Christian Views On Divorce

Christian views on divorce find their basis both in biblical sources dating to the giving of the law to Moses (Deut 24:1-4) and political developments in the Christian world long after standardization of the Bible. According to the synoptic Gospels, Jesus emphasized the permanence of marriage, but also its integrity. In the book of Matthew Jesus says "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery". Paul of Tarsus concurred but added an exception, known as the Pauline privilege. The Catholic Church prohibits divorce, and permits annulment (a finding that the marriage was never valid) under a narrow set of circumstances. The Eastern Orthodox Church permits divorce and remarriage in church in certain circumstances, though its rules are generally more restrictive that the civil divorce rules of most countries. Most Protestant churches discourage divorce except as a last resort, but do not actually prohibit it through church doctrine.

The Christian emperors Constantine and Theodosius restricted the grounds for divorce to grave cause, but this was relaxed by Justinian in the sixth century. After the fall of the empire, familial life was regulated more by ecclesiastical authority than civil authority.

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