/ Marriage / Kit Swartz


Divorce is a hard reality of life.  Even Moses permitted divorce for sexual impropriety.  This was subsequently perverted to allow divorce for almost any reason at all.  Christ confirmed divorce for sexual offences but attributed the most basic cause to man’s hardness of heart.  Husbands drive their wives into affairs by their neglect and abuse, then aggravate their own guilt with the cruelty of divorce.  Wives act similarly.

In the midst of Christ’s teaching on divorce he said that things were different at the beginning.  That is, in man’s created nature before he contracted hardness of heart in the fall, there was no divorce.  This sets out a basic principle of ethics: what was at the beginning is what ought to be thereafter.  John Murray develops this fully and wonderfully in his definitive book on ethics, Principles of Conduct.  The ten commandments articulate this ethic.  For example, at the beginning there was one God, no idols or blasphemy and weekly rest.  Parental and property rights were respected; at this point, mainly God’s.  Truth alone was spoken and heard, and man had all he needed and desired, at least until The False Advertiser entered the picture. 

And so we come back to the fact that there was no sexual impropriety and so no divorce.  What was there?  There was a man and a woman bound to each other by God without shame and with great joy.  Christ therefore said, what God joined together at the beginning let not man separate.  This has meaning beyond individual marriages.  It is a truth that defines human culture and leads to the thriving of human communities.  Marriage, not divorce.  Human, not animal (yes; that needs to be said!).  Monogamous, not polygamous (whether simultaneous or serial).  Heterosexual, not homosexual.  Covenanted, not cohabiting. 

Our concern for our churches and communities should not focus on just one departure from the original splendor.  It is in the whole that beauty is perfected.  Still, the beauty of marriage requires our particular attention in these times.

Kit Swartz  Ruling Elder, RPC Fulton   Teaching Elder Emeritus, RPC Oswego