The divorce as the dissolution of marriage by the Hebrews was simply giving a writ of divorcement, and causes of divorce seem to be accepted by Moses by hereditary usage, according to Jesus, it was allowed because of the people's hardness of heart. Divorce was tolerated by Moses for sufficient reasons, but even uncleanness was a cause for bill of divorcement. Priests were not to take a "widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife."

Hillel with his school, explained the scriptural passages in the sense that a man might divorce his wife with any disgust which he felt towards her. The School of Shammai taught however, that divorce could only take place in a case of scandalous unchastity. Hence the Jews had a proverb that in this matter, as in so many others, "Hillel loosed what Shammai bound." Shammai was morally right and exegetically wrong. Shammai was only right in so far as he saw that the spirit of the Mosaic legislation made no divorce except for the most flagrant immorality.

Adultery meant relations with a woman who was bought and paid for. Fornication was forbidden to women but a venial offense to men. Divorce was free to the man but extremely difficult for a woman. The question of divorce was entirely at the will of the husband; the wife, not possessing equal privileges with the husband, had no right of divorce. Double standards were clearly taught here.

Paul teaches that the marriage union is to be compared with the relationship of Christ to His church, so speaking of either may be in the same language. The grace that comes through the marriage union is holy and without sin and it is sin that separates us from God. Christian freedom is such that we may enter the HOLY bonds of matrimony and sexual union without shame or guilt. There were only three things that were absolutely forbidden for the Christians: fornication (sexual union outside of marriage), eating the food of the idols (idolatry in general) and eating blood (occult practices and witchcraft). If the marriage union is to be compared to Jesus and the church, we know that Jesus will be wedded to only one wife (church), not to a harlot or a harem. It would follow that true love and holiness would not intentionally make a harlot out of a lover but would follow life-giving grace and truth. Anything else would be disobedience and unfaithfulness.

Jesus forbids divorce, except for the cause of adultery: "It has been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery." Although the law of Moses permitted the possibility of a legal settlement, Jesus calls the permission given to Moses a concession to the hardness of their hearts. The dispute with Hillel and Shammai was current at the time, Jesus sides with the stricter point of view of the disciples of Shammai, opposing the lax ideas of the school of Hillel and limiting it to the single case of adultery. The action of Herodias, and others was done in defiance of the law, and in imitation of Roman licentiousness.

The words of Paul speak for themselves and need no comment. "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which has a husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace. For what knows you, O wife, whether you shall save your husband? or how knows you, O man, whether you shall save your wife?"
[Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Matthew 5:31, 32, 21:14, I Corinthians 7, 309, 310, 319, 380, BD]

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