Some years ago, a journalist for a national news magazine asked rhetorically, “Are there any persons left in the land who have not heard a friend or a child or a parent describe the agony of divorce?” Divorce has become pandemic, to the point that hardly a person can be found who has not been affected by it either directly or indirectly. Many marriages seem to be little more than a socially recognized battleground where warfare between the spouses is the rule and harmony the exception.
Each year around the world, there are millions of divorces, and beneath the rubble of mind-numbing statistics lie the crushed lives of men, women and children. None of them escapes suffering and damage, no matter how amicable the divorce may be. Nearly every state in America has enacted no-fault divorce laws, making divorce almost as easy as marriage. It is not surprising, therefore, that the largest caseloads in civil courts today relate to family disputes.
God created male and female
From those two verses (Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24), taken from the first two chapters of Scripture, the Lord presented four reasons why divorce was never God’s intention. First, He said, “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4). In the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:27, “male and female” are in the emphatic position, giving the sense of the one male and the one female. God did not create a group of males and females who could pick and choose mates as it suited them. There was no provision, or even possibility, for multiple or alternate spouses. Only one man and one woman existed in the beginning. For that very obvious reason, divorce and remarriage were not options in the divine plan for man.
God intended permanence
Second, Jesus said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” (Matthew 19:5, NASB). Since Adam and Eve had no parents to leave, the leaving of father and mother was a principle to be projected into and applied to all future generations. The Hebrew word behind “joined to” refers to a strong bonding together or being stuck together — but a happy stuck, not a sad stuck! Marriage binds two hearts, diligently and utterly committed to pursuing each other in love, stuck together in an indissoluble bond, glued in mind, will, spirit and emotion.
This idea of a close bonding and deep interpersonal relationship is seen in the modern Hebrew word for marriage, kiddushin, which is closely related to the terms for “holy” and “sanctified.” Marriage, as God has always intended it to be, involves the total commitment and consecration of husbands and wives to each other, and to Him as the divine author of their union and witness to their covenant. Its highest purpose is as a picture or symbol of the believer’s everlasting union with Christ. We see that marriage to our Creator ultimately taking place at the end of the ages in the book of Revelation, where Christ is pictured as the bridegroom and His people as the bride (Revelation 19:7-9, 21:1-3). The Bible, from beginning to end — from Genesis to Revelation — affirms that marriage is sacred and lofty. Therefore, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4). The greatest honor of marriage is that it proclaims to the world as a symbol the union between Christ and His own blessed church.
Our marriages are to be as permanent, satisfying, as full of love, and as absolutely binding as Christ’s relationship is to His church.
God desired consecration and commitment
The third reason Jesus gave for divorce not being God’s intention is that, in marriage, the two become one flesh. As the apostle Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 7:4, husbands and wives belong to each other in the physical relationship of marriage: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” Matthew 19:6 clarifies that when a man and woman are joined in marriage, “they are no longer two but one flesh.” They are therefore indivisible and inseparable, except through death. In God’s eyes, the two become one. They become the total possession of each other; one in mind and spirit, in goals and direction, in emotion and will. When they have a child, that child becomes the perfect demonstration of their oneness since he or she is a unique reflection of the fusion of two people into one flesh, and carries the combined traits of both parents.
God made every marriage in heaven
The fourth reason Jesus gave for divorce not being in God’s perfect design is that, in the creative sense, every marriage is made in heaven. From the very first marriage, that of Adam and Eve, God has joined together every husband and wife. Marriage is first of all God’s institution and God’s doing, regardless of how men may corrupt it and deny or disregard His part in it. Whether it is between Christians or between atheists or idolaters, whether it is arranged by the parents or by the mutual desire and consent of the bride and bridegroom, marriage is above all the handiwork of God for the procreation, pleasure and preservation of the human race. Whether it is entered into wisely or foolishly, sincerely or insincerely, selfishly or unselfishly, with great or little commitment, God’s design for every marriage is that it be permanent until the death of one of the spouses.
God engineered man and woman to complement, support and give joy to each other through the mutual commitment of the marriage bond. It is by His divine hand that they are created to fulfill each other, encourage each other, strengthen each other and produce children as fruit of their love for each other. Whether they recognize it or not, every couple who has enjoyed the companionship, happiness and fulfillment of marriage has experienced the wondrous blessing of God.
To destroy a marriage is to destroy a creation of Almighty God.
John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and The Master’s Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You radio ministry. This article is an excerpt taken from his book The Divorce Dilemma, and it’s used with permission from Day One Publications.