The Holy Scriptures And Divorce -- By: Noah Lathrop

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 056:222 (Apr 1899)
Article: The Holy Scriptures And Divorce
Author: Noah Lathrop


The Holy Scriptures And Divorce

Rev. Noah Lathrop

In all matters of morals and law, it is impossible to overestimate the importance of correct teachings. The Bible is the text-book of Christian doctrine and morals, and the basis of Christian civilization. What therefore it enjoins or permits is of inexpressible importance to the framer of church canons and the enactor of civil statutes.

As the social fabric is based almost wholly upon the domestic status of the people, marriage cannot be too sacredly guarded. The danger lies altogether in the opposite direction. Our inquiry therefore is, What do the Holy Scriptures teach on this all-important subject?

It appears plain from the nature of the institution, as well as from Scripture teaching, that marriage was intended to be permanent, indissoluble except by death. At its institution it was said, “A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” The Christ, in commenting upon it, adds, “And they twain shall be one flesh… . What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” The apostle Paul also teaches in substance the same doctrine.

When men live according to this divine ideal, “Marriage is” indeed, “honorable in all” Of it we may say, with one of our sweetest Christian singers,—

“Thou art the nurse of virtue. In thine arms
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born and destined to the skies again.
Thou art not known where pleasure is adored,

That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wand’ring eye, still lingering on the arm
Of novelty, her fickle, frail support;
For thou art meek and constant, hating change,
And finding in the calm of Truth-tied
Love Joy that her stormy raptures never yield.’’

It is found, however, that in this, as in some other relations of life, some refuse to fulfil the duties incident thereto. The Scriptures indicate what, in such cases, church and state may do in the premises. “The law [that is, the civil code and church canon] was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless, for whoremongers, for any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.”1

What sins put asunder what God hath joined together? What is the province of church discipline, and what should the civil authority do, when such sins are committed? The civil authority is “the minister of God to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”2

Many in...

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