Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” – Mark 10:2-12 NASB
In this passage, we find doctrinal truth about marriage in The Lord’s response to Pharisees who thought they could prove that He was a false teacher. Though He often spoke in parables, this was one of those circumstances in which Jesus was clear and direct. Not only did His antagonists fail to trick Him into contradicting the Law, but He reiterated the significance of the phrase “the two shall become one flesh”.
When we, as Believers, think about the term “one flesh” it’s not unusual for us to view it as a symbolic or figurative expression. We tend to equate it with “oneness“, but the terms are not completely interchangeable. Now certainly a marriage is most likely to thrive when a wife and husband are unified in their interests and objectives, but there’s more to what’s meant by “one flesh” than the pursuit of marital harmony. When a man and woman unite in physical, sexual intimacy, the one-flesh relationship is established, in God’s eyes. As our Creator, He even declares that the joining-together is His accomplishment, and that we do not have the prerogative to tear apart what He has formed. Furthermore, once a couple has been joined together, the one-flesh relationship exists/endures, even if “oneness” is not evident in their feelings, actions, or degree of commitment.
Christ made it known to His critics and followers alike: when God’s will and purpose concerning marriage is violated, He calls it adultery, whether by infidelity during marriage or when an unfounded divorce from one spouse (Matthew 19:9) is followed by remarriage to another.
What will it take for us to practice the boldness of Christ? When we see a brother or sister in a marriage that appears to be hopelessly dysfunctional, do we let our empathy for their plight prevent us from steering that friend toward the remedy of God’s word? If you have — or are — a spouse that “wants out” of your marriage, are you willing to seek out Biblical wisdom, rather than withdrawing from Christ-honoring influences?
With this knowledge of God’s expectations, let us strive to be husbands and wives who are — first and foremost — whole-heartedly committed to Christ, in order that our marriages might be examples of the power of His grace!