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Divorce: When the Dream Is Shattered - Matthew 19:3-9

Taught on | Topic: divorce | Keywords: adultery, biblical, controversial, forgiveness, husband, marriage, moral, pain, practical, wife

Not every smart home stays intact. Infidelity, as well as other factors, can shatter the dream of happily ever after. To be honest, this message today will not be an easy one to deliver nor will it be easy to hear. Jesus must have shocked His audience by His answers here to their questions. But my heart goes out especially to those in our flock who have been hurt by these things, and my prayer is that healing will come your way.

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12/9/2018
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Divorce: When the Dream Is Shattered
Matthew 19:3-9
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Not every smart home stays intact. Infidelity, as well as other factors, can shatter the dream of happily ever after. To be honest, this message today will not be an easy one to deliver nor will it be easy to hear. Jesus must have shocked His audience by His answers here to their questions. But my heart goes out especially to those in our flock who have been hurt by these things, and my prayer is that healing will come your way.
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Stop imagining a better home life and start building it. Whether you're single and just surveying the landscape, married and mediating the man cave versus the she shed, or rebuilding your home (and heart) after significant loss, God has a blueprint for you. No home is beyond repair, so join Skip Heitzig and Nate Heitzig for Smart Home and start building the home of your future today.

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Outline

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  1. Divorce Is a Practical Issue (v. 3)

  2. Divorce Is a Biblical Issue (vv. 4-6)

  3. Divorce Is a Controversial Issue (v. 7)

  4. Divorce Is a Moral Issue (vv. 8-9)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: December 9, 2018
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Divorce: When the Dream is Shattered"
Text: Matthew 19:3-9

Path:

Not every smart home stays intact. Infidelity, as well as other factors, can shatter the dream of happily ever after. To be honest, this message today will not be an easy one to deliver nor will it be easy to hear. Jesus must have shocked His audience by His answers here to their questions. But my heart goes out especially to those in our flock who have been hurt by these things, and my prayer is that healing will come your way.
  1. Divorce Is a Practical Issue (v. 3)
  2. Divorce Is a Biblical Issue (vv. 4-6)
  3. Divorce Is a Controversial Issue (v. 7)
  4. Divorce Is a Moral Issue (vv. 8-9)
Points

Divorce Is a Practical Issue
  • Divorce is ugly. It produces broken homes, broken lives, and broken people.
  • Researchers found that two out of five Generation X and Millennials indicate marriage has failed for most people they know.1
  • Divorce is so common that probably there is not a person today who has not been touched by divorce themselves or by someone acquainted with divorce.
  • Divorce has been part of the human experience for a long time. In the text, Jesus answered a familiar question about divorce, a common point of debate among Jews.
  • The religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus with an everyday practical matter with the aim to discredit Him.
  • Historically, Jews had an ideal view of marriage. But things were changing, and many rabbis spent many hours debating divorce.
  • Generally, a Jewish person was expected to marry and have kids. In the rabbis' views, to neglect this was to lessen the image of God in the world.
  • The main text about divorce in the Old Testament is Deuteronomy 24:1-4. There, the cause for divorce was "uncleanness" (v. 1). Later, rabbis debated what the word uncleanness meant. Shammai, a conservative rabbi, said it could only mean adultery. Hillel, a liberal rabbi, said it could include anything that a husband didn't like about his wife. Hillel's interpretation was more popular. 
  • This was the background against which Jesus answered the Pharisees' question.
Divorce Is a Biblical Issue
  • Instead of answering directly, Jesus asked a question that began, "Have you not read…" (v. 4). Jesus expected the Pharisees to know Scripture. We need to know the Bible, so we can be obedient.
  • Before we can understand an issue, we need to find out God's original purpose and design for that issue. Jesus referred them to Genesis 1-2, God's original design for marriage.
    • Marriage was God's idea, His design. It was not a cultural innovation.
    • Marriage is between a man and a woman (see v. 4).
    • God's plan was to create oneness—one flesh—leaving parents and cleaving to one another.
    • Marriage was designed to be permanent (see v. 6).
  • Today, we blur all the lines God established—between male and female, between happiness and obedience to God, between commitment and convenience.
  • Even as we respect that everyone has basic human rights, Christians must stand for the God-ordained definition of marriage.
Divorce Is a Controversial Issue
  • There was a misconception among the religious leaders of Jesus' day. They twisted Scripture to meet their needs; they took a divine concession and made it a divine command. Divorce is a divine concession to a human weakness; to permit it is not the same as a command.
  • God invented marriage; man invented divorce.
  • To understand Deuteronomy 24 correctly, we must understand God's heart about divorce: He hates it (see Malachi 2:16).
  • Deuteronomy 24 is not about divorce, rather it's about remarriage. It forbids marrying a former spouse who had remarried and then divorced.
  • Uncleanness refers to something improper or impure. It can't refer to adultery because the penalty for adultery in the Old Testament was death by stoning. So whatever uncleanness was, it did not warrant a divorce.
  • Moses was not advocating for divorce. He was protecting a woman from her first husband.
Divorce Is a Moral Issue
  • Jesus correctly interpreted Deuteronomy 24. He stated that Moses' divine concession was due to the hardness of their hearts. Divorce always involves hard hearts.
  • Jesus underscored the only permissible reason for divorce: sexual immorality. Sexual immorality means any and every kind of illicit sexual intercourse in a repeated, unrepentant pattern.
  • Jesus got to the heart of the issue in the law: God doesn't want anyone to get divorced.
  • The reason Jesus spoke so strongly about divorce is because God Himself was divorced. Israel repeatedly broke her covenant relationship with God and He gave her a certificate of divorce (see Jeremiah 3:8). God understands the pain of divorce.
  • If you have failed in marriage, you've come to the right person. Jesus is the One who saves His people from sin. It is because divorce is a sin that divorce is forgivable.
Practice

Connect Up: Why is it important to go to God when trying to understand practical, moral and controversial issues (as Jesus did in the text), and not to culture or human law? Why is it important to recognize that there is a law higher than human law? How does having a higher law affect how we live in the world in terms of justice, morals, law, etc.?

