Marriage & Divorce Among Christians
An Intro to Shamim’s ‘MoHR Purposed Amendments in Christian Marriage and Divorce Acts’
Intro by John R. Houk
© April 8, 2017 (Intro- JRH & ‘MoHR Purposed …-SM)
Shamim Mahmood (Masih) addresses marriage and divorce reforms for Christians in the Pakistan legal code. The tenor of Shamim’s report is to bring Pakistan law into the 21st century with a focus on women’s rights pertaining to marriage and divorce.
I’m a bit old fashioned choosing to agree with the New Testament:
Matthew 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 7: 10-16 (NKJV)
Marriage Is Sacred and Binding
31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality[a] causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
a. Matthew 5:32 Or fornication
Keep Your Marriage Vows
10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
In full disclosure, I have been divorced. My first wife divorced me because my Christian beliefs did not coincide with the lifestyle she desired to live. I remarried in 1990 and have had a long happy Marriage to this very day (minus a few marital spats along the way).
Now addressing the issue of domestic wife and child abuse/battery. I definitely do advocate a married remain together when one inflicts violence upon another, even though the New Testament does not provide for consequences for such marital abuse for either the husband or the wife.
However, the New Testament has commands for the way a married life is to be conducted:
1 Corinthians 7: 2-5 (NKJV)
2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
All you husbands need to read the above verses to make sure there is no misunderstanding about how to treat one’s wife in these next verses:
Ephesians 5:22-29 - ff (NKJV)
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
There is no room for wife beaters among Christians. Adultery and unbelievers appears to be the principles behind divorce. BUT, if you are a man of God DO NOT allow a man to beat on his wife even if you must take matters in your own hands. Even if taking action means you at the very least call upon the rule of law to take care of a wife beater.
Ok, I know … this is an American perspective. I can only imagine how women are treated in a Muslim dominated nation like Pakistan. Christians definitely need the law to be on their side in greater context in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Below, Shamim address marriage and divorce in Pakistan.
MoHR Purposed Amendments in Christian Marriage and Divorce Acts
By Shamim Mahmood
Sent 4/7/2017 10:46 PM
ISLAMABAD: Christian leadership agreed to bring reforms in the Marriage and Divorce acts to protect women rights. The clergy, parliamentarians and civil society have agreed to bring amendments to Christian Marriages Act 1872 and the Divorce Acts of 1869 of the constitutions of Pakistan.
A national level consultation of religious leaders, civil society and Christian parliamentarians was held to discuss Christian Marriage and divorce Acts. Senator Kamran Michael, Federal Minster for Human Rights stated that the Government is aware of the need for greater protection and promotion of minority rights whether it is legislation, education, health, nutrition or violence against them. He informed that Christian Family matters among the Christian community are dealt with by the Christian Marriages Act of 1872 and the Divorce Act of 1869. Since both the Acts are centuries old and need to be reviewed as certain provisions became outdated; they smack of colonial rule. Talking to the UCANews Senator Kamran Michael said the incumbent government is committed to protect the rights of every citizens of Pakistan especially women, children and minorities [Similar Thought Pakistan Point]. He said to facilitate the Christian community across the country, Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) [MoHR update from Pakistan Today 3/19/17] has obtained Resolutions from Provincial Governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan to regulate matter pertaining to Christian Marriage and divorce. He also referred first national consultation held in August 2016 wherein the same bills were thoroughly examined.
Mr. Sharafat Ali Chaudhry, Legal consultant, MoHR presented the Bill and stated that in these drafts, it has been proposed that the registration of marriage will be responsibility of the State and solemnization will be done by the Church. Age of marriage both for male and female has been proposed to be 18 years, and both male and female must be from Christian background, he further informed. Under the present applicable law of Christian Divorce Act 1869, there is only one ground of divorce available which is raising allegations against the chastity of the spouse, however, in the proposed draft, other grounds of the divorce have been proposed for the parties.
A Legal Consultant pointed out difference of opinion among different Christian religious communities. A detail discussion was held and it was proposed that more consultations are needed to have a unified legislation. It was also proposed that Representatives of National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) may also be invited during next consultations as registration of marriages is responsibility of NADRA and Christian community is facing problem in getting marriage certificates.
A detailed discussion was also held to discuss amendments in divorce. It was informed that there has been a bill in the national assembly related to health issues wherein amendment has also been proposed in the Christian Bills. Legal consultant elaborated ground for divorce and raised the issue that mental and physical illness as well as cruelty shall be included in the grounds for divorce. Numbers of ground were proposed by the participants in view of current changed social, economic and cultural situations.
Senator Kamran Michael stated that the law is for Christian community and all denomination shall unanimously approve it. He was of the view that there shall not be amendments which are in contradiction to the Bible, however, clergy may like to consider different options and grounds for divorce. He further purposed another consultation meeting in Islamabad next month wherein the amendment proposed during current meeting will be discussed.
All denominational heads from Roman Catholic, Church of Pakistan, Presbyterian, and Salvation Army, members from the civil society and Christian parliamentarians were part of the meeting and agreed to the purposed amendments.
SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad (Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone - +92-300-642-4560
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Edited by John R. Houk
All source links are by the Editor.
© Shamim Mahmood - MoHR Purposed Amendments in Christian Marriage and Divorce Acts