Jesus speaks about divorce

The Life of Jesus Christ - Chapter 8 - Jesus' last journey to Jerusalem - Part 2

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An online Bible Study course by Barrie Wetherill about the life of Jesus. This book is in EasyEnglish Level B. Use the links below for other online Bible Study books and commentaries that will help you. Or go to the Word List, which explains words with a *star.

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Mark 10:1-12

A question about the laws of Moses

Some *Pharisees came to Jesus to test him. They asked, 'Does a man obey the law if he divorces his wife?' There were two opinions about this. They wanted Jesus to choose one opinion or the other. Moses had introduced divorce. He said that a man should write a notice of divorce for his wife (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). People did not agree what this meant.

·  Some people believed that this law permitted divorce at any time. The reasons for divorce were not important. But as long as there was a legal notice, there could be a divorce. For example, Herod the King divorced his first wife so that he could marry his brother's wife. Herod thought that he had the right to do this. He arrested John the Baptist, who opposed him.

·  Other people thought that there could be divorce only because of adultery. [Adultery is a *sin. A married person has sex with someone who is not their husband or wife.]

The *Pharisees wanted Jesus to declare which opinion was right. Whatever he said, he would upset somebody.

Jesus' reply

What would Jesus do? Jesus did not answer the question immediately. His reply was very clever. He went right back to the beginning of the Bible, that is, to the first chapters of Genesis. His answer was stricter than either opinion. Also, Jesus spoke about men and women in the same way. He considered that both men and women were important.

God's plan for people who marry

In Genesis 2:18-25, God says this. Man needs a helper who is suitable for him. The basic problem was that man was lonely. The Bible describes married people as companions. In Genesis 2:24 God says, ‘...two shall become one ‘. He does not mean that after marriage the two people have sex. It means that they unite to become one unit. God designed marriage so that a man becomes one unit with his wife.

The apostle Paul wrote about this in Ephesians 5:28-31. He explained that marriage is like a model of Christ’s love for his church. [By 'church', Paul did not mean a building. He meant all the people who believe in Jesus.] Paul described how Jesus loved the church. Because of that love, Jesus died for us. Then Paul wrote this:

Ephesians 5:28-30 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Nobody ever hated his own body. He feeds and cares for it. This is what Christ does for the church. We are members of his body.

We can say this in other words. The Bible says that marriage partners are companions. Their love and care for each other is much more important than sex. The Bible’s words about adultery agree with this. In the Bible, marriage was an agreement. It began when the couple were engaged [when they said that they would marry]. So, it began before they had sex. (Deuteronomy 22:23) If engaged people had sex with someone else, the punishment was the same as for married people. In the Bible, marriage does not just make sex legal. (See also Proverbs 2:16, 17, Malachi 2:14).This is very important for human society. It refers back to the way that God made us.

Why Moses allowed divorce

Jesus says that Moses allowed divorce to be legal as a temporary decision. It was because people did not love the law. They did not obey the law. Moses allowed divorce, but divorce was not the best way. Divorce was a second best way. This was not the answer that the *Pharisees wanted! Even the *disciples were very surprised by Jesus’ answer. What Moses allowed was interesting. It shows how God was willing to change his law. People failed to keep his natural law. Although this disappointed God, he changed that law. God did this because people needed the change.


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