The Righteousness of a Saint - Divorce and the Meaning of Marriage

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), Congregational pastor and leader of the First Great Awakening in America, and his wife, Sarah, had a model marriage and family. Shortly before his death, when he was in Princeton, New Jersey, and his family had not yet relocated, he had one of his daughters pen a letter to another daughter back home in which he spoke of his marriage to Sarah. Dear Lucy, It seems to me to be the will of God, that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as I trust is spiritual, and therefore will continue forever: and I hope she will be supported under so great a trial, and submit cheerfully to the will of God. And as to my children, you are now like to be left fatherless; which I hope will be an inducement to you all, to seek a father who will never fail you. 

After receiving news of her husband's death Sarah wrote to her daughter: O my very Dear Child, What shall I say. A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may all kiss the rod and lay our hands on our mouths. The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness that we had him so long. But my God lives and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband and your father has left us. We are all given to God and there I am and love to be. 

Jonathan and Sarah had 11 children and by 1900 they had 1,400 descendants. Among them were 13 college presidents, 65 professors, 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 66 physicians, and 80 prominent public officials, including 3 governors, 3 senators and a vice president of the United States. Remarkable marriage and lasting legacy!

Last week's sermon didn't get as far as I had hoped and as far as you had prepared! We didn't get to what Jesus said about divorce. So, we will pick up that subject again and explore it a little more deeply. It is a difficult and pain-filled subject, isn't it? Do you know anyone who hasn't been touched by divorce? Read Matthew 5:17-20 and 31-32.

1. What has been your experience with divorce and remarriage? And what are your beliefs about divorce and remarriage? 

2. When Jesus says, "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce,'" He is making reference to a text in Deuteronomy 24:1ff. What do you think was the public opinion about divorce when Jesus addressed it? 

3. What is Jesus' counter to this practice of divorce (v. 32)? 

4. Jesus was consistent on this point about divorce and remarriage. Consider Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18. Any new insight? Why do you suppose Jesus is so black and white on this issue?

5. When Jesus defends marriage, He draws upon Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:18-25, especially 2:24-25. What does that tell you about Jesus' understanding of God's creation of us and His design and purpose for marriage? What does this tell you about Jesus' understanding of the Scriptures?

6. How do you think Jesus' stance on marriage, divorce and remarriage would be received today?

7. What exceptions do Jesus and the rest of Scriptures provide for divorce and remarriage? 

8. What do you think Jesus would like to see in the marriages of those who live in His Kingdom on earth? Can you think of some texts of Scripture that would describe the kind of marriage relationship that would bring Him joy and that would be light in the world for His glory? 

9. What do you think the Lord would have you do to have that kind of marriage? 

God be with you and hope to see you on Sunday!