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Grounds For Divorce: Hatred, Loss Of Favour

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Mal 2:13-16 (KJV)
13) And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth [it] with good will at your hand. 14) Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet [is] she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15) And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16) For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for [one] covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

As one of the most important institutions that the Lord established, marriage is a very important subject that Christians need to understand and honor. In this series we will be looking at:
1. What we need to know about marriage to understand divorce.
2. The definition, allowance and purpose of divorce and allowance of remarriage.
3. The Biblical grounds for divorce (fornication).
4. The Biblical grounds for divorce (loss of favour).
5. The Biblical grounds for divorce (departure).
6. A Summary Of Our Study and Closing Thoughts

We have previously seen that one of the grounds for allowable divorce is the ground of fornication. By “fornication”, we mean the forsaking of our God-given marital responsibilities (marital covenant) in pursuit of fulfilling sinful selfish desires.

We saw in Matt 19: and Mark 10:, as the Pharisees tested Christ on the subject of divorce they referenced Deut 24:1-4, as the OT teaching on the grounds for allowable divorce…

Deut 24 1-4
1) When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2) And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s [wife].
3) And [if] the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth [it] in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her [to be] his wife;
4) Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that [is] abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance.

In Christ’s response we saw that the Lord did not undo the teachings of Deut 24: by actually upheld it and explained it more fully in His teachings on the ground of fornication. For our lesson this morning let’s look at this text to see in greater detail what is being taught and how it applies to the question of divorce in today’s society.

Let’s continue our study by looking at what is meant by the Biblical phrase “uncleaness” to understand the Biblical teachings on marriage, divorce and remarriage.

THE SCRIPTURES:

Deut 24 1-4
1) When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2) And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s [wife].
3) And [if] the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth [it] in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her [to be] his wife;
4) Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that [is] abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance.

Matt 19:3-9
3) The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4) And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female,
5) And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6) Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7) They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8) He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9) And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Mark 10:2-12
2) And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away [his] wife? tempting him.
3) And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
4) And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put [her] away.
5) And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6) But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8) And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9) What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
10) And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same [matter].
11) And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12) And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

THE STUDY:

“Uncleaness” Word Study:
The various meanings of “uncleanness” found in the Bible…

1. Nakedness, Naked –
Gen 9:22-23, – Noah’s physical nakedness seen by son;
Lev 18:, Lev 20:19, – uncover nakedness – sexual intimacy (13 others)

2. Shame –
Isa 20:4, Isa 47:3, Lam 4:21 – shame of nations who rebel

3. Uncleanness –
Lev 18:19 – sexual intimacy followed by period of uncleanness
Deut 24:1 – divorce uncleaness

4. Destitute –
Ps 141:8 – soul not destitute

5. Discover Nakedness -
Lev 20:18 – intimacy during menstruation
Isa 3:17 – Lord will discover secret parts of nation
Hab 3:13 – Lord discovering all of nation

6. Pour Out –
Isa 32:15 – HS Pentecost
Isa 53:12 – Christ blood poured out cross

7. Raze –
Ps 137:7 – Edom said raze Israel

8. Spread self –
Psa 37:35 wicked spread as green tree

9. Dishonor –
Ezra 4:14 – Kings dishonor allowing Israel to re-build Jerusalem

Summary Of Word Study
As you can see “uncleanness” in the Scriptures describes many different types of actions or conditions that bring shame upon the one guilty of the uncleanness.

Here is a quick listing of the above… shame of having physical nakedness revealed, shame of being caught rebelling against authority or Godliness, shame following illicit sexual relations, shame of being destitute and poverty stricken, shame of having undesirable character revealed, shame of public guilt revealed, shame of complete defeat and destruction, shame of public abuse and domination of innocent.

You can see from the above listing that “uncleanness” involves multiple, varied types of shame.

