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LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 03:00 AM
Should someone be excommunicated from the church if they decide to divorce their spouse for reasons other than adultery?

Please offer biblical support for your answer.

Thank you in advance to all who attempt to answer this question.

Joey Porter
Apr 9th 2010, 04:45 PM
That's a tough one. I would definitely say that if someone got divorced (for reasons other than unfaithfulness) and remarried, they should be considered for excommunication. Yahshua made it clear that such a person is an adulterer and causes their spouse to commit adultery if they should remarry.

As far as grounds for divorce, it's always a touchy subject when abusive type relationships are an issue; relationships that don't involve unfaithfulness, I mean.

It's kind of like the abortion issue when instances of rape or incest are involved. Technically, the morally correct thing to do would be to avoid abortion at all costs regardless of the circumstances, however even though abortion in that case would still be wrong, it wouldn't be quite as "wrong" as someone who has relations carelessly and then aborts a child as an unwanted problem.

I would say the most correct and obedient thing someone could do in that situation (of an abusive spouse) would be to separate from the abusive spouse without getting a divorce, and without having relations with someone else. At that point, if the other (abusive) spouse would then go on to have relations with someone else, it would then be lawful to divorce that person. But even in such a case, it would be wrong to divorce someone who has not been unfaithful, regardless of how abusive they may have been.

So, all in all, I would say that probably the biblically correct thing to do would be to excommunicate someone who has divorced for an unlawful reason, especially if they've remarried, however keeping in mind that some cases may call for a little more mercy than in other cases, and it's always best to try to imagine walking in someone else's shoes before making any hasty judgments.

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 06:35 PM
I really appreciate your efforts in answering this difficult question.


That's a tough one. I would definitely say that if someone got divorced (for reasons other than unfaithfulness) and remarried, they should be considered for excommunication. Yahshua made it clear that such a person is an adulterer and causes their spouse to commit adultery if they should remarry.I’d like to do my best to understand this in light of Scripture. I believe you’re referring to Matthew 5? “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’”

Here’s my confusion regarding excommunication based on this verse. In the same context, our Lord also teaches on anger and lust. If we are to treat remarriage after divorce as adultery, shouldn’t we treat anger as murder and lust as adultery? Shouldn’t we excommunicate those harboring angry feelings and those struggling with lust? If not, why do we choose to apply the one and not the other?

Where do we find the Scripture regarding excommunication and can it be shown to apply directly to those who divorce for reasons other than adultery? The only verses I know of are in Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5.

Looking at Matthew 18, in what way would an abused spouse seeking divorce be sinning? Applying Matthew 18, the abusive husband would end up taking the abused wife (who’s seeking a divorce) to the church, and then the church would excommunicate her and let her be to the church as a “Gentile or tax collector.”

Looking at 1 Corinthians 5, we are to not associate with believers who are immoral, covetous, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or swindlers. I assume the wife seeking a divorce would be considered immoral by the Church? In what way would the wife seeking a divorce be considered immoral?

Also, if she went through with the divorce, in what way would she be immoral?

I assume that if she decides to remarry, then at that point, the Church could consider her to be immoral because then she would be considered an adulterer according to the strict and literal interpretation of Matthew 5. Is that right? But if the Church applied Matthew 18 & 1 Corinthians 5 in this situation, I’d wonder why the other teachings in Matthew 5 were not applied so literally as this one.

And what about the husband? Did she really make him an adulterer if he remarries? If we apply Matthew 18, then she is to be considered like a “Gentile or tax collector.” And Paul tells us that if our unbelieving spouse leaves us, we are free (1 Cor. 7:15). So, why would our Lord say that a believer can make her spouse an adulterer, when as soon as she divorces him, she is to be considered an unbeliever, if we apply Matthew 18?

With all these loop holes, I must wonder what the Lord really had in min when He taught about anger, lust and divorce.


As far as grounds for divorce, it's always a touchy subject when abusive type relationships are an issue; relationships that don't involve unfaithfulness, I mean.

It's kind of like the abortion issue when instances of rape or incest are involved. Technically, the morally correct thing to do would be to avoid abortion at all costs regardless of the circumstances, however even though abortion in that case would still be wrong, it wouldn't be quite as "wrong" as someone who has relations carelessly and then aborts a child as an unwanted problem.

I would say the most correct and obedient thing someone could do in that situation (of an abusive spouse) would be to separate from the abusive spouse without getting a divorce, and without having relations with someone else. At that point, if the other (abusive) spouse would then go on to have relations with someone else, it would then be lawful to divorce that person.Another loop hole. Surely an abandoned man would have relations at some point. The wife could wait it out and then pursue divorce. But I really don’t think this is what our Lord had in mind when He taught on divorce and remarriage.


But even in such a case, it would be wrong to divorce someone who has not been unfaithful, regardless of how abusive they may have been.

So, all in all, I would say that probably the biblically correct thing to do would be to excommunicate someone who has divorced for an unlawful reason, especially if they've remarried, however keeping in mind that some cases may call for a little more mercy than in other cases, and it's always best to try to imagine walking in someone else's shoes before making any hasty judgments.How do we decide which cases deserve mercy?

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 07:00 PM
I really appreciate your efforts in answering this difficult question.

I’d like to do my best to understand this in light of Scripture. I believe you’re referring to Matthew 5? “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’”

Here’s my confusion regarding excommunication based on this verse. In the same context, our Lord also teaches on anger and lust. If we are to treat remarriage after divorce as adultery, shouldn’t we treat anger as murder and lust as adultery? Shouldn’t we excommunicate those harboring angry feelings and those struggling with lust? If not, why do we choose to apply the one and not the other?

Where do we find the Scripture regarding excommunication and can it be shown to apply directly to those who divorce for reasons other than adultery? The only verses I know of are in Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5.

Looking at Matthew 18, in what way would an abused spouse seeking divorce be sinning? Applying Matthew 18, the abusive husband would end up taking the abused wife (who’s seeking a divorce) to the church, and then the church would excommunicate her and let her be to the church as a “Gentile or tax collector.”

Looking at 1 Corinthians 5, we are to not associate with believers who are immoral, covetous, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or swindlers. I assume the wife seeking a divorce would be considered immoral by the Church? In what way would the wife seeking a divorce be considered immoral?

Also, if she went through with the divorce, in what way would she be immoral?

I assume that if she decides to remarry, then at that point, the Church could consider her to be immoral because then she would be considered an adulterer according to the strict and literal interpretation of Matthew 5. Is that right? But if the Church applied Matthew 18 & 1 Corinthians 5 in this situation, I’d wonder why the other teachings in Matthew 5 were not applied so literally as this one.

And what about the husband? Did she really make him an adulterer if he remarries? If we apply Matthew 18, then she is to be considered like a “Gentile or tax collector.” And Paul tells us that if our unbelieving spouse leaves us, we are free (1 Cor. 7:15). So, why would our Lord say that a believer can make her spouse an adulterer, when as soon as she divorces him, she is to be considered an unbeliever, if we apply Matthew 18?

With all these loop holes, I must wonder what the Lord really had in min when He taught about anger, lust and divorce.

Another loop hole. Surely an abandoned man would have relations at some point. The wife could wait it out and then pursue divorce. But I really don’t think this is what our Lord had in mind when He taught on divorce and remarriage.

How do we decide which cases deserve mercy?

Good question.

The answer is that we are commanded to judge outward manifestations of sin in the church that affect one another or model rebellion from the law in a tangable way for the world to see, "Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church" (1 Cor. 6:4), but not motives or struggles of an individual. We can't know the heart of another (Jer. 17:9), nor is it our duty to judge others for their faults (Matt. 7:3-5), but acts of outward rebellion are different:

"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you" (1 Cor. 5:11-13).

The Mighty Sword
Apr 9th 2010, 07:14 PM
Excommunication??? This isn't the rcc, no there are many other reasons divorce should be granted, abuse of many kinds can play a factor. So no. I can't belive I'm answering this question.

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 07:15 PM
Good question.

The answer is that we are commanded to judge outward manifestations of sin in the church that affect one another or model rebellion from the law in a tangable way for the world to see, "Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church" (1 Cor. 6:4), but not motives or struggles of an individual. We can't know the heart of another (Jer. 17:9), nor is it our duty to judge others for their faults (Matt. 7:3-5), but acts of outward rebellion are different:Thank you. Makes sense.


"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you" (1 Cor. 5:11-13).So, an abused wife who divorces her husband should be considered wicked?

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 07:23 PM
Excommunication??? This isn't the rcc, no there are many other reasons divorce should be granted, abuse of many kinds can play a factor. So no. I can't belive I'm answering this question.Well, I'm not sure what formal excommunication looks like, but our Church just publicly announced that a particular woman in our Church is no longer welcome and that we should avoid having contact with her because she is pursuing a divorce.

The Mighty Sword
Apr 9th 2010, 07:27 PM
Thank you. Makes sense.

So, an abused wife who divorces her husband should be considered wicked?


Yes God want you to be abused.


Sounds silly huh???

No, if you are or any women is being abused you have the right to divorce.

For better or for worse doesn't constitue abuse, for abuse is against the law.

Firefighter
Apr 9th 2010, 08:14 PM
You must first ask yourself "What constitutes a divorce???" Is it the breaking of the covenant, or is it the piece of paper recording the said action?

For Example: If I kill someone, and then the family is required to get a death certificate for insurance or whatever, who is guilty of murder, me or the family???

The only one that should be the object of church discipline in the one who breaks the covenant.

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 08:25 PM
You must first ask yourself "What constitutes a divorce???" Is it the breaking of the covenant, or is it the piece of paper recording the said action?

For Example: If I kill someone, and then the family is required to get a death certificate for insurance or whatever, who is guilty of murder, me or the family???

The only one that should be the object of church discipline in the one who breaks the covenant.Interesting.

I guess I would then ask, what constitutes the breaking of the marriage covenant?

Firefighter
Apr 9th 2010, 08:50 PM
Infidelity or any other sexual immorality, abuse, neglect (clothes, food, sex), abandonment are the ones I can think of right off the bat...

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 09:57 PM
Infidelity or any other sexual immorality, abuse, neglect (clothes, food, sex), abandonment are the ones I can think of right off the bat...I know where to find biblical support for divorce in cases of sexual immorality and abandonment in the NT. What about abuse and neglect? Do you get that from Exodus 21?

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 10:17 PM
Thank you. Makes sense.

So, an abused wife who divorces her husband should be considered wicked?

I think people are entitle to protection, but I can't find anything in the Bible that suggests she would have license to legally divorce freeing her to re-marry, because God has joined them and man is not allowed to separate them (Matt. 19:6).

From a practical perspective, though, I doubt it would take long before an abusive husband would cheat on his wife if she was geographically seperated from him, and then she'd be free to file for divorce.

It is a very sticky subject, to be sure, but we really do have to be able to justify it with scripture, and I don't see any room around the above conclusion, despite what seems right to me.

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 10:20 PM
You must first ask yourself "What constitutes a divorce???" Is it the breaking of the covenant, or is it the piece of paper recording the said action?

For Example: If I kill someone, and then the family is required to get a death certificate for insurance or whatever, who is guilty of murder, me or the family???

The only one that should be the object of church discipline in the one who breaks the covenant.

Sorry but that's not what Jesus said. If you read the passage Jesus treats the certificate and the covenant as one and the same:

"They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.''For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

The terms are very clear "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery" (Matt. 5:32).

Only one exception is mentioned, and that exception is not "breaking the covenant of marriage" in general, but fornication in specific.

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 10:22 PM
Well, I'm not sure what formal excommunication looks like, but our Church just publicly announced that a particular woman in our Church is no longer welcome and that we should avoid having contact with her because she is pursuing a divorce.

I think the church should have approached her with its views.

Further, I think the Scripture strongly indicates that they should still be welcome to anything that an unbeliever would be welcome to, and that they should be encouraged to repent and rejoin the congragation.

Shunning isn't Biblical.

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 10:24 PM
Yes God want you to be abused.


Sounds silly huh???

No, if you are or any women is being abused you have the right to divorce.

For better or for worse doesn't constitue abuse, for abuse is against the law.

I'd say she's entitle to have him arrested, but I don't see where the Bible demonstrates she could get a divorce. If that was an option, it seems to me Jesus would have mentioned it when he said "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery" (Matt. 5:23).

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 10:29 PM
By the way, this is one area that I'd love to be proven wrong, because it is a very tough one to broach with a person who has suffered at the hands of their spouse, so please, if I've missed some scripture I'd love for someone to point it out.

crawfish
Apr 9th 2010, 10:33 PM
I think the church should have approached her with its views.

Further, I think the Scripture strongly indicates that they should still be welcome to anything that an unbeliever would be welcome to, and that they should be encouraged to repent and rejoin the congragation.

Shunning isn't Biblical.

What do you mean by "repent"?

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 10:36 PM
What do you mean by "repent"?

Hi Crawfish,

Just the normal way; To admit fault and ask for forgiveness and take steps towards reconciliation.

Servant89
Apr 9th 2010, 10:41 PM
Excommunication??? This isn't the rcc, no there are many other reasons divorce should be granted, abuse of many kinds can play a factor. So no. I can't belive I'm answering this question.

I am with you !!!!

Gal 2:21 (http://webnet77.com/cgi-bin/bible/bible.cgi?BIBLE=48&BOOK=48&CHAP=2&SEARCH=jesus king lord&Read=Read&FIRST=OK&HV=21) I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Gal 5:4 (http://webnet77.com/cgi-bin/bible/bible.cgi?BIBLE=48&BOOK=48&CHAP=5&SEARCH=jesus king lord&Read=Read&FIRST=OK&HV=4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Shalom

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 10:41 PM
I think the church should have approached her with its views.

Further, I think the Scripture strongly indicates that they should still be welcome to anything that an unbeliever would be welcome to, and that they should be encouraged to repent and rejoin the congragation.

Shunning isn't Biblical.I thought you had said that outward rebellion should be treated by applying 1 Cor. 5?


The answer is that we are commanded to judge outward manifestations of sin in the church that affect one another or model rebellion from the law in a tangable way for the world to see, "Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church" (1 Cor. 6:4), but not motives or struggles of an individual. We can't know the heart of another (Jer. 17:9), nor is it our duty to judge others for their faults (Matt. 7:3-5), but acts of outward rebellion are different:

"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you" (1 Cor. 5:11-13).Our Church, like you, believes in applying 1 Cor. 5 to this “outward rebellion” of the woman pursing divorce. They are following through by “expelling the wicked man (woman in this case) from among you.”

Reading on in the passage, Paul tells us not to "associate with any so-called brother" and not even to "eat with such a one."

That's why they told the congregation she is not welcome and that we should no longer have contact with her.

crawfish
Apr 9th 2010, 10:49 PM
Hi Crawfish,

Just the normal way; To admit fault and ask for forgiveness and take steps towards reconciliation.

Reconciliation with her husband?

I only ask because this attitude can place an undue burden on someone to become a Christian. Imagine a woman who divorces her husband for unscriptural reasons, marries another and has children. Some churches hold that she must actually leave her second husband and remarry her first to be right with God and to be accepted by the church. And in that case, it might be the second relationship that is actually the stronger family.

God encourages us to remove any obstacle in our relationship to God in order to be fully righteous. Do you think that the rich young ruler was saved or not, even though he did not give all he owned to the poor? We are encouraged to make things right with those we have wronged, as Zacchaeus repaid everyone he had cheated plus some. Should we deny those who still hold grudges community with us?

Divorce is a sin, no question about it. The only justification is marital unfaithfulness, and to be honest the term used in scripture to describe that can refer to any sort of sexual immorality - a wife could justify divorcing her husband because he viewed pornography or romantically kissed another woman when it didn't go farther. What I wonder is, how do we justify treating divorce as if it is some "larger" sin that we must be heavy-handed in dealing with? We let the greedy and the impure and the cruel and all sorts of other sinners into the building, but we reject the divorcee. I think God's grace is greater than any sin. I think our attitude towards divorce forces some women (and some men) to exist in abusive situations. I think we need to take Ephesians 4:32 far more seriously.

crawfish
Apr 9th 2010, 10:52 PM
I thought you had said that outward rebellion should be treated by applying 1 Cor. 5?

Our Church, like you, believes in applying 1 Cor. 5 to this “outward rebellion” of the woman pursing divorce. They are following through by “expelling the wicked man (woman in this case) from among you.”

Reading on in the passage, Paul tells us not to "associate with any so-called brother" and not even to "eat with such a one."

That's why they told the congregation she is not welcome and that we should no longer have contact with her.

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

I wonder how many greedy people your church (or others like it) choose to disfellowship or shun, especially if they put a lot of money in the collection plate. I wonder how many gossipers find themselves kicked out.

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 10:54 PM
I thought you had said that outward rebellion should be treated by applying 1 Cor. 5?

I do, but this passage demonstrates the attempt towards reconcilliation "so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord" (1 Cor. 5:5). From the rest of scripture we can see that we always have the opportunity to repent and return to the service of the Lord, so I don't believe in shunning, just separation from gather with other believers as another believer, which I think is clear from the context of the passage, but abundantly more so as we move onto the second Epistle that demonstrates the reason for the expulsion:

"Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." (2 Cor. 2:7-11).


Our Church, like you, believes in applying 1 Cor. 5 to this “outward rebellion” of the woman pursing divorce. They are following through by “expelling the wicked man (woman in this case) from among you.”

Reading on in the passage, Paul tells us not to "associate with any so-called brother" and not even to "eat with such a one."

That's why they told the congregation she is not welcome and that we should no longer have contact with her.

Association and eating in this context I believe mean to be in league with, and having communion with. They were important events in that culture and there were implications to these things. I think we can see from the resolution in the second Epistle that this is to demonstrate to the person that sin is serious and that the church can't turn a blind eye to it, but it's not commanded to cut that person out.

The purpose is disciplinary, not to shun or excommunicate.

Sorry, that's all for now. I've got to head out. I'll check back in on Monday (at the latest) to follow up.

God bless.

Ryan R
Apr 9th 2010, 11:09 PM
Reconciliation with her husband?

I only ask because this attitude can place an undue burden on someone to become a Christian. Imagine a woman who divorces her husband for unscriptural reasons, marries another and has children. Some churches hold that she must actually leave her second husband and remarry her first to be right with God and to be accepted by the church. And in that case, it might be the second relationship that is actually the stronger family.

Once she's remarried, then I think it's done. Even if she did go back the sin of adultery was still committed and then she'd just be making her former husband an adulterer.

If she hasn't remarried, the Bible is clear though: "to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband" (1 Cor. 7:10-11).


God encourages us to remove any obstacle in our relationship to God in order to be fully righteous. Do you think that the rich young ruler was saved or not, even though he did not give all he owned to the poor? We are encouraged to make things right with those we have wronged, as Zacchaeus repaid everyone he had cheated plus some. Should we deny those who still hold grudges community with us?

Grudges aren't the issue, it's outward rebellion that we are commanded to discipline. I have no idea if the rich ruler was saved. It's not our job to judge other's salvation, just their actions, as per 1 Corinthians.


Divorce is a sin, no question about it. The only justification is marital unfaithfulness, and to be honest the term used in scripture to describe that can refer to any sort of sexual immorality - a wife could justify divorcing her husband because he viewed pornography or romantically kissed another woman when it didn't go farther. What I wonder is, how do we justify treating divorce as if it is some "larger" sin that we must be heavy-handed in dealing with?

I'm not sure we do. If he was caught doing any of those things, then she's off the hook and can get a divorce.


We let the greedy and the impure and the cruel and all sorts of other sinners into the building, but we reject the divorcee.

We ought not. The commandment in 1 Corinthians is to expel them all who fit the listed criteria.


I think God's grace is greater than any sin.

You betcha! That's why reconciliation is always available, as we see in 2 Corinthians.


I think our attitude towards divorce forces some women (and some men) to exist in abusive situations.

I think they deserve to be protected, legally and by the church, but it's not my attitude that's in question so much as what the Bible says. I struggle with this personally because of my attitude, but Scripture is Sripture.

That being said, I'm currently (and have for the past 2 months) been taking care of a wolf (yes, a wolf) for a woman who breeds them, because she was beaten up by her husband and our church dispatched an army of prayer warriors to her house after the police picked him up. They (the prayer posse) came back and told me I had temporarily adopted this wild creature (the wolf, not the husband) while she flees for safety.

It already ate one of my ducks, and I'm concerned about the rest of my livestock, but I believe in helping a woman get to safety so I'm taking good care of her wolf (even though I think it is ludacrus to own a wolf in the first place).


I think we need to take Ephesians 4:32 far more seriously.

I completely agree that as soon as the request for forgiveness is made it should be given, but Corinthians is clear that we cannot stand by while people justify sin. Humility and repentance is key, both in our relationship with God, and His Church.

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 11:21 PM
I think people are entitle to protection, but I can't find anything in the Bible that suggests she would have license to legally divorce freeing her to re-marry, because God has joined them and man is not allowed to separate them (Matt. 19:6).You mean you can’t find anything in the NT, right? The OT does suggest the wife has license to legally divorce freeing her to remarry in cases of neglect (i.e. food, clothes, emotional/sexual love) in Exodus 21.

Since divorce was allowed in this way for all Israel for so many years, why do you think Jesus changed the rules in the NT and decided to finally tell them “it was not this way from the beginning” and “let no man separate what God has joined together”…except in cases of adultery?


From a practical perspective, though, I doubt it would take long before an abusive husband would cheat on his wife if she was geographically seperated from him, and then she'd be free to file for divorce.I think you’re right, but I also doubt, in my heart, that this was what Jesus intended when He taught on divorce and remarriage.


It is a very sticky subject, to be sure, but we really do have to be able to justify it with scripture, and I don't see any room around the above conclusion, despite what seems right to me.My, it sure is a sticky subject. I agree, on the surface, it looks like our Lord prohibits divorce in all cases except adultery. And Paul later expands on this to say not just cases of adultery, but when an unbelieving spouse abandons his/her mate. Speaking of this, why did Jesus “forget” to include this other exception if He really meant what He said which was that divorce is not lawful except in cases of adultery?

Clavicula_Nox
Apr 9th 2010, 11:37 PM
Is divorce, then, the unforgivable sin?

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 11:42 PM
Is divorce, then, the unforgivable sin?I don't think (I hope not!) that anyone is saying that.

chad
Apr 9th 2010, 11:45 PM
When people talk about Adultery, for some unusual reason I am always reminded of John 8:1-11. Although this verse does not address the question, should a person be ex-communicated, it does remind us of Jesus mercy.

(John 8:1 NIV) But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

(2) At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.

(3) The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group

(4) and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

(5) In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"

(6) They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

(7) When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

(8) Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

(9) At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

(10) Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

(11) "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."


If someone is ex-communicated from a church in this modern day world, won't they just find another one?

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 11:47 PM
By the way, this is one area that I'd love to be proven wrong, because it is a very tough one to broach with a person who has suffered at the hands of their spouse, so please, if I've missed some scripture I'd love for someone to point it out.I appreciate your heart to be compassionate and your desire stay true to the Word.

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 11:49 PM
Reconciliation with her husband?

I only ask because this attitude can place an undue burden on someone to become a Christian. Imagine a woman who divorces her husband for unscriptural reasons, marries another and has children. Some churches hold that she must actually leave her second husband and remarry her first to be right with God and to be accepted by the church. And in that case, it might be the second relationship that is actually the stronger family.

God encourages us to remove any obstacle in our relationship to God in order to be fully righteous. Do you think that the rich young ruler was saved or not, even though he did not give all he owned to the poor? We are encouraged to make things right with those we have wronged, as Zacchaeus repaid everyone he had cheated plus some. Should we deny those who still hold grudges community with us?

Divorce is a sin, no question about it. The only justification is marital unfaithfulness, and to be honest the term used in scripture to describe that can refer to any sort of sexual immorality - a wife could justify divorcing her husband because he viewed pornography or romantically kissed another woman when it didn't go farther...How did you come to that conclusion? Can you explain? I would appreciate the help.

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 11:53 PM
When people talk about Adultery, for some unusual reason I am always reminded of John 8:1-11. Although this verse does not address the question, should a person be ex-communicated, it does remind us of Jesus mercy.

(John 8:1 NIV) But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

(2) At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.

(3) The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group

(4) and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

(5) In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"

(6) They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

(7) When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

(8) Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

(9) At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

(10) Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

(11) "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."


If someone is ex-communicated from a church in this modern day world, won't they just find another one?Yes, very easily. Excommunication doesn't seem very effective in today's church like it may have been in the first century.

VerticalReality
Apr 9th 2010, 11:57 PM
Yes, very easily. Excommunication doesn't seem very effective in today's church like it may have been in the first century.

That's mainly for a couple of reasons . . .

1) They can just go to another church down the street that doesn't care about sin

and . . .

2) They write off the destruction of the flesh as a natural part of life as well as a simple case of whatever their doctor diagnoses (In other words, they see Satan's destruction of their flesh as just being a "part of life" rather than a consequence for sin and carnality)

LookingUp
Apr 9th 2010, 11:58 PM
I do, but this passage demonstrates the attempt towards reconcilliation "so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord" (1 Cor. 5:5). From the rest of scripture we can see that we always have the opportunity to repent and return to the service of the Lord, so I don't believe in shunning, just separation from gather with other believers as another believer, which I think is clear from the context of the passage, but abundantly more so as we move onto the second Epistle that demonstrates the reason for the expulsion:

"Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." (2 Cor. 2:7-11).

Association and eating in this context I believe mean to be in league with, and having communion with. They were important events in that culture and there were implications to these things. I think we can see from the resolution in the second Epistle that this is to demonstrate to the person that sin is serious and that the church can't turn a blind eye to it, but it's not commanded to cut that person out.

The purpose is disciplinary, not to shun or excommunicate.

Sorry, that's all for now. I've got to head out. I'll check back in on Monday (at the latest) to follow up.

God bless.But separation from gathering with other believers is cutting them out of the Church, isn’t it? Surely unbelievers are allowed in the Church?

LookingUp
Apr 10th 2010, 12:09 AM
Once she's remarried, then I think it's done. Even if she did go back the sin of adultery was still committed and then she'd just be making her former husband an adulterer.How could she make her husband an adulterer if, according to Scripture, she is an unbeliever once she goes through with the divorce? Paul said the believer is no longer legally bound to an unbelieving spouse who leaves the marriage.


If she hasn't remarried, the Bible is clear though: "to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband" (1 Cor. 7:10-11).

Grudges aren't the issue, it's outward rebellion that we are commanded to discipline. I have no idea if the rich ruler was saved. It's not our job to judge other's salvation, just their actions, as per 1 Corinthians.

I'm not sure we do. If he was caught doing any of those things, then she's off the hook and can get a divorce.She’s off the hook if her husband kissed another woman?


We ought not. The commandment in 1 Corinthians is to expel them all who fit the listed criteria.

You betcha! That's why reconciliation is always available, as we see in 2 Corinthians.

I think they deserve to be protected, legally and by the church, but it's not my attitude that's in question so much as what the Bible says. I struggle with this personally because of my attitude, but Scripture is Sripture.

That being said, I'm currently (and have for the past 2 months) been taking care of a wolf (yes, a wolf) for a woman who breeds them, because she was beaten up by her husband and our church dispatched an army of prayer warriors to her house after the police picked him up. They (the prayer posse) came back and told me I had temporarily adopted this wild creature (the wolf, not the husband) while she flees for safety…Oh my goodness! You’re taking care of a wolf? You’re unique! :)

Firefighter
Apr 10th 2010, 01:18 AM
Sorry but that's not what Jesus said. If you read the passage Jesus treats the certificate and the covenant as one and the same:

"They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.''For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

The terms are very clear "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery" (Matt. 5:32).

Only one exception is mentioned, and that exception is not "breaking the covenant of marriage" in general, but fornication in specific.

You DO realize that there is a difference between a "certificate of" and a divorce, right???

Firefighter
Apr 10th 2010, 01:21 AM
But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

So the church shouldn't associate with those people, but a woman should continue to be married to one and all that it entails??? I would think that if someone shouldn't eat with "such a one" then sleeping with them would definitely be out as well.

Clavicula_Nox
Apr 10th 2010, 01:22 AM
I don't think (I hope not!) that anyone is saying that.

I don't know if anyone is or isn't.

My wife was previously married. So, by scriptures, both of us are adulterers. Since I am not going to divorce my wife, nor do I expect her to divorce me, we are, by scriptures, committing adultery every day. Is that an accurate summation?

LookingUp
Apr 10th 2010, 08:00 AM
The Mighty Sword, Urban Missionary, crawfish, and Ryan R,

Could you please address the following? It would be very helpful in my search to find the truth.


Excommunication??? This isn't the rcc, no there are many other reasons divorce should be granted, abuse of many kinds can play a factor. So no. I can't belive I'm answering this question.Where can I find the “many other reasons divorce should be granted” in Scripture? How did you come to your conclusions?


Infidelity or any other sexual immorality, abuse, neglect (clothes, food, sex), abandonment are the ones I can think of right off the bat...Where can I find the Scripture that teaches that abuse and neglect are acceptable reasons for divorce? Can you share how you came to your conclusions?


…The only justification is marital unfaithfulness, and to be honest the term used in scripture to describe that can refer to any sort of sexual immorality - a wife could justify divorcing her husband because he viewed pornography or romantically kissed another woman when it didn't go farther.How did you come to your conclusion that sexual immorality can include one who views pornography and one who romantically kisses another woman? Which term meaning sexual immorality are you referring to--what's the reference?


…I'm not sure we do. If he was caught doing any of those things, then she's off the hook and can get a divorce…Ryan, you agreed with crawfish. Can you tell me why you’ve come to the conclusion that a woman has a right to divorce her husband if he views pornography or if he has romantically kissed another woman?

VerticalReality
Apr 10th 2010, 01:18 PM
The Mighty Sword, Urban Missionary, crawfish, and Ryan R,

Could you please address the following? It would be very helpful in my search to find the truth.

Where can I find the “many other reasons divorce should be granted” in Scripture? How did you come to your conclusions?

Where can I find the Scripture that teaches that abuse and neglect are acceptable reasons for divorce? Can you share how you came to your conclusions?

How did you come to your conclusion that sexual immorality can include one who views pornography and one who romantically kisses another woman? Which term meaning sexual immorality are you referring to--what's the reference?

Ryan, you agreed with crawfish. Can you tell me why you’ve come to the conclusion that a woman has a right to divorce her husband if he views pornography or if he has romantically kissed another woman?

LookingUp,

I understand your desire to fully know the truth here, but I'm not sure you will find anyone who can satisfy every question. I've studied this topic for years now, and I have yet to find one person who could sufficiently answer all questions for their particular view. There are so many varying views on this topic that it's almost laughable, and I've yet to see one that could answer everything.

crawfish
Apr 10th 2010, 01:38 PM
How did you come to your conclusion that sexual immorality can include one who views pornography and one who romantically kisses another woman? Which term meaning sexual immorality are you referring to--what's the reference?

The original Greek word that is used in Matthew 19:9 is "porneia". Obviously, it is the basis of the word "pornography". The word itself is a general term for sexual immorality. Elsewhere in scripture, the word is qualified - "homosexual porneia", "adulterous porneia", etc. In this verse, though, the word is unqualified.

It is important to understand some cultural differences, and how we must apply them in today's world. In Jesus' day, there was obviously no computer porn, no magazine porn and very little pornographic literature available to common men. The most common method of "porn" is those times was the visiting of temple prostitutes, or in cultic ceremonies. Jews could (and did) travel to some surrounding cities outside of Judea and Galilee and engage in this kind of behavior. Technically, even just attending such a place to watch without having intercourse is still "porneia". Just because our sin does not necessarily involve being in the same place with the object of our lust does not make it any more acceptable.

Do not also forget that Jesus' definition of adultery is wide: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

I won't go as far as to say that a single viewing of porn is justification for divorce, or a romantic kiss with a coworker is either. Each situation must be seen and judged independently. Consider these two situations: one, a man has a one-time sexual affair with a co-worker, feels guilty and breaks it off. Two, a man is addicted to pornography and looks at it every single day, storing huge collections of images and video, but never has intercourse with another woman. I think the sexual sin of the second man is far worse, and I think that it satisfies the "exception clause" more completely.

In any case, though, it is better to save the marriage and rebuild the relationship than to divorce. This is probably not possible if one party is unrepentant or unforgiving.

LookingUp
Apr 10th 2010, 05:17 PM
The original Greek word that is used in Matthew 19:9 is "porneia". Obviously, it is the basis of the word "pornography". The word itself is a general term for sexual immorality. Elsewhere in scripture, the word is qualified - "homosexual porneia", "adulterous porneia", etc. In this verse, though, the word is unqualified.

It is important to understand some cultural differences, and how we must apply them in today's world. In Jesus' day, there was obviously no computer porn, no magazine porn and very little pornographic literature available to common men. The most common method of "porn" is those times was the visiting of temple prostitutes, or in cultic ceremonies. Jews could (and did) travel to some surrounding cities outside of Judea and Galilee and engage in this kind of behavior. Technically, even just attending such a place to watch without having intercourse is still "porneia". Just because our sin does not necessarily involve being in the same place with the object of our lust does not make it any more acceptable.

Do not also forget that Jesus' definition of adultery is wide: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

I won't go as far as to say that a single viewing of porn is justification for divorce, or a romantic kiss with a coworker is either. Each situation must be seen and judged independently. Consider these two situations: one, a man has a one-time sexual affair with a co-worker, feels guilty and breaks it off. Two, a man is addicted to pornography and looks at it every single day, storing huge collections of images and video, but never has intercourse with another woman. I think the sexual sin of the second man is far worse, and I think that it satisfies the "exception clause" more completely.

In any case, though, it is better to save the marriage and rebuild the relationship than to divorce. This is probably not possible if one party is unrepentant or unforgiving.Thank you! Is the word in Matthew 5:32 also porneia? If not, why the two words?

crawfish
Apr 10th 2010, 06:46 PM
Thank you! Is the word in Matthew 5:32 also porneia? If not, why the two words?

Yes, it's the same word.

LookingUp
Apr 10th 2010, 07:50 PM
Yes, it's the same word.OK, thanks. Why do you think so many churches believe the word refers strictly to physical unfaithfulness?

Ryan R
Apr 10th 2010, 07:52 PM
You mean you can’t find anything in the NT, right? The OT does suggest the wife has license to legally divorce freeing her to remarry in cases of neglect (i.e. food, clothes, emotional/sexual love) in Exodus 21.

What I mean is that I can't find anything in the Bible that suggests she could currently divorce for other reasons. The Old Testament Law is fulfilled, so it's not a matter of what you can or can't find in the OT, so much as what Jesus has told us.


Since divorce was allowed in this way for all Israel for so many years, why do you think Jesus changed the rules in the NT and decided to finally tell them “it was not this way from the beginning” and “let no man separate what God has joined together”…except in cases of adultery?

It tells us, "Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning" (Matt. 19:8).

Jesus never 'changed the rules', He fulfill the Law "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:18,19).

If you look at the beattitudes they are extentions of the Law, as in they go above an beyond what people were told to do under the Law. It is key to understand that the freedom from the Law we have through the grace of Christ in no way means that we are Lawless "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" (Romans 6:15), but instead Jesus demonstrated on the mount that our righteousness has to exceed that of the Law and even the traditions that were used to build a fence around the Law to ensure it wasn't broken "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20).

Of course this is only possible through Christ, but it demonstrates that the Law that was so unachieveable was insufficient, so all of Jesus' commandments, while fulfillments of the Law, superceded the Law by transcending (going beyond) the Law that was never sufficient to obtain righteousness.

It becomes, in my opinion, a matter of dispensations... but in short (too late for that I guess, but anyway), the Law was a figure but imperfect, and in Christ is perfection, as from the beginning (only better).


I think you’re right, but I also doubt, in my heart, that this was what Jesus intended when He taught on divorce and remarriage.

Many, many terrible men throughout history have been turned from their wickedness through the modeling of Christlikenss of the longsuffering and patience of their Christian wifes, which is why I think they are supposed to hang in unless the marriage is defiled by fornication.

But if buddy breaks the rules then he breaks the rules and his wife is free. If she's already fleeing him for her safety it's probably for the best, because how will she model Christlikenss in hiding, and why would she need to if he's fornicating and therefore the marriage is moot? You can't force a guy to come to Christ and if he's terrorizing his model of Christlikeness away (the fruits of the spirit as demonstrated by his wife) then there's only so much a person can do.


My, it sure is a sticky subject. I agree, on the surface, it looks like our Lord prohibits divorce in all cases except adultery. And Paul later expands on this to say not just cases of adultery, but when an unbelieving spouse abandons his/her mate. Speaking of this, why did Jesus “forget” to include this other exception if He really meant what He said which was that divorce is not lawful except in cases of adultery?

What the passage says is "If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him... But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so" (1 Cor. 7:12-15).

Since it was forbidden to marry an unbeliever in the first place, this likely refers to converts. When you become a Christian you are a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) so you're really not the same person as you were before, but you stay married for the sake of your children, and for the edification of the spouse (1 Cor. 7:14). But, just like in all other circumstances, sanctity is never forced on anyone so "if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so" (1 Cor. 7:15). To whom would you appeal it anyways since light has no fellowship with darkeness?

The big difference is, in the case of adultery, a Christian is allowed to get a divorce. In the case of a Christian being married to un unbeliever, if they want a divorces you don't stop them from getting it.

It's like the difference between being allowed to hit someone in self defense verses allowing someone to hit you as an insult and forgiving them. One is something you may be allowed to do, the other is and instruction of how to react to something that may be done to you.

So Jesus wasn't leaving anything out. You want a divorce? The only way to get it is if your spouse cheats on you. You're unbelieving spouse wants a divorce? That's a different story.

Ryan R
Apr 10th 2010, 08:11 PM
But separation from gathering with other believers is cutting them out of the Church, isn’t it? Surely unbelievers are allowed in the Church?

They are now, but the philosophy of the church's function is very different now then it used to be.

We (in general) treat the church as a place for believers to go to get the gospel. This does not make sense. We are commanded to go into the world to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), not wait for it to come to us. The gathering together of other believers is for the strengthening and edification of the believers who are then dispatched into the world to make converts.

I don't think there has ever been a rule to keep unbeleivers out of such gatherings since Jesus' model was not to say anything in secret (John 18:20), but the primary function of the church was the fellowship and edification of believers.

I think what 1 Corinthians is demonstrating is that you don't have someone who is living in open, on-going, and unabashed sin participate in things as though they were living as they should... as though their lives were an appropriate model for Christianity in general (very different from the sins each of us commits every day as we stumble, humble ourselves and repent).

So, to cut them out of the church, I think from the context, meant to disqualify them as participating members of the church, religating them to the status (to say it crudely) of an unbeliever - to be reached through evangalism, instead of confronting them as though it can be assumed from their actins that they were a brother or sister in Christ.

We don't even need to assume whether or not someone is saved, since the Bible tells us how to react to those who profess not to be saved, and to treat those who live in open sin in the same way. We don't have to judge their spirit, but their actions demand for us to demonstrate to them that we are not permitted to assume they are saved, if they are falling prey to outward rebellion. Demonstrating that such is unacceptable is the only way to help them understand that they need to change to live in accordance to God's word.

Ryan R
Apr 10th 2010, 08:22 PM
How could she make her husband an adulterer if, according to Scripture, she is an unbeliever once she goes through with the divorce? Paul said the believer is no longer legally bound to an unbelieving spouse who leaves the marriage.

Because scripture doesn't say that she is an unbeliever, just that we should treat he like she is, because we can't assume from her live that she is necessarily a sister in Christ. She may be, but if she's not acting like it, we can't delve into her innermost being and descern her heart, nor would it do her any good if we could, found out that she was in fact saved, but stood idly by while she sinned.

We are responsible for making a stand within the community of believers on issues of doctrine and blatant and unrepented sin.

It doesn't mean that you loose your salvation over divorce, it's just how the body of Christians gauge their disciplinary reation.


She’s off the hook if her husband kissed another woman?

Clearly we aren't going to get to the bottom of that. I kiss my grandmother - that hardly causes a stir among the bretheren.

But, if a married man was caught french-kissing a woman who wasn't his wife, there would be a solid case for marital unfaithfulness.

Context is important.


Oh my goodness! You’re taking care of a wolf? You’re unique! :)

I'm starting to hate that animal. You'd never expect such an otherwise magnificent specimen of a predator to be so whiney. It's pathetic.

That being said, I still don't like to go near it. It cracks deer leg bones with such ease, all I can picture is my forearm in it's mouth if it decided to get playful.

Ryan R
Apr 10th 2010, 08:24 PM
You DO realize that there is a difference between a "certificate of" and a divorce, right???

As per usual my friend, I don't know where you're going with this.

The short answer is 'yes, I do', but for some reason I don't think you'll be satisfied with that.

By the way, I like your new avatar and signature line.

Ryan R
Apr 10th 2010, 08:26 PM
I don't know if anyone is or isn't.

My wife was previously married. So, by scriptures, both of us are adulterers. Since I am not going to divorce my wife, nor do I expect her to divorce me, we are, by scriptures, committing adultery every day. Is that an accurate summation?

You're married now, so even if you shouldn't have in the first place (and I don't pretend to know the circumstances, so I have no idea if that is true or not), I think at this point it would be sin for you to get divorced. That's how I interpret it.

Remember that anyone who looks a woman lustfully is an adulterer anyways, and if someone transgresses on law they're guilty of transgressing them all.

I think it's about discipline for ongoing and unrepented sins, so that people will acknowledge the Scriptural commandments in their life and be accountable, not holding sins over people's heads.

Ryan R
Apr 10th 2010, 08:33 PM
Ryan, you agreed with crawfish. Can you tell me why you’ve come to the conclusion that a woman has a right to divorce her husband if he views pornography or if he has romantically kissed another woman?

Scripture in a number of places demonstrates that sexual immorality is the act of lust "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:28).

So, while a divorce wouldn't be valid for a lustful look, since that's a sin between a man and God, I think acts that are committed out of lust with someone other than the spouse fall into the relm of marital unfaithfulness. I'm not 100% on when a kiss is sin (some people are just kiss-ier than others, and in the Bible men kissed each other, like Judas and Jesus, Paul's instruction to greet the brothers with a holy kiss, etc), or if pornography is qualifies, but you're definitly on shakey ground any time lust and action are working in concert.

Firefighter
Apr 10th 2010, 09:10 PM
As per usual my friend, I don't know where you're going with this.

The short answer is 'yes, I do', but for some reason I don't think you'll be satisfied with that.

By the way, I like your new avatar and signature line.

God mandated that a bill of divorcement be given, therefore that cannot be a sin, yet we know that God hates divorce. How's that? Divorce is the breaking of the covenant, the "bill of" is simply a record of it. I HIGHLY suggest Divorce and remarriage in the Bible: the social and literary context by Dr. David Instone-Brewer to all who are interested in this topic. I don't know of any biblical scholar who has spent more time studying this topic.

