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Divorce Laws and Domestic Violence in the Bible: A Gendered Perspective

Info: 11831 words (47 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: ReligionFamily Law


No matter what one may think or imagine, Divorce is a very sensitive and emotional topic. It is a difficult topic, and anyone who has experienced a divorce knows how devastating it can be. If a couple is having difficulty in marriage as husband and wife, it is better to seek counsel. It is always healthier to find ways and means to reconcile and do whatever one can do to repair the brokenness in the relationship. God hates Divorce, Mal 2:16. Therefore, the writer would like to treat this dissertation with much tenderness and sensitivity as possible. This dissertation is not meant to cause extra burden or pain for those who have already suffered a divorce but to look critically at the divorce laws in the Bible and how their interpretations have either fostered violence or cemented the bond of marriage.

God understands that since matrimony involves human beings who are prone to sins, divorce is likely to occur. The marriage and Divorce laws in Deut 24:1–4 states that God has laid down some law for protecting the divorcees’ rights, in particular, that of the woman. Moses did not give the law because he desired it, but due to the hard-heartedness of the men, (Mt 19:8). If there is a proven case of systematic and consistent violence in a marriage or relationship between a husband and wife, would God still ‘hate’ it if the couples were divorced? If God says He hates divorce, does it mean that divorce must not happen? Many pastors would be happy not to be embroiled in the complications associated with divorce and marital separation because there are deep-seated differences of viewpoints and interpretations within the Churchs like the Catholics, Church of England, Protestant, Evangelicals and Liberals.[1] What is the present day Church’s position on divorce? There are the Biblical grounds for divorce, however, whatever may be the reason for divorce, God says He hates it (Mal 2:16). Why does God hate divorce, and what are the things that intending couples should learn before going into marriage to prevent divorce in the future.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

It is true that God hates divorce, Mal 2:16. However, some writers and feminist and many women do not believe that God would allow a person to remain in a marriage when there is the hardness of heart and violence that threatens life or lead to emotional, physical, or mental illness. Often, some women remain in a volatile marriage because of the children, taking all the risks that accompany the violence. Moreover; some churches do not encourage or permit divorce because God hates it. The question is why are some churches maintaining a hard stance even in the face of violence where the threat to the woman’s life is visible? There are several essays and books on divorce and remarriage, most of which mostly focus on the exegesis and debates about whether divorce should be permitted or not. The apparent silence of the woman in the whole issue of divorce and remarriage raises the need to carry out this study on “Divorce Laws and Domestic Violence in the Bible: A Gendered Perspective”. The study is being carried out in a feminist perspective to reveal the issues faced by women as well as highlight their emotions and some of the hard times they face while they remain in hostile marriages, praying that things will get better. Indeed it gets better for those who seek early counselling; however, for some others, it is left for too late, leading to fatalities.

1.4 Research Aim

The research aim of this dissertation is to determine whether God would allow married couples to remain in a marriage where there is the hardness of heart, abandonment and domestic violence that is life threatening or violence that has resulted in mental torture, emotional and physical abuse leading to mental illness or irreversible medical conditions.


The writer thinks it is necessary to define some key words as this will assist in a better understanding of the dissertation.



Unbelievable as it may sound, the writer feels we may no longer assume that the traditional definition of marriage is what it used to be in the twenty-first century. Marriage in this dissertation refers to a one man and one woman in a covenant, a holy union founded by and openly entered in the presence of the Almighty God and usually consummated by sexual intercourse.[2] A monogamous marriage as instituted by God, “bones of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). Marriage is a miracle from God, where a man and a woman become one indissoluble union.[3]


In the Gospel of St. Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, Jesus speaks of the man who “divorces his wife.” The English Bible’s translation of “divorces” to Greek is ἀπολύω (pronounced “apolýo”). Apolýo has different meanings, including: dismiss, uncage, unhand, unloose, unleash, disband, unbind, discharge, release, sack, send away. It may also be used as a legal term permitting acquittal to a prisoner, and as a release or pardon[4] (Mt 27:15; Lk 23:16; Acts 3:13). Divorce in the Greek word may also mean being set free from painful conditions (Lk 13:12). It could also mean permitting or making one leave a precise place (Mt 14:15, 22; Acts 19:41). It is also used to describe the dissolving or to disband a union between husband and wife. Joseph was going to apply this meaning in Mt 1:19 (during the betrothal period with Mary), and in Mt 5:31ff, 19:3, 7-9. This meaning is reflected further in Mk 10:2, 4, 11-12; and Lk 16:18.[5]


The English translation of unchastity (NRSV), fornication, (KJV), sexual immorality (AMP) comes from the Greek word, πορνεία (porneia). The Greek word porneia has a wide-ranging meaning from prostitution to fornication, whoring, harlotry, whoredom and white slavery. According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the NT, it defines it as all forms of involvement in any kinds of illicit sexual activity.[6]

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is any act against a woman such as threats, bullying, coercion, and deliberate denial of freedom, be it in public or private; any actions or inactions that result or can lead to economic or physical abuse, sexual or mental harm or suffering.[7]

The United Kingdom’s Home Office defines Domestic Violence as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass but is not limited to financial, emotional, psychological, physical and sexual abuse.”[8]


Institution of Marriage

God said it is not good for man to be alone. Therefore, He provided a helper partner for him (Gen 2:18). God created Eve from Adam (Gen 2:23), thereby setting up the Holy estate of marriage. It is Holy because the whole idea originated from HIM. This marriage between a man and woman as initiated by God in the book of Genesis is an honourable estate instituted by God when Man was still innocent (Eve had not been tempted, and Adam had not eaten the forbidden fruit). This Holy Estate of marriage implies that divorce or dissolution of the marriage bond could not be in the picture otherwise than as a fundamental breach of the divine institution.[9]

Marriage in the Ancient Near East

Marriage in the ancient Near East was contractual, involving payments, agreed stipulations, and penalties. If either partner broke the requirements of the contract, the reliable partner could opt for a divorce and keep the dowry. Exact parallels to these practices are in the Pentateuch.[10] Marriage is called a ‘covenant,’ (berith) throughout the Pentateuch and the rest of the OT. The legal basis of marriage is a covenant because, like all other types of contract, it was an agreement between two parties that contained stipulations and sanctions. A marriage covenant like any other covenant included details of payment, the agreement to stipulations by two sides, a set of penalties for the individual who did not keep these requirements, and a legally binding witnessed ceremony or document that recorded all these matters. Marriage covenant in the OT was like all other ancient Near Eastern covenants.In the OT period, there are stipulated fines or penalties for breaking some marital agreements. The OT also uses the same legal language for all these aspects of a marriage covenant as found in other ancient Near Eastern marriage bonds. Many of these customs and terms survived into the first-century C.E. and became the basis for New Testament teachings on matrimony.[11] In Biblical exegesis, we could look at two types of marriages. Firstly, the marriage metaphor of God’s covenant with the nation of Judah as a kind of marital union (Ezek 16:8; 59-62);[12] and secondly, the Judeo-Christian union of one man and one woman, with the model of Adam and Eve, male and female as another example.

