2 Some Pharisees came and tested Him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” He replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Yes, it’s true, this was covered Monday, October 1, only 10 days ago with Matthew 19:7-9 verses as shown below.
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
So why am I covering it again? If it is important enough to cover twice in the Bible surely it is important enough to cover twice here as well. Plus, as you would expect, while the basic details of both are the same the additional details reflect the differences of how each saw as important in the exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus.
In both Matthew and Mark the issue is the hardness of the hearts of the husbands, women had no right of divorce at this time for any reason. Jesus makes clear there was not this right of divorce according to the original will of God, but because men had become so calloused they would divorce their wives for any reason as all, not only for sexual immorality. To permit the women they abandoned so gratuitously to again marry, Moses required a certificate of divorce.
Looking up hardness of heart found it is one word in Greek – sklērokardia – and found along with hard-heartedness as a definition by Strong’s the following definition destitution of (spiritual) perception. Now I do not know, but believe Jesus could have just as easily been saying
It was because your hearts were destitute of spiritual perception that Moses wrote you this law
Or even more fully
It was because your hearts were hard and destitute of spiritual perception that Moses wrote you this law
Divorce is a difficult process no matter the cause, but as Christians we need to be aware our hearts can become hardened especially when we drift away from God and become destitute of spiritual perception. Nonetheless, we also need to be extremely careful about being judgmental and unkind to those who have divorced and possibly remarried. Jesus and His Father have incredible mercy and unfathomable depths of forgiveness.
We, in our faith, should always remember Paul’s dictum:
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.