“Haven’t you read that at the beginning, the Creator ‘made ...” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, '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." (Matthew 19:4-6)

Why were the Pharisees testing Jesus?

The reason this was a test is that the institutional temple organization of Pharisees and Sadducees had a strict code of ethics at that time, that had been interpreted from the scripture of the prophets. We can contrast this with Jesus’ comment about Moses, pointing out that Moses’ law was based upon the situation and circumstances among that particular society:
“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard." (Matt. 19:8)
This illustrates the importance of time and circumstance when it comes to the teachings of God's representatives. The time and circumstance and current society as these teachings are to be considered.

Yet at the same time, there are parts of their teachings that apply universally, regardless of the time and circumstance. The primary of these was taught by Moses and Jesus:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:37-38)
Jesus did not make up this teaching. He was quoting Moses, from Deuteronomy 6:5. This was also Moses' central teaching. Moses restated this elsewhere:
"Love the LORD your God and keep His requirements, His decrees, his laws and His commands always." (Deut. 11:1)

"So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul—" (Deut. 11:13)

"If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to Him—" (Deut. 11:22)

"because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the LORD your God and to walk always in obedience to Him—then you are to set aside three more cities." (Deut. 19:9)

"For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess." (Deut. 30:16)

"and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deut. 30:20)

"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Josua 22:5)

"So be very careful to love the LORD your God." (Josua 23:11)
We see from the last two verses that Joshua - who was Moses' student - also taught this principle. All of the Prophets also taught this - though some were misquoted as teaching to "fear God" - translated from the Hebrew word יָרֵא (yare') - which also means to "revere" or "honor" or "be awed" according to the lexicon.

Why were they so misunderstood?

This point underscores the problem that most organized religious institutions have fallen into. They suffer from a lack of potency because they are attempting to portray the teachings of prior living representatives of God using people who have been elected by men rather than chosen by God.

The democratic or council process of electing a priest, pope, cardinal, minister, reverend, rabbi, imam, or whatever the title given is not sanctioned by God. Men have determined this process, not God. Men have developed these organized assemblies, not God. And it is the men (and women) within these assemblies that are choosing their teacher.

What kind of teacher does this determine, we might ask? The democratic process chooses teachers that teach what those people who chose them want them to teach.

But couldn't this also be what God will teach? Can't an assembly of people portray God's will?

Groups of people can't represent God by default. Because group decisions require negotiation and compromise, they cannot represent God's will. God's will is God's will and it cannot be negotiated or compromised and remain God's will. God's will comes from God. It cannot be negotiated or compromised.

Groups of people have been responsible for so many of the atrocities that have been conducted against others, including the tortures and murders of the Spanish Inquisition, the racial brutality of the Ku Klux Klan and many other acts of terrorism in the name of religion, some of which continue today.

These are all conducted by groups of people who have elected their leaders.

This process of teaching through committee has turned nearly every religious organization into a politically-oriented organization, whose teachings are founded upon continuing and growing the membership of the organization rather than teaching us how to develop love for God.

We should note that just about every religion today is based upon the teachings of someone who taught outside of the organized religions of their day. They were not elected to their position of leadership. This is true of Moses, Abraham, Jacob, David, Job, Francis of Assisi and of course Jesus.

We should also note that Jesus received his baptism from John the Baptist, who also taught outside the confines of any organized religious group.

It is not that organizations are necessarily bad. But a religious organization whose leaders or teachers are chosen by councils of men/women rather than God is an empty organization. This organization has no life: no substance. Why? Because those teachers are not representing the Living God. They are representing the people who elected them.

Why did these sects become so political?

Some that partially followed one of God's messengers also had desires for power and prestige. They responded by organizing “religious” organizations based on their own interpretations (unsupported by previous representatives of God). They used those interpretations to create an organizational power structure.

For example, some organizations gained power by predicting that the world will end soon. In the case of the Church of Later Day Saints, even though Joseph Smith's end of the world prediction (1890) didn't come true, the religious organization continued long after the date the world was supposed to have ended. Indeed, they have set many dates that the world will end that came and passed.

Making rouge interpretations of scripture to gather followers and accumulate power and authority has been taking place throughout modern history. Taking certain teachings out of context in order to encourage fear or other emotional response is a strategy that has been used historically to formulate organizational authority.

This is precisely how most churches were formed over the centuries, and exactly what the Romans did to organize and control the Christian religion during the fourth century through the Councils of Nicaea. The goal of these councils was specific: To organize Christianity under Rome’s authority so that the Empire could politically control the Christian movement.

Out of the first Nicaea council came specific interpretations called the Nicene Creed. These became the official tenets of this sectarian institution of the church, and anyone not abiding by or teaching those teachings was killed or thrown into prison. They also selected and manipulated the gospels and assembled the Bible while destroying or hiding other manuscripts. They burned and pillaged many libraries, destroying so many scriptures in the name of organizing or unifying the church: for political purposes, in other words.

As a result, the teachings of many of today's organized sects, including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Assyrian, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran and Protestant teachings, are all based on this politically-established Nicene Creed - determined by a council of men under political pressure exerted by the Roman Emperor.

Jesus showed us by example how these types of organizations were not to be followed. He made clear in his teachings that the institutional temple organizations of those days, run by Pharisees and Sadducees, were political and ecclesiastical, and riled against them many times.

Jesus was criticizing the functionality and structure of the same kind of politically-derived ‘religious’ organizations that we now see today who teach in the name of Jesus.

The sectarian churches of today aren’t the only politically-driven sectarian institutions. Nearly all the faiths have developed politically-driven sect organizations. Many of these institutions, in fact, now rule or exert control over their government in some countries. Some are so politically active that they actively control the population and suppress religious freedom rather than support it.

Many of these operate as fanatical groups that effectively try to force people to worship God.

Can someone be forced to love God?

This brings to question whether forcing someone to worship God has any merit. Now consider, if God wanted to force us to worship Him, He could certainly do it, because He is, after all, God.

The only way a person can love and worship God is if they can choose to do so. Love necessitates freedom. God gave us the freedom to worship Him or not within the physical world. Those who try to take away that freedom do not have faith that God is ultimately in control.

The reason why these Pharisees are testing Jesus is that they were trying to remove Jesus' authority. They were trying to discredit Jesus. Because Jesus’ teachings of love for God and doing the will of God threatened their organizational control over the people, they sought to damage his reputation by finding conflicts between his teachings and those of the prophets.

Unfortunately, they didn't realize that Jesus' authority didn't come from Jesus - it came directly from God:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)