Marriage as a Covenant

There are few specific references to marriage as a covenant in the OT. Prov 2:17 speaks of human marriage in a covenant context, although the reference there is probably primary to God’s covenant with Israel including the obligations of the seventh commandment. Mal 2:14 is a more explicit passage that God is a witness a man and the wife of his youth. The implicit link between human marriage and God’s covenant with his people, however, is very widely in use in the scriptures. God frequently expresses his covenant of grace with his people in human marriage terms. Human married life, its uncertainties as well as its certainties, its joys and its hard times, love and temptations to infidelity, all this ‘formed the prism’ through which the prophets proclaimed the saving covenant of God with his people.[13] Human marriage became the means of revealing the meaning of covenant.[14]

The Prophet Hosea expounded God’s covenant of grace by reference to the human reality of wedding. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, a harlot (who had taken part in Baal fertility rites), and her subsequent departure to ‘her lovers’ (2:5), is used as a picture of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. Since the days of Solomon the nation had never been as rich or as secure politically – nor as lawless (4:6), as immoral (4:10) or as pagan (3:1). They had, like Hosea’s wife (2:8) become blind to the love of God to them (2:13).  All Gomer had the right to expect from Hosea – all faithless Israel had the right to expect God – was the judgement of divorce.[15] In the book of Jeremiah constantly refers to the images of marriage and fidelity to describe the covenant of grace and the sin of covenant-breaking, between God’s people and himself. Thus Israel’s apostasy (Jer 2:20f) expresses the language of divorce (3:1,20).

The Prophet Ezekiel uses the metaphor of infidelity, harlot, adulteress in his vivid description of Jerusalem’s marriage to the Lord. In Ezek 16, Jerusalem is God’s bride, her birth (16:4) and her growth to marriageable age (16:7). Her betrothal and marriage (16:8) and her infidelity and adultery (16:15-34) are traced out, and God’s punishment for unfaithfulness is evident (16:40). Even after breaking the marriage covenant (16:59), God will not forget his promise of love (16:60).

The Prophet Isaiah uses the marriage imagery, and here there is an even stronger indication that although divorce is real in God’s punishment for Israel’s unfaithfulness, the separation is not permanent, and the abandoned bride will b brought home.[16]


Incidences of Domestic Violence in the Bible

The marriage law and divorce recognise the idea of ‘no fault,’ divorce many years ago. It also accepted divorce as a fact and part of life, even though it is an unfortunate occurrence whenever it happens. The Jewish marriage law suggests that it would rather be better and more peaceable for the husband and wife to divorce than to live together in a state of constant acrimony.[17]

Abram and Sarai in Egypt Gen 12:10-20.

Abram and his family had to immigrate to Egypt because there was famine the land. On entering into Egypt, Abram reminded Sarai, his wife that she was a beautiful woman (Gen 12:11). For the fear that the Egyptians will kill him if they know that they were husband and wife; Abram convinced his wife to lie to the Egyptians that they were brother and sister (Gen 12:13). Sarai lied, and Pharaoh took her to be his wife. Sarai did not have any options that to go along with Abram. Did she agree because of love or fear? There is no doubt that she loves her husband, and that was why she agreed with him to lie. Sexual coercion is one form of abuse against the woman that is still ongoing. What if Pharaoh had sex with Sarai, would Abram still take her to wife? Women are still and continuously face sexual exploitations by husbands, families and friends. There is a tribe in West Africa that offer their wives for sex as gifts to distinguished visitors. Their thinking is that strangers are gods, and offering the gods their wives is the best gift. This cultural practice is a sign of weakness by the men, and nothing more than a crime against the woman and the society. Sarai must have felt powerless over her body and life, and with the little sense of control and power he has, Hagar would be a ready target and of course the only person inferior to her. Sarai, the abused woman, becomes the abuser.[18]

Hagar and the Birth of Ishmael (Gen 16)

For ten years, Abram and Sarai have been trying to make babies. However, their effect had not yielded dividends. Sarai convinces her husband, Abram to sleep with their slave Hagar as a wife (16:3). Hagar became pregnant, and Sarai begins to feel that her position in the family is becoming untenable. Hagar on her part was becoming “big-headed” and looked at her mistress with contempt (16:5). Sarai feels insecure in her husband’s house and sees Hagar as co-wife to Abram offensive.[19] Polygamy brews hatred, jealousy, offences leading to domestic violence and eventually tears the family apart.  The story of Hagar, the Egyptian Slave girl, is that of slavery, forced marriage and surrogacy without consent. Hagar’s story is the experiences of countless women and children even in this modern day who suffer domestic violence, child marriage, labour trafficking, sexual abuse and all other forms to molestations.[20]

One of the greatest evils in polygamy that fans domestic violence is the unfortunate reality that the husband cannot love his wives equally. Abram was not immune to this fact. Sarai complained to Abram that Hagar treated her with contempt, manipulated Abram “May the Lord judge between you and me!” (16:5). Sarai got her wish, dealt harshly with Hagar who after having more than enough violence and abuse from her mistress, ran away for safety to Egypt in her pregnancy. Anyone who is bent on violating another person does not care about the mental or physical health or handicap of their victims. After her encounter with an angel of the Lord, Hagar was commanded to return to her mistress Sarai and submit to her (16:9). The angel’s command sounds very familiar from Ministers and Churches who are staunch supporters against divorce and remarriage. Over looking violence and asking an abused person to return to the same house where they were tortured and abused sounds insensitive. Hagar agreed to go back to Abram and Sarai because there was an assurance for her that all will be well with her and Ishmael. However, what assurances do we have when there is the insistence that God hates divorce, and so the couple must get back together? In settling the dispute, couples must be willing and ready for reconciliations to bring about a peaceful settlement and reunion.

