Marriage, By God's Design - Part 2

This week we return for part two of the message we began last week in Mark 10. Please take your copy of the Scriptures and make your way to Mark 10 with me. The passage is also in your worship guide, along with the sermon outline.

Over the past months we have gleaned so much from our Lord as we have worked our way through this Gospel. I trust that as you contemplate the person of Jesus each week you are more and more full of awe and appreciation for him. My love for him has grown and my desire to be like him has grown as we have gotten to observe Him up close Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day.

He possesses such consistency and wisdom… His ability to engage and meet the need of the moment is unrivaled. At times he bears up and patiently shepherds, at times he exposes and reproves. All of it is always motivated by an awareness of the Father’s glory, and love for souls.

Today the text before us involves Jesus getting pulled right into the middle of a public controversy over the heated issue of divorce. Specifically, the question relates to when divorce is sanctioned by God and when it’s not. 

But Jesus has spent his time so far building a biblical theology of marriage. That’s what we looked at last week. Now this week, after reestablishing God’s perspective, Jesus gets to the matter of divorce. 

With that being said, let’s read our text:

Mark 10:1–12—1 Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them. 2 Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 

3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8and the two shall become on flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 

10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

4 Points as Jesus Corrects a Corrupt View of Marriage (10:1-12).

  1. The critical setting for the lesson (1-2) setting the stage (the vital context)

(1) Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; 

Jesus is entering into the final phase of his life as he heads toward Jerusalem. We are months away from the crucifixion.

Mark fast forwards through a nearly six-month period of time between v. 1a and v. 1b. These six-months were marked by intense and growing animosity and public altercations with the scribes and Pharisees.

crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.

Jesus teaches because that’s what he does everywhere he goes. He gives them truth because he loves them. It was customary. Predictable. Expected. He gets interrupted in v. 2 when…

(2) Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 

This was a carefully planned test. It didn’t come on a whim. But as we established last week by piecing together the events of the past six months as recorded by Luke and John, that behind-the-scenes, plots were being made against Jesus. 

The test here was designed to put Jesus smack dab on the horns of a dilemma.

The Pharisees knew that Jesus was narrow in his view concerning when divorce was acceptable in God’s eyes, and yet the culture around him was permissive. And so, by asking Jesus this question in front of many people, the Pharisees hoped that they would…

  • Trap Jesus contradicting the Pentateuch. His interpretation went against their understanding of the Scriptures.
  • Make Jesus look narrow and offensive to the populous.
  • Perhaps even incite the wrath of Herod and Herodias against Jesus. John the Baptist spoke openly about the immorality of their divorce and remarriage and lost his head for it. Maybe if Jesus gets talking about divorce then he could meet the same fate too (cf. Mark 6:17-30).

The question by the Pharisees then, is more fully recorded by Matthew and includes the words: for any reason at all. Is it okay for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?

Divorce as easy then as it is now in our country. It wasn’t always that way here. No-fault divorce came to the United States by the pen of then California governor, Ronald Reagan in 1969 in passing the California Family Law Act.

Prior to this law divorce required establishing an at-fault party who had breached the marital commitment. Grounds for divorce were when the at-fault party things such as cruel or inhuman treatment, abuse, adultery, and abandonment. In other words, divorce was allowed for the protection of someone who was in a marriage that was unsafe or morally unprotected.

No fault divorce changed all of that. Now there needn’t be an at-fault party, there needn’t be proof of wrongdoing. Rather one spouse can cite irreconcilable differences and the marriage can be over. Irreconcilable differences… my wife and I have a few of those.

In Palestine in the time of Jesus we are in a no-fault divorce situation. As a husband you didn’t need an at-fault situation to divorce your wife. You could get rid of her as you desired.  

What if she doesn’t age well? Or you don’t like her cooking? Or she lets herself go and doesn’t do her hair the way you like it? What if, in the course of time you meet someone else that you find preferable for marrying?

