Ironically the two individuals in the Scriptures, who have the most to say the most about marriage, are historically considered to never have been married (Jesus and the apostle Paul). Yet people asked them about marriage often enough to make the cut in the Bible. They didn’t use lack of experience as an excuse to not share their thoughts. Consistent with one another Jesus and Paul said/implied a few things when speaking about marriage. 1) Marriage is between a man and a woman because it is symbolic of the mystery of Christ and the Church. (It’s more complex than a right yet not quite a sacrament because people outside of Christianity who marry are still regarded by all to be married) 2) Marriage is difficult and without a heart faithfulness to the end it would save you a lot of trouble and heartache to never marry at all, and 3) If you have a sex drive it would save you trouble and from sin by embracing the gift of marriage.
Without debating about whether the world or the church holds to any of these opinions currently this is what Paul and Jesus said. It’s as simple as if you honor scripture and what Jesus says than there isn’t much to argue. What is worth commenting on is how the world and religious minded set traps for Jesus and perhaps even Paul to get them to say something not founded in Truth and love. They did however want confirmation through a legal system for their actions; laws developed as a result of sin which further shaped a worldview which led them to ask a question in Matthew 19.
A group of Pharisees came to test Jesus by asking him about whether divorce is lawful. Jesus very gently sets them straight by recounting the simple and beautiful truth of God’s design for matrimony. He doesn’t address the divorce question because Jesus is sensitive about separation and doesn’t want to entertain thoughts about it. They press him, “Why then did Moses command that man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus says still gently, “… your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” In other words a hardened heart looks for a way to do something with God’s gifts without conforming to God’s will. He goes onto explain the implications of divorce except in the case of one spouses immorality further driving home the point that He values faithfulness.
The disciples were there reflecting about this conversation and conclude that it’s better to not marry at all then to deal with the trial and temptation of divorce. Peter who was married at the time managed to endure being a disciple and stay married. Jesus concludes by no longer addressing the hard of heart but addressing those who followed Him that had hopes for contentment in their marital status. He says that desire or lack of desire for marriage and its benefits are gifts. After listing off the reasons as to why one does not marry Jesus says, “The one who can accept this should accept it,” without making any further clarifying remarks.
With one statement he leaves His hearers with a question to figure out in their own hearts. Whatever your desire receive it as a gift so long as I’m the gone giving it to you. Don’t try and take it in your own time because you’ll be spinning your wheels and don’t go about it some other way and don’t let your heart get hard. Regardless of abuse, family history, perverted worldview, disappointment; He wants to give us a tender heart towards His will, another gift. For His soon to be bride Jesus faced shame scorn nakedness while she was still steeped in sin. He could have had a hard heart easily on His way to the cross, but he obeyed His Father’s will and the promise that His betrothed would get herself ready for a wedding in light of His resurrection. This, not so ironically, is easy for me to accept.