Unfortunately, in our quest to find answers to domestic violence, we often worsen the pain of the victims in searching for the trigger of the abuse. Hagar’s story demonstrates the importance of not only reflecting on issues of domestic violence but also the fact that it is not a subject of black or white. The idea of Hagar’s pain on her journey back as inspiration; as she was able to make that journey back, we must be able to continue on the journey towards a better world for all children of God.[21]

Judges 19: The Levite’s Concubine

The book of Judges 19 is one of the most heartless, horrible and horrendous brutal passages in the scripture against any human being. The Levite’s concubine is one of the rare passages in the Bible that one hardly hear any preacher talk about in the church, maybe partly because of the share brutality involved. It was a gruesome rape, murder and dismemberment of a woman, facilitated in part by her husband who is a man of God, a Levite.[22]

Economic violence against the woman is one area that people over look or easily miss. Whenever a woman is fully dependent on her husband, the man may use it as an instrument of control and domination. The secondary wife status given to the woman is already an indicator of economic disparity. Meaning that during this period in history, the woman and her children are not entitled to support from her husband, making them financially vulnerable.[23]

It may be possible that the Levite’s concubine is called a secondary wife because she is not a Levite woman, and so does not share the same position or status. Polygamous men start by having extramarital affairs that later lead to full marriage, and while these affairs are developing, domestic violence develops with it. The Levite is the woman’s husband (19:3), and the woman’s father is the Levite’s father-in-law (19:5). Calling a fully married woman a concubine in her husband’s house implies that there is trouble in the home.

Women who are going through domestic violence do not always speak up the first time an incidence of violation occurs. The woman becomes angry with her husband and left the house (19:2). The Scripture is silent on why she left her husband’s house, but there is no doubt that she must have had enough of her husband’s bad behaviour. Labelling her a prostitute because she left her husband’s house is inappropriate. There is no evidence in the scripture prove that she was involved in sexual promiscuity. Rather it is a cultural practice to tag women who leave their husband’s house for any reason as “Bad women.” Slut-shaming and name calling is verbal violence and often accompanies physical abuse.[24] Most of the time when a woman or even the man decides that they want a divorce, the other partner should not resort to name calling, shame or any form of verbal abuse. When children are involved, it calls for restraints on both sides of the parents.

Women who suffer abuse at the hands of their husbands must have a place where they can seek refuge. Her father’s house is a place of comfort and peace. There are some, however, who do not have any other place to go but back to their abusive partners. Sometimes, after the man is sober, and wants to win her love again (19:3). In domestic violence, winning back a woman’s love is a common element of the cycle of abuse, intertwined between occurrences of violence. Sometimes, it is far better for the couples never to come together again because it ends up making the woman more vulnerable to the abuser.

Whenever a woman decides to leave her husband because of domestic abuse, the violence against the woman escalates and could lead to the death of the woman. She might leave the safety of her father’s home or place of refuge but may never arrive at her destination.

The Levite takes his wife from her father’s safety, disregarding his father in law’s advice that it not safe to travel so late in the day, (19:9-10). They had a stop over at Gibeah, and some gay folks came to the Gibeonite’s door demanding to have sexual intercourse with the Levite (19:22). The Householder in a state of shock and disbelieve pleaded with the men not to do such a vile thing (19:23). However, what is more, shocking was the proposal of the householder, offering his virgin daughter and the Levite’s wife whom the gay men refuse (19:23). The cowardly and vile treatment of the women demonstrates the use of power by men over women where the abuse of authority is used to victimise the women.[25] In patriarchal Israel, women are inferior to men. Hence women are seen to obey their husband solemnly. Their voices are unheard and must never resist their spouse’s command or wishes.[26] The Levite pushes his wife out into the hands of the mob who gang-raped her all night. In today’s world, it would be a criminal offence punishable by harsh sentence and their host; the Gebionite would be a convicted accomplice. The act of gang-raping a woman, aided and abetted by her husband is cruel, evil and commendable. A divorce would have spared the woman this misfortune and physical and emotion cruelty. There are some cultural practices and biblical scholarship that treat the offering of the virgin girl as hospitality. However, there is no proof in the Bible to support the notion that proffering one’s daughter for gang-rape is an acceptable choice for a host or guest.[27] Any form of sexual attack is a gross and inhumane violation of womanhood.

The Hebrew word “rape,” describes in a language meaning repeated and hard scraping (as in gleaning a field) from within her body. In all these horrific sexual assaults on her person, she was mute. Her cry must have been a cry of anguish, agony and even death. Probably, she was unable to move, scream. She was over powered by the rapists and felt helpless and succumbed to her calamity. No woman should be allowed to go through this type of experience no matter what the culture maybe. It is nothing but, pure evil.

Surprisingly, she survived the ordeal found her way back to the house but passed out at the door (19:26). Unfortunately, because of the ‘hardness of men’s heart,’ her husband and his host, left her outside until the morning probably to dies of her injuries. When her husband the Levite, sorry, point of correction, her master, was about to leave the house (19:27). It is amazing to see the sudden transformation of ‘husband’ to ‘master’ over night. No wonder he screams at her ‘Get up.’ She is no more a wife but a property. There was a total disregard for the image of the woman, her dignity and humanity. Her husband who is now her master did not show any sign of pity, grief or emotions for his wife. Unfortunately for the woman in this story, she ended her life is a terrible way. Since her husband had lost all forms of affection for her, he took a knife and dismembered her (19:26). The Scripture did not tell us that she died of her injuries, but for the fact that her husband took a knife and cut her into twelve pieces indicates the man is mean and evil. It is better for some couple, once they are separated never to come back once the man has not changed in his attitude and character towards his wife, because, if they do, the woman is most certainly may lose her life in the process.

Women who are dependent on their husband and those women who are married to polygamous men are usually targets for domestic violence. Sometimes, communities and religious bodies compound the issues of divorce and domestic violence with theology and interpretations that have their origin in Ancient Near East and Patriarchal practices. The act of suppressing, controlling, and dominating women is in gross violation of God’s original plan in (Gen 1: 27). God created man and woman equally, and there should never be domination of the woman.

