Summary: Lesson 15
Even though the subject of divorce is a controversial one, and one that carries with it a great deal of emotion, it is not one on which the Bible is silent. Both the Old and New Testaments mention the subject on various occasions, but putting all the pieces together in hopes of seeing the whole picture and establishing a Biblical foundation upon which to stand, is a difficult task to say the least.
We are living in a culture that is in transition. Those things that used to be considered moral absolutes are quickly falling prey to moral relativism. Consequently, the moral foundations of this once great nation are crumbling, and crumbling with it, are the foundations of America’s homes.
At one time in our society divorce was frowned upon, and it was almost unheard of as far as Christians were concerned. Churches could afford to sweep the issue under the rug and even take somewhat of a holier-than- thou attitude because the cases that arose were so few in number. Not so today. There is hardly a home in America that has not been touched, in one way or the other, with the pains of divorce. As a matter of fact, the United States leads the world in divorce. The issue of marriage, divorce, and remarriage can no longer be swept under the rug, nor can we afford to take a holier-than-thou approach to divorcees, sending them down the road to be ministered to by somebody else.
Churches today are being forced to confront this issue, and when they do, it must be done based upon Biblical correctness, not tradition. Granted, if all divorce and remarriage was Biblically wrong in the past, it is Biblically wrong now. But the question is whether or not the traditional stance on this issue was ever Biblically correct in the first place.
In order to have a proper understanding of this very complicated, controversial, and sometimes even contentious subject, we would do well to go back to the beginning, when God performed the very first wedding and instituted the first home known to man. Christ did just that in Matthew 19:3-9.
THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE
Among the Pharisees of Jesus’ day there were two schools of thought on the issue of divorce. There was the conservative school led by Rabbi Shammai that held to the position that the only Biblical grounds for divorce was marital infidelity. The liberal school, led by Rabbi Hillel taught that a man could divorce his wife for "every cause." Those coming to Jesus in this passage were no doubt from the more liberal school of thought. It was the hope of these misguided Pharisees to try and discredit the Lord in the eyes of the people, but instead of engaging in a debate about divorce, Jesus takes the Pharisees back to the beginning when marriage was first instituted.
The essence of marriage is companionship. Marriage was instituted because Adam was alone, and God said that was not good. Most of us have a built in need for an intimate companion to share our lives with. The primary purpose for God creating Eve was not to be Adam’s helper (although that is important as we will see) but to be his companion. In the same manner, Adam was to provide companionship for Eve as well. The idea of companionship in marriage is seen in Malachi 2:14. The essential meaning of the word "companion" is that of a "union or association." Therefore, a companion is one with whom one enters into a close union or association.
Notice the use of the words "help meet." The word "meet" means "appropriate to", "corresponding to", or "approximating at every point." In other words, God said that He was going to make Adam a helper who was appropriate to him. To be a "help meet" does not imply that the wife is inferior to the husband. It means that she is actually what makes him complete. Eve was not Adam’s "better half or bitter half", she was his other half.
In these two verses, God gives us four foundational laws for marriage. Almost all divorce can be traced back to one spouse or the other, or both, failing to adhere to one of these four laws.
1. Law of Priority "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother..."
When God brought Adam and Eve together in the garden, He did so with the intent that their relationship would be more important than any other human relationship.
The word "leave" means to "loosen or relinquish." When God said that a man was to "leave" his father and mother when he married, He meant that a man was to relinquish the highest position of commitment and devotion previously given to his parents in order to give that position to his wife.