Friday, October 05, 2007

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE - NEW WAYS TO GET IT WRONG

"11 And He *said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery." - Mk. 10:11,12
Another theologian, David Instone-Brewer, in the most recent issue of Christianity Today, gets it wrong while trying to sound oh so sensitive to getting it right. With his special understanding of the Jewish Rabbinic writings, he supposes that he can better explain Jesus' words on the subject of divorce and remarriage. Where Jesus was clear that adultery is committed by those who remarry, unless the divorce was on the grounds of sexual immorality, the author says that the full teaching on divorce and remarriage also considers subjective things like "neglect", "abuse", and "abandonment". I can hear his marriage counseling session:
"So you have come here today because you want me to perform your upcoming wedding, but you are divorced and want to know if that is a problem. Is that correct? Let me ask you if your husband was unfaithful to you? No, not sexually? Oh. Well then did you divorce him because of abuse, or neglect, or abandonment? Hmmm, now that's interesting. So your husband did not have an affair, but you divorced him because he watched too much television and did not pay enough attention to you. Well I have good news for you! Let me check my calendar to see if I'm open to perform the ceremony."
Here are my thoughts on this matter:
- This teaching of Mr. Instone-Brewer pretends to respect a very difficult teaching akin to passing through the eye of a needle while at the same time suggesting there is a gate that an army could pass through.The author's teaching is so subjective as to allow practically any case of divorce and remarriage making his teaching a direct contradiction to Jesus' teaching. His explanation is nonsense.

- Jesus was clear on the message of divorce and remarriage and there was nothing subjective about what He said, Mt. 19:9; 5:31-32. The disciples perfectly understood the gravity of this teaching, Mt. 19:10-12. It was a difficult and stringent teaching with lifelong consequences. Seriously, who else besides the church is really defending the marriage institution by upholding Jesus' teaching.

- Paul did not contradict what Jesus said, 1 Cor. 7:10,11. The so-called "Pauline Privilege" does not exist. Nothing that Paul said gives permission to remarrying another. The statement by Paul to "remain in the condition in which you were called" applies to a lot of conditions, but not a sinful one.

- The Law of Moses permitted things because of the hardness of men's hearts. But those things nor the ancient Rabbinic teachings cannot negate what the New Testament says so clearly.

- The author's admission to dodging the issue in a job interview with a vague answer shows the weakness of his Biblical study and maybe the weakness of his character. If he had studied the Bible more and the Rabbinic writings less, he would possibly have arrived at the truth.

- When I first started reading this article, I did not pre-judge the author. I read it to see what I might learn. What I found is the same old, same old where so much work is put into distorting the truth so that people do not have to repent. There is really nothing new here. The upshot of the teaching is that most anybody can remarry with no concern that couples are living in adultery.
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Marriage is not 'bondage'

6 comments:

  1. Discipler,
    You wrote: Paul did not contradict what Jesus said, 1 Cor. 7:10,11. The so-called "Pauline Privilege" does not exist. Nothing that Paul said gives permission to remarrying another.

    Well, Paul in 1 Corinthians 10-16 speaks about keeping the marriage vows. In verses 10-11, he speaks about two believers who contract marriage. In verses 12-16, he speaks of the "thornier" issue of when a believer contracts marriage to an unbeliever.

    Obviously there is a difference in these two situations or else Paul would not have made the distinction. Well, Christians have always seen the former as two baptized (believers) who have contracted a sacramental marriage. The latter is seen as a natural marriage (one baptized believer and one non-baptized unbeliever).

    I realize that you may not recognize that Christ elevated natural marriage to a sacrament for two believers (i.e. baptized) or that Our Lord gives grace through sacramental marriages. However, I would be interested to know further your understanding of 1 Corinthians 10-16. It is plain enought that "a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases" for natural marriage (v 15). Therefore they would be free to marry again since they are under no "bondage".

    I understand you to teach that no grace is given through either baptism or through marriage. Leaving this aside for the moment, how do you understand "not under bondage"? How do you understand Paul's distinctions in his teaching?

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  2. Greetings,
    Haven't heard from you in a while. I hope all is well.
    You say that "obviously there is a difference in these two situations. . ." Obviously there are all kinds of differences. And obviously Jesus would not expect the person to feel enslaved to the non-believer. In fact, Paul is saying just that. Marriage and the very real marriage bond (let no man put asunder what God has joined) has never been construed to be slavery. And he is reminding the person of that. But the right to remarry is not given by Paul. And your distinction between marriages is obviously Catholic tradition that I do not recognize. All marriages are sanctified by God and the distinction that you make is not found in the Bible.

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  3. Dear Pazdziernik,
    About the question of baptism, marriage, and grace. In fact I do believe that grace is found there, but I do not believe that God uses a man as a conduit to that grace. I do believe that God uses man as His instrument to take the grace to people, but I do not believe that certain men are chosen over another as you do in the Catholic priesthood. When a preacher or a justice of the peace pronounces a couple to be married, they are married in the eyes of God. And the "let no man put asunder" command applies to all marriages. Jesus' and Paul's teaching on the matter of marriage applies to all. Because God sanctifies all marriages, then there is His blessing. On Baptism, I certainly do believe that grace is received at Baptism when an adult sinner, filled with faith, gets immersed into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We have had these discussions before, I'm sure. Because forgiveness is received, then God's grace is bestowed.
    Thank you for commenting and I wish you well.

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  4. DEar Discipler,

    I happened to have read that article also. In the beginning I thought it was going to be good in the beginning. It was truly the most misrepresented view of divorce and remarriage I have ever seen. That view would allow a person to divorce his wife for not enough sex, or if a depression hits and the family is in extreme poverty the wife can say "see ya." That is the most perverted view of divorce and remarriage I have ever heard, and no Christian has an excuse to buy into that kind of stuff. Man that article upset me.

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  5. Zack,
    You are a good man. I know your faith and I know your intellect. I have seen how you dig into the Scriptures to arrive at the truth and it encourages me. Thanks for the comments here.

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    ReplyDelete

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