One of the main reasons that people stay in bad marriages – liaisons where they are abused, cheated on, constantly gifted with STIs, and generally disrespected – is because they have had it drummed into them, that god hates divorce. This gives carte blanche to an erring, irresponsible or cruel spouse … to do what they like. Why should they change? It’s not like their victim is going anywhere. If they try to leave, whip out the old “God hates divorce” line; and they’ll have no choice.
I firmly believe that such a line can only be referred to, by a horrific spouse who has no plans of amending their behaviour. If you have to threaten someone with that line, it’s as good an admission that you are a terrible excuse for a life partner.
Ignorance is a terrible thing.
Fact is, many of the folk who allow themselves – because let’s face it, there is a measure of complicity – to be manipulated in such a manner, are ignorant of what they’re agreeing to. Churches continue to use Malachi 2:16, to trap people in bad marriages. Certain things are not communicated in context, so people live with unnecessary guilt – while some megalomaniac claims they have divine revelation.
Some things are not that deep. This is one of them. This is one of those areas in which common sense research and study, could literally save your life. A lot of what people refer to as ‘Christianity’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the Jesus they claim to follow. In the Bible, among other things, are records of the culture of the Jews – passed down from one generation to the next. It’s the same way that some Africans grew up hearing tales about the tortoise, hare and the lion. Therefore, some of the things that some people try to adopt and foist on others are just cultural and historical tales.
The context is this:
At the time, women were no more than chattel. They were considered property, which is why they could be inherited or discarded – like objects. Unfortunately, the existence of dishonourable men, is not a new phenomenon. Some men would marry a woman, tire of her and literally put her away – like a thing. Remember that women weren’t the ones, asking for the divorce – a thing cannot divorce a person. Sometimes, a man’s dislike for his wife, was extended to her children. So, some men would automatically pass on an inheritance meant for one son, to another – because he was the son of the preferred wife, even if he was younger.
Since women had no rights, they had nothing to fall back on. Apart from the fact that they were already in a terrible situation, by virtue of the fact that they arrived the earth as virgins – being put away damaged their already-questionable value. If she had children and the ex-husband didn’t give a toss, she was literally on her own. So, you had these women left to suffer, after being put away and abandoned by men, for the flimsiest of reasons.
Because the excesses of these men needed to be curtailed, it was understood that they could not throw away women for flimsy reasons. So, they started to come up with the most credible ‘reason’: she wasn’t a virgin, when we married. If you look at Deuteronomy 22, which actually contains a portion of Jewish history and culture, you will appreciate that such an allegation was a big deal.
Generally speaking, only three categories of women would not be virgins at the point of marriage: widows who were re-marrying, rape victims and prostitutes.
Now, because weddings didn’t take place in secret, a groom would know if his wife was a widow. Therefore, it would be ridiculous for such a man to complain that his wife wasn’t a virgin. He would have known before the marriage.
Rape victims were a bit different. Results depended on whether their story of being raped. If a woman complained that she had been raped, depending on whether she was believed or not, she could be killed along with her alleged rapist, or she was compelled to marry her rapist!
Now, if a man married someone that everyone knew had been raped – he was the rapist, whose action(s) had been condoned. So, it would be insane for him to whinge, “I didn’t meet her a virgin in marriage.” (Deuteronomy 22: 23–28)
Then, there were the prostitutes.
The thing about prostitution was that it was seen to go hand in hand with/be a pre-cursor to idol worship. It wasn’t just about what a woman chose do with her job, commercially. According to Jewish history, even as recorded in the Bible, whenever any of the neighbouring nations wanted to entice Israel to sin against Yahweh – they just went and got prostitutes. Numbers 25 is a pretty good example. And it wouldn’t be long before the Israelites turned their attention to an idol; whether it was one they created, or it belonged to any of the other nations. Idol worship in private, is pretty pointless. Therefore, to accuse a woman of prostitution, was basically to say, “She is trying to seduce Israel away from Yahweh.” For a man to do that to his wife, was to arrange her assassination: she would be stoned to death, by the entire nation.
So, if a man claimed that he didn’t meet his wife, a virgin – her parents would need to present ‘the token of her virginity’ to disprove his claim. This token was a blood-soaked cloth, from her wedding night. Obviously, if that cloth was available, it meant he was just a hard-hearted liar, who had been trying to smear her name; trying to set up his wife’s murder. If the cloth wasn’t available and she wasn’t a widow or a rape victim – the implication was that she was a prostitute and she would be killed, in order to remove the evil from Israel.
Women weren’t even the ones filing for divorce; they literally couldn’t. So, this wasn’t about women being compelled to stay with bad men, who had no love or respect for them. This doctrine of you can’t leave a spouse who’s trying to kill you, because you’ll get punished by whomever, is actually the invention of a warped excuse for a human being. A pile of cow dung, designed to keep people in bondage.
Just like with the ridiculous maxim – marriage is for better, for worse (which is not in any bible, unless you put it there) – it was created to trap people in their misery. Who in their right mind, would walk out on a good marriage? Unless you’re trying to claim that you married a crazy person (who walks out on good things), having to rely on such a phrase to compel a person to stay with you, is actually an indication as to how horrid a spouse you are.
So, the next time someone tells you, “God hates divorce”, feel free to ask them if he prefers violence, abuse, infidelity and disrespect.
No, I am not religious; I just study.
It ain’t rocket science.
All Rights Reserved, Chioma Nnani