1 September 2021
Series: Recharge
Book: Mark

The Gender Question

Bible Passage: Mark 10:1-12

Did Jesus specifically talk about gender identity in the Bible?

What does the Bible have to say about gender identity? Are “male and female” just labels society and religion assign to control people?

Discussion Question: What Bible verse has helped shaped your understanding of what it means to be a man or a woman?

Austin’s Notes

In the Bible, Gender is a WHAT … not a who! 

Gender is not assigned by a doctor nor is assigned “at birth” but rather when we were conceived.  This is both Bible and Science!!!!!  You are made male or female.  

Being human is sinful and that sinful death has affected our biology (disease, etc.) there are some who are born with mixed gender.

If you read liberal publications from places like planned parenthood they will say 1 to 2 out of 100 babies are born this way.

In fact, it’s more like 1 out of 1,000.  So instead of a 1 to 2 percent chance, it’s more like a 0.1% chance.

“In order to discern the divine will for marriage, Jesus applies analogia Scriptura, the principle that Scripture rightly interprets Scripture. He goes behind the authority of the Torah and appeals to a prior and more fundamental authority in the order of creation: “ ‘at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female.” ’ ” In this pronouncement Jesus again presumes a divine authority resident in himself, for he does not deduce a conclusion from Scripture (as do the scribes), but he declares the will of God as set forth in a creation text over against a legal text from Moses.”1

Side Note on Gender. Jesus wasn’t addressing the current Gender debate in our culture.  2,000 years ago there was literally no context for such an idea.  But it is very much an issue that this text does address, so this Wed night we are going to dive into this subject.  Its going to be at 7pm.  You can attend in person on Facebook and Youtube.  So for now I’ll just say this.  Gender in the Bible is a WHAT … its not a WHO.

You cannot press the newly invented definition of gender into the Biblical word.  Throughout all of human history and without any question in the Bible, Gender is a concrete reference to a person’s biology.  It’s a WHAT not a WHO.  We are going to talk about this in much more depth on Wed in RECHARGE.  7 pm @ the Hub and online on Facebook and Youtube.

“By expressly mentioning the two sexes, Jesus declares that maleness and femaleness are rooted in the creative will of God and are foundational for marriage.”2

The point is Christ is not bringing up gender to have a gender debate but rather, as the perfectly OBJECTIVE God, He is bringing it up as a fact that God made human beings to be male or female.  In addition, he is bringing this fact up in the context of his discussion on marriage to highlight that male and female are made for the purpose of marriage.  That is, all that God made male to be and all that God made a female to be (physiologically emotionally and spiritually) find their God created compliment, support, fit, and enhancement with the person of the opposite gender in the context of marriage!

God created male and female to bring complementary characteristics into the relationship that are not only amplified and exemplified by each other but even more importantly compliment each other to form a relational bond unlike no other in creation!

Intro:

I feel very confident in saying that marriage is the most difficult relationship any of us will ever venture to have.  A man and woman, who are both flawed and sinful, functioning together as one requires us to love each other as Christ loves us and to receive each others love as The Father, Son and Holy Spirit receive love from each other!

When you add the normal obstacles of life like jobs, children, careers, finances, maintaining food, shelter and clothing to the emotional tides we all have; then you are already creating mountains we all must climb to try and be one.  It’s one thing to be one with a person walking on a stable path but it’s an entirely different thing to then have to do it climbing mountain that sometimes doesn’t even have path! Then the bombs start raining down on you; you know, those things in life that aren’t part of the normal flow of things that just come in and knock you across the room!  On Sept 21 and 23 we are hosting Gar Bozeman and his wife to talk to us about how God restored their marriage after the bomb they exploded in their marriage … in a very literally way.  After four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and receiving two purple hearts and winning the Bronze Star their marriage and Gar were a total train wreck.  But God restored them and set them back on a normal path of learning to be one and is now using them to encourage others with what they learned and experienced.

So why am I bringing up marriage?  Well, it’s the exact subject that the religious leaders are going to use in our passage today to try and find a way to turn all the momentum and hype about Jesus of Nazareth against him as opposed to for Him.  The religious leaders are constantly trying to find a way to do this.  I’ll give it to them, they were persistent!  Now the irony is that 2,000 years later preachers all over the world twist up the words we are going to read today to teach something totally out of context and even opposite to what Jesus was saying.  What is it?  Well you will find out as we unpack this passage but to begin will stand with me in honor of the reading of God’s Word.

