There is an odd little verse that always caught my attention as a child. It was a verse that addresses the issue of divorce in the Bible and its descriptive language made me puzzle over what it meant. Jesus is being tested by the crowd He is preaching to and someone asks Him about divorce. To the question Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning." (Matthew 19:8) It was that part about the men having hard hearts. It clearly was a bad thing and I think I equated it to the Israelite men in the Old Testament who traveled through the dessert for forty years because they complained too much. When you are a kid, life often feels pretty black and white. We think it easy to determine right from wrong.
Do you know why Moses allowed the men to divorce their wives in those ancient times? The option of divorce was enacted so men would not hurt, be cruel or even murder the wives they no longer wanted. It was a protection plan for the women who lived in a patriarchal society that gave women very few rights. But what is a hard heart? What causes someone to have a hard heart? It is funny how the longer we live, the wider our perspective becomes.
Hard hearts are not a male issue. All people can get a hard heart unintentionally. We get hurt and sometimes our hearts fail to heal. We get busy and distracted and one day we find ourselves struggling with the relationships that mean the most to us. Everyone is susceptible to a hard heart. We just need to set aside our pride and ask God to soften our hearts so that we can love well the people in our lives.
Beginning June 6, we will start a new sermon series called Marriage and Other Difficult Relationships. I hope you will join us in worship as we take a practical look at how we can grow and strengthen the relationships God has given to us.