Our scripture this morning is Matthew 5:31-37.
You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery. You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
I have been dreading discussing this passage because I myself am divorced and remarried. Am I over sharing? Perhaps, but I want to write out of honesty. I must admit I had considered skipping this passage, but that would mean missing an important lesson. I don’t want divorce itself to be the main focus but some discussion is necessary.
As we read in verse 31, it was the law in those days that a man could divorce his wife by merely notifying her. There were many things about that society, including slavery, that we have discovered are wrong. I don’t believe divorce for the convenience of either party is what God intended, nor was it to leave either party destitute. I know that God meant marriage to be for a lifetime. However, if God can forgive Peter who denied Christ and Paul who persecuted His church, I believe God will forgive those whose marriages end if they are repentant.
This passage is about vows that we make and break. Our word is important, to God and each other. Jesus teaches us not to make any oaths by things we have no control over (Heaven, earth, etc.) but to say yes or no and mean what we say. Promises we make to our brothers and sisters have meaning in the kingdom and breaking them hurts our relationships with them and with God.
Loving Lord, we are ashamed of the times we do not honor our word to You and each other. Help us to follow Christ’s example, keeping the promises we make and caring for one another as You have taught us. Amen.