According to the prevailing teaching of the day these are all justifiable reasons for a husband to leave his wife. In fact, you could leave your wife for those reasons, and as long as you did the proper paperwork, you could still maintain a belief that you were morally superior to other people around you. 

Remember this wasn’t the Gentile culture around Israel, but the position being taught by the religious leaders who viewed themselves as righteous and looked upon others with contempt (Luke 18:1).

This is the vital context for our lesson. 

But how did these men arrive at this conclusion? What would enable someone to be so permissive and diluted?

4 Points as Jesus Corrects a Corrupt View of Marriage (10:1-12)

  1. The critical setting for the lesson (1-2) 
  2. The common abuse to Scripture (3-4) looking for loopholes

(3) And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 

What does the Bible say? This is a very good question. One that you should ask yourself and others whenever you are pontificating about some moral issue.

Jesus is looking for the positive instruction about what Moses commands concerning marriage and divorce. And as we saw last week, they cherry pick a verse from the Pentateuch that confirms their position from Deuteronomy 24.

Deuteronomy 24 does in fact deal with divorce. And the text is quoted, word perfect. But they take it out of context and use the Scripture to support their wrong position. We noted that it is possible to justify nearly anything you want to justify by misusing the Scripture.

Scour the Bible until you find a verse that you can make support your personal viewpoint, while ignoring the immediate context, and the broader counsel of Scripture. Be selective in which verses you use. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. These guys are doing it.

And in this case…

(4) They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 

Now a certificate of divorce was a legal way of stipulating that the wife was not at fault in the divorce proceedings. It enabled her to remarry, and it also provided alimony for her in the form of the return of the dowry given by her family.

But as we read Deuteronomy 24 last week, there is no comment concerning the validity of divorce, or appropriate reasons for divorce, and permission for divorce. Rather, we find an instruction on what to do when the inevitable reality of divorce occurs.

Deuteronomy 24 limits the collateral damage in a divorce by protecting the divorced wife, who was particularly vulnerable in the patriarchal culture of the Old Testament. 

As R.T. France puts it, this passage, 

served… as the basis for… Jewish teaching on the subject, even though it was… concerned… only with the aftermath of a divorce which is assumed to have taken place.

An entire theology of divorce was established from one passage that doesn’t teach a theology of divorce. The debate surrounded the word indecency. If a man finds an indecency in his wife… the whole discussion then was what is a legitimate indecency for which you can leave your wife with a clean conscience?

Well Jesus doesn’t get bound up in arguing about the meaning of indecency. Rather than enter into a debate on the technicalities of divorce, Jesus moves the conversation to a God-centered view of marriage. 

What a great example for us. When you engage with a scoffer don’t play into the debates. Lovingly get the heart of the matter.

4 Points as Jesus Corrects a Corrupt View of Marriage (10:1-12)

  1. The critical setting for the lesson (1-2) 
  2. The common abuse of Scripture (3-4) 
  3. The careful affirmation of God’s design (5-9) teaching the text

(5) But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 

Moses wrote this as a concession, not as a positive command. It is because he knew you were going to be unfaithful to your wives and then divorce them without cause, so he wanted to protect them.

Now that you understand that you abused the Scripture, let me affirm God’s design:

(6) “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8and the two shall become on flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 

Two genders—male and female. One man and one woman join in marriage for life. Excludes any other sexual union with multiple partners or the same gender.

The marital relationship takes priority over parent-child relationships, and all other friendships because it is mysterious joining together of two lives that are to be unified. One direction. One purpose. One mindset. 

Children are an example of this. They are part mom and part dad. Not half mom and half dad, but a product of the two together. And so, Jesus says:

(9) “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 

What God has glued together, don’t let anyone take apart.

Some would say that once-made, the marriage covenant is impossible to break… Jesus certainly could have said that. But instead he warns people not to break something that shouldn’t be broken, not something that can’t be broken.

The point is that man is able to separate what God designed to be inseparable. This will be an important nuance to tuck away in your pocket for later.

This was radical.

