Divorce – Part Five
WHO IS ACTUALLY DIVORCED ?
Nowhere in the Bible is the non-guilty party of a marriage considered “divorced.” The only party God considered to be divorced is the person to whom the bill of divorcement was given. Under God’s plan, a bill of divorcement could only be given to a party who violated the marriage agreement by committing specific sins, and not for just any reason (as it is with modern “no-fault” divorces).
The Bible tells us that God took Israel to be His wife. She committed the sin of spiritual adultery, and in Jeremiah 3:8, God divorced her. Certainly, no one in their right mind would consider God to be divorced. It was Israel who was divorced, not God. (Hosea 2:2 —where God says of Israel, “…she is not My wife…”)
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY
THAT DIVORCE ACTUALLY IS ?
A Bill of Divorcement (that which puts away the guilty party) terminates any responsibility to the other party. Deuteronomy 24:1 shows that the sinning party is to be sent from the house with no claims upon the house or possessions in it. (If this was true in today’s legal system, it would certainly make many people TRY harder to make their marriages succeed, and to be faithful to their spouses…knowing that Biblically, there is no alimony or other compensation “for time served”).
Thus, only the GUILTY party is Biblically considered divorced.
In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words used to describe divorce. One is (Strong’s #07971= meaning “put away, sent away.” )The other is (Strong’s #03748=meaning, “dismissal, divorce”). The one who is divorced is “the one put away.” God does not put away the innocent person.
*Note that while many people contend that the consequences to divorce apply equally to the innocent as to the guilty, the Bible tells us differently. Such a thing is against the nature of holiness and righteous of our God. Abraham knew this, and in Genesis 18:25, he says to God, That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
When the Bill of Divorcement is delivered TO the guilty party, the marriage is considered ended, invalid, and no longer in existence according to the provisions of God. The innocent party is NEVER made to suffer punishment for some sin that he or she did not do. It is simply NOT the way of God to bring judgment upon people who have done no evil.
GOD DOES NOT CONDEMN THE RIGHTEOUS.
When Abraham was discussing with God about the destruction of Sodom, he brought up a characteristic about God which many who condemn innocent parties to a marriage have missed.
Genesis 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ?
God does not treat the righteous as the wicked. Those who SINNED, breaking the marriage covenant, are subject to judgment, are forbidden to marry again, and have limitations of their future relationships. On the other hand, most uninformed people today count innocent parties to be subject to the same condemnations. That is not what the Bible teaches.
The innocent party, (once the Bill of Divorcement is given to the sinning party), is then FREE—not divorced—and considered to be in the same state that he or she was prior to the marriage. As such, the person who is innocent of wrong-doing is free to marry again (although Paul cautions them to be aware of the possible consequences in I Corinthians 7:8-9).
IS GOD DIVORCED ?
It is interesting to see that after He divorced Israel, God chooses another—His Bride, the Church ! (Revelation 19:7-8). Now, if we were to judge God on the basis by which many deceived people would judge, God has no right to take a Bride. However, the Bible says that He does, and any clear-thinking individual who knows the Savior knows that He is not capable of wrong-doing.