Saturday, February 20, 2016

Divorce, Same-Sex Marriage, and Adultery

In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus taught a crowd, including His disciples, "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." A person may ask why it only refers to the wife's adultery after a divorce. It is because, under the Law, only a husband could initiate a divorce. The counter-balance was the right of the now-exwife to keep her bride price. In our society, the principles would apply equally to husband and wife.

Was Jesus here objecting to the Law? After all, the principle to which He objects comes from Deuteronomy 24:1. And the answer is, of course, no. As God incarnate, He could certainly not repudiate something that He had legislated. Rather, He was objecting to the perversion of the Law, by which men dismissed their wives for the pettiest of offenses: "The Talmud specifically says that a man can divorce a woman because she spoiled his dinner or simply because he finds another woman more attractive, and the woman's consent to the divorce is not required." The Old Testament clearly condemned such a lackadaisical attitude toward marriage (Malachi 2:13-16): "You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, 'Why does He not?' Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts."

I have thought of this often during the debates over same-sex marriage, including when it was opposed with "The Defense of Marriage Act." How many of the members of Congress  were divorced who voted for DOMA? And what about Bill Clinton, the philanderer-in-chief who signed DOMA? The best hip boots in the world wouldn't be good enough to wade through that tide of hypocrisy. Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who made world news for opposing same-sex marriages, has been married four times! Which of those marriages was she defending?

As a society, we have become completely unmoved by divorce. Any excuse will do, even such drivel as "I just wasn't happy anymore." Do we skip over God's protest in Malachi? Close our eyes to it? Do we imagine that He sets His opinion aside when it doesn't match the most-recent opinion polls? And do we think that crying about same-sex marriages will cover the hypocrisy of our own dismissal of God's standards for marriage?

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