When I saw the following inscription on a jar containing Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses which were displayed on the desk of the HR Administrator in my workplace, it resonated with me: “Easy Answers”.
Most of us hope for easy answers to life’s most rewarding but complicated relationships. Those of us eager to please God search for techniques promising certain spiritual success. But sometimes, what we imagined to be God’s perfect plan goes awry. In the following passage Jesus gave us not only God’s ideal, but his way of grace when that ideal is shattered.
Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
…Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-6, 9 NET
This “seeming” contradiction prompts a question: After presenting such a high view of God’s design for marriage in verses 3-6, was Jesus advocating a lesser view of marriage in verse 9? Let’s take a closer look at that verse.
It’s clear verse 9 doesn’t command divorce when a husband (or wife) has been betrayed and damaged by a spouse’s immoral sexual behavior. Instead, Jesus’ answer provides a way to relief and restoration for those who will suffer even more damage if there is no remedy. But that restorative path is never easy.
Maybe you are seeking easy answers from Jesus about the complex moral issues of our day. As Creator and sustainer of our world, Jesus has viewed the full spectrum of immorality and has spoken with surprising clarity in many areas. These issues are of grave concern to him. Take a look at this ancient state of affairs:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. Genesis 6:5-6 ESV
Here’s the way God handled his grief and disappointment:
So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:7 ESV
Reading further, God manifested his grace when he spared Noah and his immediate family along with a small group of animals so life on earth could continue – not an easy solution. Thank God for his grace.
I invite you to be even more specific in your gratitude. Give thanks that Jesus has provided betrayed spouses a reprieve from domestic landscapes shattered by unrepentant, sexual immorality. In addition, thank him for providing the Holy Spirit’s power to forgive repentant wrongdoers. Meditate on this phrase:
“Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Matthew 6:10 ESV