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Text:  Deuteronomy 24:1-4

Purpose:  To explore the Bible’s teaching about divorce.

Texts:             Leviticus 21-22 - priests may not marry women who have divorced

            Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:1,8;   Malachi 2:16

                        - all speak of God divorcing (sending away) His people

Jesus on divorce:

            Matthew 5:31-32 - except porneia - sexual, shameful sin

            Matthew 19:3-12 - answers Pharisees about divorce for any reason

            Mark 10:2-12 - answer Pharisees about divorce

            Luke 16:18 - “in order to marry” instead of “divorces and marries”

Paul on divorce:

            I Corinthians 7 - rules on marriage, divorce within the church

            I Timothy 3, Titus 1 - husband of but one wife is against polygamy


            Imagine working in a day care center

                        -child comes up to you and reports on her parents marriage

                        Day 1:  Daddy told mommy that one of them had to go

                        Day 2.  Mommy on phone said she would be leaving soon

                        Day 3:  Mommy packing her bags, crying

                        Day 4:  Mommy left this morning, said she didn’t know when she would be back

            Question:  What would you assume was happening in this situation?

                        Possibilities:  marital strife, divorce imminent, wonder why there were troubles

            In reality:  husband and wife received phone call

                        -wife’s brother had a massive heart attack, out-of-state family needed help

                        -one of them wanted to go and support their loved ones

            We make assumptions- because we enter the middle of a conversation

                        -the child spoke the truth, but you didn’t understand the context

                                    -leads to misunderstandings

            When we look to the Bible for teaching about divorce

                        -we often misunderstand

                        -because we enter the middle of a conversation

                        -go right to Matthew 5 - seems to say divorce is adultery

                                    -and anyone who divorces is an adulterer

            This evening, we will take a look at the scope of the Bible

                        -try to understand the context of these discussions about marriage

Divorce is something that strikes the heart of many people:

            Husbands and wives break vows

            Children wounded by broken homes

            Parents see children endure divorce

            Friends struggle when their friends divorce

                        -questions of parental rights, blended families, dating, remarrying

            Bible is not primarily a book about divorce

                        -but a book that reveals God to His people

                                    -for the purpose of being reconciled to Him

                        -teaching about divorce is minimal

                        -in fact, the emphasis in this arena is on marriage, family

                        -the over-arching theme - marriage should be permanent, treasured

            Furthermore, God said it is not good for man to be alone - Genesis 2:18

                        -and that’s why he created Eve

Overview:  The Bible is not meant to be a handbook on Divorce

                        -it speaks about the significance of marriage

                        -not meant to give every instance of divorce-answer every question

                                    -leaves it to church to bind and loose (Matthew 16:19)

1.  Marriage in the Old Testament

            The purpose of family

            The roles of husband and wife

                        -wife - devoted, raised children, few legal rights

                        -husband - took care

                        -The OT word for marry, meant to make lordship - wife came to husband

            As opposed to today:  partners with negotiable roles

                        -not saying that marriage should be what it was- just noting the difference

            Lest you think, “what a terrible, patriarchal society”

                        -remember, husband was to care for wife - provide, treasure

                        -when Moses said write a certificate of divorce

                                    -it allowed woman to remarry

                                    -it no longer left her wondering if she would be cared for

2.  The reality of divorce

            -Deut 24 gives instruction about divorce - because it was happening

                        -even before Deut 24 - divorce is mentioned

                        -Leviticus 22 - priests should not marry women who have been divorced

            -not like we think of it today - grand legal proceeding

                        -the word for “divorce” means literally sent away (or abandoned)

                        -but rather a simple abandonment

                        -woman left wondering if husband would return

                                    -could not move on with her life

                        -certificate allowed her to find someone else to pledge devotion

                                    -so that she could be care for, produce a family

            The point of Deut 24:

                        -the point - not to be taken loosely - no returning to first husband

                        -but within it, there is a statement about divorce

                        -the reason was to be “indecent”

            Is there such a thing as “Biblical Grounds” for divorce?

3.  Two schools of thought regarding “indecent thing”. (ervah dabar)

            First school - any reason, (burned supper, not a nice dresser, laughs too loud, etc.)

                        -this school focused on the procedure of divorce

                        -just give a certificate and state a reason - and you are home free

                                    -might even be legit to divorce because you found someone else

            Second School - emphasis on nakedly shameful

                        -such as adultery

                        -Jesus seems to side with this school - but we will discuss later

4.  The Imagery of Divorce

            -one of the reasons divorce is so hotly debated - its emphasis in OT

            -divorce is used as an imagery of God leaving His people

                        -because they have been nakedly shameful in worshipping other gods

                                    -they have not been faithful

5.  Jesus and Divorce

            -if we move directly to Jesus, it’s like joining the middle of an argument or discussion

                        -story about Synod and Apostle’s Creed - “hades”, “realm of the dead”

            -if you divorce, remarry, it is equal to adultery

            -Question:  is any remarriage forbidden?

            Mark 10:2-12

                        -It was because your hearts were hard - divorce was a reality

                        -wrote law to protect

                        -marriage was intended to be permanent

                        -language- could (I think should) be “in order to marry another woman”

6.  Paul’s Epistles:

            I Corinthians 7 - understanding context is key again

                        Paul is addressing group of people - confused by conversion to Christianity

                        -confusion about sex and marriage

                                    -one or both spouses have become baptized

                                    -is sex forbidden by their new-found faith?

                                    -if spouse does not convert, am I obligated to divorce?

                                    -if spouse divorces me for my faith, may I marry someone else?

            His instruction on marriage and divorce

            I Corinthians 7 - addresses three groups

                        -Christian married to Christian (vss. 1-11)

                        -Christian married to non-Christian (vss. 12-24)

                                    “not bound” seems to indicate free to marry

                        -single Christians

                        THIS INSTRUCTION came in the midst of a messy situation

                                    -sex and marriage (Paul said it was good)

                                    -essence is - stay put

            Husband of but one wife - is not necessarily about divorce, but polygamy

Responding to divorce (Pastoral Comments)

            1.  Divorce is always sad.

            2.  Single people should be very finicky as they choose a spouse.

            3.  Married people should work very hard to salvage their marriage

            4.  They bible does not attempt to give grounds for divorce.

                        -even adultery - can be forgiveness

            5.  It takes two people to make a marriage work, but only one to destroy a marriage.

            6.  People who have been divorced should be very cautious in remarrying.

            7.  Sometimes, the procedure of divorce is a legal recognition that a marriage is over.

                        -adultery, abandonment, etc.

                        -don’t be fooled by the argument of who filed first

                                    -that is sometimes no indicator of guilt

            8.  Every marriage will have difficulties to navigate.

            9.  The church should embrace people who have experienced divorce.

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