Thursday, March 26, 2009

Grounds for Divorce

Despite what many folk say, according to Jesus Christ (also here, here, and here) there are no affirmative grounds for divorce. What Jesus said about marriage is that it is a lifelong covenant that no one should break. Some people will shatter the bond through abandonment and/or adultery, to their shame, but no one is given the grounds by which they can take the impetus to break it because they want it broken. Those that are the victims of a marriage broken by abandonment and/or adultery have some leeway to remarry, those who remarry apart from those exceptions commit adultery.

If a supposed Christian has abandoned a spouse, that one should be rebuked and commanded to return to the care his or her spouse. If that one will not return, he or she has proven not only his or her infidelity to a spouse, but to God. Their unwillingness to provide (what marriage is supposed to provide) for their spouse before God makes them worse than an infidel. According to the Word, the Christian abandoned by an infidel, or unbeliever, is free of the bond and can marry again as long as they do so with a believer. The effect of this allowance is an exception to the Lord's adultery clause (for any resultant remarriage by the abandoned) rather than a ground given for divorce.

If a supposed Christian has entered into a sexual relationship with someone in addition to his or her spouse, that one should be rebuked and commanded to cease the adultery. If he or she will not, that one should be excommunicated. The faithful spouse would have the ability to remarry and not be considered an adulterer, nor the cause of adultery. The wronged party, in effect, is given an exception to the adultery clause for divorce and remarriage rather than a positive ground for divorce.

If a Christian marriage is broken out of acrimony, or because of irreconcilable differences, or loss of interest, or anything other than abandonment and/or adultery, the parties do not have the right to remarry. To do so would be adultery. We are grown ups with God dwelling inside of us. If we're actually saved we should be able to find the means of getting along with someone else we're going to spend eternity with. Laying down our lives one for another is the stuff of the kingdom.

I live and am licensed to drive in Pennsylvania. Our traffic laws do not assign anyone the right of way on our roads. Instead, our laws are framed as to whom must yield right of way in any circumstance. So in a mishap, no one can claim they had the right of way; one can only be assigned blame for failure to yield such. I see the Bible approaching divorce in a similar fashion: it doesn't give anyone the right to divorce a spouse, it gives exception to the adultery clause for those for whom there was a failure by a spouse to yield to the marriage bond. So, although there may be grounds for remarriage, there really are no grounds for divorce.