Divorce & Remarriage
There are numerous Scriptures that deal with divorce and remarriage, regrettably some folks often wait until things get way out of hand before learning to apply the tools YHWH which may have avoided the divorce in the first place. Oftentimes by the time a person is so fed up and frustrated and hurt and abused the last thing on their mind is to try to reconcile anything. But as we all know, the problem is that people either neglect to deal with their issues in stages and their marriage spirals into a blowout, or one or both partners don’t want to accept responsibility for the failure of their own marriage.
Another huge problem we face is that there are precious few options to help a dysfunctional or lazy partner pull up their socks, and put something back into their marriage so the other partner would want to stay. In ancient days you had the father-in-law, the brothers-in-law, the uncles and cousins and the whole community who would help settle issue, the one causing trouble was likely not so responsible before they were married, maybe both of them equally, but there was some shall we say “positive reinforcement” to try to keep it together and the Fear of YHWH that caused a person to do all they could to sanctify His Name. After all, everyone asks for YHWH’s blessings on their marriage and therefore they are also responsible to Him for the way they treat Him and their spouse once they are married.
It wasn’t so easy for someone to treat another human being in a light or abusive manner and get away with it. Also, in years gone by, they didn’t have as many places to go, in ancient days it was customary to live and work together with your family and father’s made lands available for their sons. So a husband or wife could appeal to their relatives if things got tough. But in today’s society, it’s too easy to slap the plastic down and back a U-haul up to the door, in no time Mr. or Mrs. X is out looking for greener pastures. No accountability, no dealing with the issues causing the divorce, no having to grow up, just another man or woman to hurt again. Well… the one factor that most divorcees don’t take into consideration is that YHWH has a Standard, an immutable Standard that overrules anything that we might feel or think about divorce and remarriage, so let’s take a look at His Word.
To properly understand divorce we must first understand marriage and very regrettably many couples aren’t even getting married, sure they meet at the church say some vows, have a party, limo, honeymoon and by the law of the land and by YHWH’s Law, once they have sex… they’re done. Over the years when counseling married couples I’m amazed at how little they were given to start out their lives together. I’ve had friends bring young couples over to the house for some counsel because their supposed “spiritual leaders” were completely lax when it came to helping set a foundation for their marriage. One couple said their pastor wanted to talk renting a luxury car or getting a limousine. I said “you’re joking right?” both shook their heads in unison, nope. No joke. Some of the things they wanted to blockquote required a significant amount of learning from Scripture and prayer and gaining confidence that was instrumental in them becoming confident that they were meant for each other and that they would have a good marriage.
When a couple are planning to get married it is the bride to be who writes (ketuba) a covenant where she provides information about how her husband will how to love her. It’s good to assume that he’s the average guy who needs a bit bit of help to learn how to treat his wife. Why wouldn’t he? Men don’t come with a pre-programmed module on how to treat their wives, this is something they might not have learned at home, how a father treats his wife has a huge impact on sons and daughters so we should never assume anything when it comes to building a relationship together.
Take a good long hard look at how your potential partner treats their mother and father, and how he thinks about them and talks about them. Sure, parents might act like nasty old vindictive hateful people, but we are still commanded to honor and respect our fathers and mothers. YHWH didn’t say that we are only supposed to honor them if they honor and respect us. One can easily tell whether a son or daughter has retained the cycle of anger and hatred and violence from their parents or whether they’ve identified and broken the cycles if a person takes a bit of time to understand these things.
When the bride to be has confidence that she’s got the right guy then she writes out a ketuba and she lists all the things she needs from her husband for him to cherish her, love her, protect her, be strong for her, fight for her, be honorable towards her and be instinctive about their relationship and seek ways to be more intimate together and bring blessings into the marriage. After she writes the ketuba, generally she has an artist write it out after her guy agrees to accept her as his wife on the terms she asks for, then they’ve got a covenant of belonging to each other.
The betrothal element when the offer of marriage is accepted (engagement) is almost as though the couple are married, but it must be followed by the vows with witnesses before YHWH to ratify the covenant, then of course the physical union of husband and wife makes the marriage complete.
