Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day: Divorce (Mark 10:2-12).

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”

They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.”

But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

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  • Foreigner

    “You read that to the King.”
    “No chance. You show it to him.”
    “What do you take me for, suicidal? Here, I know, we’ll get Wolsey to do it …”

  • Foreigner

    (And yes, I do know Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was, strictly speaking, an annulment, not a divorce).

    Anyway, how do fundagelicals wriggle out of this one?

  •  Anyway, how do fundagelicals wriggle out of this one?

    They ignore it, like all the other inconvenient bits of the Bible.  Besides, their divorces are special and important and they were allowed to have them because it was a different thing for them and no one has ever had an awful marriage like they did.

  • AnonaMiss

    Unless the woman’s the one who wants a divorce, in which case she’s an evil harpy who needs to endure because divorce is against The Bible.

  • Vermic

    How do non-fundagelical Christians wriggle out of this one?  Here’s Jesus appearing to say in plain language that divorce is a sin — you can hardly get more from the horse’s mouth than that.  As an atheist, it’s easy for me to say that Jesus was just wrong on this issue, but what do Christians say?

    Or am I misinterpreting this passage, as straightforward as it seems; maybe Jesus is setting the Pharisees up for some rhetorical judo?

  • aunursa

    Anyway, how do fundagelicals wriggle out of this one?

    CARM: What Does the Bible Teach About Divorce?

    The Billy Graham Christian Workers’s Handbook: Sections on:
    * Divorce
    * Contemplating Divorce
    * Divorce After Years of Marriage

  • Not sure I get the point on this one. Are you implying that Dan Cathy cares more about gay marriage than divorce? I’m not sure there’s evidence for that; in his (in)famous “inviting God’s wrath” radio interview, the context makes it clear that he’s at least as distressed by children being raised with an absent parent as he his by gay marriage (which he never mentions). Not to say he doesn’t oppose gay marriage – he clearly does – but I think he’d say “Amen” to these words on divorce. (

  • ReverendRef

     Anyway, how do fundagelicals wriggle out of this one?

    Well, there are a few ways, I think:

    1.  They can always look to Matthew who has Jesus allowing divorce in certain cases.

    2.  As AnonaMiss pointed out, it’s probably okay as long as the man initiates it.

    3.  It’s one of those “inconvenient passages” that we just conveniently overlook as being a sad, sad commentary on the times but we’d really prefer divorce never happened and if people really were really, truly committed Christians the sin of divorce wouldn’t have to happen but because we kicked God out of schools and out of our government we are seeing the fruits of that wickedness in the form of divorce.

    Those are my takes on how fundagelicas wriggle out of it, but I could be wrong.

  • Lunch Meat

    How do non-fundagelical Christians wriggle out of this one?  Here’s Jesus appearing to say in plain language that divorce is a sin — you
    can hardly get more from the horse’s mouth than that.  As an atheist,
    it’s easy for me to say that Jesus was just wrong on this issue, but
    what do Christians say?

    (Take this with a grain of salt, because it’s not research I’ve personally done, just what I’ve been taught. It’s probably oversimplified). As I understand it, it was mainly men doing the divorce in that time, usually because they got tired of their wives. The “certificate of dismissal” was supposed to certify just that: “No, she didn’t do anything bad, I just got tired of her.” This would supposedly make it easier for her to re-marry–although it of course wouldn’t be as easy as it would be for a non-divorced woman. This is unjust because women in that time couldn’t support themselves; that’s why we have all the laws about taking care of widows. Things are different now; divorce is usually a mutual agreement between equals that things aren’t working out, not the more powerful man throwing away the weaker woman despite her being a faithful companion for however many years.

    Aunursa probably knows more than I do about how the Jewish rules about divorce were interpreted.

    The other aspect of this is that in parallel passages, Jesus adds the qualification “except for unfaithfulness”. (I don’t have the exact verse references right now; sorry.) It’s not difficult for me to interpret this as including any breaking of the marital vows to support, cherish, honor, and take care of one another. And in some cases I think people just made a mistake getting married in the first place and it’s okay to correct that mistake. Note that this is how I interpret the verse for me in my own life, and for those who do not hold these words as an authority, you make the choices that are right for you and it’s not my place to judge.

  • As an atheist, it’s easy for me to say that Jesus was just wrong on this issue, but what do Christians say?

    We say he was right. :)

    But more seriously…
    Catholics say that you’re still married until one of you dies. Eastern Orthodox say that you’re still married until both of you die. Protestants… pretty much say what we want. But I can tell you what I think, at least.

    I’m not terribly interested in “This is a sin.” so much as “This is sin.” In other words, what “sin” means to me is that our world is fallen, broken – and our hearts, equally, are fallen, broken, and sinful. Because of this, we do horrible things to each other, often, and the brokenness of our world means that horrible things also happen to us without anyone “doing” them to us.

