The Law is discussed practically everywhere you read in the Bible. The Law was a focal point for the Jewish people in the OT, and Jesus spoke of coming to fulfill the Law in the NT. All this Law talk can be confusing to readers of the Bible who don’t think of the Law as having anything to do with spirituality. It may help to understand how people in biblical times viewed the Law. They for whatever reason wanted their eulogy to read “they were a law abiding citizen.”
People during biblical times begin to focus on obeying the Law and offering sacrifices when messing up as the main way to please God. This never was God’s purpose for the Law. The Psalm speaks of God’s preference not for sacrifices or burnt offerings but a broken and contrite heart (51:16-17). Laws aren’t necessary in a perfect world. Who doesn’t know stealing is wrong. Laws simply are meant to protect against lawbreakers and rebels (I Tim. 1:9).
People in the Bible begin to look to the Law as ultimately judging their relationship with God. If I can just obey the Law I will be good enough in God’s eyes. But, the Law can’t legislate matters of the heart. The Law can tell us to not speed excessively by a car, but the law can’t tell us what to do when one is stranded in their car. The Law can tell us amends are necessary when wronged, but the Law can’t tell you to forgive that which can never be returned such as one’s reputation. The Law tells us what not to do, but am I a good lover if I just don’t beat my wife? The Law isn’t written to encourage you to love your partner unselfishly at all times.
Should our goal in life be simply to not mistreat people? That should be a given. A higher goal is to go the extra mile in relationships and not just do enough. People hurt and often need to be shown mercy. Treating others like you want to be treated means when you are suffering, you want your friends to not always respond alike. Jesus came to tell us that striving to be good just isn’t enough in a broken world.
Jesus came to assure us that God is no different than earthly loving parents who will always love their children even when they fail. Though failures bring on consequences, parents never want their children to think it is too late to change no matter how many relapses. Jesus understood the Law has a purpose in a troubled world, but Jesus wanted us to know God loves us despite our failures, God forgives you, God desires to empower you to be the kind of person you deep down want to be, God seeks to influence you in going the extra mile by loving others like you want to be loved if in their circumstances.
It is important what is conveyed about a supposed loving God’s thoughts on divorce and remarriage since so many are impacted. If God conceived of marriage, it is naturally to look to the Creator for guidance on such relationships. The Bible is not a book of rules, and if you mess up God is pissed. It is true there are consequences for our actions in marriage, but that is true for all relationships. What is also true is that God is by our side always wanting to help not live in the past but create a new future. Seek God’s help whether making amends or getting more involved in your kid’s lives.
Jesus didn’t sugarcoat the truth but Jesus never said God is only interested in a relationship if we live up to certain standards. Jesus said what we tell our children about divorce. Marriage for a lifetime is ideal for individuals and families (Mt. 19:6, Mk. 10:9). Who doesn’t know love isn’t kicking partners to the curb to enjoy your current fantasy whether in marriage, business, or friendship. But, Jesus is not in the condemnation business. Jesus simply encouraged the adulterous woman to leave a life of self-destruction for her own good (Jn. 8:11). Jesus didn’t blast the woman at the well for being married five times but offered a better way (Jn. 4:17-26).
Many are familiar with biblical texts on the subject, so for more of a detailed treatment of certain passages please see here. The Gospels accounts speak of the importance of marriage being for a lifetime. Matthew includes the sexual sin exception because his Jewish audience was familiar what the Old Testament said for this situation (Mt. 5:32, 19:9). Does the supposed Messiah not agree with laws given to Moses by God! Jesus agreed with Moses that sexual sins can lead to divorce, but Jesus’ would also say true regrets and forgiveness are always possibilities.
Jesus is often accused of saying any divorce, except for certain sexual betrayals, is a sin and to remarry is committing adultery. Moses’ circumstances lead him to address the issue of sexual sins driving a wedge through marriage, but any harmful action that a partner is unwilling to take responsibility for and change endangers a marriage. Make no mistake God hates divorce as often betrayal and injustice is involved (Mal 2: 16), but God doesn’t heap on the innocent and want the guilty to think new beginnings are not possible. Couples who care what God thinks have enough guilt. It is appropriate at times to emphasize the importance of the marriage commitment, but we shouldn’t go further than Jesus in advising what God may think in someone’s situation.
