“Have you not read . . .”

Listening to a John MacArthur sermon on this passage about divorce got me thinking about some parallels with the pro-gay theology crowd. 

Matthew 19:1-11  Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.

His point was how the Pharisees in Jesus’ time were wildly pro-easy-divorce.

In the beginning of Matt 19, the Jews seem to be asking for Jesus’ opinion in a rabbinic conflict in interpreting Deut 24:1. The school of Shammai allowed divorce only for adultery, the school of Hillel allowed divorce tor any reason. They are asking if Jesus favors Hillel.

Keep in mind how educated and well read the Pharisees were.  Jesus seems to heart sarcasm, because in verse 4 He says, “Have you not read . . .” and then He goes to the very beginning, in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, to point out God’s created order.  They had obviously read that and knew what is said but had deliberately ignored it.  It was as if they had said “2+2=5” and He was pointing out how ridiculous they were being for missing something so elementary.  The pro-gay theology crowd is the same way.

Sometimes I think orthodox Christians are too patient and gracious with false teachers.  There are a number of problems with pro-gay theology and we can go on all day refuting their arguments.  But in doing so we probably give them much more of a forum than they deserve.  It leaves them with the ability to pretend that it is just a toss up and that either view must be OK. 

Jesus didn’t drag out the discussion with the Pharisees like we do with the pro-gay theology crowd.  I think He would have answered them the same way He did with the pro-divorce crowd, with a dig at how in their rebellion they miss the obvious: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his 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.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command . . .”

I could also see him saying something similar regarding abortion, i.e., “Have you not read . . . don’t murder, don’t shed innocent blood, children are a blessing, etc.?”

(Note that divorce was a hot topic in that culture while homosexuality and abortion were not.)

0 thoughts on ““Have you not read . . .””

  1. “Have You Not Read” is an excellent online book by Pastor Casey Whitaker. It can be found below:

    Click to access HaveYouNotRead.pdf

    “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”
    —Jesus Christ
    Luke 16:18

    Marriage is for Life!

    “A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives.”
    1 Corinthians 7:39

    Marriage = A Covenant Between One Man And One Woman…Until Death

    http://www.cadz.net/mdr.html

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  2. Rose, one thing that needs to be pointed out:

    Matthew 5:32

    But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

    So cheating is a scriptural reason for divorce. Other than that divorce is not scriptural.

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  3. I really like this post a lot Neil.

    On matters of morality, there is little doubt that the plain mean of scripture is clear to even children. If a person has doubts about what is right and wrong (as all persons do at various times) they can easily form their conscience by consulting scripture.

    I can at least understand how people who refuse to give up their immorality declare that “there is no god, therefore nothing I do is wrong” or “scripture has it all wrong, but I, I have it all right.” That at least makes sense.

    But for those intent on repeated divorce, or homosexual activity to claim that scripture agrees with them! It’s really quite absurd. There can be no doubt about the plain meaning of scripture on moral matters.

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  4. Divorce in the end could happen So You’ve said.
    How about remarriage then? That is where some pastors differ.

    I don’t like long lengthy debates and discussions, I like Jesus’ example. Perhaps we would do very well in knowing the Word and make truth and brevity our answer.

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  5. A couple other thoughts I just added to the post: I could also see him saying something similar regarding abortion, i.e., “Have you not read . . . don’t murder, don’t shed innocent blood, children are a blessing, etc.?”

    (Note that divorce was a hot topic in that culture while homosexuality and abortion were not.)

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  6. I don’t know who was listening to Jesus when he said these things; I’m assuming, judging from the context, that “large crowds” were. And I would think it also possible to assume, especially if the pharisees were pro-easy-divorce, that there were probably many divorced people in that crowd. So it would seem to follow that Jesus was being offensive and insensitive to those in the crowd who had committed such a sin thereby causing them to reject himself. Too bad Jesus didn’t have marketing researchers in that day to point out his folly in openly talking about sin. He obviously hadn’t yet heard of the seeker sensitive philosophy now sweeping the West. Who knows how many people rejected him that they because he glaringly pointed out that free-for-all divorce was against God’s will.

    The next step seems logical. Just stop calling sin sin, period; then exalt man, diminish the work on the cross, and become best buds with the savior of our soul.

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    1. Well said Dan. It is said how watered down many want the gospel to be, both hearers and preachers. As long as everyone feels good the truth doesn’t seem to matter any more.

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