Scripture & divorce

An amusing and actually quite insightful question found on conservapedia

Why do Moses, Ezra, Jesus, and Paul all disagree on divorce? Moses allowed divorce, Jesus disallowed it and also allowed it, Paul allowed it, and Ezra actually commanded it to appease God (Ezra 10)??? im confused!! whats a christian to do??

So here’s my answer.

Moses permitted divorce for the cause of sexual immorality and because the hearts of the Israelites were hard. Moses permission is a fragment of the law of God for Israel.

Ezra is a situation where Israel had broken the explicit command of God not to marry the daughters of the people around them. The solution is to remedy the transgression. In this situation “marriage” is the good thing which has been tainted by a prior evil. A similar principle is seen where “blood money” can’t be given to the temple.

Jesus denied divorce and remarriage, but reiterated Moses divorce permission specifically to hard hearted Israel. Jesus’ affirmation of Moses’ teaching is found only in the gospel of Matthew.

Paul explicitly affirmed Jesus’ denial of remarriage, stating that a couple may separate but may not remarry. In the specific case of a believer married to a non-believer Paul allowed separation, but never explicitly allowed remarriage, even in this case.

So to summarise:

Moses allowed divorce as an accomodation to sinful Israel, Jesus allowed it for the same reason but disallowed it in principle, Paul disallowed it along with Jesus, and Ezra actually commanded it to demonstrate that even a “good” end does not justify the means.

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