SOAP Devotional 2016-05-04
Scripture – Observation – Application – Prayer
“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.” –Matthew 5:31-32 NLT
I hesitated to do a public devotion on such a difficult passage, but all of God’s Word needs to be openly addressed. Let me recommend books regarding this passage by an expert in the field of the languages and customs of the time: “Divorce And Remarriage In The Church: Biblical Solutions For Pastoral Realities” or for a more in depth theological approach, “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context”, both by David Instone-Brewer
There is much debate over the translation of the phrase that refers to unfaithful, but let it be said that divorce should not be done without biblical cause. There was much debate at the time these words were spoken as to whether you had to have biblical cause as outlined in Deuteronomy 24 or if you could just give a written notice of divorce such as a “no fault” divorce (conservative Shammai vs more liberal Hillel schools of thought during Jesus time). It appears that considering the context of these passages taking Old Testament law and continuing it to actions of the heart that Jesus was speaking in the same rhetorical way about adultery. He says that remarriage and unlawful lust are both adulterous, just as anger is murderous. Jesus doesn’t say that these murderers should be executed, nor that these adulterers should be punished. The context clearly shows that this murder and adultery is not the same as judicial murder and adultery – it is a rhetorical devise to show how serious it is to divorce someone without biblical grounds, or to lust after someone you are not married to, or to hate someone for any reason.
We need to take seriously our marriage commitments. We should never look at our spouses as replaceable. Work things out. If we do not, our actions will affect more than just ourselves. Yes, God’s grace is enough to cover any errors we make, so if you have failed in the past, move forward and do right in the future.
Father, never let me discount the spouse that you have given to complete me. Let me esteem her highly, love her completely, and remain committed to her for life.