It’s Over Already?

My heart aches at the news of Kim Kardashian’s decision to file for divorce. After just 72 days of marriage the model/reality TV star made this statement to E! today: “After careful consideration, I have decided to end my marriage. I hope everyone understands this was not an easy decision. I had hoped this marriage was forever, but sometimes things don’t work out as planned. We remain friends and wish each other the best.”
Divorce is a HUGE deal! It devastates lives and people’s hearts. It is not at all what God intended when he instituted the gift of marriage (giving oneself fully to another person for the rest of your lives). God designed marriage at creation. Adam and Eve were married and lived as a married couple. After Eve was created in the Genesis account, God “brought her to the man” (Gen. 2.221). This is considered to be the first institution of marriage. Two verses later, it is written, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2.24). It is clear, by these verses, that God created and ordained marriage and therefore, had a plan for the institution. God designed marriage to be a lasting union between man and woman, in which both partners reveal characteristics of God to one another that were previously unknown to their partner.
With an understanding that marriage was intended to be a lasting union, it seems obvious to assume that divorce was not intended. This is evident when Jesus says, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so” (Mat. 19.8). Jesus responded in this way in reply to the Pharisees asking Jesus about the law of divorce in order to trick him. Even at this very early time in Christian history, there were opposing views regarding divorce. There were two main schools of thought regarding divorce. These schools of thought were formed by two different Rabbinical teachings: a) Hillel and b) Shammai. The Hillel school of thought was that a divorce was permitted in any circumstance, but it needed to happen in a discrete manner. The Shammai school of thought, in contrast, was much more restrictive and greatly opposed divorce among married couples. By asking Jesus this question, the Pharisees were testing him to see which school of thought was correct and, also to question Jesus on whether or not divorce should be permitted at all. The Pharisees were probably attempting to provide an opportunity for Jesus to go against the Mosaic Law. Because Jesus spent the large majority of his ministry ratifying and changing views from laws to love, the Pharisees wanted to trick Jesus into saying that divorce was okay.
In the gospel accounts, Jesus continues his teachings on divorce and Paul, in First Corinthians, furthers the teaching. In teaching, both Jesus and Paul discuss exceptions and circumstances regarding the rules of divorce. Because sin entered into the world, God had to ratify his intentions for marriage. He did not intend for divorce, but because divorce became the reality of humanity, He set up guidelines in order to restrict and monitor it. One of the exceptions that is discussed in these passages is the fornication exception, found in Matthew, as stated by Jesus. In order to grasp the meaning of this exception, it is of utmost importance to come to a full understanding of the meaning of the word fornication and differentiate it from any other similar words.
The Greek text uses the word, “πορνεια” which is translated into “unchastity” in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. This is a very important word. Πορνεια is transliterated into prorneia and is from where the English word “porn” comes. Many other translations of the Bible translate πορνεια to “fornication” or “sexual immorality.” The word fornication, in American culture, is often mistakenly interchanged with the word adultery, which is the Greek word “μοιχαω.” These words, in the Bible, are not and should not be interchangeable. Fornication refers to a sexual sin of any and all sorts; adultery is unfaithfulness toward one’s marriage partner.”. While both sins are wrong and carry heavy consequences, they are not the same and they should not be viewed the same, specifically, in regards to marriage. Jesus says, “except for fornication,” not “except for adultery.” The exception clause in regards to divorce deals only with straying outside of the marriage in a sexual manner.
To set up the next exception, Paul goes into a lengthy discourse on the subject of marriage between a believer and an unbeliever. He commands that as long as the unbelieving spouse is willing to coexist, the marriage is not to be dissolved by the believing spouse. Paul even goes on to explain the benefits of such a situation, where he says, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy” (7.14). The term “sanctified” is not referring to salvation, otherwise there would be no use in identifying a spouse as unbelieving. The term is used to describe the temporal blessing the unbelieving spouse will get because of the believing spouse. In this passage it seems as though Paul is eliminating reasons for the believing spouse to seek a divorce. If the believing spouse is worried about the effect of an unbelieving parent on their joint children, Paul assures them that the children will also experience blessing on behalf of the believing parent.
