What is your attitude toward divorce?


What is your attitude toward divorce? It seems inconsistent that the book of Deuteronomy allows it.


We forbid divorce because Jesus forbade it.

However, you are correct in observing the difference between Jesus’ law and Moses’. The law of Deuteronomy 24:1, that allows a man to divorce his wife with the only restriction being he could not again take her as his wife, was not laid down to allow divorce, but to control a preexisting situation. In Mark 10:2-5 Jesus explains to the Pharisees that “it was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law” (NIV). Since people would not obey a mandate of no divorce, this law was offered as a means of controlling an unfortunate situation.

This law of Moses’ has been replaced by Jesus’ standard, which inflexibly forbids divorce: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife,… causes her to commit adultery, and anyone who marries a woman so divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 5:32, NIV).

Throughout Matthew 5, Christ substitutes the perfect standard of God for the faulty standard of the Jews. He lays upon His people the duty of rising to the Divine standard of moral perfection (Matt. 5:48). The real difficulty is not in ascertaining the meaning of Jesus’ words but in applying them. His standard is high, and is in many cases impractical because of the world’s “hardness of heart.” Therefore, the world whether outside the church or nominally within it, has never taken the Christian law of marriage seriously.

The loss of the churches’ firm discipline in this matter has brought about conditions not contemplated in our Lord’s words. Multitudes of marriages now are lightly formed and lightly discarded, the Christian view of marriage never having been accepted. Then new marriages are formed, perhaps more satisfactory than the previous one, perhaps less, and more problems result. The subject becomes complex.

Yet the law stands. Christ, for His community, totally disallows divorce. And it is precisely this indissolubility of Christian marriage which strengthens the Christian family bond by motivating both husband and wife to do their utmost to make their marriage a success.

However, our Lord does not forbid separation, any more than does the apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 7:11. It may sometimes be a duty. Though a man may and should forgive an adulterous wife when she repents, he must not live with her if he cannot trust her. That would mean confusion and the bringing into the world of children whose fatherhood would be uncertain.

This law of God is the highest and noblest by which men and women can live. It keeps families intact, and makes for clean, Christian living and an environment that promotes the highest morality. God always demands the highest and the best from His people.