Page Summary: Biblical studies on the Christian home, singleness and its problems and advantages, seeking a Christian mate, dating, before marriage, forming a Christian home, the ideal Christian woman, the ideal Christian man, marital problems, divorce, remarriage, parenting, children obedient to parents, problems between siblings, youth and their problems, grandparents and grandkids, family devotions, old age.

David Cox's Library of Religious Works Main Page
49.08 Divorce

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49.08 Divorce

49.08.00 Literature   49.08.06 Divorce and Remarriage
49.08.01 Bases of Marriage 49.08.07 Divorce and the Minister
49.08.02 OT Overview of Divorce  
49.08.03 Jewish Ideas towards Divorce and Remarriage  
49.08.04 NT Overview of Divorce  
49.08.05 Is Divorce Permitted for Us?  

Please note that some of the resources on this page are books that are more from a secular point of view than religious. I have included them in order to have as many resources as possible to the Bible student, although I do not generally put much weight on those particular types of works.

49.08.00 Literature on Divorce

Amram, David Werner - Jewish Law of Divorce according to Bible and Talmud (1896) flipbook
Charles, Robert Henry
- The Teaching of the NT on Divorce (1921) flipbook (divorce-yes, remarriage-yes)
Forest, Ceslas (1885-) - Divorce (1921) flipbook (Catholic, more secular treatment, but still some religious treatment)
Luckock, Herbert Mortimer - History of Marriage, Jewish and Christian, in Relationship to Divorce (1894) flipbook
Mielziner, M - Jewish Law of Marriage and Divorce in Ancient and Modern Times (1884) flipbook
Morgan, Hector Davies - Doctrine and Law of Marriage, Adultery, Divorce (1826) flipbook

49.08.01 Special Bases of Marriage in Consideration of Divorce.


49.08.02 Overview of Divorce in the Old Testament

Deu 22:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Deu 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
Deu 24:2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.

One of the peculiar aspects of divorce in the Bible is the absolute one-sidedness of divorce. Divorce is always what a man does, never what a woman does. This is because of the one-sidedness of the ancient world. It was a man's world. Women were always seen as being under the authority of a man. Female children are under their father until they are of age. But even after they are adult women, they are always under the authority of some man. If they marry, then they are under the authority of their husband, and if they remain single, they continue under the authority of their father until he dies. When he dies, then their brothers take authority over them, and if there are no brothers, then their uncles and male relatives. The concept of an independent female not under any man was rare in the ancient world. Some cultures looked upon and treated women as they would cattle.

To understand divorce in the ancient world, one must understand this situation first. Divorce was not something that was common among all cultures. Some cultures treated the woman as cattle, so the woman was basically dismissed or even killed without being seen as "breaking a law".

There was a one-sidedness in responsibilities also as the man was always responsible for caring and providing for the woman.

49.08.03 Jewish Ideas towards Divorce and Remarriage

When the divorce was carried out on grounds not affecting the moral character, the two persons involved could remarry ('Edui iv. 7), unless the wife had in the meantime married another man. But they could not remarry if the woman had been divorced on the ground, or even on the suspicion, of adultery. Moreover, the woman was in no case allowed to marry her paramour after her divorce (Sotah v.1). Robert Henry Charles - The Teaching of the NT on Divorce (1921) page 6.


49.08.04 Overview of Divorce in the New Testament Christ's Teaching on Divorce

Mat 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
Mat 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
Mat 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Mat 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Mat 19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
Mat 19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
Mat 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Mat 19:10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
Mat 19:11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
Mat 19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Commentaries on Matthew 19.1-12

Mat 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Luk 16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

Mar 10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
Mar 10:3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
Mar 10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
Mar 10:5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
Mar 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
Mar 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
Mar 10:8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
Mar 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Mar 10:10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
Mar 10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
Mar 10:12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. The Exception Clause of Mat 5:32 and Mat 19:9

See The Exception Clause

49.08.05 Is Divorce Permitted for us?


49.08.06 Divorce and Remarriage

Adler, Felix (1851-1933) - Marriage and Divorce (1915) flipbook (secular)

If the Christian accepts that divorce and remarriage is wrong, what does an obedient Christian do? This is a difficult question to answer for all cases. Basically there would seem to be some good principles to follow. First of all, we are responsible for our actions, and that having been said, an adult is responsible for any marriages and children that he or she may have been involved with. By this I mean none of the Bible's teaching will give you permission to "just walk away". If you have children by a former marriage, they are forever your children even if you divorce and remarry. Your economic and social (fatherly or motherly) obligations need to be taken seriously.

Next there is a problem of divorcing again (which perhaps is not wanted at all), to return to the former spouse, which seems to be definitely against God's will. People who divorced their spouse and especially after they had taken a second spouse could not return to a previous spouse. Therefore it would seem that we should follow Paul's advice to be content as we are, with the spouse we currently have.


49.08.07 Divorce and the Minister