Tattoos and Divorce
Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Matthew 19:8
I grew up in a time and place where tattoos were taboo, being worn only by military personnel and bad boys. I was neither. Tattoos are much more common now, but it’s still hard to shake that feeling of rebellion that I associate with them. So, naturally, there is a part of me that wants one. I just can’t quite do it though, because I know how fickle I am. I’m passionate about my favorite song, so I play it repeatedly until I’m sick of it. I had a favorite shirt in fifth grade that I wore daily until I realized how disgusting that was. I’m afraid it would be the same with a tattoo. I’d do it, and then, in five or ten years, I’d be sick of it. I lack the commitment for a tattoo.
Jesus’ audience had a similar problem with commitment in today’s passage. In it, the Pharisees interrogated Jesus about his views on divorce. Jesus answered that marriage was permanent, to which the Pharisees objected that Moses allowed divorce. Do you know better than Moses?
Jesus said that Moses allowed divorce (with a simple certificate), because his people’s attitude had become so lax about marriage. Like me, they were fickle, making flippant commitments and then tiring of them. They married, got bored, and just changed spouses. Jesus said it was not meant to be this way, but over time, the marriage commitment crumbled. He went on to say that divorce was adultery, which would have bothered the Pharisees as adultery was a big deal. To us though, sex outside of marriage is not so shocking. Relegating sex only to marriage is severely outdated.
This is Jesus point, I think. We have grown so lax in our commitment to marriage, that it is far less permanent than a tattoo. When we tire of it, we simply take it off and put on a new one.
This isn’t about me pointing to another’s failed marriage. This is about me taking mine seriously. To live as God intended from the beginning, I must live as one with my wife. Daily, I must abandon my natural tendency to live for my self-destructive ways and I must pursue the good of my marriage. That is the commitment God intended from the beginning.