The Two Shall Become One
by Tom McLemore
We live in an age of rampant divorce, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, so-called same-sex marriages (not to mention abortion). Too many members of the church and people brought up in the church are victims and perpetrators of these evils. There has never been a greater need for Jesus’ teaching on marriage, for adults as well as for young people, than there is now. In light of these facts, a study of Mark 10:1-12 is in order.
“Is it lawful?” is the wrong question.
In Mark 10:2-5, it is reported, “Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you.’”
From these words, we learn that just because Moses’ law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (to which the Pharisees referred) did not forbid divorce does not mean that divorce was approved by God. Jesus recognized this. Jesus knew the truth of Malachi 2:16. “For I hate divorce, says the LORD, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.”
So it is today. Just because the law does not forbid divorce does not mean that divorce is approved by God. The same hardness of heart with which Moses contended is why divorce, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, so-called same-sex marriages (and abortion) are legal in our society. People are determined to have sex without being married and to engage in homosexual relations. People are determined to form so-called homosexual marriages. People are determined to divorce. The law makers and the courts are under pressure to give the people what they are determined to have rather than what God approves.
God established marriage once and for all.
“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’” (Mark 10:6-8a). The fundamental concept of marriage includes the following components. Male and female. (See Genesis 1:26, 27). The male leaves father and mother. The male is joined to his wife. The two become one flesh. (See Genesis 2:24).
What is the significance of “one flesh?” For one thing, “one flesh” refers to the exclusive sexual relationship in marriage. God reserved sexual relations to husband and wife because marriage is the only condition under which the sexual relationship can be all that it was created to be. Sexual relations outside marriage with different partners or without total commitment is a purely physical sensation and a desecration of sex.
In addition, “one flesh” also relates to offspring. Offspring is the ultimate manifestation of “one flesh.” Offspring is an individual, a blending of husband and wife, that comes into existence through the relationship. This is only possible with male and female. (It is physically, biologically impossible for homosexuals to be “one flesh”).
God designed offspring to be born into a godly union of male and female. Both a father and mother are needed to adequately care for the offspring. Both a father and mother are necessary for training the offspring. Father and mother provide role models for gender (how males behave and how females behave) and for marriage (how to be a husband and how to be a wife).
Godly offspring is what the Lord desires (Malachi 2:15). No law can ever change the fundamental nature of marriage established by God in the beginning.
God has joined husband and wife.
In Mark 10:8b, Jesus concludes, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Jesus says that Genesis 2:24 is God’s declaration. God creates by speaking. (Cf. Heb. 11:3). When God says it is so, it is SO! Since God SAYS they are no longer two but one, they ARE no longer two but one! Here is a lesson on believing implicitly what God says. It is God’s will that the two remain one as long as they both shall live (Romans 7:1-4). The trends of our society are unable to alter the truth about marriage or to eliminate the fact declared in Hebrews 13:4. “Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”
In Mark 10:9, Jesus declared, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” In these words, Jesus forbids divorce! He issues an imperative. God has made one out of the two; we must not make the one two again. Though people of the world divorce without compunction, ideally, there need never be a divorce of a Christian husband from a Christian wife. If each will genuinely live by Christian teaching, their marriage will be what God designed marriage to be (1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7). If each will genuinely live by Christian teaching, any difficulty that has been known to lead to divorce can be overcome. Even in the case of marital infidelity, a Christian can and must repent, and a Christian can and must forgive. Once more, hardness of heart is the culprit. Divorce results from husbands and wives being determined to follow a particular course, regardless of the will of God or the teaching of Jesus.
Divorce is a step toward adultery.
In Mark 10:10-12, we are informed, “Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’” God commanded, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Adultery is the sexual involvement of a third party in the marriage. In marriage, the two become one flesh. In adultery, three attempt to become one flesh. Divorce in and of itself does not free a husband or a wife to marry again. (Cf. Romans 7:1-4; Matthew 5:32; 19:9). If you never divorce, you will never commit adultery by remarrying.
If Christian parents want their children to avoid divorce, there are several things that must be done. Both husband and wife must live by Christian teaching. Both husband and wife must determine not to divorce under any circumstances. (Statistics show divorcees most often come from broken homes). Husbands and wives must teach children to become dedicated New Testament Christians and to date and marry only dedicated New Testament Christians.
In light of Jesus’ teaching, we appeal to all to do whatever is necessary to avoid divorce! All Christians, young and old, listen to Jesus and obey him!
Designed and maintained by Houston Park Church of Christ Copyright © 2000 by Houston Park Church of Christ 2 Crescent Hill Drive Selma, Alabama 36701 334-874-7941. All rights reserved. Revised: 24 Sep 2008.