The Master of Marriage

Title: The Master of Marriage

Bible Book: Matthew 19 : 3-6

Author: Terry Trivette

Subject: Marriage; Family; Home



In an effort to combat domestic abuse, a legislator in Massachusetts named Barbara Gray, suggested that marriage licenses should come with a warning. She filed a bill that would require each Massachusetts marriage license to have a warning printed on them stating that abusing one’s spouse is a crime.i

If you look at the number of divorces, and if you observe the number of unhealthy and unhappy marriages, you might agree, that a marriage license should come with a warning label. Comedian Rodney Dangerfield once said, “My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” I heard about a little girl who had heard the story of Snow White for the first time at kindergarten. She rushed home and began to tell the story to her mother. She told about Prince Charming coming to rescue Snow White and she said, “Do you know what happened then?” The mother said, “They lived happily ever after?” The little girl frowned and said, “No, they got married.”

Unfortunately, we live in a culture where traditional marriage is under assault, and is often viewed as nothing more than a legal contract that can be broken at the whim or displeasure of either partner.

This degraded and cheapened view of marriage is not unique to our culture. In fact, even in the first century there were those who tried to undermine the significance and spiritual dignity of marriage. In Matthew 19:3, it says, “The Pharisees also came unto [Jesus], tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”

Among the Jewish religious authorities of Christ’s day, there was a heated debate regarding the law of Moses on marriage and divorce. There was one group who said that divorce should only occur in the most extreme cases. There was another group who felt like a man should be able to divorce his wife for virtually any reason.

In our text, the Pharisees tried to drag Jesus into this argument. Jesus did not fall for their trap, but what they succeeded in doing was giving to us a wonderful passage in which the Master gives His message on marriage.

For those who know the Lord Jesus, and who desire to live under His lordship, what Christ has to say about marriage is of the utmost importance. His marriage counseling is perfect, and it is absolutely free.

In this text, we find three truths that our Lord gives us with regard to the pattern and process of a godly marriage. Notice these truths with me. First of all, we see that:

I. Jesus Defines The Foundation Of Marriage

In today’s world, there is a lot of talk about the definition of marriage. Various groups are trying desperately to reshape the traditional idea of marriage.

While the definition of marriage is being debated in our culture, it is important that we look to the Scriptures, because in our text we find Jesus very clearly stating His position on the definition of marriage

For the church, no matter how marriage may be redefined by a permissive, pagan, postmodern culture, the word of Christ is the final authority for faith and practice. What He says about an issue is the only opinion that matters.

With that being said, look at our text, and notice what Jesus says about the foundational principles of marriage. First of all, He tells us about:

A. The Creation of Marriage

When asked about the issue of marriage, Jesus went back to the Garden of Eden, and to the creation of the very first man and woman. Look in our text, and notice verse 4. It says, “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.”

The first couple – the first marital union – took place at the very beginning of human history. Adam and Eve are not just the parents of the human race; they are also the pattern for the institution of marriage.

Today, there are judges in courts, and politicians in statehouses who feel like they have the power and the right to redefine what a marriage is. That is not only wrong; it is also terribly arrogant.

Why would a government or a society think that it has the right to redefine a principle that pre-dates them, and was established before any human laws were ever even written?

No one tries to redefine gravity, or the change the order of the seasons. These are principles and processes that predate us and that cannot be altered by our selfish desires.

In much the same way, marriage was not invented by a state. It was created by God! Man can no more redefine what a true marriage is than he can alter the orbit of the moon or the rising of the sun.

On his 50th wedding anniversary, someone asked Henry Ford the secret to his long marriage. He replied, “It is the same as my automobile business. Stick to one model.”  

If I can play off of Ford’s words, there is only one model for marriage, and that is the one created by God in the beginning. Notice something else the Lord Jesus says about the foundation of marriage. He defines not only the creation of marriage, but also:

B. The Components of Marriage

This past November, the citizens of California voted on a bill known as Proposition 8. This bill changed the constitution of the state so that the only recognized marriages in California are those between a man and a woman.

The proposition passed by a margin of 52 to 47 percent. Even though the people of the state have spoken, there are still many efforts currently going on that are seeking to overturn the constitutional amendment.

Those who support the efforts of the gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual movement would contend that marriage is a legal contract that can be undertaken by any two consenting adults, even if those two adults are homosexuals or lesbians.

They would contend that it is a legal issue, and that the government should give the same legal rights to gay couples that are given to heterosexual couples.

That argument is a flawed one because marriage is not simply a legal issue; it is a spiritual issue. If God is the creator of marriage, then He is the one who determines what a marriage is.

In our text, the Lord Jesus says, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” Remember, Jesus is referring here to the issue of marriage.

Our Lord says that the components of a marriage are a male and a female. For those who belong to Christ, this settles the question of gay marriage. There is no such thing as gay marriage.

