On Divorce & Remarriage

“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder…  Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so…  Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

Mt. 19:6-9

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Order of Contents

Articles
Books
Quotes
Historical
Bibliography
Latin & French

On the Dissolubleness of Marriage Apart from Adultery or Desertion
May a Threat on One’s Life be Grounds for Divorce?
Is Abuse Grounds for Divorce?
Is a Communicable Disease Grounds for Divorce?
Whether the Guilty Party in a Divorce may Remarry?


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Articles

Early Church

Tertullian – Contra Marcion, bk. 4

Basil – Epistles

Chrysostom – Homily 17  in Homilies

Epiphanius – Pannarium

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1500’s

Calvin, John

on Mt. 5:31-32  in Commentary on Mt. 5

on Mt. 19:1-10  in Commentary on Mt. 19

Marlorat, Augustine

A Catholic & Ecclesiastical Exposition of the Holy Gospel after St. Mathew, Gathered out of All the Singular & Approved Divines…  (1570)  Abbreviations  Marlorat’s commentary on Mark 10:2-12 says to see his commentary on Matthew.

on Mt. 5:31-32, pp. 101-102  on Mt. 5

on Mt. 19:3-10, pp. 415-22  on Mt. 19

Vermigli, Peter Martyr – 2nd part, ch. 10, ‘Of Divorcements & Putting Away of Wives’  in The Common Places…  (London, 1583), pp. 457-67

Polanus, Amandus – The Substance of Christian Religion Soundly Set forth in Two Books, by Definitions & Partitions...  (London, 1595), pp. 261-65

‘…Now Concerning the Duties of Wedlock or Marriage [Including Divorce]’

‘And thus the manner of proceeding in the case of adultery ought to be framed and ordered: the maner of proceeding in the case of forsaking, now follows to be handled’

‘Hitherto we have spoken concerning the manner of proceeding in divorcement: now we must speak of the time after which another wedlock may be granted to the innocent person’

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1600’s

Bucanus, William – Institutions of Christian Religion…  (London, 1606)

12th Common Place, ‘Of Marriage’

– Whether may a man marry another wife, his first wife being dead?
– What is contrary to this doctrine?, p. 118

13th Common Place, ‘Of Divorce’, pp. 129-38

Table of Contents

Ames, William – pt. 2, ch. 19, ‘Of Chastity’, sections 36-38 & 48-50  in The Marrow of Sacred Divinity  (1623)

Wolleb, Johannes – Bk. 2, ch. 11, ‘Of Virtues & Works Belonging to the 7th Commandment’, section XXV, pp. 404-5  in Abridgment of Christian Divinity  (1626)

Ward, Richard – Theological Questions, Dogmatical Observations & Evangelical Essays, upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to St. Matthew…  (London, 1640),

on Mt. 5:31-32, pp. 227-32

on Mt. 19:3-6 & 7-9, pp. 231-33

Ward (1601-1684) was educated at Cambridge, England and St. Andrews, Scotland, and was a reformed minister in London.

**  “A huge mass of comment, in which are thousands of good things mostly set forth by way of question and answer.  Few could ever read it through; but to a wise minister it would be a mine of wealth.” – Spurgeon

Cartwright, Thomas – pp. 8-14  of Helps for Discovery of the Truth in Point of Toleration…  Here also by the way is Laid down his Judgment in the Case of Divorce, & that the Party-Innocent may Marry Again  (London, 1648)

Dickson, David – Matthew  (1651; Quinta Press, 2009)

on Mt. 5:31-32, pp. 66-67

on Mt. 19:1-10, pp. 243-5

Baxter, Richard – ‘Cases About Divorce & Separation’  appended to ch. 9  in A Christian Directory…  (London, 1673), pt. 2, ‘Christian Economics’, pp. 535-42

Table of Contents

1. Is it lawful for husband and wife to be long absent from each other? and how long, and in what cases?  535

2. May husband and wife be separated by the bare command of princes?  If they make a law that in certain cases they shall part: as suppose it to ministers, judges or soldiers?  535

