Posted by: Heather | December 23, 2012

“Putting Away” vs. “Divorcing” (Divorce Series Preface)

Quick point of information for those interested in examining the marriage/divorce/separation/remarriage issue from a biblical perspective: “Putting away” and “divorcing” are two different things in the Bible once you leave Deuteronomy, and they are two different things in Jewish culture. Since when, you ask? Since Moses, according to Jesus.

I caught on to this recently when the word “bondage” flamed up at me as I was reading I Cor. 7:15 . Since then, I have been searching wildly and drafting a piece devoted to what I’ve discovered, but two weeks have passed, my draft is too long to post but too short to do the issue any justice, and I need to say something.

My husband and I are fine, thanks, so to whoever is wrestling with this issue, 1) please forgive me for delaying so long–I feel like I should have said something two weeks ago. 2) I’m sorry I don’t have the whole story for you in this post, but I’d be happy lay everything out for your consideration if you want to go for coffee. Since I’m not ready to post all I have, I will leave you with some threads to follow on your own:

  • Look at the plight of the agunah, which is a Hebrew term for the bound or chained spouse, the spouse under bondage, as Paul puts it, the one suffering under a cultural construction that was never in the plan of God from the beginning. This is what it is to be “put away” but not have a torah-legal divorce, and it is bad news. There are people stuggling with this exact situation today.
  • Don’t be misled by Thayer’s listing of “divorce” as an alternate sense for two Greek terms translated “putting away.” And especially don’t be misled by the KJV’s translation of Matt 5:31-2 where twice the same word for putting away appears in the original, but in the second instance, it is mistranslated as divorce. They are not synonyms! Ask any agunah who lives in that wide, wretched cavern between them.   
  • The word in Hebrew and the word Greek for a divorce is translated “divorcement” or “writing of divorcement.” It is rarely used in the Old or New Testaments. The document itself is never part of the controversy within the biblical framework. Deut. 24:1-4 stands in each instance. If you really want to blow your mind, read an online translation of a get, the legal divorce document.

I know divorce is a touchy issue on its own even without the confusion regarding remarriage, and I know it’s preposterous to think that I should have some insight pastors, scholars, and translators have missed. (I can scarcely believe that I am trying to argue against Thayer). Nevertheless, consider it evidence that God can use the foolish things of this world–because even if I’m wrong, as we dig into the issue, we will all know more and be closer to understanding the gospel of God as it pertains to binding up the brokenhearted.

And there are a lot of brokenhearted who don’t know that God in the Old Testament, Jesus in the gospels (still God), and Paul in the letters agree with one another and are all deeply concerned with the unmarried, the married, the divorced, the remarried, the separated, and the agunah. And in all cases, God has good news for you, beloved.

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Responses

  1. […] call this part 1 of my divorce series. Holy matrimony may be familiar terminology, but holy divorce? I may not be able to slip that one […]

  2. […] part 2 of the divorce series (part 1 about the possibility of a holy divorce is here). Part 2 discusses arguments that I […]

  3. […] in part 3! As we saw in part 2 of the divorce series, there is no such thing in the Bible as a divorce that does not allow a person to remarry. […]

  4. […] attempted to support the assumptions I’m bringing to this passage elsewhere in the series: the preface, part 1, part 2 and part 3. In sum, this is what those posts attempt to […]


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