Connect In: If you were to counsel a Christian couple contemplating divorce, how would you proceed to share with them in a loving way while keeping truth intact? How would you communicate both the truth of Jesus' teaching and the biblical mandate against divorce?

Connect Out: If you are a child of divorced parents, share your experience (if you are comfortable). What did you learn from the process? If you know someone who has been through a divorce, how did the people involved change? What were the effects?

How would you reach out to a non-Christian couple considering divorce? Here are some considerations:
Pray. Pray for the couple.
Answers. Help them find answers to the issues leading them to divorce. Remember the greatest need for a non-Christian is to receive Christ. Share the gospel, but don't beat them with the Bible. Be a listening friend.
Institute. Help institute a plan for recovery. Point the couple to wise counsel, advice, and a godly influence.
Need. Express the need for them work it out. Divorce is not a remedy, it's the result of something that went awry in the marriage. If children are involved, address how kids need two parents working in harmony and love.


1 Kasey J. Eickmeyer, "Generation X and Millenials Attitudes Toward Marriage and Divorce," 2015, https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/eickmeyer-gen-x-millennials-fp-15-12.html, accessed 12/10/18.

Detailed Notes

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"Divorce: When the Dream Is Shattered"
Matthew 19:3-9
  1. Introduction
    1. Marriage begins as an ideal that can soon turn into an ordeal, and that's when people start to look for a new deal—divorce is in their sights
    2. Broken homes produce broken lives that produce broken homes
      1. Millennials are waiting much longer than previous generations to get married while enjoying the fringe benefits of the marriage relationship without any commitment
      2. Two out of five people in Generation X and the millennial generation said that marriages have failed for most of the people they know
    3. Matthew 19 is the conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders of Israel about the issue of divorce
      1. The religious leaders intended to use a controversial issue to discredit Jesus
      2. Jesus gave them a direct answer without skirting the controversial nature of the question itself
  2. Divorce Is a Practical Issue (v. 3)
    1. The religious leaders brought up this question because divorce was a common issue in Israel
      1. The Pharisees were hoping to trap Jesus with this question in order to discredit Him in the eyes of the people
      2. Divorce was a topic of heated debate among the Jews
    2. Theoretically, there was no nation on earth that had a higher standard of the covenant of marriage than the nation of Israel; in reality, women of that day and age had no legal rights and could never divorce their husbands
      1. Marriage was regarded as a sacred duty
      2. There was a saying that the only reason for a man to be exempt from this duty was to devote his entire life to the study of Torah
      3. If a man refused to marry and have children, it was said that he was breaking the positive commandment to fill the earth and that he had slain his posterity
    3. There were many positive sayings concerning marriage
      1. Unchastity causes the glory of God to depart
      2. Every Jew must surrender his life rather than commit idolatry, murder, or adultery
      3. The very altar itself sheds tears when a man divorces the wife of his youth
    4. The basis for this question was pulled from Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which is the only passage in the Old Testament that refers to divorce
    5. There were two opposing viewpoints as to what this passage meant
      1. One was more conservative, perpetuated by Rabbi Shammai, who interpreted the clause in Deuteronomy to mean only adultery
      2. The more liberal view was adopted by Rabbi Hillel
        1. Hillel defined uncleanness in the widest possible way
        2. Rabbi Akiva later widened this view even further, saying that if a man found another woman more attractive than his wife, he could divorce his wife and marry the other woman
      3. By the time of Jesus, there was rampant no-fault divorce taking place
  3. Divorce Is a Biblical Issue (vv. 4-6)
    1. Jesus' answer took them back to the beginning of marriage
      1. He answered indirectly, with a question: "Have you not read?" (v. 4)
        1. Genesis 1:27
        2. Genesis 2:24
      2. Jesus expects you to know your Bible
        1. How can you ever obey God if you don't know what God said?
        2. How are you ever going to know what God wants if you never read what God wants?
    2. The Pharisees wanted to talk about divorce, but Jesus took them back to the beginning
      1. If you want to understand the issues within something, you need to understand the concept itself first
      2. Jesus affirmed four important aspects of marriage
        1. Marriage was God's idea
        2. Marriage is between a man and woman
          1. Blurring the lines between genders presents the biggest danger to marriage in our culture today
          2. God made man and woman—not one man and three women, just in case Eve didn't work out
        3. It was God's plan to create oneness through marriage
          1. This is the process of leaving, cleaving, and weaving
          2. "One flesh" (v. 6)
          3. It's impossible to divide one into two; it just becomes two halves
        4. Marriage was designed to be permanent
          1. God's intent was that marriage would be permanent and lifelong
          2. Divorce was not in God's original blueprint for marriage, though He permits it in limited circumstances
  4. Divorce Is a Controversial Issue (v. 7)
    1. The Pharisees' misconception can be seen at the heart of the question
      1. Did God ever, through Moses or anyone else, command anyone to divorce?
      2. They turned a divine concession into a divine command (divorce is a divine concession to human weakness)
    2. God hates divorce
      1. Malachi 2:16
      2. God hates divorce, but He loves divorced people
    3. A careful reading of Deuteronomy 24 reveals that it's not teaching about divorce or the certificate of divorce—those are incidental
      1. It concerns remarriage and focuses on protecting women
      2. What does the term uncleanness refer to?
        1. It cannot refer to adultery—the Old Testament punishment for adultery was not divorce, but death
        2. Whatever the uncleanness was, it did not warrant a divorce (see Deuteronomy 24:4)
      3. The text did not advocate divorce
        1. It was meant to protect the woman from her first husband
        2. The adultery was the fault of the first husband, who divorced her
  5. Divorce Is a Moral Issue (vv. 8-9)
    1. Jesus presented them with the correct interpretation
      1. Divorce always includes a hardening of the heart
      2. "Divorce tells us the truth about man. It tells us nothing about marriage" —Terence Kelshaw
    2. The exception clause
      1. The Greek word for "sexual immorality" (v. 9) is porneia
      2. The verb tense used here indicates a continual, unrepentant pattern of behavior—the only allowable reason for a Christian to initiate divorce
      3. Matthew 5:27-32
      4. What Jesus required with the exception clause was more than the religious leaders required, but not more than Moses required
  6. Conclusion
    1. To those struggling with the weight and pain of a divorce:
      1. God understands
      2. Let forgiveness rule the day—God specializes in forgiveness
    2. God speaks so strongly about divorce because He was divorced
      1. The people of Israel committed spiritual adultery over and over again
      2. Jeremiah 3:8
    3. Any divorced person you know needs all the love and encouragement you can give them
Figures referenced: Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Hillel, Terence Kelshaw, Rabbi Shammai

