Today's verses are Mark 10:10-12: "And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'" The disciples and Jesus enter a private house. The disciples desire further instruction and insight into his teaching on marriage and divorce. Here, in these verses, Jesus does not include what is commonly called the "exception clause," as is found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, where Jesus clearly taught that if one member of the marriage committed "sexual immorality" (adultery), it was permissible for divorce to occur.
Jesus probably did not teach it here because there was no argument among Jews, Greeks or Romans, that sexual immorality/adultery was a logical, legitimate reason for divorce to occur. Moreover, Jesus simply isn't addressing this issue here. He is, however, addressing all the other issues that people use for divorce to occur.
When these other reasons are used, Jesus is saying here, the one who leaves is causing his/her spouse to commit adultery if/when they remarry.
Interestingly, in verse 12, "and if she divorces her husband," is the only time in the Gospels where the wife is given the right to begin divorce proceedings. Here we see Jesus' heart of compassion for women to be protected by the law. Often in that day, when a husband would leave his wife, she would be forced to turn to prostitution to earn money to live. Paul echoes this same teaching in I Corinthians 7:10-11.
These verses seem extreme, prohibiting divorce in practically every situation. It is extreme...unless God values the permanence of covenant marriage between a man and a woman, as Jesus previously stated in verses 6-9, quoting God's original intent in creation before the Fall. The permanence of marriage must be essential for any civilization that desires to be stable and continue to produce good, Godly and stable children. The future of every civilization is at stake with this teaching.
The message here for all who desire to be married and those of us who are married is simple: honor your covenant commitments and vows. Work through your difficulties, no matter how difficult they may be. Even though adultery is a reason given by Jesus, (the only other one Biblically is desertion by one partner, see I Corinthians 7), it doesn't have to break apart your marriage. Forgiveness and restoration can occur, even when adultery occurs! Jesus can heal all marriages. He wants them to be permanent. He doesn't want divorce to occur! (If you've been through a divorce, please know Jesus can and will heal your own brokenness and hurt; but that's another blog for another day).
Work hard to honor your marriage vows. Fight hard to keep your marriage together. The major reason is this: it pleases the heart of our great God who created marriage for our benefit and his glory.