1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Proposition:  There are 3 parts to the confrontation of Jesus in Mark 10:1-12 that demonstrate the truth about marriage. 

 The Setting – Jesus officially started His journey to Jerusalem to fulfill His mission. (10:1)

  • 1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. 
  • “He left Capernaum (9:33) on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and went south, entering Judea on “the other side of the Jordan,” that is, the eastern side, the area where John the Baptist had administered baptism.”3
  • “By moving into Judea, the region around Jerusalem, Jesus moved closer to the epicenter of Pharisaic opposition to His ministry. Scribes and Pharisees had journeyed north to observe Him as rumors of His ministry drifted down to Jerusalem (3:22; 7:1), so they were ready when He came onto their home turf.”4
  • “With the departure from Galilee Mark describes Jesus as abandoning His endeavour to avoid attention. The evangelist’s view of the events is clear. The avoidance of the public in Galilee was due to Jesus’ desire to teach the inner group of disciples about His approaching Passion (9:31). Now that the period of preparation is over, the crowds are at hand, and again he taught them as usual.”5

The Context – The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with a question about divorce. (10:2)

  • 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
  • “The Pharisees did not come to Jesus because they wanted to know His views on marriage and divorce. Mark informs us that they brought this question to test Him or, rather, to trap Him.”6

Prior to this “test” the religious leaders have done the same thing at least 5 times:  

  • Why do the disciples pick grain on the Sabbath?
  • Why do the disciples not fast when they are supposed to?
  • Why do the disciples not wash their hands as they are supposed to?
  • Is it lawful to heal a man on the sabbath (Jesus responded by healing).
  • Does Jesus have the right to forgive sins?

With this “test” about divorce there are two possible outcomes the Pharisees were looking for.

  • “On the one hand, if Jesus replied that it was not lawful for a man to divorce his wife and to marry another, He would place Himself in opposition to Herod Antipas, who had done just that and who had been confronted by John the Baptist (see Matt. 14:1–12). For speaking out against the tetrarch’s adultery and divorce, John the Baptist was imprisoned and eventually executed. Thus, if Jesus said divorce and remarriage were not permissible, that message would go straight back to Herod, and the Pharisees could then hope that the same fate that befell John the Baptist might befall Jesus. I think that is the more likely possibility.”7
  • “On the other hand, the Pharisees may have been setting a theological trap. At that time, there was an ongoing theological controversy among the rabbis concerning marriage and divorce, a dispute that had to do with the understanding of Old Testament legislation with respect to divorce. We read in Deuteronomy: ‘When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord. (24:1–4a)’  Here God sets forth certain rules in the matter of divorce, and He says that the violation of these rules is an “abomination” in His sight. But the rabbis disagreed as to the nature of the “uncleanness” or the “unclean thing” in the woman that could serve as the grounds for the husband to divorce her. This text does not specifically say that the uncleanness is adultery. Indeed, the law very clearly stipulated a penalty for adultery—execution (Lev. 20:10). If a man’s wife committed adultery, he did not have to bother with a divorce. He could just have her stoned to death. This provision of the law was still practiced at the time of Jesus’ birth, and Joseph could have had Mary stoned for becoming pregnant before the consummation of their betrothal. However, he wanted to be merciful to her, so he thought of divorcing her quietly, so that the scandal of alleged adultery would not accompany her name (Matt. 1:18–19). So, divorce was an option in that situation. However, the passage in Deuteronomy seems to have something else in view.  There were two schools of thought among the rabbis—the conservatives and the liberals (just as there are always conservatives and liberals when it comes to interpreting the Word of God). The Shammai school, the conservatives, argued that the only thing that would justify a divorce was a shameful act of sexual infidelity. Anything less than that was not grounds for divorce, and the couple, even though they might be bitter and unhappy, had to stay together. The Hillel school, the liberals, took a much broader view of the uncleanness mentioned in Deuteronomy 24. They said it referred to anything a woman did that embarrassed, disgraced, or merely displeased her husband. Thus, the Hillel school permitted divorce on virtually any ground. By Jesus’ time, the prevailing view was that of the Hillel school, which was why Herod Antipas was able to get away with his illegitimate divorce.  So, what was the possible nature of the Pharisees’ theological trap? If Jesus sided with the liberal school, suddenly the Pharisees would become conservatives and say Jesus was going against the law of Moses. If He sided with the conservatives, they would say He was going against public opinion. There was no way Jesus could win, no matter how He answered the Pharisees.8
  • “This final phrase was the crux of the controversy over divorce in Jesus’ day, as is reflected in a celebrated passage in the Mishnah: ‘The School of Shammai say: A man may not divorce his wife unless he has found unchastity in her, for it is written, “Because he hath found in her indecency in anything.” And the School of Hillel say: [He may divorce her] even if she spoiled a dish for him, for it is written, “Because he hath found in her indecency in anything.” R. Akiba says: Even if he found another fairer than she, for it is written, “And it shall be if she find no favour in his eyes.”’ (m. Git. 9:10)”9
  • “Mark informs us that the motive of the question of the Pharisees was not simple inquiry; it was rather a “test,” indeed, an attempt to trap Jesus (8:11; 10:2; 12:15). If Jesus is in Perea, which was under Antipas’s jurisdiction, the question may have been put to trap him on the issue of Antipas’s marriage to Herodias, over which the Baptist had lost his head (6:18). If that is the context of the question, then Jesus is being asked whether Antipas was justified or not in divorcing the daughter of King Aretas to marry Herodias. But even if the question is not politically motivated, the Pharisees surely suspect Jesus of holding views on the subject of marriage that differ from theirs. They intend to demolish his position by causing him to compromise the authority of the Torah. Their objective is to maintain a permissive divorce policy—and the more permissive the better. Schürer summarizes the Jewish position on divorce thus: “divorce was relatively easy in those days and the Pharisees and rabbis intended to keep it so.””10

