Mt 19:3-12 Marriage And All Things Decaying
Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”
If you live in Dallas, you know for yourself that the roads in and around the city are a mess. Recently, I had to drive a friend to the airport (DFW airport) and I was delayed for an hour due to all the construction (or reconstructing) surrounding it.
While I was waiting, I had this simple reflection: Nothing in this world stays pristine. All things tend towards decay. Roads…no matter how much cement and rebar we use, even our roads and bridges decay.
I got to thinking about what I had just realized. I couldn’t think of a single thing in this world that does not decay. Humans decay, animals decay, plants decay, fruit decays, roads decay, even stones decay! All things decay.
Nothing lasts forever. Not too long ago, I went to the home of an elderly couple. They had been married for almost 60 years and they wanted me to bless their home of nearly 45 years. As we went in and out of the house, I noticed something in the middle of the yard. It was hardly recognizable and almost entirely covered over. At first it looked like some ancient structure from centuries ago. Before I could say anything, the elderly gentleman remarked: “When I first moved into this house, I wanted a place outdoors where the family could eat and relax. So my sons and I dug for days to remove all the grass, weeds and dirt in this place. We covered it with plastic, purchased a ton of gravel and sand, and bought over four hundred bricks. When it was all said and done, we had a beautiful outdoor patio and lush garden. Now, as you can see, time has taken its course. Gradually, little by little, the earth has reclaimed it and covered it.”
The same holds true for more abstract manmade things such as nations, empires, cultures and civilizations. All civilizations decline, so expect the same from western civilization. All cultures decline, so expect the same from our neo-pagan culture. Even all religions decline, so expect the same even from Christianity. But what makes Christianity different from all other civilizations, cultures, institutions and religions is that it expects to decline, just like her founder, and to rise again, just like her founder. This is what makes Christianity so different.
When man tries to save a dying institution, he redefines it. When God tries to save a dying institution, he resurrects it. Family is a dying institution in America. So what do Americans do to save it? We redefine it. The hardworking student is a dying breed in America. So how do we save him? We redefine him. Marriage is a dying institution in America. So, what do we do to save it? We redefine it.
But when Christ spoke about marriage He didn’t redefine it, He resurrected it. The Lord elevated a decaying and dying institution by bringing it back to its originality. He chipped away all human inventions, innovations and redefinitions and brought it back to its essence and beauty. He stressed the forgotten fact that marriage was between one man and one woman. This went against the Jewish custom and tradition of a man having more than one wife. Then, he moved on to declare that divorce was unacceptable (unless the marriage was unlawful; and in that case, it would not be a marriage at all). That’s it. Pure and simple. Beautiful and remarkable.
Some would argue that Jesus made marriage less appealing by making it more restricting. But I would argue that He didn’t make it less appealing; instead, the Lord made it more meaningful and beautiful. He did not place an undue burden on spouses; he placed an overdue burden on divorce. He gave women the equality that not a single modern day feminist ever gave them. Instead of demanding that women have the same right to divorce as men, he gave women equality with men by demanding that men not divorce their wives but be faithful to their wives; just as He is to His bride, the Church.
Christ declared marriage what it truly is: a symbol of the covenant between God and his people. Marriage comes from God’s covenant, like our “father” comes from our Heavenly Father. We did not give God his name; He gave man His name.
Some things decay simply because we allow them to. Marriage should never decay (or require redefining) because marriage comes from God, and God is love and love never fails. Unfortunately, we tend to take the easy way out of an institution’s problem by taking the core out of the institution. We tend to listen more to what people have to say rather than what God has to say.
Receive the word of God, not as the word of men, but, as it truly is, the word of God.