"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman ..." (Luke 16:18)

"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Luke 16:18)

Is Jesus really saying that marrying a divorced woman is adultery?

This statement by Jesus in Luke is out of context with the rest of his discussion. Furthermore, the context of his statement is clarified in Mark 10:
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."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."When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. (Mark 10:2-11)
This gives us the context of Jesus' statement in Luke. Jesus is responding to challenges by Pharisees - who were trying to test Jesus - or rather, trap him so they could find him guilty of blasphemy.

But within the exchange laid out in Mark we find an important point about Jesus' statement:
"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law."

Does this apply today?

Thus we find that Jesus taught the importance of time, circumstance, and audience when it comes to the teachings of God's representatives. Moses, who was God's representative and teacher to those people, understood the condition of their hearts and this condition was assumed within his instruction.

So is Jesus taking a harder stance than Moses? No. It is understood by Jesus' statement in Mark that ultimately, God is pleased by honoring the marriage commitment.

After all, pleasing the Supreme Being is the ultimate goal of all the teachings of Moses, all the Prophets, and what Jesus really taught:
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:50)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
In the case of marriage, pleasing God means doing what is possible to honor the marriage commitment and thus honor the system that the Supreme Being set up. And since marriage is a system set up by the Supreme Being, we can also honor the Supreme Being by honoring that system - and thereby honoring our commitment.

Therein we find the basis for exceptions. A marriage that interferes with our spiritual growth or our service to God is an example of such an exception.

This is because pleasing the Supreme Being is the sum and substance of all the instructions laid out in Scripture and by His representatives.

Many of us work hard to please those around us. We may want to please parents, kids, neighbors, bosses, workmates, fans, spouses, and friends. Some of us work hard all our lives to please such people. Yet all of these efforts are in vain. Why?

Because others will never have the depth of understanding of what we went through to please them. And they will never be satisfied with what we do for them. Why? Because our pleasing them does not bring them fulfillment - and thus they are always seeking more from us no matter how hard we try to please them.

Is it ever enough?

No matter how hard we work and no matter what we accomplish, it is never enough. Everyone always wants more from us.

Why is this so? Because first of all, each of us is not the physical body we are temporarily residing in. Thus, no matter what these physical bodies receive in terms of attention, pleasure sensation, or comfort - it will not satisfy us.

We might compare this to a person who feels sick one morning - and gets into his car and drives it to an auto repair shop. There, workers may fix any problems with the engine. They might even clean the car, buff it, make it smell good, fill it up with gas and check the oil and fluids. But when the driver gets back into the car, he will still feel sick. The workers may have fixed the car, but that doesn't do anything for the driver's sickness.

It is like this for the spirit-person who temporarily resides within a physical body. No matter how that physical body may be cared for or pleased by others, the spirit-person within is never satisfied.

What can make us happy then?

The spirit-person within is only satisfied when we are tasting love for the Supreme Being. When we are involved in our original loving relationship with God we become fulfilled.

And what is the central component of any loving relationship? Pleasing the one we love. Love means wanting to please the one we love.

Jesus stated this clearly about his own relationship with God:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
Jesus is most interested in pleasing the Supreme Being. Why? Because Jesus loves the Supreme Being. Jesus is involved in a loving relationship with God. So he wants to please the one he loves.

This also provides the understanding for another of Jesus' statements - one that has been grossly misinterpreted by those who have no entrance into the loving relationship between Jesus and God:
"I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
When a person loves another person, there is a oneness between them. What is that oneness? It is a oneness of love. A oneness of will. Jesus is one with the Supreme Being because Jesus seeks to please the Supreme Being and thus they have the same wills. The same desires. What God desires, Jesus also desires. So there is a oneness between them.

This doesn't mean they become the same person - as many have incorrectly proposed. Just as two people who marry each other will have a oneness - they will still be two individuals. If Jesus is God, then who did Jesus pray to? And why would he also say as stated above, "for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." Simply to be sent by someone necessitates there being two individuals - the sender and the one who is sent.

But when one understands the loving relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being, we can see the nature of their oneness. It is a oneness of love.

Jesus didn't just love God and keep it to himself either. He wanted others to also love the Supreme Being. He wanted others to have the same type of loving relationship that he had with God. 

This is because Jesus knew that having a loving relationship with God will make us happy. And because he loves us, he wants us to be happy.

The Supreme Being sees everything we do to try to find Him and have a relationship with Him. He sees even the smallest effort to find Him.

It is not as if God always wants more and is never satisfied. The Supreme Being is self-satisfied. He is complete within Himself. Thus He truly appreciates any effort we make to come to know Him.

And such an effort to know God - when done with sincerity - brings us closer to God.