"Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" (Matt 19:3)
What is the biblical answer to this question?
"Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."Short version -- "No."
"Hey, wait!" some will object. "Is that all you got?" Okay, let's look further. Is it okay to divorce?
For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. (Rom 7:2)Short version -- "No."
"Come on! We know that's not true!" Okay, let's look further. Is it okay to divorce?
"I hate divorce," says the Lord, the God of Israel. (Mal 2:16)Do I really need to give you a short version here?
"No, seriously, we know this isn't the case." Well, let's see. Is it okay to get a divorce?
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. (1 Cor 7:10-11)Short version -- "No." Okay, with a little longer version, "Well, perhaps, but only if you don't remarry."
"Oh, stop! You know that's not the answer!" It is true that this isn't the only answer, but it is amazing to me that people who wish to follow Christ consider it inadequate. Scripture repeatedly gives this answer and we're not satisfied. Why is that?
So, what does Jesus say when the Pharisees had the same objection that we just did? What was Jesus's response when they said, "Stop! You know that's not the answer; you know that Moses allowed divorce."?
"Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." (Matt 19:8)There, that should make you feel better. It's okay to divorce because of the hardness of heart. Oh, wait ... that's not comforting? I don't think He meant it to be.
"So," you will say, "you're saying that we are not allowed to divorce?" No. God said He hates divorce and Jesus said that what God put together let no man separate and that divorce is a product of hard-heartedness. But, at the end of the day, there is an allowance for divorce. Why would we push it that far? Why would we wish to do that which God hates, that which is product of a hard heart?
"So," you may sigh with relief, "we can divorce and remarry." What does the Bible say? We already saw that Paul commanded ("Not I, but the Lord") that if you divorce you should remain unmarried or reconcile to your spouse. Not good enough? What else can we find?
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." (Mark 10:11-12)Jesus classifies remarriage after divorce as an act of adultery. You make the call.
I have presented a one-sided view here to a long-and-hotly-debated topic. I offer it because it is the Word of God. I offer it because it comes first from the lips of Jesus Christ. I offer it because I'm hoping that Christians want to follow Christ's instructions. I will admit that the question isn't this simple although the core of Scripture takes this view. And I will certainly stress that divorce and remarriage doesn't constitute the "unforgivable sin". Divorce and remarriage are no worse than pride or lust or the other sins we all suffer from. Yes, there is more to the question. But I'm wondering why the repeated message from Scripture that marriage is for life is not a satisfactory answer. When do we Christians decide to agree with Christ?