The Sixth Commandment
“You shall not commit adultery." ~ Exodus 20:14
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." ~ Luke 16: 18
"We should so fear and love God as to be true and pure in our words and actions, and each one should also love and honor their spouse." ~ Martin Luther
I'm sure you've heard the statistic: nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce. That seems shocking, doesn't it? In fact, the United States has the fourth largest rate of divorce in the world. (as of 2019).
That makes Jesus words on this commandment so hard to hear. In my own family, both of my parents and my aunt and all of my uncles on both sides were divorced.
My brother has been divorced.
And yes, my first marriage ended in divorce.
I've had many people tell me how these words from Jesus have broken their hearts: to think they have broken this commandment - even if they didn't actually commit adultery (per Luther's description).
So what do we do?
We remember that these commandments were given to the Hebrew people to create a community - one that cared for each other and followed God together.
We remember that God places a premium on relationships.
That we were meant to be together faithfully.
That in Biblical times, women who were divorced were usually left penniless and family-less.
Divorces happen for all kinds of reasons these days. Sometimes - often even - they are necessary because of abuse or neglect or unfaithfulness.
But sometimes they happen simply because we pay more attention to our wants and desires than those we have promised to love and honor.
Relationships matter to God. We are called into them. Called into community. Called to be together in love.
A Prayer by Martin Luther: Dearest God and Lord, strengthen and uphold us in your pure, precious Word through Jesus Christ our Lord, and help us to show and live our thanks with our fruits of faith to your praise and thanks forever. Amen.