When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was the CBS Evening News anchorman for almost 20 years. He was repeatedly voted as “the most trusted man in America” by many opinion polls. At the end of every broadcast, he ended with “And that’s the way it is” followed by the date.
No one ever questioned Walter. People thought, “If Walter said it, it must be true.” There was a sense of believability in his voice. He never tried to influence listeners. He never took sides. He never made it about himself. Even on his last broadcast, March 6, 1981, he passed the baton without making himself the story.
Walter and Jesus had these qualities in common. They were both believable. They had built up a reputation over time. Over and over, they had spoken the truth in a way that was credible. While people may not have agreed with them, they were still trustworthy.
Jesus and the disciples have just moved away from the Pharisees and the crowd. When asked about divorce, Jesus answers the Pharisees directly and with creativity. He doesn’t leave any doubt about how God invented men, women, and marriage. He didn’t leave it up to them to figure it out on themselves.
God created and defined marriage as one man, one woman, one time. Period. That’s it. The only exceptions are adultery, immorality, sexual infidelity, moral indifference.
The idea that a husband could take a piece of paper out, jot down a few words, and just throw his wife away for any reason was offensive to God, and his precious creation, women. This was no excuse for trading your wife in for a newer model.
But women were also on the hook too. If a wife divorces her husband to remarry, she’s guilty of the same sin. She has no right before God to reject one husband for another.
Now I know that this is going to be wildly unpopular with many people. And I get that. My heart truly feels a great deal of sorrow and pain for those who’ve gone through divorce. There are no easy answers for when you’ve been betrayed by the one you committed to love and honor for the rest of your life.
According to Jesus, divorce is a sin. But so are a lot of other things. Now there are lots and lots of different lists of sins. One has 124 sins mentioned in the New Testament.
Now some are saying, “Ah ha! I knew it. Jesus is like everyone else, trying to make me feel guilty. Just like my mom. My Sunday School teacher. My Imam. My Rabbi. My spiritual advisor. My priest. My guru. My Mullah.”
But nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there is right and wrong, and Jesus clearly shows that everyone, and I mean everyone, has run their life off the rails and committed a whole lot of sins.
This is where Jesus separates himself from everyone else. He didn’t come just to dump on us, or to demand that we get better. No, he came to do what we couldn’t do for ourselves.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Yes, divorce is a sin. So is selfishness. Arrogance. Pride. Anger. Bitterness. I could go on and on. But that’s not the point. The point is that there’s forgiveness. There’s restoration. There’s reunion. And it’s all possible only through Jesus.
He came to give us back the life God meant for us, but we had lost. Thrown away. Walked away from. Turned our back on.
No matter what we’ve done, the cross of Jesus can take care of it. The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
Now that’s good news.