feminine role models that same sex ‘unions’ cannot produce. Furthermore, it is this complimentary one flesh union that God joins together in a covenantal fashion. Hence, divorce can be even more damaging to the institution of marriage than SSM. What God has joined together man out not separate.
The marriage union is not primarily a vehicle of self-fulfillment, but rather is a picture of the selfless love that exists between Christ and his church! When husbands sacrificially love their wives and wives respectfully submit to their husband’s leadership, then, and only then, you have the ideal that God intended for marriage.
Soli Deo Gloria!