Regrettably, there are people getting “married” who never developed a covenant of belonging (ketuba) before they got married. You would think that would be the most important part, but in reality many couples never receive proper counsel, and even as a marriage is headed towards a very unpleasant divorce I’ve witnessed many marriages getting back together on this single basis alone. Where a woman will write out a covenant of belonging and say if he would be willing to satisfy the covenant that she would take him back. Conversely, the man doesn’t know how to please his wife, everything he tries to do doesn’t work so when she spells it out then he is better able to take it to heart. You would think that a guy who is in “love” would knows how to treat a woman? Nope, not at all. But, you would think that at least a guy knows how to have sex with a woman. Nope. But, you would think that there are obvious and basic domestic and relational things that every guy would know instinctively. Nope. Not at all. And that of course is why there are too many divorces, there are plenty of men and women who should never be married unless they invest some time to develop themselves for a happy marriage.
I’m shocked at some of the counsel I’ve heard from women, that their mothers told them, that the best way to keep their man would be to give him sex “like a whore” (actually one used the F word because she thought that it was appropriate under such circumstances)… nice Jewish Christian girls of course. One of them advised that her breast size would keep her man happy… nope, that didn’t work out as well as she hoped… what happened you see was that… well let’s not even go there…
In writing the ketuba, both the man and the woman learn a bit about covenant and responsibility and intimacy. This is it. This is Torah. Torah tells us to write (kathav) an account (chashav) of the matter. And this account is something a woman needs to take very seriously, it could make or break her marriage. A woman needs to use wisdom to see how the guy is going to respond to what she is offering in her ketuba… is whether he paying attention or if his eyes glass over in puppy love.
The ketuba is going to be beautifully written witness, with beautiful artwork and frame and posted inside the home. It will bear witness to the love and intimacy between the couple for all to see and witness and uphold together. It will bring pride and joy and thankfulness to YHWH for each other. When writing the ketuba the couple will realize that it was YHWH Who put the love for each other into their hearts. Not just infatuation that will fade after the honeymoon, but this is about two becoming one flesh in mind, body, spirit and soul.
The ketuba speaks to the journey of the marriage, it’s not that two people managed to arrive at the alter, but that they set out on a beautiful adventure together. As I’m writing this I’m inspired by thinking of marriages I’ve witnessed and wedding anniversaries I’ve attended of those who after 50 and 60 years of belonging together continue to beauty and peace to each others hearts. One of the worlds longest ever married couples say their secret, or “golden rule”, was that they simply ironed out the arguments before bedtime and gave each other a kiss and cuddle each and every night and they take time for a little romance every day. The Mrs. said “couples don’t take enough time for each other”. The Mr. said “old fashioned chivalry is the answer, and don’t ever let your standards slip”. That was their advice after 80 years of MARRIAGE!!! Amazing isn’t it?
Obviously the big question is whether you’ve chosen a partner who has the desire and integrity to maintain even something as simple and practical as this. Well, the young lady of course asks her parents to size the guy up first. Regardless of age it’s wise to learn a bit about each other through the eyes of third parties, there’s a reason they say “love is blind”.
Nevertheless, as we learn about some of the criterion of divorce most people I speak with tell me that if they would have put a few of these things into their marriage they wouldn’t have been seeking divorce. So then before we think of divorce, let’s understand a bit more of what Torah requires of marriage so that the matters of divorce are better clarified for both husband and wife.
The fact is that most counselors today and lawyers won’t bring the partners together without a hefty ding to your checkbook or credit card. In many middle and lower class divorces, couples will together loose 30-70% of all their assets in divorce proceedings. Generally what happens is one wants to fight, so the other needs do defend themselves… which means taking lots of time off work, legal fees and bills piling up. It’s an ironic statistic because the same agencies who produce those stats also tell us that 75% of marriages fail because of money related issues.
It is on the basis of the ketuba that a man or a woman should ask for a separation and then divorce if need be, so it is also based on the ketuba whether a man or woman has been negligent and to what extent might be culpable for breaking covenant with YHWH and their partner.
