Is Divorce Permissable?

The United States Census Bureau reports that in 1920 there was one divorce for every seven marriages, in 1940 one divorce for every six marriages, in 1960 one divorce for every four marriages, in 1972 one divorce for every three marriages, and in 1977 one divorce for every … More


The religious leaders had tried on several occasions to trick Jesus with questions and had failed. Now we find them trying again with a very controversial issue. Is it ever right for a man to divorce his wife (vv. 1-3)? It is interesting how Jesus answers by saying, “Have you read the Bible?” (v. 4).

The Jewish nation was divided over this issue. Followers of Hillel felt a man could divorce his wife for almost any reason. The followers of Shammai took a stricter view which said that no man could divorce his wife unless she was guilty of sexual sin. Jesus didn’t speak to this issue but reminded these religious leaders of God’s original purpose of marriage (Gen. 1:27). That being that God joins a man and woman together in an inseparable bond which is even a higher calling than the parent child relationship (vv. 5-6). For a man is to leave his father and mother and be joined in a one-flesh relationship (Gen. 2:24). The issue is not what saith Hillel or Shammai but “What saith the Lord?” Marriage is not merely a social ceremony as many declare today. It is far more than a piece of paper. God joins a man and a woman into a single family unit.

The Pharisee then asked  why Moses commanded divorce for the people of his time (v. 7). They were interpreting Moses’ law as though it were a commandment. The Lord’s answer was that Moses gave this permission “because of the hardness of your hearts” (v. 8). He actually corrected the Pharisees by saying that Moses did not command but permitted divorce because of their sinful hearts. Those who heard His words then reasoned that if there were no grounds for divorce one would be better off never to marry (vv. 9-12).       


For the most part our society is very soft on divorce and this is even becoming true in many churches. I must teach families how God hates divorce and that divorce should never be considered as an option. Marriage is for a lifetime.

Matthew 19:1-8 (English Standard Version)

Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so."

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