Abraham, Sara and Hagar – a non-religious view

This is a part of a series about Godly divorce and marriage…

In the last few posts I have shared my views on divorce.

In the last post I shared snippets of an excellent study in scripture about divorce and marriage. As I wrote in that post God put it on my heart to find out about Abrahams divorce. I had not realised he had a divorce.

In that last post I shared from a superb, exhaustive and balanced scriptural study. In this post I want to share a non-religious view of marriage and why it often results in divorce. This is also based on Abraham, Sara and Hagar.

These quotes are from: Abrahams Adultery and Divorce

nowhere in the Bible is a technical definition of adultery provided. The first mention of the word didn’t occur until the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:14) and is used no more than 37 times after that (KJV). Some versions have less.


Marriage, not adultery, is the issue and that is what God emphasized in the first wedding ceremony in the Bible.


The word “marriage” was never used in the text but the story does record a scaled down matrimonial procedure much like ours today:

Eve was made from Adam signifying a connection that is not superficial.
Eve was made from Adam’s rib signifying equality, not the foot or head which would signify inferiority or superiority.
Eve and Adam were presented to each other ceremoniously, somewhat like weddings today.
Eve was referred to as “woman” signifying she was different to Adam and as “wife” signifying a special relationship to him.
Even before children these two were referred to as “father” and “mother.”
Marriage is described as self perpetuating.  A son leaves parents and cleaves to A wife, not several, and they in turn build another family.
There is no shame or embarrassment in the relationship.
The implication was, neither Adam nor Eve could be whole without the other but they were entirely sufficient together.

More observations could be made but suffice it to say that adultery represents any deviation from this picture. Writing a book about all the ways it can occur or its causes would be a never-ending project. The simple truth, “marriage,” is much more concise and living within the boundaries of marriage is the goal.



There are two sides to marriage: one is personal and the other is technical – legal.

On the personal side is the mystical connection that exists between two people on all levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. These connections can’t be seen with the naked eye but they are definitely hard wired and can’t be easily broken.


I think Abraham and Sara had this connection and the proof is the fact that their relationship survived a lot of turbulence. They didn’t always understand each other but the connection was always there.

This is more than affection. It is a type of symbiosis that is mutual and individual at the same time. It has the potential to feed the relationship as well as the individual development of each person simultaneously. No individual can have this connection with more than one other person at a time. A third party destroys the balance.


On the technical side of marriage are the regulations that involve a tit for tat interaction. You do this and I’ll do that. It is practically driven and legally restrained. This type of marriage serves a convenient purpose: child bearing, sexual gratification, financial goals or cultural expectations. The terms are legally contracted and no personal connection is required. Prince Charles and Lady Diana are modern day examples.


Hagar may have been Abraham’s wife in the “legal” sense but there was no real personal connection and the relationship was nothing more than a sophisticated, legalized form of adultery based on cultural traditions not generated by God.

In fact, we have reason to believe Abraham never slept with Hagar after the birth of Ishmael, possibly after his conception. Not only was friction generated immediately following but no additional children were sired later.

Adultery can be committed many different ways. In Abraham’s case it was by polygamy. That isn’t the worst form of adultery but adultery it is. The law that allowed Hagar to be called Abraham’s wife was man made not God made.


Adultery defined:

Therefore adultery would be defined as taking any marital attention, on any level, promised to a first person and giving it to a second person, even if the first person agrees and the second person is legally and culturally recognized.

In Abraham’s case he gave affection to Hagar which he previously promised to Sara. His relationship to Hagar was legally right but personally wrong. It was adultery.

and I (Mark) agree with this sentiment

Divorce, like technical marriage, is a legal issue and is often treated as the anti-grail of Christian home making. Several religious groups (no names mentioned) never allow divorce under any circumstances and those that do, discuss it only in very hushed tones, treating it with shame. Modern day attitudes toward divorce are very similar to the Pharisees attitude toward the Sabbath. No discussion or deviation is allowed.

Divorce is clearly allowed in the Bible but disdained by all the religious and disallowed by some.  The same groups who shame divorce will often allow, even insist on marriages between people who fit the cultural, religious, technical formulas but have no basis for real connection and then frown on a divorce when the relationship goes badly wrong.

What we do comes perilously close to worshiping marriage rather than using it for the benefit and health of mankind. We sacrifice personal relationships on the altar of technicalities.


The truth is, God said and did nothing to endorse Abraham’s so-called “marriage” to Hagar but He definitely endorsed the inevitable “divorce.” When Sara insisted Hagar be cast out, God agreed.

Abraham wasn’t even required to provide her with material support. If God had not intervened, Hagar and Ishmael would have died.

That article is very well thought out and challenging.

I am not writing this to say… if you are married to a Hagar then its ok to divorce her. No. Not at all.

Im sharing this to encourage us all to think a bit deeper about what Gods heart is for marriage.

2 responses to “Abraham, Sara and Hagar – a non-religious view

  1. Wow. Thought provoking!!! I promise to read this again and share. Many of the marital woes the world has today are because we marry technically aint they?

    • I think that is what this author is saying. But. Im actually not sure tht I agree. For example arranged marriage in India have lower divorce rtes than western love marriages. I personally think the key is for the coiple to be God focussed… For them to submit to Him, make Him the center of their marriage, learn His was and follow His design and His leading. Without Jim every marriage will struggle. Please do keep coming back and share your thoughts. God bless you! Mark.

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