Thanks for the avatar compliment! I just ordered a video camera that attaches to my fire helmet so I hope to have some really good "inside the fire" pics and videos soon. I will share them as time and fires allow... :D

LookingUp
Apr 10th 2010, 11:15 PM
What I mean is that I can't find anything in the Bible that suggests she could currently divorce for other reasons. The Old Testament Law is fulfilled, so it's not a matter of what you can or can't find in the OT, so much as what Jesus has told us.The reason I ask is because apparently the commonly held view among first century Jews regarding biblical grounds for divorce was found in Exodus 21 (lack of food, clothing, and emotional/physical love). When the Pharisees asked the question regarding Deuteronomy 24, they were trying to determine if Jesus sided with Hillel (with whom the Pharisees sided) or with Shammai. The Pharisees believed that Deut. 24’s “when he’s found some indecency in her” could be interpreted “when he’s found anything at all wrong with her” while those who sided with Shammai believed that it should be interpreted as “when he’s found that she’s committed adultery.” Jesus sided with Shammai, meaning that Deut. 24 didn’t support “any matter” divorces. So, when the Pharisees asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife “for any reason at all,” they wanted to know if a man could divorce his wife for any old frivolous reason at all. They all (including Jesus) knew additional grounds for divorce were found in Ex. 21—that wasn’t in question. The “any old frivolous reason at all” was in question. Had Jesus disagreed with the essentially unanimous understanding of Ex. 21, wouldn’t He have taught on His radical departure from the Jewish norm? Instead, He only addresses the “any matter” divorce issue.

Have you heard this argument before? If so, what’s your take?


It tells us, "Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning" (Matt. 19:8).

Jesus never 'changed the rules', He fulfill the Law "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:18,19).

If you look at the beattitudes they are extentions of the Law, as in they go above an beyond what people were told to do under the Law. It is key to understand that the freedom from the Law we have through the grace of Christ in no way means that we are Lawless "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" (Romans 6:15), but instead Jesus demonstrated on the mount that our righteousness has to exceed that of the Law and even the traditions that were used to build a fence around the Law to ensure it wasn't broken "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20).

Of course this is only possible through Christ, but it demonstrates that the Law that was so unachieveable was insufficient, so all of Jesus' commandments, while fulfillments of the Law, superceded the Law by transcending (going beyond) the Law that was never sufficient to obtain righteousness…I’m a little confused by what you’ve written. If the Law was so unachievable in the first place, why raise the standards?


What the passage says is "If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him... But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so" (1 Cor. 7:12-15).

Since it was forbidden to marry an unbeliever in the first place, this likely refers to converts. When you become a Christian you are a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) so you're really not the same person as you were before, but you stay married for the sake of your children, and for the edification of the spouse (1 Cor. 7:14). But, just like in all other circumstances, sanctity is never forced on anyone so "if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so" (1 Cor. 7:15). To whom would you appeal it anyways since light has no fellowship with darkeness?

The big difference is, in the case of adultery, a Christian is allowed to get a divorce. In the case of a Christian being married to un unbeliever, if they want a divorces you don't stop them from getting it.

It's like the difference between being allowed to hit someone in self defense verses allowing someone to hit you as an insult and forgiving them. One is something you may be allowed to do, the other is and instruction of how to react to something that may be done to you.

So Jesus wasn't leaving anything out. You want a divorce? The only way to get it is if your spouse cheats on you. You're unbelieving spouse wants a divorce? That's a different story.Thanks. That makes sense!


They are now, but the philosophy of the church's function is very different now then it used to be.

We (in general) treat the church as a place for believers to go to get the gospel. This does not make sense. We are commanded to go into the world to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), not wait for it to come to us. The gathering together of other believers is for the strengthening and edification of the believers who are then dispatched into the world to make converts.

I don't think there has ever been a rule to keep unbeleivers out of such gatherings since Jesus' model was not to say anything in secret (John 18:20), but the primary function of the church was the fellowship and edification of believers.

I think what 1 Corinthians is demonstrating is that you don't have someone who is living in open, on-going, and unabashed sin participate in things as though they were living as they should... as though their lives were an appropriate model for Christianity in general (very different from the sins each of us commits every day as we stumble, humble ourselves and repent).

So, to cut them out of the church, I think from the context, meant to disqualify them as participating members of the church, religating them to the status (to say it crudely) of an unbeliever - to be reached through evangalism, instead of confronting them as though it can be assumed from their actins that they were a brother or sister in Christ.

We don't even need to assume whether or not someone is saved, since the Bible tells us how to react to those who profess not to be saved, and to treat those who live in open sin in the same way. We don't have to judge their spirit, but their actions demand for us to demonstrate to them that we are not permitted to assume they are saved, if they are falling prey to outward rebellion. Demonstrating that such is unacceptable is the only way to help them understand that they need to change to live in accordance to God's word.Very interesting. So, would it be inappropriate to ask a believer in ongoing sin (let’s say adultery, pre-marital sex or pursuit of divorce) to not come back to Church until he repents? Let’s say the Church is made up of 5,000 people and that we can assume many of them are probably not living as they should.


Because scripture doesn't say that she is an unbeliever, just that we should treat he like she is, because we can't assume from her live that she is necessarily a sister in Christ. She may be, but if she's not acting like it, we can't delve into her innermost being and descern her heart, nor would it do her any good if we could, found out that she was in fact saved, but stood idly by while she sinned.

We are responsible for making a stand within the community of believers on issues of doctrine and blatant and unrepented sin.

It doesn't mean that you loose your salvation over divorce, it's just how the body of Christians gauge their disciplinary reation…Yes, I see.


I'm starting to hate that animal. You'd never expect such an otherwise magnificent specimen of a predator to be so whiney. It's pathetic.

That being said, I still don't like to go near it. It cracks deer leg bones with such ease, all I can picture is my forearm in it's mouth if it decided to get playful.Yikes!


Scripture in a number of places demonstrates that sexual immorality is the act of lust "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:28).

So, while a divorce wouldn't be valid for a lustful look, since that's a sin between a man and God, I think acts that are committed out of lust with someone other than the spouse fall into the relm of marital unfaithfulness. I'm not 100% on when a kiss is sin (some people are just kiss-ier than others, and in the Bible men kissed each other, like Judas and Jesus, Paul's instruction to greet the brothers with a holy kiss, etc), or if pornography is qualifies, but you're definitly on shakey ground any time lust and action are working in concert.OK. Thanks for explaining.

Thank you for all the hard work you put into answering my questions! I appreciate that very much!

Ryan R
Apr 12th 2010, 04:45 PM
God mandated that a bill of divorcement be given, therefore that cannot be a sin, yet we know that God hates divorce. How's that? Divorce is the breaking of the covenant, the "bill of" is simply a record of it. I HIGHLY suggest Divorce and remarriage in the Bible: the social and literary context by Dr. David Instone-Brewer to all who are interested in this topic. I don't know of any biblical scholar who has spent more time studying this topic.

Thanks for the avatar compliment! I just ordered a video camera that attaches to my fire helmet so I hope to have some really good "inside the fire" pics and videos soon. I will share them as time and fires allow... :D

I just saw the video... bananas. Flaming bananas.

As for the certificate of divorce, I certainly agree it was not a sin, but it was part of the Law, so in light of what Jesus said and did I think the applicability of particulars of how it worked under the Law are questionable.

Thanks for the recommendation on the book! I may have to check that out, because I do find it an uncomfortable topic and I'd love to be proven wrong, but I'll present my reasons for being reluctant to accept that I am in the following response to LookingUp, just so I'm not writing it twice.

Ryan R
Apr 12th 2010, 05:31 PM
The reason I ask is because apparently the commonly held view among first century Jews regarding biblical grounds for divorce was found in Exodus 21 (lack of food, clothing, and emotional/physical love). When the Pharisees asked the question regarding Deuteronomy 24, they were trying to determine if Jesus sided with Hillel (with whom the Pharisees sided) or with Shammai. The Pharisees believed that Deut. 24’s “when he’s found some indecency in her” could be interpreted “when he’s found anything at all wrong with her” while those who sided with Shammai believed that it should be interpreted as “when he’s found that she’s committed adultery.” Jesus sided with Shammai, meaning that Deut. 24 didn’t support “any matter” divorces. So, when the Pharisees asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife “for any reason at all,” they wanted to know if a man could divorce his wife for any old frivolous reason at all. They all (including Jesus) knew additional grounds for divorce were found in Ex. 21—that wasn’t in question. The “any old frivolous reason at all” was in question. Had Jesus disagreed with the essentially unanimous understanding of Ex. 21, wouldn’t He have taught on His radical departure from the Jewish norm? Instead, He only addresses the “any matter” divorce issue.

Have you heard this argument before? If so, what’s your take?

It’s certainly a valid perspective, but I’m reluctant to accept it simply because of Jesus’ words and His example.

Regarding His words, the teachers of the Law specified a certificate of divorce, and I think it is clear that Jesus is addressing that when He responds “Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matt. 19:7-9).

See, the Pharisees specifically asked about the “certificate of divorce”, and Jesus replied that while divorce was permitted under the law, it wasn’t supposed to be this way, and is only acceptable for marital unfaithfulness.

As far as Christ’s model to us, the relationship between a husband and wife is likened to the relationship between Christ and the church. We are called the “Bride of Christ” and referred to accordingly throughout scripture, such as: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him (2 Cor. 11:2)

And in our marriages we're commanded to model this relationship in our devotion to one another: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy” (Ephesians 5:25-27), and “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).

If we’re allowing certificates of divorce for falling short of out duties to one another, then everyone is entitled to a divorce, because none of us fulfill our martial obligations of love and devotion like we ought. But the example we have in Jesus is to commit ourselves, patiently, lovingly, steadfastly, forgivingly, serving each other for each other’s benefit.

Christ never walked out on the Church for failing to hold up its end, and we are incapable of leaving Christ now that we are new creatures in Him, as we see in 1 John chapter 3:

“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him... This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers... And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

It seems out of keeping both with His specific words in His address to the Pharisees specific question, as well as the model we have of servitude to one another, to assume that the covenant can still be broken as it could under the Law. We live by a higher standard now.


I’m a little confused by what you’ve written. If the Law was so unachievable in the first place, why raise the standards?

“Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matt. 19:25-26).

The Law was to demonstrate that righteousness cannot be achieved by man’s efforts, providing a figure that sanctification therefore had to come as gift from God. The Law was just a figure of the grace to come, but it was unachievable by man, and since it was kept by man’s efforts and was impossible to fulfill, it outlines how much more impossible it would be to achieve anything beyond the Law, but with God all things are possible.

The books of Romans and Hebrews outline this particularly well. Here is just one example from Romans chapter 8:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”


Very interesting. So, would it be inappropriate to ask a believer in ongoing sin (let’s say adultery, pre-marital sex or pursuit of divorce) to not come back to Church until he repents? Let’s say the Church is made up of 5,000 people and that we can assume many of them are probably not living as they should.

As others have pointed out here, why single out the divorcées? In a church of 5,000, it is unlikely that the gossips, greedy, idolaters, etc. are going to be weeded out of the community as we see in Scripture, so why persecute those who are in need of support most? Especially since it can be very difficult to know the context of a situation in another person’s life in a group that large (e.g. did their spouse leave them, were they divorced before they were saved, did their spouse commit fornication, etc.), and even if the person claims to be saved or not. Without a personal relationship with the person it may be impossible to know any of this, so who has the knowledge to enforce any discipline?

Also, if the church is made up of 5,000 people, can it even pretend to be geared towards providing solid food for the strengthening and accountability of the brethren, or is it geared to find seekers?

I would argue the latter approach is and ineffective and flawed, but if it is the approach that has been elected by the congregation/denomination/decision-makers (as would be the case, I’m guessing, based on the attendance) then singling someone out for expulsion makes no scriptural sense.

In small groups that meet to study the Bible and encourage each other in Christ, in my interpretation that would be the place to exercise more discretion as to whom you call a brother or sister and allow them to participate, make decisions, give direction, teach, and commune with. It would also better afford the opportunity of approaching an individual, finding out the context of what has happened to them and then approaching them in a gentile and Biblical way, to give them the opportunity to repent, if appropriate.


Thank you for all the hard work you put into answering my questions! I appreciate that very much!

My pleasure.

LookingUp
Apr 13th 2010, 08:58 PM
It’s certainly a valid perspective, but I’m reluctant to accept it simply because of Jesus’ words and His example.

Regarding His words, the teachers of the Law specified a certificate of divorce, and I think it is clear that Jesus is addressing that when He responds “Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matt. 19:7-9).

See, the Pharisees specifically asked about the “certificate of divorce”, and Jesus replied that while divorce was permitted under the law, it wasn’t supposed to be this way, and is only acceptable for marital unfaithfulness.As our Lord taught, it was not that way from the beginning. God intended (& still intends) marriage to be for a lifetime. But as we see in Ex. 21, God made provisions for a slave wife who was not given at least the basic necessities of food, clothing, and conjugal rights. God’s character doesn’t change. Our Lord’s compassion remains the same for those who are mistreated.

When the Pharisees (who side with the liberal “you can divorce your wife for any ol’ reason” view) questioned Jesus to see who He sided with, their intentions were selfish. They liked their easy out. This entire line of questioning had nothing to do with the mistreatment of wives as found in Ex. 21. At first, Jesus doesn’t answer their specific question of which camp had the correct interpretation of Deut. 24. Instead, He redirects their attention to what God always intended from the beginning – marriage is for a lifetime. Unfortunately, God was working with flawed human beings and allowed them to divorce because they refused to forgive their wives (hardness of hearts). Then Jesus gets back to answering their original question, which is that it is not lawful to divorce your wife for “any reason at all” and if you do so, you commit adultery and make her do so as well. The presupposed view of Ex. 21 was never in question. It wasn’t even related to the Pharisees line of questioning.


As far as Christ’s model to us, the relationship between a husband and wife is likened to the relationship between Christ and the church. We are called the “Bride of Christ” and referred to accordingly throughout scripture, such as: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him (2 Cor. 11:2)

And in our marriages we're commanded to model this relationship in our devotion to one another: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy” (Ephesians 5:25-27), and “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).

If we’re allowing certificates of divorce for falling short of out duties to one another, then everyone is entitled to a divorce, because none of us fulfill our martial obligations of love and devotion like we ought. But the example we have in Jesus is to commit ourselves, patiently, lovingly, steadfastly, forgivingly, serving each other for each other’s benefit.I don’t think the provision was for lack of fulfilling marital obligations like we ought. It was about serious neglect and mistreatment. It was in order to protect the wife who had no rights.


Christ never walked out on the Church for failing to hold up its end, and we are incapable of leaving Christ now that we are new creatures in Him, as we see in 1 John chapter 3:

“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him... This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers... And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

It seems out of keeping both with His specific words in His address to the Pharisees specific question, as well as the model we have of servitude to one another, to assume that the covenant can still be broken as it could under the Law. We live by a higher standard now.I agree we are to live by a higher standard and forgive our spouses and reconcile, even in cases of adultery. But if God’s compassion is changeless, His provision for seriously neglected and mistreated spouses remains the same. In those cases, it’s not about forgiveness, it’s about protection and making right what was wrong. In Ex. 21, God felt it appropriate to liberate the slave wife from such a marital situation in order to protect the weaker partner. He did not require her to live the rest of her days without a spouse, because the first chose to sin against her without repentance.

Ryan R
Apr 15th 2010, 05:12 PM
Hi Looking up, I disagree.


As our Lord taught, it was not that way from the beginning. God intended (& still intends) marriage to be for a lifetime. But as we see in Ex. 21, God made provisions for a slave wife who was not given at least the basic necessities of food, clothing, and conjugal rights. God’s character doesn’t change. Our Lord’s compassion remains the same for those who are mistreated.

When the Pharisees (who side with the liberal “you can divorce your wife for any ol’ reason” view) questioned Jesus to see who He sided with, their intentions were selfish. They liked their easy out. This entire line of questioning had nothing to do with the mistreatment of wives as found in Ex. 21. At first, Jesus doesn’t answer their specific question of which camp had the correct interpretation of Deut. 24. Instead, He redirects their attention to what God always intended from the beginning – marriage is for a lifetime. Unfortunately, God was working with flawed human beings and allowed them to divorce because they refused to forgive their wives (hardness of hearts). Then Jesus gets back to answering their original question, which is that it is not lawful to divorce your wife for “any reason at all” and if you do so, you commit adultery and make her do so as well. The presupposed view of Ex. 21 was never in question. It wasn’t even related to the Pharisees line of questioning.

While I agree that the OT demonstrates God's character, and that character doesn't change, our role does under the New Testament. Jesus didn't say anything about the OT Law, and therefore we have no reason to assume that He was allowing for anything that was written in Exodus.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law, and just as is demonstrated on the sermon on the mount in Matthew and the example of Jesus as the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek as outlined in Hebrews, we see that the Covenant of salvation through faith in grace does not appeal to the Law, but instead fulfills it, and establishes commandments that transcend the Law, in a restoration to God’s will as demonstrated before the Law.

Our commandments come now from Jesus in the New Covenant of grace and not from the Law which, although it was spiritual, was a Covenant of slavery to that which is carnal (Romans 7:14). Jesus’ answer on divorce referred to how things were from the beginning, predating the Law, and then made this exclusive statement, "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery" (Matt. 5:32). I don’t see how it deals with Exodus at all, except in a capacity of fulfilling the Old with a new, exclusive commandment.

As new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) we have died to our old selves so that it's not we who live but Christ in us (Gal. 2:20), and this is how we obey the much greater commandments under the Law of faith in grace, instead of the Law of Moses, as seen in Romans. So, if it's Christ who lives in us, we know that He served even at the expense of His life. We are charged to serve even to that same extent, if necessary.

Jesus asked "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42), but it was still God's will that He go to the cross, and this 'cup' is one from which we all drink, "But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able" (Matt. 20:22).

"He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 10:39).

As I said in a previous post, people are entitle to protection, and the church needs to be stepping up and fulfilling the needs of the congregation (Acts 4:35), but our lives are not our own and we have rewards in heaven for suffering persecution while remaining obedient.

God's compassion is demonstrated to us here daily, but now that Jesus has fulfilled the Law, God has given us compassion so far above and beyond the compassion of the Law that we can't hold the Law up anymore as a standard for our well-being. We're bought and paid for, halleluiah! And if we're walking as we should, then it's our pleasure to endure hardship here Him.

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:1-6).


I don’t think the provision was for lack of fulfilling marital obligations like we ought. It was about serious neglect and mistreatment. It was in order to protect the wife who had no rights.

But the point is that we make a covenant to "love, honour and obey... as long as you both shall live", so any time someone demonstrably lapses there, technically they'd have grounds for divorce, if the precedent is set. That was clearly not, however, what Jesus was saying, but it is an inevitable conclusion if the allowance is made.


I agree we are to live by a higher standard and forgive our spouses and reconcile, even in cases of adultery. But if God’s compassion is changeless, His provision for seriously neglected and mistreated spouses remains the same. In those cases, it’s not about forgiveness, it’s about protection and making right what was wrong. In Ex. 21, God felt it appropriate to liberate the slave wife from such a marital situation in order to protect the weaker partner. He did not require her to live the rest of her days without a spouse, because the first chose to sin against her without repentance.

But, again, that was under the Law, and God has made a much greater provision for us under the covenant of grace, like it was in the beginning.

LookingUp
Apr 16th 2010, 04:31 AM
Hi Looking up, I disagree.

While I agree that the OT demonstrates God's character, and that character doesn't change, our role does under the New Testament. Jesus didn't say anything about the OT Law, and therefore we have no reason to assume that He was allowing for anything that was written in Exodus.We have no reason to assume Jesus was allowing for anything that was written in Exodus? He is the author of Exodus. It’s His law. And, no, Jesus never spoke for or against Exodus 21, but as a man, He was currently living under the OT law just as all His listeners were. I’m not saying the Body of Christ is supposed to live under the OT law like the men of Israel were to do, I’m saying we must consider who His audience was and how they would have understood His teaching. The cornerstone of their biblical doctrine on divorce was based on Exodus 21:7-11. It was assumed and not even in question during this line of questioning of the Pharisees.

Jesus may have been telling them something new as far as they were concerned (i.e. anger is sin, lust is sin, divorce for frivolous reasons is sin), but that doesn’t mean that men in the past who were angry with their brother without just cause were not in sin or men who lusted in their hearts were not in sin (did those things all of the sudden become sin after the cross?). He was pointing out to these Pharisees that they were and always had been in sin when it came to this issue (& the other issues He spoke on)—they weren’t as righteous as they thought they were. Lust didn't all of the sudden become sin in the first century. These Pharisees who twisted the law in their favor may have thought that as long as they never acted on these thoughts they were safe, but Jesus tells them otherwise. The Pharisees and all men of the past had always been in sin when they lusted and they had always been in sin when they divorced their wives without just cause. What God sees as sin doesn’t change with time.

The law in Deut. 24 didn’t define what a just divorce looked liked, it defined what was unacceptable after the divorce (whether just or unjust) had already taken place. Was it right to divorce your wife without just cause? Of course not. But for those who had divorced their wives, God made a law saying that the husband could not remarry his divorced wife. This didn’t mean God approved of the reasons these men were divorcing their wives. Was it just to treat your first wife poorly because you took a second wife? Of course not. But God made provision for wives who were neglected (Ex. 21). That doesn’t mean God approved of the behavior of these men.

Again, I’m not saying the Body is supposed to read up on the law of Moses and live by it to the letter of the law like Israel was asked to do. But surely we are to read up on the law of Moses and live by the spirit of the law, because God’s heart doesn’t change with time. Specific laws were for specific times (i.e. laws for Israel to live by). But the heart behind the law remains eternally true.


Jesus came to fulfill the Law, and just as is demonstrated on the sermon on the mount in Matthew and the example of Jesus as the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek as outlined in Hebrews, we see that the Covenant of salvation through faith in grace does not appeal to the Law, but instead fulfills it, and establishes commandments that transcend the Law, in a restoration to God’s will as demonstrated before the Law.

Our commandments come now from Jesus in the New Covenant of grace and not from the Law which, although it was spiritual, was a Covenant of slavery to that which is carnal (Romans 7:14). Jesus’ answer on divorce referred to how things were from the beginning, predating the Law, and then made this exclusive statement, "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery" (Matt. 5:32). I don’t see how it deals with Exodus at all, except in a capacity of fulfilling the Old with a new, exclusive commandment.The line of questioning by the Pharisees doesn’t deal with Exodus at all. Their line of questioning is regarding if it’s OK (lawful) for these Jewish men to continue on divorcing their wives for any cause whatsoever. This has nothing to do with the rights of women—that wives are allowed to leave their husbands who neglect them (withhold basic necessities of food, clothing and conjugal rights). This doesn’t even come into play during this discussion. Jesus tells them that if these men continue divorcing their wives for frivolous reasons, they will be committing adultery. I’m sure this would go for wives too—they shouldn’t divorce their husbands for frivolous reasons—but the Jewish wives were not the ones who were frivolously divorcing in this culture.


As new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) we have died to our old selves so that it's not we who live but Christ in us (Gal. 2:20), and this is how we obey the much greater commandments under the Law of faith in grace, instead of the Law of Moses, as seen in Romans. So, if it's Christ who lives in us, we know that He served even at the expense of His life. We are charged to serve even to that same extent, if necessary.

Jesus asked "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42), but it was still God's will that He go to the cross, and this 'cup' is one from which we all drink, "But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able" (Matt. 20:22).

"He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 10:39).

As I said in a previous post, people are entitle to protection, and the church needs to be stepping up and fulfilling the needs of the congregation (Acts 4:35), but our lives are not our own and we have rewards in heaven for suffering persecution while remaining obedient.

God's compassion is demonstrated to us here daily, but now that Jesus has fulfilled the Law, God has given us compassion so far above and beyond the compassion of the Law that we can't hold the Law up anymore as a standard for our well-being. We're bought and paid for, halleluiah! And if we're walking as we should, then it's our pleasure to endure hardship here Him…I don’t believe God had lower expectations of OT saints than He has of us. OT saints endured just as much hardship for God’s sake. They lived in faith and love just as much as we do today. They forgave their adulterous spouses. They died for their faith. They, just as we can if we choose, remained with neglectful and abusive spouses.

We are to live more righteously than the Pharisees who thought that as long as they didn’t act out their anger with murder and act on their lust with adultery, they were without sin. They thought themselves sinless when they divorced their wives for frivolous reasons, because they twisted the words of Moses to mean that he (& God) “commanded” them to divorce their wives. God did no such thing (as we learn from Jesus); He permitted them to do so because of their unforgiving, hard hearts. Most likely, this was permitted so these hard-hearted men would no longer be in a position to neglect their wives (& even possibly abuse them). After all, wives had to be protected from these men of Israel in the wilderness who after taking a second wife would neglect their first wife of her most basic needs (Ex. 21).


But the point is that we make a covenant to "love, honour and obey... as long as you both shall live", so any time someone demonstrably lapses there, technically they'd have grounds for divorce, if the precedent is set. That was clearly not, however, what Jesus was saying, but it is an inevitable conclusion if the allowance is made.If you’re speaking of Ex. 21, grounds for divorce was for the wife who was being mistreated and having her most basic needs withheld by an heartless husband who decided to put his love and affection into his second wife and leave the first without.

Jesus was specifically speaking to a group of Jewish men who had twisted the law of Moses in order to go on thinking they were sinless. Jesus simply sets them straight and tells them that what they had been doing for all this time was unlawful and that if these hard-hearted men continued to divorce their innocent wives, it was now made clear that they would be committing adultery, unless the wife had already committed adultery.

I’m not saying this wouldn’t be true for wives then or today. I’m saying that wives were not in question here. I’m sure God feels the same about both husbands and wives—if you divorce your spouse for frivolous reasons, you are ultimately committing adultery. But Jesus never said something like, “Oh and by the way, men of Israel, for those husbands who are being mistreated, neglected and even abused by their wives who do not provide food, clothing and conjugal rights, you too have a right to leave your wife.” This was not even in view at the time of this questioning.


But, again, that was under the Law, and God has made a much greater provision for us under the covenant of grace, like it was in the beginning.What do you mean “like it was in the beginning”? The only time Jesus points these guys back to the beginning was to show them that God never intended for people to separate after they had joined themselves. This was never His intentions, but He specifically made provision for separation in certain circumstances (Ex. 21).

Again, I don’t believe God had lower standards for OT saints than He has for us. All of God’s people were to and are to live by higher standards. Jesus told the Pharisees (who were currently under the law) that they were sinning when they divorced their wives for frivolous reasons. He didn’t tell them that once He rose from the dead and initiated the New Covenant that they’d be sinning. He gave them this teaching during the time the lived under the law of the OT. It applied to them that day and it applies to us today. They had been sinning. If they continued to have anger, lust, etc., they would still be sinning (just as they previously were).

You seem to think that because we live under the NT covenant that somehow God feels differently about those who are neglected and abused by their spouses. Why would His compassion for the weak and abused change with the covenant? It is the spirit of the law (and the heart of God) we should consider when we read His Word. When we read the letter of the law—“a wife can leave her husband when he withholds her food, clothing, and conjugal rights”—we need to understand the heart of the matter. What was the intent? I’m not saying we need to apply every detail (as in following the letter of the law) of the OT law to our lives (to the lives of the Body of Christ)—I’m saying we need to see God’s heart in the letter of the law, in other words the spirit of the law. And we need to live by it.

No, Jesus never spoke against the fact that God’s desire was to protect a first wife from a neglectful husband who took a second wife. So, we should assume that since Jesus asks us to be self-sacrificing in our walk with God that now, all of the sudden, it’s a sin to leave a marriage where we are neglected and/or abused?

God’s intent for marriage has always been the same—it’s meant to be for a lifetime. God asks all of His people to live by higher standards and forgive and reconcile whenever possible (if one spouse will not, it’s impossible). God never asked a wife (or husband) to remain in an unhealthy, abusive marriage. To leave a destructive marriage is not frivolous.

Ryan R
Apr 19th 2010, 06:56 PM
Hi LookingUp,

Sorry about the wait on this last reply... I've been swamped.


We have no reason to assume Jesus was allowing for anything that was written in Exodus? He is the author of Exodus. It’s His law.

Of course, but He doesn’t contradict Himself, and yet the Law of Moses contradicts the Laws of faith, as outlined in Romans and Hebrews, so we can see that He fulfilled the Law when He died on the cross and now we live by the law of faith (Romans 3:27), and not by the Law of Moses.

When Jesus spoke, His reference to the Law was in fulfillment, not in precedent, and therefore His exact words are more important in establishing the context of our commandments than a contextual comparison that contradicts His exact words from the Law of Moses.


And, no, Jesus never spoke for or against Exodus 21, but as a man, He was currently living under the OT law just as all His listeners were.

That is true. Even the Pharisees couldn’t find a valid charge against him under the Law.


I’m not saying the Body of Christ is supposed to live under the OT law like the men of Israel were to do, I’m saying we must consider who His audience was and how they would have understood His teaching.

I agree with you, but what He spoke to His audience was an acknowledgement of the audience’s understanding that the Law allowed for divorce, followed by a positive statement commanding that overrides the previous, stated understanding that the Law made such allowances.

The Pharisees may have been focusing on the frivolous, but just like when Peter tried to impress Jesus by suggesting he forgive someone of their offenses seven times, instead of the traditional three, and Jesus told him to forgive seventy-times seven, by specifically noting that “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts...” Jesus addressed the immediate question and the context under the Law, but also demonstrated that the issue is larger than the audience assumed, and set the commandment where it actually belongs, both before explaining that Moses permitted divorce because their hearts were hard, here: “... the two will become one flesh' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate but it was not what God had originally intended” (verse 4,5) as well as after, here: “... But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (verse 8).


The cornerstone of their biblical doctrine on divorce was based on Exodus 21:7-11. It was assumed and not even in question during this line of questioning of the Pharisees.

Maybe not by the Pharisees at the beginning of the questioning, but it was well understood by the audience that Jesus’ commandment transcended the Law in Exodus and was a newly established commandment, as demonstrated by the disciples’ reaction, “The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry" (Matt. 19: 10).

If it were well understood by the immediate audience that Jesus was allowing Exodus 21:7-11 to stand in addition to His commandment in Matthew 19, then why would it be such a marvel as to inspire the comment “it is better not to marry”? The Law wasn’t so hard to uphold. Where the disciples so eager to neglect, abuse or otherwise mistreat their spouses that it just wasn’t worth it to have a relationship, a partner, and sexual intercourse, if they had to simply live up to the Law as outlined in Exodus?

I can’t see that this is the case.


Jesus may have been telling them something new as far as they were concerned (i.e. anger is sin, lust is sin, divorce for frivolous reasons is sin), but that doesn’t mean that men in the past who were angry with their brother without just cause were not in sin or men who lusted in their hearts were not in sin (did those things all of the sudden become sin after the cross?). He was pointing out to these Pharisees that they were and always had been in sin when it came to this issue (& the other issues He spoke on)—they weren’t as righteous as they thought they were. Lust didn't all of the sudden become sin in the first century. These Pharisees who twisted the law in their favor may have thought that as long as they never acted on these thoughts they were safe, but Jesus tells them otherwise. The Pharisees and all men of the past had always been in sin when they lusted and they had always been in sin when they divorced their wives without just cause. What God sees as sin doesn’t change with time.

That is true, but there is a different set of accountability base on dispensations, and Jesus was clearly addressing the Law as given under Moses and amending it. The sermon on the mount is different from the Law. Jesus did teach people New and stricter commandments to observe, and relieved the observance from the commandments of the Law. Fulfillment did change things a lot.


The law in Deut. 24 didn’t define what a just divorce looked liked, it defined what was unacceptable after the divorce (whether just or unjust) had already taken place. Was it right to divorce your wife without just cause? Of course not. But for those who had divorced their wives, God made a law saying that the husband could not remarry his divorced wife. This didn’t mean God approved of the reasons these men were divorcing their wives. Was it just to treat your first wife poorly because you took a second wife? Of course not. But God made provision for wives who were neglected (Ex. 21). That doesn’t mean God approved of the behavior of these men.

And that’s all fine, but that’s under the Law. God is no longer using His nation to model His will to the world, and the covenant has changed. We have different marching orders, and although we can see elements of His character that don’t change from what you’ve described above, we still can override what He has outlined directly in the New Covenant from what we can glean from His motives within the Old Covenant. He doesn’t change, but He has a plan and we are now in a different part of it than they were back then.


Again, I’m not saying the Body is supposed to read up on the law of Moses and live by it to the letter of the law like Israel was asked to do. But surely we are to read up on the law of Moses and live by the spirit of the law, because God’s heart doesn’t change with time.

Yes, absolutely, but not at the expense of direct commandments under the New Covenant.


Specific laws were for specific times (i.e. laws for Israel to live by). But the heart behind the law remains eternally true.

True, but Jesus explains the heart behind the law, and behind the new commandment, and still makes it clear (in my opinion) that divorce is off the table, except for marital unfaithfulness.


The line of questioning by the Pharisees doesn’t deal with Exodus at all. Their line of questioning is regarding if it’s OK (lawful) for these Jewish men to continue on divorcing their wives for any cause whatsoever.

But Jesus brings it back to what was actually outlined in the Law when He said “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts”, so whatever they were trying to mean, Jesus put it in the proper context of scripture.


This has nothing to do with the rights of women—that wives are allowed to leave their husbands who neglect them (withhold basic necessities of food, clothing and conjugal rights). This doesn’t even come into play during this discussion. Jesus tells them that if these men continue divorcing their wives for frivolous reasons, they will be committing adultery.

Except that really isn’t what He said. He specified that divorce was permitted “only as a concession to your hard hearts”, and that is an inclusive statement. He talked about how those who are married are joined by God and man can’t separate them, and He said divorce is only permitted for marital unfaithfulness. He addressed it from every angle, as far as I can see, and I don’t see any wiggle room.

But again, I think there is a difference between a wife who divorces her husband and a wife who flees from he husband, and the church (each of us) is responsible for taking care of such people in need.

Ryan R
Apr 19th 2010, 06:57 PM
I don’t believe God had lower expectations of OT saints than He has of us. OT saints endured just as much hardship for God’s sake. They lived in faith and love just as much as we do today. They forgave their adulterous spouses. They died for their faith.

Then why a New Testament? If nothing has changed, then why didn’t Jesus simply tell us that He was coming to fulfill the figures set out under the Law, but that nothing is actually changing?

Things did change with Jesus’ death, and the fulfillment of the Law. We know that we are not subject to the law, we know we are the ones crucified because the lives we live now are in Christ, and we know we have the fixed in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. These things don’t change God’s heart, but they do reflect on how we act and react, as per the commandments Jesus delivered that transcended the Law.


They, just as we can if we choose, remained with neglectful and abusive spouses.

I wasn’t suggesting they couldn’t, but under the Law was a different Covenant, a different part of the plan, and a different specified set of instructions.


We are to live more righteously than the Pharisees who thought that as long as they didn’t act out their anger with murder and act on their lust with adultery, they were without sin. They thought themselves sinless when they divorced their wives for frivolous reasons, because they twisted the words of Moses to mean that he (& God) “commanded” them to divorce their wives.

But that’s not what Jesus tells us He was addressing. He didn’t say that they were twisting Moses’ words, He said that under Moses divorce was permitted, but it wasn’t that way in the beginning, nor would it be that way going forward.


God did no such thing (as we learn from Jesus); He permitted them to do so because of their unforgiving, hard hearts.

Which is and entirely different area of focus than the one that keeps getting presented here. This is what Jesus was addressing, not the frivolous divorces only.


Most likely, this was permitted so these hard-hearted men would no longer be in a position to neglect their wives (& even possibly abuse them). After all, wives had to be protected from these men of Israel in the wilderness who after taking a second wife would neglect their first wife of her most basic needs (Ex. 21).

If you’re speaking of Ex. 21, grounds for divorce was for the wife who was being mistreated and having her most basic needs withheld by an heartless husband who decided to put his love and affection into his second wife and leave the first without. [/quote]

Maybe so, but it doesn’t change the specificity of Jesus’ response.


Jesus was specifically speaking to a group of Jewish men who had twisted the law of Moses in order to go on thinking they were sinless. Jesus simply sets them straight and tells them that what they had been doing for all this time was unlawful and that if these hard-hearted men continued to divorce their innocent wives, it was now made clear that they would be committing adultery, unless the wife had already committed adultery.

But again, Jesus wasn’t addressing the frivolous reasons only. He spoke in fulfillment of the Law, and this was clearly understood by the reaction of His disciples.


I’m not saying this wouldn’t be true for wives then or today. I’m saying that wives were not in question here. I’m sure God feels the same about both husbands and wives—if you divorce your spouse for frivolous reasons, you are ultimately committing adultery. But Jesus never said something like, “Oh and by the way, men of Israel, for those husbands who are being mistreated, neglected and even abused by their wives who do not provide food, clothing and conjugal rights, you too have a right to leave your wife.” This was not even in view at the time of this questioning.

It is clear from the fact that He specified that they would become one flesh that God had joined, so it is specified, unlike that assumption that the Law as specified in Exodus still had rule over the exact words that Jesus used.

The thing that’s getting missed here is that marital unfaithfulness is one way to break the covenant. That’s all it is - a breech of contract that allows for the divorce. So, in having bothered specified the one, it is clear that Jesus was excluding others, otherwise He would have just said that people can’t get divorced, and then everyone could assume that Exodus stipulated the exceptions.

It is that Jesus specified the exception, and only the one, that demonstrates that it is the sole exception.


What do you mean “like it was in the beginning”? The only time Jesus points these guys back to the beginning was to show them that God never intended for people to separate after they had joined themselves. This was never His intentions, but He specifically made provision for separation in certain circumstances (Ex. 21).

It’s not what I mean, but what Jesus means “But it was not this way from the beginning” (Matt. 19:8), which is clearly a reference to Genesis, predating the provision for separation in certain circumstances, and establishing the provision as it was from the beginning, before the Law, and how it is to be carried out under the Law of faith.


Again, I don’t believe God had lower standards for OT saints than He has for us. All of God’s people were to and are to live by higher standards. Jesus told the Pharisees (who were currently under the law) that they were sinning when they divorced their wives for frivolous reasons. He didn’t tell them that once He rose from the dead and initiated the New Covenant that they’d be sinning. He gave them this teaching during the time the lived under the law of the OT.

Again, Jesus said many things (again the sermon on the mount is the most comprehensive example that springs to my mind) that transcended the Law, and in preparation for the delivery from the death that is in the Law (as per Romans).


It applied to them that day and it applies to us today. They had been sinning. If they continued to have anger, lust, etc., they would still be sinning (just as they previously were).

If that were strictly true, then we could conclude that anything and everything specified under the Law is still in effect, but it isn’t, nor is the above conclusion supported by the text.


You seem to think that because we live under the NT covenant that somehow God feels differently about those who are neglected and abused by their spouses.

Not in the least, but how God feels, and how He’s commanded us to think, behave, and act are clearly different under the two covenants.


Why would His compassion for the weak and abused change with the covenant?

Because of the development of His plan for the universe. Again, what you are in essence asking here is why we have two covenants at all, and further, why did the Law come in after the Covenant with Abraham, or the one preceding that with Noah, and what about the lawlessness before Noah? Why didn’t they have the same covenant with the same instructions as we do? God’s seeing something through, which is part of a much larger conversation, but it simply isn’t accurate to assert that we’re supposed to behave in the same way we did under the Law.


It is the spirit of the law (and the heart of God) we should consider when we read His Word. When we read the letter of the law—“a wife can leave her husband when he withholds her food, clothing, and conjugal rights”—we need to understand the heart of the matter. What was the intent? I’m not saying we need to apply every detail (as in following the letter of the law) of the OT law to our lives (to the lives of the Body of Christ)—I’m saying we need to see God’s heart in the letter of the law, in other words the spirit of the law. And we need to live by it.

I’m not unfamiliar with the concept of the spirit of the Law, but in the face of a direct commandment, one could just as easily justify any sin as find ‘the spirit’. Sure, we’re not supposed to deny Jesus under persecution, but if I just pay token lip service to this idol then the government won’t kill me and I can live to evangelize another day!

It sounds good to us, but it is against what we’re told to do.


No, Jesus never spoke against the fact that God’s desire was to protect a first wife from a neglectful husband who took a second wife. So, we should assume that since Jesus asks us to be self-sacrificing in our walk with God that now, all of the sudden, it’s a sin to leave a marriage where we are neglected and/or abused?

No, we should be steering away from assumptions and towards following what the word tells us to, first by looking at the verse in it’s own context, then by taking in context of the text as a whole, and then by analyzing any supportive (historical) sources to see if they illuminate any details of phrasing, and from that I stand by my interpretation.


God’s intent for marriage has always been the same—it’s meant to be for a lifetime. God asks all of His people to live by higher standards and forgive and reconcile whenever possible (if one spouse will not, it’s impossible). God never asked a wife (or husband) to remain in an unhealthy, abusive marriage. To leave a destructive marriage is not frivolous.

I think this passage serves to demonstrate the contrary.

Sorry.

LookingUp
Apr 28th 2010, 04:32 AM
Hi LookingUp,

Sorry about the wait on this last reply... I've been swamped.That’s okay. I, too, have been very busy and can’t seem to keep up with the board lately.


Of course, but He doesn’t contradict Himself, and yet the Law of Moses contradicts the Laws of faith, as outlined in Romans and Hebrews, so we can see that He fulfilled the Law when He died on the cross and now we live by the law of faith (Romans 3:27), and not by the Law of Moses.Honestly, I don’t get when people say that living by God’s Law (moral law-not Jewish set of laws for their particular nation at a particular time) contradicts the Law of faith. Living by faith fulfills God’s entire moral law, it doesn’t contradict it. The heart of the letter of the law can be found throughout the OT. Like I said before, I’m not suggesting we live by the letter of the law in that we copy the rules and regulations of the nation of Israel. I’m suggesting we live by the spirit of the law, which won’t contradict the words of Jesus.


When Jesus spoke, His reference to the Law was in fulfillment, not in precedent, and therefore His exact words are more important in establishing the context of our commandments than a contextual comparison that contradicts His exact words from the Law of Moses.I’m not following everything you are saying here, but I will try to respond to it. I’m not saying we should ignore our Lord’s exact words. I’m saying we should attempt to understand what His original audience would have understood His exact words to mean. The disciples were accustomed to an easy-divorcism ethic. Our Lord tells them that those who continue to live this way are as good as adulterers.

I think what you’re saying is that since Jesus told them that marriage was always meant to be for a lifetime, that now that means divorce is never lawful unless adultery has taken place. But Jesus wasn’t speaking in the context of divorcing due to abuse and neglect; He was speaking in the context of divorcing for frivolous reasons. Besides, right after He said that divorce should be for a lifetime (i.e. “no man should separate it”), He gives them permission to separate it! Obviously, there are exceptions to the “no man should separate it.” So, our Lord’s point was not that no man should absolutely never ever separate a marriage; His point was that these frivolous divorces were unlawful.


