The extreme positions for marital divorce are excessive liberty on the left and excessive restrictions on the right. It is common for man to respond to an extreme position by moving too far in the opposite direction landing at the opposite extreme. The Pharisees were practicing excessive liberty, so the church failing to understand our Lord’s correction swung to the opposite extreme and has held on to that extreme for most of its history with a few notable, and I dare say noble, exceptions.
On the left, excessive liberty allows a failure to keep the conditions of the marriage covenant; a failure to even take them seriously. When it comes to marriage this person fails to cleave, fails to forsake all others, fails to love and cherish. They fail to take the marriage covenant seriously; therefore, they fail to keep the conditions of the covenant. They are a covenant breaker. They treat marriage like a merry-go-round getting off and on as often as it suits their self-centered heart.
On the right, excessive restrictions prohibit divorce for those who are married to covenant breakers. Their spouse is treacherous to them and to their sanctification in the Lord, but they are effectively barred from divorcing their godless covenant breaking spouse and forced into a lifetime of unequally yoked bad company corrupting their own sanctification process and hindering their children as well. The churches’ divorce doctrine effectively treats marriage like a lifetime prison sentence.
Both extremes destroy the sanctity of God’s institution of marriage, but believers are blinded to this reality because the church decided to value the continuation of the covenant more than the quality of the relationship it serves. The church leaders require believers to serve the institution of marriage while God instituted marriage to serve man and help him to glorify God. As the Lord Jesus taught on the institution of the Sabbath, marriage was made for man and not man for the marriage covenant. God instituted marriage to serve man. If a particular marriage cannot serve God’s intended purpose because one of the spouses acts treacherously toward the other, then God made an allowance in the Law for divorce. The church in its extreme position has effectively taken away God’s allowance and as a result changed God’s law.
The rest of this blog lays out the biblical view on divorce.