Marriage and Children

Pastor Simek

 The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost at Hope, Jerseyville


“Marriage and Children”

Sermon Text: Mark 10:2-16

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Marriage, divorce, and children. Those are the topics of the Gospel reading for today. They are topics you’ve probably heard me talk or preach about before and you are going to hear it again today because with these readings we are given there is just simply no way around it. Marriage, divorce, and children can seem like hobby horse topics of the church that we repeat over and over again, harping on them without ever stopping, but the Bible deals with them a lot because they are topics that are so prevalent, for them thousands of years ago and for us today. It’s not that divorce is any worse than another sin, but it is one that continues to be pushed to be made more and more acceptable so it needs to be address more and more frequently.

And yes, divorce is a sin. That is what Jesus tells the Pharisees who try to test him. “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Ever. Period. The end. No more discussion.

That is God’s perfect plan for marriage and children: one man and one woman, the two becoming one flesh in the consummation of their marriage that they would be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and have babies. A family, together, joined and united as one unit, flesh of their flesh, bone of their bones, blood of their blood. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Zero exceptions.

It is not natural or good that your flesh would be severed, your bones disjointed or cut off, your blood spilled and one becomes two. Not ever, not once, even when death us do part, it is not natural or good. It is not what God has designed for flesh and bones and blood and marriage.

So then why does Moses allow for a certificate of divorce? “Because of your hardness of heart,” because of your sin, because of its infection and disease. So sometimes a foot or limb may need to be amputated in order to save the body. Remove the flesh eating bacteria before it consumes the whole body. But even when such a thing is necessary, even when divorce is necessary in order to save a spouse from life-threatening abuse, it is still not good that the one body, the one marriage, become two.

Never, under any circumstances, ever, is divorce or amputation good. Necessary? Perhaps. But good? No. And if you are going to tell me that, “You just don’t understand. My situation and circumstances are so unique like nothing anyone has ever experienced or been through ever before in the thousands of years of marriages,” I am going to be a little skeptical. I’m not saying it’s not hard and trying and difficult and you may be entitled to complain and you or your spouse may need to be smacked upside the head with the full weight of the Law of God. But divorce is always and only a result of sin.

So rather than trying to excuse it and say that we are in so unique of a situation that surely God would say it’s okay for me, confess. If you’ve had a divorce, necessary or not, if you need a divorce, if or when you get a divorce it is not okay so stop trying to justify it. Stop trying to justify yourself and your actions because of some other outside force or influence or event and confess that you are guilty and receive God’s full forgiveness.

And this goes for all of you. So if you’ve zoned out and started to ignore me because I’m going on and on about marriage and divorce and you are or are not married or divorced, start paying attention again now. Stop trying to justify yourself and your actions because of some other outside force or influence or event and confess you are guilty. Confess your hardness of heart. Don’t say, “Well I stole because I was hungry and since I was hungry and couldn’t afford it then it must be okay.” Don’t say, “Well I cheated on my taxes because the government is so corrupt and the system is broken so it’s okay.” Don’t say, “Well I was unfaithful to my spouse because they were unfaithful to me, so we’re even,” or “I’m not married so it doesn’t matter if I lust or just think about doing that.” Don’t say, “Well I know I disobeyed my parents, but they are just being too hard and unfair on me. They just don’t understand what I’m going through, so it’s not really wrong.” Saying these things is just as much self-justification and works righteousness, is just as much sin, as saying there is something you can do to get into heaven or that you don’t need Jesus as though you are good enough because you can divorce your actions from the sins that they are.

If you try to justify yourself, and excuse your behavior because you are just so special and unique, the exception to the rule, you are writing Jesus a certificate of divorce and separate yourself and cut yourself off from him. You are being faithful to you, not to him, so maybe He should be the one to divorce you. He has every reason and right to. If he doesn’t cut you off and separate himself from you it will kill him. If he has any desire to preserve himself, you have got to go.

But of course he doesn’t. Even when it would be better for him to get rid of you for your selfishness, your abuse of him and his mercy and grace, your pompous self-righteous attitude, still he holds on to you as a dear beloved child, taking you in his arms, laying his hands upon you and blessing you.

Just as the disciples were trying to keep the children from Jesus, rebuking them, cutting them off from Jesus, trying to do what is best for Jesus, Jesus is the one who becomes indignant, so angry that he loses his dignity, at those who would suggest cutting off his children. To Jesus, losing you, even in your unfaithfulness, is completely unacceptable even though he knows you will kill him, even though he knows that he will have to die for you, he holds you tight.

And he loses his dignity again as he hangs naked upon the cross for you because to him, it is better that his blood be shed than for one to become two. To Jesus, it is better that he should die, that his soul would be divorced from his body than for you to be divorced from him. And so he stretches out his arms upon the cross to embrace you, bless you, give to you his body and blood that the two would become one, you together with Christ forever, not unto death but through it.

It’s not because your sins doesn’t count or doesn’t matter. It’s not because your sin isn’t really sin. It’s because in the death of Jesus, you remain united to him and divorced from your sin. As his blood leaves his body, as His soul is separated from his corpse, your sin is separated and divorced from you. You are no longer attached to it. The sin and the sinner severed, the one become two because Christ, your bridegroom, is faithful to you. Your sins are forgiven because Jesus is willing to sacrifice everything for you and give his life for you that you might have eternal life, that you would be a child of God, that the kingdom of God would belong to you forever. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

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