1 Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:1-9

Something that stands out in this passage comes clearer as we go through this gospel. The religious leaders focussed on the way things are now. Jesus always went back to God’s original intention. It is clearly seen here in this discussion about divorce. The rabbis concentrated on the law – the boundaries God set to regulate the people’s behaviour so that they would understand God’s character and not live in a way that unravelled their lives and caused chaos.

Jesus held up the pattern that God had set up in the beginning. He asked a question to answer a question. Their question: “Is it legal…” His question: “What did Moses command?” This question was designed to expose the heart of the matter. Moses’ command was a concession to man’s hard-hearted attitude to his spouse. The ketubah (marriage contract) entered into before a couple married was not intended as bondage but as freedom. Its purpose was to protect the love and ECHAD that marriage embodied. The provisions of the ketubah were a fleshing out of these two qualities in marriage that was intended to reflect the image of God.

God’s command is that a man and a woman break their connection with their birth family and create a new unit with a new loyalty that overrides their original family loyalty and develops a safe place for a new family to grow. This is not possible unless both parties:

  1. Leave and cleave – no unity with their spouse is possible until they do that;
  2. Understand that the goal of marriage is unity in diversity – self-centred and selfish attitudes will hinder that process;
  3. Keep their focus so that this bond remains intact. God has done the joining. It is not man’s right to break it.

If two people make the choice to marry, it must be with the understanding that marriage is not about living together for legal sex; it’s not about compatibility or incompatibility. It’s about two people choosing to become one and then meeting each other’s needs at their own expense to grow and express that unity.

The Pharisees’ question revealed how far they had moved from understanding God’s purpose for marriage to looking for loopholes to satisfy their lustful intentions. How tragic that many in the church today follow the attitudes of the Pharisees rather than the purpose and intentions of the Father.

Luella Campbell

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