Let’s try to apply this basic principle of “uncleanness” as we look at the Deut 24: passage verse by verse…
Deu 24:1-4 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her,
Here we have a couple who has accepted the responsibilities of the marital covenant….

and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her:
Here, we see that the husband sees something in his wife that causes her shame (and by implication brings shame upon himself as well). The Bible is not specific about what that “shameful” thing is whether it be a shameful act or shameful attribute. We know this “uncleanness” is not the sin of adultery. If so, based on the OT laws of Moses’ day she would have been stoned to death and, therefore, the husband automatically would be loosed. (Lev 20:10)

That is not what is really important in this teaching. What is important is how the knowledge of this shameful thing has affected the heart of the husband. It turns him against her. The Bible describes this as “she find no favour in his eyes”.

What is meant by this phrase? The word favour means precious, graced or forgiving. It is saying that the woman is no longer held precious in his sight. He no longer is willing to display grace and forgiveness to her. It is not simply “getting angry” with his spouse for some uncleanness. It is setting his heart against her allowing no chance for forgiveness with no desire to forgive. It is developing a permanent attitude of harboring resentment against her. It is the type of attitude that constantly demands “getting even with her” and possessing a burning hatred that cannot be quenched nor appeased. This goes in direct conflict with the command to hold his spouse as precious, seeing her as the weaker vessel (Eph 5:25-31; 1 Pet 3:7). It is basically saying that the husband now breaking his marital covenantal responsibilities by holding permanent hatred in his heart for his spouse.

Also, Deut 24: does not address whether the “shameful thing” was a breaking of her martial covenant or not. Perhaps, what the husband found out that his wife had already broken her marital covenant if so, divorce would be allowed with the wife as the party held responsible for breaking the covenant, regardless of the existence or nonexistence of hatred in his heart.

However, if the wife’s “shameful thing” was not a forsaking of her covenant, a divorce was still allowed due to lack of abiding favor (unforgiveness, hatred) in the husband’s heart, with the husband being held responsible for the sundering of the marriage union.

Divorce based upon unjust hatred in the heart of a spouse for the mate is contained in Christ’s teachings on divorce on the grounds of fornication… a man hating his wife is a type of fornication (following his selfish desires bringing about unclean actions. He is selfishly being critical of his wife for unjust reasons.) Again, divorce in this case is allowed. Jesus even stated that divorce was due to “hardness of heart” – that is exactly what is happening the man has hardened his heart against the woman unjustly.

In any issue rising to level where a spouse hates their mate, divorce is allowed for sake of the hated mate. Any spouse that hates their mate has forsaken their marital responsibilities. The mate is in jeopardy of being abused by the spouse who holds the hate towards them. This abuse can take many forms… psychological, physical, sexual etc. The divorce is allowed to take place for the sake of protection of the mate that is hated. (see our previous study on fornication)

then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
If he is unforgiving and possessing hatred in his heart a divorce could be granted, but he would have to legally divorce her and give her a bill of divorcement (proof she is no longer married). This would allow her to be remarried to another man. Here, we see God’s watch care over her allowing her to be removed from an possible abusive situation and making sure she would have a chance to be taken care of by another husband.

And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.
And also we see His allowance in her being remarried after divorce.

And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;
If this woman became loosed from her second marriage, whether due to divorce based on her second husband’s hatred (hardened heart) or death of her husband…

Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD:
Her first husband would not be allowed to remarry her. This emphasizes the severity and finality of divorce. The first husband needs to think seriously before he allows hatred to enter his heart and he permanently forsakes his spouse. If she remarries, he will never be able to remarry her and undo the wrong that he has done. This was for the protection of the innocent spouse, as well as the protection of the societal marriage institution as a whole.

People should not be walking in and out of marriages thinking they can always undo what they have done. There are permanent, severe consequences to the entering into and then breaking marital vows. To attempt to bypass these principles are totally disgusting before God.

and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
These principles not only apply to one given instance, but to all of society as well. Being God’s people, we are to respect our blessed position before Him and not bring sin into the land by forsaking our marital covenantal responsibilities and then think we can undo the sin that we have already committed.

