They shot back in rebuttal, “If that’s so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?”

Jesus said, “Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. I’m holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery.”

Jesus’ disciples objected, “If those are the terms of marriage, we haven’t got a chance. Why get married?”

But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked — or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.” Matthew 19:7-12 MSG

I can only imagine what it must have been like before there were chapter and verse divisions in scripture, as well as the bold print titles of subject shifts in each chapter. In Matthew 19 the shift from divorce, to little children, to the rich young ruler, to reward for those who give up everything to follow Jesus, is a bit too condensed.

I often wish I could have seen how Jesus related to people and heard his voice as he responded to questions. Also I would have wanted more in-depth examples of, in this case, the value of both marriage and singleness.

In my extended family there are examples of marriage and both the singleness of choice and the singleness of widowhood.

My maternal grandmother, born in 1884, got married when she was 30. She was widowed at age 53 and continued single until she died a few weeks short of age 99. She was active in her Methodist church and was partly responsible for raising my sister and me.

My maternal aunt Carol, my mother’s sister, was a “maiden lady” who lived with our grandmother. She worked in several positions for 35 years at Mountain Bell Telephone Company. She also taught children at their Methodist church. At the deaths of our parents she was the legal guardian of my sister and me, even though I lived with family in a different state. Both our grandmother and aunt Carol had a great influence on our lives.

Regardless of whether we get married or continue as a single person, there are foundational scriptural directions for how we are to live our lives as people who call on the name of Jesus as Savior and Lord:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 NIV

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You — follow me.” John 21:20-23 NIV

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Together with me, ponder and practice these directions for walking in the way of Jesus with his heart.