31 Furthermore it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.

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1 Message for THE LORD S DAY MORNING, March 3, 2013 MESSAGE 9 IN SERIES: Living The Salt Life (The Sermon On The Mount) Christian Hope Church of Christ, Plymouth, North Carolina by Reggie A. Braziel, Minister Jesus Teaching On Divorce and Remarriage (Message 9 in Living The Salt Life Sermon Series ) A Study of Jesus Sermon On The Mount Matthew 5:31,32 (NKJV) Please turn with me in your Bibles once again to the fifth chapter of Matthew s gospel, as we continue with our series of messages from Jesus Sermon On The Mount. Matthew 5:31,32 (NKJV) 31 Furthermore it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. P R A Y E R ******************************************************* INTRODUCTION Today we are considering one of the most difficult and most divisive issues in the Church and that is the subject of Divorce and Remarriage. Before we begin I want to take a little survey. Wait until I have completed the question in its entirety. How many of you have been through a divorce, are married to someone who has been divorced, or have any relatives who have been divorced? Please raise your hand.

2 This little survey is indicative of a much larger picture and that is divorce has become a major problem in our American society. Studies have shown that one out of every two marriages will end in divorce within the first ten years of marriage. Think about that! For every couple that gets married, there is only a 50/50 chance their marriage will survive ten years. I believe everyone of us here today, including those who have been divorced and remarried, know this is not God s ideal for marriage. Malachi 2:16 says, I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel. GOD created marriage. MAN created divorce. MARRIAGE is sacred. DIVORCE is a sin. GOD S ideal is that a husband and wife remain married for a lifetime until they are parted by death. DIVORCE is man s way of breaking that lifetime covenant. GOD S ideal is that a husband and wife reconcile their problems and differences and stay together. DIVORCE is man s exit strategy for anyone who doesn t want to reconcile their problems and differences. *********************** Our purpose here today is to uphold God s ideal for marriage by coming to a better understanding of what Jesus teaches on this matter of Divorce and Re-marriage.

3 Let s begin with I. The TRADITION of The Scribes and Pharisees (vs. 31) 31 Furthermore it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. 1. Let s turn back to Deuteronomy 24 and see where this certificate of divorce first originated. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (NKJV) 1 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, 2 when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man s wife, 3 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, 4 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, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. 2. Later in Matthew 19 the scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus trying to trap Him on this issue of divorce and remarriage. Listen to the dialogue Matthew 19:7,8 (NKJV) (7) They said to Him, Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away? (listen closely to Jesus response!) (8) He said to them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

4 3. The certificate of divorce acted as a protection to the wife. The certificate was proof that the wife had not committed adultery, but was being divorced on some other grounds. This was to protect the wife from being stoned to death as an adulteress. 4. As time went on men started using this certificate of divorce to end a marriage on some of the most ridiculous and frivolous grounds they could think of. Let me give you some examples. According to the tradition of the scribes and Pharisees, a man could divorce his wife for any of the following reasons. * A man could give his wife a certificate of divorce if she was unable to bear children, or if she became a deaf mute, or if she had epilepsy, tetanus, warts or leprosy. * A man could give his wife a certificate of divorce if she didn t bake bread each day, didn t wash clothes, didn t cook, didn t keep a clean house, or nurse the children. * A man could give his wife a certificate of divorce if she had a wedge-shaped head, a turnip-shaped head or a hammershaped head. He could divorce his wife if she had poor posture, thinning hair, no eyebrows, one eyebrow or bushy eyebrows. He could divorce his wife if she were cross-eyed, had no eye-lashes, had eyes of two different colors, watery eyes, eyes as big as a calf or small like a goose. * A man could give his wife a certificate of divorce if her nose was too big or too little, if her ears were too little or big and floppy, if she had an overbite or under-bite or was missing some teeth. He could divorce his wife if she had a poor figure, a swollen belly, a protruding navel, bony ankles or knees, or if she were bow-legged or had feet as wide as a goose. *A man could give his wife a certificate of divorce if she burned supper, if she spoke to any other man than her husband, or yelled at her husband loud enough to be heard outside.

5 3. And the list just goes on and on and on. It is very clear that the marriage relationship had disintegrated to a point where a husband could divorce his wife on virtually any grounds he could think of. This background gives us a much clearer understanding of.. II. The TEACHING of Jesus (vs.32) 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. 1. Jesus is attacking the scribes and Pharisees interpretation of the scripture in Deuteronomy 24 by identifying frivolous divorce as a heinous sin and defining remarriage after a frivolous divorce as adultery. 2. Jesus was teaching that no divorce certificate could dissolve the marriage in the eyes of GOD when divorce was sought on any grounds other than sexual immorality. 3. In the eyes of GOD a couple remains married until death or until the marriage is dissolved when one of the partners engages in an adulterous relationship in a second marriage. 4. Now there has been a great deal of debate as to what Jesus meant by sexual immorality. *Some interpret sexual immorality within a very narrow boundary. They believe Jesus is teaching that the only allowance for a divorce is in a situation where one of the mates commits the physical act of adultery with someone of the opposite sex.

