an error in the way a law, rule, or contract is written that makes it possible for some people to legally avoid obeying it (merriam-webster.com)
I didn’t think of myself as a quitter, but when it came to our marriage I wasn’t so sure anymore. Marriage had turned out to be more than I bargained for. It was too hard and I wanted out. There had to be a way, something I’d overlooked or read wrong that would give me the loophole I wanted. Little did I know that in my search to get out of our marriage, I had inadvertently started a wrestling match with God.
It was in Matthew 19 that I saw a loophole forming, right there in verse 11:
Not everyone can accept this statement, only those whom God helps.
And the more I thought about it the clearer it became …only those whom God helps. Right. If God was for this marriage it would be easier. There would be peace. I began to see hope. Yes, divorce is a hard process but afterward, life would improve for everyone. It had to be better than what we were presently experiencing. I could see my loophole getting larger.
… Until God asked me if I was a eunuch.
Wait? What? …. A what?
Have You Not Read?
When God asks you a rhetorical question, you just know He’s got your number. We’ve seen this line of questioning before. Jesus did this with the Pharisees back in verse 4:
Jesus answered, Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female?
… have you not read …? Obviously, they had read it – they were the religiously educated, Jesus knew that. Yet, the intent of his question indicates they missed something. … just like I was missing something too.
I missed it because, like the Pharisees, I was looking for something that wasn’t there. Fishing for an excuse, any excuse to twist God’s Word to my benefit. Any excuse that says it’s ok to give up on marriage, on a spouse … on a person.
To challenge the Pharisees, Jesus began with an overview from way back in Genesis, as though they really hadn’t read from their own scriptures. But before He could finish, they interrupted Him with another question. Then the disciple’s interjected with a comment of their own.
Misfire From Both Sides
On the one side of Jesus, the Pharisees are saying they should be able to break the marriage contract whenever they choose. And on the other side, the disciples are emphatic about not even venturing into a marriage if it’s going to be a covenant situation. Both sides had different reasons but both groups were missing the bigger picture in order to avoid doing the hard work that marriage sometimes demands.
First: The Pharisees want to be able to trade-in for a new partner: Jesus tells them their focus is all wrong. Their reasoning is that if they have all their Ts crossed and Is dotted through a contract of divorce, dissolving the marriage along with the contract is clean and tidy: sanitized. The paperwork is all in order. But Jesus wants them to look back further than their own relationships, beyond themselves, back to when marriage was established and grasp its original purpose: Not a contract; rather, a covenant to stay together. But they won’t have any of it, instead, they shot back in rebuttal:
“If that’s so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?”
Jesus tried to be a teacher and help them but they resisted with technicalities. So He responds with more deliberate words, You are the stubborn, hardhearted ones to pursue divorce in the first place. But if that weren’t enough Jesus pushes back with more, So you want to play hardball with technicalities? I have a technicality for you. You thought you could just divorce by saying your spouse cheated so you could find someone better? It doesn’t work that way. You want to leave your marriage? Alright, but you cannot ever get married again because you will only bring your hardheartedness into another marriage.
Apparently, there’s no trading in, or trading off. Only trading out. The technicality is too much for them, they got more than they bargained for. They came out to play Jesus for the fool, but instead He bested them at their own game! And they just quietly disappear before the end of the chapter.
And then: The Disciples don’t even want to start without an escape clause. Jesus recalls Genesis 2 in an effort to draw our attention to the original purpose of the male/female design of creation: so that they would covenant in marriage. No escape clause is the whole purpose. Remaining single because there’s no escape clause goes against the intended design. The only pure motive for choosing to not marry is to serve God.
At this point in the conversation, Jesus had turned his attention to the disciples and was directly addressing them. The only people that don’t have the capacity to accept the covenant of marriage are eunuchs, everyone else does.
“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said, “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
I wasn’t a eunuch (as God rhetorically reminded me) which put me in the category of everyone else. It applies to …everyone …else? I didn’t like that very much. “God, You’re not actually saying that it does apply to everyone else, are You? Just that it doesn’t apply to eunuchs.” OK, that was wrong, I knew it. I had tried the same trick that Pharisees had: a technicality.
Although there was less confusion about my own heart, I was still disillusioned about our marriage. It didn’t seem fair. What about him? Why am I the one with the hard heart towards him? I could feel God’s hand pull me out of my self-pity pit: “No, it’s not Darrell you will become hard hearted towards … it’s Me.”
This was my game changer: It’s not about my spouse and me, but God and me.
Accept it, if you can
If I left our marriage my faith would weaken because I wouldn’t have given God the chance to come through for me. To demonstrate His power through me … through our marriage.
To leave Darrell would be to not trust God to work out all things in our marriage. Leaving him would also be saying to God that Darrell is such a lost cause that even the Creator of the universe isn’t able to do anything in him. I would be saying that God is not able to finish the good work He started on our wedding day.
And if I didn’t trust Him in this area of my life, what would be the next area that I would withhold from Him? And then the next? God is everything He says or nothing at all. I don’t get to pick and choose the areas of my life that He gets dominion over.
So. I’m not a eunuch, clearly. My only other choice was to seek a divorce with a hard heart towards God. Or, stay in admittance that Christ’s teaching on marriage was for me to accept.
With that thought, my loophole vanished.