Our forefathers solved one temptation to adultery by separating the genders in the work place. It was an imperfect solution leaving many men and women dissatisfied because they were locked out of careers that they really wanted, such as men who wanted to be nurses and women who wanted to be engineers. We have solved that career choice dilemma, but adultery and divorce have come back to haunt us. Can we get back to the healthier family structures of former generations?
The industrial revolution took fathers away from their families. The educational revolution took children away from parents. Then the gender revolution took mothers from their husbands and children. We have the highest divorce rates in history. We now spend more time with other people than our own families. The temptation for adultery and thus family ruin has dramatically increased. We allow ourselves to be treated like slaves for the sake of industrial efficiency at great personal and marital costs. In Matthew 5:27-30 Jesus dramatized the efforts needed to avoid adultery, by illustrating that we need to begin by striving to cut off temptation. With men and women from different marriages spending more time with each other than their own spouses, have we sown the seeds for the destruction of the most basic building block of our society, the family?
In Matthew 5:31-32 Jesus spoke of conditions where divorce and remarriage are not sin. He called porneia the exception. The Louw-Nida Lexicon defines that as sexual immorality of any kind. The Friberg Lexicon defines it as every kind of extramarital, unlawful, or unnatural sexual intercourse. Jesus’ position is stricter than the world’s, but it does provide freedom for the sexually-wronged marriage partner. His description was broad enough that the sin could be something either during or even before a marriage took place. Paul expanded upon this concept in 1 Corinthians 7:14-15, explaining that even if an unbelieving spouse walks out on the other, the believing spouse is free from the marriage. There are unanswered questions in Jesus’ brief comment such as: what about spousal abuse?
However, the general principle is clear: easy divorce is not the godly ideal. It has hurt our society. Can we get back to the healthier family structures of former generations without losing some of the opportunities that we enjoy today? That's a tough question.