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WeddingRing.jpgWhat terminates a marriage? Or what are the grounds for a permissible divorce?

William F. Luck’s Divorce and Re-Marriage: Recovering the Biblical View  examines this sort of question in chp 2 of his book.
Marriage, Luck is arguing, is a b-lateral covenant that is, by nature, conditional. Thus, when one person violates the terms of the covenant, the other person is set free from the obligations to the covenant. But, let’s back up to what he says about “rights” and the termination of marriage:
A Woman’s Rights: 

Freedom from an abusive husband, and here he appeals to Exodus 21:10-11 and 21:26-27, two texts Luck thinks are ignored by Christians; they deal with concubines and he infers from the lesser to the greater (if true with a concubine, surely true for a wife):


21:10 If he takes another wife, he must not diminish the first one’s food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 21:11 If he does not provide her with these three things, then she will go out free, without paying money.


21:26 “If a man strikes the eye of his male servant or his female servant so that he destroys it, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the eye. 21:27 If he knocks out the tooth of his male servant or his female servant, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the tooth.


He draws three conclusions: (1) when the husbands fails to provide, his claims are nullified; (2) legal release is the legal right of the offended partner; (3) the released partner is free to remarry. “Set free” is clear in Exodus 21.

A divorced woman has the right of freedom to make vows (Num 30:9), showing her freedom from her former husband. A woman (captive in war) has the right not to be forced into marriage (Deut 21:10-14), she is protected from unjust divorce (22:12-21), and protected from desertion (22:28-29).
A man’s rights…
He is protected from an unfaithful wife (Exod 20:14), from a despised wife (24:1-4) … and he has a lengthy discussion of this text. He sees Deut 24 as a provision for the woman. She is set free from a husband who dismisses her on flimsy grounds. The text, Luck argues, is not about a man’s reasons for divorce but a text designed to protect a woman from being passed around like a piece of chattel.
Thus, marriage is bi-lateral; when one breaks the covenant, the other person is set free; this should lead either to renewal of the covenant or divorce.
Men are permitted to remarry after divorce; women are also permitted to remarry though they are considered “stained” by the divorce
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