All divorce is not the result of a hard heart. God Himself, through the prophet Jeremiah, used an illustration of how He divorced Israel because of their unfaithfulness (Jer. 3:8). If all divorce was the result of a hard heart, then this would imply that God has a hard heart. While this was just an illustration, God would not have used an illustration which would illustrate He has a hard heart.

Consider the story of Joseph and Mary. Joseph was going to divorce Mary and end their betrothal because he thought she had been unfaithful (Mt. 1:19). Joseph was considered a good and just man. Even though this was during the betrothal process, the betrothal was still looked upon as a legal covenant and one had to divorce in order to get out of their betrothal (Deut. 20:7; Mt. 1:18-20). The Greek word Jesus used in Matthew 19:6 (translated separate) is the same Greek word and action used in Matthew 1:19 (put away). If it is the case that all divorce is the result of a hard heart, then Joseph would have had a hard heart. On the contrary, Joseph is said to be a good and just man.

Jesus never taught that all divorce was the result of the hardness of heart. Jesus was speaking specifically to the hardness of the Jews’ heart in mistreating their wives by divorcing for any reason that they wanted (Matthew 19:1-10). They had taken the law to justify the unlawful treatment of women through their divorce practices. This was the hardness of heart about which Jesus was speaking (Mt. 19:3, 7-10).

– Kevin Pendergrass

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