To summarize the most basic teaching in this text… In any issue rising to a level where a spouse develops a permanent hatred against their mate, divorce should be allowed for the sake of the hated mate.  In other words, this type of sin is selfishness on part of the spouse where they selfishly, critically, find fault towards the mate for insignificant reasons. This results in the spouse rupturing the marital covenant by not taking proper care and treatment of his mate.

SUMMARY:

What we have seen so far can be summarized as follows:
In lesson #1:
1. Marriage is a covenant relationship
2. The parties of the covenant are the husband and wife
3. God is the witness to the making of the covenant, He is not a party in the covenant
4. God as witness will hold each party accountable to keep the promise they made to each other.
5. Marriage is described as a “cleaving” and a “one-flesh” relationship
6. Both of these descriptions imply a closeness, unity and intimacy between the couple
7. The marriage union SHOULD NOT BE broken by man but CAN BE broken by man.
8. Man’s responsibility in a marriage union can be summarized as “to love” and “to nourish” and “to cherish” the wife
9. Woman’s responsibility in a marriage union can be summarized as “to be a help meet” and “to be a companion” to the husband.

In lesson #2:
1. Divorce is the act of destroying, or removing the marital covenant resulting in the covenant being rendered void and going out of existence. The parties of the covenant are held responsible for the breaking of it.
2. Divorce is allowed in cases of “uncleanness”, “fornication”, or “departure
3. God allows divorce to protect the innocent party from abuse and mistreatment.
4. God allows for remarriage following divorce in the cases of “uncleanness”, “fornication” and “departure”

In lesson #3:
1. The Lord teaches us that divorce is allowed by God in the event that fornication takes place. 2. The Biblical definition of fornication is the fulfilling sinful desires resulting in unclean actions and forsaking of God given responsibilities.
3. In the context of our study this would include: following selfish desires resulting in the commission of unclean sexual unions or the fulfillment of other sinful desires resulting in the forsaking of the responsibilities of the marriage covenant.
4. There is no need to limit acts of fornication to sexually related acts.
5. The breaking of the marital covenant is a very serious offense. This offense is so severe if it is committed there is a reason to question the salvation of the individual committing the offense.
6. The grounds, effects, and judgments surrounding the sundering of the marriage covenant apply equally to both men and women. It is wrong to believe that either gender has a greater responsibility to remain faithful to the covenant of marriage.

In lesson #4
1. Becoming hard-hearted towards a spouse is, in essence walking away from their marital responsibilities due to following of their fleshly desires following the uncovering of something shameful on the part of their mate.
2. Another type of “fornication” (a legitimate ground for divorce) is hard heartedness towards a spouse
3. When a spouse allows their heart to hardened against their spouse they are breaking their marital vows by not caring and treating them as they should.
4. This type of hardhearted attitude leads to physical, psychological or mental abuse of the spouse.
5. The divorce is allowed for the protection of the mate guilty of the uncleanness. It is an act that is done to eliminate the abuse that otherwise would be taking place.
6. If the “uncleanness” is a sin that breaks the marital covenant, then the one who committed the uncleanness is held guilty of the sundering of the marriage union. If the uncleanness does not rise to the level of breaking the marital vows, then the responsibility for breaking the covenant rests on the one harboring the hatred in their heart.

As we continue our study, we need to try to remember the above points about marriage and divorce. In our next lesson we will continue to look at God’s teachings on divorce.

For a free copy of this series in book form pdf version: please go to: http://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/mardivremprotected.pdf
For a free copy of this series in book form docx version: please go to: http://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/mardivremprotected1.docx
Settled In Heaven Ministries Text Blog: http://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

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4 Comments

  1. We appreciate your faithfulness to Christ as you share His Word with others. Also, we greatly appreciate you allowing us to use the fruits of your labors to enhance the ministry of My Delights and My Counsellors website. May the Lord continue to bless your efforts as you serve our Lord.
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    Again, thank you so much for your kindness in allowing us to reblog from your blog ministry. May the Lord continue to bless you for your self-sacrificial labors for Him.
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