Is It Lawful to Put Away Your Wife -Just Because?

The Christian Husband and Divorce

Photo by L.N. Smith, 5 December 2008

I am amazed at how many professing Christians get divorced.  One study finds that a person who has strong religious beliefs has a risk of divorce that is 14 percent less than those who do not have strong religious beliefs, in the United States.  Something that I found interesting is that cohabitating prior to marriage actually increases the chance of divorce by 40 percent. [1] The numbers of divorced Christians may include the ones who have previously divorced prior to becoming Christians and therefore may have skewed the numbers a bit.  In addition, many Americans profess to be Christian but rarely attend weekly church services.

Of these who call themselves Christians and divorce or separated are reported to have these following beliefs, according to Pew Research [2]

Divorced or Separated Statistics on Beliefs

69% Believe in God with absolute certainty

57% Believe that religion is important to one’s life

32% Attend Church Services at least once a week

61% Pray on a daily basis

25% Participate in prayer groups, Scripture Study groups, or in religious education

34% Consider religion as a source of guidance on what is right and wrong

31% Believe in absolutes of right and wrong

39% Read scripture at least once a week

36% Believe that the scriptures should be taken literally

73% Believe in Heaven

60% Believe in Hell

These are frightening statistics for me as a Pastor.  That means that most of the people who call themselves Christians, are not.  It also means that most those who are, are confused, and mislead.  They are confused and mislead because they have listened to what the world says a Christian is and have not taken the authority of scripture seriously in their lives.  God call this foolishness, and it is dangerous.  Even at looking at this one statistic of divorce, we can see that worldliness has had a devastating effect on our Christian homes.  We see that in these broken families that 69% believe in God and that they believe in Heaven.  However, we also see that only 36% believe that scripture can be taken seriously.  They have no definite sense of right and wrong morality.  They have instead been seduced into the philosophy of situational ethics.  This stance takes the position that there are no absolute codes of moral context to ethics, instead decision is made depending upon the context of the situation.  So then, it is not wrong to have an abortion if the lady does not feel equipped to raise a child, instead of seeing the unborn baby as an image bearer of God and a special gift given by God to the mother, and understanding that taking of a life is wrong, especially if the life is totally defenseless and cannot speak for itself. 

Photo by Daria Obymaha on Pexels.com

These professing Christians are actually not Christians at all.  They do not attend bible study groups, church services, read scripture for themselves.  They do not pray, because they do not think that God hears them, will answer, or even cares.  All of this is from their own self-imposed ignorance of God.  No, they may say that they believe in God, but in practice they do not.  This is why their families are in shambles and reeling in divorce. 

Now, I have upset some of you.  Well, I can only say read on, because this letter is written in love.  My heart is broken over the divorce rate of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  So then we will look at what God says.  In just one area of this debacle. We will deal with the husbands, “so-called”, rights of divorce.  You know… “boo hoo, my wife doesn’t do everything I want…” or “I’ve grown bored and need to live life…”, or what ever your spur of the moment, “just because” reason for seeking a divorce from your devoted and loving wife.  You see here in this scripture; we see the Pharisees came to ask Jesus about this very issue.  Now the Pharisees were the religious elite.  They spent years in seminary, they knew the 1st five books by heart.  They were the teachers of the law.  They sat in on the counsels to determine if a law was broken and if there was a penalty to be paid.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:3-6)

Do you see that?  These fellers thought that they would be slick.  They tried to catch Jesus off guard.  The know what the actual will of God was.  They also knew why Moses allowed Divorce.  They knew that the covenant of a man and a woman was to be an example of the covenant between God and man.  They knew these things and more that we are not going to discuss right now that concerned marriage.  But we will look at the husbands’ responsibilities in the marriage toward his wife and the response that Jesus gave concerning that.  They thought that they would be able to accuse him before the Law, because Moses had allowed divorce.  So, if he said that is was Lawful then this gave them authority, but if he said that it is not lawful then they would say that he did not honor Moses or the Law, or the prophets. 

But instead of Jesus being caught off guard, he went to a time that superseded the Law. This is because his priesthood is superior to the priesthood of Aaron.  Aarons priest hood was anchored in the Law.  But Jesus’ priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek.  This priesthood is preceding to the priesthood of Aaron and of the Law of Moses.  Jesus, therefore, goes back to the beginning.  He can do this because he was there, in the beginning.  All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made that was made.  Jesus is an eyewitness to the war in heaven and the affairs of the Garden. See, Jesus said, “at the beginning made the male and female.”  This means that God purposed the sexes and created them distinctly for a specific reason.  This purpose of the man and the woman to unite as one, marriage, would be the very reason why a man was to leave his parents, and woman to leave her home.  This is their purpose, not to be single, not to play the field, and most certainly not to have casual sex.  But we men are a selfish bunch.

