Protocols Are Not Permission Slips

  • Matthew 19:7 “They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
  • 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”
  • Mark 10:4 “And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
  • 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.”

During one of my first years in evangelism, I was asked to preach a financial conference. I focused on God’s views against debt. (See Surety [mortgages, co-signs, etc…] and Usury [debt] under Money Management series.) After a couple of days, some were very much opposed to what the Bible was teaching against debt, and were upset with me. One man’s reasoning was, “I realize that God had guidelines for debt, but I just believe that God had rules for debt because God accepts His people being in debt.” That was admittedly the first time I had heard such twisted logic. Recently, the matter of mandatory face masks was brought up, a believer brought up Lev. 13:45. His interpretation was, “Since God mentions face coverings for lepers, we should all wear face masks.” There was that misstep of logic again. (See Medical Face Masks Pt. 1, 2, and 3 under Mandatory Face Coverings series.)

My friends, just because God had regulations for divorce or debt or anything else in Scripture does not give us permission to commit the crimes He had rules against. That does not make sense. God had laws and protocols for murder, lying, cheating, fornication, adultery, divorce, etc…. This does not give believers permission to commit those crimes anymore than a parent setting specific consequences for their child’s misbehavior equates to the parent’s condoning of the child’s misbehavior. Just because Highway Patrol has a Haz-Mat Spill Protocol does not mean they are endorsing or encouraging haz-mat spills!

The Pharisees were using this logic with Jesus in Mt. 19 and Mk. 10 concerning divorce. The Pharisees in trying to “tempt” Jesus (Mk. 10:2) used the twisted logic that sense Moses issued procedures handling the Jews’ divorces (“a writing of divorcement”) then divorce was right and honorable to God. However, this was not Jesus’ answer when asked straight up about divorce. In Mt. 19:3, Jesus was asked, “Is it lawful” to divorce. Please notice Jesus immediate and, we must emphasize, continual answers.

  • vs. 4 – “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female…”
  • vs. 5 – “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”
  • vs. 6 – “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.”
  • vs. 6 – “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Jesus’ stance on divorce is loud and clear…to those who want to receive it and haven’t hardened their heart. Even after the Pharisees brought Moses’ “precept” (Mk. 10:5) for divorce as an excuse for divorce, Jesus repeated:

  • vs. 8 – “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” (For vs. 9, read the entire Divorce and Remarriage series.)

Jesus repeatedly made clear that God was against divorce. Even though Moses “suffered” divorce to take place, God was and still is against divorce. Jesus made clear that “a bill of divorce” is not a permission slip to “put asunder” what “God hath joined together”. God’s perfect Word (and the excellent KJV) is so accurate to use the word “suffered”. The word is still similarly used when one is suffering a loss today. We mean the hurting soul is enduring their pain and grief. By suffering divorce, Moses was enduring the pain that divorce would cause Israel. But why? Because God’s regulations on divorce stopped further sins like wife swapping from becoming a norm and destroying Israel. Nonetheless, the “lesser” sin of divorce was still a sin.

Notice that it was the hardness of the Jews’ hearts (vs. 8) that required laws regulating divorce to be written. Don’t miss this. The Jews’ hardness of heart was a constant sin God needed to address with Israel (Ex. 32:9; Deut. 31:27; Jer. 17:23). Hardness of heart meant the Jews continually went against what God commanded. In this case, God was against divorce. He made it very clear that He hated it (Mal. 2:16). Yet, there were Jews, like the Pharisees, who hardened their heart against God’s opposition to divorce just as they had rebelled against all of God’s other laws. Since those Jews continued to ignore God’s commands against divorce (as well as His other laws), God used Moses to lay down guidelines to address the Jews’ divorce (and myriad other sins).

In conclusion, God’s protocols and laws of conduct throughout His Word definitely do not give permission for believers to hardheartedly rebel against God’s laws and commit the very sins and crimes God regulates and opposes.