Sunday, June 12, 2011

Biblical Teaching on Divorce, part 2

Read part 1 before this.

Deut. 24:1–4 (NIV)
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 (lit. “divorcement”), gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce (lit. “divorcement”), gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Matt 5:31 (NIV) [Can I just say, the teaching of this passage about the connection between "divorce" and adultery is 100% more clear if you differentiate between "divorce" and "sending away"?]
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife (απολυω; lit. “sends his wife away”) must give her a certificate of divorce (αποστασιον; lit. legal divorce).’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife (απολυω; lit. “sends his wife away”), except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman (απολυω; lit. “one who was sent away by her husband”; not technically divorced) commits adultery.

Matt 19:3–12 (NIV)
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife (απολυω; lit. “send his wife away”) 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 (χωριζω; lit. “to separate; to divide”).”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce (αποστασιον; lit. legal divorce) and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives (απολυω; lit. “send your wives away”) because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife (απολυω; lit. “sends his wife away”), except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Mark 10:2–12 (NIV)
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife (απολυω; lit. “send his wife away”)?”

“What did Moses command you?” he replied.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce (αποστασιον; lit. legal 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 (χωριζω; lit. “to separate; to divide”).”

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife (απολυω; lit. “send his wife away”) and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband (απολυω; lit. “send her husband away”) and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

What can we learn from this?

PRINCIPLE #3:
God intended marriage to be permanent, but allows legal divorce (dissolution of marriage) because he knows that humanity’s heart is sinful.

PRINCIPLE #4: Divorce (dissolution of marriage) provides a way for the abandoned spouse to remarry. For women in the third world and the ancient world, marriage means/meant protection from poverty and danger. If the woman’s husband only separates from her, she can’t remarry and has very few options to provide for herself and her children.