The Answer – Christ explained the difference between marriage and divorce. (10:3-12)

  • Divorce was allowed because of sin. (10:3-5)
  • 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 

Note: 

“The starting point in Jewish discussions of divorce was Deut 24:1–4, the passage on which m. Git. 9:10 (cited above) was based, as well as the question of v. 4. The intent of Deut 24:1–4 was manifold. Most obviously, it discouraged hasty divorces by requiring a man to stipulate a reason for divorce in writing, and also by prohibiting him from remarrying his divorced wife. The certificate of divorce guaranteed the divorcée at least a modicum of dignity and the right to remarry another man if she chose. It thus safeguarded the rights of the woman as much as possible in a patriarchal culture, although divorce did entail a stigma since a priest was forbidden from marrying a divorcée (Lev 21:7), and a second marriage “defiled” (Deut 24:4) a man’s first wife, thus making it impossible for him to remarry her. Thus, as originally intended Deut 24:1–4 did not encourage divorce but rather attempted to preserve an equable ruling in the unfortunate event of divorce. In the question of the Pharisees in v. 4, however, the reference to Deut 24:1–4 no longer serves to limit the ill-effects of divorce but rather as a pretext for divorce, “if a man finds anything indecent in [his wife].” As we have seen, the pretexts ranged from adultery alone to the most feeble of excuses, including a wife’s failure in simple household duties or failure to please her husband as did another woman.”11

5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 

“Jesus’ counter question allows them to affirm that the current divorce practice is permitted by the law of Moses. Jesus then challenges the practice, not by proposing that Deuteronomy 24:1–4 derives from Moses, not God (all Jews, including Jesus and Paul, regarded the law in its entirety as delivered to Moses by God), but rather by insisting that this legislation was created because of the hardheartedness of the people, that is, as a concession to human sinfulness.”12

“Despite the Mosaic authority of Deut 24:1–4, Jesus does not receive it as conclusive for the question of marriage and divorce. Deuteronomy 24 was given “because your hearts were hard,” says Jesus. It is, in other words, a text of concession, not a text of intention. You do not learn to fly an airplane by following the instructions for making a crash landing; you will not be successful in war if you train by the rules for beating a retreat. The same is true of marriage and divorce. The exceptional measures necessary when a marriage fails are of no help in discovering the meaning and intention of marriage. Jesus endeavors to recover God’s will for marriage, not to argue about possible exceptions to it. His opponents ask what is permissible; he points to what is commanded. Deut 24:1–3, he argues, is not a pretext for divorce but an attempt to limit its worst consequences for women. The divine intention for marriage cannot be determined from a text about divorce.”13

