What therefore God hath joined together let man not put asunder (Mark 10:9 KJV).
Asunder. We don’t use that word much anymore. Of course, Jesus didn’t use it either. When Jesus said “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” he said it in Aramaic. The words were written down in Greek and eventually made it to the good ol’ King James Bible making use of the now defunct “asunder.” The NIV Bible renders those words with an underwhelming “let man not separate.” It may sound old, but I like “asunder.”
I had been thinking about how and what to write about this when my phone rang late this afternoon. My neighbor Robbie didn’t waste any time with pleasantries. “Did you know you lost a tree?” No, I didn’t know.
For several minutes a good hard rain had been falling, and for a short while the rain was accompanied by some powerful winds. I had been checking my weather radio and surfing channels looking for some weather warnings. There were none for Cobb County, so I was feeling at ease and thankful for the rain. Until the phone call came.
I looked into my back yard and saw the huge wad of earth and the massive muddy tangle of roots. A gnarled mess of branches stretched across my back neighbor’s yard. Seems he lost some gutter but his roof is fine. The real damage may not be known yet, but it appears to me that things could be much worse.
So here I sit in the study, thinking about “asunder” and looking out on the fallen majesty of that large tree. The connection, at least in my mind at this moment, can’t be avoided. Storms tear things asunder. Storms damage and destroy, coming up quickly, seemingly out of nowhere.
Marriages are sometimes ravaged the same way. That which was never anticipated and which could never be subject to our control comes with fury and leaves its damage.
What Jesus warned against was the kind of damage that we cause directly. To “put asunder” is to drive a wedge in our own marriages (and certainly anyone else’s). Jesus prohibits any thing we might do to divide what God has joined. Life’s storms will come. That’s a metaphor we understand, and for some of you it’s more than metaphor. It is experience.
But let us never put asunder what God has joined. Not by our hurry and busy-ness, not by fatigue and neglect, not by nurturing hurt feelings and stoking old wounds, not by refusing to communicate, not by insisting on our own way.
Violent storms and fallen trees may damage a house. But to “put asunder what God has joined” destroys a home. The repair work in such cases is far more difficult. Is there anything that might be driving a wedge in your marriage, perhaps something subtle and gradual – not obvious like a gale force wind? Carefully tend the union in which God has placed you and never put asunder what God has joined.
Lord Jesus, we easily let small things drive us asunder. They accumulate and form a chasm, dividing what you have joined. Forgive us and teach us to forgive. Strengthen us and help us to give strength and encouragement to each other. Shelter us in life’s storms, and make firm the union you created by the presence of your Spirit in our lives and in our homes, we pray. Amen.