That is true. Even the Pharisees couldn’t find a valid charge against him under the Law.

I agree with you, but what He spoke to His audience was an acknowledgement of the audience’s understanding that the Law allowed for divorce, followed by a positive statement commanding that overrides the previous, stated understanding that the Law made such allowances.Jesus did not agree with their understanding of the law. They thought it was lawful to divorce your wife for any reason at all and He told them it was not lawful to divorce your wife for any reason at all.

The fact that wives could continue to lawfully divorce their husbands due to abuse and neglect per Ex. 21 doesn’t apply here. These men were not asking if they could divorce their wives who were abusing and neglecting them, because it was not women who were responsible for supplying the husband with food, clothing and the ability to give birth to children.

Our Lord’s entire dialogue with these guys was an attempt to get them to take a good look at their hearts. They wanted an easy way out of their marriages if they felt like it. They were used to it—it had become the norm of the day (& for the disciples too!).

Again, I’m not saying this wouldn’t apply to wives today. We all need to take a good look at our hearts before considering such a life-altering choice as divorce, and if we enter into divorce lightly, we very well could be considered an adulterer(ess) in God’s eyes. There is no question between us that divorce was and is lawful in cases of adultery. Therefore, there were, indeed, exceptions to Jesus’ words that no man should separate what God has joined together. We see by this that God made exceptions for man’s weakness. If these men could not forgive their cheating wives, they were free to divorce. Surely, if God makes provision for those who are unwilling to forgive an adulterer(ess) who repents (i.e. provision for a hard-hearted husband), God makes provision for those who are in a chaotic, abusive marriage. What you are suggesting is that it’s lawful to divorce someone who cheated on you, but it’s not lawful to divorce someone who beats you. This would mean that God has more mercy on an unforgiving spouse than on a spouse who can’t take the beatings any longer! Think about that.

In my view, God would like us to forgive any repentant adulterer(ess) and any repentant abuser. However, if the adulterer(ess) or abuser continues in the same fashion, a divorce is certainly not frivolous and would be considered lawful in God’s eyes. In some cases, the repentant adulterer(ess) or abuser repents and the spouse is unwilling to forgive. These cases are judged by God. It could be the hardness of one’s heart that causes one to be unforgiving or it could be real fear or genuine distrust. God will judge in such cases.


The Pharisees may have been focusing on the frivolous, but just like when Peter tried to impress Jesus by suggesting he forgive someone of their offenses seven times, instead of the traditional three, and Jesus told him to forgive seventy-times seven, by specifically noting that “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts...” Jesus addressed the immediate question and the context under the Law, but also demonstrated that the issue is larger than the audience assumed, and set the commandment where it actually belongs, both before explaining that Moses permitted divorce because their hearts were hard, here: “... the two will become one flesh' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate but it was not what God had originally intended” (verse 4,5) as well as after, here: “... But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (verse 8).Yes! Jesus expected them (& us) to forgive repentant spouses who had cheated. But the fact is, He still made exception for those who were unwilling (due to hardness in some cases) to forgive.


Maybe not by the Pharisees at the beginning of the questioning, but it was well understood by the audience that Jesus’ commandment transcended the Law in Exodus and was a newly established commandment, as demonstrated by the disciples’ reaction, “The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry" (Matt. 19: 10).

If it were well understood by the immediate audience that Jesus was allowing Exodus 21:7-11 to stand in addition to His commandment in Matthew 19, then why would it be such a marvel as to inspire the comment “it is better not to marry”? The Law wasn’t so hard to uphold. Where the disciples so eager to neglect, abuse or otherwise mistreat their spouses that it just wasn’t worth it to have a relationship, a partner, and sexual intercourse, if they had to simply live up to the Law as outlined in Exodus?

I can’t see that this is the case.I think the response of the disciples has to be taken within the context of their experience. If easy-divorcisim was the prevailing ethic and that’s what you’ve grown up with and all you’ve ever known, and then your revered Rabbi comes along and says, oh no you have to have a very good reason for divorcing your wife, it sounds quite severe and restrictive. We have to be able to place ourselves in the shoes of those living over 2,000 years ago to understand where they were coming from. It’s very difficult to do, but we must try so that we don’t end up becoming the very ones Jesus spoke out against – the legalistic Pharisees who thought that living the letter of the law without mercy made them righteous enough to enter the kingdom of God.


That is true, but there is a different set of accountability base on dispensations, and Jesus was clearly addressing the Law as given under Moses and amending it. The sermon on the mount is different from the Law. Jesus did teach people New and stricter commandments to observe, and relieved the observance from the commandments of the Law. Fulfillment did change things a lot.OK, so the NT Law is New and stricter than the old OT Law? Think about what you are saying. The dispensation of grace is stricter? The NT Law is stricter and more difficult to achieve than the OT Law? What are we becoming? Just like the Pharisees? If we don’t perform “XYZ” then we don’t make the cut! We are to give less grace and mercy now that the Dispensation of Grace has begun?!


And that’s all fine, but that’s under the Law. God is no longer using His nation to model His will to the world, and the covenant has changed. We have different marching orders, and although we can see elements of His character that don’t change from what you’ve described above, we still can override what He has outlined directly in the New Covenant from what we can glean from His motives within the Old Covenant. He doesn’t change, but He has a plan and we are now in a different part of it than they were back then.And the different part you speak of says to “stone” the abused wife who desires to leave (divorce) and embrace the adulteress who repents. Are we not to embrace both?


Yes, absolutely, but not at the expense of direct commandments under the New Covenant.Let me just cut and paste this. Me: “Again, I’m not saying the Body is supposed to read up on the law of Moses and live by it to the letter of the law like Israel was asked to do. But surely we are to read up on the law of Moses and live by the spirit of the law, because God’s heart doesn’t change with time.” You: “Yes, absolutely, but not at the expense of direct commandments under the New Covenant.” How can you say that the living by the Spirit of the Law is at the expense of the direct commandments under the New Covenant?


True, but Jesus explains the heart behind the law, and behind the new commandment, and still makes it clear (in my opinion) that divorce is off the table, except for marital unfaithfulnessJesus made it clear that divorce is off the table for frivolous reasons. Is divorce for adultery frivolous? How about divorce for abuse? Is that frivolous?


But Jesus brings it back to what was actually outlined in the Law when He said “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts”, so whatever they were trying to mean, Jesus put it in the proper context of scripture.Jesus brings it back to what was actually outlined in the Law? What was outlined in the Law? Should we abide by what was outlined in the Law? After all, Jesus brought it back to what was outlined in the Law.


Except that really isn’t what He said. He specified that divorce was permitted “only as a concession to your hard hearts”, and that is an inclusive statement.And it is still permitted as a concession to their hard hearts. What has changed?

LookingUp
Apr 28th 2010, 04:34 AM
Part 2

He talked about how those who are married are joined by God and man can’t separate them, and He said divorce is only permitted for marital unfaithfulness. He addressed it from every angle, as far as I can see, and I don’t see any wiggle room.

But again, I think there is a difference between a wife who divorces her husband and a wife who flees from he husband, and the church (each of us) is responsible for taking care of such people in need.

Then why a New Testament? If nothing has changed, then why didn’t Jesus simply tell us that He was coming to fulfill the figures set out under the Law, but that nothing is actually changing?

Things did change with Jesus’ death, and the fulfillment of the Law. We know that we are not subject to the law, we know we are the ones crucified because the lives we live now are in Christ, and we know we have the fixed in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. These things don’t change God’s heart, but they do reflect on how we act and react, as per the commandments Jesus delivered that transcended the Law.Things changed for the customs and regulations but not the moral law.


I wasn’t suggesting they couldn’t, but under the Law was a different Covenant, a different part of the plan, and a different specified set of instructions.

But that’s not what Jesus tells us He was addressing. He didn’t say that they were twisting Moses’ words, He said that under Moses divorce was permitted, but it wasn’t that way in the beginning, nor would it be that way going forward.Read it again. The Pharisees said “commanded” and Jesus corrected them by saying “permitted.” They did indeed twist the words of Moses to make themselves feel righteous (without sin) for divorcing their wives for any reason whatsoever.


Which is and entirely different area of focus than the one that keeps getting presented here. This is what Jesus was addressing, not the frivolous divorces only.The Pharisees believed they could divorce their wives for any reason whatsoever BECAUSE Moses “commanded” them to divorce their wives. But the truth of the matter was that Moses did NOT command anyone. He “permitted” the hard-hearted Jews in the wilderness to divorce their cheating wives because these guys could not rise to the higher standard that God calls His people to and they chose to harden their hearts and not forgive their cheating wives—even though God never intended for anyone to ever divorce their spouse (He wants them to FORGIVE and always FORGIVE their spouse—then and now.). But the reality then is the reality now, and God makes exceptions for the hard hearts of those who are unwilling to forgive their cheating spouse. Again, this has nothing to do with Ex. 21. In that case, a spouse is being neglected to the point of abandonment (emotional or physical) or to the point of direct physical or emotional abuse.


Maybe so, but it doesn’t change the specificity of Jesus’ response.

But again, Jesus wasn’t addressing the frivolous reasons only. He spoke in fulfillment of the Law, and this was clearly understood by the reaction of His disciples.

It is clear from the fact that He specified that they would become one flesh that God had joined, so it is specified, unlike that assumption that the Law as specified in Exodus still had rule over the exact words that Jesus used.

The thing that’s getting missed here is that marital unfaithfulness is one way to break the covenant. That’s all it is - a breech of contract that allows for the divorce. So, in having bothered specified the one, it is clear that Jesus was excluding others, otherwise He would have just said that people can’t get divorced, and then everyone could assume that Exodus stipulated the exceptions.

It is that Jesus specified the exception, and only the one, that demonstrates that it is the sole exception.If you feel comfortable using the “exact words” argument over mercy, then you must go where the Spirit leads you. Personally, I feel the Pharisees used the “exact words” of the Law to twist the very heart of the Law, and so I proceed with great caution when I feel I’m leaning toward legalism (which I have a tendency to do).

Our Lord’s “exact words” should be taken in the specific context in which they’re given. If we choose to assume His “exact words” should apply to the entire Torah, then we can twist His words to mean what we want them to mean (i.e. divorce is unlawful in all cases unless adultery has taken place). I choose to keep in mind that Jesus was in a discussion with a specific group of men (Pharisees who believed in the prevailing ethic “divorce for any reason at all”) speaking about a specific passage in the OT (Deut. 24). These men were doing their best to continue justifying divorcing their innocent wives for any frivolous reason at all. Had these men asked Jesus if they could lawfully divorce their wives who were beating them and/or withholding basic provisions needed for daily living, I believe Jesus would have told them it was indeed lawful.


It’s not what I mean, but what Jesus means “But it was not this way from the beginning” (Matt. 19:8), which is clearly a reference to Genesis, predating the provision for separation in certain circumstances, and establishing the provision as it was from the beginning, before the Law, and how it is to be carried out under the Law of faith.You’re forgetting (perhaps) that there IS an exception with which we both agree. What God has joined together CAN and IS separated (at the very least, by adultery). The NT shows that divorce is a reality in the NT church.

Separation of what God joined has never been “OK” unless lawfully approved by God. Nothing has changed. What God saw unlawful then He sees unlawful now, because He sees the heart of man. God knows when man divorces for the wrong (selfish) reasons and God knows when man divorces for acceptable (i.e. peace is impossible) reasons.


Again, Jesus said many things (again the sermon on the mount is the most comprehensive example that springs to my mind) that transcended the Law, and in preparation for the delivery from the death that is in the Law (as per Romans).So Jesus didn’t intend for His audience to take His sermon on the mount to heart that day? He expected them to wait for months before they put it to practice? After the Temple was destroyed, the moral law didn’t end.


If that were strictly true, then we could conclude that anything and everything specified under the Law is still in effect, but it isn’t, nor is the above conclusion supported by the text.Again, the obvious rules and regulations that applied to the nation of Israel can’t reasonably apply to us today, but the moral law can and does apply to us today.


Not in the least, but how God feels, and how He’s commanded us to think, behave, and act are clearly different under the two covenants.How we are to think, act, and behave are the same in general. It’s the specifics that are quite different.


Because of the development of His plan for the universe. Again, what you are in essence asking here is why we have two covenants at all, and further, why did the Law come in after the Covenant with Abraham, or the one preceding that with Noah, and what about the lawlessness before Noah? Why didn’t they have the same covenant with the same instructions as we do? God’s seeing something through, which is part of a much larger conversation, but it simply isn’t accurate to assert that we’re supposed to behave in the same way we did under the Law.I don’t know what to say. Obviously, we are not required to throw some raw meat on an altar. We don’t pray toward Jerusalem. We don’t do many outward “things” that the Jews did to show their devotion to God. However, our hearts are just as devoted as theirs and we actually do show outward “things” that show our devotion to God. What has changed? Tell me. Don’t’ tell me about rituals or traditions or activities. I want to know what in the heart of man has changed from one covenant to the next.


I’m not unfamiliar with the concept of the spirit of the Law, but in the face of a direct commandment, one could just as easily justify any sin as find ‘the spirit’. Sure, we’re not supposed to deny Jesus under persecution, but if I just pay token lip service to this idol then the government won’t kill me and I can live to evangelize another day!

It sounds good to us, but it is against what we’re told to do.We are personally accountable to God and God alone. He knows our heart. He is the judge of our heart. Certainly, we can justify any sin, but we alone are accountable—we stand alone before God.

Hypothetical:
One denies Christ to live another day to evangelize and one chooses to die. On the outside we, the Church, praise the one who did not deny Christ and chose to die.

BUT…only God happened to know that the one who chose to live another day actually desired to die that day, because they were truly exhausted with the traumatic life they were forced to live. But instead, they chose to undertake the burden of life one more day for the sake of the gospel thinking it was the right thing to do since it would save more lives.

And only God happened to know that the one who chose to die “for Christ” that day was really more willing to go just because they were afraid to continue living with their traumatic life.

Who are you (or me) “oh man” to judge the heart of man?


No, we should be steering away from assumptions and towards following what the word tells us to, first by looking at the verse in it’s own context, then by taking in context of the text as a whole, and then by analyzing any supportive (historical) sources to see if they illuminate any details of phrasing, and from that I stand by my interpretation.

I think this passage serves to demonstrate the contrary.

Sorry.Go where the Spirit leads you. :hug:

Ryan R
Apr 28th 2010, 10:18 PM
Honestly, I don’t get when people say that living by God’s Law (moral law-not Jewish set of laws for their particular nation at a particular time) contradicts the Law of faith. Living by faith fulfills God’s entire moral law, it doesn’t contradict it. The heart of the letter of the law can be found throughout the OT. Like I said before, I’m not suggesting we live by the letter of the law in that we copy the rules and regulations of the nation of Israel. I’m suggesting we live by the spirit of the law, which won’t contradict the words of Jesus.

In essence you are correct, but you are generalizing too much if you are trying to apply the OT to the NT.

For example, what is the spirit of this commandment “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18)?

The spirit is purity. Witchcraft is rebellion and is satanic. It is sin worthy of being blotted out, along with the person who committed it.

Does this mean we should go around killing those who identify themselves as wiccans today? No. And why not? Because the New Covenant does not allow it because “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:4).

So, while the spirit is the same always, the way we conduct ourselves is commanded to change. I am for one am happy about that, because Moses and the rest had to kill babies, but we will never have to, because of the historical fulfillment of God’s work on the cross.


I’m not following everything you are saying here, but I will try to respond to it. I’m not saying we should ignore our Lord’s exact words. I’m saying we should attempt to understand what His original audience would have understood His exact words to mean. The disciples were accustomed to an easy-divorcism ethic. Our Lord tells them that those who continue to live this way are as good as adulterers.

I think what you’re saying is that since Jesus told them that marriage was always meant to be for a lifetime, that now that means divorce is never lawful unless adultery has taken place. But Jesus wasn’t speaking in the context of divorcing due to abuse and neglect; He was speaking in the context of divorcing for frivolous reasons.

But this isn’t correct. This is an erroneous assumption, that’s not substantiated by the text.

Let’s look at the same account as recorded in Mark,

“Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" "What did Moses command you?" he replied. They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." (Mark 10:2-4).

What we see here in the parallel passage in Mark is that Jesus asked them to identify what Moses commanded them specifically, and they replied what Moses taught them. This is not some system of legalism that was built around it, but just what Moses taught.

It is to this that Jesus replies, "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

This is the danger in getting caught up in trying to understand passages ‘in their cultural context.’ You end up inserting things into the text that are not there.

People are people, and God has written this book to be comprehensible in its own right. It is most important to understand the text in relation to itself, otherwise we’re not trusting the word, we’re trusting our understanding of the word, i.e. we go from trusting God’s wisdom to trusting our own.



Besides, right after He said that divorce should be for a lifetime (i.e. “no man should separate it”), He gives them permission to separate it!

Only as far as the qualifier. That’s the whole purpose of a stipulation. That hardly negates the commandment.


Obviously, there are exceptions to the “no man should separate it.”

What’s obvious is that there is the one exception that Jesus mentioned, and given the fact that He provided the exception, it demonstrates that it is the only exception.


So, our Lord’s point was not that no man should absolutely never ever separate a marriage; His point was that these frivolous divorces were unlawful.

Jesus did not agree with their understanding of the law. They thought it was lawful to divorce your wife for any reason at all and He told them it was not lawful to divorce your wife for any reason at all.

The fact that wives could continue to lawfully divorce their husbands due to abuse and neglect per Ex. 21 doesn’t apply here. These men were not asking if they could divorce their wives who were abusing and neglecting them, because it was not women who were responsible for supplying the husband with food, clothing and the ability to give birth to children.

Our Lord’s entire dialogue with these guys was an attempt to get them to take a good look at their hearts. They wanted an easy way out of their marriages if they felt like it. They were used to it—it had become the norm of the day (& for the disciples too!).

But again, this isn’t what the text says. This is inserted into the text, in contrast to the text.


Again, I’m not saying this wouldn’t apply to wives today. We all need to take a good look at our hearts before considering such a life-altering choice as divorce, and if we enter into divorce lightly, we very well could be considered an adulterer(ess) in God’s eyes. There is no question between us that divorce was and is lawful in cases of adultery. Therefore, there were, indeed, exceptions to Jesus’ words that no man should separate what God has joined together. We see by this that God made exceptions for man’s weakness. If these men could not forgive their cheating wives, they were free to divorce. Surely, if God makes provision for those who are unwilling to forgive an adulterer(ess) who repents (i.e. provision for a hard-hearted husband), God makes provision for those who are in a chaotic, abusive marriage. What you are suggesting is that it’s lawful to divorce someone who cheated on you, but it’s not lawful to divorce someone who beats you.

Incorrect. That’s not what I’m suggesting, that’s what the Bible says, and any attempt to interpret it differently contradicts the actual account.


This would mean that God has more mercy on an unforgiving spouse than on a spouse who can’t take the beatings any longer! Think about that.

I have.

God has already shown us so much more mercy than we can comprehend, and so He expects us to model that for others. Look at in light of this passage:

“You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matt 5:38-42).

Clearly it is consistent that God expects us to suck it up when we’re persecuted, and even to celebrate it (Acts 5:41).

Please note that the first sentence there “Eye for eye” is actually God’s Law from (among other places) Leviticus 24:19-24:21, and Jesus is specifically saying that it no longer apply, but now there is a higher standard, so you can see that the rules have changed.


I think the response of the disciples has to be taken within the context of their experience. If easy-divorcisim was the prevailing ethic and that’s what you’ve grown up with and all you’ve ever known, and then your revered Rabbi comes along and says, oh no you have to have a very good reason for divorcing your wife, it sounds quite severe and restrictive. We have to be able to place ourselves in the shoes of those living over 2,000 years ago to understand where they were coming from. It’s very difficult to do, but we must try so that we don’t end up becoming the very ones Jesus spoke out against – the legalistic Pharisees who thought that living the letter of the law without mercy made them righteous enough to enter the kingdom of God.

It’s really not that difficult to do. They were just people. Learn someone’s history, their agricultural practices, and a bit about their culture, then read their religious writings, and getting in people’s heads really isn’t that big a deal. People are still just people.

But again, you are suggesting that the disciples were astounded by the idea, and didn’t think it was worth getting married if the criteria was that they just couldn’t neglect or abuse their wives. It just doesn’t fit.


OK, so the NT Law is New and stricter than the old OT Law? Think about what you are saying. The dispensation of grace is stricter? The NT Law is stricter and more difficult to achieve than the OT Law? What are we becoming? Just like the Pharisees? If we don’t perform “XYZ” then we don’t make the cut!

Not in the least. We are saved by grace not by works. That’s what made the Pharisees the Pharisees.

This is no excuse to live up to what Jesus told us to do though.

Again, look at how He said that an eye for an eye no longer applies. It was the Law, but there’s a new Law of reflecting the grace that was shown to us, that those under the Law never had the opportunity to see until Jesus went into the ground to preach it (1 Peter 3:19).


We are to give less grace and mercy now that the Dispensation of Grace has begun?!

No, the opposite.


And the different part you speak of says to “stone” the abused wife who desires to leave (divorce) and embrace the adulteress who repents. Are we not to embrace both?

No, because we’re not under the Law. That’s what I’m trying to impress here.


Let me just cut and paste this. Me: “Again, I’m not saying the Body is supposed to read up on the law of Moses and live by it to the letter of the law like Israel was asked to do. But surely we are to read up on the law of Moses and live by the spirit of the law, because God’s heart doesn’t change with time.” You: “Yes, absolutely, but not at the expense of direct commandments under the New Covenant.” How can you say that the living by the Spirit of the Law is at the expense of the direct commandments under the New Covenant?

In the same way that if you were to insist that the “eye for an eye” commandment still applied, I’d have to day, ‘No’ Jesus tells us otherwise in direct words. So while the commandment from Leviticus demonstrates something about God’s character, it is not our standing order.


Jesus made it clear that divorce is off the table for frivolous reasons. Is divorce for adultery frivolous? How about divorce for abuse? Is that frivolous?

Jesus never made any such thing clear. He never said this, you did. You are replacing what He did say with what you suppose He meant, in spite of what He did say. Look at His words again and you’ll see.


Jesus brings it back to what was actually outlined in the Law? What was outlined in the Law?

What Moses taught, as the Pharisees replied and Jesus accepted as a valid response.


Should we abide by what was outlined in the Law?

No. As I’ve already said, He fulfilled the Law so no.


After all, Jesus brought it back to what was outlined in the Law.

He referenced the Law and demonstrated that it was no longer applicable, just as He did with the “eye for and eye” passage.

So, the very opposite of what you’re suggesting is the logical outcome.



And it is still permitted as a concession to their hard hearts. What has changed?

Jesus died on the cross. That changed everything.

Ryan R
Apr 28th 2010, 10:49 PM
Part 2
Things changed for the customs and regulations but not the moral law.

Again, we see with the “eye for an eye” passage, Jesus clearly demonstrates that the above is not true.


Read it again. The Pharisees said “commanded” and Jesus corrected them by saying “permitted.” They did indeed twist the words of Moses to make themselves feel righteous (without sin) for divorcing their wives for any reason whatsoever.

I’ve read it many times. We can see here, and more so in Mark, that Jesus’ point was that divorce is forbidden, except for marital unfaithfulness, regardless of anyone’s (then or now) assumptions.


The Pharisees believed they could divorce their wives for any reason whatsoever BECAUSE Moses “commanded” them to divorce their wives. But the truth of the matter was that Moses did NOT command anyone. He “permitted” the hard-hearted Jews in the wilderness to divorce their cheating wives because these guys could not rise to the higher standard that God calls His people to and they chose to harden their hearts and not forgive their cheating wives—even though God never intended for anyone to ever divorce their spouse (He wants them to FORGIVE and always FORGIVE their spouse—then and now.). But the reality then is the reality now, and God makes exceptions for the hard hearts of those who are unwilling to forgive their cheating spouse. Again, this has nothing to do with Ex. 21. In that case, a spouse is being neglected to the point of abandonment (emotional or physical) or to the point of direct physical or emotional abuse.

I get the context and I get what you’re saying, but the Bible is clear.


If you feel comfortable using the “exact words” argument over mercy, then you must go where the Spirit leads you.

I don’t feel comfortable with it, but it’s what it says, so who am I to defy it? “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).


Personally, I feel the Pharisees used the “exact words” of the Law to twist the very heart of the Law, and so I proceed with great caution when I feel I’m leaning toward legalism (which I have a tendency to do).

But again, we can see in Mark 10 that this isn’t the point.


Our Lord’s “exact words” should be taken in the specific context in which they’re given. If we choose to assume His “exact words” should apply to the entire Torah, then we can twist His words to mean what we want them to mean (i.e. divorce is unlawful in all cases unless adultery has taken place).

Be careful not to rationalize away what the Bible says.

The Bible tells us how to interpret itself. Scripture is to be studied “Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there" (Isaiah 28:10), because it is “spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14), and “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

I choose to keep in mind that Jesus was in a discussion with a specific group of men (Pharisees who believed in the prevailing ethic “divorce for any reason at all”) speaking about a specific passage in the OT (Deut. 24). These men were doing their best to continue justifying divorcing their innocent wives for any frivolous reason at all. Had these men asked Jesus if they could lawfully divorce their wives who were beating them and/or withholding basic provisions needed for daily living, I believe Jesus would have told them it was indeed lawful.

You’re forgetting (perhaps) that there IS an exception with which we both agree. What God has joined together CAN and IS separated (at the very least, by adultery). The NT shows that divorce is a reality in the NT church.

Separation of what God joined has never been “OK” unless lawfully approved by God. Nothing has changed. What God saw unlawful then He sees unlawful now, because He sees the heart of man. God knows when man divorces for the wrong (selfish) reasons and God knows when man divorces for acceptable (i.e. peace is impossible) reasons.

So Jesus didn’t intend for His audience to take His sermon on the mount to heart that day? He expected them to wait for months before they put it to practice? After the Temple was destroyed, the moral law didn’t end.

Again, the obvious rules and regulations that applied to the nation of Israel can’t reasonably apply to us today, but the moral law can and does apply to us today.

How we are to think, act, and behave are the same in general. It’s the specifics that are quite different.

I don’t know what to say. Obviously, we are not required to throw some raw meat on an altar. We don’t pray toward Jerusalem. We don’t do many outward “things” that the Jews did to show their devotion to God. However, our hearts are just as devoted as theirs and we actually do show outward “things” that show our devotion to God. What has changed? Tell me. Don’t’ tell me about rituals or traditions or activities. I want to know what in the heart of man has changed from one covenant to the next.[/quote]

I’ve already addressed most of this above, so I’ll conclude by saying again that we need to trust in what scripture says, not what we assume it means.

Wisdom, knowledge and understanding come from God (Proverbs 2:6; Ecclesiastes 2:26; Colossians 2:3).

If you rely on what you assume the cultures of the time would assume, you are obscuring scripture with two layers of flawed, human assumptions in order to try to read it more clearly. You must try to remove the bias of human wisdom in order to understand it properly.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).


We are personally accountable to God and God alone. He knows our heart. He is the judge of our heart. Certainly, we can justify any sin, but we alone are accountable—we stand alone before God.

Hypothetical:
One denies Christ to live another day to evangelize and one chooses to die. On the outside we, the Church, praise the one who did not deny Christ and chose to die.

BUT…only God happened to know that the one who chose to live another day actually desired to die that day, because they were truly exhausted with the traumatic life they were forced to live. But instead, they chose to undertake the burden of life one more day for the sake of the gospel thinking it was the right thing to do since it would save more lives.

And only God happened to know that the one who chose to die “for Christ” that day was really more willing to go just because they were afraid to continue living with their traumatic life.

Who are you (or me) “oh man” to judge the heart of man?

It is wrong to denounce Jesus for any reason: “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33).

We aren’t supposed to judge their hearts, but we are supposed to judge their actions.

“Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?” (1 Cor. 6:3-5).

“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you" (1 Cor. 5:12-13).


Go where the Spirit leads you. :hug:

Thanks, I’m on my way!

LookingUp
Apr 29th 2010, 10:37 PM
Instead of responding to all your points (we’re getting a bit off track in some things & I think it’s time for me to clarify and add other details I’m learning), I’m going to give you a bit of a summary from a book I’m reading that may more clearly present why and how I have come to some of my conclusions. Much of what I’ve shared with you is not something I’ve “made up” or flippantly “read into” Scripture. Some of what I’ve shared with you has been extensively researched. The book I’m reading (and would highly recommend for anyone interested in this subject) is called Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible by David Instone-Brewer. DIB analyzes the biblical material in its original context (for the OT, the ancient near east; for the NT, first-century Judaism). David Instone-Brewer is senor research fellow in Rabbinics and New Testament at Tyndale House in Cambridge, England.

The following is directly or indirectly from the book:

Jesus’ teaching on divorce as recorded in Matthew 5 & 19 and the parallels in Mark and Luke must be understood in the context of the rabbinic debates over divorce that held sway at the time. There were two competing interpretations of Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Shammai said that the only grounds for divorce in that passage is adultery (“a matter of indecency”); Hillel said that the grounds for divorce in that passage included practically anything (“any matter” which includes adultery). When queried by the Pharisees (who followed Hillel), Jesus comes down clearly on the side of Shammai: the only grounds for divorce in that passage is adultery. The “any matter” standard was being flaunted and abused by men who wished to divorce their wives for frivolous reasons (or simply because they’d found another woman they liked better).

It has usually been assumed that Jesus named the single exception for divorce because this was the only ground for divorce that he recognized. However, there are three factors that suggest that Jesus recognized Exodus 21:10-11 as additional grounds for divorce.

The first factor that indicates that Jesus accepted the grounds for divorce in Exodus 21:10-11 is the almost perfect parallel between the wording of Jesus’ exception clause and the Shammaite ruling in the divorce debate. Most commentators have read Jesus’ exception clause as a rejection of the other grounds for divorce, but the same exception clause is used by the Shammaites who did recognize the other grounds for divorce. The Shammaite position was summarized in rabbinic literature in two very similar forms:

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her indecency.

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.

These are semantically identical to the two versions of the exception clause in Matthew, even as far as citing “indecent matter” from Deuteronomy 24:1 in the reverse order of “matter of indecency.

Whoever divorces his wife, unless for indecency… (Matt. 19:9)

Every one who divorces his wife, except for a matter of indecency… (Matt. 5:32).

Jesus used the same terminology as the Shammaites, in the same context, at the same time period, and in a debate where Shammaites or their rivals the Hillelites were present. We may therefore confidently assume that he meant to convey the same meaning by these words that the Shammaites were trying to convey. When the Shammaites said “except…for a mater of indecency” in the context of this debate about “any matter” divorces, they meant that Deuteronomy 24:1 allows no type of divorce except that for indecency. They did not mean that Scripture allows no divorce except that for indecency because they did allow other divorces on the grounds of Exodus 21.

Therefore, when Jesus used this same phrase in this same debate, it would be extraordinary to conclude that he meant something different. If we concluded this, we would have to declare that Jesus spoke a different language than that of his contemporaries, where words and phrases can mean different things when Jesus uses them. We would then have no basis for working out the meaning of anything that he has said on any subject because he would be speaking a language that was totally unique, and any person’s interpretation of his words would be as valid an anyone else’s. However, if Jesus and the Gospel writers were trying to communicate eternal truths to their listeners and readers, they would presumably have used a language that was well known and understood, rather than a “sacred” language that had a secret interpretation. Therefore we must assume that when Jesus or the Gospel writers use the same phrase as their contemporaries, in the same context, they mean the same thing.

The second factor is that Jesus did not say anything about these grounds during this debate about divorce although they were central to the subject, yet he spoke about other peripheral matters not central to the debate on divorce. Even though he had been asked about divorce, he first of all spoke about monogamy and gave two exegeses in support of this. Most Jews, though not all, believed that polygamy was allowed by Scripture, and so Jesus used Scripture to show that it was not in God’s original plan. Then he spoke about the lifelong nature of marriage. Most Jews felt that this principle was unimportant because God had given a law of divorce, and they felt that this gave implicit permission to divorce. Jesus also addressed the issue of whether divorce was compulsory or optional when there had been sexual unfaithfulness. A growing number of Jews at the time felt that it was compulsory, and most felt that it was the morally correct thing to do, but Jesus said that Moses “allowed” divorce but did not “command” it. Jesus also indicated the circumstances in which divorce for unfaithfulness was appropriate by saying that the law had been given to cope with cases of stubborn hardness of heart, where there was a refusal to repent and change. He also taught, though only to his disciples, that marriage and childbearing were optional. Most Jews believed that procreation was a command of God that could be fulfilled only by marrying and having children, though there were a few ascetics among the Jews who did not get married. One important implication of this was that childlessness could no longer be used as a ground for divorce. This was counter to most Jews, though there were many who were uneasy about divorce on the grounds of infertility.

Jesus was not asked about any of these matters, but he was determined to speak about them, to the apparent annoyance of the Pharisees who had to bring him back to the point of the question. It would seem strange that Jesus would bring up all these issues, some of which were peripheral to the subject of divorce, and yet ignore an issue that was so central to the subject of the debate.

The third factor is that everyone would assume that Jesus recognized that there were other Old Testament grounds for divorce because this was a universally held view. None of the other areas that Jesus addressed were universally held in first-century Judaism. Among the many and disparate groups within Judaism one could find Jews who would agree with Jesus’ teachings on monogamy, lifelong marriage, optional divorce, forgiveness for unfaithfulness except in cases of stubbornness, optional marriage, the invalidity of divorce for infertility, and, of course, the invalidity of the “any matter” divorce. In contrast, there was no group in first-century Judaism that rejected the grounds for divorce in Exodus 21:10-11. It would be strange if Jesus spent time on these various doctrines that were not unique in Judaism and neglected to mention a doctrine that was totally unique. If Jesus had wanted to teach a rejection of the grounds for divorce in Exodus 21:10-11, he would have had to say so very clearly, and if he said nothing about them, it would have been assumed that, like all other Jews, he accepted them.

If Jesus said nothing about a universally accepted belief, then it is assumed by most scholars that this indicated his agreement with it. He is never recorded as saying anything about the immorality of sexual acts before marriage (to the dismay of many youth leaders), but no one assumes that he approved of them. Similarly, everyone assumes that he believed in monotheism, but it would be difficult to demonstrate this from the Gospel accounts. Also, Jesus nowhere explicitly allowed or forbade remarriage after the death of a spouse, but we assume that he did allow this because all Jews, including Paul, clearly allowed it. In all these matters it is easy for us to assume that Jesus agreed with the universally held position because we too agree with it. However, in the matter of divorce on the grounds of Exodus 21:10-11, we find it harder to assume that Jesus accepted the universal position merely because we do not hold to it.

All these arguments suggesting that Jesus allowed other Old Testament grounds for divorce are arguments from silence, and so they must be treated with caution. However, it would be difficult to ignore them entirely, especially since Paul appeared to recognize these other OT grounds for divorce in 1 Corinthians 7. Although Paul appeared to affirm the Jewish Old Testament marriage obligations, he did not specifically state that these could be used as grounds for divorce, as they were within Judaism. Yet Paul’s original readers must have been as interested in such matters as modern readers are. We should conclude either that Paul was a very poor communicator (which is unlikely, given his track record for communicating the Gospel effectively) or that his original readers understood Paul’s language and meaning better than do modern readers. Therefore we have to try to understand the Greco-Roman and Jewish language and society, so that we can understand Paul through the eyes of first-century believers, as far as that is possible.

The rabbis found three grounds for divorce in Exodus 21, based on the three obligations of providing love, food, and clothing. They divided these into two groups: emotional obligations (love) and material obligations (food and clothing).

Paul deals with emotional obligations in 1 Corinthians 7 where he stated that married men and women are obligated to take part in sexual love with their partners. He stated this in very strong language. He spoke of the obligation in terms of a debt or robbery and submission to authority. Paul’s reply is based on the law of Exodus 21:10-11 concerning the rights of the slave wife. This passage said that even a salve wife had the right to expect love from her husband, and so the rabbis (and Paul) deduced that a free wife and a husband also had the right to expect this. This explains why the language is so strong, and why he used the image of slavery.

Paul referred to the Jewish law when he taught Christian sexual morals to the Corinthians. Perhaps he did this because many of the Christians in Corinth came from a Jewish background, but it is more probably that he did it because he based all his moral teachings on the Old Testament.

In verses 32-35 Paul deals with the material obligations. Paul’s motive for discouraging marriage was to save people from the accompanying material obligations during the time of “present distress” and “tribulation in the flesh” that the Corinthians were experiencing. It is likely that this referred to the famines that were afflicting Corinth at this time, which were probably the cause of illness and death within the congregation.

Paul described the material obligations, like the emotional obligations, in terms of exact equality of men and women. The rabbis also taught that the obligation of material provision applied to both men and women, even though it applied only to the man in the original legislation of Exodus 21:10-11. Rabbis carefully defined both the amount of food and clothing that the husband had to provide, and the tasks that the wife had to perform in preparing the meals and clothes. Paul did not speak in such legalistic terms. He referred to the husband and wife who wished to “please” each other. He said nothing negative about these material concerns, even though they are “of the world.” This is an obligation within marriage that he recognized in the Law.

Paul did not discuss the use of these obligations with regard to divorce. In this chapter he tried to discourage the Corinthians from divorcing their partners. Therefore we would not expect him to add “By the way, you can use these obligations as grounds for divorce if your partner does not fulfill them.” This would give completely the wrong emphasis. Paul’s message was that the Christians should not cause divorce. They should not separate from their partners, and they should fulfill their marriage obligations so that they do not create an occasion for divorce. He certainly recognized that these obligations could give grounds for divorce; he was clearly familiar with the normal Jewish understanding of Exodus 21:10-11 because he applied it in exactly the same way in which all sections of Judaism applied it; he applied them to both male and female equally; and he interpreted the third obligation, which is difficult to translate, as sexual love.

Well, that’s it Ryan. Of course, this is just a drop in a very full bucket. The material covered is quite extensive. DIB explores the background of literature of the Old Testament, the ancient Near East, and especially ancient Judaism. He also takes an in-depth look at the Church Fathers, what they concluded and why. In summary, the findings of the book are that both Jesus and Paul condemned divorce without valid grounds and discouraged divorce even for valid grounds; that both Jesus and Paul affirmed the Old Testament grounds for divorce; that the Old Testament allowed divorce for adultery and for neglect and abuse; and that both Jesus and Paul condemned remarriage after an invalid divorce but not after a valid divorce.

Ryan R
Apr 30th 2010, 04:10 PM
Jesus’ teaching on divorce as recorded in Matthew 5 & 19 and the parallels in Mark and Luke must be understood in the context of the rabbinic debates over divorce that held sway at the time. There were two competing interpretations of Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Shammai said that the only grounds for divorce in that passage is adultery (“a matter of indecency”); Hillel said that the grounds for divorce in that passage included practically anything (“any matter” which includes adultery). When queried by the Pharisees (who followed Hillel), Jesus comes down clearly on the side of Shammai: the only grounds for divorce in that passage is adultery. The “any matter” standard was being flaunted and abused by men who wished to divorce their wives for frivolous reasons (or simply because they’d found another woman they liked better).

This is true.


It has usually been assumed that Jesus named the single exception for divorce because this was the only ground for divorce that he recognized. However, there are three factors that suggest that Jesus recognized Exodus 21:10-11 as additional grounds for divorce.

The first factor that indicates that Jesus accepted the grounds for divorce in Exodus 21:10-11 is the almost perfect parallel between the wording of Jesus’ exception clause and the Shammaite ruling in the divorce debate. Most commentators have read Jesus’ exception clause as a rejection of the other grounds for divorce, but the same exception clause is used by the Shammaites who did recognize the other grounds for divorce. The Shammaite position was summarized in rabbinic literature in two very similar forms:

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her indecency.

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.

These are semantically identical to the two versions of the exception clause in Matthew, even as far as citing “indecent matter” from Deuteronomy 24:1 in the reverse order of “matter of indecency.

Whoever divorces his wife, unless for indecency… (Matt. 19:9)

Every one who divorces his wife, except for a matter of indecency… (Matt. 5:32).

Jesus used the same terminology as the Shammaites, in the same context, at the same time period, and in a debate where Shammaites or their rivals the Hillelites were present. We may therefore confidently assume that he meant to convey the same meaning by these words that the Shammaites were trying to convey.

If this were true, and Jesus was simply taking a well-known side that would be considered a viable position, then the disciples would not have marveled and said that it is better not to be married.

Here is a consistent problem with ANE studies, they read too much into things.

Yes, Jesus was using parallel language to other points that were made in the same time period, but instead of assuming that He was just agreeing, conceding, accepting or condescending to someone else’s points or wisdom, it actually makes sense that in a certain place and time people express points in similar ways without necessarily deferring to one another.

As soon as the ANE experts see similarity in wording in a certain cultural context they want to chalk it up to homage, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Genres of ideas are often expressed similarly across cultures, and increasingly similar within closer and closer cultures contexts. Every law recorded in history has a certain shared property with every other law. Every contract with every other contract. Within cultural contexts such things will have similar, if not identical wording, because within that culture, such will be the accepted vehicle of communicating a certain point.

What the ANE experts should be bearing in mind is that within that culture, oration was very well practiced, and very deliberately executed. Laws were based on precedent, not only of other laws, but of language as well.

To relate one point to another because of similar language may be a starting point, but unless it is supported by the immediate context of the text (and the account in Mark, as well as Jesus’ exclusivity of defining a singe exception demonstrate it is not) then you are imposing assumptions that are not substantiated by the text, at the expense of what the text actually says.

This is to trust in our ability to properly intellectually discern the assumptions imposed on the text, and not to trust the spiritual discernment of what the Word of God actually says, which is how God tells us to read the Bible.

You can spend the whole rest of your life reading about the ANE cultures and trying to impose their thoughts, cultures and values on the Bible, but in the end there will still be two ways to interpret all of the extra-biblical information – according to the text, and against it. I can look at all the same data about the ANE and logically come to the opposite conclusion that we see above. It’s our starting assumptions that drive the interpretations.

Our interpretation of the Bible needs to drive our interpretation of errant documents (history, philosophy, etc), not the other way around. Otherwise, by necessity, you are building your beliefs off of flawed sources and applying that flawed approach to the inerrant Word, introducing error to an error free text.


When the Shammaites said “except…for a mater of indecency” in the context of this debate about “any matter” divorces, they meant that Deuteronomy 24:1 allows no type of divorce except that for indecency. They did not mean that Scripture allows no divorce except that for indecency because they did allow other divorces on the grounds of Exodus 21.

Therefore, when Jesus used this same phrase in this same debate, it would be extraordinary to conclude that he meant something different.

Not at all. He addressed what they were saying and clearly raised the stakes. Claiming that this is hard to believe doesn’t make it hard to believe. This scholar is simply rejecting that conclusion because of his assumptions.


If we concluded this, we would have to declare that Jesus spoke a different language than that of his contemporaries, where words and phrases can mean different things when Jesus uses them.