“For he includes the whole question under two heads: that the order of creation ought to serve for a law, that the husband should maintain conjugal fidelity during the whole of life; and that divorces were permitted, not because they were lawful, but because Moses had to deal with a rebellious and intractable nation.”14

“But it is asked, Ought Moses to have permitted what was in itself bad and sinful? I reply, That, in an unusual sense of the word, he is said to have permitted what he did not severely forbid; for he did not lay down a law about divorces, so as to give them the seal of his approbation, but as the wickedness of men could not be restrained in any other way, he applied what was the most admissible remedy, that the husband should, at least, attest the chastity of his wife. For the law was made solely for the protection of the women, that they might not suffer any disgrace after they had been unjustly rejected. Hence we infer, that it was rather a punishment inflicted on the husbands, than an indulgence or permission fitted to inflame their lust.”15

“So, if a man commits adultery and his wife finds out about it, and if the husband repents in tears and begs for forgiveness, is the wife obligated to remain in the marriage? I would venture to say that 99 percent of evangelical Christians would answer that question by saying, “Yes, the wife must not divorce her husband.” I disagree. I think that if the husband repents, the wife is obligated to receive him as a brother in Christ, but not as a husband, because God gave the provision for ending a marriage if the trust that is at the very heart and foundation of the marital union is violated. Sometimes the church and individual believers put heat on people whose marriages are in crisis, exhorting them that it is not right for them to divorce. I think that is wrong. We cannot take away rights Jesus gives to His people. Likewise, we sometimes say, “Okay, you’re allowed to get a divorce, but I think you should take the higher ground and stay.” In that case, we are subtly pressuring the spouses by putting a guilt trip on them, even though God has given them clearance to divorce.”16

At the end of the day, the point is divorce was allowed to protect those who were betrayed in marriage, particularly women!  Without a certificate of divorce, a woman could not remarry, and in a society where a woman didn’t have the same economic opportunity as a man (had massively less opportunity), it was critical that a woman could remarry.  A certificate of divorce gave a woman that right as it did a man.  God didn’t create marriage for divorce, divorce was a result of the sinful hearts of mankind.  Divorce is a result of the curse of sin.  On the other hand … 

Marriage was created as an opportunity for life! (10:6-9)

Note: God didn’t create marriage because Adam was a sinner and needed a spouse to set him straight.  He also didn’t create marriage because somehow his relationship with Adam wasn’t enough.  God made marriage an opportunity for Adam and Eve to experience the type of love and relationship that The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have had with each other for all eternity!  God designed marriage as a covenant between equals just as God experiences a covenant between equals in Himself (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  The point being God allowed divorce because of sin, but CREATED marriage intently in righteousness!  The fall had not happened yet!  When God made marriage He made it with a glorious and holy purpose. Allowing Divorce is a necessity because sin entered the world 

God created two separate biological genders for the purpose of marriage.

6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 

“In order to discern the divine will for marriage, Jesus applies analogia Scriptura, the principle that Scripture rightly interprets Scripture. He goes behind the authority of the Torah and appeals to a prior and more fundamental authority in the order of creation: “ ‘at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female.” ’ ” In this pronouncement Jesus again presumes a divine authority resident in himself, for he does not deduce a conclusion from Scripture (as do the scribes), but he declares the will of God as set forth in a creation text over against a legal text from Moses.”17

RECHARGE! … Gender.

You cannot press the newly invented definition of gender into the Biblical word.  Throughout all of human history and without any question in the Bible, Gender is a concrete reference to a person’s biological identity.

If a skinny woman says to the doctor I feel overweight so I’m on a really strict diet the Doctor is not going to concede, instead, the Doctor is going to say I understand you feel that way but if you don’t start eating more food and gain some weight you’re going to die.

