sundays at 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM, & 4:30 PM

Doctrine of Marriage and Divorce - V

January 22, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Doctrine of Marriage and Divorce Scripture: Genesis 1:1

Introduction/ Review

Last week we examined Deuteronomy 24.1 in detail.

We introduced some new terms from the study of logic:

  • Protasis
  • Apodosis

What is the protasis?

  • this is the “if statement” or the introductory part of the passage

What is the apodosis?

  • this is the “then statement” or the result/ determination of the passage
  • similar to 1 Cor 14
    • “What is it then” , “Ti oun estin?”

Remember, we learned that the difficulty why commentators are divided is because:

  • of the location of the if statement
  • of the location of the then statement

Some understand the protasis and the apodosis as comprising on the 1st verse

  • both the introduction and the determination
  • both the “if” and the “then”

if a man take a wife and marry her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he thought it's a matter of uncleanness in her, then let her write, let him write her a bill of divorcement and give it her hand and send her out of his house.

  • He gets up one morning
  • He finds something that displeases him
  • He then gives her a writing of divorcement
  • He sends her on her way

But this is not exactly what is being said

  • The original has it as a continuation of the narrative all way from verse 1 through verse 3.

The protasis is really this:

  • a man has taken a wife
  • he finds no pleasure in her
  • he sends her out with the writing of divorcement
  • she has taken up by another man
  • and that man either dies, or he sends her out

The apodosis is really this:

  • her first husband cannot take her back

We then looked at what the “matter” under consideration was when it came to divorce.

The literal interpretation of “uncleanness” is “nakedness”

  • The matter is a “matter of uncleanness”

And so, we looked at several verses in the Old Testament at how this word is used.

Let’s look at some of these in context so we can understand what this means

In all of these, we saw that the word:

  • refers to something that was uncovered
  • refers to something that ought to be covered up
Some godly men believe the matter of nakedness does not necessarily mean to adultery
  • but has to do with another immodest behavior
Many other godly commentators say that what's going on here means adultery

Consequently, he's to give her a bill of divorcement.

We concluded that this most likely comports with adultery

  • because that is one of the reasons/ permissions given by Christ Himself for divorce.

It is because there is a matter of immodesty, or nakedness or exposure and she is sent away.

  • This was a concession made which Christ exposes for us in the New Testament.
Recalling Mark 10 and Matthew 19

Christ said that the bill of divorcement was for the hardness of men's hearts

The difficulty there is that most people think that it was the hardness of heart as described by Hillel

  • they will just choose wives at every turn.
  • the Pharisees come to Christ in Matthew 19, and ask can a man divorce his wife for any cause?

This is where Jesus brings up the hardness of heart

and strikes against the lust of men’s hearts

Hardness of Heart

Why is this referred to as “hardness of men’s heart”?

  • is it not only because of lust
  • but also because of the violence that comes with divorce.

In Hebrew, a “bill of divorcement” is a translated as a “book of cutting”

Scripture: Ezekiel 16.1-14; Ruth 3.7-15

Marriage is like that skirt

Marriage is a covering

  • it is for modesty’s sake
  • it is for protection’s sake
  • it speaks of being brought into the protection of the family of that husband.

When we do away with the with the wives of our youth

  • when our hearts are that hard
  • when any other woman that might turn our head becomes the object of our desire
    • and we send her the wife of our youth away for any cause.

It speaks of that violent cutting apart of the one-flesh relationship.

It speaks of that uncovering of the skirt to no cover violence but to allow it

  • not the spreading of the skirt for profit
  • not the spreading of the skirt for protection for modesty’s sake

That's what Malachi means when he says one covers violence with his garments.

Instead of covering

  • shame
  • nakedness
  • exposure

Instead of bringing about protection and help and comfort through marriage.

It is that violent act.

Divorce is a violent act

  • it is a cutting off
  • It is that tearing

So, what is the hardness of man’s heart?

Jesus says that that was given for the hardness of the heart.

I believe what Jesus is saying

  • is what men would want to do is if they found no favor in their wives and wanted another wife
    • they would simply accuse her of adultery.
  • And their word prevailing
    • they would eventually be free from their wives
    • because the adulterous will be put to death.