The Church and the community should engage with married women, young ladies and girls who go through the horrific experiences of domestic violence to speak up. Communities and  Church leaders can also preach and teach more about the evils of domestic violence as a way of tackling all forms of violence against the women.[28]

The Denial of Justice: Amnon rapes Tamar – 2 Samuel 13

For over three decades in ministry, the writer has hardly heard the story of Amnon and Tamar taught or preached in the church. The reason is more like poking an old wound. For those who are Africans born and brought up in a polygamous family, it reminds them of the past they never want to remember. Tamar story shares a similar fate.

Tamar, a beautiful princess and daughter of King David, was sexually violated by her step-brother, and her father, the king, was only angry but did not punish Amnon by invoking the Levitical law in (Leviticus 18:9, 11), because he was the crown prince. What an injustice?

There are stories in the media of fathers, sexually violating their daughters. There are reports also in the press about big brothers violating their sisters; masters violating their house maids and the story is endless. The violators conceal their activities and would always threaten their victims if they speak up.

Tamar’s story is such a tragic one in that the most powerful man in the land, her dad, did not see anything wrong in what one of his sons, Amnon did to his daughter. Amnon pretends to be unwell, no thanks to an abominable suggestion of Jonadab (13:3-6). Tamar, being obedient obeys her father’s directives to nurse Amnon. One of the instruments men use against women when it comes to abuse is physical power. Amnon grabs his half sister; the poor victim resisted, he asked her to lie with him (2nd Sam13:11). She said to him. ‘No my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile!’ (2 Sam 13:11-12). When perpetrators of domestic violence like Amnon go berserk, they do not listen to any pleads for mercy. Tamar knew the consequences of losing her virginity as a daughter of Israel and a princess (2nd Sam 13:13a). Unfortunately, she was ready to compromise and agree to Amnon’s request only if Amnon spoke to the King. She was only and desperately looking for a way of escape. Victims of domestic and sexual violence would do and say anything to please their captors, whether they mean it or not. Tamar’s pleadings for Amnon to stop failed. He overpowered his sister and raped her (2nd Sam 13:14).

As soon as Amnon had his desire, Tamar instantly became an object of hate. Before raping Tamar, it was love (2nd Sam 13:1) after raping her it became a deep seated hatred for her, “Get Out” (2nd Sam 13:15).  Many women who started marital life with their husband and sometimes out of nothing, end up being push out of the home when their husband become affluent. “Get out,” or Pack all of your belongings and leave is also another common phrase women and victims of domestic abuse face. Victims of domestic and sexual violence like Tamar suffer many emotional and phycological mental disorder. The wounds are not always physical, and so, many may not be aware, but it is taking a devastating toll on the victims. Amnon’s cruel, sadistic and selfish behaviour is the opposite of love (1 Corinth 13:4-7). No one can trace violent abuse to love. Instead, the violent man expresses his lust for power and control. He exacts his unjustifiable desire, like Amnon to dominate others.[29]

Tamar no doubts suffers an emotional and mental break down after the incident by tearing her long robe with sleeves, putting ashes on her head and going about crying aloud was publicly announcing that she was no longer a virgin by sexual violation (2nd Sam 13:18). Whenever domestic abuse raises its ugly heads, it has ripple effects. Families are set apart and against each other. Brothers and Sister become enemies of each other. The family bond of unity is broken and sometimes may never be put together again. When Tamar’s brother from the same mother, Absalom heard of what Amnon his step brother did to their sister, Absalom tells Tamar not to take it to heart (2nd Sam 13:20).

Sometimes when women who are going through domestic and sexual abuse at the hands of their husbands approach family members, minister or even friends, the first things we tell them is to forgive. We remind them that the man is the father of their children. We tell the women that their husband might have had a bad day at work. We say not to worry too much about it that it is just a storm, it will pass. Sometimes we blame the woman for making the man angry forgetting that most women, only speak up after they have had enough of the abuse.

Tamar had to live with the pain the rest of her life, unmarriageable, childless and in self-confinement in Absalom’s house. David, the king, heard all the happened, he only felt anger against Amnon but did not follow the Levitical law(2nd Sam 13:21). After two years of growing anger and silent hatred for Amnon for raping Tamar, Absalom plotted and executed Amnon (2nd Sam 13:23-29). King David, denied Tamar justice, Absalom waited for two years to kill Amnon for the sin of incest against his sister. When domestic violence starts, only God knows where it might lead. Some women have lost their lives in incidences of domestic violence if Churches or Ministers have taken a proactive action. The academic and biblical debate about divorce or remarriage will not save a life that is going through domestic, emotional, phycological and physical abuse. A bold and practical intervention that prevents further damage to the physic of victim should be of urgent importance.


2017 Relationship without escape exit clause.

‘Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Domestic violence is not just the perpetrator having a bad day, but it is the exercising of power by one person over, and against the individual whom they should be exercising love.[30] The story of any woman going through domestic violence is like that of a person stuck in a cage. It can have a feeling of abandonment, isolation and misunderstanding. In a violent and abusive relationship, people sometimes ask the woman what she has done to make her husband so mad, but most often than none, no one asks the man the same question. In an abusive relationship, the matter often gets worse whenever the vulnerable and weaker couple, usually the woman threatens to speak up. If the woman decides to leave her husband, it could lead to an escalation that may result in fatal consequences.[31] Studies and experience show that the time of leaving a relationship can be the most dangerous for a survivor, a phenomenon that is known as “separation violence.” The act of separating—whether through a divorce, by physical or legal separation, or by ending a dating relationship—often triggers an escalation of the violence. In fact, prior abuse and separation, or announced plans to separate, appear to be the biggest risk factors indicating that the abuser will seriously injure or kill the survivor.[32]

Most often than none, people who are victims of domestic violence feel abandoned and isolated by family and friends who are uncomfortable and not bold enough to talk or discuss the issues because of either male dominance or religious sentiments. “God hates divorce; you cannot divorce your husband, it is not an option in our church.”[33]  So, the woman becomes helpless, and the feeling of despondency and isolation sets in. The victim is hopeless, with a sense of abandonment by God and men. Churches and communities have vital roles to play by being bold at tackling the issues as soon as they become apparent and providing a safe and loving environment for victims to pick up their lives again.

Too often, abusers use the expected submission of wives as a reason for violence. However, the Bible says in Colossians, “Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly” (3:19). The Catholic Church does not grant a divorce. However,  Catholic Bishops condemn abusive behaviour in all forms and ramifications in marriage and maintain that no victim of such abuse is expected to stay in such marriage.[34] The Bishops’ position is laudable, however, what do they mean that the victim should not stay in such marriage? Could they indirectly be saying that they allow divorce but fall short of actually using the word ‘divorce’or are they simply playing with words?