Even if our government decided today that homosexual couples could be legally married, a marriage license would not validate those unions. The government may legalize gay marriage, but it can never legitimize gay marriage.

In the Bible, Jesus defines the foundation of marriage. He tells us that marriage is the creation of God, and it is only truly a marriage when it is between a man and a woman.

Notice a second truth we draw from the Master’s message on marriage. Notice not only that Jesus defines the foundation of marriage, but notice also secondly that:

II. Jesus Describes The Fusion Of Marriage

Look again at our text, and notice verse 5. There Jesus quotes a phrase from Genesis 2:24. He says, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”

He reiterates this point in verse 6, when He says, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.” Jesus draws again from the creation story, and says that when a man and a woman are married, a process takes place in which two individual lives are fused into one single life.

If husbands and wives could simply grasp this fundamental concept of the fusion of marriage, it would do them more good than reading a Gary Smalley book, watching Fireproof six times, and spending hours in counseling.

Jesus teaches that a biblical marriage is one in which two individuals have decided not to live individually any longer. In other words, the person who is married no longer thinks, acts, and lives as an individual. Selfishness and autonomy are replaced by selflessness and unity.

In order to illustrate this principle of the fusion of marriage, the Lord uses a couple of very interesting word pictures in this text. Notice a couple of things He reveals about the fusion of marriage. First of all, He describes the fusion of marriage as:

A. A Unifying Connection

Look again at verse 5. Jesus says, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife…” Notice that word “cleave”.

The word that is translated “cleave” is a word that literally means to be glued. It speaks of two objects, in this case people, being adhered together permanently.

Get that image in your mind. When two objects are connected and bonded together, they no longer are able to act separately and individually. What one part of the bond does ultimately and always affects the other part as well.

I know what some of you are thinking right now. You are saying to yourself, “I hear you preacher. You are telling me that I am stuck with this person for the rest of my life.”

If that is how you feel, then you are missing the point. When you are stuck with someone, then you feel like they are a burden. However, when you are connected and bonded to someone, then they are a blessing.

A burden is something you try to remove. A bond is something you try to strengthen. What a difference it would make in your marriage if you quit viewing your spouse as someone you are handcuffed to, and started seeing them as the helper and partner to which God has connected you.

I read about a couple named Ted and Bessie who celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They were both on up in their 70’s, and Ted had lost most of hearing. After their anniversary party, they sat on the front porch swing together, and watched all of their family and friends drive away.

It was quiet for a moment, and then Bessie said to Ted, “You know, Ted, I’m real proud of you.” Old Ted kind of looked at Bessie with a look of surprise, and then he answered, “Well, Bessie, I’m real tired of your too!”ii

The unifying connection of marriage is not a burden you should grow tired of; it is a bond that should get better with time. Notice something else Jesus explains about the fusion of marriage. He not only describes it as a unifying connection, but also as:

B. An Unselfish Cooperation

Look again at the text, and notice verse 6. Jesus says, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” We will come back to this statement in a moment, but first, I want you to notice that phrase “joined together”.

Those two words come from one Greek word that literally means to yoke up, or to put together under one yoke. It is the word that describes what happens when a farmer puts together a team of oxen, and yokes them under a single yoke.

When those animals are yoked together, their strength is combined, and they pull together in the same direction to accomplish the work that is given to them.

This is a wonderful illustration of the unselfish cooperation that must go on in a biblical, Christ-honoring marriage. The husband and wife must be going in the same direction, each doing their part under the yoke of marriage to accomplish what God has given them to do.

If one partner is trying to pull off in their own selfish direction, the yoke of marriage will chafe, and scald, and become burdensome. But when both partners are unselfishly pulling together in the same direction, the yoke is easy and the burden is light.

About 30 miles from Belfast, Northern Ireland is an interesting tourist attraction. It is a large and stately home called Castleward. It was built in the 1700’s, and its original owners were Bernard Ward, and his wife, Lady Anne. The house is a tourist attraction because it was built using two very different types of architecture.  

The front of the house is built in the neo-classical style, and the back of the house is built in the Gothic style. Why the two different styles? It is because Bernard and Lady Anne could not agree on how the house should be built, and so they built it with a disagreeing design. Apparently the house is not the only thing they disagreed about, because Lady Anne eventually left Bernard.iii  

The Lord Jesus explains that a good, godly marriage is not one in which the partners are trying to pull each other in their own selfish direction. Rather, it is a union, in which two people choose to unselfishly cooperate in order to go in the right direction.

There is one more truth that we find her in the Master’s message on marriage. Notice not only that Jesus defines the foundation of marriage, and Jesus describes the fusion of marriage, but notice also thirdly that:

III. Jesus Declares The Firmness Of Marriage

We read it just a moment ago, but look again at verse 6. Jesus says, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Jesus said that because marriage is a union that God establishes, no man (or woman) should ever take it upon themselves to break the marriage bond. In answering the Pharisees’ question about divorce, Jesus declared the firmness of marriage.

