Til Death Do Us Part

vows“The remedy for most marital stress is not in divorce. It is not in separation. It is in simple integrity that leads a man and a woman to square up their shoulders and meet their obligations. It is found in the Golden Rule, a time-honored principle that should first and foremost find expression in marriage.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley

When the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking him whether it was lawful for a man divorce his wife for any cause, he had this to say:

Haven’t you read that the one who created them said that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two should be one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man break apart.

When they asked him why then Moses commanded that a man must give a written paper of divorce before sending her away, Jesus replied:

Moses suffered you to send away your wives because of the hardness of your hearts, but from the beginning it was not so. I say that whoever sends away his wife, unless it is for adultery, and marries another, commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman who has been divorced also commits adultery.

As usual, Jesus is on the money. Pair bonding has been a recipe for the success of humanity for hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of years. When resources are scarce (for example, during an ice age), children of couples made up of a caring, nurturing mother and a strong father who can provide scarce food have the best chance of surviving.

Even today, the ONS (the US office of national statistics) reports that children of single parents are twice as likely to suffer from mental illness. Other research shows that children who do not live with their fathers are three times more likely to be unhappy, and are more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, substance abuse, and juvenile delinquency.

Note how Jesus puts the onus on the husband to live with his wife, and for other men not to marry a woman whose husband has divorced her. In Jesus’s time, women could not divorce men. Note also the only just cause he gives for divorce: adultery on the part of the wife, which is a violation of the pair bond. If he lived in our egalitarian society, I believe he would have made the exact same statement about a woman divorcing her husband, and the same exception if the husband had committed adultery.

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About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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