3. May ministers leave their wives to go abroad to preach the Gospel?  535

4. May one leave a wife to save his life, in case of personal persecution or danger?  535

5. May husband and wife part by mutual consent, if they find it to be for the good of both?  535

6. May not the relation itself be dissolved by mutual free consent, so that they may marry others?  536

7. Does adultery dissolve the bond of marriage or not?  536

8. But is not the injured party at all obliged to separate, but left free?  536

9. Is it only the privilege of the man that he may put away an adulterous wife? or also of the woman, to depart from an adulterous husband?  536

10. May the husband put away the wife without the magistrate, or the wife depart from the husband without a public legal divorce or license?  537

11. Is not the case of sodomy [homosexuality] or buggery [beastiality] a ground for warrantable divorce, as well as adultery?  [Yes]  537

12. What if both parties commit adultery?  May either of them put away the other, or depart; or rather must they forgive each other?  537

13. But what if one do purposely commit adultery [in order] to be separated from the other?  537

14. Does not infidelity dissolve the relation or obligation; seeing there is no communion between light and darkness, a believer and an infidel?  537

15. Does not the desertion of one party disoblige the other?  537

16. What if a man or wife know that the other in hatred does really intend by poison or other murder, to take away their life?  May they not depart?

17. If there be but a fixed hatred of each other, is it inconsistent with the ends of Marriage?  And is parting lawful in such a case?  538

18. What if a woman have a Husband that will not suffer her to read the Scriptures, nor go to God’s worship, public or private, or that so beats or abuses her, as that it cannot be expected that human nature should be in such a case kept fit for any holy action: or if a man have a wife that will scold at him when he is praying or instructing his family, and make it impossible to him to serve God with freedom, or peace and comfort?  538

19. May one part from a husband or wife that has the leprosy, or that has the French pox by their adulterous practices, when the innocent person’s life is endangered by it?  539

20. Who be they that may or may not marry again when they are parted?  539-42

Durham, James – pp. 354-55 & 358  of ‘The Seventh Command’  in A Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments…  (London, 1675)

Gell, Robert – Notes & Observations upon Mt. 5:31-32  in Gell’s Remains, or, Several Select Scriptures of the New Testament Opened & Explained…  (London, 1676), pp. 98-108

Gell (1595-1665) was a reformed, Anglican chaplain and clergyman.

Poole, Matthew – on Mt. ch. 19 (see vv. 3-9)  in English Annotations on the Holy Bible

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1700’s

Doddridge, Philip – Lectures, pt. 3, proposition 6

Dwight, Timothy – Sermons

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1800’s

American Quarterly Review 2:70

Bibliotheca Sacra 23:384

British & Foreign Review 7:269

International Magazine 5:198

Investigator 2:146

Pamphleteer 18:153

Westminster Review 42:187

Alexander, J.A.

The Gospel According to Matthew Explained  (NY: 1861)

on Mt. 5:31-32

on Mt. 19:3-10

Commentary on the Gospel of Mark  (1864; Zondervan, n.d.)

on Mk. 10:2-12

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1900’s

Murray, John – ‘Divorce & Remarriage’  on Mt. 19:9  18 paragraphs

Murray was an early professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, East.

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2000’s

Schwertley, Brian – Ch. 17, ‘The Third Antithesis—Christ’s Teaching on Divorce’  12 pp.  in The Sermon on the Mount: A Reformed Exposition

Heth, William A. – ‘Jesus on Divorce: How My Mind Has Changed’  Southern Baptist Journal of Theology  (2002), pp. 4-29

Heth has been a professor of New Testament and Greek at Taylor University and has written extensively on the issue of divorce and
remarriage.  He and Gordon Wehnham, in a published book, defended the minority evangelical view, that though divorce may be allowed in certain limited cases, yet remarriage is never allowed.

