Day 23 | Matthew 5:31-37 | Remarriage equals adultery


**Please be sure to read all around this passage so that you are getting it in context; and as always, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the understanding that He would have you see.

Passage: Matthew 5:31-32

Thoughts:

Being a divorced man myself I paid special attention to this passage. I know personally how devastating divorce can be. How damaging it can be to our children’s lives, our personal lives, and even affecting our characters and how we interact with other people in the future.

Let’s first take some time to get a sense of what Jesus may have been dealing with in His time…

Under Jewish law, “adultery” referred only to the wife’s misbehavior, not the husband’s. Matthew does not agree with this view (Mat_5:28); but because his readers must obey the law of their communities, he deals only with the issue of the wife.
Some Pharisaic *rabbis allowed divorce for almost anything (just as Roman law did); others allowed it only if the wife were unfaithful. Yet the stricter rabbis did not view more lenient divorces as invalid. Jesus thus goes beyond the stricter position: not only does he allow divorce only if one’s wife is unfaithful, but he regards divorce for any other reason as invalid, thus making remarriage in those cases adulterous. This seems, however, to be *hyperbole (as in Mat_5:29-30), a graphic way of forbidding divorce except when the other partner has already irreparably broken the marriage covenant.
If Jesus’ interpretation of the law was stricter than what the law said at face value, no one would have thought that he was therefore contradicting the law; “building a fence” around the law was a standard Jewish practice that involved making certain that the law’s intent was not broken. IVP Bible Background Commentary
Once again, Jesus is going beyond the “letter of the law” and digging into the “heart” of the matter. We must understand the principle of the law that God is putting forth to us, for our benefit, and apply it to our lives. Look at Matthew 5:33-37…here we are given the sense that we should NEVER ever make a vow that we do not intend to keep. Jesus is asking us to have integrity…”let your Yes be yes and your no be no”. This would also apply to a marriage vow.
Here is the problem of the day that Jesus was dealing with…
People swore by all sorts of things other than God to testify that their word was true. They reasoned that if they broke their oath based on any of these lesser things, at least they were not bringing God’s name into disrepute. It eventually became necessary for *rabbis to decide which oaths were completely binding. Jesus says that everything by which one could swear is ultimately God’s, and demands that people simply be as good as their word. Jesus argues the point in part from Scripture; Isa_66:1 declared that heaven is God’s throne and earth is his footstool. IVP Bible Background Commentary
Today we are too quick to divorce. We don’t even know why we have this problem as a society. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I think, in part, it is because we have selfishly made the vows in the first place. The vows should not be to another human first (your husband or wife) but to GOD first. This is what we have lost sight of. We no longer consider GOD a part of the “deal”. What if the wedding vows were not to another person but to GOD and GOD alone. How much more important would that be?
Note the change in the vows as we go from Traditional to Civil type vows…
Traditional Wedding Vows 1:
I, (name), take you, (name), to be my [opt: lawfully wedded] (husband/wife), my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
Traditional Wedding Vows 2 (traditional civil ceremony vows):
(Name), I take you to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife). Before these witnesses I vow to love you and care for you as long as we both shall live. I take you with all your faults and your strengths as I offer myself to you with my faults and strengths. I will help you when you need help, and I will turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life.
Traditional Wedding Vows 3:
I, (name), take you, (name), to be my beloved (wife/husband), to have and to hold you, to honor you, to treasure you, to be at your side in sorrow and in joy, in the good times, and in the bad, and to love and cherish you always. I promise you this from my heart, for all the days of my life.
God is taken out as the different types of vows progress. If you are only making the promise to yourself or to another person then that promise has a certain weakness; human weakness. But if you are making the vows to God who is greater than you and who gives you life, love, and forgiveness….well, what a greater promise that is. You are now working with God who can make all things possible.
What if the vows were something more like this…
I, husband, take you, wife, to be my lawfully wedded wife. I vow to God, our family and friends, and to  you to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to always put God first and by doing so be a good husband to you unconditionally. I will uphold this covenant with God by loving you unconditionally, by supporting you in your goals, by honoring  you and respecting you, by laughing with you and crying with you, and by cherishing you for as long as we both shall live.
Now we have made a promise to God. And as Jesus said…”let your Yes be Yes and your No be No”.
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