The Bible and Divorce – Dr. Dennis Sheppard (Part 1: The Gospel Passages)

Matthew 19:1-12

1When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. 2Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.
3Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”  4“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’5And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’6Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
7“Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.  8Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” 10Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”
11“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps.
12Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

 

Mark 10:1-12

1Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them.
2Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”  3Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?” 4“Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.”5But Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts. 6But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. 7‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife,
8and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, 9let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 10Later, when he was alone with his disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again. 11He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. 12And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.”

The issue of divorce was brought to Jesus in an attempt to trap him into saying something controversial that could be used against him. However, Jesus used this issue as a teaching moment and in so doing provided us a clear picture of his understanding of marriage and divorce. (

Marriage and divorce was a hot topic of discussion and debate in the time of Jesus. There were two Rabbinical Schools that had staked out an argument on either side of this hot-button issue. The first of these was the Hillel School. This school was very liberal in their teaching on marriage and divorce. Hillel taught that a man could divorce his wife for any offense (not having a son soon enough, burning a meal, losing her looks, etc. The Shammai School, on the other hand, was very conservative and taught that a man could divorce his wife only for unchastity (adultery). This debate was brought to Jesus and the Pharisees were basically asking Jesus which side he was on?

(TO BE CONTINUED ) —

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