The Church teaches forgiveness, but this should by no means undermine the importance of seeking safety in abusive environments. Persons who are victims of domestic violence have a feeling of abandonment and failure by the society. Sometimes we might think that we are not directly responsible for them, but they have a right to look up to us as the helpers God’s face and hands. According to Paul’s letter, “Love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its way; it is not irritable or resentful”(1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Those in long-term loving relationships know that there are days it is always better to live that way than others; however, those who turn to domestic violence, whether physical or emotional, is simply trying to show power over their partner. The Bible, Church or the wider society must unify and condemn all form of domestic violence against the woman and in general against any human being. Communities and individuals, we are expected to speak up and not to hold back our words against domestic violence.


Western Cultural Shift in Biblical Marriage

The establishment of marriage is an integral component of the natural order in which the human society functions.[35] When measured against the Biblical teachings, it is undeniable that Western culture is decaying. In fact, the past few decades have witnessed nothing less than a significant paradigm shift about marriage and the family. Libertarian ideology is already supplanting the West’s Judeo-Christian heritage and foundation. This Liberal ideology elevates human freedom and self-determination as the supreme principles for human relationships. Unfortunately, in their confusion, many celebrate the decline of the traditional Biblical model of marriage and family and its replacement by a new and competing moralities as major progress. The following list of adverse effects of unbiblical views of marriage and the family upon the society demonstrates that replacing the Biblical marriage and the family with the liberal union ideology is damaging even for those who do not view the Bible as authoritative.[36] One of the negative consequences of the erosion of the Judeo-Christian model for marriage is skyrocketing divorce rates. Indicators from the Office for National Statistics in England and Wales shows that there were 114,720 divorce cases in the year 2013.[37] The cost of divorce is troubling, not only for the people involved –especially the children but also for the society as a whole. While children may not show ill effects of the trauma of divorce in the short term, serious negative long-term consequences abound.[38] Divorce and all its’ associated issues are always sensitive and contentious. It is such a divisive topic that has pulled and is still pulling families, friends, relationships and homes apart. Within the secular world, it is becoming common phenomena to see married couples who are divorced, will be divorced or going through a divorce. How have the established churches interpreted divorce in the bible? What are the impact and effects these interpretations have on couples who are going through a divorce and remarriage in the church? How has divorce changed the way established churches view and treat victims of divorce? What are the churches doing to ameliorate divorcees?


Catholic Church and Divorce

The biblical material on the question of divorce has, of course, been a subject of an extensive literature. It also has been interpreted in many different ways. Indeed, one of the complications of the debates in the history of the Church on this question has been that all sides, Catholics, Protestant, and the various divisions of opinions within both, want to claim biblical backing for their case. Not only, moreover, s there a difference in understanding the meaning of the biblical texts, there is also the vexed question of their application into our cultural and ecclesiastical setting.[39]

The institution of marriage as a permanent, legally binding commitment between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24; Eph 5:31). In the OT, there is evidence that divorce was permitted among the Jewish people according to Jewish law, so long as the divorcing husband gave the divorced wife a certificate to that effect, legitimising her status, she could remarry. This situation lies behind the instruction in Deut 24:1 regarding marriage (permitted), divorce (permitted) and remarriage to the same woman after a second divorce or widowhood (not permitted).[40] Indecency as the reason for divorce is vague.

The book of Malachi, which was written much later in Jewish history, contains an equally ambiguous reference to divorce. Jones notes that the original Septuagint version of Mal 2:16 comes in two variants, and this has led to two very different translations. “If you hate, divorce!” (an imperative which may, or may not, be ironic). Secondly, If in hating, one divorces divorce (i.e. if you divorce out of hatred).[41] There are also two interpretations by the early Patristic commentators also. Theodore of Mopsuetia and Theodoret of Cyrrhus assumed the first version and Cyril of Alexandria and Jerome the second.[42] The latter interpretation of Mal 2:16, has been used to justify the absolute prohibition of divorce. It explains the durability of the conservative position still visible in the Roman Catholic Church today. In the NT, there is a similar disapproval for divorce in the teachings of Jesus when he said except for sexual immorality, (Mt 19:9).

The position of the early Church was rather more liberal on the issue of divorce than contemporary Catholic Church. Fiorenza reports that Patristic commentators including Origen, Basil, Ambrosiaster and Augustine all refer to the early church’s practice of allowing both divorces on the grounds of adultery and marriage after that.[43] However, Augustine’s argument that marriage was a sacrament, followed by the efforts of Thomas Aquinas to organise the rules on marriage and divorce into Canon Law had the effect of consolidating a strict position on divorce. The argument used by Thomas Aquinas rests on the parallel between man’s union with his wife and Christ’s union with the Church, both of which are assumed to be ordained by God and indissoluble even in the context of one party’s sinful nature and behaviour.[44] In 1563 the Council of Trent resisted the leniency of the reformers and reaffirmed the Catholic prohibitions on divorce and remarriage, setting in stone the sacramental character of marriage, with the implication that no divorce is possible since that union is for life.[45]

There has been little change in recent years in the hard position of the Roman Catholic Church against divorce. The Roman Catholic Catechism declares that ‘Divorce is a grave offence against the natural law,’[and] does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is a sign”.[46] Marriage is a permanent communion between two persons, but those who wish to separate from their spouse may request an annulment through a lengthy and often difficult application process.[47] In recent years there has been a relaxation of reasons for an annulment such as ‘lack of understanding, lack of partnership and conjugal love, psychological immaturity, psychopathic and schizophrenic personality and several others.’[48] Divorce is a recognised issue within the Church and one that theologians need to work on to respond to the increasing tensions that it causes.[49]

In very recent months there are a few signs that the Roman Catholic Church is beginning to review its policy on divorce shifting towards more lenient rulings following the emphasis on mercy from the Papacy, Pope Francis.[50] The Holy Communion is the fullness of sacramental life is not a prize for the flawless but a powerful medication and nourishment for the weak.[51]

The prohibition on divorce in the Roman Catholic Church has two principal consequences. Firstly, victims feel rejected by their former by the spouses. Secondly by the church which does not allow them to pursue a new relationship and remain in fellowship with other Christians. Many Roman Catholic adherents who are victims of keep away from church for fear of stigmatisation.[52]

The Catholic Church does not always grant an annulment, but the only option recommended in such a situation is lifelong chastity; even when the spouse decides to separate, or when the separation comes by way of infidelity or some other serious failing on the part of the husband.

