I am a “used husband” as my wife occasionally jokes. I am okay with her joke, I have been indeed divorced. I was married on a whim, we weren’t in love and I was a cultural Christian, meaning that I was not following Jesus but would say I was a Christian if asked because my parents were Christians. I also met this girl at a party, we got wasted drunk and we started living together that night. We had no children and our union was both shallow and stupid (we would probably both agree with that assessment). I will share more some other time. Now that that is out of the way, I want to share God’s heart.
God intended for us as humans to join together as a man and wife in healthy ways and to be committed to each other. Divorce is always painful and wounding, both to ourselves and to others. Divorce is wrong. It severs a holy union. However, it is clearly permitted in Scripture but is always a last resort because it invites disaster in both our lives and the lives of others around us, our children, our family and our friends.
Mark 10:1-4 (TNIV)
1 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. 2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied. 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
Here is what Moses had to say (that was summarized in the answer of the Pharisees in verse 4):
Deuteronomy 24:1 (TNIV, Moses speaking)
If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,
Notice that Jesus asked the Pharisees what Moses “commanded”. Moses commanded what God commanded. This is found in the chapters of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.
Let me point out Moses “allowed” divorce. I found it best explained it best like this:
“Because sinful human nature made divorce inevitable, Moses instituted laws to help its victims. Under Jewish law, only a husband could initiate and carry out a divorce. The civil laws protected the women who, in that culture, were quite vulnerable when living alone. Because of Moses’ law, a man could no longer just throw his wife out–he had to write a formal letter of dismissal, a certificate of divorce, so she could remarry and reclaim her dowry. This was a radical step toward civil rights, for it made a man think twice before sending his wife away. Moses’ words gave protection to the wife and limited abuses of divorce.”
In the next couple of days we will examine this question of divorce even more, however, for today, we will rest on the fact that while divorce is not a part of God’s original plan, it is permitted. For now we will rest on these three Scriptures:
Matthew 5:32 (TNIV, Jesus speaking)
But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 19:9 (TNIV, Jesus speaking)
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
1 Corinthians 7:15 (TNIV, The Apostle Paul speaking on the subject of divorce and marriage)
But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.
FOR TODAY, let me end on this:
The splitting of a relationship and the bitterness that engulfs people’s lives, the splitting of this relationship that God intended to be lifelong and fulfilling is one of the greatest tragedies that I know–because everyone gets hurt– from adults to children, to friendships and family relationships.
God’s intention for us in the marriage relationship is to join together as one, indeed, to join together as one flesh. Jesus here is getting ready to point out the “deviant treatment” of God’s INTENTION by the Pharisees. We can come up with a million reasons why a marriage should be dissolved by divorce. What we should focus on is “the million ways to work at keeping these relationships together and healthy.
Tomorrow we will continue to examine the question of divorce.