Jesus Defines Marriage

Preached at Riverview Baptist June 4, 2017 (798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN)


Matthew 19:1-9 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;  [2]  And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.  [3]  The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  [4]  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,   [5]   And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?   [6]   Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.   [7]  They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?  [8]  He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.   [9]   And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.   

The morality level in our country has gone south since the “Sexual Revolution” of the 60’s and 70’s. We attempted to move back to normalcy with the Federal “Defense of Marriage Act” passed into law by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. The act recognized marriage as between “One Man, One Woman”. In United States v. Windsor (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Today marriage is a hot button topic. The LGBT movement in America has pushed to define marriage as any union between any two people regardless of gender. Many Churches have decided to reconsider their doctrinal statements and perform same sex marriages, giving it the look of legitimacy. Some have gone so far as to say:

Jesus never said anything about same sex marriage or homosexuality”

The implication is that Jesus would have been loving and accepting of those engaged in that type of lifestyle. Now, it is not my object tonight to address same sex marriage, but to challenge us all to look at what Jesus did say about marriage.

The devil loves to attack marriage.

If the devil can get us to minimize marriage or define marriage based on our feelings and not on what God has said, he can destroy the fabric of our society. The Bible tells us that marriage and the family are the basic unit of humanity. If we get marriage wrong, we get civilization wrong. I think that’s what’s happening in America today.

Matthew 19:1-2 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;  [2]  And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

Jesus came to this earth not to enable us to do the wrong thing, but to encourage us and to heal us. The Bible declares in John 3:16 that:

God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son
That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,

But have everlasting life.

God the Father sent God the Son to give us life, not death. He came to bless us, not to curse us. He came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came as a “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19). Jesus came to “give His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15). Jesus came to …

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV)  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

The Pharisees Came Tempting Jesus

Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him,

They came “tempting” or trying Jesus. That is the Greek πειράζω peirazō. The same word is used in Matthew 4:3 and Mark 1:13 when the Devil himself tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It is used in Hebrews 3:9 when Israel tempted God in the wildernerness. As the Pharisees “tempt” Christ I want you to notice what they say:

Matthew 19:3 … Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife FOR EVERY CAUSE?

What they are saying in their question is “can’t there be divorce for every (or any) cause”? The question itself diminishes marriage. Marriage is important to God. Marriage is the first union that God created. Marriage is a beautiful institution that was designed by God to bring about the continuation of life on this planet earth. The Jewish men had developed a practice of marrying wives but once that wife aged or became infirm or in any way unpleasing the Jewish men put away that wife. They divorced their wives for EVERY and ANY cause. This was popular. This was socially acceptable. Marriage was disposable.

The Pharisees have been looking for a way to get rid of Jesus, to turn the crowds against Him. What better way than to have Him make a politically incorrect and public statement. Others would hear what Jesus said. And they would try their best to twist His words, to make Him out to be a bad man.

So how would Jesus respond?

John 8:12 (KJV)  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 9:5 (KJV)   As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Jesus cannot be other than THE LIGHT of the world. He will always “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). So Jesus replies the only way He can – truthfully and lovingly:

Matthew 19:4 … And he answered and said unto them, HAVE YE NOT READ, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

Jesus’ first reply was:

Have You Not READ”

What does that mean? “Have you not READ”? Read what? Read a newspaper? Haven’t you read what the Washington Post© said, or the New York Times©, or USA Today©, or the Wall Street Journal©? Haven’t you read the National Enquirer©, or the latest issue of People© or Cosmopolitan© or Woman’s Day©? You know the Huffington Post© did an article on “What is Marriage” that I’m sure Jesus was referencing. Is that what Jesus is talking about?

Jesus is not talking about some Jewish newspaper nor some off the shelf book written by some famous writer or renown doctor. Jesus is referencing the Word of God, the Bible. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the Devil and responded over and over again with:

It is written”

(see Matthew 4:4,7,10)

He is now tempted in the wilderness by Satan’s Children, the Pharisees. How does He respond? He says “Have you not READ”? Have you not read your Bible? The Bible is God’s Word. The Bible is authoritative. The Bible does not just contain God’s Word, but is God’s Word. The Apostle said in:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  [17]  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The Psalmist said in Psalms 119:105 (KJV) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

The Prophet said in Isaiah 40:8 (KJV)  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Sixty three times throughout the New Testament the phrase “it is written” is repeated. God has a Word, and His Word is written not by man but by God. The Apostle said of Scripture:

2 Peter 1:20-21 (KJV)  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  [21]  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy {Spirit}.

When a Church comes together it is not to hear the preacher’s opinion, but to search the Word of God so as to hear His Truth. What hath God said? The Pharisees asked Christ what HE thought of marriage, and Jesus responded:

Have you not read?”