Regrettably, once a couple have tied the knot they can’t plead ignorance and in the process of divorcing wise counselors do their very best to help minister to the underlying issues that are causing the marriage failure. It is most often the case that one of the partners has a blind spot that they themselves could not see, and they didn’t understand things about themselves until their marriage brought the issues to the attention of their spouses. Let’s look at what is probably the most commonly quoted Scripture in the Bible that relates to divorce;
“Yet you say, Why? Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet she your companion, and the wife of your covenant. And did not He make you one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And why one? That He might seek children of Elohim. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the Elohim of Israel, says that he hates divorce: for one covers violence with his clothing, says YHWH of Armies: therefore take heed to your spirit, that you deal not treacherously. You have wearied Yahweh with your words. Yet you say, How have we wearied him? When you say, Everyone that does evil is good in the sight of Yahweh, and he delights in them; or, Where is the Elohim of judgment?”
Regrettably, there aren’t enough rabbis, pastors, priests, ministers or counselors on the earth who will discuss finer elements of what YHWH spoke through His prophet Malachi. First of all, we read that Yahweh has been witness. This means He witnessed your coming together as husband and wife and he witnessed how it is coming apart. If we understand and believe this, then we should also be able, if we have trained our spirits, to hear what the Spirit of YHWH says about the matter of each individual man and woman who are having marriage problems. Because, YHWH says that He bears witness. This is one of hundreds of Scriptures where we know that YHWH bears witness to all our doings, but this is one where He specifically refers to divorce.
The “wife of your covenant”, notice he says “your covenant”. You and your spouse made a convenant between each other, it is often on the maturity or immaturity of your covenant that a marriage will succeed or fail. When a man and woman marry it is for life, in YHWH’s eyes. A couple says till death do us part. If there were no intention of living together as husband and wife till death then both parties are culpable for adultery even before they were married. But the point is that laying down a solid foundation for the marriage is like building a house, no foundation and it probably won’t last too long.
Did He “make you one”? Yes He did, because YHWH created male and female in His image. YHWH is neither male or female, we only call Him a “He” because of the fact that “He” assumes the role of everything a man is to be to all of His Creation. The “bride” of Mashiyach is both male and female, but the bride is used to represent Israel (or the Church) because Mashiyach chose us, we didn’t choose him. Scripture tells us that there will be no marrying in the world to come, there will be no male or female in the world to come, we will live as spiritual beings in such a way that we cannot fully grasp in this life.
For one covers violence with his clothing, or one is violence clothed, or one makes violence his clothing. Hebrew is interesting this way, there are several ways to read these three Hebrew words and they are all correct, but all on different (midrashim) levels. I wouldn’t supply a definitive (peshat) simple way to read this verse because these matters of the heart and spirit, are complex and yet somewhat unique to each of us, but the simple point is that a divorce is an outward expression of violence that is seen as the clothing we wear. Everywhere we go, whoever we meet with, whenever anyone discovers a person has been through a divorce, life will not be the same because the covenant was broken and the opportunity to live life through with one partner, in a Set Apart union with the Father, can never be retrieved after it fails and a person marries another partner.
Another reality is that if a man does not properly maintain his own marriage then his qualifications to serve YHWH as His representative will also be diminished. YHWH says that, “When you say, Everyone that does evil is good in the sight of Yahweh, and he delights in them;” is in fact what modern religions do. They say that evil is good in the sight of Yahweh and that He delights in the couple who just got divorced and He blesses them and wants them to get remarried… and remarried… and remarried. Nope. No way. In righteousness and truth YHWH judges both the man and the woman on all levels of culpability.
“But I say to you that any who puts away his wife aside from a case of fornication makes her commit adultery, and he who takes a divorced woman commits adultery.”
According to Y’shua’s halakha (the correct way to walk) divorce is not permitted unless one of the partners has committed fornication. The root word for fornication in Aramaic is D’ZaNYuOT or in Hebrew zanah which is usually translated as harlotry or prostitution. The word zanah opens up a wide latitude of Torah jurisprudence which is centered on willful rebellion against YHWH and His Torah. The point being that the culpable party is guilty before YHWH, and they are not so easily permitted to remarry.
However, the fact remains that guilty parties have little or no conscience and they will likely go and destroy another man or woman’s happiness if they remarry, which this is why YHWH warns us about the consequences of divorce.
