Divorce vv.31 & 32 – Part 3
In Mt. 19:3-9 Jesus was “tested” by the Pharisees with the question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” King Herod, who ruled during Jesus’ life, had divorced his wife Herodias, and, as I’ve already pointed out, there was a great polarity of thought within Judaism itself. The Essenes were celibates, the Hillelites were liberals — a man could divorce his wife for burning his dinner! And the Shamai-ites were ultra-conservative — no divorce except for adultery. If Jesus was rigid he would offend Herod and the school of Hillel. If he was lenient he would fall out with the school of Shamai. So it was a “test” indeed.
His answer took the wind out of everyone’s sails. In essence he says, “Marriage was/is God’s creation.” The two sexes are complementary. The intent of marriage is to leave the family in which one was raised (“leave his father and mother”) and establish one’s own. The unit is not the individual, but the family. God is not only creator of the institution, but he is part of it. You must not break it up.
“OK! OK!,” said his interlocutors, but Moses allowed divorce. Why else would he command that a certificate of divorce be given to the woman?
Jesus responded by saying that Moses did not “command” it. He “permitted” or “suffered” (Greek) it. Why? Because the culture was “hard”.