Why is divorce WRONG ? Jesus makes a big deal about this in our next text, in chapter 19 of Matthew’s Gospel account.
The existing Jewish practice and doctrine allowed for divorce – ie the abandonment of the legal obligation between husband and wife. But Jesus says NO to divorce [except in cases of adultery and unfaithfulness].
Our first reaction is to ask, “Why is Jesus so demanding ?”
Surely a woman is not supposed to remain with a violent husband [at a human level I agree and have encouraged women to get away from such men before the situation degenerates to murder – that is, for both their sakes].
So why is the God of Grace so hard on us when it comes to such a personal and fundamental matter ?
As always, we need to see God’s perspective. That means we need to consider the related scriptures on the matter of marriage, as well as understand this specific issue in the overall context of Christian teaching.
Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers [chapter 5] that marriage is a parallel or a picture of the relationship of Christ as husband with his wife, the church.
Christ does not give up on his church. Christ gave himself at the cross to redeem the church. He totally sacrificed himself for her – unconditionally and unequivocally.
Men are expected by God to do the same in their earthly marriages. There is a problem in marriages because men do not know how to be husbands. When men start behaving as God in Christ demands they do, then marriages will be what God wants them to be – loving and fulfilling – a relationship where a man protects and provides for his family.
In such a marriage, the average woman will not just accept but become positively responsive, providing all that a woman is fashioned by God to provide for her husband and children. Note eg Proverbs chapter 31.
The initiative is the man’s and the responsibility is first and foremost the man’s to obey Christ’s teaching and example. If the feminist lobby has reason to complain, it is because men fail to be men as God intended. Period.
There is a complaint because there is too often a cause for complaint.
It is in this context that we should understand Christian teaching about a wife’s submission to her husband. Remember, if the husband is properly submitted to Christ, all else should naturally follow on his wife’s part.
How does Jesus deal with us ? In domination and demand ? Or in love and tenderness, reminding us how vitally important it is to follow his teaching to love God and to love others, for our own sake and for others welfare too ?
Jesus allows us to indulge our foolishness, and then causes us to realise that we are being foolish, and that there is always a way back to him for the repentant…
A final reference from 1st Peter, chapter 3, verse 7. Love and honour your wives as fellow heirs of grace, that your prayers be not hindered.