The big question is how do you know, if you’re planning on marrying a divorcee, if the character flaws curses that trashed their last marriage is going to extend into your marriage? The truth is you don’t, and YHWH is looking to bless a marriage so as to raise up “children of Elohim”. Clearly this verse in Malachi means that YHWH gives children so they will be raised up as His spiritual sons and daughters, this is the most important element of marriage in the Father YHWH’s eyes. Yes, we have companionship needs etc and YHWH knows all of our needs and He has put these good and Set Apart needs into our souls. However, if we neglect the foremost elements of marriage then couples are simply cohabiting and giving pleasure to themselves without regard to His “Image” and purposes for human life.
So, before we even think about marrying a divorced person, we need to use much wisdom and only a fool would consider a matter by one witness. In other words, if some handsome divorced guy or woman is looking for a mate we better so a serious and thorough background check to see if we’re not about to marry an adulterer who has brought curses on their lives because of being rebellious, and who will most certainly bring a curse to others because of willful rebellion to YHWH.
Doesn’t YHWH forgive adulterers? Murders? Thieves? Liars? The point isn’t whether YHWH will or won’t forgive someone, we all know His Nature is Merciful and Compassionate and full of Grace and we walk in abundant blessings if we keep His commandments. The point is that even a man like Apostle Paul was engaged in the stoning of Stephen. Paul was a murderer. Paul was forgiven. But look how Paul spent the remaining years of his life in service to YHWH and His Mashiyach. The point is that if we want Grace from the Father then we better be able to show Him our service to Him and His Kingdom.
After a person is divorced they do not qualify to be in leadership ministry. I didn’t write 1 Timothy 3:2, 3:12 and Titus 1:6, Rav Shaul did. Anyone who is truly YHWH’s leaders, both men and woman have sensed His calling on their lives for many years and they have prepared their lives to serve the Father in ministry to Him and His people. They have carefully chosen their spouses who have the calling to serve as unto Mashiyach. If a man or a woman do not have the spiritual discernment, to even choose the right spouse, then they certainly don’t have the discernment to lead others in the things of the Kingdom.
Sure there are lots of leaders out there who have been divorced and remarried and to these folks Yahweh says “You have wearied Yahweh with your words. Yet you say, How have we wearied him? When you say, Everyone that does evil is good in the sight of Yahweh, and he delights in them;“. There are all manner of religious social clubs out there and all manner of divorced pastor teams who have congregations full of divorced people who prefer pastors and leaders who have also been divorced so everyone can be one happy family of divorced and broken rebellious people.
Here’s a few Hebrew words and the corresponding Strongs numbers for you to look up.
shalach = send away 7971
garash = drive out 1644
k’riythuth = divorce 3748
lachach = take 3947
ishshah = wife 802
gameyo = marry 1060
yashav = dwell together 3427
The covenant of marriage between a man and woman reflect the male and female natures of YHWH. When a person causes a divorce they are violating the nature of their spirit being, this is why the ketuba is so important in that it delineates the spiritual elements of Joy, Love, Intimacy, Mercy, Kindness and Perfection etc that marriage represents of YHWH’s Creative Being.
It is basically saying to the world that YHWH doesn’t exist. He was not the Divine Component of the marriage. He can’t hold a marriage together after putting His love into the man and woman for each other, and being invited to Head the marriage and be the Source of the marriage. The person who causes a divorce is denying their own spiritual soul and causing an incredible offense to their partner.
Over the years I’ve counseled many couples who have been divorced and remarried. I’ve counseled men and woman who confessed to being the main cause of their divorces by their rebellion against YHWH and their severe lack of maturity towards their spouse. Think about it. Are these the kinds of people that YHWH wants to be the examples to others? NO. It’s only the divorcees that will fight this point to the death, as a way to stroke their own egos and manifest their own guilt. NO. Divorced people who demand a place of honor and respect in leadership are simply fooling themselves. I didn’t write 1 Timothy 3:2, 3:12 and Titus 1:6, Rav Shaul did.
