3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”
4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
5 and 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’?
6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

There are conflicting reports on the divorce rates in the church compared with the rest of the world. Some reports state that the rate of Christian divorce is basically the same as the rate of non-Christians. Others report that the likelihood of Christian marriages to end in divorce is actually higher than those who are not Christians. Still, other reports state that divorce rates for those heavily involved in the church and devoted to their faith are significantly lower than those outside the church and that the numbers have been skewed by anyone who identifies as a follower of Christ, no matter how nominal. More broadly, it has been reported that there is a 50% chance of divorce in marriages across the board, no matter the relationship to faith. [1]

While these types of reports have value, the fact of the matter is that divorce is a common issue both inside and outside the church. No matter one’s faith claims, marriage is hard and all marriages will face moments that call for perseverance through hardship or separation.

In Matthew 19, Jesus addressed divorce with the religious leaders of the day. Those who asked Jesus about the subject of divorce were seeking to trap Him with their question. However, Jesus recognized the motivation behind their question and returned to the original intent of marriage as defined by God.

As followers of Christ, we are called to persevere through the hardships of marriage, showing a loving commitment to one another as Christ has shown the church. When the church pursues marriage in this manner as a whole, no reports will be able to deny the power of the gospel shown through Christian marriage. The gospel also allows us to care for those who have faced the hardship of divorce and extend grace as Christ has done for us.

• How does viewing marriage as a picture of the gospel change the way we think about hardship faced in marriage?

• Even the healthiest of marriages are hard. How can we extend grace to one another in times of conflict and difficulty?

• Pray for those who have experienced the hardship of divorce. Ask that God would help our church to better love and care for these people, extending the grace of Christ that we have received.

[1] Stetzer, Ed. "Marriage, Divorce, and the Church: What Do the Stats Say, and Can Marriage Be Happy?" Christian History | Learn the History of Christianity & the Church. Accessed February 13, 2019. https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/february/marriage-divorce-and-body-of-christ-what-do-stats-say-and-c.html.