By: CHRIS MCCANN
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Before we move on to chapter 3, we should spend a little time discussing the Bible’s teaching regarding marriage and divorce. We have already mentioned that God began the marriage institution and marriage is really a figure of the spiritual marriage between Christ and His church. It is a picture of salvation. In order for God to bring the “bride” unto the “man” God had to cause a deep sleep to fall upon the man Adam. First, God poured out his wrath upon Christ at the point of the world’s foundation and through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ the “woman” came forth. Now it was a matter of building the woman throughout earth’s history as the Gospel would go forth. As Christ said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” It was built upon the rock and foundation of His own death. This is what the woman was built upon and it is why the marriage institution is so important and why God provided protection for it throughout history through His commandments. For instance, God says in Malachi 2:16:
For JEHOVAH, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away…
The phrase “putting away” is another term for “divorce.” God hates “putting away.” God also made statements like this in the New Testament. It says in Luke 16:18:
Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
Here, God establishes a strong Law. Through most of history, when men and women would marry they realized how serious it was to become married. According to Luke 16, verse 18, if a man puts away his wife and marries another he commits adultery and whoever would marry her that was put away also commits adultery. If there was a man that had not been married and he met a woman that was divorced and married her, it was also adulterous. We could ask the question, “Why would it be adultery for a man to put away his wife and marry another? Why would it be adultery for a woman that was put away to marry another? Why are those new marriages adulterous?” There is only one answer. We have to look at the definition of adultery. Adultery is when you are married, but you have sexual relations with someone else. It is adultery because you are already married. That is what the Bible is teaching. If you put away your wife and marry another or if the wife who has been put away marries another, they are still married to their former spouse. Therefore, any additional marriage is adultery because they are already married, according to the teaching of the Bible.
In Matthew, chapter 19 the Pharisees had a point. They knew the Old Testament, so they raised an issue and it was actually a good question. It says in Matthew 19:3-6:
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Today the true believers are thought to have an archaic view of marriage and divorce. The churches do not have what is viewed by them as an archaic view because they have allowed the “edge of the wedge” to come in with their allowance of divorce for fornication and now they have divorce for any reason under the sun. If the husband does not like the way the wife “sneezes,” he can get a divorce. The marriage institution has become shattered in both the churches and the world, but God’s people maintain the view of the Bible that marriage is “until death.” God created the marriage institution and there is not to be divorce for any reason. That is what the Pharisees were questioning Jesus about and Christ taught there was not to be divorce. That is why the Pharisees were tempting Him: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” That includes every possible reason and Jesus’ answer was that what God had joined together, man is not to put asunder because God hates “putting away.” But the Pharisees were testing him because they had a verse “up their sleeve” and they asked in Matthew 19:7:
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
They thought they had cornered Christ. They were going to prove that He was not infallible and He was not who He claimed to be because He did not know that in the Old Testament Moses allowed for divorce. They must have heard that Jesus had taught there was not to be divorce for any reason. The verse that God moved Moses to write was positioned in a very plain way in verse 1 at the beginning of a chapter, so it would have been a well-known statement, so they thought they had cornered Jesus. He had made an error, they thought.
Actually, if we go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 24 we will see why the Pharisees felt pretty confident in their position. It says in Deuteronomy 24:1:
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
It does say so, does it not? If a man takes a wife and marries her and then finds some uncleanness in her, then he is permitted to write a bill of divorce and put her away. The Law written by Moses was recognized as the Law of God and it permitted divorce. The Pharisees had asked about “every cause” in which a wife could be put away, so why was Jesus saying, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”? They thought they had the Law on their side, but let us look at Jesus’ answer to their question in Matthew 19:8:
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
Then Jesus gave the reason, in Matthew 19:9:
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
It was for the hardness of the hearts of Israel. When we read the Old Testament we find that God speaks of being married to national Israel and God also mentions divorcing her, in Jeremiah 3:8:
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Also, it says in Isaiah 50:1:
Thus saith JEHOVAH, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?
God had put away Israel. He married her in order to establish a type and picture and, yet, God put a Law on the books by moving Moses to write it down in the Bible which permitted God to divorce national Israel, the corporate body that was the outward representation of the kingdom of God, due to their uncleanness. It was done exactly as it says in Deuteronomy 24, verse 1. God took Israel to wife and she was unclean, so He wrote her a bill of divorce and sent her out of His house.
This is what Jesus is addressing in Matthew 19, verse 8. He is answering the specific question: “They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” Jesus is addressing the Law in Deuteronomy 24, verse 1. He says, “because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” So, Jesus is re-establishing the Law that was from the beginning of creation when God created Adam and took one of his ribs and built the woman and brought them together as man and wife. From the beginning there was not to be divorce, but God temporarily gave a Law permitting divorce in order that He could divorce national Israel. In the Book of Matthew the time is coming when the veil of the temple would be rent in twain and the divorce is finalized between God and national Israel and, therefore, Jesus is re-establishing the Law that “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Then Jesus said in Matthew 19:9: “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication.” That is because Christ had just finished talking about fornication, the uncleanness that was referred to in Deuteronomy 24, verse 1. In other words, when Jesus says, “except for fornication,” He is saying that He has just answered their question in regard to fornication and now He is also going to address every other possible reason, since they had come to Him asking, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Jesus had just discussed that, so He went on to say, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” This now agrees with Luke 16:18. If you marry a divorced person or if you are divorced and marry another while your previous spouse is alive, you are committing adultery and you have violated the marriage institution. God had provided that safeguard around the marriage because the marriage relationship is tremendously important. It illustrates the picture of God’s salvation plan, so God placed a hedge about it with His Laws.
In Mark, chapter 10 it is more straightforward. It says in Mark 10:2-9:
And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Here, we can see it more directly. The Pharisees raised their point and then Jesus said that from the beginning it was not so and then He re-established the Law of God and the Law of the Bible is this: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Who was it that took the rib out of the man, created the woman and brought them together? It says in Genesis 2:22-23:
And the rib, which JEHOVAH God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
God joined them together in marriage and the two became one. It is unlike any other relationship. It is unlike any other institution. God did this. God joined them in marriage, so He is providing safety for this tremendously important marriage relationship: “Let not man put asunder.” That includes judges and lawyers and other individuals that think they have all kinds of justification. People say, “Oh, you would not believe how my wife treats me.” Or, another says, “You would not believe the things going on in my marriage. You would not believe how awful it is and if anyone should be divorced, it is me.” But God says, “Let not man put asunder.” Let not the creature (man) put asunder that which God has put in place. God made His decree and He issued the proclamation concerning the marriage relationship for you or me or any human being and that is that marriage is until death; it is to last throughout the duration of life, until one spouse or the other spouse dies.