Quite the opposite. Since they spoke the same language, opposing points were expressed in the same language, and were made explicit by their level of specificity, just like they are today.

If two people today are getting divorced and the wife says, “You’re not walking away with the house or the dog!” and the husband says, “You're right, I’m walking away with the house and the dog!” we can clearly see that while similar language is used the points are very different. If two days later the lawyer representing either the husband or wife heard another splitting couple arguing and saying “You’re not walking away with the house!” he would hardly have to conclude they were talking about other case. They may just be saying things in the same way, because that’s how our culture expresses certain points.


We would then have no basis for working out the meaning of anything that he has said on any subject because he would be speaking a language that was totally unique, and any person’s interpretation of his words would be as valid an anyone else’s. However, if Jesus and the Gospel writers were trying to communicate eternal truths to their listeners and readers, they would presumably have used a language that was well known and understood, rather than a “sacred” language that had a secret interpretation. Therefore we must assume that when Jesus or the Gospel writers use the same phrase as their contemporaries, in the same context, they mean the same thing.

That’s an overly simplistic way to excuse what the text actually demonstrates, and fails to address other parts of the text where Jesus references the supposedly “eternal truths” and gives a fresh commandment (e.g. the ‘eye for an eye’ passage)


The second factor is that Jesus did not say anything about these grounds during this debate about divorce although they were central to the subject, yet he spoke about other peripheral matters not central to the debate on divorce. Even though he had been asked about divorce, he first of all spoke about monogamy and gave two exegeses in support of this. Most Jews, though not all, believed that polygamy was allowed by Scripture, and so Jesus used Scripture to show that it was not in God’s original plan. Then he spoke about the lifelong nature of marriage. Most Jews felt that this principle was unimportant because God had given a law of divorce, and they felt that this gave implicit permission to divorce. Jesus also addressed the issue of whether divorce was compulsory or optional when there had been sexual unfaithfulness. A growing number of Jews at the time felt that it was compulsory, and most felt that it was the morally correct thing to do, but Jesus said that Moses “allowed” divorce but did not “command” it. Jesus also indicated the circumstances in which divorce for unfaithfulness was appropriate by saying that the law had been given to cope with cases of stubborn hardness of heart, where there was a refusal to repent and change.

This is incorrect. This is not what Jesus said. It just isn’t what the text actually says.

The issue here isn’t what to fill into the gaps in the text, but the exclusivity of the text itself. He did address what was commanded under Moses specifically, and He issued the commandment as it is supposed to be obeyed.

The above is unsupportable by the text.


He also taught, though only to his disciples, that marriage and childbearing were optional. Most Jews believed that procreation was a command of God that could be fulfilled only by marrying and having children, though there were a few ascetics among the Jews who did not get married. One important implication of this was that childlessness could no longer be used as a ground for divorce. This was counter to most Jews, though there were many who were uneasy about divorce on the grounds of infertility.

Jesus was not asked about any of these matters, but he was determined to speak about them, to the apparent annoyance of the Pharisees who had to bring him back to the point of the question. It would seem strange that Jesus would bring up all these issues, some of which were peripheral to the subject of divorce, and yet ignore an issue that was so central to the subject of the debate.

This point doesn’t hold. Its simultaneously trying to claim that He was not being specific enough to rule out previously held beliefs or commandments, and that He was too specific to rule out these things.

This clearly demonstrates He was giving specifics on and relating to the issue. Any other conclusion is forced, at best.


The third factor is that everyone would assume that Jesus recognized that there were other Old Testament grounds for divorce because this was a universally held view. None of the other areas that Jesus addressed were universally held in first-century Judaism. Among the many and disparate groups within Judaism one could find Jews who would agree with Jesus’ teachings on monogamy, lifelong marriage, optional divorce, forgiveness for unfaithfulness except in cases of stubbornness, optional marriage, the invalidity of divorce for infertility, and, of course, the invalidity of the “any matter” divorce. In contrast, there was no group in first-century Judaism that rejected the grounds for divorce in Exodus 21:10-11. It would be strange if Jesus spent time on these various doctrines that were not unique in Judaism and neglected to mention a doctrine that was totally unique. If Jesus had wanted to teach a rejection of the grounds for divorce in Exodus 21:10-11, he would have had to say so very clearly, and if he said nothing about them, it would have been assumed that, like all other Jews, he accepted them.

If Jesus said nothing about a universally accepted belief, then it is assumed by most scholars that this indicated his agreement with it. He is never recorded as saying anything about the immorality of sexual acts before marriage (to the dismay of many youth leaders), but no one assumes that he approved of them. Similarly, everyone assumes that he believed in monotheism, but it would be difficult to demonstrate this from the Gospel accounts. Also, Jesus nowhere explicitly allowed or forbade remarriage after the death of a spouse, but we assume that he did allow this because all Jews, including Paul, clearly allowed it. In all these matters it is easy for us to assume that Jesus agreed with the universally held position because we too agree with it. However, in the matter of divorce on the grounds of Exodus 21:10-11, we find it harder to assume that Jesus accepted the universal position merely because we do not hold to it.

All these arguments suggesting that Jesus allowed other Old Testament grounds for divorce are arguments from silence, and so they must be treated with caution. However, it would be difficult to ignore them entirely, especially since Paul appeared to recognize these other OT grounds for divorce in 1 Corinthians 7. Although Paul appeared to affirm the Jewish Old Testament marriage obligations, he did not specifically state that these could be used as grounds for divorce, as they were within Judaism. Yet Paul’s original readers must have been as interested in such matters as modern readers are. We should conclude either that Paul was a very poor communicator (which is unlikely, given his track record for communicating the Gospel effectively) or that his original readers understood Paul’s language and meaning better than do modern readers. Therefore we have to try to understand the Greco-Roman and Jewish language and society, so that we can understand Paul through the eyes of first-century believers, as far as that is possible.

Again, this just simply is not a case of Jesus being silent on an issue, and therefore filling the silence with the Words from the Old Testament. Just as God had said an eye for an eye in the OT, and then Jesus upped the anti in the NT, so He clearly did with divorce. He was specific, so much so that the scholar here wanted to attribute His specificity to a whole extra-biblical debate, and claim there was grounds to determine that Jesus was referencing something else to express and even larger point.

So again, this scholar is trying in point one to say Jesus was too specific to simply mean what He said, and in point three that He was not specific enough to simply mean what He said.

No, He said what He said, ignoring the assumptions of the traditions of the Pharisees by forcing them to account for what was commanded under Moses, and with the understanding that God had given that commandment, Jesus explained that it was not that way from the beginning and issued the commandment under grace.

He addressed the Pharisees, the Law, and what the true spirit of the Law is, and His words can be trusted.

Ryan R
Apr 30th 2010, 04:13 PM
The rabbis found three grounds for divorce in Exodus 21, based on the three obligations of providing love, food, and clothing. They divided these into two groups: emotional obligations (love) and material obligations (food and clothing).

Paul deals with emotional obligations in 1 Corinthians 7 where he stated that married men and women are obligated to take part in sexual love with their partners. He stated this in very strong language. He spoke of the obligation in terms of a debt or robbery and submission to authority. Paul’s reply is based on the law of Exodus 21:10-11 concerning the rights of the slave wife. This passage said that even a salve wife had the right to expect love from her husband, and so the rabbis (and Paul) deduced that a free wife and a husband also had the right to expect this. This explains why the language is so strong, and why he used the image of slavery.

Paul referred to the Jewish law when he taught Christian sexual morals to the Corinthians. Perhaps he did this because many of the Christians in Corinth came from a Jewish background, but it is more probably that he did it because he based all his moral teachings on the Old Testament.

In verses 32-35 Paul deals with the material obligations. Paul’s motive for discouraging marriage was to save people from the accompanying material obligations during the time of “present distress” and “tribulation in the flesh” that the Corinthians were experiencing. It is likely that this referred to the famines that were afflicting Corinth at this time, which were probably the cause of illness and death within the congregation.

Paul described the material obligations, like the emotional obligations, in terms of exact equality of men and women. The rabbis also taught that the obligation of material provision applied to both men and women, even though it applied only to the man in the original legislation of Exodus 21:10-11. Rabbis carefully defined both the amount of food and clothing that the husband had to provide, and the tasks that the wife had to perform in preparing the meals and clothes. Paul did not speak in such legalistic terms. He referred to the husband and wife who wished to “please” each other. He said nothing negative about these material concerns, even though they are “of the world.” This is an obligation within marriage that he recognized in the Law.

Paul did not discuss the use of these obligations with regard to divorce. In this chapter he tried to discourage the Corinthians from divorcing their partners. Therefore we would not expect him to add “By the way, you can use these obligations as grounds for divorce if your partner does not fulfill them.” This would give completely the wrong emphasis. Paul’s message was that the Christians should not cause divorce. They should not separate from their partners, and they should fulfill their marriage obligations so that they do not create an occasion for divorce. He certainly recognized that these obligations could give grounds for divorce; he was clearly familiar with the normal Jewish understanding of Exodus 21:10-11 because he applied it in exactly the same way in which all sections of Judaism applied it; he applied them to both male and female equally; and he interpreted the third obligation, which is difficult to translate, as sexual love.

Everybody know that Paul was teaching in concert to much of the OT, demonstrating the spirit of the Law. This isn’t the issue, since he demonstrably never mentioned any consequence if any of these things were not upheld.

This issue is whether Jesus was in a position to amend the Law, and we can see that He did so in a number of places, so claiming that it couldn’t have been true for the case in point cannot be consistently maintained.

Jesus did not simply come to earth to re-teach the Law and then pay for our sins, but to teach us liberation from the Law, in death to the Law. In so doing He brought us new teachings, in a New Covenant, because while the Law is good, the flesh works it to evil, but we are dead to the law and now live by the law of faith, which has different applications.

People in the OT did not have the grace of the Almighty God, suffering and dying in our stead modeled for them, thought the NT tells us that many OT prophets would have loved to have had it so. With our eyes on this model of grace, and with the wonderful hope of eternal salvation as a free gift, given with the deliverance of sins because of the God of heaven and earth showing us how grace is done, we have something those under the Old Testament only saw in figures and shadows. We are blessed beyond what they could have imagined, so if Jesus tells us how we need to model the grace we’ve received, we just have to do it.

Whatever He asks us to do, He’s already done so much more so for us, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).


Well, that’s it Ryan. Of course, this is just a drop in a very full bucket. The material covered is quite extensive. DIB explores the background of literature of the Old Testament, the ancient Near East, and especially ancient Judaism. He also takes an in-depth look at the Church Fathers, what they concluded and why. In summary, the findings of the book are that both Jesus and Paul condemned divorce without valid grounds and discouraged divorce even for valid grounds; that both Jesus and Paul affirmed the Old Testament grounds for divorce; that the Old Testament allowed divorce for adultery and for neglect and abuse; and that both Jesus and Paul condemned remarriage after an invalid divorce but not after a valid divorce.

Don’t sell yourself short, you did a descent job of representing these points before this post. I disagree with the approach.

The Bible must first be read as a comprehensible text, and anywhere that we need to apply interpretation, scripture interprets scripture. With that in mind, other avenues of research can be complimentary, but only if they are recognized as non-authoritative, and the scripture as authoritative, so if scripture states something it is the case, and extra sources may or may not provide illumination as to why and how.

God bless.

LookingUp
Apr 30th 2010, 06:59 PM
It has usually been assumed that Jesus named the single exception for divorce because this was the only ground for divorce that he recognized. However, there are three factors that suggest that Jesus recognized Exodus 21:10-11 as additional grounds for divorce.

The first factor that indicates that Jesus accepted the grounds for divorce in Exodus 21:10-11 is the almost perfect parallel between the wording of Jesus’ exception clause and the Shammaite ruling in the divorce debate. Most commentators have read Jesus’ exception clause as a rejection of the other grounds for divorce, but the same exception clause is used by the Shammaites who did recognize the other grounds for divorce. The Shammaite position was summarized in rabbinic literature in two very similar forms:

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her indecency.

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.

These are semantically identical to the two versions of the exception clause in Matthew, even as far as citing “indecent matter” from Deuteronomy 24:1 in the reverse order of “matter of indecency.

Whoever divorces his wife, unless for indecency… (Matt. 19:9)

Every one who divorces his wife, except for a matter of indecency… (Matt. 5:32).

Jesus used the same terminology as the Shammaites, in the same context, at the same time period, and in a debate where Shammaites or their rivals the Hillelites were present. We may therefore confidently assume that he meant to convey the same meaning by these words that the Shammaites were trying to convey.

If this were true, and Jesus was simply taking a well-known side that would be considered a viable position, then the disciples would not have marveled and said that it is better not to be married.But that is your opinion. I believe a good reason was given for why they would have marveled as they did. In your opinion, the possible explanation was weak, but in my opinion, I found it reasonable. It’s not that they personally were looking for an easy way out of their marriages, but it seemed severe and restrictive to require men and women to have very good reasons for divorce when the prevailing ethic had been otherwise for their entire lives. For someone who is straight and a mother of four who would never consider abortion personally but who is also strongly pro-gay and pro-abortion, it would seem severe and restrictive if a beloved and respected authority figure came along and said that these two things were now unlawful and not allowed. This mother of four would marvel even more greatly if the prevailing rule of society was pro-gay and pro-abortion.

I pasted part of my post above, because I wanted to address it specifically since it’s the clincher for me in this author’s findings. The rest of his findings are secondary in my mind. If Jesus really were answering a specific question regarding this ongoing debate and furthermore answered it in the same exact way the Shammaite ruling was written, I find this very convincing that Jesus intended His listeners to understand His answer to mean exactly what the Shammaite’s meant—that the exception clause applies to Deut. 24:1 specifically while recognizing other grounds for divorce. If He didn’t want them to understand this as His view, He would have made it clear.


Here is a consistent problem with ANE studies, they read too much into things.

Yes, Jesus was using parallel language to other points that were made in the same time period, but instead of assuming that He was just agreeing, conceding, accepting or condescending to someone else’s points or wisdom, it actually makes sense that in a certain place and time people express points in similar ways without necessarily deferring to one another.It wasn’t similar, it was the exact language which, to me, appears deliberate. That doesn’t mean He was condescending to someone else’s wisdom. The Shammaite’s wisdom was derived from Scripture. Jesus was agreeing with their understanding of His law.


As soon as the ANE experts see similarity in wording in a certain cultural context they want to chalk it up to homage, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Genres of ideas are often expressed similarly across cultures, and increasingly similar within closer and closer cultures contexts. Every law recorded in history has a certain shared property with every other law. Every contract with every other contract. Within cultural contexts such things will have similar, if not identical wording, because within that culture, such will be the accepted vehicle of communicating a certain point.OK, but Jesus wasn’t just giving a sermon He thought up. It was a debate. If it appears Jesus acknowledged a particular group over another, it’s because that group had it right. The Pharisees wanted to know who Jesus sided with. Jesus answered them in such a specific way that they knew who He sided with. But, of course, the reality was: the Shammaites sided with Him. Their ruling was derived from His law. Now, He did take it a step further than the Shammaites. The Shammaites acknowledged Hillelite divorces, but Jesus made it clear that was wrong to do.


What the ANE experts should be bearing in mind is that within that culture, oration was very well practiced, and very deliberately executed. Laws were based on precedent, not only of other laws, but of language as well.

To relate one point to another because of similar language may be a starting point, but unless it is supported by the immediate context of the text (and the account in Mark, as well as Jesus’ exclusivity of defining a singe exception demonstrate it is not) then you are imposing assumptions that are not substantiated by the text, at the expense of what the text actually says.The author goes over the account of Mark and makes great points. Mark’s account doesn’t change anything. And I’m not sure what your trying to argue with the “Jesus’ exclusivity of defining a singe exception demonstrate it is not.” What do you mean? His exception clause is the exact same exception clause of the Shammaite’s. He repeats their ruling to the Pharisees. If He did not believe the other unanimously held grounds for divorce were valid, this would be the time to make that clear. But instead, He gives His ruling in the same way with the same terminology as the Shammaites.


This is to trust in our ability to properly intellectually discern the assumptions imposed on the text, and not to trust the spiritual discernment of what the Word of God actually says, which is how God tells us to read the Bible.

You can spend the whole rest of your life reading about the ANE cultures and trying to impose their thoughts, cultures and values on the Bible, but in the end there will still be two ways to interpret all of the extra-biblical information – according to the text, and against it. I can look at all the same data about the ANE and logically come to the opposite conclusion that we see above. It’s our starting assumptions that drive the interpretations.

Our interpretation of the Bible needs to drive our interpretation of errant documents (history, philosophy, etc), not the other way around. Otherwise, by necessity, you are building your beliefs off of flawed sources and applying that flawed approach to the inerrant Word, introducing error to an error free text.The Word of God actually says women should wear hats when they pray and that we should greet each other with a holy kiss. Shouldn’t we try to understand how the culture at the time understood these things before we automatically apply every literal word to our lives today? Or should we simply apply every literal and actual word of what’s written in the Bible to our lives without knowing anything about the culture to which the words were spoken?

If the Pharisees, the disciples, and other listeners understood Jesus’ words to mean that the Shammaite’s had it right, then shouldn’t we understand His words to mean that too?

RabbiKnife
Apr 30th 2010, 07:10 PM
Any "church" that would want to excommunicate someone for getting a divorce is a "church" from which I would be happily excommunicated.

LookingUp
Apr 30th 2010, 07:24 PM
Any "church" that would want to excommunicate someone for getting a divorce is a "church" from which I would be happily excommunicated.You don't think that was what Jesus intended when he said one who divorces a spouse for invalid reasons should be considered an adulterer(ess)? Doesn't Jesus expect us to ask (unrepentant) adulterers to leave the fellowship of believers?

Ryan R
Apr 30th 2010, 08:24 PM
But that is your opinion. I believe a good reason was given for why they would have marveled as they did. In your opinion, the possible explanation was weak, but in my opinion, I found it reasonable. It’s not that they personally were looking for an easy way out of their marriages, but it seemed severe and restrictive to require men and women to have very good reasons for divorce when the prevailing ethic had been otherwise for their entire lives. For someone who is straight and a mother of four who would never consider abortion personally but who is also strongly pro-gay and pro-abortion, it would seem severe and restrictive if a beloved and respected authority figure came along and said that these two things were now unlawful and not allowed. This mother of four would marvel even more greatly if the prevailing rule of society was pro-gay and pro-abortion.

I pasted part of my post above, because I wanted to address it specifically since it’s the clincher for me in this author’s findings. The rest of his findings are secondary in my mind. If Jesus really were answering a specific question regarding this ongoing debate and furthermore answered it in the same exact way the Shammaite ruling was written, I find this very convincing that Jesus intended His listeners to understand His answer to mean exactly what the Shammaite’s meant—that the exception clause applies to Deut. 24:1 specifically while recognizing other grounds for divorce. If He didn’t want them to understand this as His view, He would have made it clear.

It wasn’t similar, it was the exact language which, to me, appears deliberate. That doesn’t mean He was condescending to someone else’s wisdom. The Shammaite’s wisdom was derived from Scripture. Jesus was agreeing with their understanding of His law.

I cannot understand how that can be gleaned from this:

"What did Moses command you?" he replied. They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Mark 10:3-9).

Jesus asks what Moses commanded, and specified it was not that way from the beginning.

I don't see how it could be any clearer that He is addressing the Law specifically, since He prompted them to cite the Law, and responded that the Law was not the way from the beginning, and then stated the way it should, and needs to be. No matter what your approach to the language or what your assumptions, the text must be ignored to garner any other conclusion.


OK, but Jesus wasn’t just giving a sermon He thought up. It was a debate. If it appears Jesus acknowledged a particular group over another, it’s because that group had it right. The Pharisees wanted to know who Jesus sided with. Jesus answered them in such a specific way that they knew who He sided with.

But He didn't. He asked what the Law said and responded to that.


But, of course, the reality was: the Shammaites sided with Him. Their ruling was derived from His law. Now, He did take it a step further than the Shammaites. The Shammaites acknowledged Hillelite divorces, but Jesus made it clear that was wrong to do.

But He didn't stop there.



The author goes over the account of Mark and makes great points. Mark’s account doesn’t change anything.

I agree. I think it's clear from either account.


And I’m not sure what your trying to argue with the “Jesus’ exclusivity of defining a singe exception demonstrate it is not.” What do you mean? His exception clause is the exact same exception clause of the Shammaite’s. He repeats their ruling to the Pharisees.

Not at all. Their clauses included neglect and abuse. Jesus stated something more exclusive, demonstrated by His prompting them to cite the Law of Moses before He gave them the new decree. You don't correct someone by agreeing with them, and Jesus clearly states that Moses Law isn't the way it was from the beginning.

The whole argument is just pulling in complicating factors, but regardless of how many considerations are added the simple facts of the statements remain the same, and the facts are that Jesus specified that the Law of Moses was the one He was addressing, by prompting it to be cited, specified that it was the Law of Moses that was because of hardness of hearts, and gave His commandment. Add any consideration, it doesn't change these facts.


If He did not believe the other unanimously held grounds for divorce were valid, this would be the time to make that clear. But instead, He gives His ruling in the same way with the same terminology as the Shammaites.

Remember that this terminology is derived from the Bible in the first place, so its not really the terminology of the Shammaites so much as God's language. So if the parrot sounds like it's master, it's still not because the parrot's got a point.


The Word of God actually says women should wear hats when they pray and that we should greet each other with a holy kiss. Shouldn’t we try to understand how the culture at the time understood these things before we automatically apply every literal word to our lives today? Or should we simply apply every literal and actual word of what’s written in the Bible to our lives without knowing anything about the culture to which the words were spoken?

No. Neither. That's a false dichotomy.

We should understand the word in its own context first, in context of the rest of scripture next, and then, and only then, after we've exhausted all avenues of scriptural explanation, should we look into the cultures of the time to help illuminate scripture. Otherwise, we'd have to admit that Jesus' claim to be the Son of God is a natural and logical consequence of the Hebrew culture mingling with the Hellenistic culture (as secular scholars state).


If the Pharisees, the disciples, and other listeners understood Jesus’ words to mean that the Shammaite’s had it right, then shouldn’t we understand His words to mean that too?

Well, no, not necessarily, but they didn't at that anyways.

This fallacy of false alternatives (i.e. if we trust the plain meaning of scripture we have to turn off our intellects and follow blindly into an illogical and incomprehensible void of Biblical rabbit trails and literalized metaphors) is the most caustic attack that is currently eroding faith in the Word as it was written.

It has always been taken into consideration that the Bible was written at a space in time, addressing a primary audience. All of the conservative interpretations factored this in. Historians and Biblical scholars just took this for granted because it was so obvious. Recently it seems like people are pitching this idea like it's taking traditional interpretations off guard. It isn't. We've always known these things. We've always considered these factors.

However, now people are suggesting that we look at scripture through the lens of our cultural understandings. That's where the approach fails, because it filter's God's word through man's assumptions. Primary sources are recorded by fallible people in fallible ways, read and interpreted by other fallible people who condense them into fallible secondary sources, that are read and interpreted by other fallible people who fallible apply them to their fallible concepts of theology, and then encourage others to adopt these assumptions and fallible apply them to their own fallible understanding of God's infallible Word.

He gave us all the pure, unadulterated truth, and we're now working so hard to strain it through the wisdom of man, and most of us are truly convinced that this is the way to squeeze the truth out of the text. The text is the truth, it needs no filter, and any filter we apply introduces the filth of our misconception to the purity of God's Word. "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17), "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105).

We will never succeed in removing all of our assumptions, but that is no excuse to celebrate and deliberately compound them, "Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:5).

RabbiKnife
Apr 30th 2010, 08:44 PM
You don't think that was what Jesus intended when he said one who divorces a spouse for invalid reasons should be considered an adulterer(ess)? Doesn't Jesus expect us to ask (unrepentant) adulterers to leave the fellowship of believers?

What is an (unrepentant) adulterer?

LookingUp
Apr 30th 2010, 09:28 PM
What is an (unrepentant) adulterer?One who keeps on doing it.

RabbiKnife
Apr 30th 2010, 09:39 PM
One who keeps on doing it.

Like a Christian who is married to someone who is divorced? Is that your point?
So the Christian should then divorce the divorcee, thus compounding the sin.

Got it.

LookingUp
Apr 30th 2010, 09:52 PM
Like a Christian who is married to someone who is divorced? Is that your point?
So the Christian should then divorce the divorcee, thus compounding the sin.

Got it.No, you don’t understand what I’m saying. I’m comparing an unrepentant adulterer to a Christian who is pursing a divorce for invalid reasons. I’m not talking about remarried folks.

LookingUp
Apr 30th 2010, 10:12 PM
I cannot understand how that can be gleaned from this:

"What did Moses command you?" he replied. They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Mark 10:3-9).

Jesus asks what Moses commanded, and specified it was not that way from the beginning.

I don't see how it could be any clearer that He is addressing the Law specifically, since He prompted them to cite the Law, and responded that the Law was not the way from the beginning, and then stated the way it should, and needs to be. No matter what your approach to the language or what your assumptions, the text must be ignored to garner any other conclusion.The Pharisees wanted to know who He sided with in the ongoing debate of “matter of indecency”—does it mean “any matter” or “adultery”? (Mt. 19:3). Jesus didn’t tell them what it meant; instead He told them that marriage was meant to be for a lifetime (Mt. 19:4-6). Their focus was wrong. It’s like asking our Pastor how much sin we can get away with and still go to heaven. Then the Pharisees wanted to know that if marriage was meant to be for a lifetime, then why did Moses command them to divorce their wives at all (Mt. 19:7). He tells them why and then He gives His ruling, which is the same as the Shammaite’s ruling (Mt. 19:8-9). A man is permitted to divorce his wife due to adultery because of our hardness of heart.



But He didn't. He asked what the Law said and responded to that.The Pharisees brought up the Law (Mt. 19:7).


But He didn't stop there.

I agree. I think it's clear from either account.

Not at all. Their clauses included neglect and abuse.No, the ruling on a “mater of indecency” didn’t include neglect and abuse.


Jesus stated something more exclusive, demonstrated by His prompting them to cite the Law of Moses before He gave them the new decree. You don't correct someone by agreeing with them, and Jesus clearly states that Moses Law isn't the way it was from the beginning.Jesus says that permission to divorce their wives for hardness of heart was not that way from the beginning (Mt. 19:8). Marriage is meant to be for a lifetime. But as we see, God continues to give permission to divorce for hardness of heart.


The whole argument is just pulling in complicating factors, but regardless of how many considerations are added the simple facts of the statements remain the same, and the facts are that Jesus specified that the Law of Moses was the one He was addressing, by prompting it to be cited, specified that it was the Law of Moses that was because of hardness of hearts, and gave His commandment. Add any consideration, it doesn't change these facts.

Remember that this terminology is derived from the Bible in the first place, so its not really the terminology of the Shammaites so much as God's language. So if the parrot sounds like it's master, it's still not because the parrot's got a point.The Shammaite ruling did not copy what was written in the Bible. It was summarized in two ways:

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her indecency.

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.

The OT doesn’t say that a man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency. The statements of Jesus in Mt. 5 and 19 replicate the Shammaite ruling. For example, in Mt. 5 Jesus says that every one who divorces his wife except for a matter of indecency…


No. Neither. That's a false dichotomy.

We should understand the word in its own context first, in context of the rest of scripture next, and then, and only then, after we've exhausted all avenues of scriptural explanation, should we look into the cultures of the time to help illuminate scripture. Otherwise, we'd have to admit that Jesus' claim to be the Son of God is a natural and logical consequence of the Hebrew culture mingling with the Hellenistic culture (as secular scholars state).But Jesus’ words on this are not clear unless we do look into the cultures of the time. His words contradict Paul’s which says there is another exception (abandonment). We must look into the culture to understand more clearly what His words mean.

RabbiKnife
May 3rd 2010, 02:40 PM
No, you don’t understand what I’m saying. I’m comparing an unrepentant adulterer to a Christian who is pursing a divorce for invalid reasons. I’m not talking about remarried folks.

But you have to treat both groups the same.

What if someone got a divorce for "invalid reasons," which I am certain we may disagree on.

Then they get married again. How can they ever "repent and stop being an adulterer/ress" without divorcing hubby/wife #2?

Or do we forever ban them from the congregation?

Ryan R
May 3rd 2010, 05:29 PM
The Pharisees wanted to know who He sided with in the ongoing debate of “matter of indecency”—does it mean “any matter” or “adultery”? (Mt. 19:3). Jesus didn’t tell them what it meant; instead He told them that marriage was meant to be for a lifetime (Mt. 19:4-6). Their focus was wrong.

True, but His qualification was still demonstrably exclusive of other considerations, above and beyond what the Pharisees were expecting, as was frequently the case when Jesus spoke to people and they marveled at His doctrine.


It’s like asking our Pastor how much sin we can get away with and still go to heaven. Then the Pharisees wanted to know that if marriage was meant to be for a lifetime, then why did Moses command them to divorce their wives at all (Mt. 19:7). He tells them why and then He gives His ruling, which is the same as the Shammaite’s ruling (Mt. 19:8-9). A man is permitted to divorce his wife due to adultery because of our hardness of heart.

I understand what was going on, and I understand what they probably thought, but what the people thought is irrelivant. What Jesus said is relevant, and no matter how many times the assumptions of the day are addressed it doesn't change the fact that Jesus credited the permission to divorce to the Law, and issued a new commandment in its place. He clearly did not attribute the permission for divorce to the Shammaites but to Moses ruling i.e. the Law, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning."

That is what the text says, and to suggest He was talking about the Shammaites when He said 'Moses' is to flat out alter, ignore or edit the text. It just isn't what it says, so any suggestion of cultural implications is contradictory to the inspired Word of God.



The Pharisees brought up the Law (Mt. 19:7).

Only after Jesus told them to, "And He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?"" (Mark 10:3), so technically He brought it up.


No, the ruling on a “mater of indecency” didn’t include neglect and abuse.

I thought your argument was that it did include these things and the matter of indecency, versus including these things and any frivolous thing.

In any case, all that matters is that Jesus referred to the Law of Moses that included both the clause of uncleanliness and the clause of neglect and abuse, and He only allowed one of them as a qualification.


Jesus says that permission to divorce their wives for hardness of heart was not that way from the beginning (Mt. 19:8). Marriage is meant to be for a lifetime. But as we see, God continues to give permission to divorce for hardness of heart.

No He doesn't and this isn't what the text says. It doesn't say permission was given to divorce their wives for hardness of heart (as though hardness of heart was the clause), but that hardness of heart was the impetus for the permission, which [the permission] Jesus stated was not the case from the beginning, nor going forward.

That is how it is written.


The Shammaite ruling did not copy what was written in the Bible.

Not exactly, but it was clearly parroting it. Let's look at the examples you provide below:


It was summarized in two ways:

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her indecency.

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.

Compare that to passages in scripture, “If a man... marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights” (Exodus 21:7-11), under the understanding that there is the qualification of “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her” in Deuteronomy 24: 1.

The language above is clearly parroting that of the Pentateuch, just adding both parts together.


The OT doesn’t say that a man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.

Yes it does, in Deuteronomy “because he hath found some uncleanness in her”. ‘Indecency’ was just that culture’s way of saying ‘uncleanness.’ Jesus was just speaking the language of the day, to reference the same OT passages that the Shammaites referenced, and in the same culturally acceptable terms.

But then He qualified that the Law was not the way it was from the beginning, taking it back before any of these factional concerns were ever raised.


The statements of Jesus in Mt. 5 and 19 replicate the Shammaite ruling.

But that’s not what He said the replaced. He clearly said they replaced the law under Moses.


For example, in Mt. 5 Jesus says that every one who divorces his wife except for a matter of indecency…

Referring to the ruling under Moses, as He implicitly stipulated, and therefore referring to Deuteronomy’s use of the word ‘uncleanness’ that was translated consistently by both Jesus and the Sahmmaites as “indecency.”

This is what He said He was comparing.


But Jesus’ words on this are not clear unless we do look into the cultures of the time.

As much as we’re told this is the case, it isn’t. Jesus’ words are clear when we trust the Words as discerned through the Holy Spirit, as I mentioned earlier, not our ability to see, think and process with human wisdom.

Real Wisdom comes from fear of the Lord, as we see in Proverbs, but Jesus also modeled this for us, as well: “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears” (Isaiah 11:2-3).

We can’t figure out God’s Word, and I submit that the idea that Jesus’ words are not clear enough on their own without the introduction of the human wisdom to place them in their appropriate cultural context serves to replace our trust in His Word as it is written, to trusting in our ability to determine what they actually mean.

It is the Word that instructs, the Word that is the lamp unto our feet, the Word that stands in the heavens, not the wisdom of the world “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31), so it is the Word that needs to be used first and foremost to guide our understanding of the Word.

His Word is clear, and it can and must be trusted as is, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Our understanding is cloudy (1 Cor. 13:11, John 1:5, Jeremiah 17:5) at best.


His words contradict Paul’s which says there is another exception (abandonment).

I already explained that this is not a contradiction. ‘You must not...’ is entirely different from ‘Stop other people from...”.

To call this a contradiction is like saying that since we’re told that if we are slapped we need to turn the other cheek, then we personally sin if our spouse slaps us, even if we turn the other cheek, because we should have stopped them from sinning in the first place.

If they leave you, they are divorcing you. That’s their responsibility. Jesus’ commandments are not geared towards forcing others not to sin.


We must look into the culture to understand more clearly what His words mean.

We really don’t, and if we do we end up writing off what they clearly mean in any culture and ascribing values to His words that they did not contain.

Remember how Satan deceives us, as seen in the Garden of Eden - in the subtle suggestion that we can question, “Did God really say...?” (Gen. 3:1), and then examine the exact words of God, somehow convincing us that He didn’t actually mean the precise implications of the words of His instruction: “You will not surely [fill in the blank]” (Gen. 3:4).

The text says what it means and means what it says, and if you use the Word to divide the Word you will find the truth, with God acting as your discernment, and the truth is not contradictory, as is the case with the attempt to explain what Jesus actually meant when He said this or that.

LookingUp
May 3rd 2010, 07:31 PM
But you have to treat both groups the same.

What if someone got a divorce for "invalid reasons," which I am certain we may disagree on.At this point in my study, it appears adultery and abandonment are valid grounds for divorce as well as emotional or physical neglect.


Then they get married again. How can they ever "repent and stop being an adulterer/ress" without divorcing hubby/wife #2?

Or do we forever ban them from the congregation?In the day of Christ, easy divorcism was the prevailing ethic, so we can be sure many remarried folks had been divorced for invalid reasons. But there’s no record showing that Jesus expected all remarried people who had divorced for invalid reasons to divorce their new spouse.

If a husband divorced his wife for invalid reasons (i.e. she burned his dinner too many times or she began to look old or whatever) and remarried, he was then technically considered an adulterer. At that point, the previous marriage contract was broken through the “adultery” of the second marriage. But if this man (after hearing Jesus, for example) realized he had sinned against his first wife and asked God’s forgiveness, he would be forgiven by God. And so should we forgive him! :)

Firefighter
May 3rd 2010, 08:00 PM
Here is a real kicker... In the law, it was a sin to remarry a woman that you had previously divorced. :hmm:

Ryan R
May 3rd 2010, 08:32 PM
Here is a real kicker... In the law, it was a sin to remarry a woman that you had previously divorced. :hmm:

There's always a kicker.

RabbiKnife
May 3rd 2010, 08:36 PM
Alimony...that's the kicker...

LookingUp
May 4th 2010, 02:25 AM
True, but His qualification was still demonstrably exclusive of other considerations, above and beyond what the Pharisees were expecting, as was frequently the case when Jesus spoke to people and they marveled at His doctrine.I think they were surprised He expected them to stay married to a repentant spouse who had committed adultery.


I understand what was going on, and I understand what they probably thought, but what the people thought is irrelivant. What Jesus said is relevant, and no matter how many times the assumptions of the day are addressed it doesn't change the fact that Jesus credited the permission to divorce to the Law, and issued a new commandment in its place.No, we still have permission.


He clearly did not attribute the permission for divorce to the Shammaites but to Moses ruling i.e. the Law, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”

That is what the text says, and to suggest He was talking about the Shammaites when He said 'Moses' is to flat out alter, ignore or edit the text. It just isn't what it says, so any suggestion of cultural implications is contradictory to the inspired Word of God.I didn’t mean to say He attributed it to the Shammaites. God never intended for anyone to get a divorce. Permission was not granted in the beginning, but it was (and is) granted because God is dealing with humans who do not repent (i.e. hard hearts). Whatever one believes the exceptions to be (be it one exception or several), permission continues to be granted to divorce your spouse.


Only after Jesus told them to, "And He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?"" (Mark 10:3), so technically He brought it up.How do you know He brought it up first? That’s not what Matthew says.


I thought your argument was that it did include these things and the matter of indecency, versus including these things and any frivolous thing. The ruling was about Deut. 24. Ex. 21 was not in question. There was no reason to include it in the ruling about Deut. 24.


In any case, all that matters is that Jesus referred to the Law of Moses that included both the clause of uncleanliness and the clause of neglect and abuse, and He only allowed one of them as a qualification.Even if Jesus meant, “What does ‘the entire Torah’ say regarding if it’s unlawful to divorce your wife for any reason at all?” the Pharisees referenced a specific passage when they brought up the point that Moses commanded them to divorce their wives and give them a certificate of divorce. They brought this up because they thought the passage taught that you can divorce your wife for any reason whatsoever. Even if Jesus brought up the law (Torah) first, they are the ones who narrowed it down to Deut. 24 with their very specific answer. So, I don’t agree that we should assume Jesus was amending the divorce law for the entire Torah.


No He doesn't and this isn't what the text says. It doesn't say permission was given to divorce their wives for hardness of heart (as though hardness of heart was the clause), but that hardness of heart was the impetus for the permission, which [the permission] Jesus stated was not the case from the beginning, nor going forward.

That is how it is written.But we DO still have permission to divorce our spouse. Whether God means marriage to be for a lifetime or not, we can still divorce our spouse. We can still separate what God has joined together, even though we should not—repentance & forgiveness are the ideal.


Not exactly, but it was clearly parroting it. Let's look at the examples you provide below:

Compare that to passages in scripture, “If a man... marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights” (Exodus 21:7-11), under the understanding that there is the qualification of “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her” in Deuteronomy 24: 1.

The language above is clearly parroting that of the Pentateuch, just adding both parts together.Yes, I know similar language was used.

The wording of the ruling of the Shammaite’s doesn’t bother to say anything about Ex. 21 when it says that a man can divorce his wife for only adultery (“matter of indecency”). It doesn’t need to say anything about Ex. 21 because that wasn’t in question. The wording of Jesus, which is the same as the Shammaite’s wording, doesn’t have to say anything about Ex. 21 for the very same reason—it wasn’t in question.


Yes it does, in Deuteronomy “because he hath found some uncleanness in her”. ‘Indecency’ was just that culture’s way of saying ‘uncleanness.’ Jesus was just speaking the language of the day, to reference the same OT passages that the Shammaites referenced, and in the same culturally acceptable terms.I wrote, “The OT doesn’t say that a man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.” And you wrote, “Yes it does, in Deuteronomy…”. Where does it say that? I can’t find where Deuteronomy says “A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.”


But then He qualified that the Law was not the way it was from the beginning, taking it back before any of these factional concerns were ever raised.

But that’s not what He said the replaced. He clearly said they replaced the law under Moses.I still don’t see where He “clearly” said that His rulings replaced the entire divorce law under Moses.


Referring to the ruling under Moses, as He implicitly stipulated, and therefore referring to Deuteronomy’s use of the word ‘uncleanness’ that was translated consistently by both Jesus and the Sahmmaites as “indecency.”

This is what He said He was comparing.I don’t know what you’re saying here.


As much as we’re told this is the case, it isn’t. Jesus’ words are clear when we trust the Words as discerned through the Holy Spirit, as I mentioned earlier, not our ability to see, think and process with human wisdom.So those who have interpreted this the way you do are the ones with spiritual discernment and those who looked at the culture lack spiritual discernment?


Real Wisdom comes from fear of the Lord, as we see in Proverbs, but Jesus also modeled this for us, as well: “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears” (Isaiah 11:2-3).So those who look at the culture to gain deeper understanding of His words lack a healthy fear of the Lord? That’s a lot of brothers in Christ.


We can’t figure out God’s Word, and I submit that the idea that Jesus’ words are not clear enough on their own without the introduction of the human wisdom to place them in their appropriate cultural context serves to replace our trust in His Word as it is written, to trusting in our ability to determine what they actually mean.Well without the human wisdom to translate this stuff from Greek to English, it wouldn’t matter how much spiritual discernment or fear of the Lord we possessed.


It is the Word that instructs, the Word that is the lamp unto our feet, the Word that stands in the heavens, not the wisdom of the world “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31), so it is the Word that needs to be used first and foremost to guide our understanding of the Word.Of course His Word should be used first and foremost. But if we find that His words would have meant something totally different to the ears of His audience than to our modern culture, we need to adjust what we think we know.


His Word is clear, and it can and must be trusted as is, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Our understanding is cloudy (1 Cor. 13:11, John 1:5, Jeremiah 17:5) at best.Yes, our understanding is often cloudy.


I already explained that this is not a contradiction. ‘You must not...’ is entirely different from ‘Stop other people from...”.

To call this a contradiction is like saying that since we’re told that if we are slapped we need to turn the other cheek, then we personally sin if our spouse slaps us, even if we turn the other cheek, because we should have stopped them from sinning in the first place.

If they leave you, they are divorcing you. That’s their responsibility. Jesus’ commandments are not geared towards forcing others not to sin.But it’s still a valid ground for divorce. Jesus said that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. It seems He should have said, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality or abandonment, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Two valid and lawful types of divorces.

Ryan R
May 4th 2010, 07:23 PM
I think they were surprised He expected them to stay married to a repentant spouse who had committed adultery.

But that's not what He said. Re-read the passage, Jesus never says He expected that.


No, we still have permission.

That's not what the text shows us.


I didn’t mean to say He attributed it to the Shammaites. God never intended for anyone to get a divorce. Permission was not granted in the beginning, but it was (and is) granted because God is dealing with humans who do not repent (i.e. hard hearts). Whatever one believes the exceptions to be (be it one exception or several), permission continues to be granted to divorce your spouse.

OK, I agree with this, but still maintain that the exception was the one specified by Jesus, in the tradition we see Him refering to the Law and giving new commandments.


How do you know He brought it up first? That’s not what Matthew says.

Matthew doesn't include that detail, but Mark does and if you reconcile the chronology of the two accounts of the same instance, Jesus brings it up first.

Let's look at the order of the events in both. According to Matthew:

"Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

So, we see the order of events is the Pharisees question Jesus on divorce, Jesus responds by mentioning it was not that way from the beginning, they aske why Moses allowed it then, and He respondes that it was because their hearts were hard but if they divorce for any reason other than adultery then they are themselves adulterers.

