God’s Law Written in Hearts

I would also like to suggest that even those who have never read the second chapter of Genesis instinctively know that divorce is wrong, as the covenant of lifetime marriage is practiced in many pagan cultures where the people have no biblical knowledge. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans:

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them (Rom. 2:14-15).

God’s code of ethics is written on every human heart. In fact, that code of ethics that speaks through the conscience is all the law that God ever gave anyone , except the people of Israel, from Adam until the time of Jesus. Anyone even contemplating a divorce will find that he has to deal with his conscience. And the only way that he can overcome his conscience is to find some good justification for divorce. If he proceeds with a divorce without a good justification, his conscience will condemn him, although he may well suppress it.

As far as we know, for 27 generations from Adam until the giving of the Law of Moses to Israel around 1440 BC, the law of the conscience was all the revelation that God gave to anyone, the Israelites included, regarding divorce and remarriage, and God considered that to be sufficient. (Remember that Moses didn’t pen the Genesis 2 creation account until the time of the Exodus.) It certainly seems reasonable to think that, during those 27 generations before the Mosaic Law, which included the time of Noah’s flood, some of the millions of marriages during those hundreds of years ended in divorce. It also seems reasonable to conclude that God, who never changes, was willing to forgive those who incurred guilt from divorce if they confessed and repented of their sin. We are certain that people could be saved, or declared righteous by God, before the giving of the Law of Moses, as was Abraham, through his faith (see Rom. 4:1-12). If people could be declared righteous through their faith from Adam until Moses, that means they could be forgiven of anything, including sin incurred in divorce. Thus, as we begin to probe the subject of divorce and remarriage, I wonder, Would people who incurred sin in divorce before the Mosaic Law and who received forgiveness from God then be convicted by their conscience (since there was no written law) that they would incur guilt if they remarried? I only pose the question.

What about divorce victims who had not incurred sin, those who were divorced through no fault of their own, but only because of selfish spouses? Would their consciences have prohibited them from remarrying? That would seem unlikely to me. If a man abandoned his wife for another woman, what would ever lead her to conclude that she had no right to remarry? She had been divorced through no fault of her own.