Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female?
I fashion myself a little bit of a student of English, Greek and Hebrew – and the grammar therein (nerd alert). Kinda seems like Jesus is affirming a literal (not metaphorical or mythical) creation here.
Here’s another one: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
Kinda also seems like Jesus thinks there’s an intended design for how a family – a society – a nation – humankind – works best.
Now, I’m going to step out on a limb here. Jesus didn’t say this in order to be repressive. In that culture, who was divorce hardest on? Easy answer: the woman. By the way, in this culture, who is divorce often hardest on? Still the woman.
Jesus is calling the men out here. Apparently, there was some hard-hearted behavior that had become commonplace in that society. And here, Jesus was calling the men to step it up and fill the role God intended for them. A note about context, by the way. Right after Jesus defended women, he lifted up children – who had an even lower social standing – as examples for who possesses the kingdom of God.
When we live in relationship, our actions have an effect on those around us. That’s the lesson. We have bought the myth of the “autonomous self,” where our needs, appetites, self-actualization, whatever you call it, are paramount. But it’s B.S.
By the way, this isn’t picking on Biblical reasons for divorce; even Jesus pointed out some valid ones. (If you’re in a situation like that, by all means, get out. And before you ever think about getting married, please listen to the following advice when it comes to choosing a spouse: “No matter what, don’t settle!”) No, this is attacking un-Biblical self-centeredness that makes my happiness more important than the stability and well-being of my spouse and family. I see it all the time.
Jesus has a better worldview. He puts us in relationship where we can love and serve those around us. He reminds us of the effect our right living has on our spouse, our children, and ultimately, our family tree.
It starts and ends with the heart. It calls for introspection. If my relationship is broken or unsatisfactory, the first place I need to look is at the condition of my own heart. Am I truly loving my spouse and family with a heart that reflects the heart of God?
I can’t answer for you, but every time I ask myself that question, the answer is pretty consistent. (Spoiler alert: It’s “NO.”)