Whenever a pastor preaches on the subject of marriage and divorce, he’s always in grave danger of being misunderstood, of not saying enough, or breaking the number one rule of preaching. That rule is “Comfort the afflicted with God’s gospel, and afflict the comfortable with God’s law.” If I were doing a lengthy sermon series on marriage then I might be more at ease. But as it is, in this series on universal human longings, we’ll only devote one sermon to marriage and faithfulness. So I’ll make a deal with you. As we examine Jesus’ words in Matthew 19, when you have a question, an objection, or a comment, jot it down for later, because I’m going to avoid everyone after the service! Why did I choose this passage? Because its teaching is extremely important but often neglected in the church. And it addresses one particular ache that almost every single person has deep in their soul.
We all need to love and be loved, to know and be known, especially in the most intimate of relationships—marriage. You are right to jealously expect love and faithfulness from your spouse, but despite good intentions you know you’ve failed in one way or another to be loving and faithful. At some level everyone fears betrayal, so people become adept at guarding their hearts—some more than others. And you know how a guarded heart eats away at love and faithfulness in a marriage! Marriage is hard, and it seems to be getting harder to stay together. The statistics don’t offer much hope that the institution of marriage will stabilize anytime soon. Most people believe that having a happy marriage is a longshot. And so more and more people are opting out or even declining to opt in. Yet the vast majority of us still desire to be married someday. All of this begs the question: Is there any realistic and solid hope today of laying hold of the universal human longing of faithfulness in marriage? Thankfully, as we look at Matthew 19:1-15, we’ll find the answer is Yes. Jesus’ teaching on divorce, which is rooted in God’s creational design for marriage, is difficult to accept but demonstrates its goodness in the way it protects and provides for husbands, wives, and their children. God alone can give us his love, his faithfulness, and his empowering grace to have faithful marriages. Continue reading