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Bypassing Splitsville

Read Deuteronomy 23:9–25:19

“Suppose a man marries a woman but she does not please him. Having discovered something wrong with her, he writes her a letter of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house. When she leaves his house, she is free to marry another man. But if the second husband also turns against her and divorces her, or if he dies, the first husband may not marry her again, for she has been defiled. That would be detestable to the Lord. You must not bring guilt upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession.

“A newly married man must not be drafted into the army or be given any other official responsibilities. He must be free to spend one year at home, bringing happiness to the wife he has married.”
(Deuteronomy 24:1-5)

Reflect

At first glance, this passage seems to support divorce, but the church has not historically interpreted it that way. This passage simply acknowledged a practice that already existed in Israel. All four verses must be read to understand the point of the passage; it certainly is not suggesting that a man divorce his wife on a whim. Divorce was a permanent and final act for the couple. Once divorced and remarried to others, they could never be remarried to each other (verse 4). This restriction was intended to prevent casual remarriage after a frivolous separation. The intention was to make people think twice before divorcing.

Every marriage requires care and intentionality. Newlyweds were instructed to remain together their first year. This practice prevented placing an excessive burden upon a new, unproven relationship and gave it a chance to mature and strengthen before being confronted with new challenges.

God takes marriage seriously, so we shouldn’t enter it lightly. Once we are married, we should devote the energy required to make it work.

Respond

A gardener starts a tiny seedling in a small pot and allows it to take root before planting it in the field. Let your marriage grow strong by protecting your relationship from too many outside pressures and distractions—especially in the beginning. And don’t expect or demand so much from newlyweds that they have inadequate time or energy to establish their marriage.

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