Now, in Mark if we examine the series of events again, we can place the missing detail of when Jesus asked the Pharisees about what Moses commanded into the above account:

"Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"

"What did Moses command you?" he replied.

They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."

"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

So, we see the order of events is the Pharisees question Jesus on divorce, Jesus asks them what Moses commanded, the Pharisees answer what Moses commanded, Jesus responds by mentioning it was not that way from the beginning, they aske why Moses allowed it then, and He respondes that it was because their hearts were hard but if they divorce for any reason other than adultery then they are themselves adulterers.

That is the order the event occured in, as seen in the reconciliation of the two accounts.


The ruling was about Deut. 24. Ex. 21 was not in question. There was no reason to include it in the ruling about Deut. 24.

Even if Jesus meant, “What does ‘the entire Torah’ say regarding if it’s unlawful to divorce your wife for any reason at all?” the Pharisees referenced a specific passage when they brought up the point that Moses commanded them to divorce their wives and give them a certificate of divorce. They brought this up because they thought the passage taught that you can divorce your wife for any reason whatsoever. Even if Jesus brought up the law (Torah) first, they are the ones who narrowed it down to Deut. 24 with their very specific answer. So, I don’t agree that we should assume Jesus was amending the divorce law for the entire Torah.

OK, here you're speaking my language. Using scripture to discern scripture - very nice. I love it.

The problem is that the Law was inseparable. All parts that relate to all other parts are pertinent, and the people who knew this better than anyone were the author of the Law, and the Pharisees. Jesus asked them what Moses commanded them on divorce, and to that Jesus provided an answer.

If you want to start picking the Law apart and dividing it according to what was addressed when under what context, and thereby separate according to exact context addressed in the respective passages, then Exodus 21 only applies to Hebrew servant girls anyways, and not to Christians at all.


But we DO still have permission to divorce our spouse. Whether God means marriage to be for a lifetime or not, we can still divorce our spouse.

But only for marital unfaithfulness, as He qualified.


We can still separate what God has joined together, even though we should not

But only for marital unfaithfulness, as He qualified.


—repentance & forgiveness are the ideal.

True, but I was never contesting that.


Yes, I know similar language was used.

The wording of the ruling of the Shammaite’s doesn’t bother to say anything about Ex. 21 when it says that a man can divorce his wife for only adultery (“matter of indecency”). It doesn’t need to say anything about Ex. 21 because that wasn’t in question. The wording of Jesus, which is the same as the Shammaite’s wording, doesn’t have to say anything about Ex. 21 for the very same reason—it wasn’t in question.

OK, so if it doesn’t apply in this context (a context of the question of when divorce is permitted by God), then it only applies to the context in which it was written, which was to Hebrew servant girls under the Law of Moses, rendering any application to the current conversation totally irrelevant.

Either Exodus 21 applied to the conversation Jesus was having on the exceptions to divorce, and therefore to our current conversation, or it didn’t, and therefore it doesn’t here either. It can’t both be inapplicable to that conversation and applicable to this one, since the context is the regulations around divorce.


I wrote, “The OT doesn’t say that a man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.” And you wrote, “Yes it does, in Deuteronomy…”. Where does it say that? I can’t find where Deuteronomy says “A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.”

Sorry, I’m not following. Do you disagree with what I wrote before? “...in Deuteronomy “because he hath found some uncleanness in her”. ‘Indecency’ was just that culture’s way of saying ‘uncleanness.’”


I still don’t see where He “clearly” said that His rulings replaced the entire divorce law under Moses.

You added the word ‘entire’ here to what I was saying.

In this part I was not addressing the exclusivity of Jesus’ statement (that’s what I was addressing earlier); here I was addressing the fact that it was specified as an address to the law of Moses and not to anything or anyone else.


I don’t know what you’re saying here.

Jesus explicitly said that He was talking about the law of Moses, so when He used the word ‘indecency’ it had to refer to the law of Moses. Since we don’t see that word in the Law, as we have it translated in English, we know the part of the law He must have been referring to was the part that allowed for divorce for uncleanliness.


So those who have interpreted this the way you do are the ones with spiritual discernment and those who looked at the culture lack spiritual discernment?

Those who filter the word through human wisdom are doing it the way God said not to, as I pointed out before, so ‘yep’.

There’s only one right way to interpret the absolute, infallible truth. None of us have it right, but the best way to get the closest is to do it as God told us to.

Someone has to be more right and someone has to be less so. I provided my reasons from the Bible, and am happy to go into further detail.


So those who look at the culture to gain deeper understanding of His words lack a healthy fear of the Lord? That’s a lot of brothers in Christ.

I don’t concern myself overly with how man elects to err to guide my interpretation of the scripture, because God says not to, “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22).

We’re told that in the end times people would be under a strong delusion to believe a lie (2 Thes. 2:11), and “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Tim. 4:3).

So, God wouldn’t have told us that this would happen unless it were going to, so we can be absolutely sure that there will be a strong delusion and that people will believe what they want instead of proper doctrine. It’s gotta start somewhere.

If you at any point have any question about the scriptural or historical angle of my interpretation, I will provide you with research, and meticulously presented answers to support my points for as long as you will suffer to read them, or until either you or I change our minds about our interpretation. Apart from that, upon whose authority would I elect to guide my interpretation of Scripture, unless it was on the authority of scripture itself of the Holy Spirit?


Well without the human wisdom to translate this stuff from Greek to English, it wouldn’t matter how much spiritual discernment or fear of the Lord we possessed.

That’s rationalizing. We also can’t stop sinning, so do we give ourselves over to it? God forbid.

The Bible doesn’t say to sweat things we can’t help, it says to trust and pray and that in Christ are “all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words” (Colossians 2: 2-4).


Of course His Word should be used first and foremost. But if we find that His words would have meant something totally different to the ears of His audience than to our modern culture, we need to adjust what we think we know.

I was taught a lot about how to read the Bible by a guy who has read it in its original languages over 50 times, straight through from Genesis to Revelation. Over and over I learned that the above concern pretty much isn’t a concern the way people make it out to be. That approach introduces so much foreign data and erroneous conclusions and settles nearly nothing as far as that which is incomprehensible across cultures.


But it’s still a valid ground for divorce. Jesus said that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. It seems He should have said, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality or abandonment, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Two valid and lawful types of divorces.

What Jesus says is “... anyone who divorces his wife...” not ‘anyone who gets a divorce. He said what He meant and to try to pull 1 Corinthians 7 into it as a qualifier here is to add to His point. He was saying that if you are divorcing them, then you are sinning unless they were unfaithful. He didn’t address what happens if they seek the divorce from you until 1 Corinthian 7.

JLM Lives
May 4th 2010, 07:33 PM
no such thing as excommunication. just believe Jesus not man

LookingUp
May 5th 2010, 12:30 AM
But that's not what He said. Re-read the passage, Jesus never says He expected that.It is shown that He expected them to stay married (i.e. to a repentant spouse) when He told them that no man should separate what God has joined together. When He said man shouldn’t separate it, He meant that man shouldn’t separate it.


That's not what the text shows us.Yes, the text does indeed show that we still have permission to divorce our spouse (whether one is convinced there is only one exception or more). We are not expected to remain married to a spouse who continues in their adultery without repentance.


OK, I agree with this, but still maintain that the exception was the one specified by Jesus, in the tradition we see Him refering to the Law and giving new commandments.It doesn’t matter what tradition shows. Besides not all the “new commandments” changed the previous law. Some were additions to a law that remained the same.

Addition: You shouldn’t commit murder. You shouldn’t hate. (You still shouldn’t murder!)
Addition: You shouldn’t commit adultery. You shouldn’t lust. (You still shouldn’t commit adultery).

So we can’t use “tradition” as an argument that the ruling Jesus gave must have changed the previous divorce law.


Matthew doesn't include that detail, but Mark does and if you reconcile the chronology of the two accounts of the same instance, Jesus brings it up first.

Let's look at the order of the events in both. According to Matthew:

"Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

So, we see the order of events is the Pharisees question Jesus on divorce, Jesus responds by mentioning it was not that way from the beginning, they aske why Moses allowed it then, and He respondes that it was because their hearts were hard but if they divorce for any reason other than adultery then they are themselves adulterers.

Now, in Mark if we examine the series of events again, we can place the missing detail of when Jesus asked the Pharisees about what Moses commanded into the above account:

"Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"

"What did Moses command you?" he replied.

They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."

"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

So, we see the order of events is the Pharisees question Jesus on divorce, Jesus asks them what Moses commanded, the Pharisees answer what Moses commanded, Jesus responds by mentioning it was not that way from the beginning, they aske why Moses allowed it then, and He respondes that it was because their hearts were hard but if they divorce for any reason other than adultery then they are themselves adulterers.

That is the order the event occured in, as seen in the reconciliation of the two accounts.So, you believe it looks like this:

Jesus: What did Moses command?
Pharisees: Why then did Moses command a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?

That doesn’t make any sense.


OK, here you're speaking my language. Using scripture to discern scripture - very nice. I love it.

The problem is that the Law was inseparable. All parts that relate to all other parts are pertinent, and the people who knew this better than anyone were the author of the Law, and the Pharisees. Jesus asked them what Moses commanded them on divorce, and to that Jesus provided an answer.

If you want to start picking the Law apart and dividing it according to what was addressed when under what context, and thereby separate according to exact context addressed in the respective passages, then Exodus 21 only applies to Hebrew servant girls anyways, and not to Christians at all.I’m not the one who “wants” to pick the Law apart. The OT Jews were the ones who did that. Every known faction believed Ex. 21 was the cornerstone of the entire divorce law. And yes, Ex. 21 even applied to Jewish woman (not just the servants).


But only for marital unfaithfulness, as He qualified.

But only for marital unfaithfulness, as He qualified.

True, but I was never contesting that.Fine, but you kept insisting that permission was no longer granted. Yet, it obviously is. So, that was not the part of the law that was modified. Permission continues to be granted.


OK, so if it doesn’t apply in this context (a context of the question of when divorce is permitted by God), then it only applies to the context in which it was written, which was to Hebrew servant girls under the Law of Moses, rendering any application to the current conversation totally irrelevant.

Either Exodus 21 applied to the conversation Jesus was having on the exceptions to divorce, and therefore to our current conversation, or it didn’t, and therefore it doesn’t here either. It can’t both be inapplicable to that conversation and applicable to this one, since the context is the regulations around divorce.Ex. 21 was the cornerstone of the divorce law for every existing faction. It had never been in question. There were no debates on it. These men were not questioning whether it was OK or not OK to divorce when a spouse was neglectful or abusive. That was never a matter of debate. The only debate on record was that of the “matter of indecency” phrase found in Deut. 24.


Sorry, I’m not following. Do you disagree with what I wrote before? “...in Deuteronomy “because he hath found some uncleanness in her”. ‘Indecency’ was just that culture’s way of saying ‘uncleanness.’”It sounded like you were saying that Deuteronomy says that a man should not divorce his wife except for the reason of adultery. Where does it say that? Copy it here.


You added the word ‘entire’ here to what I was saying.

In this part I was not addressing the exclusivity of Jesus’ statement (that’s what I was addressing earlier); here I was addressing the fact that it was specified as an address to the law of Moses and not to anything or anyone else.I don’t see how this speaks against what I have concluded His words to mean.


Jesus explicitly said that He was talking about the law of Moses, so when He used the word ‘indecency’ it had to refer to the law of Moses. Since we don’t see that word in the Law, as we have it translated in English, we know the part of the law He must have been referring to was the part that allowed for divorce for uncleanliness.

Those who filter the word through human wisdom are doing it the way God said not to, as I pointed out before, so ‘yep’.The people listening to Jesus were not filtering His words through human wisdom? How else could they understand what He was saying?


That’s rationalizing. We also can’t stop sinning, so do we give ourselves over to it? God forbid.How can you compare being able to translate from one language to another with sin?

Ryan R
May 5th 2010, 07:39 PM
Hi LookingUp,

I fear that my posting here has gone from having the effect of encouraging you, to exasperating you. That was not my intent.

I have appreciated your hunger for uncovering the truth here, and your open-mindedness. I indicated much earlier in this thread that I thought the interpretation that I am here disagreeing with has merit as an interpretation, when interpretated primarily from the Bible (as opposed to primarily from extra-biblical texts) and I don't mean to be renagging on that.

If someone from my church was getting a divorce because they were being abused, and earnestly believed Jesus was referring to Deuteronomy, and that the passage in Exodus 21 was a clause for the marital contract, I may disagree with that interpratation, but I would by no means pursue any kind of expulsion against them. This would be their interpretation, and if they were legitimately convicted of it, I for one would not consider this the same as a blatant, unrepented sin.

I wanted to clarify that, because I don't want this discussion to deteriorate in any way, because I respect what you're doing here, even if you and I disagree on some of the particulars of the approach.

God bless you.

Now, I will provide some responses to your questions, and please let me know if I am doing so in a way that's overly opinionated - I come across that way sometimes, even if I don't mean to, and for that I apologize.


It is shown that He expected them to stay married (i.e. to a repentant spouse) when He told them that no man should separate what God has joined together. When He said man shouldn’t separate it, He meant that man shouldn’t separate it.

Fair enough.


Yes, the text does indeed show that we still have permission to divorce our spouse (whether one is convinced there is only one exception or more). We are not expected to remain married to a spouse who continues in their adultery without repentance.

Right, for that reason we are not expected to remain married.


It doesn’t matter what tradition shows. Besides not all the “new commandments” changed the previous law. Some were additions to a law that remained the same.

Sorry, let me clarify what I mean by ‘tradition’ – I agree with what you’re saying here, but I was likening the instance in question to the instances where Jesus does issue a new commandment, because of the way in which it was expressed, specifically because He addressed what the Law had been, and then said something above and beyond that.


Addition: You shouldn’t commit murder. You shouldn’t hate. (You still shouldn’t murder!)
Addition: You shouldn’t commit adultery. You shouldn’t lust. (You still shouldn’t commit adultery).

But this actually nearly what I have been saying. These additions are exclusive. They rule out even more that the Law did. What I am saying follows this line of reasoning.


So we can’t use “tradition” as an argument that the ruling Jesus gave must have changed the previous divorce law.

But additions are change.


So, you believe it looks like this:

Jesus: What did Moses command?
Pharisees: Why then did Moses command a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?

That doesn’t make any sense.

The accounts don’t include ever word used, because in order to accurately record the conversation choices where made as to what to record.

In my industry we do something called ‘transcribing verbatims’, which means that we record people speaking and then take notes to capture the exact words that they use when describing things or ideas. We then distill these exact words and phrases into accounts. It is a method of capturing, collecting, and reporting primary research.

The vast majority of the word the individuals use in the process are dismissed - they never make it past the note-taking phase of the process. Most words, phrases, sentences and even paragraphs spoken are filler, repetitive, or even non- sequitur; but it is absolutely critical that ever word that we do record and report on is exactly as it came from the individual’s mouth. If a respondent says they found something ‘uncomfortable’, then that is the word they associate with whatever they were talking about. Any word we would switch it out with may sound similar to the person taking the notes, but may have a different connotation to the individual who spoke, or to the audience who would later read it.

This process allows us to scrap away all of the content that does not add value, while retaining the exact essence of what was expressed by the individual.

Such is also the case when recording a sequence of events when relating an account. When the police are investigating a crime scene, it is critical that they are able to reconcile the account to line up both the details and the sequence of events. If not, there is no case. A friend of mine was sexually assaulted a while ago, and even though she was with a witness at the time, she wasn’t wearing her glasses and it was dark out, and she was traumatized, and therefore her account and the witness’s account differed on some key variable, so her assailant, whom I also know and know for a fact that he is guilty, was never charged.

That said, after questioning everyone at a crime scene, when filling out their reports, the police will record the sequence of events according to the eye-witnesses, but will not include every detail they gathered. Therefore, two police officers who fill out two separate reports on the same incident will provide slightly different detail, but the sequence of accounts still will reconcile if done properly.

So, the Pharisees did ask “Why then did Moses command a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”, after Jesus asked, “Why then did Moses command a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”, but obviously not directly afterwards.

Both Matthew and Marks accounts are accurate, but they supplied different details in their reports. None-the-less, they do reconcile.


I’m not the one who “wants” to pick the Law apart. The OT Jews were the ones who did that. Every known faction believed Ex. 21 was the cornerstone of the entire divorce law. And yes, Ex. 21 even applied to Jewish woman (not just the servants).

I’m starting to feel guilty of disputing the law in an unprofitable manner. I was reading Exodus 21 again last night and noted how specific the context was, but in addition I noticed that it doesn’t even say anything about divorce. It never says that anyone can divorce anyone else for any reason, just that a servant-wife is free to go if she’s mistreated.

But, I will leave that up to your conviction because I may be the one whose getting concerned about picking apart the Law, so I will try to heed this passage, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless” (Titus 3:9), instead of badgering you further.


Fine, but you kept insisting that permission was no longer granted. Yet, it obviously is. So, that was not the part of the law that was modified. Permission continues to be granted.

I think we may be miscommunication here, because it sounds like we agree, but still disagree at the same time.

Sorry, I’m not sure where we’re at here.


Ex. 21 was the cornerstone of the divorce law for every existing faction. It had never been in question. There were no debates on it. These men were not questioning whether it was OK or not OK to divorce when a spouse was neglectful or abusive. That was never a matter of debate. The only debate on record was that of the “matter of indecency” phrase found in Deut. 24.

But Jesus never responded simply to how people may have interpreted things, but to how they should be interpreted.


It sounded like you were saying that Deuteronomy says that a man should not divorce his wife except for the reason of adultery. Where does it say that? Copy it here.

I’m confused. It was your point that it is found in Deuteronomy 24:1.

You mentioned it when you wrote “These are semantically identical to the two versions of the exception clause in Matthew, even as far as citing “indecent matter” from Deuteronomy 24:1 in the reverse order of “matter of indecency.”


I don’t see how this speaks against what I have concluded His words to mean.

I think we may have lost track of what we’re arguing on this one.


The people listening to Jesus were not filtering His words through human wisdom? How else could they understand what He was saying?

Good question.

God gives us understanding when we trust His word, often referred to as ‘ears to hear’ in scripture, as seen in these passages:

Matthew 13:15 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

Psalm 119:70 Their heart is covered with fat, But I delight in Your law.

Isaiah 6:10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed."

Zechariah 7:11 "But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing.

Luke 19:42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.

John 8:43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.

2 Timothy 4:4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Hebrews 5:11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

And does so for those who submit themselves to interpretation of the Word by the Word (Isaiah 28:10), by means of the Holy Spirit and not by the wisdom of man, seen here:

1 Corinthians 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Jude 1:19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

James 3:15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic

1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness

2 Corinthians 1:12 For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.


How can you compare being able to translate from one language to another with sin?

Just in that we can never be perfect either in our understanding of truth (doctrine) nor our modeling of it (sin), because we simply don’t measure up in either case. Translating from one language to another may be a fragile vehicle, but that does not excuse any approach towards interpretation that compounds that fragility, in the same way that we live a delicate balance that often lapses into sin, but that is no excuse to abandon ourselves to it.

But again, I think I've gone from providing you with my perspective to chaffing on you, and that wasn't my intent.

God bless and keep up the good work in striving for the truth with integrity.

LookingUp
May 6th 2010, 12:04 AM
Hi LookingUp,

I fear that my posting here has gone from having the effect of encouraging you, to exasperating you. That was not my intent.I have gained from you sharing your understanding of the Word and how and why you’ve come to your conclusions. The only part that I find exasperating is when you give off the impression that looking at more than Scripture only is some kind of sin that will lead the believer into Satan’s trap. I interpret this as you calling me a sinner with a lack of fear of the Lord, since I would dare consult man for a deeper or more accurate understanding of God’s word.


I have appreciated your hunger for uncovering the truth here, and your open-mindedness. I indicated much earlier in this thread that I thought the interpretation that I am here disagreeing with has merit as an interpretation, when interpretated primarily from the Bible (as opposed to primarily from extra-biblical texts) and I don't mean to be renagging on that.If extra-biblical texts include information we lacked in the past that is helpful in clarifying Scripture, I have no problem with it.


If someone from my church was getting a divorce because they were being abused, and earnestly believed Jesus was referring to Deuteronomy, and that the passage in Exodus 21 was a clause for the marital contract, I may disagree with that interpratation, but I would by no means pursue any kind of expulsion against them. This would be their interpretation, and if they were legitimately convicted of it, I for one would not consider this the same as a blatant, unrepented sin.

I wanted to clarify that, because I don't want this discussion to deteriorate in any way, because I respect what you're doing here, even if you and I disagree on some of the particulars of the approach.

God bless you.Thank you for clarifying that. I appreciate it.


Now, I will provide some responses to your questions, and please let me know if I am doing so in a way that's overly opinionated - I come across that way sometimes, even if I don't mean to, and for that I apologize.

Fair enough.

Right, for that reason we are not expected to remain married.

Sorry, let me clarify what I mean by ‘tradition’ – I agree with what you’re saying here, but I was likening the instance in question to the instances where Jesus does issue a new commandment, because of the way in which it was expressed, specifically because He addressed what the Law had been, and then said something above and beyond that.

But this actually nearly what I have been saying. These additions are exclusive. They rule out even more that the Law did. What I am saying follows this line of reasoning.

But additions are change.But the addition in these cases did not change the initial commandment itself. For example, one must still not murder.


The accounts don’t include ever word used, because in order to accurately record the conversation choices where made as to what to record…

So, the Pharisees did ask “Why then did Moses command a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”, after Jesus asked, “Why then did Moses command a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”, but obviously not directly afterwards.

Both Matthew and Marks accounts are accurate, but they supplied different details in their reports. None-the-less, they do reconcile.I think this is reasonable:

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for “any matter” (according to the Hillelite interpretation of Deut. 24)?

He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning of creation, He made them male and female and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

They said to him, “(But if they should not divorce) Why then did Moses command one to give her a certificate of divorce and to put her away?”

He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and to put her away (Deut. 24)?”

But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment (Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so).”


I’m starting to feel guilty of disputing the law in an unprofitable manner. I was reading Exodus 21 again last night and noted how specific the context was, but in addition I noticed that it doesn’t even say anything about divorce. It never says that anyone can divorce anyone else for any reason, just that a servant-wife is free to go if she’s mistreated.

But, I will leave that up to your conviction because I may be the one whose getting concerned about picking apart the Law, so I will try to heed this passage, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless” (Titus 3:9), instead of badgering you further.As I said, Ex. 21 was the cornerstone of the divorce doctrine for every known faction of Judaism. There is no reason to assume Jesus did not also hold this view. I personally find it odd that Jesus would not speak of it at all if He disagreed with this virtually unanimous view.

edit to add: A friend put it this way for me:
This passage in Ex. 21 specifies certain rights on the part of a slave-wife. When a man purchases another man’s daughter, he was obligated to provide three things to her: “food, clothing and X.” The reason I write “X” is that the meaning of the word in v.10 is uncertain, but the rabbis took it to mean “conjugal rights” or even “love and affection.” “If he does not provide these three things for her,” the passage stipulates, “she will go forth free, without payment of money.” In other words, the woman is released from the marriage entirely, without her father having to compensate her husband for his financial loss. The rabbis made this text the cornerstone of their theology on divorce. By the principle of qal va-homer (if something is true in a lesser circumstance, it will be true in a greater circumstance as well: if a slave wife enjoys this right, surely a free wife enjoys this right as well; and if a wife enjoys this right, surely, too, does a husband. So the primary grounds for divorce in the Jewish reading of the Bible is a failure to provide either material or emotional support.


I think we may be miscommunication here, because it sounds like we agree, but still disagree at the same time.

Sorry, I’m not sure where we’re at here.

But Jesus never responded simply to how people may have interpreted things, but to how they should be interpreted.

I’m confused. It was your point that it is found in Deuteronomy 24:1.This verse doesn’t command one to get a divorce. It commands the former husband to refrain from remarrying his first wife. “When a man takes a wife and marries her and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce…then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife…”.

Since the Hillelites thought that “some indecency” in Deut. 24 meant “any matter whatsoever (including adultery)”, then it was assumed that Moses permitted them to divorce their wives for any mater whatsoever.

The Shammaites thought the phrase included adultery only.

Both groups embraced Ex. 21 as additional grounds for divorce. I understand it’s about the rights of slave wives; nevertheless, this law became the cornerstone of the entire divorce law for all Jews. And if Jesus disagreed with this well-known understanding, I’m surprised He didn’t bring it up.


You mentioned it when you wrote “These are semantically identical to the two versions of the exception clause in Matthew, even as far as citing “indecent matter” from Deuteronomy 24:1 in the reverse order of “matter of indecency.” I think I’ve misunderstood you. Let me try to clear this up. There were two competing interpretations of the phrase “some indecency” in Deuteronomy 24:1. Shammai said that the only grounds for divorce that could be found in that passage is adultery; Hillel said that the grounds for divorce for any matter whatsoever is found in that passage. Both groups continued to embrace that additional grounds for divorce were found in Ex. 21.

Because it was believed by the Hillelites that this phrase in Deut. 24 meant “any mater whatsoever”, they determined that Moses approved of “any matter” divorces. Because it was believed by the Shammaites that this phrase in Deut. 24 meant “adultery”, they determined that Moses was not approving “any matter” divorces (iow, the Hillelites were wrong—a case could not be made for “any matter” divorces with the interpretation of this phrase found in Deut. 24). The Shammaites didn’t interpret the verse as a warning to not divorce your wife except in cases of adultery; they concluded that from the interpretation of this phrase, Moses was speaking of adultery (when he wrote this commandment regarding remarriage to former spouses) and not “any matter at all”.

The Shammaite position was summarized in rabbinic literature in two very similar forms (this is not their interpretation of the passage; it’s a conclusion in the context of this ongoing debate based on the interpretation of the phrase used in the passage):

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her indecency.

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.

When the Shammaites said “except … for a matter of indecency” in the context of this debate about “any matter” divorces, they meant that Deuteronomy 24:1 allows no type of divorce except that for indecency. They did not mean that Scripture allows no divorce except that for indecency because they allowed other divorces on the grounds in Ex. 21.

In Mat. 19:9 it is written, “Whoever divorces his wife, unless for indecency…”

And in Mat. 5:31 it is written, “Every on who divorces his wife, except for a matter of indecency…”

Jesus used the same terminology as the Shammaites, in the same context, at the same period of time, and in a debate with the Pharisees who sided with Hillel. It seems a reasonable conclusion that Jesus meant the same thing the Shammaites meant: the only grounds for divorce that can be found in that passage is adultery, and “Every one who divorces his wife, except for a matter of indecency, makes her commit adultery…”. All those “any matter” divorces were invalid (& apparently these were common). This must have been a shock. Should everyone divorce their second spouse and remarry the first? Well, as was previously brought up in this thread, that was not allowed (according to Deut. 24!). I guess all they could do was to repent and move on with their current marriage.


I think we may have lost track of what we’re arguing on this one.

Good question….Ryan, those who do not have the Spirit are unable to discern the truth. I have the Holy Spirit to guide me. What I read is filtered through Him. I don’t believe we are to throw our human wisdom out the door when encountering God and His Word but neither do I think we should rely on our human wisdom alone.


God gives us understanding when we trust His word, often referred to as ‘ears to hear’ in scripture, as seen in these passages:I do trust His word. That’s why I use every bit of extra time I have in my life to study it. If I didn’t trust it, I certainly wouldn’t spend all my extra time studying it.

Ryan R
May 6th 2010, 04:48 PM
I have gained from you sharing your understanding of the Word and how and why you’ve come to your conclusions. The only part that I find exasperating is when you give off the impression that looking at more than Scripture only is some kind of sin that will lead the believer into Satan’s trap. I interpret this as you calling me a sinner with a lack of fear of the Lord, since I would dare consult man for a deeper or more accurate understanding of God’s word.

I'm sorry I came across that way. My criticisms were aimed at the approach, not at you, so please note that I didn't actually say that you were a sinner with a lack of fear of the Lord, nor that it is wrong to consult man for a deeper or more accurate understanding of God's word.

I commend you for your efforts and study, I just submit to you that scripture should be first interpreted with scripture so that we are firmly grounded in what the word says before we start applying man's fallible interpretations to the word, thereby unknowingly introducing assumptions into the text that may not be substantiated by the text.

Actually, the further we've gone into this discussion, the more I understand your position, where you present Jesus as addressing Deuteronomy 24 in specific, but allowing for Exodus 21 as a clause. I'm finding the whole addition of the perspective of the Hillelites versus the Shammaites just to be adding needless confusion to the topic. I think the majority of our disagreements are based on misunderstanding what each other are saying.


If extra-biblical texts include information we lacked in the past that is helpful in clarifying Scripture, I have no problem with it.

The only point I really wanted to make is, how do we know it’s helpful in clarifying Scripture?

An extra-biblical explanation may sound likely to us, but if it isn’t consistent with the message within scripture, how do we test the fallible to ensure that it’s not tainting the infallible? The answer is by holding it up to the infallible to see if it’s consistent, so it has to agree with scripture. So then, the relevance of using man’s wisdom to try to prove points in scripture becomes suspect, if the best substantiation for man’s wisdom is scripture in the end, especially if the meaning of scripture could be argued to be clearer without introducing man’s wisdom to it.

Now, I see that your interpretation of scripture does seem consistent with your understanding of the conflicts between the Hillelites and the Shammaites, but again, your scriptural interpretations stand alone without ever making reference to this conflict, so I’m not sure why you feel like it strengthens your case.

You’re actually doing a pretty good job making my prayerfully consider my interpretation when I can see your point from a scriptural perspective apart from the complicating factors of the rivalry between ancient factions.


But the addition in these cases did not change the initial commandment itself. For example, one must still not murder.

Right, but I still believe that one must still not divorce.


I think this is reasonable:

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for “any matter” (according to the Hillelite interpretation of Deut. 24)?

He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning of creation, He made them male and female and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

They said to him, “(But if they should not divorce) Why then did Moses command one to give her a certificate of divorce and to put her away?”

He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and to put her away (Deut. 24)?”

But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment (Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so).”

If you use the statement, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” as the anchor point in both accounts, they don’t reconcile as above.


As I said, Ex. 21 was the cornerstone of the divorce doctrine for every known faction of Judaism. There is no reason to assume Jesus did not also hold this view. I personally find it odd that Jesus would not speak of it at all if He disagreed with this virtually unanimous view.

edit to add: A friend put it this way for me:
This passage in Ex. 21 specifies certain rights on the part of a slave-wife. When a man purchases another man’s daughter, he was obligated to provide three things to her: “food, clothing and X.” The reason I write “X” is that the meaning of the word in v.10 is uncertain, but the rabbis took it to mean “conjugal rights” or even “love and affection.” “If he does not provide these three things for her,” the passage stipulates, “she will go forth free, without payment of money.” In other words, the woman is released from the marriage entirely, without her father having to compensate her husband for his financial loss. The rabbis made this text the cornerstone of their theology on divorce.

OK, here’s where I think it’s important to draw the distinction between man’s wisdom and Gods’. You mention above that we have no reason to assume Jesus did not also hold this view, but we can see here that it isn’t scripture that stipulates that one is free from their marital contract if they are abused or neglected, but the rabbis stipulated it. Not only does scripture not explicitly say this, but Jesus explicitly stated that permission to seek a divorce as it is outlined the law, was not how it was in the beginning.

He then specified how it was from the beginning and stated that unless for marital unfaithfulness, no one should seek a divorce.

Since He used the same phrasing as in Deuteronomy 24 (which is therefore consistent with it at least in part), after specifying that it wasn’t that way from the beginning, and then issued a commandment that people marveled at, I can’t see what else Jesus was eliminating with the addition of a commandment, except the understanding of Exodus 21 as a clause for divorce, since it was the Law He made reference to after He asked them “What did Moses tell you?”


By the principle of qal va-homer (if something is true in a lesser circumstance, it will be true in a greater circumstance as well: if a slave wife enjoys this right, surely a free wife enjoys this right as well; and if a wife enjoys this right, surely, too, does a husband.

But this line of reasoning is not necessarily valid. Maybe God issued such a decree knowing that slaves would have no one else to appeal to for their food, shelter and support, whereas others would have some form of recourse in addition to their spouse. We don’t know, and pretending to know is to presume we are smart enough to argue God’s case on a point where He is silent. Job was much less presumptuous when he (accurately) mentioned that he was not allowed to suffer because of something he’d done wrong, and yet he was chastised by God for his presumption, “Will you argue the case for God?” (Job 13:8).


So the primary grounds for divorce in the Jewish reading of the Bible is a failure to provide either material or emotional support.

Only if the above assumption is true, and God never specified that it is.


This verse doesn’t command one to get a divorce. It commands the former husband to refrain from remarrying his first wife. “When a man takes a wife and marries her and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce…then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife…”.

I agree. I haven’t suggested it was a commandment, but it is a permissive statement.


Since the Hillelites thought that “some indecency” in Deut. 24 meant “any matter whatsoever (including adultery)”, then it was assumed that Moses permitted them to divorce their wives for any mater whatsoever.

Yes, but that’s not what Jesus specified He was addressing, by getting them to clarify what specifically Moses had said, and then stating that it wasn’t that way from the beginning.


The Shammaites thought the phrase included adultery only.

Right.


Both groups embraced Ex. 21 as additional grounds for divorce. I understand it’s about the rights of slave wives; nevertheless, this law became the cornerstone of the entire divorce law for all Jews. And if Jesus disagreed with this well-known understanding, I’m surprised He didn’t bring it up.

I think I’ve misunderstood you. Let me try to clear this up. There were two competing interpretations of the phrase “some indecency” in Deuteronomy 24:1. Shammai said that the only grounds for divorce that could be found in that passage is adultery; Hillel said that the grounds for divorce for any matter whatsoever is found in that passage. Both groups continued to embrace that additional grounds for divorce were found in Ex. 21.

Because it was believed by the Hillelites that this phrase in Deut. 24 meant “any mater whatsoever”, they determined that Moses approved of “any matter” divorces. Because it was believed by the Shammaites that this phrase in Deut. 24 meant “adultery”, they determined that Moses was not approving “any matter” divorces (iow, the Hillelites were wrong—a case could not be made for “any matter” divorces with the interpretation of this phrase found in Deut. 24). The Shammaites didn’t interpret the verse as a warning to not divorce your wife except in cases of adultery; they concluded that from the interpretation of this phrase, Moses was speaking of adultery (when he wrote this commandment regarding remarriage to former spouses) and not “any matter at all”.

But since He asked what the law was under Moses and clarified it wasn’t that way (the way of the law of Moses, not the way of the Hillelites and/or the Shammaites) from the beginning, He couldn’t have been agreeing with exactly what is in the law, and yet He seems to be agreeing with Deuteronomy 24.


The Shammaite position was summarized in rabbinic literature in two very similar forms (this is not their interpretation of the passage; it’s a conclusion in the context of this ongoing debate based on the interpretation of the phrase used in the passage)

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her indecency.

A man should not divorce his wife except he has found in her a matter of indecency.

When the Shammaites said “except … for a matter of indecency” in the context of this debate about “any matter” divorces, they meant that Deuteronomy 24:1 allows no type of divorce except that for indecency.

Right, which is essentially what Jesus was agreeing with... so why then if this is the proper interpretation of Deuteronomy 24, would Jesus specify that the law of Moses wasn’t that way from the beginning, if He seemed to be agreeing with the above? He said it was the law of Moses He was disagreeing with, not with the Hillel interpretation of that Law.


They did not mean that Scripture allows no divorce except that for indecency because they allowed other divorces on the grounds in Ex. 21.

Even if they didn’t, if my above point is valid then I submit that Jesus did.


In Mat. 19:9 it is written, “Whoever divorces his wife, unless for indecency…”

And in Mat. 5:31 it is written, “Every on who divorces his wife, except for a matter of indecency…”

Jesus used the same terminology as the Shammaites, in the same context, at the same period of time, and in a debate with the Pharisees who sided with Hillel. It seems a reasonable conclusion that Jesus meant the same thing the Shammaites meant: the only grounds for divorce that can be found in that passage is adultery, and “Every one who divorces his wife, except for a matter of indecency, makes her commit adultery…”. All those “any matter” divorces were invalid (& apparently these were common).

Again, except that Jesus said that it was the Law of Moses that wasn’t the way from the beginning, not the interpretation of the law according to the Hillel.


This must have been a shock. Should everyone divorce their second spouse and remarry the first? Well, as was previously brought up in this thread, that was not allowed (according to Deut. 24!). I guess all they could do was to repent and move on with their current marriage.

That’s not what their statements of the disciples suggest to me. If this where the case why wouldn’t they say something like you suggested, i.e. ‘so should each man divorce his current wife and marry his former?’, suggesting incredulity at past misconduct, instead of the concern they did express which seems much more likely to be concern over the lack of an ‘out’ in marriage?


Ryan, those who do not have the Spirit are unable to discern the truth.

Right.


I have the Holy Spirit to guide me.

Yes.


What I read is filtered through Him.

Well, to a degree. We all have different and sometimes contrasting interpretations, so they can’t all be from the Holy Spirit. I think that on every point that I’m incorrect on my doctrine, it’s because somewhere in me is a personal agenda that I have not successfully allowed God to route out of my life. I think we all have such agendas, most of which we’re probably unaware of.

So, while we each have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, through whom the word was made known to us in the first place, we each have faults as far as our interpretation of the Word is concerned, and since it can't be the fault of the Holy Spirit, and since we're repeatedly told in scripture to trust in God and not in man, I submit that this an area to examine in our approach to the scripture that will minimize the human error we introduce.


I don’t believe we are to throw our human wisdom out the door when encountering God and His Word but neither do I think we should rely on our human wisdom alone.

What I was attempting to show in the scripture I referenced was that we overcome our lack of knowledge of the Word and therefore of God’s will, not by gathering information based on human wisdom, so much as by trusting that the Word of God is the truth when it is untainted by human wisdom. Once we understand to interpret the word in that way, then sure, extra-biblical things can compliment that, but it has to be trusted as written first, or we run the risk of trusting the assumptions imposed on the text, over the text itself.

Forgive the clumsy way I failed to express that.


I do trust His word. That’s why I use every bit of extra time I have in my life to study it. If I didn’t trust it, I certainly wouldn’t spend all my extra time studying it.

It certainly wasn’t my intent to make you feel like this was in question. Please, accept my apologies for the misconception.

I have an (overly?) forceful way of expressing my points, that is in no way a reflection of my perception of your salvation, faith, honesty, sincerity or intelligence. I abhor hurting people’s feelings, but I seem to do it a lot, simply because I fear that none of us can truly appreciate the extent to which we need to grow in our trust and obedience to the word so the thing I dislike more than insisting on points is the fear of disobedience.

If I’m right then at least I won’t have failed to ask you to consider something that I knew full well I should submit to you. I can't leave a brother hanging like that anymore, but if it feels like I’m judging you I’m really probably not unless otherwise stated. You may have noticed I have trouble refraining from blurting out things exactly as I think them.

At least with me you never have to wonder what I really think of something.

God bless.

LookingUp
May 14th 2010, 07:39 PM
I'm sorry I came across that way…
You’re actually doing a pretty good job making my prayerfully consider my interpretation when I can see your point from a scriptural perspective apart from the complicating factors of the rivalry between ancient factions.I think I understand your concern, and I do appreciate the effort you’ve put into our discussion.


Right, but I still believe that one must still not divorce.But you do agree one continues to have permission to divorce in cases of adultery.


OK, here’s where I think it’s important to draw the distinction between man’s wisdom and Gods’. You mention above that we have no reason to assume Jesus did not also hold this view, but we can see here that it isn’t scripture that stipulates that one is free from their marital contract if they are abused or neglected, but the rabbis stipulated it.No, the passage in Ex. 21 stipulates it. “If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money” (Ex. 21:11)


Not only does scripture not explicitly say this,Ex. 21:11 explicitly states it. That is why the Jews used this text as the cornerstone of their divorce doctrine—it was clearly stated.


but Jesus explicitly stated that permission to seek a divorce as it is outlined the law, was not how it was in the beginning.

He then specified how it was from the beginning and stated that unless for marital unfaithfulness, no one should seek a divorce. The Pharisees’ original question specifically alludes to Deut. 24. Jesus knows this. When He responds by asking what Moses says, He’s asking specifically. The Pharisees respond by quoting the verse they had first alluded to in Deut. 24. Jesus then takes the issue deeper. Yes, Moses permits you guys to divorce your wives, but that’s not God’s ideal. Instead of obeying God’s original intent for marriage, you guys have expanded Moses’ grounds for divorce. Jesus is proving with Scripture that their interpretation is self-motivated and wrong.


Since He used the same phrasing as in Deuteronomy 24 (which is therefore consistent with it at least in part), after specifying that it wasn’t that way from the beginning, and then issued a commandment that people marveled at, I can’t see what else Jesus was eliminating with the addition of a commandment, except the understanding of Exodus 21 as a clause for divorce, since it was the Law He made reference to after He asked them “What did Moses tell you?”He wasn’t annulling any of the Laws (Mt. 5:17); He was teaching His disciples a higher standard than the law requires.

Yes, you obey the letter of the law by not murdering and not committing adultery, but you should go beyond the letter by being kind to your brother in your heart and by being faithful to your wife in you heart. Yes, Moses permits you guys the right to compensation for an injury you’ve suffered (“eye for an eye”), but instead go beyond what you have the right to and extend mercy and grace instead. It’s not enough to obey the letter of the law by fulfilling your oaths; you must go beyond the letter and become so trustworthy that no one would even require an oath from you. In these cases, the Pharisees thought they were sin-free because they had obeyed the letter of the Law, but in their hearts they hated, lusted, etc. Does God desire obedience (i.e. following the letter of the law) without humility and love? Did He ever?

Yes, Moses permits you guys to divorce your wives, but that’s not God’s ideal (and Gen. 2 proves it). And instead of obeying God’s original divine intent for marriage, you guys have expanded Moses’ grounds for divorce to any matter at all. This discussion with the Pharisees is about how God’s original divine intent informs the specific commandment in Deut. 24. These Pharisees thought they were without sin, because they found a way to expand Moses’ Law (through the Hillelite interpretation of the phrase in Deut. 24 that had come into popularity over the last couple generations) regarding permission to divorce.

With each of these commands, Jesus is not “eliminating” anything; He is asking them to live out the heartfelt intent of the Torah. Go beyond the letter of the law, because simply living the letter of the law is not enough and it never was. Did God want them to follow the letter of the law while their hearts were far from Him?


But this line of reasoning is not necessarily valid. Maybe God issued such a decree knowing that slaves would have no one else to appeal to for their food, shelter and support, whereas others would have some form of recourse in addition to their spouse. We don’t know, and pretending to know is to presume we are smart enough to argue God’s case on a point where He is silent. Job was much less presumptuous when he (accurately) mentioned that he was not allowed to suffer because of something he’d done wrong, and yet he was chastised by God for his presumption, “Will you argue the case for God?” (Job 13:8).This “line of reasoning” was used in the day of Jesus and it is still used today in many situations. And the acceptance of the text in Ex. 21 as the foundation of the divorce doctrine was a virtually unanimous view. If Jesus did not agree with it, He would have said so—it was a given for all who were listening to Him.


