Writing Style Used: APA
Course and Section Number: THEO 202 – D10
Essay on Anthropology: Marriage and Divorce
Marriage is very important within Christianity. It is stated very early on in the Old Testament that God wanted humans to have a partner. Genesis 2:18 (NRSV) states, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”” God wanted man to have a life partner who could help with watching over the world, could raise a family, and continue mankind of future generations. Genesis 2:24 (NRSV) talks about how man and wife come together as humans become adults, stating, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Elwell (2001) tells us how important marriage has become, stating that “. . . marriage came to be regarded as a sacrament” (p. 740).
To understand how marriage evolved, it is necessary to look at who was allowed to marry each other in Old Testament times and what the thoughts were for who should marry each other in the New Testament. Elwell states that “Marriage with the immediate family group was general, and limits on acceptable consanguinity were imposed” (p. 740). Marriage evolved from being allowable within family member, including half-siblings and first cousins, to being allowable within the tribe, to being somewhat acceptable amongst foreigners. There was a time, however, that “So great was the concern of the Hebrews that their religion might be diluted by intermarriage with those of other faiths that in postexilic times wholesale divorce was ordered for those married to foreigners” (p. 740).
Today, there is a wedding ceremony after that, a couple is considered married. This has evolved through the years. The Old and New Testaments take different views on when a marriage is official and also differing views on divorce. In the Old Testament, “The marriage was valid only after the couple had lived as man and wife for a week” (p. 742), although the “marriage was expected to be consummated on the first night” (p. 742). If a husband had consummated the marriage with his wife and found she was not a virgin, he could “bring charges against her” (p. 742) and divorce her before the first week was over. There was also the issue in the Old Testament with the forced divorces of those who had married foreigners. While divorce was not highly common or thought highly of, it was deemed as acceptable in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, however, had a more sexual view of when a marriage is initiated. 1 Corinthians 6:16 (NRSV) states “Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.”” This last statement shows that if a man and woman had sex, the marriage was considered consummated, and they were considered married, even if that was not the intention. And the view on divorce in the New Testament is pretty clear, stated in Matthew 5:32 (NRSV) that “But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” This shows that not