The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason” (Matthew 19:3, NKJV)?
Ending marriages for all sorts of reasons is commonplace in America and around the world. The deterioration of marriage does untold damage to families and souls. How Jesus answered the Pharisees’ insincere question settles God’s view of divorce. (1) “Have you not read” (Matt. 19:4). God’s word answers the question of divorce for all who believe. (2) God rules over marriage (Matt. 19:4-5). It is His gift to humanity, and we must obey His will in it. (3) Marriage is between a male (man) and a female (woman) (Matt. 19:4, 5). Same-sex “marriage” is a corruption of marriage and not God’s will. (4) God joins together the man and his wife (Matt. 19:5-6). God approves and joins one man and one woman in marriage (Rom. 7:2-3). (5) People are not to separate what God joins together (Matt. 19:6). Ending a marriage without God’s approval is sin (1 Cor. 7:10). (6) Jesus said God allows one reason for ending a marriage, fornication (Matt. 19:9). Divorce for “any reason” (Matt. 19:3) violates God’s will and is evidence of a hard heart toward God and marriage (Matt. 19:7-8). Christ permits putting away a spouse for the cause of fornication. By doing so, the one innocent of fornication has God’s consent to marry another. All other remarriages produce adultery, and those in them are not “joined together” by God (Matt. 19:9, 6). God’s way is not man’s way (Isa. 55:8-9). But all who want God’s blessing will abide in His will concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage (Matt. 19:10-12).
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6, NKJV)
Jesus laid out three distinct reasons that it is not lawful “for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason” when the Pharisees asked Him whether it was so (Matt. 19:3). (1) The Genesis of Marriage (v. 4). God, not human beings, created marriage. His purpose for marriage, which is between “male and female,” is the final word on the matter. (2) The Condition of Marriage (v. 5-6). Marriage is a “one flesh” relationship. When married, the man and woman are no longer independent; they are joined by God as “one flesh.” As surely as we do not naturally separate flesh from flesh, so neither is it natural to separate husband and wife by divorce. (3) The Prohibition of God (v. 6). God declares we are not to separate (put an expanse between) what He joins together, namely, the husband and wife. We must solidify in our hearts this unchanging edict from God: Marriage is given by God, and is between one man and one woman, for life. (Jesus will give one exception to this rule in verse 9, and that is exactly what it is, an exception to the rule.) It is transgression against God to sunder what He has joined together.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
At least three things are learned about our creation here. First, humans have been created in the image of God (v. 26). We, above all of God’s creation, bear the marks of the divine image. We are dual beings of flesh and spirit, possessing intellect, emotion, volition, conscience and immortality. These things distinguish us from the animal kingdom. Second, humans have been created to fulfill God’s purposes (v. 26, 28). Among these is the God-given right to rule over His creatures, big and small. As we “fill the earth” we have the right and responsibility to “subdue it” for the blessing and benefit of humanity. Third, humans have been created male and female (v. 27). God established gender identity to enable human procreation and to accomplish the purpose of filling up and subduing the earth.