One of the best scriptures for literally any question about human relationships is found in Matthew 19. Let's look at the verses and ask a couple of rhetorical questions. This is a great way to get some different angles and study on a verse. We'll start with verse 3.
Verse 3: "Some
Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?'" Notice two things:
- This is a test... they are asking a question (testing) and are seeking a doctrinal, scriptural answer.
- The second thing is just the actual question: "Is it lawful to divorce..."
Now keep those two strongly in mind and read verse 4...
Verse 4: "And He answered and said, 'Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female...'" First rhetorical question: Does this have anything to do with divorce? Yes, but... He is quoting Genesis 1:27. This scripture has no more to do with divorce directly than, say, Proverbs 12:12, or Ruth 2:13, or any other scripture chosen at random. The key thought there is the word directly! Jesus will make a direct doctrinal application that He expected them to already understand from an indirect implication! It will get clearer yet...
Verse 5: "..for this cause..." What cause? The cause he just stated in verse 4 ("...made them male and female"). That is what "caused" the formation of the human relationship in a deeply intimate way. By "intimate," we are including the sexual relationship also, which is really one of the most focused of the reasons for marriage.
A great cross reference to Matthew 19 is 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. Paul explains in detail the reason for man and woman to "become one." "...a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh."
Verse 6: Jesus shows in this verse that the man and woman are joined strictly because of the teaching from Genesis 2:24. If it taught that man and woman are "one flesh", how can something that is one be separated? That is Christ's point. Now again, the scripture in Genesis does not state directly that something that is one cannot be separated, but in Jesus' application, he shows that it is ridiculous to debate it, one is one! Now all of that is obvious from Genesis, it's just that people love to try and find loop holes, Jesus shows that there is none! A passage says what it means. Hence verse 7...
Verse 7: "Why then did Moses command..." Now they start trying to show a contradiction in the teaching. Now look at His response...verse 8...
Verse 8: "Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been this way." Here we are at the major point that sums up the teaching. Jesus notes that irregardless of how people have abused God's laws, a truth is a truth! Jesus sets the beginning as the only perfect and Godly example of true human relationships... and remember He does all that from the standpoint of implication. If someone wanted to be unscripturally literal, they could have challenged Jesus that Genesis does not teach against divorce just by stating that the man and woman "shall become one flesh"... But they did not. That's because they saw the logic and critical thinking behind the application Jesus makes!
Verse 9: The doctrinal anchor Jesus works from can be seen in His pointing out, "From the beginning it has not been this way." If the beginning is the pattern, anything that violates what we saw in the beginning is a direct contradiction to the doctrine Jesus
sets forth in Matthew 19. Is male and male ok? Was it like that "in the beginning"? Is multiple wives ok? Was it like that "in the beginning"? This is the passage of scripture where Jesus Himself condemns those "lifestyles". And what if someone says, "Well, God allowed those things to occur... even among His people." Then in the words patterned after the teaching of Christ, the response to that is: "Because of the hardness of their heart, God allowed them to stumble in such ways, but from the beginning it has not been this way!" As a follow-up to that, read Acts 17:30-31.