Cross references: Genesis 1:27; 2:24; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Jeremiah 3:8; Malachi 2:16; Matthew 5:27-32

Greek words: porneia

Topic: divorce

Keywords: adultery, biblical, controversial, forgiveness, husband, marriage, moral, pain, practical, wife

Transcript

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Divorce: When the Dream Is Shattered - Matthew 19:3-9 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Start building the home of your future today-- Smart Home.

Love the Christmas season. And unfortunately this is a topic that, say boy, way to bring a Christmas season to an all time low. At the same time it is precisely this season of the year where people who have struggled through a bad marriage, or are suffering through the weight of a divorce, that's when they feel it the most. So in that sense it is appropriate.

But I'd like you to turn in your Bibles, please, to Matthew, chapter 19 this morning-- Matthew chapter 19. I was talking to my wife Lenya and I said, Lenya, will you love me when I'm old and unattractive? And she said, of course I do.

[LAUGHTER]

Well, that's a good thing. When I was in college in 1975, Paul Simon released a song that became an instant hit. I bet many of you know that song. Some of the lyrics are, "the problem is all inside your head, she said to me. The answer is easy if you take it logically.

I'd like to help you with your struggle to be free. There must be 50 ways to leave your lover. If you just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. Don't need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free."

You know the song. Unfortunately, marriage begins as an ideal that can soon turn into an ordeal. And at that point people are looking for a new deal. When that happens, divorce is in their sights. We're doing a series called Smart Home-- how to build a home of the future, Smart Home. I found, however, a business located up in Denver, and also in Chicago, that is advocating what they call a smart divorce. It is called Split Simple.

That's their title, Split Simple. Hope you're not like writing this down to find that. But Split Simple, and they advertise a smarter way to divorce. Their tagline, no stress-- I read that, I go, no stress? In what universe are you living in?

No stress, less expense, less time. It's easy! Let's make it easy. Let's take out the stress, let's take out the fuss.

A book called Divorce, How and When to Let Go. The authors write this, and I'm quoting, "yes, your marriage can wear out. People change their values and their lifestyles. People want to experience new things. Change is a part of life.

Letting go of your marriage if it's no longer good for you can be the most successful thing you've ever done. Getting a divorce can be a positive, problem solving, growth oriented step. It can be a personal triumph," end quote. Well, not everybody agrees with that.

Ask all the kids of those relationships what they think about the positive change that takes place. Broken homes produce broken lives that produced broken homes that produce broken lives that produce broken homes and the cycle continues. No wonder millennials, that generation, they're not beating down the door to get married. Millennials are saying they would rather go slower and wait much longer and enjoy the fringe benefits of a marriage relationship without any of the commitment.

A study done by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research explores the views of two generations, Gen X-- Generation X-- and now the millennial generation. And the interview and the study was on marriage success rates. They discovered that two out of five of those generations, two out of five, said that marriages have failed for most of the people they know. So you've got this generation looking out at the world around them, wide eyed and understanding, why should I get into that institution when it does not work for the people that I know?

Well, the subject that I'm dealing with today is one that I treat carefully. And I am sensitive to the fact that many people here have gone through or are going through a divorce. I also understand that it is that very painful experience that awakened your need for Christ and brought you to Him, for which we are grateful. And though I tread carefully and prayerfully, I also tread unapologetically because I have seen the devastation in countless of lives for many, many years.

And I am comforted by the fact that in our text of scripture Jesus was asked the question about divorce and he did not skirt the issue at all. He didn't marginalize, didn't push it away. He honestly confronted popular theories, the popular theories of his day and age, with Biblical truth. So Matthew chapter 19 is that conversation and it's pretty straightforward. It's a question between religious leaders and Jesus himself.

Jesus is gaining popularity. The religious leaders don't like that. So they come with a strategic question in order to trap him. And it's a question about marriage, knowing that It's a volatile issue.

So they ask a question. He gives a direct answer. They don't like his answer. They give a rebuttal. Jesus gives what they would call in legal parlance a surrebuttal, a rebuttal to the rebuttal, and brings it to a close.

All of that in nine versus. Verse 1, Matthew 19, "it came to pass when Jesus had finished these things that he departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed him and he healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?"

Now, just a little FYI. He's in the area beyond the Jordan. It was an area called Perea. Perea was the place where John the Baptist was put in prison and beheaded because he brought up the issue of Herod having an illicit marriage with his brother's wife. So in that region, they asked Jesus the question about marriage to test him, probably hoping that it's going to create such a discrediting stir among the people that maybe Jesus will get beheaded.

