October 14, 2020

Matthew 5
Divorce vv.31 & 32 – Part 1

Here in the twenty-first century we live in an era of disposable relationships. Nearly one in two marriages ends in divorce. We accept it, even though it is often painful. And, increasingly, young couples are choosing cohabitation without the legal trappings of marriage. It’s a way of avoiding red tape when the inevitable breakup occurs. The breakup will occur. or, so we believe. Very few expect to marry for life.

So it’s a bit of jolt to red Jesus’ prohibition of divorce. It seems harsh. But let’s look at the context.

Marriage, as a social contract, was under siege in Jesus’ day. In many ways this reflected a clash of cultures, Jewish, Roman, and Greek. And in the Jewish context there was the added conflict of the perennial liberal/conservative divide. The liberal school under the leadership of Rabbi Hillel, sided with the Greco/Roman view that marriage could be dissolved easily, and for any reason. The conservative school, under Rabbi Shamai, was counter-culture. It contended that there was only one cause justifying divorce — adultery.