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Home > Articles > History of Christian Doctrine on Divorce

History of Christian Doctrine on Divorce


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In the view of the Christian Church, marriage is a sacred institution that has been conceptualized by the Almighty himself. Even Jesus proclaimed that marriage is a culmination of his creation of a man and a woman. In the Bible, there are different passages regarding the issue of divorce. The doctrines in the Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament are present in Genesis, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The doctrines in the Christian Scriptures or New Testament are present in Matthew, Mark and 1 Corinthians.

According to many conservative Christians, the passages in the Hebrew Scriptures were written by Moses during 1450 BC, while Liberals believe them to be written between 920 BC and 587 BC by more than one author. According to Liberal Christians, Bible offers contrasting views of different authors depending upon the spiritual and theological changes regarding marriage and divorce. According to the Bible, ancient Israelites had a patriarchal family system where man was the head of the family. Polygamy is an inherited right of the man. Women had a very low status and were often treated as property. Life expectancy was very low during the biblical times. Although, divorce was not encouraged, it was permitted whenever any man found his wife being unfaithful to him.

Many theologists believe that the doctrine passages in the New Testament were written between 45 and 85 AD. Although, the rules have been modified to a slight extent, the basic principles remain the same as they were mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Principles on divorce have gradually evolved with the passage of time. As per the current culture in North America, men and women have equal status in the family. Life expectancy has improved tremendously. Polygamy is not permitted except in few cases and marriage duration extends till 50 years.

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