Questions about divorce

Again the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into saying something that would give them grounds to accuse him of error. This time they chose the subject of divorce, where different viewpoints among Jewish teachers often caused arguments. Jesus referred them back to God’s original standard, which was that a man and a woman live together, independent of parents, in a permanent union (Matt 19:1-6). Moses set out laws to limit divorce and introduce some order into a very disorderly community. He permitted divorce not because he approved of it, but because people had created problems through their disobedience. Under normal circumstances divorce should not be allowed at all, though there may be an exception in the case of adultery (Matt 19:7-9; cf. 5:31-32).

The disciples thought that if a man had to be bound to his wife in such a way, maybe it would be safer not to marry. Jesus replied that marriage was the normal pattern for adult life, though not necessarily the pattern for everyone. Some may choose not to marry, possibly because of physical defects or possibly because they want to serve God without the hindrances that may be created by family responsibilities (Matt 19:10-12).

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