The torrential floods can be observed as devastatingly disastrous. But such floods would have initiated from the smallest of streams in the escarpment. Great things in this world start small, before snowballing into a devastating effect. The current Ukraine war has caused sleepless nights for the world leaders.
This is a result of the inability to address the negligible formulae. Jesus said something that appears as misunderstood by His audience. Nevertheless, the statement is still relevant to those who appear as interested in Jesus’ teachings. This was a fortuitous statement, at a time when His enemies sought to trap him, intending to find offence against Him.
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it” (Matthew 19:3-12 NIV).
Jesus’ response, reminded His detractors that at the beginning the man and his wife were one in flesh. The profound significance is that the separation of a husband and wife is abnormal. Otherwise, under normal conditions, the two would be no longer viewed as separate entities.
From this Passage of Scripture alone, we see the origin of the problems of humanity. Divorce is abnormal, yet rationalized as normal, only by abnormal people. Under normal conditions, it is impossible for a husband and wife, to separate. Physically, the two are separate entities. But spiritually, the two are inseparable.
We have to deal with the spiritual aspect, defining the impossibility for one to divorce one’s partner. Otherwise, what Jesus said is not applicable to ordinary humanity. Hence, even His disciples were quick to conclude: “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry” (V.10)
Jesus did not argue with them, but He told them: “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given” (V.11). This is consistent with what He told Simon Peter: “Flesh and blood had not revealed the mystery of Being God’s Son” (Matthew 16:18).
The world was evil during Jesus’ time and continues to be evil even during our time. Adopting the spiritual condition, making it impossible to divorce, can be applicable to some people, but not all. Understanding spiritual things can be impossible without God’s involvement.
The perennial problem of Christianity stems from conflating the Spirit and the flesh as one thing. The two are opposed to each other, but the significance is spiritual, as represents the original. The one in control of the entire unit, according to the will of the individual, is Spiritual.
The husband and wife are one, although physically separate. Adam appeared before Eve’s existence. Adam existed as one, at the Garden of Eden, among animal species—which could not relate with him, spiritually. Adam needed a Spiritual partner more than a physical partnership.
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:20-25 NIV).
The aspect of suitability comes from Adam’s peculiarity, as spiritually different among animal species. He had been created in God’s image. Adam and Eve became one flesh, deemed from their spiritual condition, separating them from animal species. Hence, marriage was instituted before they sinned.
Their condition of oneness ensures the tapestry of their offspring formations into inseparable marriages. However, marriage is of this world, into which Adam and Eve were inducted.
That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brothers, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching (Matthew 22:23-33 NIV).
Humanity is a unique creation of God, expected to behave differently from ordinary species of this world. The gender aspect was formulated as projecting an idea of procreation. After puberty, one marries a spouse of one’s choice. The two become inseparably bonded, until death.
This depicted humanity’s condition, where divorce would be impossible. Jesus insinuated that marriage was unnecessity in heaven. Those limited to physical matters had confronted Him about the aspect of resurrection.
The condition of God’s image cannot be construed on gender or racial patterns. This explains the reason why Jesus, representing a heavenly pattern, could not be married. Humanity is supposed to be extricated from earthly conditions; using Jesus as a standard of originality.
However, marriage was divinely instituted, where a man and his wife become inseparable. Jesus singled out fornication, as immoral conduct that grants justification for divorce. A person of chastity would not marry a person who would have committed fornication, although unmarried.
According to Jesus, marrying such a person constitutes adultery. Fornication is not adultery but authenticates one’s espousal to the one with who fornication would have been engaged. God’s Law remains immutable. The first engagement in sexual activity qualifies one’s marital commitment.
The first sexual engagement with a man sanctifies one’s marriage, even though engaged in fornication. Sleeping with the next man constitutes adultery, which is abominable to God. Without adequate communication, marrying such a person constitutes committing adultery.
It is easy to realize that all problems of humanity emanate from the violation of marital institutions. This does not remove the fact that in the courts of law, marital divorces are endorsed as acceptable.
Divorces were allowed among the Israelites, due to their hardheartedness, cascading down to the generation with whom Jesus was communicating. Those disciples stated: The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matthew 19:10).
One can easily deduce a conclusion that gigantic relational problems of humanity, emanate from violating marital principles. Is marriage good or bad? Jesus’ disciples suggested celibacy. But nothing is impossible for humans, as Jesus insinuated. But Jesus also acknowledged that some people prefer remaining unmarried because of their commitments to God’s Kingdom.
The upshot of it is that God never created division in humanity. If marriages were preserved in human societies, according to God’s original plan, there would be peace and unity across the world. This is just as the disjointed branches cannot produce desired fruits, when not emanating from the same stock.
While the consequences of divorce are trivialized, they are causes of not only war but stunted developments. Other nations may be better than others in terms of divorce rates. But the entire fabric of humanity is endangered. The lack of required peace in humanity is a product of divorces from time immemorial.
Jesus reminded His listeners that Moses permitted divorces, because of humanity’s hardheartedness. He revealed that Moses’ permissiveness on matters of divorce was piecemeal. In the beginning, divorce had been meant to be impossible. The spiritual condition of marital matters makes divorce impossible. The sanctity of marriage can be adopted by a few individuals, just as God’s Kingdom is adopted by a few.
Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it” (Matthew 19:11-12 NIV).
Those, complying with the marital conditions, described above, may not make a difference, in a world as corrupt as ours. But that denotes an ideal condition that those accepting, do so without reservations. They make a difference in an ugly and unlivable world.
Jesus did not impose the idea of avoiding divorce, as to enforce chastity. Those choosing to apply marriage according to its spiritual prescription, fully understand its significance, even without religiosity.
While viewed as inconsequential, the effects of divorce constitute what has caused this world to be hell. One cannot apply anything considered evil in this world, without attaching divorce to it. Such consequences may be stemming from some thousands of years, but affect the current generations.
This is a world in a mess. No one can enforce marital stability. Individuals have been given the freedom to choose to pursue the line of applying the apparent inapplicable solutions. It remains to be a matter of one’s decision, to apply these principles, whose rewards are heavenly’ more than they can be earthly.
It takes those aware of the futility of preserving good life on earth, at the expense of the future. To those consciously desiring a better future, this life requires sacrificing, more than preserving it at the expense of a better future.
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39 NIV).
There are many things for which one can sacrifice one’s life, but nothing is as significant as passing the test of marital commitment. What has trapped many a Christian, all along, is the assumption that adultery provides a good reason to divorce one’s spouse. That is untrue. Adultery is included among millions of sins, for which one is expected to forgive one’s spouse.
God willing, I hope to write more on this subject, in future. A better civilization is one where the sanctity of marriage is regarded with high esteem. The vocabulary of divorce needs to be eradicated from our communication. Divorce is spiritually inapplicable to those aiming toward what humanity aims at attaining.
However, I have good news for a recent convert, caught up in past clumsy marital relationships. At conversion, our sins are forgiven. It is a matter of either avoiding similar mistakes in future or reverting back to old ways. As long as one appreciates adopting a new creation and growing in grace, accordingly, one would be safe, in Jesus Christ.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
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