I read this week that in Russia, the best man in a wedding must sign the marriage contract, guaranteeing that the union will last at least 6 months, or he will pay a fine of 150 rubles.

Our Lord teaches us that the firmness of marriage is based on something more certain than a guarantee by the best man. Notice what Jesus declares about the firmness of marriage. First of all, He states that:

A. Marriages are Supernaturally Built

Yesterday I performed a wedding ceremony for a young couple that I knew from when I was a youth pastor. At the end of the ceremony, I issued the traditional pronouncement.

I said, “Forasmuch then, as you D. and Hannah, have given yourselves to each other by these vows and the giving and receiving of rings in the presence of God and these witnesses, by the authority vested in me by the state and the Word of God, it is my privilege to pronounce you husband and wife.”

That sounds nice, but Jesus indicates that it is neither the state, nor the reverend that truly joins a husband and wife together. He says in verse 6, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder [emphasis added].”

The indication of that verse is that only God can truly join a man and a woman together. Vows, rings, kisses, and cake are nice, but a real marriage is supernaturally built.

Perhaps the reason so many marriages are struggling today is because we have so many couples who are trying to build a union without the help of God?

It takes more than a house to have a home, more than children to have a family, and it takes more than saying “I do” to build a marriage. Apart from God’s supernatural help, two individuals will never be truly joined into one.

In John chapter 2, we read that the first miracle Jesus ever performed took place at a wedding. That couple had the wisdom to invite Christ to their marriage.  

I believe it would make a world of difference if more couples were wise enough to ask Jesus to bless their marriage, and to supernaturally build their union.

Jesus not only declares the firmness of marriage by indicating that marriages are supernaturally built, but notice also that he declares the firmness of marriage by teaching us that:

B. Marriages are Sinfully Broken

Look again at verse 6. Jesus says, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” The phrase “put asunder” literally means to separate, or depart from.

Here is an express command from the lips of Jesus Christ. He says that when God puts two people together in a marriage, neither of them should ever break that union, separating those two lives.

This is important advice, first of all for practical reasons. If a husband and wife have been glued together, as verse 5 indicates, then if they are ever torn apart, there will be inevitable and permanent damage.  

If you glue two pieces of paper together, you cannot tear them apart without damaging them both. So this advice from our Lord is good practical advice.

However, it is much deeper than just practical advice. This is spiritual advice, and it must be heeded by those who belong to God.

Jesus teaches us here that every broken marriage and every divorce is a sin. The Pharisees wanted to know when it was right for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus answered them, “Never. What God puts together no man should break.”

It is never right to get a divorce. You say, “But wait, what about in the case of adultery?” In the case of adultery, you still have sin! Therefore I repeat: It is never right to get a divorce!

In America, the average cost for a wedding is now $19,104, not including the ring and the honeymoon. In most counties in America, that same marriage can be broken by divorce for around $300.

Those figures are misleading, however. There is a price for divorce that cannot be measured financially. There is an emotional toll that is never quite erased. There are scars that never quite heal.

Even more than that, there is the spiritual cost. Those who choose to divorce, do so in disobedience to the commands of Christ Himself. Though He will forgive all sin, all sin still has a price! Marriages are sinfully and therefore painfully broken!


For years we have heard that “half of all marriages in a America end in divorce.” While that figure is somewhat skewed, the statistics are not encouraging.  

Marriages that begin this year will have a 41 to 43 percent chance of ending in divorce.iv The longer a couple has been married, the less likely divorce becomes.

With that said, the breakdown of marriage is still an epidemic as the divorce rate is more than double what it was in 1960.v What we as believers must do is to reexamine what our Lord says to us about marriage.

Divorce may be easy and acceptable in our society, but the Word of God has not changed its stance on the issue of marriage. We as couples must decide that we are going to seek to have a marriage that mirrors the Word rather than the world.

Husbands and wives must submit to the authority of Christ, and begin to work together on the bond of their relationship. Selfish desires and childish fights must be put aside as we work together to serve the Lord and love one another.

Marriage is a divine institution. For that reason, what the Master says about marriage is of the utmost importance to those who are married.

i McHenry, Raymond, McHenry’s Stories for the Soul, (Hendrickson Publishing, Peabody, MA, 2001), p. 177-178

ii Swindoll, Charles, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, (Word Publishing, Nashville, 1998), p. 361

iii Perfect Illustrations, (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 2002), p. 173-174

iv Stanton, Glenn T., Do Half of all American Marriages Actually End in Divorce? , Focus on the Family’s Issue Analysis site, accessed 3/7/09,

v Ibid

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