6 * Some interpret sexual immorality to include a much broader boundary. Those who hold this interpretation believe Jesus was allowing a divorce in the following situations: -In the cases of incest. -In cases where a man discovered after the marriage his wife was not a virgin. -In the case where a husband engages in a sexual relationship with a prostitute. -In the case where a husband or wife carries on an adulterous relationship of the mind and heart with someone on the internet. *In the case where a wife finds out her husband is a homosexual or the husband finds out his wife is a lesbian. 5. The point is this: Whether Jesus intended the narrow interpretation of one mate engaging in the act of adultery with someone else or whether he meant the broader interpretation, both sides agree THE ONLY SCRIPTURAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE IS SEXUAL IMMORALITY. 6. We must understand that even in these types of situations Jesus is NOT commanding divorce, but allowing a concession. Christ is upholding His Heavenly Father s ideal of marriage! And that is that one man and one woman remain married for a lifetime and reconcile their problems, even if sexual immorality has been committed by one of the partners. That is GOD S IDEAL!

7 7. Now about the issue of REMARRIAGE. Jesus says, Whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. Some Churches have a very legalistic interpretation of what Jesus is saying here. *Some teach that anyone who has divorced and is remarried is living in perpetual adultery and is therefore a hopelessly lost soul. They leave absolutely no room for repentance, for God s grace or forgiveness. Those who hold this view equate divorce and remarriage with the unpardonable sin. *And then there are those who teach that the only way someone who is divorced and remarried can truly repent and get right with God is to divorce their second mate and go back to their first mate. 8. Let s consider both of these issues: (A) First of all, what did Jesus mean by commits adultery? The language Jesus uses here does NOT imply a perpetual adulterous state, but rather the first act of adultery in the new marriage dissolves the one-flesh union of the first marriage. The initial intimacy between two divorcees who marry or a divorcee and a single person who get married is an ACT OF ADULTERY. ADULTERY is a terrible SIN! ADULTERY is a violation of God s law. Under the Old Testament Law, the ACT of ADULTERY was such an abomination to GOD, the Law required the ADULTERER and the ADULTERESS to be executed by STONING! While it may not be a perpetual sinful state it is none-theless a grievous sin that must be repented of. How does one repent of such a sin? By beginning afresh to uphold God s high ideals for marriage by remaining faithful to their current partner until separated by death.

8 (B) Now about the other issue. What about those who say the only way one can truly repent is to divorce their second mate and go back to their first? The answer is found in that passage in Deuteronomy 24 that we read earlier. Listen carefully. 4 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, This scripture makes it very clear that re-uniting with one s original mate after they have remarried doesn t make things right in the eyes of GOD it makes it an abomination! III. The TRUSTWORTHY GRACE of God 1. There are many complex questions regarding divorce and remarriage that are not specifically addressed in the scriptures. For example. -What if a wife is in an abusive marriage where her husband regularly beats her and her life is in danger? -What if the children are being physically or sexually abused by the husband and father? -What if the husband is sexually molesting other people s children? -What if the husband and father is poisoning the minds of his children by making them watch pornography? Or what if the husband is endangering the lives of his children by giving them alcohol or drugs? -What if the husband and father is an alcoholic and will not provide for the physical needs of his family? -What if the husband declares he s a homosexual or the wife declares she s a lesbian?

9 2. While there are no easy answers for these types of situations from a scriptural point of view, there is one thing that is absolutely certain and that is the trustworthy grace of GOD. God s grace is far greater than our greatest sin. 3. Our GOD is a loving, forgiving, compassionate GOD! -Psalm 103:8-14 (NKJV) 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. 3. While GOD hates divorce, He does not hate those who have been through a divorce and remarriage. God offers us His grace and forgiveness. When one goes through a divorce and remarries, God doesn t want excuses or rationalization. He desires that we take responsibility and ownership of our part in the failure of the marriage. And He desires a commitment from this day forward to be faithful to mate we are now married to until death separates us.

10 4. The challenge before each and everyone of us here today is to honor and uphold GOD S highest standards in our relationships and to live within His divine bounds of the marriage relationship. C O N C L U S I O N A couple that had been married for 15 years started having more disagreements than usual. They contemplated getting a divorce. Deciding to give their marriage one more shot, the couple came up with a plan. They put two boxes on the kitchen counter. One was labeled HIS FAULTS, the other HER FAULTS. For one month they were to drop a slip of paper in their mate s FAULT BOX to let each other know about the things that irritated them. The wife was very diligent in her efforts. Leaving the lid off the jelly jar. Not picking up your clothes. Leaving the cap off the toothpaste. Leaving the toilet seat up. Well at the end of one month they exchanged boxes. The husband opened his fault box first and reflected on all the things he did that irritated his wife. Then the wife opened her fault box and on every slip paper were these words I love you, I love you, I love you! AS GOD HAS SHOWN HIS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE TOWARDS YOU AND ME, LET US SHOW UNCONDITIONAL LOVE TOWARDS OUR MATES..TILL TILL DEATH DO US PART!

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