So they ask him, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason? "And he answered and said to them, have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female? And said for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore , what God has joined together, let not man divorce."

That's the word, [NON-ENGLISH]. Same word Paul used in first Corinthian 7 for divorce, let not man separate. "They said to him, why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and to put her away? He said to them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts permitted 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. And whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

Now, the passage that we read reveals four characteristics about divorce for any culture at any time for anyone. First, divorce is a practical issue. They brought it up because they dealt with it all the time. It was common even in the Jewish culture-- and I'll explain why-- to deal with the subject of divorce. It was a common question.

And I would say it still is. There's not a person here who has not been touched in some way by divorce, either in your family or someone you love. Now notice, again in verse three, the Pharisees came testing him. You see, they just didn't come up with this at the last minute. They strategically brought in a question hoping that by bringing it up and having Jesus answer the issue would discredit Jesus, would trap him, so that he would lose popularity among the people.

Why'd they do that? Because they knew divorce had been a topic, and still was at that point, a topic of hot debate among the Jews. And it was. And by New Testament times there were two different schools of thought regarding divorce. I'll speak that in a moment.

Now theoretically-- theoretically-- there was no nation on earth that had a higher standard when it came to the covenant of marriage than the Jewish nation. They regarded it as a sacred duty. In fact, did you know that one of the sayings-- they have many of them. But one of the beliefs was that the only reason that would exempt a man from getting married was him devoting his whole life to the study of Torah, the law. That was his only out.

If he refused to marry and have kids it was said that he broke the positive commandment to be fruitful and multiply and he lessened the image of God in the world. Furthermore, if he didn't get married they said he has slain, killed, his posterity.

Now the rabbis had all sorts of wonderful lofty sayings about marriage and how infidelity and adultery ruins it, et cetera. Here's a few of them. One of their sayings was, unchastity causes the glory of God to depart. A second saying that was famous was, every Jew must surrender his life rather than commit idolatry, murder, or adultery. And a third saying, the very altar itself sheds tears when a man divorces the wife of his youth.

Now those are beautiful sayings. They're lofty sayings. But talk is cheap. The truth of the matter was, women of that day and age had no legal rights. They could never divorce their husbands. But the husbands could divorce their wives. Women had no legal rights whatsoever.

So they come to Jesus with a question and they follow it up with a rebuttal, about this Moses giving a command. Now, what was in their minds when they approached him? What was in their minds was a text of scripture from the Old Testament-- I'm going to read it to you. The book of Deuteronomy, fifth book in the Bible, Deuteronomy chapter 24. It's the only passage in the Old Testament that even speaks about a divorce procedure.

Deuteronomy 24 reads this. "When a man takes a wife and marries her and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, when she is departed from his house and goes and becomes another man's wife if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then the former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled for that is an abomination before the Lord and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance." That's the text.

That's the text in their minds as they say, is it OK to divorce your wife, to dump your wife for any reason? And why did Moses then give this commandment? Now, that's the text. But there were two opposing viewpoints as to what that text meant.

One was a narrower view, a more conservative view, and that was the view espoused by one of their esteemed rabbis in history, a guy by the name of Rabbi Shammie-- S-H-A-M-M-I-E if you're taking notes. Rabbi Shammie interpreted Deuteronomy 24 and that clause, uncleanness in her, to be only adultery, only unchastity. It was a very strict view.

There was another rabbi, however, who had a different idea of the meaning of that text. And he was a more recent rabbi. He was just about a century, even less than a century before the time of Christ. His name was Rabbi Hillel-- H-I-L-L-E-L. Rabbi Hillel had a liberal view of the meaning of that text. He believed and defined uncleanness in the widest possible way.

If a wife put too much salt in her husband's food, that was unclean. I'm not making this up. He actually said that. So if she burns his bagels, doesn't prepares his meal right, that's an uncleanness and it's up for divorce. If she is a quarrelsome wife, that's an uncleanness.

If she went in public with her head uncovered, if she spoke to men in the streets, if she spun around in public so that people could see her knees, if she spoke disrespectfully of her husband's parents. Wow-- all grounds for divorce. That was the liberal view. Now to make matters worse, another rabbi came much later named Rabbi Akiba even after the time of Christ who widened it even further and said, if there is a husband who finds another girl more attractive than his wife, he can divorce his wife to marry her.

Now, I have a question for you. Given those two interpretations, which was the most popular among men? Not the first one, not the narrow one, not the conservative one-- the liberal one! Because sinners always go to the lowest level. So they thought, I like Hillel. And so all you had to do to make it legal is provide a certificate of divorce, because it's mentioned in Deuteronomy 24.

Here was the bill of divorce. It had to read this. "Let this be, for me, thy writ of divorce and letter of dismissal and deed of liberation that thou mayest marry whatsoever man thou wilt." That's all that was necessary is, come up with a legal paper that says you're done. And she was done.

So, what does all that translate into? And it's simply this. By the time of Jesus, there was rampant no fault divorce taking place. Men, even religious men, even leaders like the Pharisees, were dumping their wives for any reason. That's why they asked the question, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?

They knew the controversy. They were trying to trap him. Now I agree with whoever wrote this. There are two processes that ought never to be entered into prematurely, embalming and divorce.

But they were entering into divorce at the drop of a hat. So it was a practical issue they brought up. Now Jesus gives his answer. And this gives us the second characteristic of divorce. Divorce is a biblical issue.

And Jesus takes it back to the Bible, takes it out of the culture and back to the Bible-- back to the beginning, in fact. Verse 4, "and he answered and said to them, have you not read--" I love Jesus. I love this. You know, there's sarcasm in those words.

