Now it came to pass when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘Made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:1-6)
Can Divorce Be Granted For Any Reason?
Jesus was an incredible teacher. His critics tried frequently to trap Him in His speech or find something contradictory in His teaching but to no avail. With clarity, sound judgment and the authority of His Father’s word, Jesus would confront all those who sought to entrap Him in deceit with clear and concise answers that left no room for debate. Many would ask Jesus questions from pure motives but many more tested the Lord seeking to find a chink in His armor and find fault. No topic has had more controversy than the subject of marriage and divorce and the Pharisees came fully armed to snare Jesus with clever arguments that would prove their wisdom over the man from Nazareth. They were not asking from honest hearts which taints the question but Jesus is unfazed. It was a legal question they posed to Jesus and one that was open-ended. Was it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason? Those asking the questions were the religious elite among the Jews who prided themselves in knowing so much more about the Law of Moses than any other. Their minds were keen on discerning the smallest minutia of the law to their advantage. They considered themselves masters over this unlearned, itinerant rabbi called Jesus and carefully prepared arguments to destroy His credibility before the people. What they learned that day was the force of the word of God plainly defending the will of the Lord from the beginning of time. Jesus would not be moved by their hypocrisy. The Son of God stood where all men must stand to answers the most difficult questions: what does God say?
Jesus first appeals to the authority of scripture. The Pharisees were well read in the law but their hearts were not well lead to the truth. They looked at the law as their personal Mt. Sinai to declare what was law and what was not. Jesus went back to the source of authority and challenged them to read what Moses wrote at the beginning of time. Within the first 1400 words of the book of Genesis, the Lord establishes the law of marriage between a male and female and the union of Adam and Eve was designed by God to be a permanent arrangement living in harmony with the Lord. Jesus takes the Pharisees back to the beginning. What was the world God created in the beginning? He formed man and put him in the garden to live in a paradise of God’s presence. Marriage is as old as the world. It was not a law formed at Mt. Sinai or instituted by Jesus when He came to earth. The union of a man and woman was ordained on the sixth day of creation and was blessed by God as very good. When Adam and Eve walked in the cool of the day in the midst of the Garden of Eden, they enjoyed every blessing of the Lord God in the beauty of the home. Adam never considered divorcing Eve and not because she was the only woman on earth. The notion of divorcing a mate came when Satan deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. Jesus reminded the religious elite that divorce came about when sin entered the world. Their question proved the righteousness of God and that marriage from the beginning of time was designed to be between a man and a woman. Further, marriage was a lifelong commitment based upon a relationship with God. The Lord hates divorce for many reasons but largely because whenever divorce happens, sin is somewhere rearing its ugly head.
Having proven that marriage was established by God from the beginning as a holy union, Jesus tells the Pharisees the union of a man and woman is binding in the eyes of the Lord. What God had joined together no man should try to break apart. And the most important part of the answer Jesus gave is found in the fact that He had said all He had to say and that was all He was going to say. More often than not if the question is asked whether a man can divorce his wife for any reason, the answers given by most will take hours and fill up volumes. Jesus answered the Pharisees with sixty-three words. His answer was telling the Pharisees, “No.” Can you get a divorce for any reason? No! That is all Jesus had to say about the matter. He had shown the authority of God’s word, illustrated with solid arguments and concluded with the eternal will of the Father that has remained unchanged since the Garden of Eden. Now the Pharisee were laying a trap and challenged Him further about the Law of Moses but the lesson must be learned by students of scripture that when Jesus was asked the question – He answered. If more men would spend the time on the first answer instead of debating the merits of the second question posed by the Pharisees, there would be less confusion to the question of marriage and divorce. Sometimes that real question is lost in the abundance of intellectual mumbo-jumbo that God’s truth is washed away. This has allowed for souls who find themselves in a dire circumstance of an unlawful marriage to believe God approves of their union. Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason? Jesus said, “No.”