Let No Man Put Asunder


3/3/20222 min read

Matthew 19:6 offers a stirring rebuke for those authoritarian pastors that seek to separate husbands and wives for their petty control issues. I usually provide some kind of a brief introduction, but this issue boils my blood.

"Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19:6).

Today I had a conversation with a dear friend. He’s older than me by at least ten years but is probably more mature in the faith than me by at least fifty. I love him, and I’m grateful for him in my life. Today he called me seeking counsel. To say I was blessed is beyond words.

He recounted a sad tale that I’m all too familiar with, but I wish I wasn’t.

The details are not important other than the issue of the authoritarian pastor having gotten to the husband and in this, he has set a wedge between the husband the wife. She wants to leave. He has been browbeaten into staying and demands she stay as well.

I know how this goes. I’ve seen it, and I’ve lived it. It was successfully done to me, and in the end, successfully undone. We got out, and we escaped the tyranny of the pastor that beats up on one or the other, and sometimes both. But we didn’t get away scot-free. There is always a price to pay. It has taken hard work to restore what the locusts have eaten, but we serve a gracious God that takes joy in restoring (Joel 2:25).

The issue is the judgment that these “pastors” will someday face for how badly they’ve wounded God’s precious sheep. Imagine if it was so bad it leads to divorce? Our text is simple to understand. I’m reciting it in the King James Version. Why? Because it’s so beautiful how it is phrased. I love this word “asunder” it simply means to separate.

Commentator John Nolland has some strong words:

Jesus’ initial comment focusses sharply on the language of ‘one flesh’: ‘no longer two but one flesh’ aligns divorce with the violence of something like mutilation, amputation, or dismemberment. The image then changes to that of two creatures yoked together by God. In marriage God makes of a man and woman a linked pair, partnered for the needs, responsibilities, and eventualities of life. Presumably God is the one who yokes because the union between man and woman described in Gn. 2:24 is seen to be based on the way God created men and women; it is a union which has the naturalness of a divinely appointed order of things. Certainly the state of being yoked together is understood as involving something that transcends the simple implementation of marriage vows. Jesus’ words set up an antithesis between God as the one who unites and the married man as the one who all too often in the practice of Jesus’ day separates.[1]

If it is God that brings a husband and wife together how dare a man think he can separate the two. It is reprehensible for any pastor to step between a husband and a wife. I pray the Lord brings conviction before He brings judgment.

[1] John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005), 773.