Marriage a Given
Philip Melanchthon, Confessor
16 February 2017
Some years ago, our youngest daughter approached my wife and me looking deeply troubled and when we inquired what the problem was, she asked solemnly if we were getting divorced. After recovering from our shock, we asked what prompted that question. She finally came round to saying that many of her friends' parents had been divorced and she wondered if the same might not also happen in her family. The prevalence of divorce in her experience seemed to lead her to the inevitability of divorce in her own family. This was an unsettling conversation for her parents. Of course, we asked ourselves, "Have we said or done anything to leave our little girl with the impression that our marriage is in trouble?" That is always possible, human nature being what it is. Since the fall there are thorns and thistles sprouting in the Eden of marriage. We assured our daughter that God had joined us and for that reason that divorce was simply not an option in our family.
We could have harkened to the love that we had for one another in our marriage, but we did not. Love ebbs and flows in and out of daily life. Sometimes love is masked by anger or unhappiness. The external appearance of things doesn't always give a clear picture of the underlying reality, just as in the cross. A child sees the external form not the support below. God's joining of husband and wife was the most comforting evidence we could place before our daughter. This is God's gracious work, not our own work. There is tensile strength in marriage because God is the Creator of marriage and giver of the gift. How could we ever find it in our hearts to reject this gift, even amidst all the challenges of life in a world fraught with sin? What God has joined, we must not separate.
Marriage affects everyone involved in it; husband and wife, children and family, neighbors and community, God and church. The great social benefits of marriage were touted yesterday in an article in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago (A15): "A Proposal for Michelle Obama's Next Campaign." Marriage above all things brings with it the baggage of responsibility to a whole constellation of people and human relationships. My daughter questioned the stability of her own home and family because of the divorces occurring in the families of her friends. No one lives to himself alone. What we do in marriage has an enormous impact all around us. Even Christ does not live to Himself alone, but for us, that we might live to Him for one another.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"Christ speaks in the passage about those who are already living together at home in marriage (Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9) saying that they are not to divorce one another, and with this passage he sets aside the law of the certificate of divorce, as the text clearly implies. The question arises from the fact that the Jews were divorcing their wives according to the law of Moses (Deut 24:1-4) whenever they wished, and then they took other wives to themselves. It is about such wanton and unnecessary divorce that they are asking Christ, whether it is right to divorce wives in this way for all sorts of reasons, for it seems even to them that it is too easy and unjust to obtain a divorce so readily. Concerning this frivolous divorce Christ answers and says that it is wrong, and that Moses had left them this law because of their hardness and stubbornness of heart (Mt 19:8) so that they would do nothing more terrible and kill their wives. Thereupon he says, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Mt 19:6). That is, they are not to obtain divorces so frivolously according to the law of Moses, as had been their custom, but just as God has joined them together, they are to stay together until God himself separates them. Hence this passage really applies to those who are already living together in marriage.
"But suppose you ask, 'Now I know how and when God joins a man and a woman together, but how do I know when God puts them asunder?' My reply is this: First, by death, as Paul in Romans 7 cites God's word and says, 'If her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage' (Rm 7:2). Second, when one party commits adultery, for God's commandment judges and punishes adultery with death (Deut 22:22). Therefore, an adulterer is already divorced from his spouse by God Himself and by His word. Such a divorce does not mean that it is done by men, because it does not take place without the word of God."

Martin Luther, On Marriage Matters
Matthew 5:27-32

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."  
Lord Christ, You gave Yourself for Your bride, that her children might give themselves into marriage so that they would not live for themselves alone but for You. Amen.
For President Larry Rast of Concordia Theological Seminary, that he would receive from the Lord of the church both strength and wisdom
For husbands and wives who are struggling with difficult marriages, that God the Lord would give them patience with each other and show them that their marriage is an example in the world
For those who are suffering inclement weather, that they might be kept safe
Art: MANETTI, Rutilio  Wedding Feast at Cana  (c. 1620)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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