Paul continues to discuss the issue when he says, … “but if an unbeliever departs, let him depart.” The word “depart,” in Greek is “χωριζεται” which literally means “separates from.” This is the same word that was used in Jewish culture to mean divorce and was almost always used by Paul to refer to divorce. It seems that, under inspiration from God, Paul says that divorce, in the case of the unbeliever leaving the believer, is not to be stopped, if every attempt to salvage the marriage has failed. This is most likely the case when the unbelieving partner is so frantically opposed to Christianity that he or she refuses to continue the marriage.”
These two exceptions to God’s original intentions for marriage appear to be the only exceptions specifically expressed in the Bible. As I will point out in just a little while, this does not necessarily mean that these are the only valid reasons for divorce. With an understanding of what scripture says about the issue of divorce, I want to discuss how this affects us today, if at all. Even with a desire to fall within the confines of Biblical doctrine, it is often difficult to discern what information in the Bible should be taken word for word and without any liberty and what should be taken with more thought and with an understanding of cultural and societal differences. Frequently, in American Christianity, people are searching for black and white answers on any and every issue and in the case of divorce, there are not black and white answers for every circumstance. But how should society today deal with cases that are not discussed in the Bible?
I once read a book called “Christian Doctrine: Faith Once Discovered” and the author said, “the silence of the Scriptures should be respected as strongly as the clear statements.” While human instinct is to become frustrated with the silence, the author suggests that one should have respect and awe for what was purposely left out of the Bible. This, however, still does not answer the question of what to do with the silence. Author J. Vernon McGee discusses this question when he says, “I do not think one can put down a categorical rule either way for today.” He believes that each case should be judged on its own merit and to make black and white rules when there are no true black and white rules for every circumstance is simply unacceptable. It is hard to imagine that God would require a person to remain married when their life, or the life of their children are in danger. Each circumstance should be weighed and measured on their own, because there is no scriptural evidence leaning toward a right or wrong answer.
There is, however, a danger in this line of thinking. Some people seem to be taking far too much liberty in areas of silence. Where scripture is silent, a lot of people are making assumptions and not seeking wise counsel, studying the whole of the Word of God and/or seeking the will of the Lord. With couples finding it very difficult to combine their financial lives/views as well as their expectations for what a marriage should be at the top of the list for divorce and separation, it is extremely important to think, study and discuss thoroughly the Biblical view of divorce, as well as the character of God.
The issue of divorce will always be debated and discussed. Add to people’s opinions on the issues, the different perspectives that people get, along with the past experiences that they bring into the issue and the result is a muddled, confusing and frustrating set of issues that bear hugely on a large number of lives. But no matter how each person interprets God’s teachings on divorce, God’s word itself should be the basis from which we begin to take our stances. So to truly find answers to the issues that press us today, we will need to always, accurately use God’s word to help and guide the direction of our lives.
We have to look to our God for answers. As I have written about before, marriage is difficult. My first year of marriage was straight out of the drama category on Netflix. We both had dreadfully different expectations going into the marriage and adjusting to life together was tremendously difficult! The only reason we made it was because we (thankfully) both understood that we made a commitment to a LIFETIME together and did what we had to do to make things better.
Now, I don’t know Kim K.’s circumstances or if she has Biblical grounds for a divorce, but I do know that my God is bigger than any circumstance and he can change people’s hearts and lives. As I said in the beginning of this blog, my heart hurts to hear of divorce so soon after pledging to do life together forever. If I’m honest, my initial reaction was judgment, asking, “how can you know it isn’t going to work after just 72 days?” I mean, 72 days into my marriage, I had been ready to give up probably at least 70 times. I can only imagine the pain Kris Humphrys and Kim K. must be feeling. I think I know the disappointment, because I felt it; the disappointment of something not being as wonderful as you expected is a distinct disappointment that stings deep down at the core of your being.
Take care, you married people. Remember your commitment and know that God will bless you richly when you honor your commitment. Support, love and encourage your married friends, those who are struggling and those who are not.
Kim K.,
I am so sorry you are struggling through this. Marriage is sacred and it can be so beautiful. Know that God can restore everything that has been broken. Know that you are loved. Know that you are His!

-Rebecca

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new
You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

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