He knows he's addressing Bible scholars, guys who read their Bibles and teach and memorize scripture. So there's, well, in all your reading have you never read, "that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female 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. So then they are no longer two but one flesh." How do you divide one? Therefore what God has joined together, let not man [NON-ENGLISH]-- divorce, separate.

Now, first of all notice Jesus does not give them a direct answer. They asked him a question. He answers it with a question. They asked a question about Deuteronomy 24, and his question brings them back to Genesis chapter one verse 27 and Genesis two verse 24. Takes them all the way back to the very beginning before Moses was ever born and God spoke on the issue.

Now here's what I love-- one of the things I love. I love so many things about this. Jesus gives to us a good model of Bible study. Have you never read? Jesus expects you to read your Bible and to know what He says on a number of issues. This question could be asked of many Christians, have you never read?

I was speaking to a young man this week about some issues and prayed with him, and had just a little bit good time of just sharing and counseling out in public. And after I did he said, you know, Skip, I was told to go to another church because Calvary is too advanced. Because you're always giving Bible studies all the time. You meet and you have Bible studies.

And so I heard that guy. I did not know quite how to take that. But I said, let me ask you a simple question. How can you ever obey God if you don't know what God said? How are you ever going to know what God wants if you never read what God wants?

You have no knowledge of it, how are you ever going to do it? So the reason we teach and emphasize Bible exposition is, this is our response to the biblical illiteracy of our culture, and I would even say Christian culture. Too many Christians are biblically illiterate. Have you not read? It's there for the reading.

Well, the Pharisees want to talk about divorce but Jesus takes them back before divorce to marriage, to the beginning, when God first established marriage. Before you can understand divorce you have to understand marriage. Before you can understand anything you have to understand why that anything was designed to exist. So if you're going to understand divorce, you have to understand marriage. If you're going to understand marriage, you have to understand what it was originally designed to do and be.

Make sense? So Jesus gives to us in a nutshell what it's designed to do and be. Number one, marriage was God's idea. It didn't come from some brilliant sociologist or some cultural innovation over time. It came from Heaven. God made them. God did this.

Number two, marriage is between a man and a woman. Notice how Jesus parses his words. "Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female." And in the original language, male and female are in the emphatic form. One of the most damaging things done today is to blur the lines between male and female.

I understand we live in a free society, a democratic society, and that all people should be given basic human rights-- heterosexual, homosexual, transgender. I believe that and I affirm that. However, we must take a stand for God ordained the historical definition of marriage between one man and one woman. That's how God made them. One man, one woman.

[APPLAUSE]

So you Pharisees can talk to me about divorce, but let me take you back to the beginning. And this is what God said. He made them, one man and-- He made Adam and Eve. There were no spares. He didn't make Adam and three women and if Eve didn't work out he had a couple more to go.

He had no options. He made them one and one. So, marriage is God's idea. Marriage is between a man and a woman. The third thing Jesus affirms about marriage is that it was God's plan to create oneness with marriage.

He quotes Genesis. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife," the King James word, cleave to his wife. "And the two shall become one flesh." That's the process we spoke about weeks ago-- leaving, cleaving, weaving. Leave mom and dad, establish a new relationship, cleave means to be glued. I've had people say I feel stuck.

Good. You are. I'm hoping it's the good kind of stuck, not the bad kind of stuck. But that's the concept of the word. You are glued. You are stuck together.

"And the two shall become one flesh." So if you take two and make one, how do you divide one? You can't cut them in-- cut one in half and have two, you have a half. So that's God's arithmetic-- 1 plus 1 equals 1. So, marriage is a romance novel in which both the hero and the heroine die in the first chapter and a new person is created.

That person is one flesh. "The two shall become one." Jesus then goes on to say that there's a fourth component of God's original design, marriage was designed to be permanent. He says therefore-- I love Jesus. Just sort of come to a conclusion really quickly. "Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate."

So he's telling them, look, whatever your view of marriage is and divorce, God's view of marriage is a high view of marriage, that it's to be a permanent lifelong commitment. Divorce was not in God's original blueprint in Genesis, even though He permits it in limited circumstances. We'll talk about that in a moment. So, get the idea.

The Pharisees see Jesus. They come to him with one verse in mind, one little concept in mind, negating all of the other versus of scripture-- one verse in mind. By the way, this is classic proof texting. They just want to just force their interpretation. Jesus goes back to the beginning to show God's intention of one flesh. And if they're one flesh, how do you break that up? That's his point.

How do you separate what is one? So therefore, for a guy to say, I'm going to dump my wife because we're going through some problems, that's like a guy saying I'm going to cut off my leg because I found a splinter in it. There are other ways to deal with it than an amputation. Takes us to a third characteristic of divorce. It's not just a practical issue and a biblical issue, it is also a controversial issue.

Look in verse seven. They're not done. "They said to him, why then," you could see their feathers ruffled. "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and to put her away?" Can you spot the misconception in their question? Can you hear it?

Well let me ask you, did God ever, through Moses or anyone else, ever command anyone to divorce, ever? Was there ever a command in the Bible where God says I command you, divorce your wife. Never. Ain't one.

But they ask him the question, why did Moses command for that to happen? Now that's their proof texting. That's their scripture twisting. They have made a divine concession into a divine command, which it was never intended to be.

By the way, that's the definition of divorce-- a biblical definition. Divorce is a divine concession to human weakness. A divine concession to human-- never a command. God invented marriage, man invented divorce. And in certain cases God will concede or permit a divorce to take place.

Now the question is still sort of hanging in the air. They're thinking Deuteronomy 24 in mind. So what does Deuteronomy 24 mean? You've got these two definitions, the narrow view and the wide view, Shammie and Hillel. So what does it mean?