After holding to such for many years, Heth changed his view to the majority evangelical view, namely that remarriage is allowed subsequent to adultery or desertion by a non-Christian spouse.  This article explains the reasons for his change of mind.  Contextual and exegetical factors predominate.

Kostenberger, Andreas – pp. 258-61 of ‘Marriage & Family in the New Testament’  in Marriage & Family in the Biblical World  (IVP, 2003)

Kostenberger on these pages critiques John Piper’s erroneous view in overly restricting the grounds of divorce and remarriage.


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Books

1500’s

Bucer, Martin – The Judgement of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce, written to Edward VI in his Second Book of the Kingdom of Christ [chs. 15-47], & Now Englished, wherein a Late Book Restoring the Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce is Here Confirmed & Justified by the Authority of Martin Bucer, to the Parliament of England  trans. John Milton  (London, 1644)  26 pp.  EEBO

In the Preface, Milton defends his own (erroneous) treatise on divorce.

“Martin Bucer, in the tract he addressed to Edward the Sixth…  employs a whole chapter to prove from the best authorities as well of the primitive fathers, as of the doctrines of the Christian church, that a manifest adultress ought to be divorced, and cannot lawfully be retained in marriage by a Christian [contra the later Anglican Church].” – Kenrick, p. 4

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1700’s

Ochino, Bernardino

Dialogues, trans. Osborn

The Cases of Polygamy, Concubinage, Adultery, Divorce, etc: Seriously & Learnedly Discussed.  Being a Complete Collection of All the Remarkable Trials & Tracts which have been written on those Important Subjects by the Most Eminent Hands  (London, 1732)

Ochino (1487-1564) was Itallian.  He was raised a Romanist, but became reformed and was a reformer.

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1900’s

Murray, John – Divorce  Buy  (P&R, 1961)  128 pp.

Murray, the early Westminster Seminary professor, in this solid book, argues exegetically on the topic, inline with the position of the Westminster Confession.


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Quotes

1600’s

The Leiden Synopsis

vol. 3 (Brill, 2020), Disputation 47, ‘On the Five False Sacraments of the Papists’, ‘Marriage’, ‘Corollaries’, pp. 370-1

“2. We affirm that in the case of adultery or the wrongful desertion of an unbeliever the marriage is dissolved, even as far as the bond is concerned, in such a way that once the divorce has lawfully taken place, the innocent party should not be prevented from marrying.

3. And we deny that a marriage insofar as the bond, or the bed or cohabitation is concerned, can be dissolved by a vow or by entry upon a religious order (as they call it).”

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Francis Turretin

Institutes (P&R), vol. 2, 11th Topic, 18th Question, the 7th Commandment, section 9, p. 123

“…since it [marriage] ought to be an inseparable connection, not only of bodies, but also of souls and of property to be regularly dissolved by death alone (Rom. 7:2, 3).”

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Johann H. Heidegger

The Concise Marrow of Theology  trans. Casey Carmichael  (RHB, 2019), Locus 14, ‘On the Decalogue’, section 25, p. 102

“Nonetheless, there can be just causes for divorce: malicious desertion of the spouse (1 Cor. 7:15) and adultery (Deut. 24:1; Matt. 19:9).”


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Historical

In Church History

Article

Snuth, David L. – ‘Divorce & Remarriage From the Early Church To John Wesley’  Trinity Journal  (of TEDS) 11.2  (Fall 1990), pp. 131-42

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On the Reformation & America

Article

Areen, Judith – ‘Uncovering the Reformation Roots
of American Marriage & Divorce Law’  Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, vol. 26:1 (2014), pp. 30-90

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In Reformation Germany

Witte, Jr., John – ‘The Reformation of Marriage Law in Martin Luther’s Germany: Its Significance Then & Now’  Journal of Law & Religion, vol. 4, pp. 293-351

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On Calvin & Geneva

Kingdon, Robert M. – Adultery & Divorce in Calvin’s Geneva  in Harvard Historical Studies  Buy  (Harvard, 1995)  224 pp.

