Wednesday in the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 19:1-9; Mark 10:1-12

What God Hath Joined Together…

In this passage, Jesus teaches us about the beauty of the one-flesh union known as marriage.  The problem is that man has robbed the institution of its beauty by behaving in ways entirely opposite its purpose.  Paul fleshes this out in Ephesians 5:22-33 – that the husband is to love his wife with the same sacrificial love with which his Lord loves his Church, while a wife is to submit to her husband’s godly leadership; that is, a marriage between a man and a woman is to model the marriage of Christ and his Church.

The Pharisees come to Jesus, testing him, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”  The very question itself derives from wicked intent.  Obviously, they were as ignorant about marriage as people are today.  Some rabbis actually said that a man could divorce his wife if she burned his dinner or if he found another woman prettier.  So Jesus answers a question these men should have known themselves.  Our Lord’s answer may be enumerated as follows: 1) Marriage is rooted in creation, for, “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female.”  And because God created them male and female, “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  A man and a woman were made for one another such that the two become one flesh in the act of “knowing” one another, physically, mentally, emotionally, and, if each one knows the Lord, spiritually.  Marriage is God’s closest design for heaven on earth.  2) Upon quizzing Jesus on why Moses allowed for divorce, he answers the Pharisees that divorce was God’s concession only because of the hardness of men’s hearts.  Jesus draws one exception only and that is “sexual immorality” which is understood as adultery.  Adultery is the ultimate betrayal of a marriage, which again capitalizes on the biblical teaching that sexual expression is limited to marriage between a husband and a wife.  But I caution that this is a concession; God does not command divorce even for this reason, but it is allowed.  Marriages have survived adultery.

We should note that Jesus teaches us, as the creation account in Genesis 1-2 makes clear, that marriage was not ordained after the fall but before, again emphasizing its essential goodness and God’s original purpose that a man and a woman should experience this magnificent joy in the bond and covenant of a lifelong union.  Of course, we should express compassion for those who have failed, lest they become embittered.  But the standard God provides is the best possible means for human flourishing and societal well-being.  And as explained above, for Christians it’s all the better.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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