Some of the most stunning teachings of the New Testament are those Jesus gives on marriage, where Jesus defines in intricate detail God’s view of marriage on earth and the how marriage will change in the world to come.
According to associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota Dr. John W. Martens, we find the heart of all Christian teachings on marriage and divorce in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10. Dr. Martens takes a detailed look an article he wrote in 2015, called: “A Scriptural look at Jesus’ teachings on marriage and divorce.”
Jesus goes back to the very beginning, the book of Genesis when he states the following in Mark:
“(6) But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ (7) ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, (8) and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. (9) What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
– Mark 10:6-9
Jesus covers a lot of ground there. Let’s look at Mark 10:6. This quotes Genesis:
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
– Genesis 1:27
In this statement, Jesus defines that marriage is between a man and a woman. In Mark 10:7-8, Jesus quotes Genesis again.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
– Genesis 2:24
In Mark 10:9, Jesus makes a profound statement on divorce.
“What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
– Mark 10:9
Dr. Martens writes: “It’s clear: no divorce and no remarriage if you do divorce, unless you want to live in adultery!”
Let’s backtrack and look at Mark 10:1-5 to see the context of Jesus statement on divorce.
“1 He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them. 2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ 3 He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ 4 They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ 5 But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you.'”
– Mark 10:1-5
The book of https://biblehub.com/esv/matthew/19.htm
https://biblehub.com/esv/matthew/19.htm also tells of this event when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about marriage and divorce. In this passage, Jesus makes another profound statement on divorce, equating remarriage with adultery.
“7 They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?’ 8 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. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.'”
– Matthew 19:7-9
Dr. Martens writes: “Marriage for Jesus is seen as a fulfillment of the Edenic realities of sexual differentiation and the unity of the male and the female prior to the primal disobedience. Yet, Jesus suggests that something has changed for humanity which allows them to return to the pre-lapsarian ideal now so that divorce is no longer necessary.”
In the Gospels of Luke 20, Mark 12, and Matthew 22, Jesus speaks to the Sadducees answering a rather complicated question about marriage and remarriage, what will happen in the resurrection and what life will be like in God’s future kingdom. Here are those three accounts.
“34 And Jesus said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.'”
– Luke 20:34-38
“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
– Matthew 22:30
“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
– Mark 12:25
Dr. Martens explains the eschaton, which means the final event in the divine plan, the end of the world.
“This would seem to be the earliest strata of the Jesus logion and the import of it is that in God’s kingdom marriage is not required since human beings are asexual and do not reproduce. Since people live eternally, the need for procreation, the prime purpose of marriage, has come to an end.
And since the question concerns those who have been married to each other, it also indicates that marriages which were contracted here on earth have also come to an end. Why bring a marriage to an end through divorce when the eschaton will soon bring the institution of marriage itself to an end?”
Of Luke’s version, Dr. Martens writes: “The Lukan version of this pericope is even more intriguing. Luke’s version indicates that marriage is for people tied to this world not the world to come.” Martens adds: “It is possible to read v. 34 as arguing that marriage is only for those of this world, though it is not clear if v.35 means that those who marry now will not share in the world to come, or simply have to give up marriage in the kingdom of God.”