Lenten Devotional 3-10-23

Sermon on the Mount

March 10, 2023

Matthew 5: 31-32

31 ‘It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

If you are a lawyer and want to have a secure source of clients, practice “family law” which is the more genteel description of being a divorce lawyer. With around 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, there are plenty of clients to go around. Surprisingly, the same would have been true in Jesus’ day except for the fact that a husband could divorce his wife by simply handing her a certificate that said she was no longer his wife. No lawyer necessary. It was easy. No reason required. That was what Torah law said. The certificate allowed the woman to remarry, because she was no one’s wife. You see, the issue here is not divorce, but adultery. Jesus was saying that wives were not disposable for any reason. There had to be a good reason. Unchastity for instance. There might have been other exceptions, but Jesus does not talk about what they might have been. 

The problem Jesus lays out is this. If a man wants to divorce his wife, he better have a good reason. If he has no good reason, he is still married to her but has cast her adrift into financial destitution. Her only hope is t remarry. So, the unrecognized divorce causes her, and her new husband to commit adultery. Jesus is pointing out the ridiculousness of this practice of divorce. This, according to Jesus, is not what God intended. God intended marriage to be much more. This is a symptom of humanity’s fallibility and our need for a savior.