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On the Church of England

Kenrick, William – Observations, Civil & Canonical, on the Marriage Contract, as Entered into Conformably to the Rites & Ceremonies of the Church of England  (London, 1775)

Kenrick (1725?-1779)

“…it was the opinion of the church of England, at the commencement of the reign of Queen Eli|zabeth, that, after a divorce for adultery, the parties might marry again.  It is true that the despotic tribunal, the Star-Chamber, whose very name is odious to the ears of a free-born Englishman, did reverse this opinion…  But, what was this less than acting against the spirit, reversing the very principles, of the Reformation; and recurring back again to the usages and practices of popery?” – p. 2

“Now, if these authorities, strengthened by those of the most rigid divines and moralists among the first reformers, such as Wyckliff, Luther, Melancthon, Erasmus, and a long train of divines, civilians and canonists, down to [Hugo] Grotius himself; I say, if these authorities will justify the setting aside that of Justinian and the Popish decretals, in favor of Valentinian and Theodosius, supported by almost all the primitive Fathers, the modern [Anglican] practice of refusing a divorce in cases of adultery must be allowed to be a barbarous and oppressive instance of the remains of priestcraft and popery…” – pp. 6-7


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Bibliography

Malcom, Howard – ‘Divorce’  in Theological Index…  (Boston, 1868), pp. 153-4


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Latin Articles

1500’s

Erasmus – Opera

Bucer, Martin – ‘On Divorce’, pp. 147a-150b  in Continual Expositions of the Four Holy Evangelists, in which are Interspersed Pure Theological Common Places (Herwagen, 1527; 1553), on Mt. 19:1-9

Beza, Theodore

on Mt. 19:5-9  in Annotations on the New Testament of Jesus Christ our Lord… ([Geneva] 1598)

Theological Tracts…  (Geneva, 1570), vol. 2

1. ‘Of Polygamy & Divorces’, pp. 1-64

2. ‘Of Repudiations & Divorces’, pp. 64-138

Szegedin Pannonius, Stephan – ‘On Divorce, etc.’, pp. 347-69  in Common Places of Pure Theology…  (Basil, 1585/93), II. ‘Of Man’, ‘Things of Piety which are Required from Men’

Aretius, Benedict – Locus 167, ‘On Adultery’ & Locus 168, ‘On Divorce’, pp. 503-8  in Sacred Problems of Theology: Common Places of the Christian Religion Methodically Explicated  (Geneva, 1589; Bern, 1604)

Polanus, Amandus – ‘…What follows is on the Duties of Marriage’, ‘Thus it ought to be in Implementing the Way of Proceeding in the Case of Adultery; what follows is the Way of Proceeding in the Case of Desertion’ & ‘…Now we must Speak of the Time after which Another Wedlock may be Granted to the Innocent Person’, pp. 331-33  in The Divisions of Theology Framed according to a Natural Orderly Method  (Basil, 1590; Geneva, 1623), bk. 2, ‘Of Good Works’

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1600’s

Housonus, Johann – Uxore dimissa propter Fornicationem, aliam non licet superinducere  (Oxford, 1602)

Chamier, Daniel – Bk. 18, ‘Of the Grades of Impediments to Marriage, of Free-Persons & of Repudiations’, pp. 654-705  in Panstratiae Catholicae, or a Body of the Controversies of Religion Against the Papists  (Geneva, 1626), vol. 3 (Man), ‘Laws Concerning Marriages’  ToC

Voet, Gisbert – Ecclesiastical Politics  (Amsterdam, 1663-1676), vol. 2, pt. 1, bk. 3, ‘Of Occasional Practices & Pseudo-Practices’, Tract 1, ‘of Marrying’

Table of Contents

Section 3, ‘Of that which is Against Marriage’

1. Of Lawful & Unlawful Celibacy 149

2. Of Aggravations to Marriages, namely: an Immature Age, a Natural or Accidental Defect, Incest, the Agreed [or Fitting] Dissent of Parents, Difference of Religion, the Corruption of Virginity & a Fault in Promises, Stipulations or other Conditions  151