First of all, understand how God feels about divorce. We know how He feels about marriage. But God feels something about divorce. And you know probably the passage in Malachi chapter two, where it says, "the Lord God of Israel hates divorce."

Does not hate divorced people. He loves divorced people. But He hates divorce. So because of that, you're never going to find any scripture anywhere that says, if you don't like your wife or husband, dump him. Unload the turkey.

You'll never find that. Second point on that, a careful reading of Deuteronomy 24 reveals that it's not teaching about divorce. It's not even teaching about the certificate of divorce. Those are incidental. It's teaching about remarriage. It is forbidding marrying a former spouse that you have let go of, you pushed out, who has remarried and now divorced again.

It's forbidding the remarriage of that. Why? To protect the woman. So there's a little phrase in there that Shammie and Hillel were arguing about. "When a man takes a wife," Deuteronomy 24:1 "it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her." And so the question is, what does that refer to? Something improper or something impure, but what?

Well, let me suggest it cannot refer to adultery. You know why? You know what the punishment for adultery was? Not divorce, death in the Old Testament-- stoning to death. So whatever the uncleanness was, it must have been some infraction that falls short of actual adultery-- some impurity, some promiscuity perhaps.

We're not told what it is. Whatever the uncleanness was, it did not warrant a divorce. How do I know that? In verse 4 of that text, Deuteronomy 24:4 says, "then her former husband," husband number one, who's divorced her. Now she's on two and divorced from him and he thinks, I want to take her back. "Must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled for that is an abomination before the Lord."

Now, how'd she get defiled? By her first husband divorcing her, pushing her out for any reason. For some reason short of unchastity. And then she subsequently got married again. That brought the adultery to the relationship.

It was the first husband's fault. So the text is not advocating divorce. It's protecting the woman from the first husband. Listen, in that day and age it was a man's world. As I said, women had no rights.

And this was a law given by God to protect a woman. So in the controversy they bring to Jesus about divorce as Jewish scholars, they're neglecting the one thing God wants to protect and that is that woman. One rabbi, a recent rabbi, a contemporary rabbi, believes that divorce can actually be worse than death. He said in death, the big difference is death has closure. Divorce is never over.

So, it's a practical issue, a biblical issue, a controversial issue. Don't have to tell you that. The fourth and final, divorce is a moral issue. It's a moral issue-- verse 8. Jesus now is rebutting their rebuttal.

He answers them, he says this. "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts permitted," notice the difference. Moses commanded! No, "because of the hardness of your heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wise. But from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you that whoever divorces his wife," notice these are red letters.

These are Jesus' words. "I say to you whoever divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another commits adultery. And whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." Now, as silent as it is right now in this room-- and I think people are going, whoa. That's heavy.

I'm guessing that the response in the crowd that day when Jesus spoke those words was, whoa. This is heavy. You know why I know that? Verse 10. "His disciples said to him, if such is the case of a man with his wife, it's better not to marry."

They got it. They understood. Wow. That is the biblical standard from the beginning and that hasn't changed. Now Jesus here gives the right interpretation.

He gives it to them. He unfolds Genesis and Deuteronomy and says, this is the meaning of it. And he says it's because of the hardness of your hearts. Divorce always includes a hardening of the heart-- always. Whether you're the victim and you've been abused and somebody has cheated on you and you feel the horror of that and you harden your heart against repairing anything.

Understandable or not, that's what happens. Or, somebody says I'm just going to divorce my wife. I don't love her anymore. I found somebody prettier, more exciting. He hardens his heart. Whichever, it always involves a hardening of the hearts.

A friend of mine that I knew who's now in Heaven, Terence Kelshaw said, divorce tells us the truth about man. It tells us nothing about marriage. Now here's the core of Jesus' teaching in these two verses. It's called the exception clause. Have you heard that before?

The exception clause is, no divorce except-- and here's the clause. Except, the only permissible reason, except for sexual immorality. That's the exception clause. The word sexual immorality is pornea-- one word in Greek, pornea.

It's a word that describes a wide variety, a wide range, every kind of illicit sexual intercourse. And the way the verb is written it indicates a repeated, unrepentant, ongoing pattern of behavior-- no change. That's the only allowable reason for a Christian to initiate a divorce. No wonder the disciples said, it's better not to get married.

To which Jesus will respond, and we've already covered that, well, since you brought that up, that can be a gift from God as well-- to remain single, right? Now I'm going to read to you another passage that's a parallel to this. Same book, Sermon on the Mount. Everybody loves the sermon on the mount.

I meet unbelievers who say, ah, I love the Sermon on the Mount! And I always get mystified by this. You do? Yeah. I live by the Sermon on the Mount. Oh, really?

Wow. I need your autograph because you're the first one I've ever met. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said-- and there were Pharisees and common people. He said, you have heard that it has been said by those of old, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you if you lust after another woman in your heart, you've committed adultery in your heart.

And then he said this, Matthew 5, furthermore, it has been said whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce-- Deuteronomy 24. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. So here's how we approach it.

This is what you've heard. You've heard that it was said. You heard by Shammie and Hillel and all the different interpretations by your system that all you need is the certificate. That's the paperwork. But I say to you-- now, when he said that he's saying, this is what you've heard. But I'm saying the opposite. I don't allow divorce for any reason.

And he gives the exception. Now what Jesus said was more than they required, but not more than Moses required, and certainly not more than God, the Father, required. Now the Pharisees were in the crowd. They were priding themselves in the fact, well, I've never committed adultery. Now, they've divorced several wives for any reason-- salted their food too much or whatever.