Paul’s teachings and applications appear to be the same as Jesus’. God isn’t preachy but desirous of behaviors always in our best interests. Jesus would never tell one to never divorce or remarry regardless of their circumstances. A spouse may need to divorce for their safety and for the safety of the children. Remarriage is best determined according to one’s circumstances. Jesus might suggest to young couples to not enter marriage with only one foot in the door. It is always better to be proactive in the beginning than reactive during challenges when making such a lifelong commitment. But, divorce is inevitable in a world where we have the freedom to be selfish rather than selfless. Spouses are not responsible for each other’s actions. Divorcing a spouse is not always selfish and divorce and remarriage can be God’s desire as well.
Why would anyone want to get to know a God who gets angry every time we do something wrong. That is a lot of anger because I don’t even live up to my own standards on a daily basis. I think of a relationship with God as similar to a relationship between a parent and their older child. A relationship with a younger child is different because they may not fully understand hitting or yelling at another child makes relationships impossible. As we mature most when inflicting verbal or physical harm on others understand the damage done.
It can be human nature for a parent to lash out in anger when an older child does something that is not in the best interest for themselves or others. Many parents though begin to realize such reactions don’t serve any helpful purpose. When a parent has established a relationship with their child, the child already feels they have disappointed others. This is similar for those who have decided a relationship with God is a worthwhile endeavor. We already have enough guilt. God doesn’t wish to pile on. We need to know God still cares about us and has not given up on us.
Does God not understand this relational insight and become angry every time we make a misstep? God is no different than parents who begin to realize they don’t have to heap on additional consequences. When ticketed for driving too fast we already have to pay a fine. When we treat others wrongly, we won’t have many friends. Parents with teenagers are often not able to have an influential relationship because they don’t allow a child to be self-guided while coming alongside to support. God too wants us to freely choose God’s ways if we come to understand they have our best interest in mind as does a loving parent.
A spouse has every right to feel anger and expect legal intervention when a partner strikes them and feels no remorse. But most reading this have a conscious. God wants us to know they hurt when we hurt. God doesn’t want us to feel distant because of how we think God feels. God wants us to know they desire to be an encourager in a time of need. God wants us to know they will never give up on us despite our failures. When we suggest God is angry all the time, we portray God as less of a lover than a human parent.
It matters how we communicate about God when others are considering a relationship with their Creator. God often is said to be more concerned about their own honor and reputation than mainly concerned about others. God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. God’s desire for glory is not for reasons as other gods are portrayed. To glorify God is to love oneself and others to the fullest. Parents may advise their children to honor them because abiding by a parent’s wish should be in the best interest of the child. God is not self-infatuated. God could care less about their ego.
Are human parents better lovers than God? Human parents don’t start loving their children after their sins are accounted for. Jesus didn’t die just so a holy God could finally forgive our sins. God forgave before Jesus was born. Jesus forgave sins during His life, not after His death. Jesus’ death was God’s walking in our shoes to convince us of a desire to have a relationship. The Cross was not to change God’s attitude toward us but to change our attitude about God. Parents must strive for a relationship so their children might consider their guidance. Jesus laid down His life in hopes to convince us God wanted a relationship for our benefit.
If God was so worried about their ego, God certainly would not have given us freedom. God staked their reputation in individuals and the nation of Israel in the beginning. God created us in their image so we might represent God to others. Many religions today suggest their god has no place for freedom. One either believes their way or suffers immediate extinction. The ancient gods demanded sacrifice to satisfy the god’s thirst. Are we going to suggest the God of Creation is the same as the other gods? The Old Testament writers sought to convey differences than commonalities with the other gods.
God doesn’t care about their ego! God desperately desires more to convey God’s love for us. A legalistic view of the Cross is ruining God’s reputation. God was not more concerned with restoring their honor than expressing a desire for a relationship. God did not have to be appeased by human sacrifice as the other Old Testament gods. A legalistic view implies God couldn’t love us until someone’s death accounted for our sins. If someone wronged me and the only way I could satisfy my anger and forgive was to kill my child, what does that say about me as a parent! God stubbornly continues to pursue us to enjoy a relationship together.