What does the Bible say about Marriage and Divorce?
By Trevor Hartley
God created Adam and Eve the first couple who was married by God and the marriage was made for a lifetime commitment. Under Old Testament law we can take a look at what was said about marriage and divorce.
Deuteronomy is the 5th book of the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch; Deuteronomy means the second Law book which has Mosaic laws given to Israel. The laws on divorce said “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 24:1-4
Only men under these Mosaic Laws could divorce their wife, women did not have the right to divorce a man. The real meaning of divorce was never implemented under Mosaic Law.It was not until the first century when Jesus told the Jewish leaders about their insincere behavior.
Jesus explained the reason for divorce because it was being exploited by men against women for any reason or if a man no longer wanted his wife. The New Testament writers recorded when Jesus was asked about divorce, he said. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery”. Luke 16:18, and also Mark 10:11-12. Jesus answered the question in the manner it was asked without details. The Jewish leaders did not like Jesus answer.
Then Mark writes “And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Jesus explained to the Pharisees that God did not want divorce as a part of marriage; it was granted by Moses because men were bitter with harden hearts. Now Matthew records Jesus’s full explanation for a divorce. It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32.
Jesus said the grounds for divorce is sexual immorality; it is put into a category as adultery it is the most commonly used terminology; however the original Greek text porneia does translate to sexual immorality or whoredom. Sexual Immorality has a wide range of behavior like illicit sex, fornication, incest, premarital sex, and others. Immorality by itself can become a problem behavior and I will add that it can also mean when a husband who repeatedly beats his wife over time has an immoral behavior, a behavior that must not continue. The conclusion is first to reconsider before divorcing. God is not in favor of a marriage ending in divorce. Problems in a marriage mean the first option should be reconciled before divorce 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
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