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.
So then, 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. The bible allows the innocent spouse the freedom to divorce such a treacherous spouse and remarry in the Lord.
Then we swing all the way out to the right extreme where excessive restrictions prohibit divorce for those who are married to covenant breakers. Believers are bound up, by the church, where God’s word provides liberty. They are coerced into a lifetime of being unequally yoked to a treacherous spouse who has broken the marriage covenant by breaking it’s conditions. As promised in God’s word, this relationship destroys their peace, corrupts their sanctification and development in the Lord, and prevents a godly marriage in the Lord. The churches’ divorce doctrine effectively treats marriage like a lifetime prison sentence for the innocent spouse handed down for the sins (crimes) committed by the treacherous spouse. Ridiculously, in the eyes of many in the church, only the treacherous spouse has the ability to commute the innocent spouse’s sentence by choosing to leave the marriage covenant (1 Corinthians 7:12-13).
Both extremes destroy the sanctity of God’s institution of marriage, but today the world (including the false church) practices excessive liberty while the church fails to obey God’s Word by swinging to the other extreme of excessive restrictions on divorce (especially regarding unequally yoked marriages). Church leaders require believers to serve the institution of marriage while God instituted marriage to serve man. As the Lord Jesus taught on the institution of the Sabbath, marriage too was made for man and not man for the marriage covenant. God instituted both the sabbath and marriage to serve man as he glorifies God. 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. By overcorrecting from the extreme liberty position the church has effectively taken away God’s allowance and as a result changed God’s law. The churches’ excessively restrictive position misses the mark that God set for marriage.
The rest of this blog lays out the biblical view on divorce.