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Thread: Was divorce or getting remarried allowed in early christian communities?

  1. #1 Was divorce or getting remarried allowed in early christian communities? 
    Forum Freshman Headdresser's Avatar
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    When was the sacrament of marriage introduced?
    I recently heard that marriage was seen as a worldly and therefor minor thing by early christians and not as sacred as it is seen today. I wonder if this is true and if there is any proof or reliable source for that.
    And if yes...was it only about marriages between non-christians and christians...If I didn't get the bible wrong...some of the disciples have been married and left there womans alone, because Jesus told'em so. But was it also allowed for two christians to brake up a marriage or remarry?


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  3. #2  
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    I recently heard that marriage was seen as a worldly and therefor minor thing by early christians and not as sacred as it is seen today.
    Not so much minor as private. In England, and I presume most of Europe, it was the usual thing for people to "marry themselves". They just used a form of words that would be legally recognised if ever the matter came before a court, and it was done! They didn't even need witnesses if they didn't want them. Witnesses of course were obligatory if there was dowry or other property involved - the witnesses were required because it was a contract, not because it was a marriage.

    If you're thinking of the very earliest christians they would have used whatever forms were prescribed by Judaism or their country of origin.

    To read a different perspective on all of this get yourself a copy of The Subversive Family: An Alternative History of Love and Marriage by Ferdinand Mount. If you are a Christian, I strongly advise skipping chapter 1 - it might put you off the rest of the book. Go back and read it afterwards. When you start at Chapter 2 you're in much more acceptable territory - giving the communists and various other authoritarians the rounds of the kitchen on their oppressions and interference in families.

    Divorce? For the very, very early christians, they would have adopted the usual strict rules about supporting children and dividing property prescribed in Jewish family laws. I think the Romans had similar provisions, but don't quote me on that.


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  4. #3  
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    Divorce was allowed in the Jewish tradition which Christianity co-opted when it began, but Jesus Christ explicitly forbade it unless she cheats on you, saying that it had only been allowed because the people were wicked at Moses' time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew 5: 31,32 of the Kings James Bible

    31. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.
    32. But I say unto you, That 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.
    Somehow the Catholics decided to go a step further later on, and forbid divorce even if the woman (or man) cheats, but the Bible passage is pretty clear.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  5. #4  
    Time Lord
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    Or an even better passage:

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew 19:5-11 of the King James Bible
    5. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
    6. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
    7. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
    8. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
    9. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
    10. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
    11. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
    So if we go back to the very first Christians, and if the account of Matthew is not inaccurate (2 very big "if"'s), then divorce was only allowed if she cheated.

    I love how human his disciples were about it, though. "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. " Lol.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman efbjr's Avatar
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    The early Jews did not have formal ceremony as we practice today. The families of the man and woman, and, usually, the rest of the inhabitants of the area where the couple lived, got together to celebrate the union. As the party was nearing its' end, the man took the woman to the house that had been prepared for them to live in. The celebration and the procession to their new home was a public declaration of their desire to be wed, and was legally recognized by the community.
    Last edited by efbjr; January 12th, 2013 at 12:10 PM.
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