One of the most difficult passages of the New Testament deals with divorce and the proper application of a marriage relationship. When Jesus was asked by Pharisees whether a man is allowed to divorce his wife, He had a seemingly cryptic answer for them: divorce is wrong all the time, and the Creator did not intend for a man and a wife to separate unless the woman was found to have some sort of “sexual impurity,” but Moses allowed the Israelites to engage in divorce. But since Jesus also stated that the Law and the Prophets were divinely revealed by Yahweh, and Moses allowed divorce, how can we tell which parts of the Old Testament are from God and which parts are from Moses? Without the understanding that the entire Old Testament is from God, we cannot derive moral stances on many issues or be sure about the application of the Bible to modern living.
First of all, we have to understand the context of the law. The law was provided by God to set moral boundaries for God’s own personal people, but was incomplete because God’s law is so perfect that it would be impossible to live or function in His society with our human sin nature: humans are simply damned from the get-go. So God revealed a series of laws to Moses to display the kinds of sin impermissible according to Him, and was gracious enough to not provide the penalty for many things. After all, if according to Jesus the act of looking at a woman lustfully is adultery, and hating your brother in your heart is murder, chances are the whole nation would be executed, since the death penalty was given for all who engaged in adultery and murder. Thus, an act by God of legal omission is not necessarily an act of moral commission.
However, in Old Testament law, what we find is that God specifically seems to condone divorce in the case of the wife’s sexual immorality, and only the husband is legally allowed to initiate the divorce. This is completely different than an act of omission, since acting according to the law must be good, since the Law came from God. This rare case of the approval of divorce (which Jesus said was unacceptable) would indicate that the Old Testament either does not give us a solid understanding of God’s character because it had interpolations by Moses, or that His character is changing due to contradiction with Jesus, either stance being devastating to the Christian faith.
Upon further examination, though, what we find in Deuteronomy is that–like in Matthew 5 and 19–only one exception is provided for divorce by a man, and that is when a married woman is found to have some sort of sexual impurity. At first, this law might seem like a contradiction to the God’s stance on the eternal bond between a man and his wife, but it is not. Because there is a general indicator of whether or not a woman is a virgin upon sexual intercourse, but the indications are not always rock solid and can lead to false assumptions, God provided a merciful outlet for the woman to escape without being killed, since condemnation for physical adultery in every other circumstance must necessarily result in the death penalty.
This is why the Law allows for a woman to remarry if she is divorced through this means: because although evidence may be stacked against her, nobody can be completely sure whether she is physically abnormal or had an injury, or whether or not she actually engaged in fornication before marriage. As such, this form of divorce is nothing but mercy and the protection of justice for the vulnerable woman involved, and can be taken to a further extent to protect both husband and wife. It is the hardness of the human heart, always looking to abuse the law for personal gain, that resulted in the creation of this loophole.
And this is precisely how the two rabbinic schools of divorce existed, and why the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus with their question. The school of Shammai believed a woman could only be divorced upon “sexual impurity,” and Hillel believed a woman could be divorced for any reason, assumedly because “sexual impurity” is not not exactly easy to prove, and can be redefined by evil people. Give a thousand years or so, and you can bet money that lawyers exploited the laws for any dog of a man who didn’t want his wife anymore. This same kind of sneaky lawyer was also responsible for turning “an eye for an eye” from a law which limited punishment (similar to our own eighth amendment), and turned it into a law for personal revenge. These kinds of people are also currently eroding our religious freedoms under the guise that what the founding father’s really meant by “freedom of religion” was that nobody could have religious preferences which influenced anything meaningful whatsoever. Wherever a good law can be perverted, you can bet that a pervert is going to ruin it.
So to those of our cultural standing, it appears that this law is a contradiction between Moses and Jesus, but it’s really quite the opposite. The statement that Moses allowed divorce under specific circumstances was simply pointing to the fact that Moses delivered the message, similar to how Christians say “The Apostle Peter said” when the Apostle Peter was speaking under the authority of the Holy Spirit. The Law–given by Yahweh and confirmed by Jesus as divine– is completely moral and divine in all its statutes, and there is neither theological nor philosophical obligation to change standards now that Jesus has arrived, as He stated that whoever teaches men to break the commandments will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. So while we are all damned by the righteousness of God for even our thoughts, Christians have never been given a reason to abandon the moral laws of interaction contained therein (not to be confused with priestly or cleanliness laws): they are provided as the boundaries and safeguards of loving interaction, as said by Jesus Himself. This is important to understand, because liberals deny the Law’s righteousness on the grounds that Jesus said ALL divorce is immoral, but “Moses”–not God–gave the Israelites the ability to sin. If they were correct about this contradiction, which they are not, the whole law could be thrown out the window on a subjective basis.
As a result of this thinking, liberals will contend that “Moses” giving the unlikely option of divorce to only men is a result of patriarchal influence, and that we have a moral prerogative to grant women the right to divorce their husbands as well, since men and women are equal in Christ. However, God is not an old-school 1960′s feminist: He built women, and He knows what a woman’s strengths and weaknesses are, and organized His own personal earthly government according to that engineer’s perspective. The result of women being allowed to divorce in Western society can be shown in a report by The Discovery Channel’s Health department, in which they state that a whopping two-thirds of all divorces are filed by women. In other countries we find the same trends, with Canada’s divorces being initiated by women 75% of the time. Divorce is also understood to be much more devastating to men than to women, a punishment for men pretending that genders have no implications.
As such, men are not better than women in any sense of worth, but they are (generally) absolutely superior in their Biblically designated roles of function, otherwise women would have been selected for those roles in their place. A manly style of fortitude in the face of intense turbulence has never been the woman’s calling or design, which is why we don’t send armies of women into battle, why women aren’t supposed to lead churches, why men are supposed to be the leaders of their families, and why only the man is allowed to divorce. Men are given these positions and rights in God’s society because they don’t do well in the positions where women are vastly superior in function to men: you try to flip things around, and you get two thirds of your divorces, along with all the abandoned and poverty-stricken children they bring.
When men and women refuse to partner with one another in harmony, and allow their pride to both overestimate their natural capabilities and undervalue the opposite gender’s definable attributes, you can rest assured that competition over the roles will not just produce failure, it will produce inter-sexual strife. But men and women are not natural enemies: the genders exist for co-dependency and the love a Godly marriage can bring. If people are willing to live according to liberal (meaning: unBiblical) standards, they must learn to accept the fact that both men and women are going to fail at their new roles, and they are going to blame each other for their own respective failures. The problem isn’t that either men or women are inferior, however, but rather that they belong in specific roles, governed by divine law. When we learn to respect the boundaries of the gender role (which the movement for homosexual advocacy seeks to totally eliminate), God-fearing men and women will learn to respect, love, and commit themselves to one another. As such, feminism will never achieve this goal, and only smart and God-fearing women will ever recognize that.
It should also be noted that divorcemag.com, a company devoted entirely to both the study and promotion of divorce (which if anything would suggest bias in the direction of the harmlessness of divorce), says that fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of homeless/runaway children, 85% of children with behavior problems, 71% of high school dropouts, 85% of youths in prison, and well over 50% of teen mothers. Liberals like to pretend that women always deserve special privileges, so when someone tells you that women are harmed when they cannot divorce, explain to them that children are hurt worse.
So is God’s law actually God’s, not just Moses’s? Yes. Does He have purposes for his statutes? Yes. Is God just as moral today as He was yesterday? Yes. Do we need to consider His ideals important? Only if we think He’s better than us.