NOTE: We’ll use the discussion guide you’ll find below in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow night (Nov. 16). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning on divorce (Hurt). To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.
Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon (or sermon series).
To examine and declare some of Scripture’s teaching on divorce.
These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.
• Suppose a man enters into marriage with a woman, but she does not please him because he finds something objectionable about her, and so he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house; she then leaves his house and goes off to become another man’s wife. Then suppose the second man dislikes her, writes her a bill of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house (or the second man who married her dies); her first husband, who sent her away, is not permitted to take her again to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that would be abhorrent to the Lord, and you shall not bring guilt on the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession. (Deut. 24.1-4 NRSV)
• … I hate divorce, says the Lord … So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless. (Malachi 2.16 NRSV)
• It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt. 5.31-32 NIV)
• Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. … Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matt. 19.3-6,8-9 NIV)
• Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. (Mark 10.11-12 NRSV)
• To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. (1 Cor. 7.10-11 NIV)
Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.
1. Brainstorm two lists: (a) one of physical things that break easily and (b) one of things hard to break.
2. “When I’m hurting in a big way, one of the most comforting and truly helpful things to me is to _____.”
These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.
1. God knows very well what divorce is like for he has been through one himself. Read Jeremiah 3.6-10.
2. Read Leviticus 20.10-16. Do these texts help inform your understanding of the meaning of the phrase “except for sexual immorality” in Matt. 19.9 (especially in light of the original question in 19.3)? Explain.
These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.
1. Consider all the hurt you’ve known (and/or experienced) from divorce. Why would God hate divorce?
2. Engage: “Jesus is simultaneously harder, and easier, on divorce than many Christians are today.”
3. Some see adultery as “the only Scriptural reason for divorce.” What then of abuse, abandonment, etc.
4. What can disciples do to minister rightly and well to the divorced? What must Christians not do? Why?
These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.
1. For your mate’s sake, strive to eliminate the vocabulary of divorce, or threats of such, from your speech.
2. Watch the lives of, and seek wisdom from, those who have enjoyed a healthy marriage for many years.