Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Biblical Theology Of Marriage And Divorce

        "And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" (Matthew 19:4-5)

        People committed to matrimony are, in ideal circumstances, to remain united for the remainder of their earthly lives. Exceptions to this rule would include the passing of a spouse (Romans 7:2-3), desertion by an unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:14-15), marital unfaithfulness (Matthew 19:9), and spousal abuse. If one of these conditions is met, then one is free to seek after a new spouse. It is within the framework of marriage that a man exercises his conjugal prerogatives (Genesis 1:28). It is within that context man discovers for himself a unique kind of love and companionship (Genesis 2:18). Both partners contribute to the well-being of a family unit.

        Marriage is supposed to be the life-long dedication to a partner of the opposite sex. Thus, adultery is wrong for obvious reasons: it is lying and unfair. It turns what was intended to be a permanent vow right on its own head. If fornication and adultery are morally permissible, then why even bother with getting married in the first place? The best way to eliminate temptation is to identify with certainty its source and find ways to permanently remove or avoid it. Jesus Christ specifically taught that lusting is equivalent to actually committing adultery and fornication (Matthew 5:28-29). It is a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5). However, being physically attracted to a member of the opposite sex is not wrong in and of itself. That is actually normal.

        God absolutely despises divorce (Malachi 2:16). He regards it as an act of faithlessness. Divorce was not a part of His original order of things. It was never His intention. God only tolerated the termination of marriages because the hearts of men are hard (Matthew 19:8-9). He knew that our relationships could go sour. Therefore, if it be at all possible, it is best for arguing couples to seek reconciliation. That may entail a degree of compromise in either one or both parties. For instance, wives and children should never be put into a situation that leaves them without a source of income to provide for their needs. Every situation is different and must be dealt with accordingly.

        In order for a marriage to be successful, both partners must agree to fulfill the obligations that have been assigned to them by God. There has to be necessary conditions for the husband and wife to abide by, for the household cannot stand in a state of contention. One person cannot realistically be expected to complete a job which requires working with other people. Marriage involves personal accountability. Marriage is based on commitment of the spouses to each other. Its underlying principle is self-sacrifice.

         Wives play a foundational role in the raising of their children (Titus 2:4-5; 1 Timothy 2:15; 5:14). The wife is free to take on other responsibilities, as long as they do not interfere with her assigned duties and distract the husband from fulfilling his responsibilities. The husband is supposed to show loving leadership over his family and provide for it (1 Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 5:25). His position is not one of giving orders, but involves a greater sense of personal responsibility. Marriage is the sharing of a mutual goal; a romantic partnership. It represents the different responsibilities that both leading figures of the family have.

        Marriage was instituted by God, so He has complete authority over it. Divorce could actually be seen as a grace in that it exists when no potential remedies work. This kind of a decision should never be taken lightly and only in sorrow. The best thing to do is marry somebody who shares a similar worldview. Even a person who claims to be a Christian may be a bad candidate for marriage (Matthew 7:21). Some people may have to wait a long time before finally getting married, like Isaac who was forty before he got married (Genesis 25:20). In fact, a person does not have to get married if he does not want to. Even Christ spoke of the celibate (Matthew 19:11-12).


everybodysdaughter said...

Another wonderful article on marriage. As a Catholic I can affirm almost every point you made. I would love to see you write more on this subject.

I would like to mention one thing that we Catholics view differently. I mention it here just for discussion, not argument. It is in regards to what is called the "exception clause" of Matthew 19:9. The Greek word there is porneia, and Jesus is referring to illegality. The reason divorce is permissible in those cases is because the original marriage was an illegal or illicit one, so there was never the one flesh union. More succinctly, Jesus is saying that divorce is OK when there is not a one flesh union. That is the Catholic interpretation.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Rome reads into the text because they want absolutely no divorce while they have divorce under a different name -- annulment. And it's a farce because people could be married for decades and suddenly get an annulment.

the Bible is plain; divorce is permitted for sexual sin, i.e. adultery. The illegality is what is happening IN the marriage, not something happening prior to. That "prior to" eisegesis is how they come up with annulment.