And Jesus sort of nails them on to things. You guys pride yourself that you've never committed adultery but you know what? You lust after women and you divorce your wives for any reason, therefore you are spreading adultery all over the place. You're spreading it around. Every time a man divorces his wife without proper cause and remarries commits adultery and causes her to commit it as well.

His words. J. Allan Peterson wrote a book called The Myth of the Greener Grass. It's a great title. The myth, the grass is always greener on the other side. The Myth of the Greener Grass, and he writes this.

"A call for fidelity is like a solitary voice crying in today's sexual wilderness. What once was labeled adultery and carried a stigma of guilt and embarrassment is now an affair-- a nice sounding almost inviting word wrapped in mystery, fascination, and excitement, a relationship, not sin. What was once behind the scenes, secret and closely guarded, is now in the headlines, a TV theme, a best seller, common as a cold. Marriages are now open and divorces are now creative."

I want to give a final word to those here who feel the weight. They're being crushed under the weight of a divorce for whatever reason. Maybe you were unfaithful in their relationship and this has happened and you're looking back with regret, and remorse, and shame, and embarrassment. Others of you a going through one right now. You didn't cause it. It was caused by your spouse.

I want you to know something. God understands. And I want to encourage you to let forgiveness rule the day. You've come to the right person. He specializes in forgive-- say, well, divorce is sin! You're right. That's why it's forgivable.

It's precisely why it's forgivable. The reason that God speaks so strongly about divorce is that He was divorced. That's right, God was divorced. In the Old Testament He speaks about His people, Israel who has committed unfaithfulness, broke the covenant, they committed spiritual adultery over and over again. Jeremiah, the prophet, was given the message that God has given her the nation a certificate of divorce.

So He understands the pain. And if you have failed, if you have sinned, understand the meaning of the name of Jesus that we celebrate this time of the year. The angels said, you will call his name Jesus for He will save his people from their sin. That's what he's about. He forgives sin.

And just in case there's some hard liners around who think, no, you need to get harder on this. It is sin! I'm going to read to you-- I marked it somewhere. Yeah, here it is. And I hate to be quoting from my own book, but I-- I wrote a book on this subject.

There are several chapters about this in the book. I'm only giving you a smattering of it. But it's not real-- I'm quoting somebody. I got this illustration from somebody that I knew, Allan Emery from the Billy Graham Association.

"He said, one night his father got a call informing him that a well-known Christian was passed out on the sidewalk drunk. Immediately his father sent his chauffeured limousine to pick up the man. Meanwhile, his mother prepared the guestroom. My friend watched as she turned down the beautiful coverlets, revealing the monogrammed sheets on the exquisite old four poster bed.

But mother, he protested, he's drunk! He might even get sick. I know, his mother replied, but this man has slipped and fallen. When he comes to, he will be so ashamed. He will need all the loving encouragement that we can give him."

And let me suggest any divorced person you know needs all the love and encouragement you can give them. If they have fallen down, if they have caused it or if they are the victim of it, they need love and encouragement and they need a hand up, help up. Father, we want to commit to that. And as we close and we consider a very heavy topic that Jesus was not in any way willing to skirt, dealt with it head on, very honestly and openly, giving God's original standard, setting the record straight.

Thank You for that clarity in Your word. There's no way we're ever going to do what You say unless we know what You say by reading what You say. And so Father, we have applied ourselves to that today and I pray You give us grace in our own marriages.

And I pray also, Father, for those who have fallen and they need our encouragement, our love, our help, our smiles, our counsel, our prayers. That's the body of Christ. Help us be that. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church.

