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Friday, 16 February 2018

Marriage, divorce, and remarriage.

In the past, I have published a number of posts on the general topic of marriage. However, one aspect has constantly been "placed on the back burner". I confess, that I have held off making any comment thereon for the simple reason that I know that there are some who will be offended by what I say. That is never my intention - but I have discovered, over the years, that when one shares the Word of God, there will always be those who take offense. 

In a recent post of his own, David Robertson writes: "It's easy to be 'prophetic' about the low hanging fruit of the obvious wrongs that everyone in our circle goes along with. But what about the really prophetic voice – speaking truth to a power which may not like it? Such speech may have consequences and we do need to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves, but I suspect that our prophetic voices are largely like the world's – we pick on the easy targets and don't really speak up for the difficult cases, especially when such speaking out may cost us. I would be more inclined to call that pathetic rather than prophetic." (emphasis added) Those words, especially the ones that have highlighted, challenged me. Not that I am claiming to be a prophet, or even a prophetic voice, but because the one thing that is common to all of the prophets is that they "spoke the Word of the Lord."

Sadly, divorce is all too common in our contemporary world - even among those who claim to be disciples of the Lord Jesus, the Christ. There are, of course, many reasons for couples divorcing from one another - and some may appear to be justifiable. Of course, it is also true that if some couples were to be in less of a hurry to marry, and actually get to know one another better, there might well be fewer divorces! "Marry in haste; repent at leisure" may be an old adage - but it is no less true for being that! Not that I am, for one single minute, advocating that a couple live together, as if married, just to see "how things might work out". If living together, they have already made a certain level of commitment. The difference is that, if the relationship sours, there is no need for a formal legal procedure to be followed. I also accept that some 'unmarried' couples have proved to be more faithful to each other than have some 'married' people to their spouses!

Biblically, divorce is permitted - but only in specific circumstances! Indeed, although permitted, we read in the book of the prophet Malachi: "You cover YHWH’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favour at your hand. You ask, 'Why does He not?' Because YHWH was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does He desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. 'For I hate divorce', says YHWH, the God of Israel, 'and covering one’s garment with violence', says YHWH Sabaoth. 'So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless'." (2:13-16). Note that divorce is considered to be as bad as violence!

What, then, does the New Testament teach on this subject? Again, it was accepted that divorces will take place - although I doubt that anyone then would have envisaged the rate of divorce in our own time! Jesus, Himself, made the matter clear: "Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘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 not man put asunder.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.”" (Matt.19:4-9). See also Matt.5:32; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18; I Cor.7:10ff.

It would be my contention, based on Biblical teaching, that anyone who is divorced, and 'remarried' (in the eyes of the law) is, as one friend puts it, "living in perpetual adultery"! I Cor.6:9-10 is worth reading - but then continue into v.11. In Jesus, the Christ, there is always forgiveness for the truly repentant.

This is a subject that is really too big for a blog post. If you wish to hear some solid Biblical teaching on the subject, then I recommend the David Pawson 'lecture' at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgJVt5IUSWo 

It is an hour and three-quarters - but well worth the time given.

There is one further matter that I wish to address, in due course - remarried divorcees in church leadership. That could (conceivably) cause even more offence to some!!

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