Only if the above assumption is true, and God never specified that it is.It was the primary grounds for divorce at the time, and Jesus never denied it.


I agree. I haven’t suggested it was a commandment, but it is a permissive statement.

Yes, but that’s not what Jesus specified He was addressing, by getting them to clarify what specifically Moses had said, and then stating that it wasn’t that way from the beginning.

Right.

But since He asked what the law was under Moses and clarified it wasn’t that way (the way of the law of Moses, not the way of the Hillelites and/or the Shammaites) from the beginning, He couldn’t have been agreeing with exactly what is in the law, and yet He seems to be agreeing with Deuteronomy 24.I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand your point here. The Pharisees question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all” specifically alludes to Deut. 24 (I don’t believe that is in question). When Jesus responds by asking, “What did Moses command you?” He is asking specifically. Then, the Pharisees respond by quoting the verse, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” This verse is from Deut. 24 (I don’t believe that is in question). Jesus understands exactly where they are going with this (not only does Moses permit divorce as we see in Deut. 24—“write a certificate of divorce…”—but the phrase “some indecency” shows that “any mater whatsoever” is a lawful reason for divorce). Jesus then takes the issue deeper (as He often does). Yes, Moses permits you guys to divorce your wives, but that’s not God’s ideal. Instead of obeying God’s original intent for marriage, you guys have expanded Moses’ grounds for divorce! Jesus is proving with Scripture the error in their “liberal” view.


Right, which is essentially what Jesus was agreeing with... so why then if this is the proper interpretation of Deuteronomy 24, would Jesus specify that the law of Moses wasn’t that way from the beginning, if He seemed to be agreeing with the above? He said it was the law of Moses He was disagreeing with, not with the Hillel interpretation of that Law.Jesus wasn’t trying to prove Moses wrong; He was proving the intentions of the Pharisees wrong. They were willing to twist this phrase in Deut. 24 into “any matter at all” to suit their selfish desires, when they could simply read Torah (Moses) to know what God’s original intentions were for marriage (i.e. the perfect Edenic state of marriage). If they had done that from the start, they never would have assumed that “some indecency” in Deut. 24 could possibly mean “any matter at all.”


Even if they didn’t, if my above point is valid then I submit that Jesus did.

Again, except that Jesus said that it was the Law of Moses that wasn’t the way from the beginning, not the interpretation of the law according to the Hillel.The the permission to divorce your wife was not that way from the beginning (the perfect Edenic state). But whatever we conclude, we must keep in mind that Jesus did not come to annul any of the commandments in Torah (Mt. 5:17). Jesus’ point in directing them back to the beginning—the original divine intent—was to impress upon them how far they had gone (i.e. from marriage is for a lifetime to divorce for any reason at all).

Ryan R
May 17th 2010, 09:03 PM
But you do agree one continues to have permission to divorce in cases of adultery.

Yep.


No, the passage in Ex. 21 stipulates it. “If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money” (Ex. 21:11)

Ex. 21:11 explicitly states it. That is why the Jews used this text as the cornerstone of their divorce doctrine—it was clearly stated.

Technically, it says “go out for nothing”, not “divorce”. This passage is in reference to a slave it sounds more like a reference to their freedom then their marital status.

Like that lady I was looking after the wolf for... she left her husband, and was free to go out for nothing from a legal perspective but was still married. In fact, she’s back with him. C’est la vie.


The Pharisees’ original question specifically alludes to Deut. 24. Jesus knows this. When He responds by asking what Moses says, He’s asking specifically. The Pharisees respond by quoting the verse they had first alluded to in Deut. 24. Jesus then takes the issue deeper. Yes, Moses permits you guys to divorce your wives, but that’s not God’s ideal. Instead of obeying God’s original intent for marriage, you guys have expanded Moses’ grounds for divorce. Jesus is proving with Scripture that their interpretation is self-motivated and wrong.

I just don’t see that as what Jesus is addressing since He is not saying that those guys were expanding what Moses said, but specifies it was what Moses said that was not from the beginning: “Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”

If Jesus meant that those guys were expanding on what Moses said, then that’s what He would have said, but He didn’t.


He wasn’t annulling any of the Laws (Mt. 5:17); He was teaching His disciples a higher standard than the law requires.

Yes, you obey the letter of the law by not murdering and not committing adultery, but you should go beyond the letter by being kind to your brother in your heart and by being faithful to your wife in you heart. Yes, Moses permits you guys the right to compensation for an injury you’ve suffered (“eye for an eye”), but instead go beyond what you have the right to and extend mercy and grace instead. It’s not enough to obey the letter of the law by fulfilling your oaths; you must go beyond the letter and become so trustworthy that no one would even require an oath from you. In these cases, the Pharisees thought they were sin-free because they had obeyed the letter of the Law, but in their hearts they hated, lusted, etc. Does God desire obedience (i.e. following the letter of the law) without humility and love? Did He ever?

Yes, Moses permits you guys to divorce your wives, but that’s not God’s ideal (and Gen. 2 proves it). And instead of obeying God’s original divine intent for marriage, you guys have expanded Moses’ grounds for divorce to any matter at all.

But at this point right here we disagree, in that Jesus didn’t say that He was addressing the expanded grounds for divorce, but Moses’ grounds.


This discussion with the Pharisees is about how God’s original divine intent informs the specific commandment in Deut. 24. These Pharisees thought they were without sin, because they found a way to expand Moses’ Law (through the Hillelite interpretation of the phrase in Deut. 24 that had come into popularity over the last couple generations) regarding permission to divorce.

But again, the Hillelite interpretation is never mentioned and must be wedged into the text in the stead of the Law of Moses that Jesus is responding to according to what is in the text.


With each of these commands, Jesus is not “eliminating” anything; He is asking them to live out the heartfelt intent of the Torah. Go beyond the letter of the law, because simply living the letter of the law is not enough and it never was. Did God want them to follow the letter of the law while their hearts were far from Him?

It depends on how you look at eliminating, since He was eliminating divorce for frivolous reasons, at the least.


This “line of reasoning” was used in the day of Jesus and it is still used today in many situations.

That doesn’t make it right, though. Man’s lines of reasoning are what got the Pharisees into the whole mess of being white sepultures in the first place.

A lot of what Jesus contested was the assumptions based on the traditional way of reasoning over the simplicity of the text.


And the acceptance of the text in Ex. 21 as the foundation of the divorce doctrine was a virtually unanimous view. If Jesus did not agree with it, He would have said so—it was a given for all who were listening to Him.

I believe that is exactly what He did. He did not say which passages He was addressing, and He was agreeing with Deuteronomy, but yet He was disagreeing with the Law of Moses, leaving only Exodus on the topic, so I think He did say so.


It was the primary grounds for divorce at the time, and Jesus never denied it.

But if you look only at the text and ignore the whole agreement about the different factions within that culture that are never actually mentioned in the text, since Jesus disagrees with the law of Moses and yet seems to agree with Deuteronomy, He does deny it. It’s only when you start pulling in the extra-biblical interpretations and substituting those debates with the Law that Jesus asks about and subsequently qualifies that it wasn’t that way from the beginning.

He does deny it, unless you take something away and add something in its place to this passage, ““Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”


I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand your point here. The Pharisees question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all” specifically alludes to Deut. 24 (I don’t believe that is in question). When Jesus responds by asking, “What did Moses command you?” He is asking specifically. Then, the Pharisees respond by quoting the verse, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” This verse is from Deut. 24 (I don’t believe that is in question).

Up to this point we agree.


Jesus understands exactly where they are going with this (not only does Moses permit divorce as we see in Deut. 24—“write a certificate of divorce…”—but the phrase “some indecency” shows that “any mater whatsoever” is a lawful reason for divorce). Jesus then takes the issue deeper (as He often does). Yes, Moses permits you guys to divorce your wives, but that’s not God’s ideal. Instead of obeying God’s original intent for marriage, you guys have expanded Moses’ grounds for divorce! Jesus is proving with Scripture the error in their “liberal” view.

Yes, but also including Moses’ grounds for divorce.

"Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”


Jesus wasn’t trying to prove Moses wrong; He was proving the intentions of the Pharisees wrong.

But He did say that what Moses permitted was not the way from the beginning, so even though His point was to the Pharisees about their legalism, He was proving the insufficiency of the Law.


They were willing to twist this phrase in Deut. 24 into “any matter at all” to suit their selfish desires, when they could simply read Torah (Moses) to know what God’s original intentions were for marriage (i.e. the perfect Edenic state of marriage). If they had done that from the start, they never would have assumed that “some indecency” in Deut. 24 could possibly mean “any matter at all.”

Yes, well said.

But Jesus tells them in other passages that they follow their traditions instead of God’s, thereby make void the commandments of God, placing the accountability squarely on their shoulders instead of the Law, but this is not such a case. Here Jesus specifies that what Moses said (as opposed to the further step of what their traditions say) was not how it is supposed to be.


The the permission to divorce your wife was not that way from the beginning (the perfect Edenic state). But whatever we conclude, we must keep in mind that Jesus did not come to annul any of the commandments in Torah (Mt. 5:17).

The full context of Matthew 5:17 is relevant here:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

First we see that Jesus is fulfilling the Law, not leaving it as is, and second in verse 18 He qualifies that the law will not disappear “until everything is accomplished”. On the cross He said “It is finished”, thus “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). Of course He had not yet gone to the cross in chapter 19, but He spoke in terms of the fulfillment of the Law.


Jesus’ point in directing them back to the beginning—the original divine intent—was to impress upon them how far they had gone (i.e. from marriage is for a lifetime to divorce for any reason at all).

Yes, but it doesn’t stop there.

Anyways, we may be at the point where we agree to disagree –what do you think? If you’re still interested in going into it, then by all means I will, but I think we’re kind of repeating ourselves now so shall we conclude?

LookingUp
May 25th 2010, 12:28 AM
Yep.

Technically, it says “go out for nothing”, not “divorce”. This passage is in reference to a slave it sounds more like a reference to their freedom then their marital status.

Like that lady I was looking after the wolf for... she left her husband, and was free to go out for nothing from a legal perspective but was still married. In fact, she’s back with him. C’est la vie.I know what it sounds like, but what matters is what it means. We know what it meant to the Jews in the day of Jesus and there is no reason to believe Jesus did not agree with this unanimous interpretation. It was a commonly held understanding of the text and there were no disputes over it, so I think it’s inappropriate to dispute the meaning now.


I just don’t see that as what Jesus is addressing since He is not saying that those guys were expanding what Moses said, but specifies it was what Moses said that was not from the beginning: “Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”

If Jesus meant that those guys were expanding on what Moses said, then that’s what He would have said, but He didn’t.He didn’t have to say they were expanding Deut. 24—they already had. They had been having frivolous divorces for a couple generations by this point (in the Hillelite courts). Moses wrote Genesis and Moses wrote Deuteronomy. Both are God’s Word. God communicated (through Moses) that the two became one flesh in Genesis and God communicated that divorce was permissible in Deuteronomy. What God had allowed (permission to divorce) was not that way from the beginning (Genesis).


But at this point right here we disagree, in that Jesus didn’t say that He was addressing the expanded grounds for divorce, but Moses’ grounds.It’s God’s Word, not Moses’ Word. Jesus was using the divine intent expressed in Genesis 2 to inform Deuteronomy 24. In other words, in order to understand the meaning of Deut. 24, one must understand Genesis 2 first. The two are meant to be one flesh and man should not separate that. Now, how does that knowledge help us to determine the meaning of the phrase in Deut. 24? Obviously, divorce is permissible (as we see in Deut. 24), but does this mean that man can divorce his wife “for any reason whatsoever”? Or does “some indecency” mean adultery? Knowing God’s divine intent for marriage found in Gen. 2, how could one conclude that “any matter” divorces are lawful? I think that's His point.


But again, the Hillelite interpretation is never mentioned and must be wedged into the text in the stead of the Law of Moses that Jesus is responding to according to what is in the text.Knowing with certainty that the heated and ongoing debates of that time regarding divorce revolved around these two positions and choosing to ignore that knowledge when attempting to understand our Lord’s instructions seems negligent to me. But whether we want to identify it as Hillelite or not, they specifically asked if it was lawful to divorce your wife for “any matter at all.” Divorce was lawful—that was not in question. Divorce had always been lawful. So if divorce had always been lawful, why ask? They asked not because divorce had suddenly become in question as to whether it was lawful or not; they asked because the types of divorces that were considered lawful over the last couple generations had become in question. And I don’t see how we can ignore the historical fact that the types of divorces that were in question in that day were called, “any matter divorces” and that these “any matter divorces” were justified with a specific verse found in Deuteronomy. So it doesn’t make sense that when Jesus asks “What does Moses say?” that His scope is comprehensive, as in everything Moses had to say on divorce in the Torah. It’s like if someone asked you whether you think the gift of tongues has ceased and you asked him “What does Paul say?” you’re not asking what Paul said throughout his epistles; you’re asking specifically how he interprets “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13, because that is the specific passage that the two camps use to justify their very different positions on this question.


It depends on how you look at eliminating, since He was eliminating divorce for frivolous reasons, at the least.Jesus was not eliminating anything from the OT Law. Divorce for frivolous reasons was not part of the Law. If you think it was, try to find it in the OT.

Jesus insisted that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” He came to fulfill the Torah (i.e. to bring out its fullness); therefore “whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” He was not eliminating anything; He was telling them to live the heartfelt intent of the Torah.


That doesn’t make it right, though. Man’s lines of reasoning are what got the Pharisees into the whole mess of being white sepultures in the first place.

A lot of what Jesus contested was the assumptions based on the traditional way of reasoning over the simplicity of the text.I don’t think it was a lack of reasoning that got the Pharisees into the whole mess, I think it was a lack of love—it was a heart issue. The Pharisees were following the letter of the Law to the point of sacrificing the intent of the law, because their hearts were far from God. Paul is the perfect example of the hypocritical, white sepulture Pharisee. As to the righteousness which is in the Law, he was found blameless (Phil. 4:5-6), but following the letter of the law without love is quite useless.


I believe that is exactly what He did. He did not say which passages He was addressing, and He was agreeing with Deuteronomy, but yet He was disagreeing with the Law of Moses, leaving only Exodus on the topic, so I think He did say so.Where and how was Jesus disagreeing with His own Law? He is the Author of the entire Bible.

The Pharisees’ original question specifically alludes to Deut. 24. Jesus knows this. When He responds by asking what Moses says (Moses’ only command on divorce is found in Deut. 24), Jesus is asking specifically. The Pharisees knew His question was about Deut. 24.

You seem to think that by Jesus bringing them back to the beginning, He is superseding all other teachings on divorce with God’s ideal. When Jesus says it wasn’t that way from the beginning, He isn’t using this as an argument against divorce entirely. We both agree that divorce is permissible under some limited circumstances. So you can't logically present any argument against divorce that's based in the idea that marriage is by nature indissoluble or that divorce is wrong per se. Reminding them of God’s divine intent for marriage wasn’t to show them His disapproval of all He instructed Israel on divorce in the Torah (why would He disapprove of His own instructions?). He reminded them because the specific commandment in Deut. 24 must be understood in light of God’s divine intent as expressed in Gen. 2. When considering Gen. 2, one would not conclude that the phrase in Deut. 24 could possibly mean “any matter at all.”

But if you look only at the text and ignore the whole agreement about the different factions within that culture that are never actually mentioned in the text, since Jesus disagrees with the law of Moses and yet seems to agree with Deuteronomy, He does deny it.I disagree with you. Jesus does not disagree with His own instructions to Israel. He did not come to eliminate any part of the Torah. He came to fill it full, to bring out its fullness. That’s what the “But I say” passages are about. The “But I say” passages do not eliminate; they bring out the fullness of the law.


It’s only when you start pulling in the extra-biblical interpretations and substituting those debates with the Law that Jesus asks about and subsequently qualifies that it wasn’t that way from the beginning.
He does deny it, unless you take something away and add something in its place to this passage, ““Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”We must keep in mind that anything Moses permitted was first permitted by God.


Up to this point we agree.

Yes, but also including Moses’ grounds for divorce.

"Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”Deut. 24 was the specific commandment of Moses the Jews used to prove that divorce was permitted (i.e. “write her a certificate of divorce”). When Jesus asked them “What did Moses command you” they knew He is specifically referring to Deut. 24. He’s not asking what the entire Torah says about divorce and remarriage.


But He did say that what Moses permitted was not the way from the beginning, so even though His point was to the Pharisees about their legalism, He was proving the insufficiency of the Law.The law wasn’t insufficient—it did what it was supposed to do, instruct and guide. The law was never meant to save them, and just because the Pharisees perverted the purpose of the law doesn't mean that the law failed; it was they who failed.


Yes, well said.

But Jesus tells them in other passages that they follow their traditions instead of God’s, thereby make void the commandments of God, placing the accountability squarely on their shoulders instead of the Law, but this is not such a case. Here Jesus specifies that what Moses said (as opposed to the further step of what their traditions say) was not how it is supposed to be.It’s what God said. God permitted it. And, no, it was not how it was supposed to be, but God is working with real people. That’s why He issued a Law which contained provisions for what to do when you break it.


The full context of Matthew 5:17 is relevant here:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

First we see that Jesus is fulfilling the Law, not leaving it as is, and second in verse 18 He qualifies that the law will not disappear “until everything is accomplished”. On the cross He said “It is finished”, thus “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). Of course He had not yet gone to the cross in chapter 19, but He spoke in terms of the fulfillment of the Law.Not only until all is accomplished but until heaven and earth pass away. Heaven and earth are still here. “It is finished” refers to His suffering and the accomplishment of redemption, not to the Torah. Jesus could not possibly mean that the Law has disappeared; after He tells us He came to fulfill the law, He immediately goes on to say “therefore whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments shall be called least in the kingdom.” That doesn’t sound like we are to eliminate any of the commandments.


Yes, but it doesn’t stop there.

Anyways, we may be at the point where we agree to disagree –what do you think? If you’re still interested in going into it, then by all means I will, but I think we’re kind of repeating ourselves now so shall we conclude?I’ll let you decide. The discussion has been valuable to me. Hope all is well. God bless.

Ryan R
May 26th 2010, 06:00 PM
By all means, we can continue if you’re finding my perspectives valuable. I’m glad to hear they have been so.


I know what it sounds like, but what matters is what it means. We know what it meant to the Jews in the day of Jesus and there is no reason to believe Jesus did not agree with this unanimous interpretation.

I believe that there is, in that I think that is what the passage tells us, because we know from scripture that “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

What I believe the above teaches us is that above all our interpretation has no bearing on the truth of the eternal Word that is established in heaven (Psalm 119:89), and Jesus was disagreeing with them on their interpretation, so I can see no reason to believe that Jesus did agree with the unanimous interpretation.


It was a commonly held understanding of the text and there were no disputes over it, so I think it’s inappropriate to dispute the meaning now.

I agree that it’s appropriate to discuss it, but how the text was understood does not affect how it should be understood, and Jesus was challenging the way it was understood, so again, I see no reason to assume He was agreeing with the way it was interpreted.


He didn’t have to say they were expanding Deut. 24—they already had. They had been having frivolous divorces for a couple generations by this point (in the Hillelite courts).

Right, but by asking what Moses had commanded He cut right past those frivolities (which the Pharisees’ question made clear by saying “for any reason”), and right to what the Law actually states, and from that point He said that was not how it was from the beginning.


Moses wrote Genesis and Moses wrote Deuteronomy.

Yes.


Both are God’s Word.

Right.


God communicated (through Moses) that the two became one flesh in Genesis

Yes.


and God communicated that divorce was permissible in Deuteronomy.

Right.


What God had allowed (permission to divorce) was not that way from the beginning (Genesis).

Here’s where I disagree.

God allowed from the beginning, He continued to allow in the Law, and He continues to allow currently permission to divorce your spouse for the reason of marital unfaithfulness.

Under the Law, permission for divorce was extended beyond that exception.


It’s God’s Word, not Moses’ Word.

That’s true but the Law is elsewhere in the Bible referred to as what Moses commanded, for example “Moses charged us with a law” (Deuteronomy 33:4). It’s just the way the text words the delivery of the Law.

It still means God’s Word when it says what Moses commanded.


Jesus was using the divine intent expressed in Genesis 2 to inform Deuteronomy 24. In other words, in order to understand the meaning of Deut. 24, one must understand Genesis 2 first. The two are meant to be one flesh and man should not separate that.

Yes, I agree with that.


Now, how does that knowledge help us to determine the meaning of the phrase in Deut. 24? Obviously, divorce is permissible (as we see in Deut. 24), but does this mean that man can divorce his wife “for any reason whatsoever”? Or does “some indecency” mean adultery? Knowing God’s divine intent for marriage found in Gen. 2, how could one conclude that “any matter” divorces are lawful? I think that's His point.

Yes, I agree with that.

But it says, "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female...” (Mark 10:5,6).

This tells us law was insufficient, not simply people’s assumptions that they tied into the law. That was part of the issue, but Jesus didn’t focus on the fact that they were misinterpreting, He said that the Law was what it was because hearts were hard, and that the law was not the way it was from the beginning.


Knowing with certainty that the heated and ongoing debates of that time regarding divorce revolved around these two positions and choosing to ignore that knowledge when attempting to understand our Lord’s instructions seems negligent to me.

Here’s a bit of a description of my approach to interpretation and the scriptural reasons why.

All of our assumptions should be shelved to the best of our ability when approaching scripture until we have first tried to understand the text within its own context, otherwise we tie our assumptions into the interpretation instead of allowing the text to mean what it says. We are told about worldly cleverness that the person of God must “discard his cleverness that he may learn to be truly wise” (Acts 17:11).

Man’s word, wisdom and understanding have no authority (Isaiah 2:22), it is faulty and fleeting like a fading flower, whereas the Word of God is eternal (Psalm 118:89).

We are told to trust in the Lord and not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), that the Word of the Lord is the lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105), and that it must be rightly divided to understand the truth of it (2 Timothy 2:15).

In order to understand how to divide the truth, I think it’s important that we see in scripture what is the tool that ‘divides’, and that is the Word itself: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). So the Word divides, and we must rightly divide the Word, i.e. the Word divides the Word.

Wisdom, understanding and knowledge all come from God and the understanding of His Word is given to those who know and apply His word to itself: “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:9-10).

So when we are supposed to give an answer, “This is what each of you keeps on saying to his friend or relative: 'What is the LORD's answer?' or 'What has the LORD spoken?'” (Jeremiah 23:35).

When we approach scripture, we need to use the Word, not our understanding and ask “What has the Lord spoken?” and trust what is written. Therefore, if there seems to be a contradiction, we have to reconcile it to the rest of scripture, and find the answer there. When we mingle our understanding we end up replacing some element of what God has actually said with what we assume based on this or that.

This is not the same as pretending we don’t know things about history that we know. I am a history major, and I worked as a researcher for textbooks on the early Christian church, so there are lots of things I know about that period that don’t come from the Bible, but the Bible alone is authority, so I try to use what it says to reconcile all non-Biblical texts (with their biases and assumptions) to the truth, not the other way around.

If we don’t first find the truth in the word, and then interpret the world according to that flawless filter, then we are interpreting the flawless word according to (on some level) the flawed interpretation of the world.

So, I’m not ignoring anything about the history, I’m just not crediting that which is not authoritative with the ability to instruct the interpretation of that which is, in a way that changes the outcome of the interpretation.

If the text doesn’t stand alone, then we have to add to it to interpret it, and God tells us not to do that (Proverbs 30:6).


But whether we want to identify it as Hillelite or not, they specifically asked if it was lawful to divorce your wife for “any matter at all.”

Yes, this is true.


Divorce was lawful—that was not in question. Divorce had always been lawful.

And is still is.


So if divorce had always been lawful, why ask? They asked not because divorce had suddenly become in question as to whether it was lawful or not; they asked because the types of divorces that were considered lawful over the last couple generations had become in question. And I don’t see how we can ignore the historical fact that the types of divorces that were in question in that day were called, “any matter divorces” and that these “any matter divorces” were justified with a specific verse found in Deuteronomy.

I’m not ignoring that. They were, as you mention, extending their traditions to include things that the Law did not allow for, so all Jesus would have had to say is that the Law meant marital unfaithfulness to challenge what they had added to it in their own admission of “for any reason”.

But He didn’t address the argument that way, by simply leaving it at what the Law commanded. Instead He specified that what Moses commanded was not that way from the beginning.

Again, in some parts of the NT Jesus criticized man’s traditions that made void the commandments of God, but He also outlines the insufficiency of the Law in parts like in the eye for an eye example I used earlier. Here He is doing both.


So it doesn’t make sense that when Jesus asks “What does Moses say?” that His scope is comprehensive, as in everything Moses had to say on divorce in the Torah. It’s like if someone asked you whether you think the gift of tongues has ceased and you asked him “What does Paul say?” you’re not asking what Paul said throughout his epistles; you’re asking specifically how he interprets “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13, because that is the specific passage that the two camps use to justify their very different positions on this question.

The only passage that relates is the one in question, so the reason you wouldn’t say “What does Paul say?” is because there are no other passages that pertain.

If there was another verse that pertained, then it would complicate the question of “What does Paul say?” and both instances would have to be presented and considered.


Jesus was not eliminating anything from the OT Law.

If that were so, then Jesus could not have said that the Law was not the way it was from the beginning, but He did.

Just as He eliminated the allowance for and eye for an eye by holding the standard to the grace which we’ve been shown, so is He raising the bar here.

Christians are blessed in living in knowledge of grace, modeled to us and in which we have the privilege of dying to ourselves so that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit it is not we who live but Christ in us.

This is something the OT saints longed to see but it is our blessing to enjoy this level of grace, and with it a different concept of responsibility to model grace of the heavenly kingdom, instead of the kingdom here as shadowed by Israel:

“Then turning to His disciples He said privately, "The eyes that see the things you see are blessed! For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see yet didn't see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn't hear them” (Luke 10:23-24).


Divorce for frivolous reasons was not part of the Law. If you think it was, try to find it in the OT.

I don’t think it was. That’s my point.

Since it wasn’t then something had to be eliminated when Jesus said that the way of the law of Moses was not the way it was from the beginning, so the only reason for divorce is the only reason He gave, unlike the under the Law.


Jesus insisted that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” He came to fulfill the Torah (i.e. to bring out its fullness); therefore “whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” He was not eliminating anything; He was telling them to live the heartfelt intent of the Torah.

Eliminating things is essentially tightening restrictions, which is different from breaking commandments. In fact, it ensures they don’t get broken. Again like the eye for an eye example.

But as I said before, there are many instances in which Jesus’ fulfillment was an increase on what the Law said, like for adultery in that even those who lust commit it in their heart.


I don’t think it was a lack of reasoning that got the Pharisees into the whole mess, I think it was a lack of love—it was a heart issue.

I agree.


The Pharisees were following the letter of the Law to the point of sacrificing the intent of the law, because their hearts were far from God.

But again, it is the Law that Jesus pointed to as not being as it was from the beginning.


Paul is the perfect example of the hypocritical, white sepulture Pharisee.

I don’t know, I think I make a better example of that.


As to the righteousness which is in the Law, he was found blameless (Phil. 4:5-6), but following the letter of the law without love is quite useless.

Yes, which is why the Law is insufficient.


Where and how was Jesus disagreeing with His own Law? He is the Author of the entire Bible.

But He does on many counts as I’ve brought up before.


The Pharisees’ original question specifically alludes to Deut. 24. Jesus knows this. When He responds by asking what Moses says (Moses’ only command on divorce is found in Deut. 24), Jesus is asking specifically. The Pharisees knew His question was about Deut. 24.

[QUOTE=LookingUp;2416029]You seem to think that by Jesus bringing them back to the beginning, He is superseding all other teachings on divorce with God’s ideal.

Yes, this is what I think. I think He points to Deut. 24 to demonstrate that it was even in the heart of the Law, but Jesus' words superseded all other teachings with God's ideal.


When Jesus says it wasn’t that way from the beginning, He isn’t using this as an argument against divorce entirely. We both agree that divorce is permissible under some limited circumstances. So you can't logically present any argument against divorce that's based in the idea that marriage is by nature indissoluble or that divorce is wrong per se.

I’m not trying to logically present an argument against divorce based on the idea that marriage is by nature indissoluble, I’m saying that it is indissoluble or wrong, except in the instance that Jesus outlined as the exception.

I don’t try to logically figure out the standards for right and wrong. I just try to follow exactly what it says.


Reminding them of God’s divine intent for marriage wasn’t to show them His disapproval of all He instructed Israel on divorce in the Torah (why would He disapprove of His own instructions?).

Because His own instructions were given because of hardness of heart, and now were fulfilled in grace, as we see in Galatians 3 (23-26):

“before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”


He reminded them because the specific commandment in Deut. 24 must be understood in light of God’s divine intent as expressed in Gen. 2. When considering Gen. 2, one would not conclude that the phrase in Deut. 24 could possibly mean “any matter at all.”
I disagree with you. Jesus does not disagree with His own instructions to Israel.

But He did disagree with the Law in other places. We are not longer under a schoolmaster. We are liberated from the Law, and Jesus made that clear when He said “you say and eye for an eye” which is in the OT, and amended that which God had commanded under the Law.


He did not come to eliminate any part of the Torah. He came to fill it full, to bring out its fullness. That’s what the “But I say” passages are about. The “But I say” passages do not eliminate; they bring out the fullness of the law.

I think the semantics are the problem. By saying that it is no longer an eye for an eye, He is eliminating permission to exact that kind of payment (permitted in the Torah) for a wrong. It can be worded as eliminating or fulfilling.


We must keep in mind that anything Moses permitted was first permitted by God.

No worries there - I'm not likely to forget that.

Ryan R
May 26th 2010, 06:01 PM
(Cont'd)


Deut. 24 was the specific commandment of Moses the Jews used to prove that divorce was permitted (i.e. “write her a certificate of divorce”). When Jesus asked them “What did Moses command you” they knew He is specifically referring to Deut. 24. He’s not asking what the entire Torah says about divorce and remarriage.

The law wasn’t insufficient—it did what it was supposed to do, instruct and guide.

It was insufficient, or else it wouldn’t have needed to be fulfilled, “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law” (Galatians 3:21); and “if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:11).

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).

Under the Law sin was our maser (Romans 6:14).

Further, it didn’t do what it was supposed to do, because instead of instructing and guiding it enslaved because of the flesh:
“by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:4-6).

“For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death” (Romans 7:8-12).


The law was never meant to save them, and just because the Pharisees perverted the purpose of the law doesn't mean that the law failed; it was they who failed.

We all failed under the Law, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10), ““For apart from law, sin is dead” (Romans 7:8).




It’s what God said. God permitted it. And, no, it was not how it was supposed to be, but God is working with real people. That’s why He issued a Law which contained provisions for what to do when you break it.

Can you expand on that last sentence please?


Not only until all is accomplished but until heaven and earth pass away. Heaven and earth are still here. “It is finished” refers to His suffering and the accomplishment of redemption, not to the Torah.

That’s funny – I just said something very similar on another thread...

But it does apply to the Law of Moses, because we are told we are dead to the Law in Romans “you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another... But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:4-6).


Jesus could not possibly mean that the Law has disappeared; after He tells us He came to fulfill the law, He immediately goes on to say “therefore whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments shall be called least in the kingdom.” That doesn’t sound like we are to eliminate any of the commandments.

We are dead to the commandment of the Law. Romans chapter 5-8 are probably the best place to see that, and any summary I would try to make of it would just be a poor representation of what those chapters state so eloquently.

Remember that Jesus said “not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18), and here we need to be noting in particular the clause at the end, and then said “It is finished” on the cross.

After that, the law was annulled, “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Hebrews 7:18-19).


I’ll let you decide. The discussion has been valuable to me. Hope all is well. God bless.

Bless you LookingUp, for your dedication to the Word and your evident love and obedience. I am very impressed and pleased that you’ve been so dedicated to trying to get answers. I’m available as long as you have a use for me.

You’ve been a real blessing to me in the conversation and if we don’t end up agreeing that’s fine (interpretations are profitable to discuss but I don’t think we all need to be 100% eye to eye on none-salvic issues), but I want you to know that this kind of eagerness to explore and rightly divide the Word of Truth truely warms my heart.

LookingUp
Jun 7th 2010, 03:43 AM
I haven't forgotten your post, Ryan. I went away for a bit (vacation) and I am considering all the things you've written as carefully as I know how. I will do my best to respond in a thoughtful way when I feel I've given everything you've said due attention, research, and prayer. Thanks for your patience--this subject matter is worth the effort. Hope all is well & God bless.

Warrior4God
Jun 7th 2010, 02:05 PM
Interesting topic. I'm not sure about the whole excommunication thing, to be honest. I do know, however, that sexual immorality on the part of a spouse is the only biblical basis for divorce. People have brought up the subject of abuse. I believe that the wise course of action is for the abused spouse to separate physically, and maybe even legally, from the abusive spouse. When the abusive spouse eventually starts having a relationship with another person and it becomes sexual, as it inevitably does, the abused spouse is then biblically, legally, and morally free to divorce the abusive spouse and marry somebody else, should they desire to, since the abusive spouse is now guilty of adultery. I also don't believe the abused spouse is morally or biblically required to try to reconcile with the abusive spouse, even if the abusive spouse hasn't committed adultery during the separation. As soon as the abuser laid their hands on their spouse they lost the right to be a spouse. They just have to let the chips fall where they may and if the abused spouse doesn't want to be abused anymore and wants to stay separated and let the abuser move on with their life, whatever that entails, so be it.

LookingUp
Jun 14th 2010, 02:04 AM
By all means, we can continue if you’re finding my perspectives valuable. I’m glad to hear they have been so.It’s been great. No one with an opposing view has been willing or able to discuss this subject with me in such detail. Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond—you gave me a lot of Scriptures to think about.


I believe that there is, in that I think that is what the passage tells us, because we know from scripture that “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

What I believe the above teaches us is that above all our interpretation has no bearing on the truth of the eternal Word that is established in heaven (Psalm 119:89),Peter’s point is not about how to interpret Scripture, but rather about the faithful transmission of prophecy/revelation and how it originated. The prophets who received God’s prophecy/revelation transmitted it faithfully—they did not put their own interpretation into the revelation—and no prophecy/revelation was revealed from a human source but through the Holy Spirit.


and Jesus was disagreeing with them on their interpretation, so I can see no reason to believe that Jesus did agree with the unanimous interpretation.I’m talking about Exodus 21 here. The Pharisees were not giving their interpretation of Exodus 21, so Jesus could not have been disagreeing with an interpretation that was not part of the conversation. Just because Jesus says the specific law that allows divorce was not that way from the beginning doesn’t mean He is superseding everything the OT says on divorce and remarriage with what God intended from the beginning. One reason that makes this clear is because He continues to allow for divorce (you believe for adultery only). He does not require them to go back to the way it was from the beginning, so you can’t use this as an argument to say that is what He is doing. If He meant for them to go back to the ideal, He would have eliminated divorce entirely. Jesus simply used the divine intent in Gen. 2 to inform Deut. 24. He did not use the divine intent in Gen. 2 to supersede everything that was written in the OT, because otherwise it would have superseded even grounds for divorce for adultery.


I agree that it’s appropriate to discuss it, but how the text was understood does not affect how it should be understood, and Jesus was challenging the way it was understood, so again, I see no reason to assume He was agreeing with the way it was interpreted.If you believe the Pharisees and Jesus were talking about Ex. 21, your conclusions will be different than mine. If you truly believe Jesus was challenging their interpretation of Ex. 21, it probably wouldn’t make sense to go on with this discussion. However, I have not met anyone who thought they were specifically discussing the interpretation of Ex. 21—probably because there is nothing in the text to suggest they were discussing Ex. 21. Can you explain how you are certain they were discussing Ex. 21? If I’ve misunderstood you, then let me repeat. Since the interpretation of Ex. 21 was not in question at this time or any other time in the entire NT, there is no reason to believe that Jesus interpreted Ex. 21 any differently than any other Jew alive during His time.


Right, but by asking what Moses had commanded He cut right past those frivolities (which the Pharisees’ question made clear by saying “for any reason”), and right to what the Law actually states, and from that point He said that was not how it was from the beginning.After they asked if they could divorce for any ol’ reason, Jesus asked what Moses commanded (they all knew He was referring to Deut. 24 because this the only place Moses commanded divorce). They responded by saying, well Mosses told us we could divorce our wives (as if permission to divorce gives carte blanche to divorce for any ol’ reason). But Jesus responds by saying that divorce had not been permitted at all in the beginning, so why would they think that this permission by Moses would suddenly allow them to divorce for any ol’ reason? Does my understanding of their conversation make sense to you?


Here’s where I disagree.

God allowed from the beginning, He continued to allow in the Law, and He continues to allow currently permission to divorce your spouse for the reason of marital unfaithfulness.

Under the Law, permission for divorce was extended beyond that exception.Are you saying that Ex. 21 was an extension of permission to divorce your wife for grounds other than marital unfaithfulness? Where do you find that God “allowed from the beginning” to divorce your spouse for marital unfaithfulness? Where is the permission to divorce for adultery in Gen. 2 that Moses supposedly extended? Do you see any verse anywhere in the Law that specifically cites adultery as grounds for divorce that might later have been extended?


Yes, I agree with that.

But it says, "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female...” (Mark 10:5,6).

This tells us law was insufficient,This is where I’m not getting what you’re saying. How does this say the Law is insufficient? In the perfect Garden, Adam and Eve didn’t want to get divorced because neither sinned against the other in that perfect environment. After the fall, husband sinned against wife (or wife against husband) and permission was granted to get divorced due to hardness of heart. How does this make the Law insufficient? I don’t think God is saying, oh well, since this commandment is just too tough for you (sinner) to obey, you can go ahead and get a divorce. I think God is saying that the partner who’s sinned against is not obligated to remain in a painful union where the spouse continues to sin. How does that make the Law insufficient? Seems to me that man is the one who is insufficient.


not simply people’s assumptions that they tied into the law. That was part of the issue, but Jesus didn’t focus on the fact that they were misinterpreting, He said that the Law was what it was because hearts were hard, and that the law was not the way it was from the beginning.Yes, the Law was what it was (permission to divorce) because hearts were hard. Hearts are still hard and that’s why permission continues to be granted.

The Pharisees were using this passage in Deut. 24 that gives permission to divorce as an excuse or justification to divorce your wife for any reason at all. But Jesus responds by saying that divorce had not been permitted in the beginning, so why would they think that this permission by Moses would suddenly allow them to divorce for any ol’ reason? I don’t see this as Jesus saying that, oh, forget about what the Law permits, instead we’ve got to go back to the way things were – no more divorcing at all! His point is for them to stop using Deut. 24 as carte blanche—and tells them that’s not what it means and you guys would know this if you simply knew the heart of God (i.e. marriage should be for life).


Here’s a bit of a description of my approach to interpretation and the scriptural reasons why.

All of our assumptions should be shelved to the best of our ability when approaching scripture until we have first tried to understand the text within its own context, otherwise we tie our assumptions into the interpretation instead of allowing the text to mean what it says. We are told about worldly cleverness that the person of God must “discard his cleverness that he may learn to be truly wise” (Acts 17:11).I don’t think that reference is correct—I couldn’t find it.

I think I understand what you’re saying. We come to Scripture with so many assumptions that it’s difficult to approach the text objectively.


Man’s word, wisdom and understanding have no authority (Isaiah 2:22), it is faulty and fleeting like a fading flower, whereas the Word of God is eternal (Psalm 118:89).

We are told to trust in the Lord and not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), that the Word of the Lord is the lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105), and that it must be rightly divided to understand the truth of it (2 Timothy 2:15).None of these texts has anything to do with HOW to interpret Scripture. Isaiah 2:22 is simply an exhortation to trust in God rather than in human beings. Proverbs 3:5 says to trust in God rather than in one’s own wisdom. Psalm 119:105 tells us that God’s word enlightens us. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to handle Scripture properly. None are relevant to the question of hermeneutics. Nowhere does it forbid attempting to reconstruct what the text meant to the reader.


In order to understand how to divide the truth, I think it’s important that we see in scripture what is the tool that ‘divides’, and that is the Word itself: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). So the Word divides, and we must rightly divide the Word, i.e. the Word divides the Word.We are to rightly divide the word—we are to handle Scripture properly. And Heb. 4:12 informs us that Scripture is piercing and perceptive. It has much more to do with Scripture’s ability to understand us than it does with our understanding of Scripture. It says nothing about HOW to interpret Scripture.


Wisdom, understanding and knowledge all come from God and the understanding of His Word is given to those who know and apply His word to itself: “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:9-10).This merely encourages us to compare Scripture with Scripture—it doesn’t limit us to that. It doesn’t say what resources we might use in that process. It simply tells us to bring various texts of Scripture together to help us understand the individual passages and construct teaching based on their combined meaning.


So when we are supposed to give an answer, “This is what each of you keeps on saying to his friend or relative: 'What is the LORD's answer?' or 'What has the LORD spoken?'” (Jeremiah 23:35).

When we approach scripture, we need to use the Word, not our understanding and ask “What has the Lord spoken?” and trust what is written. Therefore, if there seems to be a contradiction, we have to reconcile it to the rest of scripture, and find the answer there. When we mingle our understanding we end up replacing some element of what God has actually said with what we assume based on this or that.But that’s why I question the view that divorce is lawful for only marital unfaithfulness. Looking at the entire OT tells me to question that view. God made provision for those who were neglected. God even cared for slave wives the same as free wives. That says something to me. God always looked out for the weak, the abused, and the unfairly treated. I also notice in the OT that divorce was not seen as a sin—the one who broke the marriage covenant was the one who was seen as the sinner. God divorced (metaphorically) Israel. She had been unfaithful to Him through her idolatry. She broke the marriage vows and she was the sinner. Rather than looking at my own understanding of what the Matthew text seems to say to me, I compared this understanding to the rest of Scripture in an attempt to reconcile it with the rest of Scripture. So, instead of a partial picture of what God thinks about divorce and remarriage, I get a fuller idea. And now that I have this more accurate and complete picture (by looking at ALL the Bible), what does Jesus mean when He speaks about divorce and remarriage in the NT? God’s own Word led me to search deeper into Jesus’ words.


This is not the same as pretending we don’t know things about history that we know. I am a history major, and I worked as a researcher for textbooks on the early Christian church, so there are lots of things I know about that period that don’t come from the Bible, but the Bible alone is authority, so I try to use what it says to reconcile all non-Biblical texts (with their biases and assumptions) to the truth, not the other way around.

If we don’t first find the truth in the word, and then interpret the world according to that flawless filter, then we are interpreting the flawless word according to (on some level) the flawed interpretation of the world.

