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June 10, 2007 / Daniel

Divorce and the Death Penalty

I was doing some more thinking about Jesus’ words on divorce in the Sermon on the Mount.  The question is, “When someone is justified in getting a divorce?”  The answer is “porneia.”  

Sometimes a marriage gets so bad that the only way for us to show the value and sanctity of marriage is to end that marriage.  Let me make a comparison to the death penalty.  To some folks, it might seem counter-productive to honor life by ending the life of a murderer; however, sometimes the only way that you can demonstrate the value of human life is by ending the life of someone who has destroyed the life of someone made in the image of God. 

Does that make sense or have I only muddied the waters?          

In other words, “porneia” is so destructive to a marriage that when it happens the marriage needs to be ended in order for us to know that God views marriage as sacred. 

Post-Script (This wasn’t a part of the original post.)

I thought that I should clarify that I believe that divorce is definitely always a last option.  God hates divorce and it’s not His ideal plan for our lives.  When fornication happens, we should pray for the restoration of the marriage.  However, when it doesn’t happen, I believe that Biblically this is a valid reason for a divorce. 

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5 Comments

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  1. daviddansker / Jun 10 2007 8:17 pm

    I don’t think that you can always say that it has to be ended for fornication (Mat. 5:31-32). It can be repented of and forgiven; that option is there. Your point on the sanctity of marriage is well taken, thanks for the post,

    David
    TheNewsBeats.com

  2. fiester25 / Jun 10 2007 9:02 pm

    David,

    That’s an excellent point. The story of Hosea definitely confirms what you’re saying.

  3. Dennis / Jun 11 2007 3:44 am

    Hi Daniel,

    When is a divorce justified? Truly, it’s never (unless as I had said before it was unlawful from the beginning) as God has told us in Scripture.

    Now, let’s say that a person is in a destructive marital relationship. Let’s say for example a woman is in a marriage where the husband is abusing her verbally and physically.

    First, get her out of the house.

    Second, after ALL options are investigated, get a divorce (civilly).

    The real question in the above (or ones like it) is whether or not this was really a valid marriage.

    Did God really join these people together?

    Is God (or was He ever) in the center of the relationship?

    Are they growing spiritually as a result of the marriage?

    Someone has to make that judgement. If one objectively answers “no” to those three questions, then you’d have to wonder if that marriage was really truly valid. If it wasn’t valid, then it really wasn’t a marriage and would be declared null and void from the beginning.

    In regards to marriage, I don’t think I need to tell you that marriage is not always easy. There are times when the stress and friction of the relationship can seem unbearable.

    And the only way that a couple will succeed in marriage is through the Grace of God. If that’s not present, then the marriage is doomed.

    If a couple asks for that Grace (every day!), God will provide it for them. It doesn’t make it any easier…you still have difficulties and arguments. You just know that you’re not doing it alone.

    In my prayers, I always ask that God remain in the center of my marriage so that I always see Christ in my wife and she always sees Him in me. That we love each other through Him and that He help us through our difficulties. As we grow closer to each other, we grow closer to Him.

    BTW…I loved your Father’s Day poem. Being a Dad is truly humbling.

  4. dawn / Jun 16 2007 11:46 am

    DennisDid God really join these people together?

    Is God (or was He ever) in the center of the relationship?

    Are they growing spiritually as a result of the marriage?

    Someone has to make that judgement. If one objectively answers “no” to those three questions, then you’d have to wonder if that marriage was really truly valid. If it wasn’t valid, then it really wasn’t a marriage and would be declared null and void from the beginning.

    I don’t know everything about God and His Word, but this just does not ring true to me. Most people who end up in divorce can say “no” to these questions. Because of how they ended, it would seem that God never truly put them together and obviously they stopped growing spiritually when they started disobeying God by not loving each other the way Christ commanded us to do. So, in my view, according to your three questions their divorces are justified. However, I don’t believe divorce is justified when the problem is simply two people who are disobeying God.

    I agree that if the relationship has gotten dangerous both physically and verbally that there should be a separation. Hopefully the separation will bring the abuser to his/her senses. If not, then I believe there are no grounds for divorce until the abuser commits fornication. I’m not saying that I am right, just that that is the way I see it. I’m certainly open to correction.

    I’ve always been unsure about God’s view on divorce. Jesus seems to be point blank that it is only lawful in the event of adultery.

  5. Dennis / Jun 17 2007 4:28 am

    “So, in my view, according to your three questions their divorces are justified. However, I don’t believe divorce is justified when the problem is simply two people who are disobeying God.”

    Dawn,

    A marriage is not invalid because they are disobeying God. A marriage is invalid if God was never a part of it. It’s not that they start disobeying but rather that they had never been obeying God.

    Also, that decision isn’t made by the couple but rather should be discussed with their clergy as a third party. The only one who really knows if the marriage is valid or invalid is God. This isn’t something where the couple believes the marriage is invalid and so it is. This is where a third party needs to review the marriage and through thorough investigation and experience makes his or her best judgement as to whether it’s valid or not.

    In regards to fornication, I guess I believe that if a couple is married and the husband or wife has a “momentary lapse” then that may not be reason to question the validity of the marriage. People make mistakes and that person should seek forgiveness from God and from his (or her) spouse (and should be forgiven). If a husband (or wife) has an illicit affair with an ex that continued from before the marriage began or if he or she made a promise to be faithful and went to the bars on weekends looking for one night stands then there could be reason to question if God was really involved in this relationship as one of the spouses was not being completely honest all the way from the beginning.

    I heard once before that “God hates Divorce” and it was only after reading Daniel’s post that I realize that it came from Scripture. I believe that and think that marriage is until death–for better and for worse.

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