The Priority of MarriageDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
“Let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
This passage from Mark’s gospel deals with the issues of divorce and marriage. The conversation began with some Pharisees asking Jesus a question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” (10:2). It’s like they were trying to draw Jesus into a debate about the appropriate grounds for divorce. This was something that Pharisees disagreed about among themselves.
Jesus, in response to his questioners, first pointed them to the Old Testament law, which allowed for divorce (Deut. 24:1). Yet he explained this law as “a concession to your hard hearts” (10:5). In other words, it wasn’t reflective of God’s deepest intentions for marriage. This is to be found, rather, in the first chapters of the Torah. Quoting from Genesis 1 and 2, Jesus underscored the profound unity between husband and wife, concluding: “[L]et no one split apart what God has joined together” (Mark 10:9).
For obvious reasons, this text from Mark has been scrutinized when Christians consider the rightness and/or wrongness of divorce. But sometimes we neglect the main point of Jesus’ teaching, which has to do with marriage, not divorce. God intended marriage to be a unique relationship of bonding between a man and a woman. Since husband and wife are “joined together” by God, this relationship is sacred. This means, not only that it should be preserved, but also that it should be nurtured, protected, and cherished. If we took Jesus’ teaching on marriage more seriously, then we’d be less likely to need his counsel on divorce.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
If you are married, are you nurturing, protecting, and cherishing your marriage? What have you done recently to strengthen the bond with your spouse? If you are not married, are there ways you are encouraging your married friends to have healthy marriages?
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of marriage, for the joy and the growth that comes through this unique relationship. Thank you for strong words about the sanctity of marriage and the rightness of keeping marriages together.
Today, Lord, I pray for all who are married, that they might not just stay together, but be committed to stronger, healthier marriages. Help couples to invest time in their marriage, listening to each other, enjoying each other, and growing in their mutual love.
Help all of us, Lord, to encourage and support those who are married. May your church be a greenhouse for growing healthy, fruitful marriage relationships. Amen.
Note: This reflection was originally published in 2014.