Consequently, if you go to the Doctor and say I have a problem.   I feel like I’m skinny, so I want to be treated as if I’m skinny, but when I look in the mirror, I see an overweight person. Furthermore, when I go to the store and try on the small bathing suites and clothes, I can’t get them on, and sometimes I even tear the clothing.  The doctor is not going to prescribe you glasses that allow you to look in the mirror and see a skinny person.  He’s not going to point you to websites that make small bathing suites made from super stretch material that expands to extra-large while allowing yourself to say I wear Extra Smalls.  No, the Doctor is going to say listen, being skinny isn’t necessary but you need to lose weight or you’re going to end up with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and all kinds of other health problems.

When it comes to gender our culture is insisting on doing this very thing.  A man goes to the doctor and says I feel like a woman.  I want you to give me drugs and possibly even surgery so that my body appears the way I feel instead of the way it is.  We insist that who we feel we are changes the reality of what we are but it clearly doesn’t work.  If it did people wouldn’t need hormone treatment, surgery and theatrical costumes to convince themselves and others.  People change the way they dress, talk and act to try and be somebody they feel they are rather than what they are.  In the world of modern medicine people now take drugs and even have surgery to make what they look like match up with what they feel like.  But just as it is with obesity and even now with anorexia, instead of addressing the psychology behind why a person feels they are somebody they are not, we now insist that the only moral thing to do is embrace the lie and ignore the causes and consequences.  Even Doctors are now being told they shouldn’t insist on their patients losing weight by being brutally honest with them about how obesity causes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and a plethora of other serious health problems.  The media totally ignores that the number one characteristic of people who have been hospitalized, put on a vent, or died from COVID-19 was obesity.  Society has even gone to the unthinkable extreme of starting to pressure Doctors to start telling young girls starving themselves to be so skinny they don’t need an x-ray to see their bones, that they should just stay that way if they feel they are fat, as opposed to helping them realize how they feel is lying to them and is going to kill them!

Purpose of Gender

“By expressly mentioning the two sexes, Jesus declares that maleness and femaleness are rooted in the creative will of God and are foundational for marriage.”18

These two genders were created with the Covenant of marriage in mind.  The two genders find their compliment in marriage, that is the created being that compliments them is of the same species but is nonetheless definitively different in their design.  This includes not only their biological design but also their mental and emotional design.  

Covenants made between two entities that complement each other create something that was stronger and better.

“As a sovereign creation, woman is not man’s subject but his equal.”19

  • God created the relationship to be autonomous/stand on its own two feet/a stalwart.
  • Cling so tightly you can’t cling to anybody else –

7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 

Notice the attention is focused on the husband leaving and cleaving.  It doesn’t exclude the wife leaving and cleaving but it is interesting that the focus is on man.  Biblically men are called to lead their household, however, this can’t be done if they still continue to live under the authority and identity of his parents, because then they would be leading the household.   

“Appealing further to a supplementary creation text from Gen 2:24 in 10:7–8, Jesus declares that a husband’s obligation to his wife surpasses his obligation to his own parents. In the Torah the commandment to honor one’s parents is one of the Ten Commandments of God and second only to the commandment to honor God (Exod 20:12). But the effect of v. 7 is to declare that a husband’s allegiance to his wife in the union of marriage surpasses his allegiance to father and mother, making marriage second only to obedience to God in sacredness.”20

However, the key here is not what’s being left but what’s being gained.  

The word “cleave” is proskollaō (προσκολλαω) “to glue to, to join one’s self to, to cleave closely, to stick to.” The idea in the verb therefore includes the initial act of joining one’s self to another and then remaining thus joined. The word appears in an a.d., 6 manuscript in which “a man makes certain dispositions with regard to the wife who had been ‘joined’ to him” (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary of the Greek Testament).21

A man was made by God to cling to His wife.  When you cling to something you form a new entity and identity.

When you cling to something its your priority.  When you’re in a boat and waves beginning to hit the boat you cling to your child, not your phone or your wallet, you hold them if you can, but not at the expense of even an ounce of separation from your child.  When you are truly clinging to something you can’t cling to anything else because to cling to something takes effort!  It’s not a casual touch or connection but something you hold on to with all your strength!

It’s the next phrase that we see it’s not just a man clinging to his wife but the wife clinging to her husband.

