Marriage is one of the commitments between a man and a woman which is expected to last a lifetime. Theologically, both partners enter into marriage through consent and make a vow in the presence of God and human beings that they will remain committed to each other. Marriages are ordained by God in the Bible as evidenced in the book of Genesis 2:24 which states that man should leave his mother and father and be united to his wife, and the two are expected to become one (Boloje & Groenewald, 2014). This signifies that people getting into a marriage union understand the implications of their decision. A certificate is issued by the minister who joins them where they sign as an indication of their commitment towards each other. Snyman (2014) states that before a man and a woman are joined in holy matrimony, they are expected to go through a thorough counselling session that acts as a guide to what they will expect when they start living together as a husband and his wife. If the individuals that want to be joined in a marriage are Christians, they are advised that they should practice total faithfulness. Martin (2010), suggests that people get married for companionship and to get children. In addition, the Bible in Genesis 2:18, affirms that it is not good for a person to live alone, justifying the reasons God created both male and female. Divorce involves separation of a couple that had been legally married. It is discouraged in marriages because it means that partners will need to go through a legal process so that they can be separated. Despite the negativity surrounding divorce, it is permitted when there are cases of infidelity or abandonment from either party. Divorce is allowed under the two conditions and remarriage encouraged for such partners so that they can get companionship or even sire children with their new spouses.
According to House (1990), marriage is enjoyable and lasts when both parties honour their vows and remain true to the words they exchanged at the altar. In such a union, a man and his wife ensure that they do not go beyond the marital boundaries and accord each other respect as well as offer the companionship that each looked forward to before the marriage. Thomas Edgar, one of the major contributors to Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian views, argues that divorce is allowed if one of the partners' cheat on the other. Cheating can either be emotional or physical. He notes that a cheating partner disrespects the boundaries in a marriage which assumes that it is the source of love and intimacy (House, 1990). An individual whose partner cheats is exposed to pain and betrayal. Most of the victims go through emotional pain and trauma as they come to terms with the fact that their spouse is interested in another person intimately. House (1990) argues that since the betrayed partner had chosen to remain faithful, he or she should not be made to pay for the sins that another person has committed. A cheating partner exposes the faithful spouse to pain and the risk of getting infected by sexually transmitted diseases. Hence, such a person is allowed to file for divorce and get his or her happiness from another spouse. In as much as one respects and upholds the commitment that he or she made at the altar to remain true to the spouse, a faithful partner should not be condemned to live a life full of regret and tears. Choosing to end a marriage after a partner has cheated is a personal option since some people may prefer to stay with an unfaithful spouse to avoid the process of falling in love with another person and getting married again (Rudolph, 2011). However, if one feels that he or she cannot maintain a relationship with a cheating spouse, then divorce is the best solution. A divorce allows an individual to detach from the cheating partner and seek happiness from another person.
Marriage is an institution that gives the partners a chance to live with each other in harmony. A married partner is assured that his or her spouse will provide them with the companionship that they desire. Warner (2017) argues that marriages are characterized by both good and bad moments and the partners must be in a position to work out the differences between them so that they can live in harmony. Communication becomes important for both parties so that they can make the other partner aware of what he or she needs. In case there is a conflict, spouses must sit down and resolve the issue before it escalates and affect the marriage relationship. Snyman (2014) suggests that if spouses are unable to resolve an issue, they can involve a trusted third party who must be non-partisan so that he or she can help restore sanity in the marriage. Partners must also be willing to let go of the underlying problems and move forward so that they can stay and live with each other in peace. Constant conflicts in a marriage might indicate a presence of more problems and it might discourage the marriage partners from seeking help from outside (Rudolph, 2011). This may trigger one of the partners from leaving his or her spouse, leading to desertion. Spouse abandonment is an escape strategy that most people use so that they can avoid being in a bad marriage. A spouse has the right to file for divorce since the partner can no longer provide or take care of the other. Martin (2010), states that spouse desertion is also triggered by financial crises or the health status of one of the partners. An abandoned spouse feels rejected and is emotionally traumatized, justifying the decision to file for divorce.
An abandoned partner has the choice of seeking another marriage companion. This is because he or she had chosen to respect the marriage vows while his or her partner sought to leave without a justified cause or by cutting communication. If a partner is unsatisfied with a marriage, he or she has the right to communicate with the other one that they are tired of the arrangement and can file for divorce, resolving the union amicably (Boloje & Groenewald, 2014). However, a partner who chooses to go silent and walk out leaves the other one with unanswered questions and never gives him or her the chance to understand the reasons that triggered their decision. This justifies why an abandoned spouse can file for divorce and the court grants them the permission so that they can seek their happiness in another person.
People entering marriage are attracted to each other (Snyman, 2014). This attraction is a natural cause. Sustaining the attraction requires both partners to work towards the relationship. Understanding that challenges and fluctuations will occur in the marriage enables the partners to maintain an open mind and adjust depending on the external and internal forces that trigger a change. Despite a marriage being a lifetime commitment, no individual should live with a partner that no longer adds value to their lives. For instance, a partner that constantly cheats and is unappreciative of the other person's effort may cause emotional pain to the other. Rudolph (2011) emphasizes that people who enter a marriage must decide whether they will maintain a monogamous or polygamous relationship. If the partners agree that the relationship should remain monogamous and after some years the man changes his mind and opts to marry another woman, then the wife has the option of having a co-wife or filing for divorce. This is because entertaining the thoughts of bringing in another woman amounts to cheating. However, if the relationship was polygamous, then a wife has no authority to file for divorce based on cheating.
In conclusion, the theological position of divorce and intermarriage depends on the perception that partners have towards marriage. Partners can only divorce if one of them is cheating on the other or spouse abandonment occurs. A cheating partner shows that he or she no longer cares about the wellbeing of their spouse and have little or no regards for their welfare and feelings. A partner who abandons the other has also gone against the marriage vows where one is expected to live and love the other person irrespective of the external and internal forces. Remarrying gives a person another chance to enjoy the joys of a marriage union.
Boloje, B. O., & Groenewald, A. (2014). Marriage and divorce in Malachi 2: 10-16: An ethical reading of the abomination to Yahweh for faith communities. Verbum et Ecclesia, 35(1), 1-10.
House, H. W. (1990). Divorce and remarriage: Four Christian views. InterVarsity Press.
Martin, E. D. (2010). Toward a Biblical Theology of Marriage: A Study of the Bible's Vocabulary of Marriage. Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Rudolph, D. J. (2011). Paul's" Rule in All the Churches"(1 Cor 7: 17-24) and Torah-Defined Ecclesiological Variegation. Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, 5(1).
Snyman, F. (2014). A theological appraisal of the book of Malachi. Old Testament Essays, 27(2), 597-611.
Warner, M. (2017). "Therefore a Man Leaves His Father and His Mother and Clings to His Wife": Marriage and Intermarriage in Genesis 2: 24. Journal of Biblical Literature, 136(2), 269-288.
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