- Shortly before the time of Jesus, there were two influential rabbis who each had a different interpretation of the Torah (the Pentateuch); Rabbi Hillel, who had a more permissive interpretation, and Rabbi Shammai, who usually had a more strict interpretation.
- Since Deuteronomy 24:1 states that it is permissible for a man to divorce his wife if he comes upon her “with anything unseemly,” these two schools of thought argued about what exactly was meant by “unseemly.”
- Shammai believed that the husband could only be divorced if there had been a serious transgression such as sexual immorality, while Hillel believed that one could also be divorced for minor offences such as the wife burning the food.
- The Pharisees now asking Jesus where he stands on this issue suggests that they wanted to entrap Jesus by making him choose one of these rabbis and thus possibly create a division among Jesus’ disciples. Jesus, however, does not fall into the trap.
- Instead of taking sides in the debate, Jesus does what every Bible believer should do, he asks the question, “What does Scripture say?”
- Jesus points out that Moses did not actually “command” divorce, but “permitted” it.
- The Pharisees wanted to discuss how to separate while Jesus wanted to discuss how to stay together. Jesus teaches us that instead of putting our energy into figuring out the reasons for divorce, we should put that energy into forming a good marriage.
- The Bible never requires divorce, but it does allow divorce in certain circumstances.
- For example, if the husband is hard-hearted and refuses to forgive his wife’s transgression, it is better for the wife to go her separate ways because otherwise she risks having to live with the husband’s intransigence for the rest of her life.
- Instead of discussing the different rules of divorce, Jesus goes back to what is the basis of marriage (Genesis 1:27, 2:24).
- When Jesus says that “God made them male and female” he is showing that marriage is between a man and a woman and it is not a human invention but a divine institution.
- The fact that God created man male and female shows that we are created differently from the start, but that we are meant to complement each other.
- A marriage is not two different people living together, but a couple staying together.
- Two people sitting together can’t walk in opposite directions because they’ll just stomp around and use up each other’s strength. It’s only when they work together and move towards a common goal that they get anywhere.
- Jesus goes against the frivolity of the Pharisees and calls instead for a lifelong marriage of fidelity and unity.
- If it is God who has joined the marriage together, then a human letter of divorce is not enough to separate the two.
- Since marriage is not a human invention but instituted by God, God counts two people as still married if they have divorced each other for non-legitimate reasons.
- Since they are still married in God’s eyes, they commit adultery against each other if they marry someone new (see also 1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
- Instead of divorce, God wants the married to reconcile and forgive each other (Hos 3:1).
- However, divorce is permitted if one of the spouses has been unfaithful (Matthew 5:31-32), or if one of the spouses is not a Christian and for that reason wants to separate (1 Corinthians 7:15).
- If the divorce is valid in God’s eyes, then it is also okay to remarry.