Marriage and Divorce

2021-10-03 – Year B – Proper 22 – The Rev. Canon Christopher M. Klukas
Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 8; Hebrews 2:9-18; Mark 10:2-16

  • “Did you hear about the x-ray specialist who married one of his patients? – Everybody wondered what he saw in her.”

Biblical Context of Mark 10

  • It is not my intention to hurt, offend, or judge anyone in my sermon today. Jesus taught about divorce and it is important that we take in the whole counsel of God.
  • Mark 10:2 – “Pharisees…in order to test him.” This is a challenge. A trap.
    • Herod, Herodias (his brother’s wife), and John the Baptist – Mark 6:14-29
    • “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Matthew’s version adds “for any cause” (Matthew 19:3) There was an old rabbinical debate.
      • “The house of Shammai says: A man must not divorce his wife unless he has found her unfaithful. As was said (Deuteronomy 24:1), ‘Because he has found some uncleanness in her’.
      • “The house of Hillel says: He may divorce her if she only spoiled a dish from him because it was said: Uncleanness is anything.
      • “Rabbi Akiba says: He may divorce her if he found another that is more beautiful than his wife, because it was said (Deuteronomy 24:1) ‘If it comes to pass that she find no favour in his eyes’.”
  • Jesus asks them “What did Moses command you?” (v. 3)
    • Certificate of divorce – Deuteronomy 24:1-4
    • The welfare of women – “The written certificate of divorce (sēper kĕrîtût) was a wise provision to safeguard the woman’s rights (lit. to be given ‘into her hand’), thereby giving her legal protection and security to marry again.”
    • “The present law would have had the effect of making divorce a more serious affair, since it reduced the possibility of a man taking his wife back again. Moreover, it would discourage the easy transfer of a woman from one man to another which resulted in the defilement of the woman. The net result would be the elevation of the status of women.”
  • v. 5 – “Hardness of heart” – “Jesus’ reply indicates that the purpose of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was not to make divorce acceptable but to limit human sinfulness and to control its consequences (v.5).”
  • Hardness of heart is due to sin. Jesus points to the institution of marriage before sin entered the world. In the beginning…One flesh.
    • Part of the beauty of marriage is in its permanence.
    • “In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death, according to God’s holy Word. This is my solemn vow.” (BCP 2019, p. 205)
  • Divorce is permitted in some cases.
    • Adultry (Matthew 19:7-9)
    • Abandonment (1 Corinthians 7:10-16) – Abuse could fall into this category as well since the abusive spouse is acting like an unbeliever and forcing separation.
    • A biblical case for remarriage could be made in these circumstances.
  • Divorce is never required. Reconciliation is always an option.

If you are Single

  • Be very careful and prayerful about who you consider marrying.
    • “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor 6:14).
  • Treasure your time as a single person (1 Corinthians 7:32–34).

If you are Married

  • Invest in your marriage
  • “As you drive around Cuba, you’ll see men hunched over cars…Since the country lacks replacement parts and in some cases the necessary tools for fixing the vehicles, the locals are extremely crafty and adept in their repairs. Quite simply, Cuban ingenuity has kept these old American cars on the road. Mechanics find ways to use imperfect parts and keep the things running.”
  • Pursue God individually and together
    • “No marriage will be unaffected when the people in the marriage are seeking to get from the creation what they were only ever meant to get from the Creator.”
  • Take a marriage course or read a marriage book together.
  • Spend time together – Friday night dates
  • Learn how to argue well.
    • “A husband and wife had been married for 60 years and had no secrets except for one: The woman kept in her closet a shoe box that she forbade her husband from ever opening. But when she was on her deathbed—and with her blessing—he opened the box and found a crocheted doll and $95,000 in cash.
    • “‘My mother told me that the secret to a happy marriage was to never argue,’ she explained. ‘Instead, I should keep quiet and crochet a doll.’
    • “Her husband was touched. Only one doll was in the box—that meant she’d been angry with him only once in 60 years. ‘But what about all this money?’ he asked. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘that’s the money I made from selling the dolls.’”
  • Keep divorce off the table

If you are Divorced

  • Jesus is not speaking to make the divorced person feel condemned, he is addressing the Pharisee’s faulty thinking.
  • Seek God’s forgiveness – Divorces are rarely the fault of one person alone.
  • Seek God’s healing – Get help, prayer appointments at Christian Healing Ministries
  • Learn from your past – Get help, see a counselor
  • Don’t remarry quickly, and consider remaining single.
  • If you have remarried, invest in your marriage!


  • Prayer #69 (BCP 2019, p. 667)

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