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Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse.

Judaism and the Old TestamentEdit

Judaism recognized the concept of "no-fault" divorce thousands of years ago. Judaism has always accepted divorce as a fact of life (for example, see Deuteronomy chapters 22 and 24), albeit an unfortunate one. Judaism generally maintains that it is better for a couple to divorce than to remain together in a state of constant bitterness and strife. Also see the article Jewish Attitude Toward Divorce. and Get in the Conflict of Laws.

Christian views of divorceEdit

Within Christianity, divorce has become almost commonplace, and the interpretation of the Holy Scripture on divorce widely varies among Christian denominations. However, the first 400 years of the Early Church, the church maintained a unanimous voice opposing divorce.

Divorce in the New TestamentEdit

Bible commentary on divorce comes primarily from the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Paul. Although Jesus touched on the subject of divorce in three of the Gospels, Paul gives a rather extensive treatment of the subject in his First Epistle to the Corinthians chapter 7: "Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife." (1 Corinthians 7:10-11), but he also includes the Pauline privilege. He again alludes to his position on divorce in his Epistle to the Romans, albeit an allegory, when he states "Let me illustrate. When a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. So while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries." (Romans 7:2-3).

Recent research, however, interprets the words of Jesus and Paul through the eyes of first century readers who knew about the ‘Any Cause’ divorce, which Jesus was asked about ("Is it lawful to divorce for ‘Any Cause’" ­ (Matthew 19:3). This suggests that Christians in the generations following Jesus forgot about the ‘Any Cause’ divorce and misunderstood Jesus.

The 'Any Cause' divorce was invented by some Pharisees who divided up the phrase "a cause of indecency" (Deuteronomy 24.1) into two grounds for divorce: "indecency" (porneia which they interpreted as ‘Adultery’) and "a cause" (ie ‘Any Cause’). Jesus said the phrase could not be split up and that it meant "nothing except porneia". Although almost everyone was using this new type of divorce, Jesus told them that it was invalid, so remarriage was adulterous because they were still married.

The Old Testament allowed divorce for the breaking of marriage vows, including neglect and abuse, based on Exod.21.10f. Jesus was not asked about these Biblical grounds for divorce, though Paul alluded to them in 1 Corinthians 7 as the basis of marriage obligations.

This new research emphasizes that Jesus and Paul never repealed these Biblical grounds based on marriage vows. They were exemplified by Christ (according to Ephesians 5.28f) and they became the basis of Christian marriage vows (love, honour, and keep).

Both Jesus and his 12 Apostles recognized the fact that due to the difficulties of a secular marriage, it might be better to never be married at all, as said in Matthew 19:9-12.

Catholic view of divorceEdit

Catholics distinguish between divortium plenum or perfectum (absolute divorce), which implies the dissolution of the marriage bond, and divortium imperfectum (limited divorce), which leaves the marriage bond intact and implies only the cessation of common life (separation from bed and board, or in addition separation of dwelling-place). In civil law divorce means the dissolution of the marriage bond; divortium imperfectum is called separation (séparation de corps).

In Christian marriage, which implies the restoration, by Christ Himself, of marriage to its original indissolubility, there can never be an absolute divorce, at least after the marriage has been consummated. Non-Christian marriage can be dissolved by absolute divorce under certain circumstances in favour of the Faith. Christian marriage before consummation can be dissolved by solemn profession in a religious order, or by an act of papal authority; Separation from bed and board (divortium imperfectum) is allowed for various causes, especially in the case of adultery or lapse into infidelity or heresy on the part of husband or wife.

PD-icon.svg.png This article incorporates text from the public domain Catholic Encyclopedia, available online.


Protestant view of divorceEdit

For evangelicals, marriage is the only appropriate channel for sexual expression and divorce is permissible, if at all, only in very specific circumstances such as infidelity.

Liberal Christians, almost by definition, give a great deal of consideration to cultural norms. In the Western world, divorce isincreasingly common and, so liberal Protestants have become increasingly tolerant of the practices. While liberals view divorce as regrettable, they generally do not label divorcees as "sinners." They acknowledge that sin can weaken the marriage bond. Many protestant believe that divorce is the result of sin, and not neccesarily as a sin in itself.

Eastern Orthodox view of divorceEdit

Orthodoxy regards the marriage bond as indissoluble, and it condemns the breakdown of marriage as a sin and an evil. The Orthodox Church does permits divorce and remarriage, as an exception, a necessary concession to human sin. While condemning sin, the Church desires to help the sinners and to allow them a another chance, with an act of oikonomia . When a marriage has entirely ceased to be a reality, the Orthodox Church faces the reality with philanthropia (loving kindness).

Orthodox-wiki This page uses content from OrthodoxWiki. The original article was at Marriage#Divorce. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Christianity Knowledge Base, the text of OrthodoxWiki is available under the CC-BY-SA.


See alsoEdit

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