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Did Jesus Really Mean What He Said About Divorce?

jesus on divorce

I think we can learn a lot from Jesus on divorce. Occasionally people will ask me whether or not I think God hates divorce and divorced people, usually former Catholics.

Thousands of years ago God said, “I hate divorce” (Malachi 2:16).

It’s a rare thing in the Bible when God is quoted as saying he hates something. If God says he HATES something, you better believe he REALLY hates it.

I think God hates divorce because it…

  • Rips families apart
  • Decimates finances
  • Guts children emotionally
  • And forces people to start their lives over with a limp

Yet, it doesn’t take a PhD in New Testament Studies to wonder if God hates divorced people as well, at least judging by the words of Jesus in the gospels.

Jesus on Divorce

What did Jesus really say about divorce and remarriage?

Divorce in Jesus’ Day

If homosexuality is the watershed issue that faces the church of the 21st century, then a comparable issue that faced God’s people in the first century was divorce and remarriage. The controversy centered on a single verse from the Old Testament law:

“If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house…” Deuteronomy 24:1

The controversy centered on what it meant for a husband to find “something indecent” about his wife that would justify divorcing her.

What did “something indecent” actually mean?

During Jesus’ time, there were two schools of thought.

  • Those who adopted a “strict” interpretation thought that “something indecent” meant adultery alone justified a divorce.
  • Those who adopted a “loose” interpretation thought that “something indecent” could be applied to many different things in addition to adultery.