“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
At first glance this Scripture looks like a slap in the face to women. The man shoves her out of his life and she gets blamed for adultery. But read the Scripture again…
“Anyone who divorces his wife…causes her to become an adulteress.”
In this Scripture it is the man who is being held responsible. In the early first century single women were an anomaly. It was oftentimes survival that a woman was married. Yes there were businesswomen and she could work and make money, but it wasn’t always socially safe. Nor ethically esteemed. And there wasn’t always a parents house to return to. So a single woman would find it borderline necessary to remarry. Thus causing her to become an adulteress through a broken covenant–a situation her husband placed her in. And as referenced to in the above Scripture – his moral responsibility. And whoever marries her also becomes an adulterer, because by his own choice he is debasing the original covenant.
Marriage wasn’t to be casual and women weren’t to be disposable.
Moses permitted divorce because their hearts were hard, but it wasn’t God’s intent and wasn’t always permitted like this (Mt 19:8-9). The permission to divorce and the subsequent command to give her a certificate of divorce was a kindness. It was not just to kick her out and leave her hanging, but to give her formality so she could remarry and be cared for by a different husband. It was a commanded act of kindness by God to women so they wouldn’t be destitute. It also meant that if she ever remarried and her second husband passed away, she could never go back to the first husband as that would be “detestable” (Dt 24:1-5).
Jesus defines adultery as remarriage (Mt 19:9 and Luke 16:18). We define it as infidelity while married. The reason is because we think of marriage as a contract and when the contract is over there is freedom. God sees marriage as covenant, a union, a oneness (Mt 19:5-6). We especially see this in the way a man and a woman come together. Their first time.
Covenant and Blood
If you study covenant almost all covenant was marked with blood. The old covenant with the blood of bulls and goats (Heb 9:20) and the new covenant with the blood of Jesus (Heb 9:11-12; 12:24). There were many others covenants in Scripture and they were marked with blood. Covenant was binding and irrevocable.
So what does this have to do with marriage?
Everything. Have you ever wondered why there is blood when a man and woman first come together physically? It’s more than just the breaking of the hymen. It’s because blood is the sign of a covenant. Blood defines covenant.
Back to Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
So is remarriage the irrevocable sin? No. Remember that God allowed divorce at one point for certain situations (Dt 24:1-5). What Jesus is teaching is that marriage is union, not just a convenient social institution to create one’s happiness. He was completely raising the bar. The disciples of all the teachings that Jesus sopke on seemed momentarily to grasp this.
I’m sure the disciples spoke with great incredulity when they said to Jesus, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
And Jesus agreed – it is a hard teaching.
This Scripture will be wrestled with long after I leave this earth. It’s not an easy teaching and it has many implications. But for now that’s my latest from meditation.