Suggested further reading: Ephesians 5:23-33
In the days when our Lord was upon earth divorces were
permitted amongst the Jews for the most trifling and frivolous reasons.
The practice, though tolerated by Moses to prevent worse evils, such
as cruelty and murder, had gradually become an enormous abuse
and no doubt led to much immorality (Mal. 2:14-16). The remark
made by our Lord's disciples shows the deplorably low state of
public feeling on the subject (v. 10).
Our Lord brings forward a widely different standard for the
guidance of his disciples. He first founds his judgement on the
original institution of marriage (vv. 4-5). He then backs up the quotation
by his own solemn words (v. 6). And finally he brings in the
grave charge of breaking the seventh commandment against marriages
contracted after a divorce for light and frivolous reasons (v. 9).
The importance of the whole subject on which our Lord
pronounces judgement can hardly be overrated. The marriage
relation lies at the very root of the social system of the nations. It is a
fact clearly ascertained that polygamy and permission to obtain
divorce on slight grounds have a direct tendency to promote immorality.
It becomes all those who are married or purpose marriage
to ponder this passage well. Of all relations of life none ought to
be regarded with such reverence and none taken in hand so
cautiously as that of husband and wife. In no relationship is so much
earthly happiness to be found if entered upon discreetly, advisedly and
in the fear of God. In none is so much misery to be found if
entered into unadvisedly, lightly, wantonly and without thought.
In the matter of marriage let three rules be observed.
Firstly, marry only in the Lord and after prayer for God's approval
and blessing. Secondly, do not expect too much of marriage. Two
sinners are involved, not two angels. Thirdly, strive first and
foremost for each other's sanctification (Eph. 5:25-26).
For meditation: Marriages have to be worked at. They do
not prosper automatically.