3. Of Rejections & Divorces, which, of Themselves Release the Bond of Marriage  170

4. Of Malicious Desertion  188

5. Of Various Marriage Incompatibilities, the Contempt and Condemnation of Marriage, of Having Multiple Wives, a Changing [Giving, Selling, etc.] of the Same, a Barren Marriage, Incest, an Abominable Confusion of the Sexes, Polygamy, a Rendering of Service, Concubinage, Promiscuous Desire [Vaga Libidine], Perfidious Repudiations, Divorces, Desertions & of Marriages and Promiscuous Desire in the Future World  197

Buxtorf, Jr., Johann – pp. 78-165  of A Dissertation on Espousals & Divorces, to which is Annexed a Diatribe of Isaac Abarbanel on the Punishment of being Cut Off, which is Frequently in the Law [i.e. Num. 15:30] & in this Matter Mentioned  (Basil, 1652)  195 pp.  Scriputre Index  Abarbanel’s piece starts on p. 169.

Buxtorf, Jr. (1599-1664) was a reformed professor of Hebrew, Old Testament and theology at Basel.  Abarbanel (1437-1509) was a Portugese, Jewish commentator and philosopher.

Table of Contents

Part 1

Of Repudiations, or Divorces, 71  78

Origin of Divorces, 72-71  79

The Form, 74-84  80

Persons, 85-87  85

Causes of Divorce, 88-98  88

Consequences, 99-100  98

  Part 2

Whether Christ & Moses are contrary to the other regarding the Doctrine of Divorces, & in what way are they able to be reconciled?, 1-4  106

Whether there is a contradiction between Moses & Christ regarding the cause to be assinged for divorces?, 5  115

Why or in what way Christ permits a wife to be sent away in marriage in the case of fornication or adultery, since in this way a woman by the Law was guilty of death?, 6  123

But in what way was a married man, with respect to an adulteress saved from the application of death by the Law, able to justly to dismiss his wife by a libel of repudiation?, 7  124

Whether therefore, as some say, Christ in the case of adultery may approve of the practice of the Jews that wives be repudiated at pleasure, without the knowledge of the cause by a judiciary?, 8  125

Dissertatio de sponsalibus et divortiis : Cui accessit Isaaci Abarbenelis Diatriba de excidii Poena, cuius frequens in Lege, & in hac ipsa materia sit mentio (Basileae : Sumptibus Haered. Ludovici Regis, 1652)

Poole, Matthew – on Mt. 19:3-9  in Synopsis of the Interpreters & Commentators of Sacred Scripture  Buy  (Utrecht, 1686), vol. 4

Selden – Uxor Hebraica ex Talmudico

Peleus – de Dissolutione Matrimonii ex Causa Frigoris

Ugolini – Uxor Hebraea


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French

Hotman – de la Dissolution du Marriage par L’impuissance

Tagereau – sur l’Impuissance


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On the Dissolubleness of Marriage apart from Adultery or Desertion

1600’s

William Attersol

Commentary on Numbers, ch. 30, pp. 704-5

“We see this in marriage, published in the face of the Church, solemnized by consent of parties and parents, ratified by the action of the minister, and celebrated in the presence of many friends; the knot cannot be untied, no not by agreement of the parents, of the parties, of the minister, of the friends, and of the whole congregation, because marriage is not of the nature of a civil contract, but God is a party and hath a special hand in it, and whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder, or separate again without his consent. (Mt. 19:6)”

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Joseph Hall

Cases of Conscience Practically Resolved Containing a Decision of the Principal Cases of Conscience of Daily Concernment & Continual Use Amongst Men: Very Necessary for their Information & Direction in These Evil Times  (London, 1654), 4th Decade, Case 2, ‘Whether Marriage Lawfully made may Admit of any Cause of Divorce, save only for the Violation of the Marriage Bed, by Fornication or Adultery?’, p. 303

“Lo, before ever there was father or mother or son in the world, God has appointed that the bonds betwixt husband and wife shall be more strait and indissoluble than betwixt the parent and child; and can any man be so unreasonable as to defend it lawful upon some unkind usages or thwartness of disposition, for a parent to abandon and forsake his child; or the son to cast off his parent?  Much less therefore may it
be thus betwixt an husband and wife: They two are one flesh.

