To many people, the Bible appears to have nothing sensible or relevant to say about divorce and remarriage. Its teaching often seems harsh and in saying that the only ground for divorce is adultery, it appears to condemn the victims of marital abuse to a lifetime sentence with their partner.
New research into the background literature of the Bible, the ancient Near East and ancient Judaism shows that the original hearers of these teachings would have understood them very differently. It has revealed that:
- Jesus and Paul rejected no-fault divorces and emphasised that divorce should be avoided if at all possible.
- 1st century Jewish men and women could get divorced for neglect or abuse as well as for adultery. Jesus did not reject these grounds and Paul specifically affirmed them.
- In the 1st century, remarriage was the right of every divorcee and neither Jesus nor Paul taught otherwise.