What was so different about this teaching? Well, instead of the man (the husband) in a marriage being the sovereign, Jesus puts men and women on equal footing before God, with God as sovereign over the marriage. Marriage doesn’t exist for men but for God. Men aren’t the lord of the marriage, Jesus is the Lord of the marriage.

And so, even though they were quoting scripture, the Pharisees had become man-centered in their thinking about marriage. 

Jesus reminds them that God does something in marriage far beyond a paper document with signatures constitutes. It is far more than the local justice of the peace, or the pastor, or even Elvis in a Vegas casino can do. 

Marriage is about God’s design. God’s plan. God’s purpose. God’s glory. This teaching infuses marriage with a fresh significance. 

It’s worth mentioning again that Jesus here isn’t elevating marriage over singleness, but rather elevating a biblical view of marriage over society’s view of marriage. Well this is a lot to take in, even for the disciples.

And that brings us now with all of that context to these words Jesus is going to deliver concerning divorce. We need all that context fresh in our minds to properly understand the next few verses.

4 Points as Jesus Corrects a Corrupt View of Marriage (10:1-12)

  1. The critical setting for the lesson (1-2)
  2. The common abuse of Scripture (3-4)
  3. The careful affirmation of God’s design (5-9) 
  4. The concluding application (10-12) developing the doctrine

As we have seen so many times before, Jesus answers the question privately at home later, with his disciples.

(10) In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 

Here’s Jesus now. Remember the day that He just had? 

Teaching the crowds. Meeting needs. Then the stress of a public confrontation by people who hate you and want to embarrass you. All day in the limelight. The exhaustion of teaching. It was a hard day at the office to say the least.

Jesus gets home ready for refreshment. I’m thinking I want a Coke Zero and some tortilla chips and guacamole or something. Kick back and take it easy for a bit.

But we do we find? A God-appointed ministry opportunity. Isn’t that a comfort to you when you are tired, and the Lord brings an opportunity to serve? Don’t we need this? I need this. I just don’t manage my free time well enough. God isn’t punishing you when he gives you opportunities to serve when you are tired. It’s a grace.

So here we find our familiar “agents of sanctification,” a.k.a. the disciples who begin questioning Jesus again. 

Hey boss, uh… you know we were kinda wondering what you had to say about the whole Moses-certificate thing. I know that was pretty intense, but you never answered the question and we were sort of wondering ourselves. When is it okay to divorce our wives?

And so, Jesus explains:

(11) And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

These words are hard words. 

In fact, it would seem at first reading that Jesus is saying that categorically speaking all remarriage after divorce is adultery under any circumstance. By inference then, anyone who gets divorced must remain single until their first spouse dies or they commit adultery because that lifelong union remains intact after the divorce.

Look at the words: whoever divorces… not some, a few, certain people, but whoever. 

Sounds pretty universal to me. These are strong words. They are difficult words. And if that’s what Jesus means by what He says then we don’t shrink back from them, and regardless of how difficult they may be to apply, it is the very word of God, so we submit to it.

But I would put forth to that this is not what Jesus is saying. I don’t believe that he is dealing with the issue of legitimate divorce and remarriage here. Why? Because the nature of the issue he is dealing with, and the audience he is speaking to. 

Jesus is giving a simple truism

 without detailed explanation or qualification to correct a specific error in thinking. 

Let’s slow down for a bit and think this thing through together.

Who is Jesus talking to? No-fault divorce guys…

When Jesus says, whoever divorces his wife… commits adultery, Jesus is creating a category that wasn’t in the minds of his hearers as it this point. You and I read over that without so much as a second thought. For us it is a given that married men or married women involved sexually with someone other than their spouse is an adulterer. 

But not so in Jewish thought. Oh, certainly a woman could be charged with adultery. And a man… if he seduced a married woman. But categorically speaking, men could not be guilty of committing adultery against their own wives.

By way of illustration just consider King David. He was married. Then married to multiple other women. And then he sleeps with Bathsheba. 

