Summary: Divorce in the Old Testament and Gospels
When The Wrecking Ball Hits A Home (part 1)
I remember the first time I heard that word. I was 10 years old. Growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s “divorce” wasn’t part of our vocabulary. But when I was ten, a friend of mine’s parents got divorced. Even though my friend’s father was an alcoholic and he had abused his wife and children, it was still a shock to everyone—that a husband and wife in our community got a divorce.
Today the word “divorce” is commonplace. I dare say that most 10-year-olds in America know that word. Not only that, but I dare say they know someone personally who has been divorced.
As Christians, what should our stance be on the issue of divorce? Now, we know that we are not to follow the dictates of society or the norms of our culture. We know that we must follow our only true and reliable guide—the Word of God.
The problem is that there isn’t a consensus among pastors and theologians as to what the Word of God teaches on the subject.
· I know pastors who hold a very strict view on divorce. They believe the Bible does not allow for divorce or remarriage under any circumstances.
· I know pastors who take a very liberal view. They believe the Bible allows for divorce and remarriage for any reason.
· I know pastors who take a less lenient view. They believe the Bible allows for divorce and remarriage under some circumstances.
· And I even know pastors who believe it is permissible to divorce, but not to remarry.
So there is no consensus of opinion regarding the Bible’s teaching on the subject.
We have come to chapter 7 in our study of 1 Corinthians. And in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, Paul tackles the topic of divorce. So today and for the next 2 Sunday mornings I’d like to share with you what I believe the Word of God teaches regarding divorce.
Now, you may disagree with what I say. If you do, that’s okay. Please don’t get angry and leave Shiloh. Don’t go out and start the “First Church of the I Don’t Agree With Lyon On The Topic of Divorce.” If you have a different understanding of the Word of God on this subject, that’s okay. There is room for disagreement.
I also want to make clear up front that I am not trying to pick on anyone. If you are divorced or divorced and remarried, it is not my intent to single you out or to embarrass you. I know how painful this subject can be. I realize for many of you this is not an academic exercise or an intellectual pursuit. It’s a very personal and painful experience that has touched your lives. And so I want to be sensitive to you as I speak.
But as a teaching elder of this church I have an obligation to share with you the whole counsel of God. And so we must be willing to hear and to submit to what God says about this important issue of our day.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:10, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.”
When Paul says, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord),” he is referring to Christ’s teaching on divorce and remarriage found in Matthew chapter 19. In order to understand what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, we need to go back and consider what Jesus taught in Matthew 19. So let’s turn to Matthew 19 in our Bibles. Matthew is the first book of the New Testament.
In Matthew 19, Jesus is answering questions posed to Him by the religious leaders. They tried to trap Him because they were jealous of His popularity among the people. Look at the question they asked Him in Matthew 19:7: “‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’ Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.’”
Notice that the Pharisees tried to trip up Jesus regarding a theological point found in the Old Testament Law. They were trying to pit Jesus against Moses in order to discredit Jesus. The passage the Pharisees referred to is Deuteronomy 24. In order to understand Christ’s response in Matthew 19, we need to go back to discover what Moses taught in Deuteronomy 24. Now, keep one finger in Matthew 19 and turn back to Deuteronomy 24. Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Old Testament.