When the Pain of Divorce Meets the Reality of Grace

Tim Brown

READ : Matthew 19:1-12

Whoever divorces his wife, except on the grounds of unchastity, and marries another commits adultery. (v. 9)

Under the law it was possible in a male-dominated world for men to see women as expendable objects. This was disgusting to Jesus and he was utterly uninterested in finding loopholes in the law; he wanted to find a way to fulfill its vision. “Have you not read that the one who made them from the beginning ‘made them male and female’?” (v. 5).

Clearly this is a difficult subject to broach in a brief devotional reflection. Is it possible that anyone reading these few paragraphs is untouched by the pain of divorce? I have lived in its shadow all my life and I have cared for hundreds who have as well. I have seen both the devastation that comes when families are broken, the heartbreak and dissension produced by the church responding to divorce with law but no gospel. I have seen as well the spring time of new life when, through the grace of God, remarriage occurs.

Maybe the most helpful thing is to simply notice that Matthew places Jesus’ teaching on divorce immediately following a lengthy section on forgiveness. He forgives; so should we!


Lord Jesus, full of grace and truth, cover us with the one while we fumble to live out the other. Amen.