I've talked about divorce on this blog but, from the titles, I haven't centered a discussion about it. After last week's Sunday School lesson, I thought I'd share some thoughts on it.
Jesus told Peter that we should forgive our brothers 70 times 7 times if he causes offense and he comes asking forgiveness. But, God considers marriage a sanctified place. Remorse is totally different than repentance. Remorse is hollow. A good example is Judas who was filled with remorse of what he had done… but, no repentance.
If the husband (as in my case) is remorseful but calls it repentance and then a year later does the same thing with two whores... that is a covenant breaker. God gave permission for my divorce because of fornication on my husband part with no repentance and no change of heart even after 3 years of waiting for him to do so.
When Jesus talked about adultery and divorce in Matthew 5, He was clarifying divorce was for one thing only and that was infidelity, period. The Jews had devised all manner of divorcements from burning food to too much salt to dusty houses. Those were frivolous and Jesus clarified that fornication was the only reason for divorce contrary to what the going thing for divorcing was of the day or even as far back as Moses. In Moses' day, the Bill of Divorcement was a Certificate of Innocence which freed up the divorced person from any guilt and allowed them to remarry without the stigma of adultery. A guilty, dismissed spouse was not given a Certificate of Innocence and thereby had the stigma of adultery. Stoning was the penalty and the determination of guilt was through drinking some concoction in front of the Priests. If the woman survived the concoction without becoming sick or dying, she was innocent of infidelity. That practice had gone by the wayside during Jesus’ day. This could have been what Jesus had written in the sand when they brought the woman caught in adultery.
That's just speculation on my part, though.
Isaiah 50:1 God asks the question, 'Where is the scroll of your mother's divorce that I have put away?' There wasn't one because Israel was guilty of adultery. Then in Jeremiah we see the lists of things she was guilty of... there is no innocence on her part nor on the part of Judah.
The Bill of Divorcement was the decree of innocence of the "put away" wife. Joseph was going to quietly "put away" Mary because he knew he had never impregnated her, therefore she must be guilty of adultery. Quietly meant no bill of divorcement to be declared in the courts for he truly thought her guilty. Secretly putting her away, but she would still have the child which would declare her guilt... he could not give her a Certificate of innocence.
Then God stepped in by sending an angel to declare her innocence to her betrothed husband. Joseph immediately got up in the middle of the night and took her to wife as God commanded. The Declaration of Innocence was the release of obligation of legal matrimony. Jesus did not repeat the "write her a bill of divorcement" in Matthew 5:32.
If anyone kicks out or sets at liberty a wife without that Certificate of Innocence then that man causes her to commit adultery. There is no "if she marries again" clause in there. It is assumed that she will marry again. It is the guilty husband who causes the sin.
However, Jesus set everything back into place when He declared that divorce was only permitted in the case of fornication. When two people are Christian and they are married, divorce is not an option. Just as we are to forgive our sisters and brothers in Christ 70 times 7 times, we are to depend upon the LORD to work in the hearts of our Christians spouses, to draw them back into His will and His relationship. This requires much prayer and trust and leaning on God to work.
Divorce from unbelievers is different. Paul tells us not to seek divorce from our unbelieving spouses, but if they desire to split, we are not to fight it and we are not obligated under law (1 Cor 7:15) as Christian married couples are. How do we know if we are married to a believer or an unbeliever? By their fruit. That is the only way. I fear, though, some folks will get to Heaven smelling like smoke, for their fruit is sparse.
Forgiveness is commanded by Jesus. Wallowing in anger and resentment only builds a wall between us and God and serves no purpose for the object of our anger. God truly does protect His children and He really will take care of the chastisement. The key is allowing Him room to work in the heart of our spouse.