Matthew 5.31-32 cont.
31 It was said: “Whoever should divorce his wife must give her a letter of divorce.”
32 Now I tell you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on account of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever shall marry a woman who has been divorced, commits adultery.
With two thousand years of the Christian ideal of marriage, and abhorrence at divorce it is perhaps difficult for us to realize that the words of Jesus about divorce were shocking and revolutionary.
The Jews may have had the Law about divorce, which was interpreted in either a strict or a liberal way; however, they were under the occupation of Rome, which brought with it a morality which we would find almost unbelievable.
We must also remember that Galilee had been greatly influenced first by Greek invaders, and then by the Romans.
The Greeks brought with them a morality which would have been completely alien to the Jews; they brought a culture that was at variance with the word of God. Like the generations of the Old Testament, the Jews allowed theses immoral cultures to change their own attitudes and so that they took on board customs that were a contradiction of the Law of God, given through Moses.
We know that in Jewish society women were not regarded very highly, and had little or no rights.
In Greek and Roman society the situation was even worse.
A Jewish man had to give a certificate of divorce to divorce his wife. A Greek only had to tell his wife, in front of two witnesses, that he was divorcing her
In Greek society a wife was kept secluded, not even eating meals with the men. They were only there for the purpose of raising children. A Greek male sought his physical satisfaction elsewhere. Prostitution was accepted as normal, and extra marital affairs were an establish way of life.
Though Rome began with a higher moral standard it eventually took on board the laxity of the Grecian way of life.
Wives were expected to remain totally faithful to their husbands, whereas men were expected to have intimate relations with different women.
It was into this kind of immorality that Jesus spoke, and into which His Church brought a much higher standing for women and a greater morality for those born again. It is the morality that God designed for the happiness, joy, and pleasure of the marriage bond.