Mark is an interesting gospel for many reasons. One of them is what it says concerning divorce.
We are told the religious leaders wanted to test Jesus. They chose divorce, a heated issue in their time and ours.
The excerpt reads:
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark packed a lot into these words. First, divorce is permitted because of hard hearts (This basically comes down to selfishness in my paraphrase). Though this is a general statement, it is often true.
Second, God’s creation of humans is affirmed. God made people “male and female.”
Third, God’s original purpose for marriage is affirmed: “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” While many, even in the Bible, did not provide healthy examples of marriage, one man and one woman in lifelong commitment was, according to Jesus, God’s original design.
The conclusion Jesus gave is that if God has designed marriage as a lifelong relationship, why end it? Yes, adultery/sexual immorality and desertion are named in other places in the New Testament as reasons (and these can possibly be interpreted broadly to include other situations), the standard is lifelong, monogamous, male-female marriage.
Now, as then, what God has joined together, let no man separate.
I’m personally going on nearly 13 years and couldn’t imagine life any other way. Yes, I realize many have not had a similar experience, but it is still possible to life together for a lifetime.
Some of my biggest heroes in this world are not the best athletes or top celebrities; they are those couples who have been married 50 or 60 years. They are the ones truly living out what Jesus said about marriage.
Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at DillonBurroughs.org.