Behold here an union of God’s making: A man’s body is not more his own than his wife’s body is his: And will a man be
content to part easily with a piece of himself?  Or can we think that God will endure an union made by Himself to be slightly dissolved?  Or how is this bodily matrimony a lively image of the spiritual marriage betwixt Christ and his Church (who has said, ‘I will betroth thee unto me forever; Yea I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies,’ Hos. 2:19), if upon small occasions it may be subject to utter dissolution?

Yea, what speak I of divinity?  Even modest heathens would hiss this Libertinism off the stage…” – pp. 303-4


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May a Threat on One’s Life be Grounds for Divorce?

Notes

Note that Rutherford’s language, it appears, only necessarily implies separation between the spouses (whether for a time or permanently), and not necessarily a dissolving of the marriage bond.  Baxter’s arguments, and the language of “depart” that he is responding to (in the context of Baxter’s larger chapter), on the other hand, does seems to grant divorce on such circumstances.

The very specific, and emphatic language of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 24.6 appears to have taken into consideration all other circumstances and cases (which were well known from history and in their own day), and yet reaches the conclusion that:

“Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments, unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage; yet nothing but adultery, or such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the church or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:[o]…

[o] Matt. 19:8,91 Cor. 7:15Matt. 19:6

Note that Westminster’s language here does not appear to allow for dissolving the bond of marriage where there is a de facto, prolonged separation of indefinite and unknown measure, such as in the cases of a man lost at sea or taken prisoner in war (these things not being a willful desertion, men having sometimes returned from such).  However note Westminster’s language in ch. 24.5, in a different case, “…as if the offending party were dead.”

William Bucanus above took a relatively more broad view in many of these difficult exigencies.

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Quotes

Richard Ward

Theological Questions, Dogmatical Observations & Evangelical Essays, upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to St. Matthew…  (London, 1640), ch. 5, p. 230

“Secondly some things dissolve mariage…  Disrumpendo, by breaking of it, viz….  Secondly, fornication, as in this verse and Mt. 19:9, where for adultery and fornication it is lawful for a man to put away his wife…  [Rudolph] Gualter here includes all greater things, as poison, offering to stab, and the like: but this is doubtful, and the Scripture herein silent, and therefore Peter Martyr (pt. 2, ch. 10, §54-55) holds the contrary.”

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Samuel Rutherford

Lex Rex…  (1644; Edin., 1843)

p. 118

“There is no necessity that the reserve [of withholding of certain powers] be expressed in the covenant between king and people [as the Erastian, divine-right of kings advocates maintained], more than in contract of marriage between a husband and a wife, [that] beside her jointure, you should set down this clause in the contract, that if the husband attempt to kill the wife, or the wife the husband, in that case it shall be lawful to either of them to part companies.”

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p. 179

“The wife is obliged to bed and board with her husband, but not if she fear he will kill her in the bed.”

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Richard Baxter

A Christian Directory…  (London, 1673), pt. 2, ‘Christian Economics’, ch. 9, ‘Cases About Divorce & Separation’, p. 538

“Question 16:  What if a man or wife know that the other in hatred does really intend by poison or other murder, to take away their life?  May they not depart?

Answer:  They may not do it upon a groundless or rash surmise, nor upon a danger which by other lawful means may be avoided (as by vigilancy, or the magistrate, or especially by love and duty).  But in plain danger, which is not otherwise like[ly] to be avoided, I doubt not, but it may be done and ought.

