Marriage is an integral part of man’s social life; a covenant and commitment between a man and woman. At a particular stage in life, people are questioned if they are not married. Yet, s ome people see the cure for unhappy marriage as separation (divorce), it ’ s often rather a problem than a solution; meanwhile, the society is heavily affected. Divorce remains a severe crisis; it inflicts pains on people concerned, children and the society at large. Many have seen the marriage covenant “ till death do us part ” as an unrealistic and obsolete phrase. Day by day majority of homes (especially the Christians) are faced with the threat of divorce in the contemporary society. People no longer take marriage serious with commitment for life. Divorce is the order of the day; people even say it with pride without remorse. In view of this, the research presents a discourse on the subject matter from a biblical evaluation revealing the true identity of divorce as a problem to Christian home.
Keywords: Divorce, Debacle, Panacea, Evaluation.
Introduction: Statement of Problem
Categorically speaking, the first institution established by God was marriage and it brings a man and a woman together as one; husband and wife. It is on seldom cases that one will find or see adult male and female unmarried. In other words, God instituted marriage; and did it for the purpose of procreation and replenishing the earth, to overcome loneliness. However, the subject ‘marriage’ is an issue that attracts attention because of the question about divorce. Danfulani Kore opines that, “marriage is a serious and lifelong venture in God’s sight.”1
One of the things that man’s disobedience in the beginning gave birth to is the trauma of divorce which is deadly to marriages. One cannot be surprised to see many marriages both within and outside the Christian fold hitting the rock of divorce; it is as a result of the imperfect nature of man after the fall. A Yoruba adage says, “Agbara koni oun to nile wo, onile ni koni gba fun,” meaning that “erosion will not hesitate to destroy a house, it is the owner of the house that will try to avert it.” Divorce will always want to come via marital challenges; there should be mutual agreement by both the husband and the wife to prevent it. According to Abolarin, it is good to clarify the fact that God made nothing like divorce when marriage was instituted.2
Many have the notion that marriage is a road without gallops; this paints divorce as a solution to slight issues that can be resolved. These notion and many is incorrect because the coming together of people of different ideas, background, perspectives and worldview cannot be without flaws. Leslie agrees with this assertion, he said; “no marriage is immune to social vice no matter how good it is.”3 It is not possible for divorce to happen without marriage; thus, marriage is a criterion via which divorce takes place. Divorce is a social vice that affects the stability of any married life, yet many Christian couple views it as a panacea (solution). The current trend blatantly reveals that a people desire to get married (Some of which say; “I can’t wait”, “I want to marry”, “I am ripe for marriage”) but eventually get divorced.
Yet, the problems divorce has caused and is causing in Christian homes today is enormous compared to the so called ‘solution’ it is said to be. Therefore, the threat of divorce prompted the research to navigate this discourse to address the identity of divorce bringing up a rethink from the biblical evaluation.
Divorce:Old Testament Evaluation
From the beginning, the Bible presents marriage as a permanent, stable, intimate union between a man and a woman.4 Originally marriage bond is indivisible. The predestinated plans of God for creating man and woman was for a permanent and lasting union of the two spiritually, naturally and physically because they were made of one flesh.5 In other words, this is the cogent ideal of God right from the outset but since the fall of man, it became otherwise. All sort of anti-social behaviour surfaced. Human beings now began to live on a less than ideal level.
Divorce penetrated man’s indissolubility marital bond; the Bible recognizes this and so in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 there are brief guidelines that govern the practice of divorce. However, such practice is only permitted but not commanded or divinely approved by God base on the situation then. The researcher opines that in Genesis chapter one and two, the absence of divorce in the course of establishing marriage reveals that divorce is contrary to God’s original plan for marriage.
However, the permission of divorce in the Mosaic Law was framed only on account of the Israelites’ hardness of heart. Consequently, the perspective of the Old Testament on the subject of divorce is that divorce is permissible if any whorly, unchastity or marital unfaithfulness surfaces from either of the party (especially the woman). This is not just done anyhow. It has to be accompanied with “a bill of divorcement and once it is given, the man will send the woman away.”6
In other words, divorce in the lens of the Old Testament was legal and permitted with (divorce bill) for only ‘infidelity.’ Regrettably, the meaning of this infidelity has been subject to debate for decades. Some people have suggested that it includes any nonchalant attitude, be it anger, lies, etc. and others have held to the view of fornication ( porneia) which means extra-marital intercourse. On this note, preferably, the latter is believed to have being the reason for the grant of divorce in the Old Testament.
However, God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). This is because divorce destroys God’s initial plan for marriage, the family which God expects godly offspring to be raised. Children who see their parents’ love turn to hatred and eventually see them divorce are deeply hurt for life. Wilbur argued that bitterness often becomes part of them and negative thought about marriage clouds their perspective.7
Danfulani Kore as quoted by Waje Kunhiyop opined that, “Divorce is undesirable, psychologically traumatic and socially disruptive.”8 The damage of divorce cannot be repaired. It is one of the worst tragedies in human life. It shatters the hopes and aspirations of many families.9 Furthermore, William also supported the view that divorce is never part of God’s plan for holy matrimony.10 Though God seems to have conceded divorce in some special instances, “it does not tally or correlate with the will of God for marriage per se.”11 Although God hates divorce, he recognizes that it does happen, yet he will forgive the sin if any has fallen victim and ask for forgiveness, just as he forgives other sins (Ps. 103: 3).
1 Danfulani Kore, Culture and Christian Home ( Kaduna: Baraka Press, 1989), 97.
2 David Abolarin, 10 Steps Towards Choosing a Life Partner ( Ilorin: Gbemi Press, N.D.), 22.
3 Leslie Parrot, When Bad Things Happen to Good Homes ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001), 17.
4 David R. Miller, Counseling Families After Divorce: Wholeness of the Broken Family ( Dallas: Word Publisher, 1994), 115.
5 H. Norman Wright, Communication: Key to Your Marriage ( California: Regal Books, 1974), 8.
6 W. Hethy, Divorce and Remarriage ( Nashville: Nelson Publishers, 1984), 106.
7 Wilbur O’Donovan, Biblical Christianity in African Perspective (Carlisle: The Paternoster Press, 1992), 292.
8 Samuel Waje Kunhiyop, African Christian Ethics (Kaduna: Baraka Press and Publishers Ltd., 2004), 308.
9 John Scott, New Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 320.
10 Wlliam W. Orr, What the Bible Says about Divorce (Wheaton: Van K. Press Inc., N.D.), 28.
11 Helnut Theieloeke, Theological Ethics Vol. 2 (London: Mans Publishing Company, 1984), 109.