One of the most serious consequences of the Roman Catholic position on divorce, using the annulment process, is that children of such marriages are in effect, illegitimate. Another serious consequence is that because of the difficulty that couples have in navigating the complex and intrusive annulment process, many of them use the secular, and legal divorce process to end a marriage. Roman Catholics who do this, however, and especially those who start a new relationship or marriage after that, are not permitted to take part in the Holy Eucharist. There has been an official recognition of the pain that this formal exclusion brings to those who are divorced and remarried outside the Church.[53]

This stringent ruling means divorce and remarriage amount to permanent excommunication. The Roman Catholic Church accepts the reality of marriage breakdown but does not permit any exception, including those mentioned in scripture.[54]

In summary, there is no divorce in the Roman Catholic Church, and the only possible avenue of annulment brings its problems by de-legitimising a first marriage and any children from that union. Roman Catholic Christians are condemned to spiritual isolation and long-term suffering, with no hope of any release until death, unless, of course, they reject the Church’s teaching and live a double life, or leave the Church altogether. There are signs that this hard-line position may be slowly changing, but meanwhile, the impact of divorce on Roman Catholic families is profoundly negative, with serious spiritual implications due to the connotations of failure and sinfulness which follow marriage break-up in the context of the Roman Catholic church.

Liberal Church and Divorce

The Liberals use historical context to determine their views on the matter of divorce.

Thatcher, argues that there are many OT models of marriage based on the Jewish knowledge of covenant.[55]  The Jewish marriage covenant is similar to God’s covenant with Israel. The Hebrew word, ‘davaq’although translated as ‘united to’ means ‘covenanted to.’ However, Thatcher also points out a problem with the OT teachings. He notes that ‘women are stereotyped as inferior and unfaithful partners, a caricature upheld and reaffirmed many times over even in modern day Christianity.’[56]

The Pharisees in their attempt to trap Jesus asked him a question on divorce. Their thinking was that Jesus would give them answers that would counter the political and religious powers of his time. The question of the legality of divorce and remarriage had become politically tense following the open rebuke of Herod Antipas by John the Baptist for divorcing his wife to marry Herodias, his brother’s wife who was divorced.[57] Jesus’s use of counter-questioning of the Pharisees with proverbs, riddles, parables and allegories point to a principle or guideline and not about the law or its strict observance.[58] Such an approach allows for interpretations that make allowances for human frailty in marital relationships, while still maintaining the goal of faithful and lifelong marriage. The Samaritan woman at the well in Jn 4:16-30, and the woman caught in the act of adultery in Jn 8:1-11 are evidence that Jesus gentle and sensitive to their feelings. Jesus did not judge them neither did he accuse them of adultery. Jesus gave them another opportunity of begin again. The Liberals interpretations of the instruction “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again’ (Jn 8:11), is an invitation to start afresh. Forster notes that “Jesus’s approach was pastoral rather than legalistic when he was dealing with the needs of an individual whom he met. This method looked forward rather than back.”[59] If Jesus can be gentle enough and non-judgemental of a woman, who had five divorces and living with the sixth man who is not her husband. Moreover, he can only dismiss the woman taken in adultery; showing that such women deserve need help and support.  Thatcher argues that a judgemental response to divorce in many churches has immediate and adverse consequences since ‘divorced people may feel that in the eyes of the churches, their lives have already shown signs of irregularity and failure, so religious affiliation weakens or vanishes.’[60] There is tremendous pressure on Christians from a surrounding society that operates according to a “post-Christian sexual ethic” which marginalises marriage and replaces the idea of lifelong union with a more individualistic search for romantic love and evolving personal identity over the course of a whole lifetime.[61]

The Anglican position on divorce has undergone many changes at national and international levels. As different factions within the broad Anglican community gain and lose influence at the Synod level, decisions on the grounds for divorce and remarriage are revised back and forth from the more conservative to the more liberal ends of the spectrum. The current position summed up on the Church of England website with a statement affirming the life-long intention of marriage along with an agreement on the reality of divorce and remarriage.[62]

The consensus of the Church of England’s General Synod of July 2002 recognises there are and will continue to be failed marriages. However, the church must see that those going through this predicament not abandoned. [63] The CoE places its focus, like Jesus on compassion rather than on the aspects of failure in marriage.

The Anglican Synod made a radical shift in its previous conservative position to allow the individual priest decide whether to officiate or not in a wedding after divorce, even when the divorced partner is still living.[64] By implication, the Church has moved its position towards a more liberal acceptance of divorce as an unfortunate reality, while at the same time preserving a conscience clause to allow clergy who do not agree with this move to retain their stricter interpretation of scripture. In theory and practice, the Anglican Church offers a variety of positions, depending on the views of the local priest, and parishioners always have the option of consulting a different local leader if they feel that their pastor is not accepting of their position.

Evangelical Church and Divorce

The Evangelicals compare the statement of Jesus in  Mk 10:11 with Mt 19:9, arguing that the former version represent the actual words of Jesus, while the latter is a later addition by the author of the gospel of Matthew who in fact used the gospel of Mark as a source.[65] From this argument, the author concludes that there was no exception clause in the original words of Jesus, and the reason for this is that “Jesus sought primarily to establish certain principles that would reveal the will of God to his listeners.”[66] In other words, this is a teaching about God’s nature and the divine will, rather than a lesson on the fine points of interpretation relating to Jewish law. Another, conservative evangelical commentary maintains that Jesus’s teaching on marriage in Mt19:3-19 amounts to “a radical refusal to recognise the validity of divorce.”[67]

To support their traditionalist position on divorce, the Evangelicals use Apostle Paul’s word that says a married woman must not separate from her husband (1 Cor 7:10). Paul’s exhortation comes with the reality that some couples will not live up to their marital vows, and like Moses, he allows for some exception, (1 Cor 7:11). There is also another allowance for separation when a couple marries an unbelieving partner, and one of them decides to abscond or abandon (1 Cor 7:15).

The Evangelical perspective thus holds to a strict prohibition of divorce with only two exceptions namely adultery and the desertion of a non-Christian partner which leaves the innocent party free to divorce and then establish a Christian marriage with another person.

