It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law. (Mark 10:5)
Someone near you starts choking. They can’t breathe at all and need immediate aid. What do you do? Call for help? Check. Perform the Heimlich maneuver? Check. But as a last resort—if all else has failed and you have the proper training—you could do an impromptu tracheotomy with a knife and a ballpoint pen. It’s a crude stopgap measure, but it’s enough to get the victim breathing again until professional medical help arrives.
In Jesus’ telling, Moses faced a similar dilemma. Divorcing one’s wife was an accepted practice in his time and no law that he could write would change men’s hard hearts, so he did the best he could in those circumstances by regulating the practice of divorce. It was a crude stopgap measure until the Messiah arrived.
Like a skilled physician, Jesus diagnosed the sinful motive behind the Pharisees’ thinking. They were looking for legal loopholes to get out of their wedding vows. He looked instead to God’s original plan for marriage to be a lifelong, one-flesh union. They wanted convenience; he called for commitment.
Too often today, couples divorce because boredom or low-level conflict lures them to view their marriage as a hindrance to happiness. Jesus’ diagnosis remains relevant: the real hindrance is a hard heart that prefers making excuses over keeping promises. The cure isn’t a tracheotomy; it’s spiritual heart surgery.
Ask God’s help to choose commitment over convenience in your relationships.
Jerome Van Kuiken is a missionary kid, a pastor’s kid, and dean of the school of ministry and Christian thought at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.