Matthew 19:1-9 (ESV)
Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.  And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?"  He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."  They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?"  He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery."
“Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so and I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
What always strikes me about this passage is the male prerogative that it assumes. It was written to a culture in which it was the man’s, not the woman’s prerogative to divorce. For this reason malicious abandonment is not addressed as Paul does later in 1 Corinthians. The abandonment is the divorce in essence. But here Jesus is speaking to a culture where it was the man’s prerogative to leave, women in only very extreme cases would be allowed to divorce, and their father’s would have to represent them in court for that, I believe. If they wanted a divorce they had to make life miserable enough for their husbands that he would give them the certificate so they could leave. But there was not concept that the woman would actually in any legal sense divorce her husband. I doubt that this culture was much different than our own though when it came to divorce. Though it was not in the woman’s best interest to divorce.
Actually it just isn’t in the best interest of anyone to divorce. People seem to think it is the easy way out, and somehow it is going to make them happy again. Studies show that divorce tends to make people unhappy. As a rule, it doesn’t improve finances, for either party. So it’s funny that financial difficulty seems to be one of the primary motivators for divorce.
I have heard a lot of people tell me that their divorce did make them happier. I wonder if they are confused though. Sure my life became a bit more livable when the papers were signed and the deed was done. Divorce though did not make me happy. And here is where there is a double standard in marriage and divorce. The marriage is always said to be more than a piece of paper. In fact it is argued by many that they don’t need that piece of paper. But when you mention divorce, automatically it is assumed you are talking about the piece of paper that gave you freedom from a bad relationship, and not the breakdown of that relationship that was your marriage.
God desired for man and woman to be married, to be one in that relationship. Divorce destroys that it rips in two what God has joined together. It is devastating, not only to the couple, but the children, and then society.
I obviously don’t know what all the answers are. I do know that well meaning people read a lot into scripture about this one flesh union that isn’t there. Divorce and remarriage is not the same as having two wives or being a womanizer, at least not necessarily. I do believe that there can actually be an innocent party in divorce. I like to think I am… Sure two tango, but when one gives up, or refuses to tango, well the other is hard pressed to make them do anything different.
In the end, I suppose you can rationalize all you want. There is only forgiveness. Christ has it, even if your spouse doesn’t.