In his commentary on Matthew’s gospel, Evans points out that when Jesus appeals to the creation of man as male and female, he was referring to the book of Genesis. Jesus implies that ‘divorce is tantamount to the undoing of the created order; marriage is permanent, and divorce is contrary to God’s will.[68] Wenham and Heth agree that where divorce is an absolute last resort, with no permission to remarry afterwards.[69] However, after much reflection and reading of other evangelical theologians, Heth has come up with a change of mind. Heth accepts divorce in the Evangelical Christian because covenants can fail and in the light of exegesis of Paul’s teachings in the context of the early Church.[70]

It appears, then, that there are quite a wide perspectives in evangelical Christian churches ranging from absolute prohibition to tolerance for divorce in some circumstances. Although evangelical and fundamentalist leaders are not inclined to look at divorce as morally neutral, as do some clergy and theologians, they do express a surprising range of opinions on the subject”.[71] In Pentecostal Christianity, there have been shifts towards a more liberal attitude to divorce.[72] This debate has rumbled on through the end of the twentieth and start of the twenty-first century resulting in a gradual shift in evangelical circles which increasingly overlaps with the liberal perspective.[73]

It is challenging to draw any definite conclusions about the impact of evangelical perspectives on families experiencing divorce. The impact of divorce on families in evangelical communities will very much depend upon where exactly on the spectrum of tolerance for divorce each community lies. For some families, there will be an experience of isolation and exclusion similar to that in the Roman Catholic Church while for others the compassion and forgiveness that is present in more tolerant evangelical communities will be available to them. The Presbyterian denomination believes that congregations the Evangelical Presbyterian Church can take many practical steps to minister the redeeming love of Christ to their members who are going through the tragedy of divorce and reach out to those outside the Church who are suffering the aftermath of divorce.[74]

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church movement recommends a divorce recovery programme before remarriage. It is to set pathways, so that anger, fear, frustration, guilt and all other vices from the previous are consigned to the past and not taken into the future.[75] This practical suggestion removes the tag of second class Christians from victims of divorce.[76]




[1] John Murray, Divorce (Philadelphia, Penn.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1961), p. 1.

[2]Andreas J. Köstenberger, “The Bible’s Teaching On Marriage And Family”, Frc.Org, 2011 <http://www.frc.org/brochure/the-bibles-teaching-on-marriage-and-family> [accessed 4 January 2017].

[3] Dean Taylor, “The Exception Clause | Marriage, Divorce, And Remarriage (Part 3) | The Heartbeat Of The Remnant”, Ephrataministries.Org, 2017 <http://www.ephrataministries.org/remnant-2008-1Q-exception-clause.a5w> [accessed 4 July 2017].

[4] Walter Bauer and Frederick W Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edn (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000), pp. 117-118.

[5] Walter Bauer and Frederick W Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edn (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000), pp. 117-118.

[6] Walter Bauer and Frederick W Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edn (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000), pp. 117-118.

[7] “Violence Against Women”, World Health Organization, 2016 <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/> [accessed 8 January 2017].

[8] “Domestic Violence And Abuse – GOV.UK”, Gov.Uk, 2016 <https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-violence-and-abuse> [accessed 5 February 2017].

[9] John Murray, “Divorce 1”, The Westminster Theological Journal, 9 (1946), 31-46. p. 31.

[10] David Instone-Brewer, Divorce And Remarriage In The Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2002), p. 1.

[11] David Instone-Brewer, Divorce And Remarriage In The Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2002), p. 4.

[12] David Instone-Brewer, Divorce And Remarriage In The Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2002), p. 1.

[13] Edward Schillebeeckx, Marriage: Human Reality And Saving Mystery (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965), pp. 32-33.

[14] David John Atkinson, To Have And To Hold (London: Collins, 1979), p. 72.

[15] David John Atkinson, To Have And To Hold (London: Collins, 1979), p. 72.

[16] David John Atkinson, To Have And To Hold (London: Collins, 1979), p. 73

[17] Tracey R Rich, “Judaism 101: Divorce”, Jewfaq.org, 2016 <http://www.jewfaq.org/divorce.htm> [accessed 22 July 2016].

[18] Katey Zeh, “When God Tells A Woman To Return To Her Abuser”, Sojourners, 2015 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/when-god-tells-woman-return-her-abuser> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[19] Katey Zeh, “When God Tells A Woman To Return To Her Abuser”, Sojourners, 2015 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/when-god-tells-woman-return-her-abuser> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[20] Katey Zeh, “When God Tells A Woman To Return To Her Abuser”, Sojourners, 2015 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/when-god-tells-woman-return-her-abuser> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[21] Katey Zeh, “When God Tells A Woman To Return To Her Abuser”, Sojourners, 2015 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/when-god-tells-woman-return-her-abuser> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[22] Wil Gafney, “Speak!”, Sojourners, 2017 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/speak> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[23] Wil Gafney, “Speak!”, Sojourners, 2017 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/speak> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[24] Wil Gafney, “Speak!”, Sojourners, 2017 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/speak> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[25] Phyllis Trible, Texts Of Terror: Literary Feminist Readings Of Biblical Narratives (Philadelphia: Fortress Pr., 1984), p. 13.

[26] Meyijungla, “Domestic Violence Against Women In The Old Testament”, in Voices Against Domestic Violence (Aolijen, Mokokchung 798601 / Nagaland: Clark Centre for Peace Research and Action (CCPRA), 2016), pp. 17-26.

[27] Wil Gafney, “Speak!”, Sojourners, 2017 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/speak> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[28] Wil Gafney, “Speak!”, Sojourners, 2017 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/speak> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[29] Allyson McKinney, “When There Is No Justice In Scripture: The Rape Of Tamar”, Sojourners, 2015 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/when-there-no-justice-scripture-rape-tamar> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[30] Phil Haslanger, “Job Knew What It’s Like To Feel Trapped”, Sojourners, 2015 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/job-knew-what-its-feel-trapped> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[31] Phil Haslanger, “Job Knew What It’s Like To Feel Trapped”, Sojourners, 2015 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/job-knew-what-its-feel-trapped> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[32] Kathryn Ann Farr, “Battered Women Who Were “Being Killed And Survived It”: Straight Talk From Survivors”, Violence And Victims, 17.3 (2002), 267-281 <https://doi.org/10.1891/vivi.>.

