Matthew 19:3-12 NRSVue

3Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” 4He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 8He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”,

10The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. 12For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

Some thoughts on this scripture

The Pharisees engage Jesus on the notion of marriage about which there was much controversy. All agreed that a man could divorce his wife. The dispute was about the grounds on which a man could divorce his wife. There was a view which held that he could do so for the most trivial reason; there was an opposing view which proposed that only the most serious reason justified divorce. The Pharisees wished to force Jesus to take sides and so win enemies.

Jesus resolved the issue by ruling out divorce and placing men and women on the same level; no longer could a man opt to divorce his wife, except for unchastity. Such an equalisation of relationship between the sexes was so revolutionary that it drew the astonished response from his disciples.

I pray with thanks for all the people I know who have been able to live out their desires and dreams through marriage. I pray for those whose marriages are in difficulty. Keep love burning in their hearts, and in mine.