    Divorce is sin. In other words, it is something “broken”; something that should not be. It is a terrible, horrible thing that we do to each other, and that life does to us. It is bad, wrong, and something we should strive to get rid of – not by imposing rules (that, itself, would be sinful) but by making our world into one in which divorce will no longer happen because… there will no longer be a need for it.

    We look, impatiently, to the “new heaven and new earth”, in which the world will no longer be broken, and we will no longer have relationships that destroy us but relationships that renew us. It may be a long way off, but in the meantime, in the words of Angel, “We live as if the world were as it should be, to show it what it could be.”

    That’s what I think.

  • Silly Discus has temporarily deleted my comment (and Lunchmeat’s, too).


    Thankfully I saved a copy. If it’s not back in a couple of hours, I’ll repost it.

  •  You endorse living in the world as it should be, and assert that in the world as it should be we don’t get divorced, because our relationships “renew us.”

    Does that mean that you endorse remaining in relationships that don’t “renew us”, because in the world as it should be they would?

    Or that you endorse being in relationships that do “renew us”, because that’s how it is in the world as it should be, but support people getting divorced if they find themselves in one of the other kind of relationship?

    Or something else?

  • On the whole, I try to avoid giving blanket pronouncements about What Everyone Should Do. I’m not wise enough.

  • (nods) Absolutely, and I endorse that.

    On the whole, I try to adopt the same principle myself.

    That said, if I were to find myself saying something like “Divorce is [..] something we should strive to get rid of [..] by making our world into one in which divorce will no longer happen because… there will no longer be a need for it,” I might conclude that divorce was a topic I felt strongly enough to violate that principle for.

    Because that sure does sound like a statement about what we should do.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think Deird’s point is that making divorce difficult is bad, but making divorce unnecessary–say, by not rushing into marriage, getting to know the person before considering marriage, making sure there’s no ticking timebombs such as conflicting religious beliefs (as opposed to differing religious beliefs) or one wants kids and one really doesn’t, etc–is good.

  • (nods) For my own part, I certainly endorse getting to know someone before considering marriage, and paying close attention to potential ticking time bombs, and enabling people to make their own choices about whether to marry and whether to remain married.

  • *sighs* Okay. Let’s see if I can clarify.

    If someone wishes to stay in a crappy marriage and try to work it out even though it’s crappy, I will support them in that. They’re working with the best solution they’ve got, and good for them.

    If someone wishes to walk away from their crappy marriage and build a better life for themselves, I will support them in that. They’re working with the best solution they’ve got, and good for them.

    Divorce is a crappy thing that, in a perfect world, would not exist. In the meantime, I will not inform the world of what they should be doing in this flawed world where it does exist. It’s simply not my call.

  • Yep. Same attitude I have towards abortion, in fact.

  •  There’s a bit of a difference between divorce and abortion, though, in that being at the point of wanting an abortion means something has per se gone wrong.  That may or may not be the case with divorce — there’s a valid argument to be made that modern humans in modern human societies are not best served by pairing off for life — that, given the way individuals develop over the course of their life, all relationships have a natural lifespan independent of the people involved, and the fact that it’s wrong for you-at-40 to be married to them-at-40, that means neither that you-at-30 was wrong to marry them-at-30, nor that something went “wrong” in the intervening decade (In fact, some might argue that the fact that in those halcyon olden days, so many people who were compatible at 20 remained compatible after developing as people for, say, 30 years, implies that one partner in your average marriage was sublimating their own personal growth to meet the needs of their partner).

    I don’t think that this is a position I support myself, but I’ve reached an age where some of the people I knew who married young are starting to leave those marriages. And one of the things I’ve found which surprised me is that several of them are leaving marriages that were still reportedly functional, where there was no animosity, bitterness or even a lack of affection; the relationships just seemed to no longer give them what they needed out of a marriage.

  • Lunch Meat

    Just my thought, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I understood “we” to mean “non-fundagelical Christians [who interpret this the same as me].” Since that was what was asked about.

  •  Fair point.

  • CoolHandLNC

    Very beautifully and well stated Deird. The Pharisees wanted to know the rules. Situation “A” therefore action “B”. We too often fall into that trap. I think maybe Dave is having a little trouble getting out of that mode. Jesus was talking about what is right and holy (in the sense of wholeness). Under the Judaic law of the time, it would be lawful for a man to dismiss his old wife and marry a “trophy wife”, but the fact that it was lawful wouldn’t make him any less of a jerk. There is a difference between “didn’t do anything unlawful” and, “acted justly”. So “what is loving” would be a better question than “what is lawful”. We should seek healing and health, not a mere state where we are following all the rules.
    But then you say it so much better than I do that I should just shut up.

  • What I don’t even get is why Jesus said that at all. Did he live in magical fantasyland where nobody ever decides a marriage isn’t working anymore?

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, of course not. But women didn’t have the power to make that decision, and a divorced woman was shit outta luck. He didn’t have the power to remake first-century Judea with added feminism, and it might not have occurred to him to try; requiring men not to divorce their wives without cause might have been the next best way to protect those women from their society.