Deuteronomy 24:1 says, “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” In this verse God gave permission to a Jewish man to divorce his wife if “he hath found some uncleanness in her.” What does that mean? The word “uncleanness” is rendered “indecency” in many translations and it refers to “sexual indecency.” Does this mean that his wife was guilty of “adultery?” Many think it must be referring to adultery, but if one was guilty of adultery it was punishable by death. We see this in Deuteronomy 22:22, “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.” So, instead of divorcing his wife the husband would report this act to others and she would be put to death. Indecency could refer to any improper behavior with another man short of adultery. The word can take on the meaning of “nakedness” so it could be a case where a woman improperly uncovers her private parts in front of a man other than her husband. If a woman is caught doing this she would indeed lose “favor in his [her husband’s] eyes”; that is, he would be angry with her and no longer wish to remain married to her. In this case he was to write a formal “bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.”

Now let’s read what the Lord Jesus had to say about divorce. Matthew 5:31-32 reads, “It hath been said, 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.” The Lord was very emphatic; there is only ONE CAUSE for a man divorcing his wife, and that is FORNICATION (the word “fornication” here means “illicit sexual intercourse” and would include “adultery”). This begs the question, “Why did God allow divorce in Old Testament times for “indecency,” which is not a case of adultery?” We get the answer for that in Matthew 19:3-9, “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And He answered them, ‘Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, BECAUSE OF THE HARDNESS OF YOUR HEARTS, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery’” (NKJV). The Lord Jesus made it clear that it was “because of the hardness of your hearts” that God ALLOWED divorce. Men wanted an “easy way out” and He allowed them to do so. But He makes it equally clear that God intended marriage to be FOR LIFE and the only reason divorce is justified is in case of adultery. Let us never forget this, dear fellow-believer! It is all too common for true believers to be guilty of divorcing for reasons other than adultery. This is shameful and dishonors the One Who said, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” God HATES divorce, and so should we. “For I hate divorce, says the LORD, the God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16; NASB).  (209.7)  (DO)