We love to put our own needs and desires above anyone else’s.  Why not we are the strong ones, who have to go out and show our dominance in the home and in the workplace.  We are the “king of the house”.   Husbands are those of us who should no longer need to “sow our oats”.  We have put those childish things aside.  We should instead show do respect to our wives and a singleness of heart.  Even as a Christian we should show do respect to God for who he is and have a singleness of heart towards Christ Jesus who is our bridegroom. 

Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels.com

Saint Peter puts it like this, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) We should have an understanding that we are the provider and the safety and the strong hold for our wives.  We are their protector.  We are to protect them from the harm that comes from without the sanctuary that is our marriage.  We must realize that we are not put in authority as a husband to rule over them, but to help them.  We are not better than they are, we are both heirs of righteousness in Jesus Christ as a couple.  We are the one flesh that we were made by God to be.  Remember what God said in Genesis? “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This is the cause… to cleave to his wife and become one flesh.  Shall a man divorce his own hand?  Or shall a man remove his own eye for “just because”? This word cleave means to hold fast to or to cling to.  The husband is to hold on to his wife and not let go. 

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.. “ (Ephesians 5:28-31)  Ok wait a minute.  This is a deep concept here.  You hear what the saint says here?  He said the same thing I just did.  No healthy, in his right mind, man hates his own flesh.  It is in our DNA to protect ourselves from harm.  It is our instinct to protect ourselves from harm.  That is why we have that little chemical that flows through our veins and muscles that gives us the emergency burst of energy we need for a “flight or fight” response to danger. This is saying that we husbands are of one flesh with our wives and that we should treat a threat against our marriage in the same manner as we would a threat to our own body.  We should fight unto death or take our wife and flee.  Especially where sexual sins are concerned, we should flee and not allow ourselves to be tempted. 

Before we move on out of this chapter in Ephesians, you better get your bible out!  Paul compares the marriage of a husband and wife to the relationship of the Church and Christ. Even as Christ is to present his bride spotless before God the Father, so are to present you wife spotless before Christ.  What? You say?  You don’t believe me?  Listen to Jesus’ very own words on divorce, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:32) What a shameful mess we are in today that divorce is so vast in the church. Husband! Present you wife and your marriage as a sweet smelling incense before the throne of the Lamb. 

The least of the Apostles, who was born out of season says that we should honor our wives out of love. Listen to what he wrote the church of Ephesus and Colossae.

  • Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Colossians 3:19)
  • Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)

Wow, Paul says that a husband should not only love his wife but to love her sacrificially.  This is not a sexual love.  It is not even a “feeling” of “being-in-love”, no sir this is a mentally committed love that chooses to put the wife’s needs above his own selfish desires.  This is the love that God gives us.  This is the love that God expects from us towards him.  This is how he expects the husband to demonstrate his love for God, in that he should love his wife in the same manner.  This is the love you wife deserves, and it is the love that you deserve to give her. That is why the Apostle Paul also tells us, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) Husband pay close attention, he says first love you wife, then the wife should show you do reverence. Not the other way around.  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. (1 Corinthians 7:3)

Photo by Adam Kontor on Pexels.com

How do we do this?  Well, we must keep in mind that God gave us our wife as a help-mate.  The husband and the wife are a team.  We are to share intimacy in all levels of our lives.  We should know that we have been given to one another as a blessing from God.  This life is hard and has all kinds of trials and distractions.  There are many hardships, and the heart of man is a lonely place.  That is why we have been given a wife.  To share in these moments of traveling from hilltops to valleys.  To support one another and encourage one another in the hard times, to cry with in the times of heartbreak, and to rejoice with in times of joy.  This is the relationship that God lives with us, through our wives. God gives us wisdom in this.

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

We would do well to remember that this world has perverted the institution of marriage, and the sanctity of the wedding bed.  God gave us this gift of one wife.  We should consider it an honorable institution and one worth fighting for.  There are great rewards in marriage and there are terrible consequences to walking away from it, once we have taken a covenant vow before God.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)

So is it lawful for a man to put his wife away for any reason (just because)?  According to man, it may be done.  However, according to God, No it is unlawful.


[1] (Wilkinson and Finkbeiner, LLP, n.d.)

[2] (Pew Research Center, 2021)

One thought on “Is It Lawful to Put Away Your Wife -Just Because?”

  1. There’s a far cry difference between what a person says and who they are inside. We never listen to titles or what people say, but what they do speaks far more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.