Matthew 19:4 … And he answered and said unto them, have ye not read, that HE WHICH MADE THEM AT THE BEGINNING made them male and female,

Next Jesus says “He which MADE them AT THE BEGINNING”. Gallup recently released the findings of a new poll (May 3-7, 2017), stating:

The percentage of U.S. adults who believe that God created humans in their present form at some time within the last 10,000 years or so — the strict creationist view — has reached a new low. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults now accept creationism, while 57% believe in some form of evolution — either God-guided or not — saying man developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.”

Very few people believe in the Genesis account of creation, that God made Adam, then made Eve from Adam’s rib. Very few people even believe that God created the earth, preferring instead to believe the storyline of Darwinism and evolutionary science. If you believe that God created or “made them male and female in the beginning” as the Genesis account so states:

Genesis 1:26-28 (KJV)  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:… .  [27]  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  [28]  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: …

Genesis 2:7 (KJV)  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Genesis 2:21-22 (KJV)  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;  [22]  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

then you are in the minority. However, you are standing with Jesus. Jesus said “have you not READ (reference to Genesis) how God made them in the beginning (a refutation of evolutionary science) made them male and female”. Jesus believed the Biblical account, and used the Biblical account to support His teaching on marriage.

Matthew 19:4 … And he answered and said unto them, have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,

God made man in His image. Male and female are in the image of God. Man was made for woman, and woman for man. How did Jesus define marriage? He defined marriage according to the Bible, according to the Genesis account. God made them MALE and FEMALE. So what is “marriage” according to Jesus? It is a union between MALE and FEMALE. This is VERY gender specific.

Matthew 19:5-6 And said, For this cause shall A MAN LEAVE father and mother, and shall CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE: and THEY TWAIN SHALL BE ONE FLESH?   [6]   Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. WHAT THEREFORE GOD HATH JOINED TOGETHER, LET NOT MAN PUT ASUNDER.

This union was GENDER SPECIFIC. It was a union between a male and a female, a father and a mother. The man was to leave his father and mother (the biological family that produced him) in order to cleave to his wife and become one flesh. Jesus quotes the words of Adam when he first saw his Eve:

Genesis 2:22-24 (KJV)  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.  [23]  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  [24]  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Jesus believed the Genesis account to be true. He based what He believed on the written scripture. Marriage is not just two people joined together emotionally regardless of gender, but marriage is a man and a woman joined together in the sight of God, cleaving to one another, being one flesh. It is both a physical and a spiritual union.

In marriage there is a LEAVING (עָזַב `azab), and there is a CLEAVING (דָּבַק dabaq). You do not GROW into a family until you GO from your family. Woman is made from man, and returns to man. This is Biblical marriage, and this is what Jesus believed and presented.

Jesus quoted Adam when He said:

What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

When God first created marriage it was not with divorce in mind. Marriage is two people joined together by God. Today many people get joined together in marriage not by God, but by emotions, by reasons, by infatuation. But God is often not in the marriage. When Jesus quoted Genesis (a book written by God through Moses) the Pharisees were quick to come back and say:

Matthew 19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

If the Book of Genesis does not mention divorce, why did Moses later in the Law allow for divorce? If you read the second giving of the Law in Deuteronomy 24 you will find that it is not unlawful to divorce. We read:

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (KJV)  When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.  [2]  And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.   [3]  And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;  [4]  Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

It is not unlawful to divorce. God gave allowance for divorce. Why? Because marriage is a joining of man and woman initiated by God. Adam and Eve were joined in marriage because God meant them to be together. BUT we often make mistakes. We often, as humans, do not involve God in our choices. And God provided in the Law a way to protect a woman and to relieve a man who had made a bad decision to be marriage. The Pharisees ask Jesus:

Matthew 19:7 …Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

Jesus’ reply is very clear.

Matthew 19:9 He saith unto them, Moses because of the HARDNESS OF YOUR HEARTS suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

That phrase “hardness of your hearts” is a reference to hardening the heart against God.

Pharaoh hardened his heart against God (Exodus 8:19).

King Nebuchadnezzar hardened his heart against God (2 Chronicles 36:13; Daniel 5:20).

The disciples of Christ hardened their hearts against God’s teachings (Mark 6:52).

Israel hardened it’s heart against God, and wandered for 40 years (Psalm 95:8).

It may be lawful to divorce, but God meant marriage to be forever. Marriage is a picture of how Christ views His Church. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:22-33 (KJV)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  [23]  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  [24]  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  [25]  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  [26]  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  [27]  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  [28]  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  [29]  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  [30]  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  [31]  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  [32]  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  [33]  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Marriage is a gift from God, a precious union between man and wife, male and female. May God bless you all in your marriages.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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