Seven Principles: Then and Now

The Seven Principals of Marriage in the Old Testament.

  1. Marriage was monogamous in the Old Testament. Only one person in the Old Testament (who wasn’t royalty or a patriarch) had more than one wife (cf. Elkanah, I Samuel 1).  Why?  The ability to pay the bride-money (50 shekels) amounted to about seven years of work.  It was too expensive and it wasn’t God’s ideal.
  2. Adultery was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22.23).
  3. If pre-marital intercourse occurred, the option to divorce was removed and the couple was required to marry, pay the bride money and never divorce.
  4. Girls who participated in pre-marital intercourse and were not allowed to marry by their father were placed in the same group as divorcees and prostitutes (cf. Leviticus 21:7).
  5. Men cannot marry relatives. Why? (cf. “because their nakedness is your nakedness” (cf. Leviticus 20).
  6. Marriage creates a permanent relationship with your in-laws (cf. Ruth 1:11,3:1).
  7. Moses created thebill of divorce” because of the “hardness of our hearts” (cf. Deut. 24).

(cf. Gordon Wenham Marriage and Divorce in the Old Testament.  Διδασκαλία, November 1989)

Jesus’ Seven Principles of Marriage (cf. Matthew 19: 3-12).

  1. Divorcing your wife and marrying another creates an adulterous relationship (cf. “whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery” ).
  2. If the marriage was not valid, the rules do not apply (cf. “unless the marriage is unlawful” (cf. Leviticus 18,20; I Cor 5:1).
  3. Don’t marry if you think a divorce is a possibility (cf.  “man must not separate“).
  4. Receiving God’s plan for the marital state is a gift (cf. “but only those to whom that is granted“).
  5. Many people don’t accept Christ’s teaching  (cf. “it causes many to stumble and fall away“).
  6. Some people do not have the gift of marriage (cf. “some are incapable of marriage because they were born so”  and because they were made so by others”).
  7. Some people renounce marriage (cf. “for the sake of the kingdom“).


Three Ways Jesus Upgraded the Old Testament Practice.

First, married men could have relationships with a single woman and not be considered adulterous.    Jesus enlarges fidelity to include the man.

Secondly, divorce does not provide freedom (cf. the Mishnah, ‘thou art free to marry any man’ (Gittin 9.3) because divorce does not erase the marriage bond.  But, what about the indecency Moses talks about in Deuteronomy 24?  Jesus destroys the prevailing view of the “Shammaite” by saying, “If you think unchastity dissolves the marriage, you are wrong” (cf. Mark 10:11; Luke 16:11).   If “porneia” plagues your marriage, it’s OK to separate but don’t divorce (cf. I Cor. 6:15-16).   Jesus explains, “divorce equals adultery except in the case of unchastity” (cf. Matthew 5:32).

Thirdly,  marriage after the original union starts society on a downward path toward death.


For additional reading see:

Babylonian Talmud:  Tractate Gittin 

Jesus and Divorce: The Problem With The Evangelical Consensus


Author: gbradepp

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