Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 NIV

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 NIV

Jesus introduces a new topic – adultery with, “It has been said, `Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32 NIV) Jesus goes into more detail later in the book of Matthew when He was approached by Pharisees who wished to test him.

They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,’ and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 NIV

Once again, the Pharisees were seeking to put a fence around the law, to emphasize what was allowed and what wasn’t. But Jesus demonstrated with His answer, referring to Genesis and the first marriage (Genesis 2:18-25), that His focus was on the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of the marriage bed, and on the lifetime commitment made by a husband and a wife to each other in marriage. Jesus points the Pharisees and His listeners to the beauty and the idyllic state of the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. In this relationship before the fall, Adam and Eve were companions, there was no shame, they had complete honesty (openness) with each other and with God. Jesus wanted His hearers to recognize the ideal in marriage, the high value God places on marriage — instead of looking for the loophole that would allow a man to leave his wife for any reason imaginable.

Think about divorce in our society today. It seems that many people consider divorce an uncomplicated and valid choice over sticking with difficulties in a marriage. Jesus’ answer above leads me to believe that He valued women, valued marriage, and saw it as a lifetime commitment. Christian marriage demands mutual respect, mutual concern and a willingness to act in a self-sacrificing way by both husband and wife. Paul describes this type of marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:21-33. Consider all of these exhortations from scripture, and ask God to show you what you need to see and understand about marriage.

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