Is divorce ever lawful before God?
Divorce that is, a complete break in the marriage contract is lawful, because virtually all marriage contracts involve vows made by two parties. In God's marriage to Israel at Mt. Sinai, Israel (the bride) agreed to submit to His authority and obey His laws (Ex. 19:3-8). God, on the other hand, agreed to give them the Kingdom and the blessings of the Birthright. These included honor, protection, sustenance, and children (Gen. 12:1-3). Israel violated this contract, being incapable of full obedience, and refused to repent; and thus, her Husband divorced her and sent her out of His house. Jeremiah 3:8 says, “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” Note that God not only sent her away, but only did so after giving her a written bill of divorce. This was in accordance with the law in Deut. 24 that we will quote shortly. Hosea 2:2 also shows that God's divorce meant Israel was no longer God's wife, saying to her, “Plead with your mother (Israel), plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts.” Because God Himself is a divorcee, we can safely say that divorce itself is not necessarily a sin. It can be a sin, of course, if the one demanding a divorce does so with evil motives that are not in the will of God. But the fact that God divorced Israel shows that lawful divorce is the result of sin, or violation of the contract. It is the final solution to the problem when all else fails, and when reconciliation is impossible. God's law on divorce and remarriage is given in Deut. 24:1-4. “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. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. 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; 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.” From verse 1 we see immediately that God recognizes there must be a cause of divorcement. It is not specified in any detail, other than finding something unclean in her. Some insist that means divorce is only lawful in case of adultery. But the penalty for adultery is death-not divorce. Others say it means divorce is only lawful if the husband discovers that his wife had had illicit sexual relations with someone else before they were married. However, such a situation also calls for the death penalty, and this is elaborated upon in detail in Deut. 22:13-21. Thus, the grounds for divorce in the 24th chapter must be something else. Since the grounds are not specified, it would appear that the common law needed no modifying here.