So, I’m not ignoring anything about the history, I’m just not crediting that which is not authoritative with the ability to instruct the interpretation of that which is, in a way that changes the outcome of the interpretation.

If the text doesn’t stand alone, then we have to add to it to interpret it, and God tells us not to do that (Proverbs 30:6).Proverbs 30:6 forbids adding to the text of Scripture—it does not forbid attempting to understand the text as it would have been understood by its original hearers.

I just don’t think knowledge of the debates of the day add to the text. It simply helps to clarify the text. Without this knowledge, the accounts of Mark and Matthew don’t reconcile very well. Mark doesn’t include “for any reason at all” for example. After consulting historical texts, one realizes this phrase was left out because those living in that day would have known what Jesus was talking about without the phrase. It’s like when I ask you if you believe in the second coming. I don’t need to add “of Christ” for you to know what second coming I’m talking about. Someone not from our Christian community would have no idea that we were talking about Christ, but an additional text on the phrase would give them insight to the meaning of my question to you. It doesn’t add to the meaning, it clarifies it.


Yes, this is true.

I’m not ignoring that. They were, as you mention, extending their traditions to include things that the Law did not allow for, so all Jesus would have had to say is that the Law meant marital unfaithfulness to challenge what they had added to it in their own admission of “for any reason”.He did. They asked if it was lawful to divorce for “any matter at all” and He told them that if they divorce for “any matter at all” and remarry, they are committing adultery. Jesus knew they were talking about the “any matter” divorces held in Hillelite courts. Even those who held the view of Shammai accepted divorced individuals in Hillelite courts as legally divorced. But Jesus told them if they got one of these kinds of divorces, they would not be lawfully divorced at all. Knowing this extra biblical information helps clarify what they were all talking about. Again, if I wrote a letter about the second coming and didn’t write the phrase “of Christ” it would be unclear to some what second coming I was talking about unless they had access to another piece of text that explained it. It doesn’t add to the text but it clarifies it.


But He didn’t address the argument that way, by simply leaving it at what the Law commanded. Instead He specified that what Moses commanded was not that way from the beginning.I don’t look at it that way. Their extension (“any matter”) of what the Law did not allow for was wrong, because it is made clear that the permission given by God was not what He intended from the beginning. I know I already went into this above.


Again, in some parts of the NT Jesus criticized man’s traditions that made void the commandments of God, but He also outlines the insufficiency of the Law in parts like in the eye for an eye example I used earlier. Here He is doing both.Ryan, I really don’t think Jesus is saying His Law is insufficient. I think He’s telling them that they are not living out the intent of the Law—the heartfelt intent of the Law. They miss the point of the Law. That doesn’t make the Law insufficient, it shows man’s deficiency.

The “eye for an eye” command, for example, is to establish a maximum for vengeance, not a minimum—meaning you cannot go beyond the recompense for the injury you’ve suffered (that’s the limit of your rights as the injured party). Jesus moves His disciples beyond the limitation on their rights by exhorting them not to avail themselves even of the recompense which is rightfully theirs. Torah gives you the right to such-and-such and nothing more; but, by the grace of God, go beyond focusing on what you have the right to and extend mercy and grace to those who hurt you.

LookingUp
Jun 14th 2010, 02:05 AM
The only passage that relates is the one in question, so the reason you wouldn’t say “What does Paul say?” is because there are no other passages that pertain.The reason I could say, “What does Paul say?” is because there are no other passages pertaining to cessation of tongues.


If there was another verse that pertained, then it would complicate the question of “What does Paul say?” and both instances would have to be presented and considered.I’m not sure what you’re saying. Perhaps above you miswrote “you wouldn’t say” and meant to write “you would say.” Just as there is only one passage pertaining to cessation of tongues, there is only one passage that Jews used to show divorce was permitted, and that was Deut. 24.

So, for the sake of clarity, I’ll write again that it doesn’t make sense that when Jesus asks “What does Moses say?” that His scope is comprehensive, as in everything Moses had to say on divorce in the Torah. It’s like if someone asked you whether you think the gift of tongues has ceased and you asked him “What does Paul say?” you’re not asking what Paul said throughout his epistles; you’re asking specifically how he interprets “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13, because that is the specific passage that the two camps use to justify their very different positions on this question of the cessation of tongues. Deut. 24 was the specific passage that was used by the all Jews to justify that divorce was permissible. So when Jesus asked them “What does Moses command?” He is not asking what Moses said throughout the Torah, He is asking specifically how they interpret Deut. 24, because that is the verse that the two camps used to justify their very different positions on the question of whether divorce was lawful for “any matter.”


If that were so, then Jesus could not have said that the Law was not the way it was from the beginning, but He did.

Just as He eliminated the allowance for and eye for an eye by holding the standard to the grace which we’ve been shown, so is He raising the bar here.Jesus is raising the bar, but that does not mean He is eliminating anything. Torah gives you the right to such-and-such and nothing more; but, by the grace of God, go beyond focusing on what you have the right to or what the law commands and extend mercy and grace to those who hurt you. Just because He had raised the bar didn’t mean they didn’t continue to have the right to the limits of the Law.

You don’t murder. Great, but God’s desire is that you not be angry without cause.
You don’t commit adultery. Great, but God’s desire is that you don’t even lust.
You don’t make false vows. Great, but God’s desire is that you be so trustworthy that vows become unnecessary.
You take advantage of the limits of the Law. Great, it’s your right to do so, but God’s desire is that you show mercy to those who hurt you.
You give your wives a certificate of divorce when you send her away. Great, it’s your responsibility to do so, but that doesn’t give you the right to send her away for any reason at all.


Christians are blessed in living in knowledge of grace, modeled to us and in which we have the privilege of dying to ourselves so that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit it is not we who live but Christ in us.

This is something the OT saints longed to see but it is our blessing to enjoy this level of grace, and with it a different concept of responsibility to model grace of the heavenly kingdom, instead of the kingdom here as shadowed by Israel:

“Then turning to His disciples He said privately, "The eyes that see the things you see are blessed! For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see yet didn't see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn't hear them” (Luke 10:23-24).

I don’t think it was. That’s my point.

Since it wasn’t then something had to be eliminated when Jesus said that the way of the law of Moses was not the way it was from the beginning, so the only reason for divorce is the only reason He gave, unlike the under the Law.
Eliminating things is essentially tightening restrictions, which is different from breaking commandments. In fact, it ensures they don’t get broken. Again like the eye for an eye example.Why do you say that since divorce for frivolous reasons was not part of the Law, something had to be eliminated? That doesn’t make sense.

Just because Jesus said permission for divorce was not that way from the time of Eden doesn’t mean something had to be eliminated. Jesus is not eliminating anything. Grace elevates us to a higher standard but that doesn’t eliminate a thing. The One who proclaimed that “not a jot or tittle” of the Torah would fail did not go around overruling it. And just how does this “elimination” ensure that Ex. 21:7-11 be kept perfectly? This “tightening of restrictions” actually does the opposite of ensuring that Ex. 21 be fulfilled—it breaks it—for a mistreated woman is bound to an abusive husband. This “higher standard” causes the initial law of Ex. 21 to be broken and not kept. Don’t you find it odd that this “elimination” leads to a higher standard that is less merciful to people stuck in loveless, abusive marriages than the old standard was?


But as I said before, there are many instances in which Jesus’ fulfillment was an increase on what the Law said, like for adultery in that even those who lust commit it in their heart.You don’t think lustful thoughts were considered sin in OT days? It’s not that these things all of the sudden became sinful when they were never sinful in the past. Angry thoughts, lustful thoughts, hatred, unforgiveness, lack of mercy, etc. had always been the beginning of sin. Sin begins in the heart and then we act it out. Jesus was telling them to live out the heartfelt intent of the Law that they should have always been living out. And now, with the knowledge of grace, this should be even more evident in our lives.


I agree.

But again, it is the Law that Jesus pointed to as not being as it was from the beginning.

I don’t know, I think I make a better example of that.

Yes, which is why the Law is insufficient.

But He does on many counts as I’ve brought up before.Ryan, Jesus does not disagree with His own Law. He shows them how to live out the heartfelt, perfect intentions of the Law. No, the Law is not a means of justification (Gal. 3:23-26), but we are to live out the heartfelt intentions of the Law because the Law is perfect, restoring the soul. That we are under grace and not law does not mean we are to not to live by the law. Not being under the law refers to justification of the law. We are liberated not from the righteous lifestyle advocated by the law but from the impossibility of establishing and maintaining that righteousness ourselves. I’m not saying we are to live out any of the elements of the Law that are binding on Jews that make them Jews (i.e. we are not expected to become Jewish), but morality doesn’t change.


The Pharisees’ original question specifically alludes to Deut. 24. Jesus knows this. When He responds by asking what Moses says (Moses’ only command on divorce is found in Deut. 24), Jesus is asking specifically. The Pharisees knew His question was about Deut. 24.

Yes, this is what I think. I think He points to Deut. 24 to demonstrate that it was even in the heart of the Law, but Jesus' words superseded all other teachings with God's ideal.

I’m not trying to logically present an argument against divorce based on the idea that marriage is by nature indissoluble, I’m saying that it is indissoluble or wrong, except in the instance that Jesus outlined as the exception.

I don’t try to logically figure out the standards for right and wrong. I just try to follow exactly what it says.I have a hard time with this. Divorce is wrong…oh, except in cases of marital unfaithfulness, then it’s right. Really? Where can we say that about any other sin? Murder is wrong…oh, except in cases of, um…nothing. Adultery is wrong…oh, except in cases of, um…nothing. Get my point? Divorce is not a sin. Breaking the marriage vow is the sin. And to counter this by saying, “But God hates divorce” I would say “Yes, and I hate going to the doctor, but sometimes it’s necessary.” That doesn’t mean going to the doctor is a sin. You can’t dismiss all divorce grounds except adultery by appealing to the original ideal as expressed in Gen. 2. If you’re going to go back to the Garden and reinstitute the ideal that the law supposedly diminished, logically you’d have to prohibit divorce altogether, since adultery was not part of the Edenic ideal. Lifelong monogamy has always been the ideal, but God recognizes that we fall short of that ideal—whether we’re Jews under Moses or Christians under grace.


Because His own instructions were given because of hardness of heart, and now were fulfilled in grace, as we see in Galatians 3 (23-26):

“before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”This passage is talking about the law and justification; not about the righteous standard of living God invites us to enjoy.


But He did disagree with the Law in other places. We are not longer under a schoolmaster. We are liberated from the Law, and Jesus made that clear when He said “you say and eye for an eye” which is in the OT, and amended that which God had commanded under the Law.We are not liberated from the righteous lifestyle advocated by the Law but from the impossibility of establishing and maintaining that righteousness ourselves. Jesus didn’t overrule anything. He reminded them that living by the letter of the Law was not necessarily righteous living; living out the Law in love was righteous living. Your righteousness must surpass that of the scribes (who live by the letter of the Law and think all is well). Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, and go beyond what is written in letter—get to the heart of the matter. They should have been doing this all along. Now, we, the Body of Christ, who have experienced grace on the other side of the cross, should, by the grace of God, go beyond what the Law gives us the right to or commands. We, of all people, should understand what it means to live out the heartfelt intent of the Law and be able to model it. That doesn’t mean that OT saints could not have possibly lived this way. Do you really think there was never an OT saint who didn’t go beyond the letter of the Law and model humility instead of building up anger without cause, or model purity instead of secretly thinking lustful things, or model mercy instead of taking advantage of what the Law gave him rights to?


I think the semantics are the problem. By saying that it is no longer an eye for an eye, He is eliminating permission to exact that kind of payment (permitted in the Torah) for a wrong. It can be worded as eliminating or fulfilling.

No worries there - I'm not likely to forget that.

It was insufficient, or else it wouldn’t have needed to be fulfilled, “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law” (Galatians 3:21); and “if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:11).

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).All of this has to do with the Law as means of justification.


Under the Law sin was our maser (Romans 6:14).

Further, it didn’t do what it was supposed to do, because instead of instructing and guiding it enslaved because of the flesh:
“by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:4-6).

“For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death” (Romans 7:8-12).We are not under the Law and it cannot condemn us, because we are in Christ. But He asks us to live out the spirit of the Law through faith.


We all failed under the Law, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10), ““For apart from law, sin is dead” (Romans 7:8).

Can you expand on that last sentence please?Within the Law itself are provisions for what to do when you break that Law.


That’s funny – I just said something very similar on another thread...

But it does apply to the Law of Moses, because we are told we are dead to the Law in Romans “you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another... But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:4-6).Again, heaven and earth are still here, so the Law has not passed. We are not bound to the Law in that it can’t condemn us, but we are asked to live by the spirit of the Law. How can we live by the spirit of something that doesn’t exist? You said that Jesus wasn’t “eliminating” so much as He was “tightening” the Law to ensure that the Law would not be broken. How would this apply if we are dead to the Law?


We are dead to the commandment of the Law. Romans chapter 5-8 are probably the best place to see that, and any summary I would try to make of it would just be a poor representation of what those chapters state so eloquently.

Remember that Jesus said “not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18), and here we need to be noting in particular the clause at the end, and then said “It is finished” on the cross.

After that, the law was annulled, “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Hebrews 7:18-19).Hebrews 7:18-19 is speaking specifically of the priesthood. The Hebrews author's argument is that since Christ's priesthood is according to a different (higher) order than that of Aaron, it must also function at the behest of a higher commandment. "And no man takes this honor for himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron also was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." It isn't really speaking of the Torah in general. Nonetheless, I agree that the Torah is not binding on the body of Christ as it was upon Israel, yet, moral issues don't change.

Bless you LookingUp, for your dedication to the Word and your evident love and obedience. I am very impressed and pleased that you’ve been so dedicated to trying to get answers. I’m available as long as you have a use for me.

You’ve been a real blessing to me in the conversation and if we don’t end up agreeing that’s fine (interpretations are profitable to discuss but I don’t think we all need to be 100% eye to eye on none-salvic issues), but I want you to know that this kind of eagerness to explore and rightly divide the Word of Truth truely warms my heart.Thanks very much Ryan.

Equipped_4_Love
Jun 14th 2010, 02:34 AM
Consider these two situations: one, a man has a one-time sexual affair with a co-worker, feels guilty and breaks it off. Two, a man is addicted to pornography and looks at it every single day, storing huge collections of images and video, but never has intercourse with another woman. I think the sexual sin of the second man is far worse, and I think that it satisfies the "exception clause" more completely.


I also believe that this only applies if the man is truly unrepentant, and refuses to stop looking at pornography, but continually does so day after day with no intention of stopping. If a man is truly struggling with it, but is honest and sincere about wanting to stop, then I don't believe this is grounds for divorce.

Should the principle about forgiveness (70 x 7) apply also to a husband and wife? How often should a wife forgive a husband who continues to struggle with porn, even if he wants to stop?

Warrior4God
Jun 14th 2010, 01:35 PM
Yes, the text does indeed show that we still have permission to divorce our spouse (whether one is convinced there is only one exception or more). We are not expected to remain married to a spouse who continues in their adultery without repentance.

I don't see in the Bible where people are required to stay married to an adulterating spouse, even if there is repentance. When a spouse screws around, even if they're totally sorry and promise not to do it again, the other spouse may be so hurt and distrustful that the marriage just can't be restored, and God, in His wisdom, knew this. Yes, it's great when there can be reconciliation, for it is the ideal outcome, and sometimes it does happen. I can speak from personal experience on that, since my wife stayed married to me after I had an affair with a co-worker. However, it doesn't always happen and when it doesn't the spouse that's been cheated on isn't sinning if they seek a divorce. God, in His wisdom and compassion, though desiring that marriage be permanent, did give permission for humans to divorce, though He hates it, in the event of sexual unfaithfulness. If He had intended to require people to remain married in cases of adultery, whether with or without repentance involved, He wouldn't have given the adultery clause in the Bible. He would have said, "Sorry. When you get married, you stay stuck with each other and I don't care what the other spouse does to you. You're bound together no matter what." That's not what the Bible says. There clearly is an out, which is sexual unfaithfulness. If there can be reconciliation, great. However, if the wronged spouse just can't bring themselves to stay married, other Christians need to just back off and not try to guilt trip them into staying married, even if the cheater is crying their eyes out and begging for forgiveness and pleading to stay married. The decision to stay married, or not, is totally in the hands of the wronged spouse, nobody else.

LookingUp
Jun 14th 2010, 04:02 PM
I don't see in the Bible where people are required to stay married to an adulterating spouse, even if there is repentance. When a spouse screws around, even if they're totally sorry and promise not to do it again, the other spouse may be so hurt and distrustful that the marriage just can't be restored, and God, in His wisdom, knew this. Yes, it's great when there can be reconciliation, for it is the ideal outcome, and sometimes it does happen. I can speak from personal experience on that, since my wife stayed married to me after I had an affair with a co-worker. However, it doesn't always happen and when it doesn't the spouse that's been cheated on isn't sinning if they seek a divorce. God, in His wisdom and compassion, though desiring that marriage be permanent, did give permission for humans to divorce, though He hates it, in the event of sexual unfaithfulness. If He had intended to require people to remain married in cases of adultery, whether with or without repentance involved, He wouldn't have given the adultery clause in the Bible. He would have said, "Sorry. When you get married, you stay stuck with each other and I don't care what the other spouse does to you. You're bound together no matter what." That's not what the Bible says. There clearly is an out, which is sexual unfaithfulness. If there can be reconciliation, great. However, if the wronged spouse just can't bring themselves to stay married, other Christians need to just back off and not try to guilt trip them into staying married, even if the cheater is crying their eyes out and begging for forgiveness and pleading to stay married. The decision to stay married, or not, is totally in the hands of the wronged spouse, nobody else.I agree. I have been studying my heart out on this one, and I’ve concluded that each of the views (1. no grounds for divorce, 2. adultery & abandonment, and 3. adultery, abandonment, physical and emotional neglect & abuse) has merit. Now that I’ve looked at all of them carefully, I can make a very nice case for each of these views. That tells me that we can’t be 100% sure of our interpretation on this one. And if I’m not sure of an interpretation (and I’m not sure how someone could be so arrogant to say they have this one all figured out and that they’re 100% sure), then I’m not going to condemn someone who sees it from one of the other two views.

And for me, the fact that there is an “out” tells me that divorce is not sin. We have no other “outs” for any other sin. Breaking the marriage vow is the sin. This is what I wrote above regarding this:

Divorce is wrong…oh, except in cases of marital unfaithfulness, then it’s right. Really? Where can we say that about any other sin? Murder is wrong…oh, except in cases of, um…nothing. Adultery is wrong…oh, except in cases of, um…nothing. Get my point? Divorce is not a sin. Breaking the marriage vow is the sin. And to counter this by saying, “But God hates divorce” I would say “Yes, and I hate going to the doctor, but sometimes it’s necessary.” That doesn’t mean going to the doctor is a sin.

Ryan R
Jun 16th 2010, 09:03 PM
It’s been great. No one with an opposing view has been willing or able to discuss this subject with me in such detail. Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond—you gave me a lot of Scriptures to think about.
No problem about the wait. I’m happy to provide my views.


Peter’s point is not about how to interpret Scripture, but rather about the faithful transmission of prophecy/revelation and how it originated. The prophets who received God’s prophecy/revelation transmitted it faithfully—they did not put their own interpretation into the revelation—and no prophecy/revelation was revealed from a human source but through the Holy Spirit.

Certainly, you are correct, but realizing that Scripture is the faithful transmission of prophecy/revelation free from the interpretation of the individuals has an inevitable impact on how to interpret Scripture.

As a revelation from God free from the interpretations of those who transmitted it, it is best understood as it is written first and foremost, so that we don’t run the risk of biasing it with the false assumptions that would have accompanied the interpretations of the day, which were as harmful to the revelation as the false assumptions that we would bias the revelation with today.

The key is that it was the truth as revealed without human interpretation, so we have to be very careful to understand it in context of the rest of scripture first to establish its context according to the text (all of which is faithfully transmitted and free of the bias of human interpretation) before we start introducing extra-biblical factors.

It’s an inductive process of investigation. First we establish the facts that we know from scripture, in this case we look at all the verses that deal with divorce, and then we look at all of the elements of those passages and see how they relate to each other. Those are the facts, given to us by God, apart from human interpretation. As with any investigation, all other elements of consideration over and above the facts are simply possibilities that may be applicable to theories that can help flesh out the story told by the facts, but the theories must be conformed and molded to the facts, and the differentiation between the theories (non-authoritative) and the facts (authoritative) must always be kept in mind as our understanding of the situation matures, so that the facts are not compromised in favour of theories an attempt to recreate the story in the way that seems to make the most sense.

Once we’ve established the facts and looked at their relationship to one another we determine to the best of our ability what the text as a whole says on the issue (weighing, of course, all the considerations such as the authoritative relevance of the Law given that we live after it’s fulfillment and so forth).

If we can see a definitive story unravel in the text, then whatever extra-biblical information we come across can be gauged for accuracy against how well it lines up with what God has told us devoid of human interpretation in the Word.

If we don’t see a definitive answer then, knowing what God has said on the subject before we start drawing in extra-biblical information to compile theories and develop assumptions, then we can look at the historical context and cultural implications to see if we’re just uninformed on something that would have been taken for granted at the time.

But because the Word was transmitted without human interpretation, then it has to be interpreted and believed first and foremost in that pure state, otherwise we run the risk of biasing it before we believe it, without even realizing what we’re doing.


I’m talking about Exodus 21 here. The Pharisees were not giving their interpretation of Exodus 21, so Jesus could not have been disagreeing with an interpretation that was not part of the conversation. Just because Jesus says the specific law that allows divorce was not that way from the beginning doesn’t mean He is superseding everything the OT says on divorce and remarriage with what God intended from the beginning. One reason that makes this clear is because He continues to allow for divorce (you believe for adultery only). He does not require them to go back to the way it was from the beginning, so you can’t use this as an argument to say that is what He is doing. If He meant for them to go back to the ideal, He would have eliminated divorce entirely.

Ah, I think I see where we’re disagreeing here. I believe that the suggestion here is that divorce was always permissible for marital unfaithfulness – that is the way it was from the beginning. In the garden it wouldn’t have existed, but since sin was introduced it looks to me like Jesus is saying that divorce from your spouse for marital unfaithfulness.


Jesus simply used the divine intent in Gen. 2 to inform Deut. 24. He did not use the divine intent in Gen. 2 to supersede everything that was written in the OT, because otherwise it would have superseded even grounds for divorce for adultery.

That’s right, which is why He bothered to qualify the instance in which there still were grounds. If He wouldn’t have qualified, then there would be no grounds for divorce for any reason.


If you believe the Pharisees and Jesus were talking about Ex. 21, your conclusions will be different than mine. If you truly believe Jesus was challenging their interpretation of Ex. 21, it probably wouldn’t make sense to go on with this discussion. However, I have not met anyone who thought they were specifically discussing the interpretation of Ex. 21—probably because there is nothing in the text to suggest they were discussing Ex. 21. Can you explain how you are certain they were discussing Ex. 21? If I’ve misunderstood you, then let me repeat. Since the interpretation of Ex. 21 was not in question at this time or any other time in the entire NT, there is no reason to believe that Jesus interpreted Ex. 21 any differently than any other Jew alive during His time.

I don’t believe He was making specific reference to it, but that the formula He laid out in referencing what was under the Law, pointing out it was not that way from the beginning and concluding by saying “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery" is exclusive.

Maybe Exodus 21 should never have been interpreted to be applicable to everyone, maybe it wasn’t originally supposed to be about divorce, maybe under the Law it was an acceptable criteria for marriage and therefore a clause for divorce, maybe a host of other things I haven’t thought of – I don’t know.

What I don know is that Jesus referred to what was written in the Law on divorce, noted that the Law’s provision for divorce was not the way it was from the beginning, and decreed “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery", and I don’t see any reason to suppose that something else in the Law provides unspecified stipulation to this fulfillment.


After they asked if they could divorce for any ol’ reason, Jesus asked what Moses commanded (they all knew He was referring to Deut. 24 because this the only place Moses commanded divorce). They responded by saying, well Mosses told us we could divorce our wives (as if permission to divorce gives carte blanche to divorce for any ol’ reason). But Jesus responds by saying that divorce had not been permitted at all in the beginning,

That only applies if you assume that divorce was not permissible from the beginning.

If the trouble was that their assumptions about what the Law stated, then Jesus would have mentioned that. I don’t see any indication that divorces was not permissible in the beginning under the condition of marital unfaithfulness, but the textual suggestion is that the Law is not how it was from the beginning.

If divorce had not been permissible from the beginning, then that would make its current application non-sequitur after Jesus just mentioned that it should be as it was in the beginning, but not really because there is one exception. If that exception always existed and the letter of the Law failed to enforce it, but Jesus issues the decree as it was meant from the beginning, then the statement flows.


so why would they think that this permission by Moses would suddenly allow them to divorce for any ol’ reason? Does my understanding of their conversation make sense to you?

I don’t think the intention of the Law was to allow them to divorce for any old reason, but I think that the letter of the Law failed to enforce it.

And your understanding mostly makes sense to me. It’s a good argument, but there are just a few instance here and there where I think some extra-biblical assumptions are interjected that re-arrange some of the placement of the facts as recorded in scripture.

Are you saying that Ex. 21 was an extension of permission to divorce your wife for grounds other than marital unfaithfulness?

Yes.


Where do you find that God “allowed from the beginning” to divorce your spouse for marital unfaithfulness? Where is the permission to divorce for adultery in Gen. 2 that Moses supposedly extended? Do you see any verse anywhere in the Law that specifically cites adultery as grounds for divorce that might later have been extended?

Before the Law there was no Law. There was a Covenant with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and so forth, but it seems that people served by conscience. That’s what I mean by dispositions. God has tried everything with us, and only the Law of Faith is not a shadowy figure.

By the verse that cites adultery as grounds for divorce is the one we’re discussing: “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matt. 19:8). To me it’s clear that this shows that from the beginning anyone who divorced his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman committed adultery. It’s inherent in the description the text provides of the syllogism

By saying, “But it was not this way from the beginning” we can see that how it was from the beginning was clearly superior, and there needs to be a return to that way. So how was it from the beginning? The next verse demonstrates it as, “... anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”


This is where I’m not getting what you’re saying. How does this say the Law is insufficient? In the perfect Garden, Adam and Eve didn’t want to get divorced because neither sinned against the other in that perfect environment. After the fall, husband sinned against wife (or wife against husband) and permission was granted to get divorced due to hardness of heart.

Because it the Law wasn’t given after the Garden. It wasn’t given after the Flood. It wasn’t given after the Nation of Israel was founded on God’s faithful servant Abraham. It wasn’t given in the bondage of Egypt. It was given in the Exodus.

You’re right that there was no divorce in the Garden, but there was also no sin so adultery wasn’t a factor to consider, but if it was it would have been grounds for divorce, as it was after the Garden, after the Flood, after Abraham, after Egypt, and after the Law.

Divorce is permissible for fornication because it is a unique sin, not in the sense that it is any less paid for, that it breeches the Law any more, that it is more offensive to God, or that we need more forgiveness for, but we are told that “All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18) and this seems to facilitate splitting in twain what God has made one flesh.

Reconciliation is desirable, but I think the principle here is that it is not required for the spouse who did not commit adultery, so when God said “let man not separate” I think adultery against your spouse is the defiance of what God has joined, annulling the one-flesh union that God has made in a way that nothing else can.


How does this make the Law insufficient? I don’t think God is saying, oh well, since this commandment is just too tough

It’s insufficiency is that it was not tough enough so people forced loopholes around the letter of the Law instead of obeying the spirit of the Law.


for you (sinner) to obey, you can go ahead and get a divorce.

No, the Law did not exist before the permission to divorce. It was in the Law that the permission was granted. Before the Law there was no commandment on divorce. Before the Law there was no law, except the one written on our hearts, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2: 14-15).

But the Law was insufficient, and was allowed to be so because their hearts were hard. If we lived up to the letter of the Law in every respect, we still would sin and fall short of the glory of God. The Law will never get us there, it was just a figure and demonstrated that even in it’s insufficiency we still couldn’t live up to it.


I think God is saying that the partner who’s sinned against is not obligated to remain in a painful union where the spouse continues to sin.

There are two things about that statement: first it’s not about pain. God will send us to be martyred if it is His will and we need to joyfully face torture and death if we are so called. Pain is not something the Christian life on this earth safe-guards against. Second, a person is entitled to get a divorce even if the adultery was a one-time thing that their spouse is repentant for. I think it’s vastly preferable if they can work it out... I’m pretty sure that I stay with my wife it that happened to me and she was sorry, simply because people make mistakes and the pain of the betrayal wouldn’t outweigh the pain of the loss of her in my life (and the kids and the opportunity to demonstrate forgiveness and the routine, etc.), but I wouldn’t strictly have to.


How does that make the Law insufficient? Seems to me that man is the one who is insufficient.

That’s true too, but the Law never was sufficient. It was a Law of works not of grace “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6).


Yes, the Law was what it was (permission to divorce) because hearts were hard. Hearts are still hard and that’s why permission continues to be granted.

If that were true then Jesus would not have said the word “But” when He said “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matt. 19:8)

What you suggest is that He was agreeing with the permission to divorce because of hardness of hearts, but that would make the middle and last sentence non-sequitur. The “But...” is a contradiction to what was accepted in the previous sentence and the “I tell you...” is the extension of that contradiction.

Ryan R
Jun 16th 2010, 09:05 PM
(Cont'd on Part 1)


The Pharisees were using this passage in Deut. 24 that gives permission to divorce as an excuse or justification to divorce your wife for any reason at all.
Yes.


But Jesus responds by saying that divorce had not been permitted in the beginning,
No, Jesus responded by first asking what the Law of Moses said.


so why would they think that this permission by Moses would suddenly allow them to divorce for any ol’ reason?
Because Jesus asked them what the Law of Moses said and they told Him and it was to that the Jesus responded that it was not that way from the beginning.


I don’t see this as Jesus saying that, oh, forget about what the Law permits,
Jesus didn’t forget anything, anytime He spoke of the insufficiency of the Law and superseded it, and this was no exception.


instead we’ve got to go back to the way things were – no more divorcing at all!

That’s not what He said. He indicated that we go back to the way things were when divorce was only permissible when man separated what God had jointed, via adultery.

His point is for them to stop using Deut. 24 as carte blanche—

Yes.


and tells them that’s not what it means

In the spirit, that’s correct.


and you guys would know this if you simply knew the heart of God (i.e. marriage should be for life).

Yes.


I think I understand what you’re saying. We come to Scripture with so many assumptions that it’s difficult to approach the text objectively.

Right.


None of these texts has anything to do with HOW to interpret Scripture.

They all teach the principles of how to interpret scripture.

As an example, if my kid is playing hop-scotch and spills her orange just and I say to her “Stop horsing around, you’re spilling your drink”, and the next day she’s spinning around and spills her mile and I ask her, “What did I tell you yesterday?” and she says, “But the context is totally different – yesterday I was jumping and spilled OJ, but today I was spinning and spilled milk” I’m not going to let her off the hook because my instruction was not to horse around and thereby spill her drink.

Likewise with these examples, as I’ll try to demonstrate.


Isaiah 2:22 is simply an exhortation to trust in God rather than in human beings.

Not entirely, the context is actually about incorporating superstitions into the ways taught by God, but even it were simply as stated above, that serves the purpose I was trying to express.

We must trust in God, rather than in human beings. We can agree that the verse does say that so, let’s move on...


Proverbs 3:5 says to trust in God rather than in one’s own wisdom.

Right.


Psalm 119:105 tells us that God’s word enlightens us.

Right.


2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to handle Scripture properly.

Right, so there must be a way to do this properly, and when harmonizing with the rest of scripture to see how we do this, similar language is used in Hebrews.


None are relevant to the question of hermeneutics.

Only if we predetermine what applies to hermeneutics and the extent to which we value the categories and semantics that we’ve included under that label.

If we accept that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17), then scripture alone is sufficient to thoroughly equip us for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.


Nowhere does it forbid attempting to reconstruct what the text meant to the reader.

Of course not, but that doesn’t make what it meant to the reader the facts. The reader was just as subject to misinterpreting the facts with their biases of the day as we are with ours. In fact, isn’t that your whole point? That despite what the Law said the Pharisees misunderstood it according to the assumptions of the day?


We are to rightly divide the word—we are to handle Scripture properly. And Heb. 4:12 informs us that Scripture is piercing and perceptive.

Right, those are the principles that scripture teaches that I was pointing out.


It has much more to do with Scripture’s ability to understand us than it does with our understanding of Scripture. It says nothing about HOW to interpret Scripture.

The principles that we’ve agreed that we see above are that man is not to be trusted but God is, to trust in God rather than in one’s own wisdom, that God’s word enlightens us, to handle Scripture properly, and that Scripture is piercing and perceptive.

This tells us what are the trustworthy facts (God’s Word alone), and what is the untrustworthy speculation (anything other than God’s Word alone), so that’s what we should trust.

Our interpretations and extra-biblical knowledge will all alter and shift as we mature and rework our understanding, both as a culture and as individuals, but the Word of God will remain the facts exactly as they are written forevermore. So, while we may gain a richer understanding of God’s Word as we learn more about things that pertain to it (as long as all of that knowledge is gauged for accuracy according to what the Word says and on the other way around), if we stray from the facts and start placing elements of our faith in the assumptions we are associating with the facts then we will start arguing about orange juice verses milk when in fact we’ve been told not to spill out drink.


This merely encourages us to compare Scripture with Scripture—it doesn’t limit us to that.

That’s absolutely true, but it does limit us to trusting Scripture with Scripture, regardless of what else we include.


It doesn’t say what resources we might use in that process.

Right, but it tells us not to trust in any others, which has to be born in mind in our approach.


It simply tells us to bring various texts of Scripture together to help us understand the individual passages and construct teaching based on their combined meaning.

Yes! And once we’ve done that then we’re (relatively, since we are still just human) armed against the misconceptions that may be dragged in with the assumptions that accompany foreign data.


But that’s why I question the view that divorce is lawful for only marital unfaithfulness. Looking at the entire OT tells me to question that view.

But it isn’t the OT that gives tells you how to behave.


God made provision for those who were neglected. God even cared for slave wives the same as free wives. That says something to me.

God sent Christians to their deaths by the thousands. Our rewards are not on this earth, as they were to a limited extent under the figure of the Law. God made corporeal promises to Israel for obedience. Our hearts are to be where our treasure is, in heaven. Our reward is to lay the crowns of obedience at our saviour’s feet. They longed to see their saviour "For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it" (Matthew 13:17).


God always looked out for the weak, the abused, and the unfairly treated.

He has done so eternally, so as we see in the beattitudes the above are bless above all else.


I also notice in the OT that divorce was not seen as a sin—the one who broke the marriage covenant was the one who was seen as the sinner. God divorced (metaphorically) Israel. She had been unfaithful to Him through her idolatry. She broke the marriage vows and she was the sinner. Rather than looking at my own understanding of what the Matthew text seems to say to me, I compared this understanding to the rest of Scripture in an attempt to reconcile it with the rest of Scripture.

Divorce never has been and never will be a sin. Adultery is the sin which is committed if you divorce your spouse unless they have been unfaithful, as Israel was to God.


So, instead of a partial picture of what God thinks about divorce and remarriage, I get a fuller idea. And now that I have this more accurate and complete picture (by looking at ALL the Bible), what does Jesus mean when He speaks about divorce and remarriage in the NT? God’s own Word led me to search deeper into Jesus’ words.

That’s great, but I think the rest of scripture supports that divorce is only permitted for marital unfaithfulness.


Proverbs 30:6 forbids adding to the text of Scripture—it does not forbid attempting to understand the text as it would have been understood by its original hearers.

Certainly not, but it forbids the concept that you’d have to in order to correctly interpret it, since those particulars are left out. You may be able to get a fuller understanding from experiences and knowledge, but if anything you accumulate from extra-biblical sources is trusted on par with or in lieu of the authority of Scripture, then it would be adding to it, so we need to be careful to separate our assumptions and speculations from Scriptural fact.


I just don’t think knowledge of the debates of the day add to the text.

It doesn’t by necessity, but if it’s trusted to inform us over what the text actually says then it is. It’s all in where we place our trust – in God’s word, or in man’s ability to determine the true meaning of God’s word.


It simply helps to clarify the text.

It certainly can, but it can just as easily (if not more so) muddy the text with foreign data and assumptions and it can be difficult to remember where the text truly starts and ends.

Did you know that the saying ‘be in the world but not of the world’ is not in the Bible? I was surprised when I could not find it in there. It’s so often attributed to the Bible we assume that God said it. He didn’t, we did, and that’s something I didn’t realize, even though I’ve read the Bible.

We have to be careful to differentiate what God tells us, and what we assume He told us.


Without this knowledge, the accounts of Mark and Matthew don’t reconcile very well. Mark doesn’t include “for any reason at all” for example.

That’s not a problem for reconciliation. The texts don’t have to include all the same details. Exclusion and inclusion have no bearing on reconciliation.


After consulting historical texts, one realizes this phrase was left out because those living in that day would have known what Jesus was talking about without the phrase.

Maybe, but it is in one account, so we know Jesus said it. Why it was left out is speculation, but what’s relevant is that Matthew records it so we know Jesus said it and Mark simply didn’t record it. His is the shorter account by far for whatever reason.

Ryan R
Jun 16th 2010, 09:06 PM
(Cont'd again)


It’s like when I ask you if you believe in the second coming. I don’t need to add “of Christ” for you to know what second coming I’m talking about. Someone not from our Christian community would have no idea that we were talking about Christ, but an additional text on the phrase would give them insight to the meaning of my question to you. It doesn’t add to the meaning, it clarifies it.

Except in both examples you provide the solutions are found in the text themselves. If someone wanted to know what second coming you were referring to, they’d find the answer in the Bible. The rest of the sentence “for any reason at all” is in the Bible. We will never truly know why it contains what it does, because our ways are not His ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), but what’s important is what is in there.


He did. They asked if it was lawful to divorce for “any matter at all” and He told them that if they divorce for “any matter at all” and remarry, they are committing adultery. Jesus knew they were talking about the “any matter” divorces held in Hillelite courts. Even those who held the view of Shammai accepted divorced individuals in Hillelite courts as legally divorced. But Jesus told them if they got one of these kinds of divorces, they would not be lawfully divorced at all. Knowing this extra biblical information helps clarify what they were all talking about.

I thought it was clear from just the facts as seen inductively as they were presented in the Bible, but to be fair, I’ve known for years about the disputes behind them so I guess I’m not an impartial judge on that one.


Again, if I wrote a letter about the second coming and didn’t write the phrase “of Christ” it would be unclear to some what second coming I was talking about unless they had access to another piece of text that explained it. It doesn’t add to the text but it clarifies it.

That example doesn’t work since the second coming is a Biblical reference, and the other piece of text is the Bible. It’s all in the same text.


Ryan, I really don’t think Jesus is saying His Law is insufficient. I think He’s telling them that they are not living out the intent of the Law—the heartfelt intent of the Law. They miss the point of the Law. That doesn’t make the Law insufficient, it shows man’s deficiency.

We know the Law was insufficient, as I showed before, and if they were just missing the point of the Law then Jesus would have pointed that out, but that’s not how the conversation went.


The “eye for an eye” command, for example, is to establish a maximum for vengeance, not a minimum—meaning you cannot go beyond the recompense for the injury you’ve suffered (that’s the limit of your rights as the injured party).

That’s not what’s relevant to our current topic. What’s relevant is that the Law said something and Jesus said things are different now. It used to be that you could do this because the Law allowed it, but you can’t do that anymore.


Jesus moves His disciples beyond the limitation on their rights by exhorting them not to avail themselves even of the recompense which is rightfully theirs. Torah gives you the right to such-and-such and nothing more; but, by the grace of God, go beyond focusing on what you have the right to and extend mercy and grace to those who hurt you.

Right, just like in marriage, so only divorce for marital unfaithfulness.

Sorry lookingup but I'm out of time here. I'll have to get back to you on Part 2 of your response later.

Ryan R
Jun 17th 2010, 07:52 PM
The reason I could say, “What does Paul say?” is because there are no other passages pertaining to cessation of tongues.

I’m not sure what you’re saying. Perhaps above you miswrote “you wouldn’t say” and meant to write “you would say.” Just as there is only one passage pertaining to cessation of tongues, there is only one passage that Jews used to show divorce was permitted, and that was Deut. 24.

Well, Exodus also applied, so I don’t see why only the one passage would be used to show divorce was permitted if there were two which demonstrated that, unlike with the cessation of tongues for which there is only one passage that can be pointed to in the controversy so I don’t see how it’s similar, but I think we’re getting off topic.


So, for the sake of clarity, I’ll write again that it doesn’t make sense that when Jesus asks “What does Moses say?” that His scope is comprehensive, as in everything Moses had to say on divorce in the Torah. It’s like if someone asked you whether you think the gift of tongues has ceased and you asked him “What does Paul say?” you’re not asking what Paul said throughout his epistles; you’re asking specifically how he interprets “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13, because that is the specific passage that the two camps use to justify their very different positions on this question of the cessation of tongues.

That’s not what I would say. I would most certainly mean “What does Paul say” in reference to the definitive point that encapsulates everything that Paul said throughout his epistles on the topic, or else its an incomplete treatment of the topic.


Deut. 24 was the specific passage that was used by the all Jews to justify that divorce was permissible. So when Jesus asked them “What does Moses command?” He is not asking what Moses said throughout the Torah, He is asking specifically how they interpret Deut. 24, because that is the verse that the two camps used to justify their very different positions on the question of whether divorce was lawful for “any matter.”

And if it can be taken at face value as above, all Jews used Deut. 24 to justify that divorce was permissible and Jesus answered them by saying, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9), as His simple and full answer.

If the rest of the Law doesn’t apply to this passage, then we have the complete instruction above. If the rest of the Law did apply, then we have the complete instruction above.

I don’t see how it changes the commandment.


Jesus is raising the bar, but that does not mean He is eliminating anything. Torah gives you the right to such-and-such and nothing more; but, by the grace of God, go beyond focusing on what you have the right to or what the law commands and extend mercy and grace to those who hurt you. Just because He had raised the bar didn’t mean they didn’t continue to have the right to the limits of the Law.

You don’t murder. Great, but God’s desire is that you not be angry without cause.
You don’t commit adultery. Great, but God’s desire is that you don’t even lust.
You don’t make false vows. Great, but God’s desire is that you be so trustworthy that vows become unnecessary.
You take advantage of the limits of the Law. Great, it’s your right to do so, but God’s desire is that you show mercy to those who hurt you.
You give your wives a certificate of divorce when you send her away. Great, it’s your responsibility to do so, but that doesn’t give you the right to send her away for any reason at all.

Sure it does. By the Law being angry without cause was not forbidden. Under grace it is eliminated, as it is equated with murder, the same is true with lust and adultery and so forth.


Why do you say that since divorce for frivolous reasons was not part of the Law, something had to be eliminated? That doesn’t make sense.

