Question: I read what you said about Divorce but in Deuteronomy, God said if a man finds uncleanness in his wife, he can give her a bill of divorcement? Can you explain?
Answer: The statement that is being referred to is: “For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” (Malachi 2:16) Then the reference in Deuteronomy is in chapter 24 and verse one where it says: “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house.”
Actually I didn’t quote the context with the Malachi 2:16 verse that makes it even stronger. The people want to know why God is angry with them so He tells them, and one of the reasons has to do with this area of marriage. “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ (is God angry with us) Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” (Malachi 2:14-15)
I know you asked about the verse in Deuteronomy 24:1, and I will have Jesus answer it for you in a bit, but let me say that I am aware that at least 50 percent of Christian marriages end in divorce these days. I know it has affected my families, and your families. I know that we have to start where we are, but we also need to know what God’s perfect will is for us, so we can aim at it.
So this is what Jesus says about the verse you are referring to in Deuteronomy. You see the Pharisees ask Jesus this very same question concerning divorce. “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’
They said to Him, ‘why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:3-9)
Paul goes into more detail on this area of marriage, divorce, and remarriage in 1 Corinthians. We have a Bible commentary on this if you are interested in studying in more detail. For example what does God say about when an unsaved person leaves a Christian, what do they do then etc.? You will find this study in 1 Corinthians, part 2, chapter 7, starting at verse 10.
Thanks for the question,
Gary T. Panell
For more information email me at email@example.com