Jesus makes it very clear that marriage, as intended, was for life between one man and one woman. This is because marriage was an union between two people whom God Himself joins together. Since God put them together, let no one break it apart. Apart from death, sin is the only way a marriage can be broken. But marriages can be broken by sin. This sin is either hardness of heart or unchastity. This sin can destroy the relationship that God put together. Yet if one person is truly loving, and the other is willing, a marriage can be preserved.
A marriage provides the context in which love can grow. Since Jesus commanded us to love even our enemies, and to turn the other cheek, we can certainly love our mate. We love not because we feel loving, but because He first loved us and gave Himself for us. A marriage is a bond made by covenant between two people, man and woman, wherein they can learn to love.
Yet even God came to an end of His patience. When Israel sinned continuously against him and His covenant, He divorced them. This is how it reads:
This is what the Lord says: "Where is your mother's certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away. Isa 50:1NIV
I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Jer 3:8 NIV
It is clear that no one walking in the flesh can walk with God. And how can two walk together unless they are agreed? So in the end the covenant between God and Israel was destined to failure unless Israel could walk in the Spirit, which it can through Christ. Yet my point is, God Himself went through divorce. As He says in Isa 5:4 NIV “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?” There could be no blame on God for divorcing Israel.
[I have been asked if God is all powerful, can He create a rock so big He cannot move it? My answer is that He can if He gives it free will.]
Even though God hates divorce, He Himself divorced Israel. Additionally, when a greater need made it so, Ezra commanded Israel to divorce their foreign wives as the will of God. Ezra 10:11 NIV “Now make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives." See Ezra 9-10. Although God hated divorce, the integrity of the people as the people of God had a higher value. This tells me that although marriage is of the Lord and binding, there are still higher values.
Regardless, it is sin that ends marriage. In the next article I’ll try to deal with the implications.