Just because Jesus said permission for divorce was not that way from the time of Eden doesn’t mean something had to be eliminated. Jesus is not eliminating anything.

He was eliminating the allowance for divorce for any other reason than adultery.

I don’t really get why you seem to be struggling the idea that Jesus could be eliminating something in a commandment. I don’t get why you seem to think that’s off the table.


Grace elevates us to a higher standard but that doesn’t eliminate a thing.

It eliminates everything of a lower standard. A higher standard is by necessity more exclusive. That’s the only way to raise a standard – to make it more exclusive, and to exclude is to eliminate.


The One who proclaimed that “not a jot or tittle” of the Torah would fail did not go around overruling it.

Sure He did. As I already pointed out, what the passage says is “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18) and then on the cross He announced “It is finished” (John 19:30).


And just how does this “elimination” ensure that Ex. 21:7-11 be kept perfectly?

Kept perfectly? We don’t keep the Law.

Do we grow our forelocks? Do we stone witches? Do women leave the presence of the community during their period?

We don’t keep the Law. We’re not supposed to.

“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6)


This “tightening of restrictions” actually does the opposite of ensuring that Ex. 21 be fulfilled—it breaks it—for a mistreated woman is bound to an abusive husband.

And the forelocks, stonings, isolation of the unclean, etc. how does our utter lack of observing these things not break the Law as it is written?

The Law is disannulled. We don’t follow it anymore.


This “higher standard” causes the initial law of Ex. 21 to be broken and not kept.

What does not apply cannot be broken. The Law is fulfilled. There’s nothing left to break.


Don’t you find it odd that this “elimination” leads to a higher standard that is less merciful to people stuck in loveless, abusive marriages than the old standard was?

No. Jesus told us: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 10: 34-39).

He was showing the nations something through Israel (physical promise of the Law), and something different through grace (spiritual promise of the Law). Our treasure is no longer of this world.


You don’t think lustful thoughts were considered sin in OT days?

God considered them so, but the Law didn’t forbid them.


It’s not that these things all of the sudden became sinful when they were never sinful in the past.
Of course.


Angry thoughts, lustful thoughts, hatred, unforgiveness, lack of mercy, etc. had always been the beginning of sin.

No, they’re not the beginning of sin, they are sin.


Sin begins in the heart and then we act it out.

Of course.


Jesus was telling them to live out the heartfelt intent of the Law that they should have always been living out.

True.


And now, with the knowledge of grace, this should be even more evident in our lives.

True.


Ryan, Jesus does not disagree with His own Law.

False. The Law was set up to demonstrate something, and it is finished.

It is now referred to as the Law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) that Jesus has freed us from, “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).


He shows them how to live out the heartfelt, perfect intentions of the Law. No, the Law is not a means of justification (Gal. 3:23-26), but we are to live out the heartfelt intentions of the Law because the Law is perfect, restoring the soul.

Sure, but not by trying to live up to the Law anymore. A woman having her period doesn’t need to leave town. A plate that gets pork on it doesn’t need to be broken. Men aren’t supposed to have their heads covered at all times, and so forth.

The Law is done, and while we can see the spirit of it in the OT, we obey the commandments of Christ.


That we are under grace and not law does not mean we are to not to live by the law.

Yes, it most definitely does.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).


Not being under the law refers to justification of the law. We are liberated not from the righteous lifestyle advocated by the law but from the impossibility of establishing and maintaining that righteousness ourselves. I’m not saying we are to live out any of the elements of the Law that are binding on Jews that make them Jews (i.e. we are not expected to become Jewish), but morality doesn’t change.

And how do you differentiate? How do we know which ones are which?

Have you stoned any Wiccas? By OT Law you have to, (Exodus 22:18), by Christ’s Law you can’t: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Jesus never said that particular verse was annulled. Much less support could be given to suppose that this part of the Law does not apply then that clauses of divorce still include breeching the marital contract, and yet we all know we are forbidden from stoning witches.

Why?


I have a hard time with this. Divorce is wrong…oh, except in cases of marital unfaithfulness, then it’s right. Really? Where can we say that about any other sin? Murder is wrong…oh, except in cases of, um…nothing. Adultery is wrong…oh, except in cases of, um…nothing. Get my point?

I understand what you mean, but it isn’t a valid point.

Divorce is not sin. The sin is adultery if divorce is not done as directed, “tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

By your formula above any action could be related to its perversion.

Drinking is wrong except in cases where you don’t get drunk.

Killing a person is wrong except in cases where it’s in self defense.

Rest is wrong unless except in cases where you aren’t an idler.

Feasting is wrong except in cases where you aren’t gluttonous.


Divorce is not a sin.

Exactly why your above approach doesn’t follow.

Ryan R
Jun 17th 2010, 07:53 PM
(Cont'd)


Breaking the marriage vow is the sin.

True, and what’s our formula for dealing with people who wrong us? How do we extract what’s our due?

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Mat 6:14-15).

As Christians we rejoice in persecution because God will reward us. No one and nothing owes us anything and yet we still cash in huge at the end because of God’s grace and tender loving kindness. We may be trampled, and more’s the joy for us, according to the beattitudes.


And to counter this by saying, “But God hates divorce” I would say “Yes, and I hate going to the doctor, but sometimes it’s necessary.” That doesn’t mean going to the doctor is a sin. You can’t dismiss all divorce grounds except adultery by appealing to the original ideal as expressed in Gen. 2.

I’m not. I’m simply believing what Jesus said on divorce.


If you’re going to go back to the Garden and reinstitute the ideal that the law supposedly diminished,

I’m not. I’m simply believing what Jesus said on divorce.


logically you’d have to prohibit divorce altogether, since adultery was not part of the Edenic ideal.

No, because a variable was introduced that didn’t exist at the time which still operates today. We no longer live in paradise.

It is the Edenic ideal under present conditions.


Lifelong monogamy has always been the ideal, but God recognizes that we fall short of that ideal—whether we’re Jews under Moses or Christians under grace.

Yep.


This passage is talking about the law and justification; not about the righteous standard of living God invites us to enjoy.

But this has to be understood in light of the fact that we are dead to the Law, as I demonstrated above.


We are not liberated from the righteous lifestyle advocated by the Law but from the impossibility of establishing and maintaining that righteousness ourselves. Jesus didn’t overrule anything.

Then we would stone witches, but Jesus did overrule things, so we don’t and shouldn’t.


He reminded them that living by the letter of the Law was not necessarily righteous living; living out the Law in love was righteous living.

I know, but read through Romans again. The Law is disannulled, we are dead to it, we live under a new code.


Your righteousness must surpass that of the scribes (who live by the letter of the Law and think all is well). Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, and go beyond what is written in letter—get to the heart of the matter. They should have been doing this all along.

Of course they should have. This demonstrates the insufficiency of the Law.


Now, we, the Body of Christ, who have experienced grace on the other side of the cross, should, by the grace of God, go beyond what the Law gives us the right to or commands.

Yes, which is exactly why it stands to reason that God would give us a commandment that overrides Exodus and Deuteronomy.


We, of all people, should understand what it means to live out the heartfelt intent of the Law and be able to model it.

Right, including remaining married with a spouse who has not cheated on us but does something else against us.


That doesn’t mean that OT saints could not have possibly lived this way. Do you really think there was never an OT saint who didn’t go beyond the letter of the Law and model humility instead of building up anger without cause, or model purity instead of secretly thinking lustful things, or model mercy instead of taking advantage of what the Law gave him rights to?

No. I don’t think that and I didn’t suggest it. I wouldn’t go toe-to-toe with Joshua , Elijah or any OT saints on faith or devotion.

But that has no bearing on the fact that the Law was the Law of sin and death and we are now dead to it.

All of this has to do with the Law as means of justification.


We are not under the Law and it cannot condemn us, because we are in Christ. But He asks us to live out the spirit of the Law through faith.

Sure, but the spirit of the Law is not the same as following the Law, or else we’d be waiting outside theatres that are featuring Harry Potter with handfuls of rocks.


Within the Law itself are provisions for what to do when you break that Law.

OK, I’m not still not following. A lot of those provisions were killing people and sacrificing animals. I’m not sure how it matters since we’re not under the Law?


Again, heaven and earth are still here, so the Law has not passed.

The text doesn’t say that the Law will not pass until heaven and earth pass (just that it’s easier), but the text does say that we’re dead to the Law.


We are not bound to the Law in that it can’t condemn us, but we are asked to live by the spirit of the Law.

Which is entirely different from obeying the Law as it was written. Stoning witches.


How can we live by the spirit of something that doesn’t exist?

You’re rationalizing. Don’t try so hard to figure out the mysteries of God. They are given for understanding, not deduced.

We can because in God all things are possible.

We can because the Law was only ever a shadowy figure of what was to come, so in a sense the spirit is the only thing that ever existed (see Hebrews chapters 4, 9, and 11).


You said that Jesus wasn’t “eliminating” so much as He was “tightening” the Law to ensure that the Law would not be broken. How would this apply if we are dead to the Law?

I’m not sure what you mean. What did I say exactly?

I think you must have misunderstood or I must have misspoke, because he was tightening the restrictions but not the Law.


Hebrews 7:18-19 is speaking specifically of the priesthood.

It’s speaking about Jesus’ position as High Priest in the order of Melchisedec, who was not a priest by Law, administering the Law under the Law, but is a priest of a higher order of faith. Look at verse 11 and 12: “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Heb. 7:11-12).

The Levitical priesthood and the Law are intrinsically linked. There is no separation of the one from the other. That’s why in verse 19 it says “For the law made nothing perfect”. It doesn’t mean some sort of law of priesthood, but the law of the priesthood, i.e. the Law of Moses.


The Hebrews author's argument is that since Christ's priesthood is according to a different (higher) order than that of Aaron, it must also function at the behest of a higher commandment. "And no man takes this honor for himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron also was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." It isn't really speaking of the Torah in general.

Yes it is. These concepts are inseparable.

The priests are the administers of grace. We have a High Priest under the order of Melchisedec, i.e. the priest of God’s faithful servant of faith Abraham, father of the nation of Israel and by extension the hereditary line of Levitical priests who were the administrators and ambassadors (mediators) of the figure of grace, the Law.

When the text says the law, it means the law.


Nonetheless, I agree that the Torah is not binding on the body of Christ as it was upon Israel, yet, moral issues don't change.

But our practices do. We don’t stone witches except in self defense and we don’t divorce spouses except for adultery.


Thanks very much Ryan.

Thank you, and keep at it.

LookingUp
Jun 23rd 2010, 01:16 AM
Hey, Ryan. I think I’m winding down with this thread. There are a couple fundamentals that we differ on that influence the way we approach Scripture. I want to mention one. I don’t believe that since we are not “under the Law” that this means we should not obey it (at least, the moral Law). That seems obvious to me by the mere fact that we obey the Ten Commandments. Not being under the law but under grace refers specifically to justification, not lifestyle. I like this quote: “The law is not over us, to condemn us, but under our feet, to be a guide for our path.” Of course, the “Israel-specific” elements of the Law (known as the ceremonial and civil laws) are not binding on the Body of Christ (i.e. we are not required to become Jewish and we do not live in a Jewish nation).

Heb. 10 tells us that the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming, but the context of Heb. 9 & 10 makes it clear that it is the sacrifices (ceremonial part of law) he has in mind, not the unchanging moral law of God.

The laws that represented the criminal code which made up the civil law were specifically to regulate the nation of Israel. You gave the example of Wiccan worship and asked that if we are to obey the law, why aren’t we stoning those who participate in this activity? Sorcery was morally wrong for Jews, it was morally wrong for Gentiles and it is still wrong. Stoning was not a moral issue; it was a provision for what to do when someone did something wrong—it was part of the civil law specifically for Israel. The Lord asked His disciples to go beyond what these provisions entitled them to. Instead of stoning those who offend God by performing sorcery, extend mercy. Instead of stoning the adulteress, Jesus extended mercy to her. Today, we are not living in the nation of Israel or as the nation of Israel and Israel’s civil laws do not apply to us.

Edit to add: Ryan, I want to add to what I wrote above about stoning. God’s standard hasn’t changed—those who transgress the Law justly deserve death. We are not required to put to death or stone anyone who has transgressed the Law, because Jesus was already put to death for all of our transgressions. For those who put their faith in Him, they are free to go and sin no more. For those who do not put their faith in Him will eventually be put to death for their transgressions.

As far as the divorce/remarriage issue, I have come to the conclusion that there are three interpretations that have merit: 1) no grounds for divorce at all, 2) adultery and abandonment, and 3) adultery, abandonment, physical and emotional abuse & neglect. A case for each of these has been made and that is why you can find churches that hold to each of these views. So my question is how should a church handle divorce/remarriage if they hold to view #1 or #2 when a believer pursues a divorce for a reason under view #3? How can a church put their interpretation above another to the extent that they are willing to disfellowship with a couple who chooses to divorce for reasons under category #3? I don’t see how that can be justified.

I’ve also concluded that megachurches (like mine) have no business applying church discipline (at least, the way we did). In Matthew 18, Jesus instructs His disciples to tell it to the church and if the alleged sinner does not “listen” to the church, they should treat the sinner like a Gentile. Just how is the church (made up of 5,000 people) supposed to come to a united decision on the matter and “tell” the sinner anything at all? I know I didn’t have a chance to give my input to the “sinner” when it was announced by the elders we would no longer fellowship with the alleged sinner. And neither did the other 4,949 members. We did NOT properly apply Jesus’ instructions to allow the sinner to choose to “hear” or not to “hear” what the church had to say on the matter. The kind of church discipline described in Mathew 18 should be confined to an intimate enough setting that the entire “church” is united on their decision and can give united input to the “sinner” who then would have a real chance to respond to what the entire “church” had to say on the matter.

God bless you!

LookingUp
Jun 24th 2010, 02:41 AM
Ryan,

I thought of something else and I'd like to know your thoughts on it. I thought I was winding down on this thread!

Your argument (now) is that from the beginning (Gen. 2), divorce for any reason other than adultery was unlawful. Then by the time of Moses, God allowed him to extend that law to what we see in Ex. 21. Then we see Jesus saying that Moses extended this only because of their hardness of heart, and Jesus came along to say it’s all gonna go back to the way it was (i.e. divorce OK for adultery only). That would mean that prior to the time of Moses, any remarriages that took place after divorce for anything other than adultery would be considered unlawful or unbiblical, yet Hagar left Abraham and God encouraged it. Would God have allowed (even encouraged) Hagar to divorce Abraham knowing that it was unlawful and that when she remarried she would be committing adultery?

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 25th 2010, 08:16 AM
I honestly didn't really want to be the one to address this topic; but after reading through the first five pages and skimming the rest, I feel compelled to respond. This much-misunderstood, much-misused, much-abused subject needs clarification. My intention is to provide more and better information to facilitate better understanding and application of precepts and principles of the Word. I don't want to promote a further 8 pages of discourse. Before addressing Matt. 5:32, I'll begin at the Law, move backward and then forward to the NT dialogue with Jesus.

To begin at the Law, one must first understand the "landscape" of that time in a variety of ways. Though death reigned from Adam until Moses, there were laws of conduct in effect prior to the pre-Mosaic deliverance from Egypt and the giving of the Ten Commandments and the subsequent rules in Exodus through Deuteronomy that would come to comprise the Law. The focus has to start with the ancient Babylonian Law Code of Hammurabi (Nimrod), which was the prevailing "world" authority since Nimrod usurped kingship during Noah's time. Much of what was in the Code was simply what had been established within the laws of the lineage of Biblical Patriarch Birthrights since Adam; it had just been codified by Nimrod and widely accepted by the then-known world, and was the prevalent authority of the Canaanites prior to the Israelite invasion. The divine law handed down through the descendants of Adam existed side-by-side with the H-Code during the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the H-Code was the prevailing judge-derived, precedent-based judicial structure for most of the contemporary cultures of that time.

During Israel's 400-year sojourn in Egypt, the laws of God handed down through the Birthright Patriarchs had been largely forgotten; thus it became necessary for God to teach his people those laws "again". Because of the extended judicial "void" during the pre-Exodus slavery and the familiarity with the H-Code; we must realize that, to some extent, the Law was introduced with the Ten Commandments and several hundred specific statutes to define those basic moral principles. It was a non-exhaustive framework drawing on many shared fundamentals of the H-Code that simply couldn't be comprehensively integrated in such volume to deal with every possible situation in a long-captive culture of millions. In many ways, it was an addendum of spiritual laws augmenting long-familiar world-standard judicial guidelines. Often, God simply corrected the various necessary areas of the H-Code; and where there was nothing to correct, He left the rest to familiar custom.

In both the Law and the H-Code, marriage is a covenant (conditional contract) between parties. That means there are conditions that both parties must fulfill according to initial agreement. If one party breaks the contract, the wronged party may sue at law for damages or annulment of the contract. Divorce is lawful because virtually all marriage contracts involve vows made by both parties.

(I'll have to continue this tomorrow.)

EDIT: Rather than compile volumes of info with hours of typing, I'll simply refer readers to one of several sites that gives a comprehensive overview of the subject. (I do not necessarily endorse the site, its founder, etc. It's a simple resource for information.). Also, please note that I do NOT represent anything but the Word as actual inspired, inerrant authority. The above paragraphs simply began a historical perspective to understand the background for what Jesus was addressing in Matthew 5. Read more here:

www.gods-kingdom-ministries.org

Home Page
Teachings
Booklets
"The Bible Says: Divorce and Remarriage is Not a Adultery"
(also) "Old and New Covenant Marriage"

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 25th 2010, 11:46 PM
Virtually this entire thread has missed the basic truth of the Word regarding marriage and divorce. The standard modern misinterpretations and misunderstandings have been exhaustively represented throughout.

• Deuteronomy 24 doesn't name adultery as the sole grounds for permissible divorce and permits remarriage for both parties;

• OT and NT passages and examples indicate that any penalty for adultery under the Law is death, not divorce;

• In Matthew, the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus with their play on words, to which He RESPONDS. He is not INITIATING a teaching; and he evades their snare of cultural technicalities.

• "Putting away" is a verbal dissolution of a written conditional contract; this was acceptable by previous ancient Babylonian law, but specifically required in Deuteronomy to be a written bill of divorcement;

• The "fornication" exception in Matthew 5 by Jesus is in reference to "putting away" (not a legitimate written divorce) a spouse from a marriage that was not recognized by God's law... prostitution, homosexuality, forbidden cultural wives, etc. God's law didn't require a written divorce because they weren't lawful marriages.

• Every facet of the Law was given for the hardness of man's heart. God's original intention was for life-long marriage.


I am likely to be perceived as harsh and abrupt on this issue, but it's because of the ignorance and arrogance in situations like this "excommunication" that draws that out. I've yet to see church "discipline" practiced scripturally, and this is one of the worst and most common "issues" in such situations. Those who are among the clergy and elders should know better or step down from leadership of large groups of believers. God will ALWAYS and ONLY lead and move according to His Word. A cursory original-language study of a few verses in Deuteronomy 24 and Matthew 5 would reveal the truth by the leadership of the Spirit. And... what about the REST of Matthew 5?? Is everyone fulfilling THAT in the congregation. It's ironic that the "putting away" interrogation came just following the Sermon on the Mount.

God's Word has been misrepresented among 5,000 people in one congregation. That provokes me to a righteous anger.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 26th 2010, 01:49 AM
I don't know if anyone is or isn't.

My wife was previously married. So, by scriptures, both of us are adulterers. Since I am not going to divorce my wife, nor do I expect her to divorce me, we are, by scriptures, committing adultery every day. Is that an accurate summation?

That is NOT what the Word teaches. Please be encouraged and walk free of condemnation by the traditions of men.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 26th 2010, 02:07 AM
Is divorce, then, the unforgivable sin?
Though it may include sin (sexual or otherwise), divorce itself is NOT a sin.

Athanasius
Jun 26th 2010, 06:42 PM
If it's not a sin, then what is it? Because I don't think viewing marriage solely as a "contract" makes divorce permissible, and even if we were to focus on the vows said during the marriage ceremony, I don't think we'd arrive at your conclusion.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 27th 2010, 08:15 AM
"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it to her hand, and send her out of his house."

Deuteronomy 24:1 above is the primary non-exceptional, non-slave divorcement reference in the OT; and it doesn't specify or imply adultery; and the grounds given are rather lenient. Most (virtually all!) who address this issue disregard the OT passage and go to the various NT accounts with the Pharisees and Jesus; then they make a retroactive interpretation based on the NT fulfilling the Law. You'll see the tragic irony in this when I'm finished.

Without extensively addressing the Hammuradi Code (mentioned in my earlier post), I'll clarify this whole mess. Many will reject the truth in favor of modern tradition, but I'll provide the information. The Deuteronomy account is referencing a specific divorcement process change from the established H-Code that has NOTHING to do with cause. God's Law was now requiring that a divorcement could no longer be a verbal termination of a written legal document in a covenant marriage; there was now a mandate for a written bill of divorcement, and that it be personally given to her to keep as proof. This was simply a lawful requirement to put away a spouse by the same written means by which the marriage was established.

In each of the NT passages with Jesus (Matt. 5:31-32; Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18), He is referring to the "putting away". Here's why, and the symbolism is SO rich!! In Matt. 5 during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is teaching in vs17-20 that He hasn't come to destroy the (written) Law or the prophets, but to fulfill (He's the Word and is speaking - this is verbal). He continues by saying (verbal) that 'till heaven and earth shall pass, not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, 'til all be fulfilled. Here's vs19-20:

19"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Then... In the various Matt., Mark, Luke accounts, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus in regards to His own "verbal" teachings from 5:17-20 about fulfilling the "written" Law. They ask Him about the written Law of divorcement v. the old Hammuradi Code verbal law of divorcement. They are slyly trying to get Him to admit that the written Law replaced (fulfilled) the verbal law, challenging His fulfillment of the Law teaching (in which they are characterized as part of what is done away). They are baiting Him into disannulling His own teaching of the written Law being fulfilled by the living Word. He directs them to Moses and they smugly declare the written bill of divorcement as the authority. Jesus then put the Law in perspective from the beginning of time, when God created all things by the Word. The Law was lesser since it was because of the hardness of men's hearts.

The Pharisees knew the OT was simply requiring a written bill of divorcement instead of a verbal divorcement. The audience knew. It seems modern Christians are the only ones who don't know; instead choosing to build doctrines based on tradition. Instead of learning from a powerful type-and-shadow in the NT, churches are lost in legalism... with the Pharisees.

BTW... The only OT penalty for adultery is death, not divorce. And... the exception of fornication Jesus mentions is in regards to prostitution, homosexuality, forbidden foreign wives, etc. that are not recognized as legal covenant marriages under the Law. Those are unlawful and require no written divorcement.

I may address Rom. 7:1-3 and I Cor. 7 later, but it's a different context of a related issue.

DIVORCE ITSELF IS NOT A SIN.
DIVORCE DOES NOT REQUIRE ADULTERY TO BE VALID.

Athanasius
Jun 27th 2010, 12:24 PM
"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it to her hand, and send her out of his house."

Deuteronomy 24:1 above is the primary non-exceptional, non-slave divorcement reference in the OT; and it doesn't specify or imply adultery; and the grounds given are rather lenient. Most (virtually all!) who address this issue disregard the OT passage and go to the various NT accounts with the Pharisees and Jesus; then they make a retroactive interpretation based on the NT fulfilling the Law. You'll see the tragic irony in this when I'm finished.

...BTW... The only OT penalty for adultery is death, not divorce. And... the exception of fornication Jesus mentions is in regards to prostitution, homosexuality, forbidden foreign wives, etc. that are not recognized as legal covenant marriages under the Law. Those are unlawful and require no written divorcement.

How have you come to this conclusion (the second bold portion)? But on another note, I think Deuteronomy (24:1-4) speaks greatly to the effect of forbidding a man who has divorced his wife into reuniting with her in the event that the man she came to marry (after her divorce) died or himself divorced her. I'm also not entirely sure if we could say that this was the beginning of a "certificate" of divorce (rather than a verbal event), as I've heard it said that a "divorce in writing" may have been adopted by the Israelites while they were in Egypt. I'm also not entirely sure that there is a "tragic irony" accompanying those who interpret Deuteronomy 24 according to Jesus' words in the Gospel. Deuteronomy certainly doesn't establish divorce as a right, and Jesus in the gospels speaks towards divorce as being an allowance only because of the "hardness" of the hearts of the Israelites.

So if your conclusion is only that Deuteronomy 24 demands a written divorce, then I think you're wrong.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 27th 2010, 08:24 PM
Briefly, and in order:

• fornication (G4202) porneia: harlotry (incl. adultery and incest); fig. idolatry - fornication.
from (G4203) porneuo: to act the harlot, i.e. (lit.) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (fig.) practice idolatry -
commit (fornication).
from (G4204) porne: a strumpet; fig. an idolater - harlot, whore.
fem. of (G4205) pornos: from pernemi, (to sell; akin to the base of 4097); a (male) prostitute (as venal),
i.e. (by anal.) a debauchee (libertine) - fornicator, whoremonger.

Though generally covering everything from lewdness to homosexual prostitution, this was not used for "simple" adultery. It was more commonly symbolic of idolatry (and its variety of sexual immoralities).
Also... Babylon (remember the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi) is called porne (G4204), the great harlot. (The fem. noun from which (G4202) is derived.

• Deut. 24:3-4 is addressing another issue contrasted with the H-Code, which demanded remarriage to a previous
spouse in specific situations.

• Whether or not the practice of written divorce for Hebrews began in Egypt (possible, even likely), it only became Law when the Law was given. (This would actually substantiate what you're challenging.)

• I don't project such tragic irony upon others who don't see this particular interpretation. I receive Jesus' Words for what they actually mean.

I don't advocate divorce, especially "easy" divorce; I certainly don't advocate ANY measure of sexual immorality. Jesus pre-empted his initial Matt. 5 teaching with the greater responsibility of "heart" sin under Grace. The later chalkenges came as a result of His teachings about the Law. They were trying to make Him the least in the kingdom according to His own teaching; then further tempting Him by presenting the superior written law against the lesser verbal law. It was a trap for Jesus that has actually ensnared many today. The subject matter about adultery in marriage was a "pawn" in their gameplan. Jesus came to fulfill that which was perfect from the beginning by the spoken Word.

"...for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." - II Cor. 3:6

Tiffany Faith
Jun 28th 2010, 12:54 PM
The church should NEVER excommunicate. It is unchristian to do so. Jesus hung around with tax collectors and prostitutes and taught us to hate the sin, not the sinner. He also said something like Forgive lest ye be forgiven. I believe church should be filled to the brim with murderers and rapist and adulterers because they need to hear God's Word the most. Jesus himself said he was not a doctor to the well but to the sick in spirit.

Athanasius
Jun 28th 2010, 12:59 PM
Briefly, and in order:

• fornication (G4202) porneia: harlotry (incl. adultery and incest); fig. idolatry - fornication.
from (G4203) porneuo: to act the harlot, i.e. (lit.) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (fig.) practice idolatry -
commit (fornication).
from (G4204) porne: a strumpet; fig. an idolater - harlot, whore.
fem. of (G4205) pornos: from pernemi, (to sell; akin to the base of 4097); a (male) prostitute (as venal),
i.e. (by anal.) a debauchee (libertine) - fornicator, whoremonger.

Though generally covering everything from lewdness to homosexual prostitution, this was not used for "simple" adultery. It was more commonly symbolic of idolatry (and its variety of sexual immoralities).
Also... Babylon (remember the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi) is called porne (G4204), the great harlot. (The fem. noun from which (G4202) is derived.

• Deut. 24:3-4 is addressing another issue contrasted with the H-Code, which demanded remarriage to a previous
spouse in specific situations.

• Whether or not the practice of written divorce for Hebrews began in Egypt (possible, even likely), it only became Law when the Law was given. (This would actually substantiate what you're challenging.)

• I don't project such tragic irony upon others who don't see this particular interpretation. I receive Jesus' Words for what they actually mean.

I don't advocate divorce, especially "easy" divorce; I certainly don't advocate ANY measure of sexual immorality. Jesus pre-empted his initial Matt. 5 teaching with the greater responsibility of "heart" sin under Grace. The later chalkenges came as a result of His teachings about the Law. They were trying to make Him the least in the kingdom according to His own teaching; then further tempting Him by presenting the superior written law against the lesser verbal law. It was a trap for Jesus that has actually ensnared many today. The subject matter about adultery in marriage was a "pawn" in their gameplan. Jesus came to fulfill that which was perfect from the beginning by the spoken Word.

"...for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." - II Cor. 3:6

You still have me somewhat confused. You said:


...the exception of fornication Jesus mentions is in regards to prostitution, homosexuality, forbidden foreign wives, etc. that are not recognized as legal covenant marriages under the Law. Those are unlawful and require no written divorcement.

I'm assuming you mean Jesus' statement, such as in Matthew 19:9 (or some parallel account). If that's the case, then what is Jesus talking about in Matthew 19:8, with the mention of wives, hardness of hearts, tearing asunder what God has put together (v.6). What again, are the pharisees talking about in v.7 such that they are required to write certificates of divorce? From my reading of this (and confusion over what you're saying), I'm still seeing divorce - at least some instances of divorce - as sin.

Ryan R
Jun 28th 2010, 03:43 PM
PneumaPsucheSoma, first of all, settle down.

Lookingup clearly didn't come here to advocate excommunication, but simply to report an event that occured and get perspective on it, and unanimously people here have agreed that excommunication is not appropriate.

Apart from that, we're all here trying to get closer to the word in discussing what it says and how to consider it.

You've raised some very interesting points, but there is no fight going on here, so curb you're anger a smidge and please, join the discussion.

I agree with Xel here, and I think that the line of reasoning that marriage is simply a contract excludes the consideration that in this and only this contract God has joined two, and in Matthew 19 Jesus forbid man to separate what God had joined, except under the condition of marital unfaithfulness.

I'm particularly struck by the point about adultery being a capital offense. I hadn't factored that in and it's a very relevant point here, so I'll have to go back over the passages with that in mind.

And I agree with what you're saying about the Pharisees using this language as a pawn, but Jesus’ answer is the important part – that is the commandment, and we can't dismiss the simple, exclusive conclusion that because God has joined two in this contract to become one, "anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 28th 2010, 08:06 PM
I readily receive that admonition, RyanR. I have been too intense in my responses. Also... I've been including some "electronic vials of wrath" because I've lost several multi-hour posts when my computer connection fritzed. There is a bulk of teaching to share on this vital subject. I'll post more soon that should clarify these passages.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 28th 2010, 10:56 PM
First, I'll address the OP subject matter regarding WHY such excommunication is absolutely not represented in the Word. So that I don't lose info, I'll do a post/edit sequence. Then I'll provide a look into the teaching on "putting away" and the bill of divorcement.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In 1Cor 5, Paul is obviously addressing ongoing continuous incestuous sexual immorality as fornication (G4202); and the subsequent text outlines the Apostle's judgement and instruction. Without getting into the whole "...deliver such a one unto Satan..." individual issue, move on to v9-11 to see what the Word is actually referring to as fornicators.

Fornication and derivatives (G4202, 4203, 4204, 4204) appear 54 times in the NT. In v9-11, each rendering is the masculine noun pornos (G4205) with means: to sell (particularly merchants); and is used to widely define everything from homosexual, heterosexual, and pagan-idolotrous prostitution to lewdness and EVERY type of exceptional sexual immorality. Though it CAN include infidelity adultery, it is generally not used in such cases. Instead, infidelity adultery is rendered moichao (G3429): commit adultery.

Throughout the NT, this rendering of fornication is referring to literal and/or symbolic idolatry and sexual immorality. A few passages (2?) MAY broadly encompass infidelity adultery, but only because everything of a sexual nature is included. Adultery is rendered adultery. (More on this as we address the parallel accounts of Jesus' response to the Pharisees' tempting.)

1Cor 5 should in no wise be applied to refer to non-exceptional infidelity adultery. It is speaking of those openly practicing idolatry and idolatry-derived exceptional sexual immorality. Remember... this was during a time of an active pagan culture.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bearing the above in mind, let's look at Jesus' initial teaching in Matt. 5 and the semi-parallel passages from Matt. 19:3+, Mark 10:2+, and Luke 16:18. (Deut. 24 is the only OT passage dealing with non-exception, non-slave divorcement; and it does NOT specify OR imply adultery of any kind as the grounds. There isn't another passage that addresses this; and Lev. 20:10 specifies the penalty of death for adultery.)

Background and contrast:
The "putting away" issue is not the only occasion where the Pharisees collaborate to undermine his influence and credibility. Each time, they present a difficult "puzzle" for Him to solve by positioning the Law against His words, and this is no exception. Jesus' marriage teaching came AFTER he began teaching that He came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it (Matt. 5:17-20). He says not one jot or tittle will pass from the Law 'til all be fulfilled; further saying whoever breaks one the least commandments shall be called the least in the kingdom. Then he says one's righteousness must EXCEED that of the Pharisees to enter the kingdom.



(CONTINUED)

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 29th 2010, 01:05 AM
(CONTINUED)

In Jesus' teachings in Matt. 5, he begins each subject with some form of "Ye have heard it said...", followed by "But I say unto you..." to contrast Himself (the Word) with the Law. There's always a greater consideration of intent of the heart over keeping a statute. His adultery teaching casts adultery in a new light. Then he transitions to the issue at hand.

"It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away1 his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement2: But I sayuntoyou, That whosoever shall put away3 his wife, saving for the cause of fornication4, causeth her to commit adultery5; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced6 committeth adultery7. Matt. 5:31-32

put away1: (G630)
writing of divorcement2: (G647)
put away3: (G630)
fornication4: (G4202)
commit adultery5: (3429)
her that is divorced6: (G630)
commiteth adultery7: (G3429)

apoluo (G630): from 575 and 3089; to free fully, i.e. (lit.) relieve, release, dismiss (refl. depart), or (fig.) let die, pardon or (spec.) divorce:- (let) depart, dismiss, divorce, forgive, let go, loose, put (send) away, release, set at liberty.

• Of the 63 times it appears in the NT, Matt. 1 with Joseph and Mary, and these semi-parallel passages are the only renderings pertaining to marriage, fornication, or divorcement. All others are about being set free or released, etc.

apostasion (G647): neut. of a (presumed) adj. from a der. of 868; prop. something separative, i.e. (spec) divorce:- (writing of) divorcement.

• This only appears 4 times in the NT, all in the passages at hand.

porneia (G4202): from 4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); fig. idolatry:- fornication.

• I've noted the 54 NT usages above. The estsblished usage is for prostitution, homosexuality, forbidden foreign wives, pagan-idolatrous sexual immorality, incest, etc.

moichao (G3429): from 3432; (mid. voice) to commit adultery:- commit adultery.

• THIS is the word that is specifically rendered for adultery, coming from the word (G3432) that means adulterer. It is not used for idolatrous fornication/fornicators; and (G4202-4205) are not used for adultery/adulterers.


(CONTINUED)

Athanasius
Jun 29th 2010, 01:43 AM
Hopefully in all this you answer my confusion over what you've said T_T (i.e. so that we can proceed in the issue of whether or not divorce is sin, not that it isn't).

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 29th 2010, 03:22 AM
Sorry to bore you, I guess. I did try to outline it simply previously. I'll brief it up again, but I don't know how much good it will do. If it were easy, I suppose we wouldn't have generations of Law-Grace hybrid teachings.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

•Modern marriage is not structurally or judicially the same as ancient Hebrew marriage. The Law was social, religious, and
statutory; modern (US) law is statutory. Hebrew marriage had multiple parts; modern marriage has one (engagements are social now).

• Ancient Hebrew marriage prior to the Law followed the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi. Spouses were put away verbally.

• Ancient Hebrew marriage under the Law required a written bill of divercement to put away a spouse.

• Deuteronomy 24:1-2 is the OT authority for non-adultery divorce, allowing the putting away AND remarriage. Jesus upholds that in The NT.

• Leviticus 20:10 is the OT authority for death as the penalty for adultery, not divorce. (There's no precedent anywhere for BOTH divorce and death. Death disolves a marriage, OT or NT (Gal. 4).

• The putting away in Jesus' teaching and the Pharisees' challenge is a Catch-22 trap. He has said He'll fulfill every jot and tittle of the law or He'll be least in the kingdom. They are contrasting the written Law being superior to what came before in the verbal law that deteriorated from God's Word at creation; further, they are challenging his verbal teaching also as lesser to the written law. THIS IS THE SYMBOLISM TRAP. They are trying to get Him to admit that the written
Law takes precedence over spoken law with this example. Divorce is not at issue... it's just the subject area they chose because He was teaching on marriage and the Law. Instead, He declares the original order of marriage in God's heart before sin, showing the original authority was the Word. Then they question why Moses changed it, and he emphasizes the hardness of men's hearts. His verbal teachings are correcting the Law by addressing issues of the heart, not the pen. He is reestablishing the Word.

• Non-adultery written divorcement was not a sin under OT law. Jesus reaffirms that, mentioning the only exception that didn't require a bill (fornication... not adultery), which would create a an issue of the heart for themselves and others.

• Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it. Modern anti-non-adultery divorce views aren't even legalistic, since it's not in the Law.

Athanasius
Jun 29th 2010, 03:48 AM
You're not boring anyone, I don't think. You've just written your posts in a disjointed way, spreading information over multiple posts what could be in one (I understand you've lost information, but write them in notepad?). Though even with all you've written now (and maybe I'm rushing you, if I am, say so and I'll wait, no problem), I'm still confused as to how the biblical text can be aligned with your claim of what Jesus meant (specifically that Jesus was talking about homosexuality, or some other sin... not requiring a certificate of divorce, according to you, yet being the focus of the pharisees questions). And just to reiterate, I don't think divorce is a sin per se (i.e. abuse, adultery), but there are certainly instances where it is (i.e. "don't feel love anymore"). And in a perfect world, it wouldn't happen, viz. Jesus' words that man should not tear asunder what God has brought together (which I happen to agree with). So I would be on much the stricter side of things.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 29th 2010, 04:22 AM
One of my concerns in expressing this was the perception of leniency. Grace is MUCH more "strict" than the Law, which is actually the crux of Jesus' teaching. Grace calls for true obedience instead of compliance.

The point I've been trying to make is that this is an issue of deep revelation that has nothing to do with divorce/putting away. This is the first I've tried to express this as written word, and it's a bit difficult.

The Pharisees' question wasn't subject-based. They weren't inquiring for information. The questions were carefully staged so that whether He answered in favor of the verbal law or the written law, He would be the least in the kingdom or guilty of all of it according to His own teaching. Jesus wasn't actually answering with information. He was fulfilling the Law by speaking it as the Living Word; and He was making sure he established every jot and tittle of the Law with His reference to fornication and causation of adultery without the writ. He was being dutifully exhaustive to cover even the exception of fornication.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 29th 2010, 03:00 PM
Some of the questions/challenges about the adultery-only divorce interpretation are difficult, at the least. Here are a few.

• The OT doesn't teach it, it's an assumed retroactive understanding of Deut. 24. Even the responses here all quoted Deut. 24. It doesn't really take a word-study once it's pointed out, but it just gets read over.

• The things Jesus taught that augmented the Law were all related to the heart. (He was beginning the "dividing asunder" redistribution of soul and spirit) An adultery-only divorcement would add to the ritual of the written Law; and it doesn't contrast Grace with Law.

Anger contrasted to murder.
Lust to adultery.
Swear by self to swear by none.
Vengeance to malevolence.
Love neighbor/hate enemy to love enemy/bless them.
Divorcement??? to ???

• Why would Jesus use fornication to indicate adultery, and then use adultery?

• Why is it primarily dealt with in Matt., which was initially written to the Jews?


Other ???:

• Why don't those with adamant beliefs know what the OT teaches?

• Why doesn't anyone seem to be aware of the Hammurabi Code?

• Why does God clamp down on non-adulterers under Grace, yet leaves neglected/abused innocent spouses unaddressed?

Any thoughts/scripture?
Jesus is closing a loophole in the Law. They could simply verbally put away their wives for any cause (which is what they're referring to with the initial question) and leave the put away spouse with shame that would then extend to their future partner. Men were doing this to change women like shoes and avoid financial support for the put away woman. Innocent women were shamed and destitute. Then they made a man an adulterer if they had no writ. The Pharisees are equating His verbal teaching with the H-Code. He is fulfilling the Law, thus finally abolishing any trace of tainted verbal teaching.

LookingUp
Jun 29th 2010, 05:19 PM
...I'm particularly struck by the point about adultery being a capital offense. I hadn't factored that in and it's a very relevant point here, so I'll have to go back over the passages with that in mind.Hi Ryan,

I brought this up earlier. That in OT days and also in the day of Jesus, people didn't divorce for adultery. The adulterer(ess) was stoned. No divorce would have to be pursued; the spouse would simply be a widow(er). But people did divorce for “suspected” adultery. For it to be proven, they had to have two or more witnesses and that was rare, because people don’t usually do that kind of thing where two or three people can watch! However, the husband could have reasons to “suspect” an affair and he could divorce based on that.

Ryan R
Jun 29th 2010, 06:57 PM
Hi Ryan,

I brought this up earlier. That in OT days and also in the day of Jesus, people didn't divorce for adultery. The adulterer(ess) was stoned. No divorce would have to be pursued; the spouse would simply be a widow(er). But people did divorce for “suspected” adultery.

OK, it's coming back to men know. Sorry, but in my defense, we've covered a lot of ground.


For it to be proven, they had to have two or more witnesses and that was rare, because people don’t usually do that kind of thing where two or three people can watch!

Before webcams, that was true.


However, the husband could have reasons to “suspect” an affair and he could divorce based on that.

Really gives you an appreciate for Joseph, hey? He had no reason to think that Mary hadn't cheated on him until the angel told him otherwise, and since they were engaged it was considered marital unfaithfulness. He could have stoned her but instead "Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly" (Matt. 1:19).

In that culture, to be jilted like that and he didn't want to put her to public disgrace... wow. What a kind, loving man.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 29th 2010, 07:26 PM
Hi Ryan,

I brought this up earlier. That in OT days and also in the day of Jesus, people didn't divorce for adultery. The adulterer(ess) was stoned. No divorce would have to be pursued; the spouse would simply be a widow(er). But people did divorce for “suspected” adultery. For it to be proven, they had to have two or more witnesses and that was rare, because
people don’t usually do that kind of thing where two or three people can watch! However, the husband could have reasons to “suspect” an affair and he could divorce based on that.

It's the "law of jealousy" in Numbers 5:11-31. It's a priestly ritual with offerings; and it results in vindication or cursing. A guilty woman "shall bear her iniquity". No divorcement or death penalty is specified.

PneumaPsucheSoma
Jun 29th 2010, 07:52 PM
FWIW...
In our culture, I think the sanctity of marriage is more theatened by avoiding marriage for a promiscuous single life or unmarried cohabitation than by divorce. There's a more casual approach to marriage than divorce, IMHO.