1. BECOMING ONE FLESH
a. How did the Pharisees try to trick Jesus on the subject of divorce and remarriage? Matthew 19:1–3.
b. What standard of morality did Jesus use to clarify His position? Matthew 19:4.
“The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. From the first intimation of hope in the sentence pronounced in Eden to that last glorious promise of the Revelation, ‘They shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads’ (Revelation 22:4), the burden of every book and every passage of the Bible is the unfolding of this wondrous theme—man’s uplifting—the power of God, ‘which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ”—Lift Him Up, p. 56.
c. How did Jesus show that when a couple is married, the union is for life? Matthew 19:5, 6.
2. A COVENANT WITH GOD
a. What is God’s view on divorce, showing that the complete family unit is an important part of God’s plan? Malachi 2:16.
“The divine love emanating from Christ never destroys human love, but includes human love, refined and purified. By it human love is elevated and ennobled. Human love can never bear its precious fruit until it is united with the divine nature and trained to grow heavenward. Jesus wants to see happy marriages, happy firesides. The warmth of true friendship and the love that binds the hearts of husband and wife are a foretaste of heaven.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 202.
b. How does the legal promise at marriage to be a family unit affect a person even after divorce and whom does that promise include besides the couple? Malachi 2:13–15; Proverbs 2:16, 17.
“The family tie is the closest, the most tender and sacred, of any on earth. It was designed to be a blessing to mankind. And it is a blessing wherever the marriage covenant is entered into intelligently, in the fear of God, and with due consideration for its responsibilities.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 356, 357.
c. How did the Jews suddenly claim to believe the prophets? Matthew 19:7.
“The Pharisees had asserted that Christ’s teaching was opposed to the law which God had given through Moses; but His direction to the cleansed leper to present an offering according to the law disproved this charge. It was sufficient testimony for all who were willing to be convinced.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 265.
“[The] pretended reverence [of a group of Pharisees and scribes] veiled a deep-laid plot for [Christ’s] ruin. They had seized upon this opportunity to secure His condemnation, thinking that whatever decision He might make, they would find occasion to accuse Him.”—Ibid., p. 460.
“God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work for the past thirty years bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil. In arraying yourself against the servants of God you are doing a work either for God or for the devil. ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ What stamp does your work bear? It will pay to look critically at the result of your course.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 230.
a. What did Moses actually write about divorce and remarriage—and how do we know that this uncleanliness is not referring to fornication prior to marriage nor to adultery? Deuteronomy 24:1–4; 22:20, 21; Leviticus 20:10.
b. In the permission granted, the wife cannot remarry the first husband for any reason after she was married to another man. How does the word “defiled” show that it was still regarded as a sin? Leviticus 18:20.
c. Why was this kind of permission given by God to the Israelites when it was not His will? Ezekiel 20:24, 25; 14:1–5; Matthew 19:8.
“Since the rejection of the first message, a sad change has taken place in the churches. As truth is spurned, error is received and cherished. Love for God, and faith in His word, have grown cold. The churches have grieved the Spirit of the Lord, and it has been in a great measure withdrawn. The words of the prophet Ezekiel are fearfully applicable: ‘Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face. Should I be inquired of at all by them?’ ‘I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols.’ [Ezekiel 14:3, 4.] Men may not bow down to idols of wood and stone, but all who love the things of the world and take pleasure in unrighteousness have set up idols in their hearts. The majority of professed Christians are serving other gods besides the Lord. Pride and luxury are cherished, idols are set up in the sanctuary, and her holy places are polluted.
“Anciently the Lord declared to His servants concerning Israel: ‘The leaders of this people cause them to err, and they that are led of them are destroyed.’ [Isaiah 9:16.] ‘The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?’ [Jeremiah 5:31.]”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 237, 238.
“If we love the things of the world and have pleasure in unrighteousness or fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness we have put the stumbling block of our iniquity before our face and have set up idols in our heart. And unless by determined effort we put them away we shall never be acknowledged as the sons and daughters of God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 164.
4. REMARRIAGE IS ADULTERY
a. How does Jesus show that when a person divorces for reasons other than unfaithfulness to the marriage vow, the person divorcing is actually responsible for the adultery that may follow? Matthew 5:31, 32.
b. How is the same conclusion shown in the above discussion with the Pharisees when we focus on the last part of the verse? Matthew 19:9 (last part).
c. How do we know that Jesus was not introducing a permission to divorce and remarry when the spouse is still alive and how do we need to look at the evidences? 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11.
“The word of the Lord, spoken through His servants, is received by many with questionings and fears. And many will defer their obedience to the warning and reproofs given, waiting till every shadow of uncertainty is removed from their minds. The unbelief that demands perfect knowledge will never yield to the evidence that God is pleased to give. He requires of His people faith that rests upon the weight of evidence, not upon perfect knowledge. Those followers of Christ who accept the light that God sends them must obey the voice of God speaking to them when there are many other voices crying out against it. It requires discernment to distinguish the voice of God.
“Those who will not act when the Lord calls upon them, but who wait for more certain evidence and more favorable opportunities, will walk in darkness, for the light will be withdrawn. The evidence given one day, if rejected, may never be repeated.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 258.
“In regard to divorce, I am not prepared to say. She has had all the light that I can give her, and it is useless to keep this matter constantly before her when she is perfectly decided to follow her own judgment. You asked me if I thought, if your wife left you, that you should marry again. I would say [that] if one understanding all the circumstances should choose to marry you, if you had not been married, I see no objections. But I am not fully prepared to give any judgment, whether in a Bible point of view you could marry again. [The individual addressed was a eunuch.] My mind is so fully occupied that it is not possible for me to consider this vexed question of marriage and divorces. I wish I could help you, but that, I fear, is not possible.”— Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, p. 296.
5. A LIFELONG BOND
a. To those that know the law, how long does a couple remain married and why is the marriage vow so firm? Romans 7:1–3; Deuteronomy 23:21, 22.
“In the youthful mind, marriage is clothed with romance, and it is difficult to divest it of this feature, with which imagination covers it, and to impress the mind with a sense of the weighty responsibilities involved in the marriage vow. This vow links the destinies of the two individuals with bonds which nought but the hand of death should sever.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 507.
b. How does the reaction of the disciples solidify the idea that marriage is for life—and why do we need to take such a position today? Matthew 19:10–12.
c. What is needed to keep the family together? Romans 5:20.
“The grace of Christ, and this alone, can make this institution what God designed it should be—an agent for the blessing and uplifting of humanity. And thus the families of earth, in their unity and peace and love, may represent the family of heaven.
“Now, as in Christ’s day, the condition of society presents a sad comment upon heaven’s ideal of this sacred relation. Yet even for those who have found bitterness and disappointment where they had hoped for companionship and joy, the gospel of Christ offers a solace. The patience and gentleness which His Spirit can impart will sweeten the bitter lot. The heart in which Christ dwells will be so filled, so satisfied, with His love that it will not be consumed with longing to attract sympathy and attention to itself. And through the surrender of the soul to God, His wisdom can accomplish what human wisdom fails to do. Through the revelation of His grace, hearts that were once indifferent or estranged may be united in bonds that are firmer and more enduring than those of earth—the golden bonds of a love that will bear the test of trial.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 65.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why is the marriage vow a covenant for life?
2. Why does God hate divorce?
3. Why does God give some permissions after He explicitly has stated His law?
4. Why is remarriage while both parties are still alive considered adultery?
5. Why and how do we need to keep families together?