The Problem of Divorce, Part 2 -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 02:1 (Summer 1993)
Article: The Problem of Divorce, Part 2
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Problem of Divorce, Part 2

David J. MacLeod1

The Teaching of Scripture - The Old Testament Texts

A recent study concluded that close to 90 percent of Americans eventually marry at least once. Statistical studies carry a somber warning for these couples. Every year roughly 1.1 million Americans are getting divorced. The statistics will probably get worse because the children of divorced parents have a higher chance of getting divorced themselves.2 Larry Bumpass, a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, projects that 60 percent of recent marriages will eventually end in divorce.3

The implications for church life are sobering because divorce is not just a problem for non-Christians. More and more in our day pastors in evangelical churches (including elders in Brethren Assemblies) are faced with the need to offer counsel to

members of their flocks who are getting divorced. When they begin to read the literature on the subject, they find that there are at least eight different opinions on the legitimacy of divorce offered by evangelical writers.4

It is my purpose in this article to begin5 to answer the question: “Is divorce ever legitimate in the eyes of God?” It is my conviction that the question can only be answered by an appeal to the authoritative Word of God, not to antiquity, denominational preferences, contemporary social custom, or personal notions of common sense. My approach will be to survey the major biblical texts and expound their meaning for today. I hope to follow the wise advice of Robert J. Little, late pastor of radio station WMBI in Chicago and Bible teacher extraordinaire, when he addressed this problem. He said, “We require the guidance of the Holy Spirit to understand both the meaning of Scripture and its application to our lives. God’s mind must be ‘spiritually discerned.’“6

The Old Testament Divorce Texts

The Divine Institution of Marriage: Genesis 2:24

When responding to the Pharisees on the question of divorce (Matt. 19:2–12), our Lord Jesus Christ turned their attention to the Genesis account of the creation of man and woman and the divine institution of marriage (Gen. 1:27; 2:24).

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