And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/gift. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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Date Title   Watch Listen Notes Share Save Buy
7/29/2018
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Meet the Architect
Psalm 127
Skip Heitzig
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In this first message of our Smart Home series, we focus on the foundational elements. Let’s meet the Architect of the home and the family—God Himself. His blueprints for the people He creates include satisfying relationships and integrated operation. We should make sure to build alongside of Him so that our homes become satisfying places of refuge, palaces of joy, and platforms for worship. Let’s take a fresh look at Solomon’s instruction.
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8/5/2018
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Get Prequalified: Finding a Mate
Genesis 24; Genesis 29
Skip Heitzig
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Dating can be exciting. It can also get weird and end poorly. I like the common sense of one who quipped, "Some people are unmarried for the same reason that some drivers run out of gas. They pass too many filling stations looking for their favorite brand!" Though dating was unknown in biblical times, let’s look at five principles in budding relationships to help you prequalify to build a solid, long-lasting, and satisfying Smart Home.
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8/12/2018
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Get Prequalified: The Minimalist Home
1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19
Skip Heitzig
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Should the top priority of a single person be to get married? Can a Smart Home also be a minimalistic home—with just one occupant? Why is it that singleness is sometimes considered less acceptable than marriage? Can the single life be a full, enriching, and positive experience? Perhaps you’ve lost your mate or you’re still waiting to find one. Or maybe you’re happy to stay single. Today let’s consider singleness and celibacy in light of Scripture.
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8/19/2018
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Following the Blueprint: A Husband’s Love
Ephesians 5:25-32
Skip Heitzig
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To live in a Smart Home, occupants must follow the architect’s blueprint. God, the inventor of marriage, has given roles to husbands and wives so they can live together in harmony and joy. The basic role of a husband is to love his wife. This love is explained and described by the architect in the building documents found in Ephesians 5. This kind of love that a husband lavishes on his wife will enable her to fulfill her role with greater ease and deeper contentment.
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8/26/2018
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Following the Blueprint: A Wife’s Submission
Ephesians 5:22-24
Skip Heitzig
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When it comes to a family’s roles within the home, the “S” word (submission) can generate controversy. To modern ears, God’s standards can seem out-of-date and even distasteful to some. But I am suggesting that the quickest way to fulfillment for a married woman is to discover the freedom of her role as properly understood in Scripture. So let’s jump in and unpack this role and see how it is meant to correspond to a husband’s loving leadership.
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9/2/2018
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Building Your Future Home with Care
Ephesians 5:15-21
Skip Heitzig
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The construction of a house is no small undertaking. After the blueprints have been drawn up and approved, there are a series of steps to take to ensure the building is strong and durable. The verses we are considering today give us the preliminary features necessary to live peacefully with another person. Before the roles of family members can ever be exercised successfully, these considerations come first.
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9/9/2018
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Till Death Do Us Part: What You Need to Know to Make Marriage Last
Genesis 2; Mark 10
Skip Heitzig
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Is a lifetime commitment to a spouse even reasonable? Does permanence have to become a goal if it means a couple just has to grin and bear it? What if a marriage hinders one’s personal growth and self-fulfillment? Today I want to make a case not just for getting married but also for staying married. Let’s go back to the divine architect’s original prototype to understand what He had in mind when coming up with this idea of marriage.
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9/16/2018
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The Master Bedroom: Components of Marital Intimacy
Proverbs 5:15-21
Skip Heitzig
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Being intimate with your spouse involves more than just sex (though it certainly includes that). Intimacy is a sense of caring and affection in which one can be totally vulnerable with someone without the fear of being hurt or misunderstood. The physical/sexual factor should only enhance that. Intimacy is essential if a marriage is going to thrive. Let’s recover four components of marital intimacy.
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9/30/2018
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Communication Breakdown
Nate Heitzig
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God’s plan for the family is to build, strengthen, and protect it. But Satan has declared war on the family as he seeks to undermine, weaken, and destroy it. The statistics are staggering: the divorce rate has risen over 700 percent in this century, and there is one divorce for every 1.8 marriages. Since communication is key to oneness in marriage, Nate Heitzig examines the Scriptures to find how to deal with communication breakdown in a marriage, both how to prevent it and how to repair it.
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10/7/2018
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A Smart Home...with In-Laws?
Genesis 28-31
Skip Heitzig
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Every wedding creates a blended family. Marriage not only joins a man and a woman, it blends the extended family of mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and brothers-in-law. The odds for dysfunction run pretty high. Today we consider the roles of God, parents, in-laws, and married children doing life together. How can in-laws be prevented from becoming outlaws? Four principles apply:
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10/21/2018
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Money Matters for the Smart Home
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Skip Heitzig
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The issue of money in a marriage is a primary source of conflict and worry, so much so that this conflict often leads to collapse. How can a married couple handle their finances so the marriage relationship isn’t damaged? Using an example of the apostle Paul’s plan to raise funds for the Jerusalem church, let’s get some solid pointers on the believer’s (and hence believing couples’) relationship to finances. Like it or not, money matters.
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10/28/2018
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Looks Can Kill: Winning the Battle with Temptation
Matthew 5:27-30
Nate Heitzig
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Many have heard the saying, "If looks could kill…" The truth is, looks can kill, spiritually speaking: temptation leads to sin and sin leads to death. In this teaching, Pastor Nate Heitzig examines two admittedly uncomfortable topics: temptation and adultery. In light of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:21-31, two strategies emerge for how to stop temptation before it starts, and how to stop temptation once it starts.
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11/4/2018
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A Mother's Role in the Smart Home
1 Samuel 1
Skip Heitzig
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A mother's love is great—it sets the standard of unconditional love. God has done and continues to do great things through women. The Bible records numerous faithful and spiritually fruitful women, such as Jochebed (Moses' mother), Ruth, Esther, Elizabeth, and Mary. In 1 Samuel, we meet Hannah, a woman whose faith modeled three powerful truths about mothers.
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11/11/2018
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The Single-Parent Family
Acts 16; 2 Timothy 1
Skip Heitzig
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Some of the most struggling and lonely people in our congregation may be those who are single parents. They may be moms, dads, divorced, or never married. They may be young teenagers; they may be older grandparents—but they all have this in common: they are raising children by themselves. Does the Bible speak to this? Are there any clues for Christians to understand so we can help bear the load of single parents among us? Yes, there are. Let’s take a look at them.
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11/18/2018
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The Fundamentals of Family and Fatherhood
Ephesians 6:1-4
Nate Heitzig
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The American family is in crisis, and children are among its many victims. Evidence of the effects of broken families on children is everywhere: 12 million teenagers are drug addicts, teenage suicide has risen over 400 percent, and 1.5 million teenage girls will become pregnant out of wedlock (650,000 of those pregnancies will end in abortion). According to the Los Angeles Times, the most reliable predicter for these behaviors is family structure. If there has ever been a time for a godly upbringing, it is now. In this teaching, Pastor Nate looks at the fundamentals of a healthy family, including parents’ responsibility to their children and children’s responsibility to their parents.
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12/2/2018
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Patching Holes in the Smart Home
Song_of_Solomon 5-6
Skip Heitzig
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Most marriages are marked by periodic skirmishes, but did you know that disagreements can actually strengthen your marriage instead of weakening it? A lot will depend on how you patch the holes left by a disagreement. Conflict resolution is an essential skill that will minimize permanent relational damage. Let’s take a look at Solomon’s marriage to his Shulamite bride, the first fight they had, and their final reconciliation.
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12/16/2018
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Getting Smart about Remarriage
1 Corinthians 7
Skip Heitzig
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Three-fourths of divorced men and two-thirds of divorced women will eventually remarry. That’s the present reality of the American relational landscape. Some of you have walked through the pain of such a breakup. The question for us is always a scriptural one: Are there biblical grounds for remarriage? Yes, of course. When a divorce occurs for one of the following reasons, a remarriage is appropriate.
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There are 17 additional messages in this series.