Cling so tightly you become one.

8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 

In marriage men, and women, were meant to cling to each other in this way.  Not just in the storms of life but in everything good or bad; beautiful or ugly; easy or difficult; mundane or exciting!

 “Although “one flesh” alludes at the most literal level to the sexual union, Jesus interprets it as referring to the marriage relationship as a whole. Although marriages are often regarded as private contracts, Jesus insists that marital unions are brought about by God and are therefore indissoluble.”22

Cling so tightly nobody can get in-between you.

9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 

Although marriages are often regarded as private contracts, Jesus insists that marital unions are brought about by God and are therefore indissoluble.” 23

“Christ assumes as an admitted principle, that at the beginning God joined the male to the female, so that the two made an entire man; and therefore he who divorces his wife tears from him, as it were, the half of himself. But nature does not allow any man to tear in pieces his own body.”24

“The greatest difference between Jesus and the rabbis, however, is this: by giving a husband principal control over his wife, the Jewish divorce policy made the man the lord of the marital relationship. According to Jesus, however, it is neither man nor woman who controls marriage, but rather God, who is the lord of marriage: “ ‘what God has joined together, let man not separate.’ ””25

The Conclusion – Divorce, for reasons other than a spouse’s adultery, is in essence committing adultery.  

10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

It is key that verses 10-12 are understood in the context of the conversation that just took place!  You can’t remove them.

Matthew adds that Jesus reminds them divorce is lawful in the case of adultery, and in doing so demonstrates that unlawful divorce is the same as adultery (the violation of a marriage covenant).  Why?  Adultery nullifies the marriage covenant because sex is the covenantal act of marriage.  Therefore, when a person commits adultery they are forming a new marriage covenant with another person and thus practically nullifying the old one.  This doesn’t mean restoration shouldn’t be sought nor can’t be had, but rather, Jesus was pointing out that in the case of adultery, the adulterer is the one who destroyed the marriage and ended the covenant.  Therefore, when a spouse “divorces” their spouse who committed adultery, they are in essence giving a certificate to them for an action their spouse already accomplished, as opposed to being the one creating the action with the divorce.  Technically, adultery is the act of divorce, therefore giving a certificate, in that case, is the mere acknowledgment of what already occurred, thus why God allowed it.

Therefore, when a person divorces their spouse for something other than adultery, they are breaking the covenant in the same way adultery breaks the covenant.  Remember the context is the practice of men giving a certificate of divorce to their wife for whatever reason; often it was blatantly so they could dissolve the marriage and marry somebody else.  So what Jesus is highlighting here is the underlying context to the original question posed by the Pharisees.  He is saying that when a person unlawfully divorces their spouse God does not honor the divorce and as such in God’s eyes when they remarry, they themselves are in essence committing adultery and thus they themselves are committing the sinful act that nullifies the marriage and as such are the ones at fault!

“Jesus and his Jewish audience may have assumed that infidelity ended the marriage. Under a strict interpretation of the law, the adulteress was to be stoned (Deut. 22:22–24). Even though capital punishment was no longer enforced in adultery cases, the unfaithful wife may have been regarded as “dead” by those who took the law seriously, and thus prohibited to her husband. A similar situation prevailed in Roman society. Under an adultery law introduced by Augustus, husbands were forbidden to pardon adulterous wives and could be punished for persisting in the marriage.”26

“By insisting that the second marriage is a crime against the first wife, Jesus takes a significant step toward the abolition of the double standard.”27

“Jesus’ teaching on marriage is governed by a new understanding of the roles and responsibilities of both husband and wife in marriage. In Jewish law, power over marriage and divorce lay predominantly in the hands of men. A woman’s place in Judaism depended largely on her relationship to a man—as father, husband, or son. Likewise, Jewish texts relating to women typically channel the discussion through male brokerage. A discussion on women’s vows in Numbers 30, for example, shows the extent to which male consent was required in order to ratify or nullify a woman’s vow. Likewise, nearly one-sixth of the Mishnah is devoted to the subject of women, but the texts on women have little to say about women in their own right. They are chiefly concerned, rather, with female transitions in life from the allegiance of father to husband, or of husband to son.  Jesus’ teaching on marriage, to the contrary, is predicated on a different estimate of women.” 28

In giving this answer Jesus rebukes the widespread practice of divorcing a spouse for reasons other than adultery.  This is NOT teaching on remarriage.  Divorce clearly gave the right to remarry.  The entire point of the certificate of divorce in Deuteronomy was for the purpose of being able to remarry.  If this was not the case the Law would not have clearly prohibited the remarriage of a previous spouse after the person remarried.  It is a total misapplication of this passage to use it as a teaching to prohibit remarriage.  Remarriage is clearly allowed in Scripture.  Jesus is addressing unethical reasons for divorce.  

