The school of Hillel (60 BCE – 20 CE), permitted divorce literally for any cause – even if the wife spoiled a dish or if her husband found another fairer than his wife. However the school of Shammai (50 BCE – 30 CE) permitted it only for adultery.
In Deut 24,1-4 the institution of divorce is taken for granted, & concerns only the procedure to be followed and that after the woman has married a second time, the first husband cannot remarry her. The Law of divorce was a concession not a commandment.
The question of the Pharisees is asked by them in order to test Jesus. This attitude becomes clear when in their response to Jesus’ question about what the law says on divorce, they seem to know it quite clearly. In his response to them, Jesus quotes Gen 1,27 and 2,24 as arguments for a permanent state of unity created by marriage. Jesus goes beyond the Law to Creation. Divorce according to the law of creation would be like trying to divide one person into two. Mark’s formula is a near total prohibition of divorce. Mt 19,9 contains the exception contained in 5,32 – unchastity (Porneia, Hebrew-Zenût = prostitution) understood in the sense of an incestuous union due to marriage in their forbidden degrees of kinship (Lev 18,6-18). Such a union would not be true marriage at all and would not require a divorce but annulment.
Many families today are breaking up and there are various reasons why this is happening. However, it seems that one of the important reasons why marriages and families break up is because of selfishness. Due to this there is unwillingness on the part of the members to adjust with each other or the inability to understand. Each wants to go his/her own way and do his/her own thing. Concern for the others needs and feelings seem to be on the wane. Psychologists today are quite convinced that a healthy family background is an absolute requirement for the healthy growth of a child and a happy child is the result of a happy family.
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