You know it’s a bit hard to argue with those in the legalistic chambers of Moses about divorce. They insist there can be no divorce under any circumstance, until of course it’s their daughter, or sister. Sometimes it’s ignorance, and sometimes it’s that judgmental condemnatory spirit garnished in bigoted religious sadism.
Of course there are scriptures cited for the extreme legalism of no divorce under any circumstance. Most of the scriptures on divorce if not all, are taken completely out of context, historical and circumstantial. And that is how the word of God is turned into a yoke of bondage rather than a freedom charter from fear.
The doctrine of no divorce under any circumstance cannot be supported by scriptures. It is man’s invention – the moralistic overstretch of our guilt-stricken nature in overcompensation mode. No doubt divorce was not contemplated in the original plan in the Garden. Jesus said so. But Moses made provision for it in the Law as a pragmatic response to the incorrigibility of the Jews.
The reason is because there is a “largeness of marriage” not everyone can grow into. (cf. Matthew19:11,12 MSG). And the binary equation that is marriage can test the resolve of even the most ardent of humans.
The discussions of Jesus were within the context of the laws of Moses and the perfidy of the human soul. It was clear Jesus was dealing with a system of abuse within a cultural context- male chauvinism. Note that he spoke of men putting away their wives, not women putting their husbands away. We see the same chauvinism in the story of the woman caught in adultery. She couldn’t commit adultery alone could she! Paul would later cite the statement of Jesus on divorce, though within another context.
But even if we restrict ourselves to the ambit of legalism, didn’t Jesus reduce the 613 laws of Moses to just two? The first and the greatest commandment is, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. And the second commandment is, Love your neighbor as yourself. “The ENTIRE law and ALL the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments,” Jesus said. Those who insist on no divorce under ANY circumstance themselves break the second commandment.
You can’t say you love your neighbor and INSIST she must stay in an abusive and violent marriage! Neither can you say you love your neighbor and insist she stay in an emotionally destructive relationship. Or insist she must stay in a marriage to an irresponsible man whose values mount dangerous mental pressure. If a man sleeps with a knife under his pillow on account of his unarmed wife, should we insist the woman stay? Would these legalists insist THEIR daughter stay in a marriage in which the husband uses hot pressing iron on her?
About a year ago a young man stabbed his banker wife 78 times in a fit of rage. She was likely counseled divorce is wrong and to be “patient”; but how does her death fulfill the law of God? Lives have been destroyed on the insistence of matrimonial legalists. But how does a destroyed life glorify God? When Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath he established an important principle: An affectation with legalism must not overrun expediency, or derogate from the spirit of compassion. It’s why Jesus healed people on the Sabbath even though it is unlawful under strict legalism. The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath, he said! (Think over that statement, it’s deep). Who would leave his animal in a ditch and refuse to rescue her because it’s Sabbath day? How much more a human in a ditch, which is what some marriages are! Some marriages are deep dark ditches of sorrow.
Your sister’s mind is on the verge of breaking. She’s showing signs but no one is paying attention. This marriage is going to send her to a sanatorium and you’re all quibbling over the legalism of divorce?! Isn’t a divorced sister better than a mentally deranged sister? In all good conscience, should you leave your sister in an abusive marriage in order to satisfy your legalist urge? Is the intendment of God to destroy lives and send young men and women into mental asylums because of marriage? Doesn’t the health and well being of your sister overwrite all legalistic religious ideologies? Wasn’t that the point of Jesus breaking the rules of the Sabbath to heal and to save? And doesn’t the covenant of Abraham precede the Law of Moses? Isn’t that why Jesus called the woman he healed on the Sabbath the daughter of Abraham? Abraham supercedes Moses.
There are so many people in marriage bondages. They’re looking for a way out but are fearful of spiritual condemnation. The devil lies to them they’ll go to hell if they divorce. (There are even those who preach this falsity). When marriage is a windowless basement depression comes. Depression worsens when the little glimmer of hope is blocked by legalistic contemnors and condemners. The severity of depression is such that it’s the only disease specifically identified in the provision for atonement. That’s what Isaiah 53:4 is all about. Depression is a killer and it is roaming our neighbourhoods. Depression can be so horrible it sends currents of electricity jolts through the brain! Isn’t that akin to a man or woman strapped to a chair and being tortured with electricity? Who can endure such?!
There are people in bad marriages who blank out. The mind hangs like a computer and keeps looping! Only last Monday there was a gentleman who sat on the ledge of a bridge staring into nothingness, unaware of himself. He was in a jacket and tie, but with a wrapper round his waist…on a Monday morning! An executive! Only God knows what drove him to that state. May you never experience what drives men to that state! A bad marriage without an escape route invariably leads to depression. There are suicides from bad marriages! How many futures are unrecoverable, how many lives wasted from our insistence on rigorism!
Are we advocating indiscriminate use of the instrument of divorce? Of course not! Though some will accuse and impute. But I’m not worried. I am unafraid. I have dedicated myself to the cause of truth. People-must-be-set-free! The simple truth being enunciated is that before God a human life is more worthy than the legalism of the Pharisees. God hates divorce but he hates so many other things too. Seven in particular. Divorce is eighth.
God loathes the following seven things with a passion, Solomon says:
1. Eyes that are arrogant- proud look. (The Bible defines proud look as “the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others”).
2. A tongue that lies.
3. Hands that murder the innocent.
4. A heart that hatches evil plots.
5. Feet that race down a wicked track.
6. A mouth that lies under oath.
7. A troublemaker in the family.
It’s obvious from this passage God rates lying and divorce at par! I do hope these religious ideologues have never lied! Tell your sister to get out of that abusive marriage, or your family will be conducting a funeral soon.
Your mentor, LA
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org