This is one topic that has been debated since the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. I can tell you it was debated with Jesus and even today, this issue is still being debated. Should Christians divorce? Are we as Christians allowed to get a divorce, If so, under what conditions? What if I don’t love my husband/ wife anymore? What if my husband is abusing me emotionally and or physically? All these questions demands answers and through the grace of God, I will attempt to answer them. I think the best way to start is from the beginning. When did this matter of divorce start?
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (ESVST)
1 “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.
There were two school of thoughts in those days that differed in terms of how to interprete the passage above. The school of Shammai believed that the passage meant that you could only divorce a wife only if she was unfaithful (commits or even attempt to commit adultery) and the schools of Hillel which believed that the passage meant that a man could divorce his wife for anything. The Hillel eventually won and they became a popular school of thought when it came to divorce. So, the husband could divorce for any reason. Note that it does not mean that a wife could divorce, only the husband.
The sad thing is that both these schools were wrong and completely misunderstood the passage. The passage does not give permission to a man to divorce his wife at all. The passage was simply indicating that if a man were to divorce his wife and then the wife remarries, then the same wife divorces again, the original husband cannot take her back as that will be an abomination to God. That is all it said. Verse 1 starts with “When or if”, verse 2 starts with “and”, so is verse 3 and verse 4 starts with “Then”. So, if, and, and, then, is a continuation. This is a starting statement, two condtions and a conclusion.
But then if this passage did not give a man permission to divorce his wife, why did everyone interprete it this way? For this we will have to go back to the Ten Commandments.
Exodus 20:14 (ESVST)
“You shall not commit adultery.
Leviticus 20:10 (ESVST)
Punishments for Sexual Immorality
10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Divorce was not allowed at all. The punishment for adultery was death. Once married, there was no other way of having any other women except if you committed adultery and if you did, you were killed. Now the men had to find another way of being able to have other women without the risk of being killed. This passage, became the break through that they were looking for. Now they could divorce as many times as they wanted and for whatever reason. As you can now see, there was a huge incentive for interpreting this passage incorrectly. This is not new, even today people interprete the bible to suit their own selfish needs.
Now we can debate this matter until we are blue in the face, but I think we need to find out what God has to say about divorce. Does God allow divorce?