For it is a duty to preserve our own lives as well as our neighbours: And when marriage is contracted for mutual help, it is naturally implied that they shall have no power to deprive one another of life (however some barbarous nations have given men power of the lives of their wives).  And killing is the grossest kind of desertion, and a greater injury and violation of the marriage-covenant than adultery, and may be prevented by avoiding the murderer’s presence, if that way be necessary.  None of the ends of marriage can be attained where the hatred is so great.”

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Matthew Poole

Annotations on Matthew, ch. 5, vv. 31-32

“There may indeed be a parting between man and wife upon other accounts [than adultery], either wholly or in part: in case one of them will part from the other, which the apostle determines, 1 Cor. 7:11,15, in which case the person departing is only guilty if he or she marry again.”


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Is Domestic Abuse Grounds for Divorce?

It is grounds for separation for a time till it may be remedied, but it is not of itself grounds for divorce.  Note, though, that a spouse’s irremediable refusal, after being separated, to reunite with the other spouse, becomes willful desertion, which is a grounds for divorce.

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Richard Baxter

A Christian Directory…  (London, 1673), pt. 2, ‘Christian Economics’, ch. 9, ‘Cases About Divorce & Separation’, p. 539

“Question 18:  What if a woman have a husband that will not suffer her to read the Scriptures, nor go to God’s worship, public or private, or that so beats or abuses her, as that it cannot be expected that human nature should be in such a case kept fit for any holy action: or if a man have a wife that will scold at him when he is praying or instructing his family, and make it impossible to him to serve God with freedom, or peace and comfort?

Answer:  The woman must (at necessary seasons, though not when she would) both read the Scriptures and worship God, and suffer patiently what is inflicted on her: Martyrdom may be as comfortably suffered from a husband as from a prince.  But yet if neither her own love and duty, and patience, nor friends’ persuasion, nor the magistrate’s justice can free her from such inhumane cruelty, as quite disables her for her duty to God and man, I see not but she may depart from such a tyrant.

But the man has more means to restrain his wife from beating him, or doing such intollerable things: either by the magistrate, or by denying her what else she might have, or by his own violent restraining her, as belongs to a conjugal ruler, and as circumstances shall direct a prudent man.  But yet in case that unsuitableness or sin be so great, that after long trial, there is no likelihood of any other cohabitation but what will tend to their spiritual hurt and calamity, it is their lesser sin to live asunder by mutual consent.”

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Matthew Poole

Annotations on Matthew, ch. 5, vv. 31-32

“There may indeed be a parting between man and wife upon other accounts [than adultery], either wholly or in part: in case one of them will part from the other, which the apostle determines, 1 Cor. 7:11,15, in which case the person departing is only guilty if he or she marry again.”


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Is a Communicable Disease Grounds for Divorce?

John Calvin

Commentary on Mt. 19, v. 9

“Those who search for other reasons [besides adultery for divorce] ought justly to be set at nought, because they choose to be wise above the heavenly Teacher.  They† say that leprosy is a proper ground for divorce, because the contagion of the disease affects not only the husband, but likewise the children.

For my own part, while I advise a religious man not to touch a woman afflicted with leprosy, I do not pronounce him to be at liberty to divorce her.  If it be objected, that they who cannot live unmarried need a remedy, that they may not be burned, I answer, that what is sought in opposition to the Word of God is not a remedy. I add too, that if they give themselves up to be guided by the Lord, they will never want continence, for they follow what He has prescribed.  One man shall contract such a dislike of his wife, that he cannot endure to keep company with her: will polygamy cure this evil?  Another man’s wife shall fall into palsy or apoplexy, or be afflicted with some other incurable disease, shall the husband reject her under the pretense of incontinency?  We know, on the contrary, that none of those who walk in their ways are ever left destitute of the assistance of the Spirit.”

† Such as William Bucanus.

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Richard Baxter

A Christian Directory…  (London, 1673), pt. 2, ‘Christian Economics’, ch. 9, ‘Cases About Divorce & Separation’, p. 539

“Question 19:  May one [de]part from a husband or wife that has the leprosy or that has the French pox [syphilis] by their adulterous practices, when the innocent persons life is endangered by it.

