Statistics on divorce in America can make the chances of having a lasting marriage seem bleak. Divorce is not something anyone desires. The dissolution of a marriage causes pain not only to the married couple, but to their children, friends, and extended family. And Christian marriages that fail can be a negative witness for Christianity.
In this passage, Jesus speaks frankly about marriage and divorce. Jesus’ teaching on the lawfulness of divorce reveals that God’s original intent in Creation was that no one who married would separate. God had “joined together” Adam and Eve (v. 9). They became “one flesh” (v. 8). He intended a lifelong union between a man and a woman for our joy and for His glory.
While many believers have experienced God’s grace and mercy in remarriage, Jesus clearly taught that this was not God’s intended plan. There seems to be an exception in Matthew 19 for allowable remarriage when one has been victimized by adultery: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” But even in this we need to be cautious. Every passage should be read in light of all the other biblical statements on marriage, for Scripture is consistent within itself.
Also in this passage, Jesus turned His attention to children who were being brought to Him for blessing. His disciples rebuked those who brought the children. The passage says that Jesus was “indignant” (v. 14)—not at the parents and others who brought the children, but at the disciples. Jesus welcomed and blessed the children (v. 16). He upheld as sacred both the union of marriage and blessing of children.
This passage may be hard to read for we all know married couples who struggle. Today, ask God to help you come alongside and serve those in need. Maybe you can offer to care for the children of a young couple so they can have a night out? Or you could extend a dinner invitation to a couple having a difficult season.