Divorce in Regard to Christian Ethics Reaction Paper

Pages: 8 (2522 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

Divorce in Regards to Christian Ethics

What does the Bible and Christian ethics say in regards to divorce? In a society of quick marriages and divorces, more emphasis needs to be placed on the topic of divorce from the spiritual aspects. Depending on the religion, there are different beliefs regarding divorce and the reasons for getting a divorce. Some believe that divorce can only come through sexual immorality and others believe that the Bible teaches that divorce is not an option. Others believe that the Bible states other reasons that a divorce can be granted and the divorced couples can be free to remarry on these grounds. The basis of this reflection will be to examine the aspects from different points-of-view and determine the grounds for divorce as interpreted from the Bible.

The resources utilized in this paper come from different sections of Christianity: Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and Reformed. Several of the authors have PhD's in theology. The validity and correlation between all of the resources will be taken into consideration.


To give an accurate examination of the view regarding divorce, it is necessary to establish the basis by which marriage is viewed in the Bible and what is written about marriage.

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In the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 2: 24, it is written, "This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh" (Holman Christian Standard Bible). This is seen as a covenant from God regarding the sanctity of marriage along with a number of other passages in the Bible regarding marriage.

The view on marriage as answered by Jesus in Mark 10: 6-9 states, "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

Reaction Paper on Divorce in Regard to Christian Ethics Assignment

In these scriptures, Jesus can be seen quoting from the Book of Genesis. He stressed the notion that God intended for a husband and a wife "not [to] separate" from one another (Fenney, 2005). The scriptures were specific in the solidity of marriage and the intent for marriage as permanent. Jesus also states in Luke 16:18, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Having put this in to the context of how Christianity and God views marriage, now the topic of divorce can be addressed as it relates to the dissolution of a marriage.

Regarding divorce, the Bible has very few views on the basis in which a divorce can be granted without the fear of committing adultery or violating God's viewpoint on marriage. According to Pastor Jim Feeney, in the 2005 article, "Divorce and Remarriage: Does God Permit it?," states,

"The Bible does give scriptural grounds for divorce and remarriage. Honestly handling the Scriptures requires that we regard not just the general statements on the sanctity of marriage, but also the God-inspired exceptions to the general rule -- that is, the small number of biblically permissible reasons for divorce" (Feeney, 2005).

These reasons are broken down into two parts and each will be covered with the regards to what they are implying according to Fenney and support with research from other sources.

The first reason that allows for the Biblical divorce is: the husband or wife discovers infidelity in the marriage and the faithful partner is permitted to leave and remarry (Feeney, 2005). According to Matthew 5: 31-32, it is written in the Bible saying, "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." The interpretation is that faithful spouse is granted permission by God to not only divorce but to remarry.

In his interpretation of what Jesus was meaning, in the 6th chapter of the book, "The Marriage Covenant: A Biblical Study on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage," Bacchiochhi states:

"The traditional and most popular interpretation of the exception clause takes porneia in its wider meaning of sexual misconduct. Thus, Jesus allows divorce when one party has been guilty of marital unfaithfulness. This view is reflected in most translations where porneia is translated as "fornication" (KJV), "unchastity" (RSV), or "marital unfaithfulness" (NIV). Advocates of this view maintain that the exception clause allows for the divorce and remarriage of the innocent party, since divorce implies the dissolution of the marriage relationship. In this case, Jesus would be siding with the conservative school of Shammai which allowed divorce when the wife was convicted of serious sexual misconduct" (Bacchiochhi, n.d.)

Though written in different ways both show the exception to the rule in regards to being allowed to divorce in the eyes of God.

David Instone-Brewer is saying the same thing in the October 20, 2007 web article, "What God has Joined," on ChristianityToday.com. While discussing the grounds for divorce, Instone-Brewer states,

"As in any broken contract, the wronged party had the right to say, "I forgive you; let's carry on," or, "I can't go on, because this marriage is broken."Therefore, while divorce should never happen, God allows it (and subsequent remarriage) when your partner breaks the marriage vows" (Instone-Brewer, 2007).

Another view regarding infidelity in marriage comes for Sandy Fielder in the article, "Marriage, Divorce, and Marriage -- a Covenantal Model," her viewpoint is:

"Both the root words for indecent behavior (Deuteronomy 24:1) and fornication (Matthew 19:9) 'denote generic, ethically abhorrent misbehavior with the focus on sexual immorality.' Jesus was taking a stand to uphold the law as it was originally intended, a law which was more protective of women than the current practices of His day" (Fielder, 2010).

Though each one states it in different ways, the agreement is the same; that infidelity or sexual immorality is an acceptable ground's for divorce according to Christian ethics and God.

The second reason, in keeping with Fenney's unique cases of God permission to divorce and remarry, is "the Christian believer's unbelieving spouse leaves the believer, and not vice versa, the Christian is allowed to divorce and remarry (Feeney, 2005).

The Old Testament states that the Israeli men had married Gentile wives and upon returning to their homelands were required to get rid of them. In Ezra 10:2-3, the scriptures are written stating, "Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law." This was a marriage between believers and nonbelievers and according to the scriptures, it is 'according to God's law' (Fenney, 2005).

Paul in 1st Corinthians 7:12-16 states, "To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?" They only thing about this is it is Paul that says this and not the Lord. "Paul recognizes, however, that human nature is perverse and that even a Christian husband or wife can make marriage intolerable for the other partner. A spouse who is out of fellowship with God can become intolerant, abusive, unfaithful, domineering, inconsiderate" as stated by Bacchiochhi (Bacchiochhi, n.d.)

The reasoning behind the words of Paul and backed by some scriptures in the Old Testament is that a nonbeliever threatens the beliefs of a believer. Nonbelievers had lead Jewish people into worshipping pagan gods.

In the essay, "The Ethics of Divorce and Remarriage," Dennis McCallum states, "Don't feel that their salvation is dependent on the continuation of the marriage. By fighting their desire to leave, you may only promote continual and destructive strife because of their hardness of heart -- but "God has called us to peace" (McCallum, n.d.). This coincides… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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