31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus expects his followers to be people of truth, honesty, and integrity. When we say something, it ought to mean something. Jesus, therefore, condemns the practice of oath-making that allows the truthfulness of our claims to be graded on the seriousness of the oaths we take. Instead, he wants us to simply say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and mean it. This applies to our marriage vows too. Instead of looking for reasons to break our commitments, he expects that we gladly keep them. Additional reasons for this are found in Jesus’s view of marriage as expanded in Matthew 19:3-9. Marriage is a sacred institution that God created. Marriage is the inseparable union of two individuals becoming one. And, this union is actually performed by God Himself.
This high view of marriage and this incredible demand for truthfulness could feel overwhelming and many might be tempted to despair. Nonetheless, we should say with the disciples, ‘Lord, where else could we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (John 6:68 paraphrased). The good news of the gospel is that in drawing closer to the preacher of this sermon, we actually become more like him. Through our ongoing interaction with the Lord, we can actually become more honest, truthful, and resolved in our commitments.
- How does this text help us to have a high view of marriage?
- How does Jesus’ call to integrity apply to marriage vows?
- How can we seek to uphold the value of marriage in our society in a manner that reflects the heart of Christ?
- What factors influence whether you tell the full truth?
- How can you grow to be a person of integrity and honesty?
To view a downloadable version of these discussion questions, please click the button below.