Hard Reality Of A Hard Heart
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Kwong Wai Cheng
A while back, a sister shared that she and her husband had a fight on their wedding anniversary. So their day was spent in deep talks and resolution, resulting in them forging a stronger bond, making it their best anniversary gift to one another.
Our group of friends were both amazed and happy for the couple. I jokingly commented to the sisters that we (the wives) should pick a fight with our husbands, so that we can also get closer to our spouses. JUST JOKING!
However, I do want to explore how we can deepen our relationships with our spouses. Let us consider this passage in the Bible.
Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
“What did Moses command you?” he replied.
They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.
For the Pharisees to use the topic of divorce to test Jesus, it must have been a highly controversial issue then. But it was Moses (a mere human) who institutionalised divorce, not God. Jesus further pointed out that Moses wrote this law because the people’s “hearts were hard”.
Typically, we read this verse metaphorically and rightfully so. The people had become hard-hearted, unfeeling and cold.
But apparently, a heart can literally harden too! According to a 2016 article in the Smithsonian Magazine, normal aging, conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes, and physical trauma to the chest can trigger heart calcification, a process where heart tissues changes into bone. This happens when fibroblasts (connective tissue cells that play an important role in healing wounds after a heart injury) goes awry and become like osteoblasts (the cells that produce bone in the skeletal system). The scary thing is, calcification cannot be reversed, and will eventually lead to death.
This gives me an insight to why Moses permitted divorce. The disease of sin and the struggles of life can deal heavy blows to the heart. Just as a literally hardened heart is irreversible, some emotional hurts cannot be undone. Perhaps Moses wanted to give the people a way out, to save the heart of the faithful…
But since marriage is a union of two imperfect sinners, conflicts and hurts are bound to happen. So how do we prevent these emotional injuries from turning into “heart calcification”?
Jesus gave this answer:
“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark10:6-9)
God’s plan is union. God meant for married couples to be one. “One” looks deceptively simple, yet I feel it is actually the hardest thing to do, virtually impossible! Couples are still inherently two separate individuals. We are not robots that could be programmed as “one”, nor can we forcibly turn our partners into copies of ourselves (though some might like this idea)!
Perhaps the answer is not about couples becoming exactly the same, but becoming like Christ as a couple. Consider this aspect of our Lord:
“…He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt, and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right. He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped until he’s finished his work — to set things right on earth...” (Isaiah 42:3-4, MSG)
Jesus was never harsh or dismissive, even towards his enemies. He never quit caring even till his dying breath. He is the ONE that makes couples one. It is his perfect love, that teaches us how to love our spouse.
I am reminded about the concept of “love connection” that was taught to us during the I Choose Us marriage classes. While some of the exercises were rather painful to do, they challenged me to look at myself first, before blaming my spouse; to reconsider some of our routines and habits which may be damaging to our marriage; and to communicate humbly and vulnerably to each other so that we achieve healing and reconnection.
Going back to the Pharisees, they asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” The question that I would like to ask all of us is: are we like the Pharisees who seek what is lawful (right and wrong) in our marriage, or are we like Jesus who seeks what it is loving? Loving can mean holding on, or letting go. But when we love, we are actually seeking healing connections, forgiveness and reconciliation; first within ourselves, and then with our spouse.
A hard heart is irreversible, but the condition is preventable, because we have Christ’s love.
Kwong Wai Cheng
Wai Cheng is fascinated with words, especially the Word. Her life has always been revolving around words/Word, in one way or another. And she hopes to always hold fast to the Word, to draw strength and gain wisdom, to do the right things in God's sight. Wai Cheng has been a member of Central Christian Church since her campus days.