If you’re an astute Bible student then you know that only on the mouth of two or three witnesses can any matter of halakha (application of Torah) be established. Paul wrote both Timothy and Titus so that’s only one witness. However, YHWH says in Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:14 that a high priest cannot take, “A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.” Most divorced men would scoff at this thinking, “yeah, but I’m no high priest”. And of course no they aren’t, but then they haven’t prepared their lives to serve YHWH as His priest either, or sanctified His Name as a His priest or invited His Holiness into their lives as His priest either. So, if a man is divorced and remarried and then takes up tithes and offerings from YHWH’s people what he is doing is dishonoring the Head of his priesthood Who is Mashiyach. It’s just that simple.
In Numbers 5 we read about the “law of the jealous husband” this law was exercised in Israel until the days of Hillel who vetoed the law. It was during this time in history when the modern rabbinical system, as we know it today, usurped the leadership that YHWH had given to the cohenim (priests) and it was done by both political and religious tyranny against the Torah of YHWH. Nevertheless, YHWH provided instructions to protect a man and woman whose marriage was under attack. Today, we have a similar promise through the counsel of Mashiyach and the Apostles by those who are mighty in Scriptures and fervent in the Set Apart Spirit to bring resolve in exact same circumstances.
Men and women who have been involved in ministry and have been culpable to bring their marriage into divorce have already proven to themselves and the world that they have had neither the counsel of the Scriptures or discernment of the Spirit of YHWH within themselves to establish YHWH’s counsel in their own lives. Neither have they had the support of other ministers, the apostolic or prophetic, or other servants of YHWH, to bring the ministry of YHWH’s Spirit to themselves or their spouse. Religious leaders who have been divorced and remarried have demonstrated to everyone that they are living after their own carnal flesh and haven’t focused on the things of the Spirit. It’s time to be looking at a new “career” when a person in ministry can’t keep their marriage together.
A person doesn’t go to an alcoholic for an example of how to stop drinking, or a smoker for a demonstration of how to stop smoking or an obese person for a real life example of how to discipline one’s eating and exercise habits. People don’t need to hear another sermon, they want to see one. Leaders who have been divorced and remarried are very likely to be the first to advocate that divorce and remarriage isn’t such a bad thing… after all… it could happen to the “best of us”. No, YHWH hates when religious leaders take tithes and offerings from His people while living according to their carnal flesh and dropping His standards low.
If anything, “New Testament” ministry in the Spirit and Truth of Mashiyach is given on a much higher level than the “law of the jealous husband” that is mentioned in Torah. Clearly Torah has been magnified by the Spirit of YHWH through the discernment of Apostles, Prophets and Teachers (Luke 11:49; 1 Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 2:20; 3:5; 4:11; 1 Peter 3:2; Rev. 18:20). The same people in leadership who say the Torah is done away with, have also blasphemed the work of their own lives and ministries by being ill-equipped to serve in YHWH’s House.
If anyone divorces a son or daughter of Jerusalem, a soul who belongs to YHWH and His Mashiyach, they have brought a reproach against the Name of YHWH and His Mashiyach and against all the Household of Faith. That reproach can never be revoked in this life. It is as the gossiper and the bag of feathers that is strewn into a windstorm, every feather represents a person that was hurt by the gossip. It is impossible to make atonement to a son or daughter of YHWH who was defiled by a carnally minded covenant breaking person who put them away through divorce. The culpable party must not, ever, stand before YHWH’s people as a representative of His Name in leadership, since YHWH’s Name, the family and friends of the injured spouse, and all the Household of Mashiyach have been treated with disdain and contempt.
In Genesis 2:24 we read that “they shall be one flesh” this is the union of male and female that is unified and indivisible by the Spirit of YHWH. When YHWH created marriage the first man and woman were spirit beings, sinless, eternal. When we are born again in Mashiyach, the very word for “born again” tells us that we are born from the head or beginning of our spiritual person. This union in Mashiyach is known and understood and experienced by a man and woman who recognize that their marriage is first a spiritual union of their two spirits and by their will, their emotions and physically by literally becoming one flesh through intercourse.
