Till Divorce Do We Part

imagesWhen a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,  when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 24:1-4

First of all, what the hell is wrong with this hypothetical woman if her first husband finds her to be unclean and her second ends up detesting her? Did they uncover some crazy spring break photos of her on the internet?

springbreak2

Second of all, why would god find a need to specifically draw attention to such a rare instance of a woman’s second husband dying and her choosing to return to her first husband?

Strange.

Either way, it is there, clear as a summer day:  “and he writes her a certificate of divorce”. So divorce is OK, right? Wrong! This is just another one of those tricks that god likes to play on people to keep himself entertained. Or, at least that’s what Jesus says:

The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’;  so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.  So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.  And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:2-12

Well, which is it? Can we divorce or can’t we? If I want a divorce I can certainly find a verse that says it is OK, (I just can’t remarry my first husband if my second one dies, AND, since I am a mere woman, I can’t be the one to make that decision, it has to come from my husband) but if I don’t, I can certainly find a verse in the Bible that says it is not OK.

This is the problem with the Bible (among infinite other things). I can find any excuse in any verse in the Bible to justify why I said or did something and why I feel the way I do. In fact, I can change my mind from day-to-day  it’s OK! It’s in the Bible!

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7 comments

  1. And another short film springs to mind, with said detestable, unclean woman wandering from husband to husband clenching her divorce certificates. This book is truly inspiring!

  2. Ah, the inestimable damage done by the fundamentalist inerrancy movement.

    The fundies don’t even need to ask themselves whether every part of the Bible is 100% true. All they need to do is to ask themselves whether every part of the Bible is written specifically to and for their situation, apart from any textual or cultural context.

    If they would JUST take a step back for a single moment, they would realize that the Bible is surprisingly feminist, and their patriarchal delusions are utterly misplaced. In Deuteronomy, the culture said that women had no rights at all…so the law was given that a man had to formally issue a legal certificate of divorce in order to put her away.

    1. Surprisingly feminist in comparrison to what? Christendom 100 years ago? Or what?

      I think I agree with you, Physics and Whiskey, that the fundies are the pharisees of today. But surprisingly feminist, is not good enough from a divine source, that alledgedly is the base of all morals. Because logically, both sets of rules are unethical. Women need divorces from abusive husbands more, than the other way around. At least in pathriarcal societies, like the one of the ancient Hebrews and Christendom, oh well, at least untill 50 years ago. Perhaps even today.

      There is nothing surprising in the patriarchal laws of the Old Testament in their own cultural context, nor in the interpretation of it by Jesus (or just his chroniclers). These are all natural products a culture in those times and places.

      What I have allways wondered more is how marrying a widow is reconciled by the culture that expects these people meeting in the afterlife. Do they not expect to be jealous in their afterlife? Why the family values of monogamy are so important to people, who would be perfectly happy to think they meet up in their next life to form these multiple families with a woman having several husbands, for example?

      Why would people think there is no jealosy in the afterlife? Is there no sex in heaven? Sounds like a really long eternity to me. Is this the result of these people having so poor sex, that they would not miss it, even in their eternal existance?

      1. “surprisingly feminist…is not good enough from a divine source, that alledgedly is the base of all morals. Because logically, both sets of rules are unethical.”

        In December 2010, President Obama signed a measure to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US military for the first time, thus ending the practice of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in which gays and lesbians could serve without fear of scrutiny as long as they kept their sexual orientation a secret. The end of this practice was a triumph for civil rights and another nail in the coffin of fundamentalist homophobia.

        But it was not, as was commonly believed, a “repeal” of Clinton’s 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. It wasn’t as if gays had been permitted to serve openly prior to 1993. Obama’s signature removed the underlying prohibition against the existence of homosexual servicepersons that went back much, much earlier than 1993.

        Was DADT wrong? In 2010, yes. In 1993, no. Though DADT officially and technically prohibited homosexuals from serving openly, a moral evil, it was a step away from homophobia and a step toward equality. It takes time and effort to make progress. If we judge each step against the ultimate goal, we lose sight of the progress we’ve made.

        Is it wrong for men to have the sole authority to divorce their wives unilaterally? Absolutely. Was it wrong to require men in this ancient patriarchy-driven culture to make divorces official, binding legal actions? No, because the alternative was a scenario where women had even fewer rights.

        In the above-quoted passage, Jesus addresses this specifically. “Because of the hardness of your hearts [Moses] wrote you this precept.” The Bible tells the story of oppression and inequality and injustice being removed, inch by inch, as the hearts and minds of human beings were changed and elevated. At each point in history, the Bible’s “ordinances” and “precepts” are one step ahead of the culture in the progression toward equality and justice.

        Just another reason why the rank idiocy of fundamentalists who quote-mine to support their prejudices is so very foolish.

      2. Yes as our knowledge grows, so do our morals. But it is culturally relativistic to claim, that something wich could have been understood by the people in the past as immoral, could be claimed to be moral to them, because their culture was not ready to accept the obvious. If there was a unethical practice in past human behaviour, it does not make it right, that it was their custom.

        In democracy it takes time from the realization and discovery of information to form new morals to the level when the majority is able to accept it. We as mammals have the capability to be emphathetic enough to understand simple ethical rules like equality of the sexes. So, in my opinion DADT was wrong in 1993, though it was culturally necessary.

        The ancient people were not idiots. They were perfectly capable to understand moral rules, if a god would have told them how to act and why what is right or wrong. If a god told the ancient Hebrew to change their patriarchal society to an egalitarian one, no doubt they would have benefited from it.This would have been much more compelling to their contemporaries and to us as well. The god of the Bible was giving a lot of totally alien rules to the contemporaries, but rarely bothered to really explain why these rules are, or were important.

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