[33] Phil Haslanger, “Job Knew What It’s Like To Feel Trapped”, Sojourners, 2015 <https://sojo.net/articles/troubling-texts-domestic-violence-bible/job-knew-what-its-feel-trapped> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[34] “When I Call For Help: A Pastoral Response To Domestic Violence Against Women”, Usccb.Org, 2002 <http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/domestic-violence/when-i-call-for-help.cfm> [accessed 4 February 2017].

[35] T. A Lacey and R. C Mortimer, Marriage In Church And State (London: S.P.C.K., 1947), p. 1.

[36] Andreas J Köstenberger and David W Jones, God, Marriage & Family (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 26.

[37] “Divorce- Office For National Statistics”, Ons.gov.uk, 2015 <http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/divorce> [accessed 11 June 2016].

[38] Andreas J Köstenberger and David W Jones, God, Marriage & Family (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 26.

[39] David John Atkinson, To Have And To Hold (London: Collins, 1979), p. 99.

[40] 24:1-4 – Laws concerning Marriage and Divorce

[41] David Clyde Jones, “A Note On The LXX Of Malachi 2:16”, Journal Of Biblical Literature, 109.4 (1990), pp. 683-685.

[42] Jones, pp.  683-684.

[43] Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives (Theology And The Sciences), 2nd edn (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), p. 616

[44] Fiorenza and Galvin, pp. 617-618.

[45] J Waterworth, “The Council Of Trent The Twenty-Fourth Session: Doctrine Of The Sacrament Of Matrimony”, History.Hanover.Edu, 1995 <http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct24.html> [accessed 9 January 2017].

[46] Joseph Ratzinger, “Catechism Of The Catholic Church”, Ccc.Usccb.Org, 2016 <http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/index.html#572/z> [accessed 9 January 2017].

[47] Jill Duba Onedera, The Role Of Religion In Marriage And Family Counseling (New York: Routledge, 2008), pp. pp. 46-47.

[48] Fiorenza and Galvin, p. 616.

[49] Michael G Lawler, Marriage And The Catholic Church (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2002), pp. 92-117.

[50] Laurie Goodstein and Elisabetta Povoledo, “Amid Splits, Catholic Bishops Crack Open Door On Divorce”, Nytimes.Com, 2015 <https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/world/europe/synod-makes-overture-to-the-divorced-but-rejects-gay-marriage.html?_r=0> [accessed 9 August 2015].

[51] Elizabeth Scalia, “Pope Francis’s Quiet Campaign To Rethink Divorce In The Catholic Church | Elizabeth Scalia”, The Guardian, 2014 <https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/05/pope-francis-catholic-church-divorce-change> [accessed 9 February 2016].

[52] Lisa Duffy, “7 Ways Parish Leaders Can Better Serve Divorced Catholics”, Catholicmatch Institute, 2015 <http://www.catholicmatch.com/institute/2015/08/5-ways-parish-leaders-can-better-serve-divorced-catholics/> [accessed 9 January 2016].

[53] “Message Of The Synod Of Bishops To The People Of God”, Vatican.Va, 2005 <http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20051022_message-synod_en.html> [accessed 9 August 2016].

[54] See: divorcedcatholic.com [website run by Vince Frese] Available at http://divorcedcatholic.com/ [Accessed 6 February 2016] which recommends Peter Kreeft, Making Sense out of Suffering (Ann Arbor: Servant Books, 1986).

[55] Adrian Thatcher, Marriage After Modernity: Christian Marriage In Postmodern Times (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1999), p. 68.

[56] Thatcher, Marriage After Modernity, p. 69.

[57] Diana S. Richmond Garland and David E Garland, Beyond Companionship: Christians In Marriage (Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Pub., 2003), p. 158.

[58] James M Efird, Marriage And Divorce (Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001), pp. 38-39.

[59] Greg Forster, Healing Love’s Wounds: A Pastoral Approach To Divorce & To Remarriage (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), p. 59.

[60] Adrian Thatcher, Living Together And Christian Ethics (New Studies In Christian Ethics) (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 17.

[61] Thatcher, Marriage after Modernity, pp. 60-61.

[62] “Divorce”, Churchofengland.Org, 2016 <https://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/marriage,-family-and-sexuality-issues/divorce.aspx> [accessed 10 January 2017].

[63] “Divorce”, Churchofengland.Org, 2016 <https://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/marriage,-family-and-sexuality-issues/divorce.aspx> [accessed 10 January 2017] “House of Bishops’ Advice to the Clergy.”

[64] “Divorce”, Churchofengland.Org, 2016 <https://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/marriage,-family-and-sexuality-issues/divorce.aspx> [accessed 10 January 2017] “House of Bishops’ Advice to the Clergy.”

[65] Robert H Stein, “Is It Lawful For A Man To Divorce His Wife”, Journal Of The Evangelical Theological Society, 22.2 (1979), pp. 117-121.

[66] Stein, p. 119.

[67] Richard Thomas France, Gospel According To Matthew: Introduction And Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) (Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Vasity Press, 1985), p. 123.

[68] Craig A Evans, Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew-Luke (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor Books, 2003), p. 347.

[69] William A Heth and Gordon J Wenham, Jesus And Divorce: Towards An Evangelical Understanding Of New Testament Teaching, 2nd edn (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1985), p. 23.

[70] William A Heth, “Jesus On Divorce: How My Mind Has Changed”, The Southern Baptist Journal Of Theology, 6.1 (2002), pp 4-29.

[71] William Bradford Wilcox, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers And Husbands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), p. 48.

[72] David Van Biema, “An Evangelical Rethink On Divorce?”, TIME.Com, 2007 <http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1680709,00.html> [accessed 9 February 2016].

[73] Andrew Goddard, “Theology And Practices In The Evangelical Churches”, in The Oxford Handbook Of Theology, Sexuality, And Gender (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 383.

[74] Divorce And Remarriage (Orlando, FL: Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 1995), pp. 9-10 <https://www.epc.org/file/beliefs/positionpapers/PositionPaper-DivorceAndRemarriage.pdf> [accessed 9 February 2016].

[75] Divorce And Remarriage (Orlando, FL: Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 1995), p. 10 <https://www.epc.org/file/beliefs/positionpapers/PositionPaper-DivorceAndRemarriage.pdf> [accessed 9 February 2016].

[76] Michael A. Braun, Second Class Christians: A New Approach To The Dilemma Of Divorced People In The Church (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1989), p. 1.

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