And after all of that what did Nathan charge David with? He charged him with taking Uriah’s wife. What was missing? The charge of adultery against Michal or Abigail or any of David’s other wives.

 David’s sin focuses on the sin against Uriah, not failing to keep his own marriage bed pure.

With that in mind read Jesus’ words freshly: whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.

But this saying of Jesus introduces full reciprocity into marriage law: infidelity by a husband is just as culpable as infidelity by a wife.

Jesus here, as he so often does, establishes men and women on equal footing before the Lord. He is teaching that although they may be different in the role God has assigned them, they have the same value, dignity, worth, and rights and privileges. In this case, the requirement to fidelity is the same.

So, for starters this is an elevation of the standard. And it is the exact same thing Jesus has already done in the Sermon on the Mount. Turn with me back to Matthew 5, and let’s see how these two passages dovetail.

Matthew 5:27–32—27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;

Okay so stop right there. This commandment seems clear enough. Exodus 20:17 Moses records the ten commandments, of which this is number seven. Seems like a good instruction, right? God is against adultery for the preservation and protection of marriages and families.

But what is the context here in Matthew 5? Jesus is giving a sermon exposing the superficial application of God’s standards to a list of external rules that was so common in his day. People who viewed men as only guilty of adultery when they had relations with a married woman. 

So, cheating on your wife wasn’t categorically adultery. It was only adultery if you did so with a married woman, because then you were sinning against her husband. Ultra-narrow definition of adultery.

Now imagine these words:

28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

Any husband who desires another woman, who has a craving for another woman has already done the deed in his heart. Jesus is saying, “you think you are clean because you didn’t do the deed, but because you wanted to, you are already guilty of sin.”

Then he gives the instructions on radically removing any provision for the flesh (in vv. 29-30). Same thing that Paul instructs the church at Rome concerning in Romans 13:14—put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.

And having established the heart of adultery, Jesus makes a particular application:

31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Why are we talking about divorce and lust in the same breath? What is the connection between those two issues?

Jesus is exposing that the Pharisees had complex system of technicalities that enabled men to fulfill their adulterous desires by divorcing their wives and remarrying as they desired, all while justifying themselves as righteous.

One of the things a self-righteous heart cannot stand is being indicted. It’s like a shockwave to the system. A self-righteous person assumes that they are good, and others are bad, and it is unbearable to imagine otherwise.

Jesus is saying that when you try to technically end your marriage to get with someone else, you are nothing more than an adulterer.

See the context in these passages are what bring clarity to the meaning. The point isn’t perpetual marriage that cannot ever be broken and therefore remarriage is perpetual adultery. The point Jesus is making is to convince men to stop leaving their wives for selfish reasons and then appeasing their consciences by saying they obeyed the law and did the proper paperwork.

Jesus says, paperwork or not you’re still an adulterer.

All this instruction then serves as a deterrent to divorce. And that’s the main point. It’s a moral instruction here, with a moral emphasis.

Well, this was a lot for the disciples to handle. In Matthew’s account, Jesus gets done talking and what’s their response?

Matthew 19:10—The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” 

That is so restrictive, it’s the single-life for me. That’s a scary commitment to be so locked in to an iron-clad agreement like that. No escape clause? No easy out? 

Of course, Peter was in that group, and he would write those precious words about husbands caring for their wives as a piece of delicate china in 1 Peter 3. I mean the guy is all about Christian-marriage, but this was a lot to take in all at once.

Now before we leave this topic, because we will be moving on next week, Lord willing. I want to take a few minutes to discuss the exceptions. Jesus wasn’t dealing with every scenario in this instruction.

His point was to expose and correct a faulty view of divorce, specifically that of no-fault divorce. But Jesus understands that there are legitimate reasons when divorce will occur. Both are when the marriage covenant is destroyed by the other party. 

For the sake of clarity, we will call them the innocent party and the offending party. Now there is no such thing as an innocent spouse, one who is without sin or contribution to the problems in a relationship, but in terms of ending the marriage, they are innocent. The offending party then is the one who has trampled on the marriage covenant.

