[For the introduction to this article, see “Retroculture and Original Events.”]
Challenged by the Pharisees on divorce, Jesus uses the restoration concept to teach the original divine truth about marriage.
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
(Matthew 19:4-6, ESV)
Jesus cuts through all the centuries of religious history and biblical interpretation to get to the original divine intent within the original creation event. Many today accuse restorationists of ditching so many centuries of “church history” and the many lessons that can be learned from it. And so they do, for Jesus does the same.
His appeal is to what God did “from the beginning.” Within this event God brought out his will that was to govern the marriage relationship for all time. But the conversation does not end here, since the religionists, full of their proud history and special interests, cannot leave well enough alone.
They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Ah, the Pharisees object, but Moses didn’t teach as you did! He allowed for divorce and made special provision for it. Just so, Jesus retorts, this hole in the marriage fabric was tolerated by God because of the hardness of your hearts. And our Lord returns to the matter, “but from the beginning it was not so.” Now we are going back, he maintains, in my plan of redemption, to restore the marriage relationship as God originally intended it. This is the way it will be from now on, as it should have been from the very beginning.
Some interpreters think Jesus came down on the side of one or other Jewish expert in the law in verse 9. But Jesus doesn’t side with anyone. “And I say to you.” This is what the word of God says, and we must get away from opinions, interpretations, and other impositions of man upon the sacred text. He goes back — and stays back — to God’s original plan by examining the original Scripture, as he quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24.
“Jesus can create the situation where God’s original ideal for marriage is a working reality” (Harold Fowler, Matthew, vol. III [Joplin, Mo.: College Press, 1978], p. 807).
Jesus uses the principle that the original event reveals the divine intent to show that divorce is not an option. In today’s loose moral age, it’s a restoration message the church must insist on as Christians evangelize the lost and edify the saints.
Next: Paul reveals the restoration principle in correcting the Lord’s supper.
Challenged on divorce, Jesus used the restoration concept to teach the original divine truth about marriage.