This is the hardness of men's hearts of which Jesus speaks.

  • And this is the concession that Moses makes for the wives being put away
    • rather than falsely accused

So, what the Lord has joined together men ought not to tear apart.

  • The Lord hates the putting away.
  • It is the hardness of men's hearts that would go to such extreme lengths.

Some hard-hearted men might just use that as a device to be rid of their wives

And such hard heartedness is the reason that Moses has given the writing of divorcement to send her away

  • then she is free to be married to another man under the Old Testament economy


Scripture: Matthew 5.32

These are words that preserve and support the sanctity of our marriages.

Notice also that the matter of uncleanness that we saw is the matter of nakedness that we saw in Deuteronomy 24.

Let me re emphasize this

  • there is no necessity laid upon the husband even in a matter of nakedness to divorce his wife.

There is always the opportunity for forgiveness

There is always the opportunity for restoration

There is always the opportunity for the pursuit of godly marriage and godly children

We may stumble.

We may fall.

We may break our marriage vows.

We may burn the food.

We may not provide as we ought.

We may not as men provide monetarily as we ought.

  • We all stumble, as James says in many ways

But there is always room, no matter what the difficulties for restoration

But there is always room for forgiveness

So, Jesus here makes clear that there is only one lawful divorce allowed

  • Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication

Christ is saying to bridle your lusts

Christ is saying to be contented with a wife of your youth


#1: Let us not be hard-hearted but tender hearted.

  • Let us not be hard-hearted

There are many hurts and injuries that take place in human relations

  • even in the most intimate of human relations.

The hurts that take place in human relations are augmented by the intimacy of marriage

  • our expectations are greater
  • and they are more likely to be disappointed and hurt in that disappointment.

We must understand that about ourselves

  • that in the most intimate of relations
  • the greater opportunity for hurt exists, right?

There may be unfulfilled expectations

  • There may be tension
  • There may be busyness and preoccupation
  • There may be selfishness and self seeking
  • There may be the cares and worries of the world
  • There may be irritability and a lack of kindness
  • There may be harsh words and the wounds which remain after those harsh words.

All these can hurt and leave scars.

But Let us remember also that we ourselves have hurt in return.

  • So, when we focus on what our spouse has done wrong
    • that is a recipe for hard heartedness.
Let us not be hard hearted toward one another

Let us remember that we too have done ill

  • we too have done evil
  • we too have not always been the husband or the wife that we ought to be.

Let us be tenderhearted to one another

Let us forgive even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.

#2: Let us be content.

Let us not be as the School of Hillel that fostered discontentment by saying to men

  • oh, if your wife burns the food, seek another.

Let us be content with the spouses that God has given

Let us confess that they are what is best for us

Let us confess that all wise, all-knowing God has given us the very spouses that we need

  • for our sanctification
  • for our instruction

3rd: Let us protect the sanctity of the marriage relationship

The word divorce in the Hebrew is a writing of cutting or cutting off.

Remember that marriage constitutes a one flesh relationship

  • this is far more than just the physical act which occurs between husband and wife
    • because that act can be done anywhere.
    • even outside the bounds of marriage

Marriage is a mutuality, a communion, a consideration of being

  • it one of having a mutual concern, a mutual goal
  • working together for the advancement of Christ's kingdom
  • raising children to His glory together
  • making a home and keeping a home together
  • each fulfilling their various roles together.

There is a togetherness that is part and parcel of the sanctity of marriage.

  • And there are many voices today that have declared war on that

But let us preserve/ support the sanctity of marriage

  • by not complaining about our spouses
  • by not accusing our spouses
  • by being tender hearted toward them forgiving
  • by ensuring they are honoring the Lord through the keeping of all His commandments

Certainly, if the Lord tells us and commands us in the church, that we are to be tender hearted, forgiving one another

  • how much more are we to do in marriage?


More in Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

September 17, 2023

Doctrine of the Last Judgment - The Finality of Judgment

September 10, 2023

Doctrine of the Last Judgement - The Great White Throne

September 3, 2023

Doctrine of the Last Judgment