Is It Lawful For Man To Divorce For Any Reason?

Written By: on Sep 18th, 2009 and filed under Columns.

Roman Catholics consider marriage a sacrament. There is no uniform approach among Protestants, but most consider it a civil union. Orthodox considers marriage not only a sacrament but also a mystery (Roso) beyond human understanding. God in His unfathomable love for humanity makes the impossible, possible that is, unites and makes one male and one female repeating after what He did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Mathew says that Pharisees brought up the question of divorce to test Jesus. It was a clearly devised snare against Jesus. Divorce was a nagging question for all people of all the time and continues without solution until today. But it was never before as rampant and uncontrollable as of today. Rabbis could not find a common solution for the ravaging problem. Three rabbinical schools were prominent in the days of Jesus totally opposed to one another. (1) Shammai taught that it was legal to divorce wife for reason of infidelity. (2) Hillel taught any reason, as silly as a spoiled dish, would be sufficient reason to divorce. (3) Rabbi Akiba taught an extremely liberal view, ‘if you see a prettier woman divorce the first wife.’ They claimed basis of their teaching in Mosaic Law regarding divorce, Deut 24:1-4. In the light of conflicting rabbinical positions the question to Jesus in itself was not malicious. But the intent was malicious merely because they wanted to drag him in the rabbinical brawl. The group of questioners would have comprised of followers from all disciplines. Depending upon the reply they could easily brand him in one or the other side of Rabbis; conservative, liberal or ultraliberal which would prove detrimental to his authority. Such a situation would cause dissention among his own following. They failed to trap him because Jesus very cautiously handled the situation. He went all the way back to Genesis to clarify the question. He called their attention to the original intent of creation asserting the fact that humanity in His days drifted too far off the original purpose of creation.

In the beginning God created them male and female (in Syriac: Dkar v nekbo bro enoon), Jesus said. Hebrew word for male is tsakar, which means prick or pierce. This imports masculine sense to convey that which is powerful, sturdy, upright, etc. The word for female is neqbah, means perforation, tunnel, etc which imports feminine sense; soft, delicate, etc. Scholars suggest evidence of sexual union and that ‘become one (sarx) flesh’ directly points to sexual union. St Paul agrees to this explanation, “He who is joined to a harlot is one body with her,” 1C6:16. God is the one who designed sex and procreation through sexual union. This happened before the fall and therefore not incidental to fall. What the fall brought upon the humanity is loss of control, desire and misuse of sex through such perverted desire. Sex is the gift of God; not an evil in itself. Proper use of sex is exercising Will of God and a function that fulfills God’s purpose. Biological scientists now think reproduction is possible without sex and man can conceive child!

Man and woman were created to live in perfect unity and harmony, respecting and mutually complementing one another. God expected them to live together forever without parting or death constantly enjoying the company of God and each other on daily basis. Desire, sickness, death and decay came in later as a result of sin. God’s care for their continued welfare was evident from the fact that He made a place where there was no lacking before He placed them there. God did not assign them hard toil. Simple gardening and up-keeping was only expected of them. They were free to move around and do what they liked with a light limitation not to eat fruit of the forbidden tree. Comparing the magnitude of amenities and freedom that were granted the restriction was tenuous. This was to make them know that they ought to acknowledge God, their creator and they were subject to Him. Until then Adam had only two-tier relationship; (1) with God and (2) with other creations. Between Adam and God it was a worshipping relationship for he was subordinate to God. Between him and other creations the relationship was of nurturing and maintaining for he was above them. God introduced a third kind of relationship by creating Eve that was special and equal which until then did not exist so that Adam could relate to it himself in a meaningful way. God wanted man to sustain the whole order of creations.

“Fill the earth and subdue it,” Genesis 1:28. God, by the words, “fill the earth” authorized them to procreate and multiply without which it is impossible to fill the earth. By the word “subdue” God placed humanity above all creations so that he could command and guide them as a duty, not a right. “Subdue” has created certain confusion. Some secular thinkers feel that anchoring on this word “subdue” Christians desecrated the ecological balance by overexploitation and environmental pollution and that other religions are ecologically friendlier than Christianity. While we find solace attributing the causes of ecological imbalances to advancement of science and technology one cannot be passive onlooker to the devastation we have brought upon ourselves. Man, puffed up in his knowledge and self-comfort often forgets that, he has no right to endanger existence of his own kind and other living beings. “Subdue” means, (1) “to bring under control” which certainly requires some kind of force but not to destroy and (2) “to soften, make gentler.” Very thought of exploitation of earth is the aftereffect of man’s fall. Considering the next verse, that is, God commanded that all “vegetables, herbs and fruits that grow in earth shall be their food,” it could be imagined that God was telling them to use sufficient force to till, plow and cultivate, to maximize the fecundity of earth to bear fruits for his sustenance, according to Jerome. There can be no ambiguity that man has no right to exploit earth or other creations so as to cause ecological imbalance. “Subdue” should not be taken as a license for man to treat the earth as he pleases. This is against the very intent of creation.

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