Challenge: 

Are you living to nurture and feed your marriage, take from marriage or leave it?  Are you living to get out of your marriage covenant, living as if you’re not in a marriage covenant or living to thrive in your marriage covenant? 

“Jesus does not conceive of marriage on the grounds of its dissolution but on the grounds of its architectural design and purpose by God. Human failure does not alter that purpose (Rom 3:4). The intent of Jesus’ teaching is not to shackle those who fail in marriage with debilitating guilt. The question is not whether God forgives those who fail in marriage. The answer to that question is assured in 3:28, “ ‘All the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven.’ ” There is, after all, no instance in Scripture of an individual seeking forgiveness and being denied it by God. The question in our day of impermanent commitments and casual divorce is whether we as Christians will hear the unique call of Christ to discipleship in marriage. In marriage, as in other areas to which the call of Christ applies, will we seek relief in what is permitted, or commit ourselves to what is intended by God and commanded by Christ? Will we fall away in trouble and difficulty (4:17), or follow Jesus in the costly journey of discipleship, even in marriage? Will we sunder the divine union of “two become one flesh,” or will we honor and nurture marriage as a gift and creation of God?”29

Christ was not creating a 2nd class citizenry in the church nor assigning a spiritual death penalty to those who sinfully ended their marriage, however, we also can not allow the total redemptive grace of Christ be our excuse to sin.  Christ didn’t die to give us an opportunity to sin but rather an opportunity for life!   Jesus did not come to condemn sinners but rather to save them, however, he also didn’t come to empower sin but rather to save us from it!  

So here’s the problem. So many look to this passage to either justify their divorce or justify their permenant condemnation and alientation of somebody who got divorced.  It is not here for either purpose!  The purpose is get our eyes off divorce and on to marriage!  

  • Are you looking at your marriage focused on what’s wrong or what’s right?
  • Are you looking at your marriage with a purpose to justify why your unhappy or are you looking at it to create what God intended.
  • Are you looking for a way out of your marriage or a way into marriage?
  • Whatever you’re focused on is where your effort will go.

Driving a curve … you don’t look at where you are but where you going. 

Are you CLINGING to your spouse, holding to your spouse or merely touching your spouse?  You are only going to get the blessing of oneness if your effort is oneness!

Footnotes

  1. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 302). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  2. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  3. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 242). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  4. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 243). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  5. Branscomb, B. H. (n.d.). The Gospel of Mark. (J. Moffatt, Ed.) (p. 176). New York; London: Harper and Brothers Publishers.
  6. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 243). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  7. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 243). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  8. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, pp. 243–244). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  9. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 299). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  10. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 300). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  11. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 301). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  12. Hare, D. R. A. (1996). Mark. (P. D. Miller & D. L. Bartlett, Eds.) (p. 120). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
  13. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (pp. 301–302). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  14. Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, p. 378). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  15. Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, p. 381). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  16. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 246). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  17. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 302). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  18. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  19. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  20. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  21. Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 1, pp. 196–197). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  22. Hare, D. R. A. (1996). Mark. (P. D. Miller & D. L. Bartlett, Eds.) (p. 120). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
  23. Hare, D. R. A. (1996). Mark. (P. D. Miller & D. L. Bartlett, Eds.) (p. 120). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
  24. Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, p. 378). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  25. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  26. Hare, D. R. A. (1996). Mark. (P. D. Miller & D. L. Bartlett, Eds.) (p. 121). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
  27. Hare, D. R. A. (1996). Mark. (P. D. Miller & D. L. Bartlett, Eds.) (p. 120). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
  28. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (pp. 302–303). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  29. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 305). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.