Jesus’ literal intolerance for the practice of divorce, as displayed in his Sermon on the Mount, takes on new meaning when viewed through a symbolic lens.
Throughout the New Testament, Christ is presented figuratively as a bridegroom, and all his followers throughout the ages (the Church) are collectively seen as his bride (John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelation 19:6-9). Or, as theologian John F. Walvoord describes it, “a bride not yet joined to her Husband.” In this spiritual relationship, Christ is the betrothed husband who has already paid the “dowry” through his death and resurrection (John 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:17-20, Hebrews 13:12), and is now preparing a place for his bride (John 14:2)—and preparing his bride for an eternal “marriage” to him (Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelation 19:6-9).
In this context, Jesus’ stringent teaching on divorce in Matthew 5:31-32 carries wonderful new significance. Jesus Christ, our eternal Bridegroom, hates divorce. He is therefore unequivocally, relentlessly committed to love and care for his Church (you and me) through any obstacle, in spite of any sin, and beyond the reaches of time itself.
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