Mashiyach is the return to Genesis. Mashiyach is the kavanagh (intent) of the spiritual world we each live in. Mashiyach is the tikkun olam (rebuilding of the world) therefore any marriage that is made with confession of the name of Jesus or Yeshua embodies the intent of the spiritual world. A divorce against the Name of Mashiyach is therefore a denial of the Spirit and Testimony of Mashiyach within the heart of both the man and woman. For a divorced leader to remarry and preach Mashiyach as their headship is simply false religion. Mashiyach requires a demonstration of his Perfection within the soul, not just an outward theological preaching to tickle the ears.
For over 1400 years within the commonwealth of Israel, adultery was punishable by death, but then, Y’shua magnified the Torah to an even higher level. Yeshua taught us that if we look upon a woman with intent to commit adultery, then we have already committed adultery with her in our hearts. Again, Y’shua did not loose the commandment, he raised the bar, and he raised it high.
As I noted earlier, you will find 100 Christian leaders to every 1, maybe 1000:1 who will quickly and easily tell you that divorce and remarriage doesn’t deny a person from going back into full time ministry and taking tithes and offerings from YHWH’s people. That’s the world we live in today. That’s why the world is the way it is today. That’s why YHWH tells us through His Prophets that His indignation on this world will be beyond the pale of anything we could imagine.
Life is short, let’s go do the right thing. When leaders or anyone else says that they must seek remarriage after their marriage fails, it indicates that they have not matured in the things of Y’shua to curtail the needs of their own flesh and they are not able to focus on the things of the Spirit of Elohim. Anyone who is serious about serving YHWH in their lives is much more concerned about Sanctifying His Name than living after their own flesh.
If you are considering marrying a divorced person you should know what the consequences are before you do. Most Christians live under a theology of cheap Grace where everything goes, everything is forgiven, there are no consequences for divorce, that is lie and a false gospel against Mashiyach. At a very minimum you will want to know if you the divorced person you are interested in is even a potential marriage partner, which means you need to hear testimony from witnesses as to why their former marriage ended in disaster.
You will also want to know if YHWH will honor your marriage to a divorced person and give you a joyful and fruitful life together. Many times I’ve heard people say they were deceived into marriage by a dishonorable person who covered up their carnal lifestyles in order to attract an honorable spouse. Some have even stated that it wasn’t until the day after they were married that they realized what a terrible mistake they had made. Picture yourself lying in bed on your honeymoon looking up at the ceiling all night and not being able to sleep because your own desires entrapped you. I’ve heard that story too many times.
There are too many regrettable situations where men or woman who wanted to live honorable lives unto YHWH married a worldly carnally minded partner, then over time were dragged them away from their love of Y’shua. The carnally minded spouse that is not interested in the things of the Kingdom spend their livelihoods and resources on materialism, worldly knowledge and vanity and their spouses pay for it in more ways than they can imagine. Marriage to someone who has chosen not to inherit the kingdom of Elohim is a dead end, our bodies are the members of Mashiyach but are easily made to be members of worldly idolatries through marriage to an unbeliever.
The problem is, most religious leaders have no backbone, they simply tell people what they want to hear and use their religion and theology, and emotional empathy to help cope with progressive sin, rather than help people get the victory over the carnal flesh and uphold the righteous standards Y’shua suffered for. It can be fatal mistake to listen to the counsel of carnal religious leaders rather than seek the Spirit of YHWH and His Word for our own lives. These important decisions about marriage and divorce must never be treated lightly, each of us is responsible for all the decisions we make, we can’t blame those who provided foolish counsel to us if we ourselves listen to and chose to take their counsel.
I pray that you will hear the Father’s voice and study His Word in these matters, in the original intent that He provided us His instructions, when making decisions about marriage, divorce or remarriage.
YHWH be with you,
Baruch ben Daniel
PS to make a rulings about divorce and remarriage Torah requires that both parties be available together at a hearing of testimony and evidence. Testimony and evidence must be examined by a Beit Din (2 or 3 witnesses) and then counsel and direction can be forthcoming. Divorces generally take between 2 and 3 years to resolve after separation, according to Torah jurisprudence. During the time of separation both parties must examine their hearts and be willing to receive counsel from Scripture to assist them in going forward with their lives. Anyone who has been divorced and is seeking remarriage without being able to provide elements of marriage or personal counsel before the divorce, and particulars of their separation and divorce by third parties, is likely disaster waiting to happen again.