The first reason is adultery. It shows up in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. Some people would protest that it doesn’t appear in Mark 10 and we should go with the most restrictive interpretation. That’s nonsense.

Jesus doesn’t give the qualification in Mark 10 because it is assumed because it is so obvious. Imagine if you asked me, “how long do you plan on living in your house?” And I replied, “at least twenty years.” I don’t have to say, “unless I can’t pay my mortgage… or unless my house burns down.” Why? Because you already know that.

If a wife committed adultery against her husband she was to put to death, and so was the man who she was having relations with. What happened to the marriage at that point? Ended by death. Even if Jesus didn’t give the exception clause here, it is assumed without being stated.

Jesus’ hearers understand that if a spouse is not repenting of adultery, then the marriage is over. That’s why Jesus doesn’t have to add the exception clause on every time. The exception is assumed, but not stated.

This isn’t a requirement for divorce. If a believing couple experiences adultery and there is repentance then reconciliation is possible. Not without difficulty, but in many cases that is desirable. 

But what about when the offending spouse continually goes back to their sin? Then the godly spouse can pursue divorce and be freed from the marriage vow. Why? They aren’t the one pursuing the divorce. Even if they file the paperwork, they didn’t destroy the marriage, the offending party did. They are merely recognizing legally, what has already taken place.

There is another exception.

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 7:8-17 (long section, we will just walk through it quickly):

(8) But I say to the unmarried and to widows 

These are people who have previously been married. Unmarried are divorced. And widows are single because their spouse died. These are different categories than married, and the virgins in 7:25. So how should Christian divorcees and widows think about marriage and singleness?

that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 

Paul is single at this time, and says there are some tremendous benefits of being single, and if you can be content single, then go for it.

(9) But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 

Look, if you are longing for companionship and intimacy, then it’s good for you to get married. These are divorcees and widows. His point here gets misconstrued, he isn’t saying that if you have out of control lusts you should get married. We wouldn’t want you to bring that into a marriage relationship.

But rather, if you have strong desires then marriage is a good thing for you. Go for it. And then he transitions:

(10) But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 

Jesus has said the same thing, Paul is giving the sense of Jesus. So, what’s the deal here? Believers shouldn’t divorce each other. And if a believer leaves their spouse, then they shouldn’t get remarried. Why? Because they should pursue reconciliation.

If you get remarried, then reconciliation isn’t possible. So, work toward getting back together. Get help. Work on it by God’s grace. Enlist those around you. But don’t enter into another relationship because then you lose the opportunity for reconciliation.

That instruction is to believing marriages where both spouses are believers. Now moving on…

(12) But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, 

That doesn’t mean you can neglect this instruction. It just means, don’t go looking for a quote where Jesus teaches this because he never dealt with this subject. In Judaism you didn’t have this distinction of believer/unbeliever that is occurring now in Corinth.

People were pagans. Then one spouse gets saved. Now there’s confusion. The church wrote Paul about these issues to get clarity (7:1). Am I defiled being married to an unbeliever? Am I having fellowship with darkness?

Paul says…

and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 

Stay married. This can be a very difficult situation. Sometimes there is hostility, other times just indifference. It is heartbreaking and challenging. But look at the purpose that Paul gives for this marriage:

(14) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 

There is a redemptive purpose that God has in your marriage. You need to view your difficult marriage through the eyes of God. That God has called you to be an evangelist to an unbeliever, and you bring light into that home.

Sanctification here doesn’t mean Spirit-enabled growth into Christ-likeness. It just means set apart… holy… sanctified. So, your home is set apart by your influence. The whole family is influenced.

These are hard situations. Different value systems. One is battling sin, the other doesn’t have a category for these things. But you are to fix your eyes on God’s purpose for you, and love your spouse, and pray for them.

