Summary: God’s intention for marriage explains His view of divorce.
Relationships in the Kingdom – Part 3
May 6, 2001
When I was a junior in high school my Mom informed me that my sister and her husband of 10 years were getting a divorce. This was new to me. Really no one in my family - none of my aunts and uncles – none of my cousins had gone through a divorce. Everybody had just sort of been family. That was about to change.
I watched as holidays changed – my nieces celebrated Christmas with us and then with their dad.
What amazed me was how much the rest of us hurt when we weren’t even the ones going through the divorce. I couldn’t imagine what Melody was feeling.
I doubt there is anything we could talk about today that has caused more hurt to the collective group assembled here than this topic of divorce. It has touched every family in some way.
In December of 1999 George Barna released the findings of a study showing, 25% of all American adults have undergone a divorce. Christians don’t fare any better – in fact they fare worse. The same study showed that 27 percent of born-again Christians have been divorced - actually beats the national average by 2 points.
When you look at those associated with non-denominational Protestant churches: 34% of those adults have undergone a divorce.
Even though divorce is fairly common, It’s also incredibly painful…
You’re probably familiar with stress charts that show the levels of stress caused by various occurrences in our lives. Studies reveal divorce is more stressful than any other single event except the death of a spouse. It causes more stress than being fired, more stress than a jail term, and more stress than the death of a close friend and a mortgage foreclosure combined.
At least death brings some closure – it’s over. With divorce it’s never over. Your former spouse is still out there somewhere, walking around, and in most cases dealing with you. The pain just keeps coming.
God never wanted people to experience the pain of divorce.
God’s intention for marriage explains His view of divorce.
Read Matthew 5:31-32
31“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
JESUS’ THREE IMPORTANT DISTINCTIONS
TRANSITION: In Jesus teaching on divorce he makes three important distinctions from how people commonly view divorce. Let’s learn from these for a moment. The first distinction is one of …
People have a preoccupation with the grounds for divorce
Jesus has a passion for marriage in all its fullness.
In talking about divorce, Jesus was taking on a very hotly debated issue. At that very time a controversy concerning acceptable grounds for divorce existed between two rival Rabbi-training schools.
Rabbi Shammai took the conservative line – the right winger. He founded his teaching on Deuteronomy 24:1, where Moses allowed for divorce, but Shammai believed the only acceptable reason for getting one was what the Scripture said - some grave marital offense – or an act of absolute indecency – such as adultery.
Rabbi Hillel, on the other hand, adopted a much more lax position. And by the way, his was the most widely accepted point of view. He believed the statement of Moses applied to a man “who desires to be divorced from his wife for any cause whatsoever.” We’re talking superliberal here. For example, a man could divorce his wife,
If she spoiled his dinner by adding too much salt
If she were seen in public with her head uncovered
If she talked with other men on the street
If she spoke disrespectfully to her husbands parents
If she became plain-looking compared with another woman who seemed more beautiful in her husband’s opinion
Unbelievable! These are all examples of reasons for divorce that were acceptable in Jesus day. We may laugh, but how different is this from today? Don’t people still divorce for just about any and every reason imaginable?
A man in Hazard, Kentucky, divorced his wife because she "beat him whenever he removed onions from his hamburger without asking for permission."
A deaf man in Bennettsville, South Carolina, filed for divorce because his wife "was always nagging him in sign language."
A woman in Canon City, Colorado, divorced her husband because he forced her to "duck under the dashboard whenever they drove past his girlfriend’s house."
A woman in Hardwick, Georgia, divorced her husband on the grounds that he "stayed home too much and was much too affectionate."
Currently, every state in the union except South Dakota has some sort of law in place allowing for what is commonly called “no fault divorce.” Which essentially means couples can divorce for any and all reasons or no reason at all. The prevailing view in Jesus’ day is still the prevailing view in ours.