Answer:  If it be an innocent person’s disease, the other must cohabit, and tenderly cherish and comfort the diseased; yea, so as somewhat to hazard their own lives, but not so as apparently to cast them away, upon a danger not like[ly] to be avoided, unless the other’s life, or some greater good be like[ly] to be purchased by it.

But if it be the pox of an adulterer, the innocent party is at liberty [to divorce] by the other’s adultery, and the saving of their own lives does add thereto.  But without adultery the disease alone will not excuse them from cohabitation, though it may from congress [coming together in sexual union].”

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Matthew Poole

Annotations on Matthew, ch. 5, vv. 31-32

“There may indeed be a parting between man and wife upon other accounts [than adultery], either wholly or in part: in case one of them will part from the other, which the apostle determines, 1 Cor. 7:11,15, in which case the person departing is only guilty if he or she marry again.”


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Whether the Guilty Party in a Divorce may Remarry?

Intro

The Reformed, it appears, only affirmed and gave protection that the innocent party may remarry.  All civil, positive law is to be grounded on moral law, and laws of civil order are not to go against moral law.  See also the title of Cartwright’s book above.

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Article

1500’s

French Reformed Churches – Ch. 9, p. 65, Section 22  of the 2nd National Synod at Paris  1565

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Quotes

1600’s

Amandus Polanus

The Substance of Christian Religion Soundly Set Forth in Two Books, by Definitions & Partitions...  (London, 1595), ‘…now we must speake of the time after which another wedlock may be graunted to the innocent person’, pp. 264-5

“There is a twofold consideration of the time, after which another wedlock is granted to the innocent person…”

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The Leiden Synopsis

vol. 3 (Brill, 2020), Disputation 47, ‘On the Five False Sacraments of the Papists’, ‘Marriage’, ‘Corollaries’, pp. 370-1

“2. We affirm that in the case of adultery or the wrongful desertion of an unbeliever the marriage is dissolved, even as far as the bond is concerned, in such a way that once the divorce has lawfully taken place, the innocent party should not be prevented from marrying.”

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A Committee of the Church of Scotland  1638

‘Animadversions upon the Book of Canons Obtruded upon the Church of Scotland’ (1638)  in Gordon, History of Scots Affairs, vol. 2, bk. 3, ch. 55, p. 90

The Book of Canons (1636) was the Episcopal form for the ordination of ‘clergy’ that was sought to be imposed on Scotland with the Book of Common Prayer (1637).

“Third, It [the Book of Canons] forbids marriage to the innocent party divorced; contrary to Mt. 5:32, and Mt. 19:9, which the reformed churches maintain against the council of Trent, session xxiv, canon vii, who have such doctrine as our bishops.”

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Matthew Poole

Annotations on Matthew, ch. 5, vv. 31-32, “…and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

“A second question is also here determined by our Saviour, viz. that it is unlawful for her, that is justly put away, to marry to any other, or for any other to marry her wittingly.”

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Annotations on Matthew, ch. 19, v. 9

“Some have upon these words made a question whether it be lawful for the husband or the wife separated for adultery to marry again while each other lives.  As to the party offending, it may be a question; but as to the innocent person offended, it is no question, for the adultery of the person offending has dissolved the knot of marriage by the Divine law.  It is true that the knot cannot be dissolved without the freedom of both persons each from another, but yet it seemeth against reason that both persons should have the like liberty to a second marriage. For:

1. The adulteress is by God’s law a dead woman, and so in no capacity to a second marriage.

2. It is unreasonable that she should make an advantage of her own sin and error.

3. This might be the occasion of adultery, to give a wicked person a legal liberty to satisfy an extravagant lust.

But for the innocent person, it is as unreasonable that he or she should be punished for the sin of another.”

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“It hath been said, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement’:  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Mt. 5:31-32

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