But sometimes it isn’t up to you as the believing spouse…

(15) Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 

If they leave the marriage, then you let them leave. How is the concept of peace related here? Don’t chase them down and make life miserable or refuse to sign papers. Trust the Lord, and let them leave. Paul’s question then is very appropriate:

(16) For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 

Don’t adopt a savior mentality. You aren’t the savior of your spouse. Jesus is the savior of your spouse. You don’t know what God will do, or what his plan is. 

And all of these instructions are under the banner of v. 17—

(17) Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.

So, here’s what we learned in summary:

  • Divorced or widowed? Stay single if you are content and able, if you long for marriage then get married.
  • Married in the Lord? Stay married. If you divorce or are divorced, then be reconciled, or remain unmarried so that you can be reconciled.
  • Married to an unbeliever? Stay married. Be a sanctifying influence in the marriage God assigned to you, fixing your hope on Jesus.
  • Abandoned by an unbeliever? Let them go, and you are loosed, you are free from the marriage bond. You are free to remarry, but in the Lord. Marry a believer.

Abandonment by an unbelieving spouse is the second exception. What does deserted mean? Well much like the debate over indecency there is much discussion on that term. But deserted would have the idea of deserting the marriage covenant—abuse, separation, endangerment, of course adultery.

Requires discernment to think through, and that’s why God gives his people the church. You would want godly people and qualified leaders helping you think through those situations carefully. 

Well, I’m sure that hasn’t answered every question you have. I found myself so grateful to see how all of these truths work together in harmony. It helps us think through the principles God would have us to know.

And then also recognizing the need for biblical wisdom and discernment. Not every situation is spelled out with a detailed prescription, so counsel and faith is required. 

Also, in Corinth, you had all these different situations that Paul was addressing with pastoral wisdom. You don’t find that divorce was the scarlet letter than marked you forever or defined your Christian maturity.

Well as we conclude, thinking back to our passage in Mark. What were the lessons that we take away from this:

  • God designed marriage as the priority-human relationship
  • God designed marriage to be one man and one woman for life
  • God designed marriage for commitment that endures even in spite of sin and weaknesses on the part of both spouses (tremendous opportunity to love the unlovely, love in the face of being offended, die to self, etc.)
  • God joined the two so man can but should not separate the marriage.
  • God says that when a spouse ends the marriage relationship to pursue another relationship they are being unfaithful to their original commitment, and in God’s eyes they are being adulterous.
  • God allows for an innocent spouse to be freed from the marriage bond when it is broken through adultery or abandonment

And then a lesson on our need for God’s grace.

God’s people are to depend upon God to sustain them to remain committed even in a marriage that isn’t meeting their expectations. 

As I reflected on this text I found myself asking the question, how did the Pharisees get to such a corrupt view of marriage? They knew leaving their wives were wrong. 

But they also had no power against their fleshly desires. So, they came up with a standard that allowed them to maintain the feeling of doing the right thing, even though they could never win the battle at the desire level.

You need the Holy Spirit to live out Christian marriage. Marriage is a grace in your life.

God designed usefulness and satisfaction to come from that relationship. But due to sin, it is also a relationship that will test you in ways that no other relationship will. For starters, no other relationship will expose your weaknesses in the same way. 

Take for example the people you work with, they have to put up with your weaknesses while you are at work together. But your spouse is staring down the barrel of the rest of their life bearing up patiently with your weaknesses. 

Then because we are sinners we offend and hurt each other. We act in ways that are selfish and unloving. We can hold grudges or be quick to anger. 

In a marriage, due to the commitment and the familiarity, it is the person you are most likely to treat carelessly. As a pastor, I try to work really hard to speak carefully in a variety of contexts and weigh out my words and pray about them and contemplate before speaking. In my marriage? It’s easy to be unguarded and speak carelessly.

We could go on and on.

But the grace in Christian marriage is that it is also a place of ministry that reflects God’s love and the grace of the Gospel. It is a place of forgiveness, and encouragement, and mutual sharpening and…

For your sanctification… some of you may be in a difficult marriage. God knows. God understands. God is faithful to you in the midst of it.