We often don’t consider the implications or influence a specific religious culture can have over divorce these days. Marriage is considered by many religions as a sacred covenant, and until just a few decades ago this prevented people from divorcing on grounds of incompatibility or no-fault divorce. But some religions still take a stance and can influence the divorce process for couples. Let’s look at a basic overview of Judaism’s view on divorce.
Judaism and Divorce
Judaism actually recognized the basic concept of “no-fault” or uncontested divorce thousands of years ago. Judaism has always accepted divorce as a possible fact in life, yet an unfortunate one. Judaism has generally maintained that it is ultimately better for a couple to divorce than to remain together in a state of negativity and constant disharmony.
Process of a Jewish Divorce
According to Jewish law, more specifically contained in parts of the Torah, divorce is accomplished simply by writing a bill of divorce, handing it to the wife, and sending her away. To prevent husbands from divorcing their wives recklessly and unfairly, Jewish authorities, in more recent times, have created complex rules regarding the process of writing the document, delivery, and acceptance. A competent Jewish authority in these matters should be consulted before proceeding with any divorce.
It is important to note that a civil divorce is not sufficient to dissolve a Jewish marriage, under traditional thinking. As far as Jewish law is concerned, a couple remains married until the woman receives the get, which is the common name for the document in the Jewish culture that states the break in the marriage and that both the husband and wife are now free. This has been a significant problem: many liberal persons of the Jewish faith have a religiously valid marriage, yet do not obtain a religiously valid divorce.
Inequality of Sexes
The position of husband and wife with regard to divorce is not an equal one. According to the Jewish law, only the husband can initiate a divorce, and the wife cannot prevent him from divorcing her. In more recent and modern times Jewish authorities have taken steps to ease the harshness of these rules by prohibiting a man from divorcing a woman without her consent.
We are often blinded by the tabloid divorces. These are centered on large amounts of money, property, and other assets which usually involve bickering spouses that drag out legal proceedings to gain as much as possible from the other spouse. However, as previously stated, all religions consider marriage a sacred bond between two people; and in some religions, like Judaism, they have their own separate rules that may or may not be enforced or followed. With our society becoming more and more liberal in personal and social manners, one can only wonder how long religious faiths can try to keep enforcing their laws on their followers.