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Anthropology: Marriage and Divorce

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Anthropology: Marriage and Divorce

Marriage is an institution under siege today, and only a return to the biblical foundation of these God-given institutions will reverse the decline of marriage and the family in our culture today. With this in mind, we must first look at Gen. 2:18, 21-24. “The Lord God said; it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him...and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”. It could be said that we are seeing the first wedding. We can conclude from this account in Genesis that marriage is God's idea, designed and instituted by the Creator. In these verses we also discover that at the heart of God's design for marriage is companionship and intimacy, making it a lifetime covenant between mankind and God, never to be severed by human action.
There are several epistles written by the Apostle Paul that refer to marriage and how believers are to operate within the marriage relationship. The following are especially profound in reference to a successful biblical marriage. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior” (Ephesians 5:22-23). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, after all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29). “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). As we can see, a biblically based marriage is one that is in balance, with Christ as the head of the man and the wife together.
In the pre-Mosaic period, divorce was common among the heathen nations. A man could divorce his spouse for any reason simply by telling her before witnesses, “You are no longer my wife”.1 The practice of easy divorce became common among the Hebrews, encouraged by the absence of regulations restricting it. In His comments on divorce, Jesus explained that divorce represents a change in God’s order because, “from the beginning it was not so” (Matt 19:8). He further observed that it was because of the “hardness” of human heart that Moses “allowed” divorce (Matt 19:8).
I have found that in extreme cases, there are a couple of grounds for divorce. When adultery has taken place and that Apostle Paul added to the teachings of Jesus what is called the “Pauline privilege”. According to this concept, Paul taught that if an unbelieving spouse leaves a believer, the believer is not bound to the marriage relationship, but is free to remarry (1 Corinthians 7:15). Some people believe that such a reason could cover the brutalization of one spouse by the other, making it impossible to live with them any longer. They believe the situation is the equivalent of desertion, and divorce is permissible. I could not find incompatibility, lack of love, or differing career goals as grounds for divorce.
An important factor contributing to the alarming escalation of divorce among Christians is the growing acceptance of the societal view of marriage as a social contract, governed by civil laws, rather than as a sacred covenant, witnessed and guaranteed by God Himself. Instead of promising each other faithfulness "till death do us part," many couples are adopting the modern version of the marriage vow, by pledging to remain together “as long as we both shall love”. The recent “no fault” divorce law makes the dissolution of marriage so easy that some lawyers advertise divorce services for less than $100.00, “All legal fees and services included in one low price”. What a sad commentary on the cheapness of marriage today! What God has united, many will put asunder for less than the price of a good pair of shoes. We must always remember, “Whosoever finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor of the LORD (Proverbs 18: 22).

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