Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘abandonment’

Abandonment: Who/What Fills the Hole?

SOURCE:  Living Free/Janet M. Lerner, D.S.W.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.” (Psalm 4:8 AMP)

The desire to have a good relationship with our earthly parents is normal. But many of us have had little or no relationship with our earthly fathers and mothers. That lack leaves a hole inside us. A hole we need to fill. That search often prompts us to look for love . . . security . . . happiness in the wrong places.

Men who had no father figure as a child have questions about who they are as men. They tend to become just like their absent father . . . and hate themselves for it. Poor gender identity creates vulnerability for other difficulties, even homosexuality. Women who grew up without a father sometimes avoid men altogether or develop distorted perceptions and inappropriate expectations of men.

In the case of an absent mother, children often grow up without nurturing and do not learn to be nurturing parents themselves. Men may have difficulty relating to women.

Where are you looking for love and security? Whom do you expect to satisfy your needs? How are you trying to fill that emptiness inside you?

There is only One you can always trust. In the above scripture, the psalmist says he can lie down and sleep in peace because He knows God is protecting Him. He knows God is trustworthy.

Are you looking in the wrong places for hope and peace and acceptance? Look up and reach out to your heavenly Father. He is waiting for you . . . with open arms.

Father, a hole was left in me because of my absent parent. I’ve tried to fill that hole in many ways but now I realize I’ve looked in all the wrong places. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being my heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name . . .

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————


These thoughts were drawn from …

 Restoring Families: Overcoming Abusive Relationships through Christ by Janet M. Lerner, D.S.W.

Abandonment: Forgiveness

SOURCE:  Living Free/Janet M. Lerner, D.S.W.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

(Colossians 3:13 NLT)

Children abandoned by one or both parents often harbor resentment and unforgiveness toward those parents. And they become victims of their own unforgiveness.

The Bible has much to say about forgiveness. We need to start by understanding the forgiveness God offers us. The Bible teaches that we have all sinned. Every one of us. And with sin in our life, we cannot spend eternity in heaven with our holy God. But God found a way . . . He sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:8-11 NLT)

“While we were yet sinners” Christ suffered and died on the cross so we could be forgiven. His forgiveness is a gift. We could never earn it or deserve it. All we need to do is reach out and take it by trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Maybe a parent abandoned you. Maybe the parent lived under the same roof with you but neglected you. Whatever happened . . . God calls you to forgive. Not because they deserve it. But because Jesus is willing to forgive you even when you don’t deserve it. How can you do less?

In fact, Jesus calls us to love those who have wronged us . . . and to pray for them.

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45 NLT)

Your life will never be whole . . . you will never be healed from the scars of abandonment . . . until you take this step. Are you ready?

Father, I’ve had such bad feelings toward my parent(s) so many years. I believe that because of Jesus you have forgiven me though I certainly don’t deserve your forgiveness. I receive your gift of forgiveness. Help me to extend that same kind of forgiveness to my parent(s). In Jesus’ name . . .

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————


These thoughts were drawn from …

  Restoring Families: Overcoming Abusive Relationships through Christ by Janet M. Lerner, D.S.W.

Broken Relationships

SOURCE:  Living Free Ministry 

“Be kind and compassionate to one another,forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Thoughts for Today
If you are divorced or have recently experienced a broken engagement or separation, you probably are having painful feelings of rejection. The sense of loss felt in these situations can be overwhelming. You thought you were secure and now you suddenly find yourself on your own. You might even have children to care for and inadequate resources of time and money.

Even though you have been rejected by someone very close to you, your attitude toward that rejection is your choice. You may choose to allow the pain of rejection to dominate and define the rest of your life, causing bitterness, depression and self-pity. Or you may choose to forgive the one who has hurt you, to accept your singleness—at least until God leads you in a different direction—and to move on with your life … making the most of each day.

Consider this … 
Even with positive choices, the pain won’t immediately disappear—but it will begin to heal. The time and money challenges will still be there, but you will be able to start dealing with them.

We live in a society of “quick fixes,” but recovering from this kind of hurt is a process. Learn to take one step at a time, trusting God to strengthen you and allowing him to love you.

Prayer
Father, help me to forgive. You have forgiven me of so much, even though I didn’t deserve it. Help me to forgive and to begin rebuilding my life. I know I can only do that with your strength, your love and your guidance. Thank you for freely giving me all this and more. In Jesus’ name …

When we can’t count on anything else

SOURCE:  Ray Ortlund

What do you have going for you when everything is against you?  What will not fail you when what you thought was true and solid and real collapses beneath you?  Who will stand by you when friends forsake you and enemies see their opportunity?  What works when everything is on the line but nothing else is working?

This experience is inevitable.

We don’t have to go looking for it.  It will come find us.

God himself wrote it into our scripts.  But when this happens, we are forced to ask the basic question: What can I count on when I can’t count on anything else?

Psalm 139 is where to go for the answer.  When David found himself in that catastrophic place, he dug down into the foundations of his very existence.  This is the unchanging bedrock he found there:

God, you know me (verses 1-6).

God, you are with me (verses 7-12).

God, you made me (verses 13-18).

The psalm then turns on the hinge of verse 18b: “I awake, and I am still with you.”  David wakes up from his contemplations, lost for a while in his thoughts, and he is still with God as he returns mentally to “the real world” where nothing has changed.  But he has changed.  He has been renewed by meditating on God’s intensely personal care for him.  His boldness returns:

God, I am wholeheartedly for you (verses 19-24).

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God” (Psalm 139:17).

Do I Love Christ “FIRST?”

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

“The magic of first love is our ignorance that it will never end…”

That’s from the early 1800’s writer Benjamin Disraeli. His “love for life” story is interesting. At 35, kind of old for his generation, he married a very wealthy widow. Years later, Disraeli remarked that he indeed married for money. And his wife replied, “Ugh, but if you had to do it again, you would do it for love.”

If you had to marry all over again, would you? I know that first love often gets covered up with the daily grind – the pace, pain and pressure of modern day life – all of the things that subtlety take precedence over one another.

The Church at Ephesus, busy doing good works, had lost something precious – their “first love” for Christ. “I know your works…I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake…But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love that you had at first.” (Rev. 2:2-4 ESV)

Jesus firmly demanded that they come back to that love. “Remember…repent, and do the works you did at first.” (Rev 2:5 ESV)

In fact when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus basically said, “LOVE”. His answer was to love God with your whole heart…“You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37 ESV)

And even more, to love those around you…as much as you love yourself. “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (vs 39ESV)

Is there is distance in your “love” for God, or with others? What happened? Who moved? What came between you?

Find that love again. You can!! No, you NEED to. Why? Because “real love” connects us at the heart and changes everything…

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for Righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6

Divorce: God’s Grace When A Spouse Chooses Sin As A New Mate

SOURCE:  Based on the post of Mark Gaither and his book, Redemptive Divorce

Redemptive Divorce Front Cover (final)

When speaking or writing on the topic of divorce, I inevitably encounter someone quoting Mal. 2:16, “For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel,” and usually with a kind of “so there!” attitude that settles a matter. This perplexed me at first. It’s like screaming at an oncologist, “Cancer is evil!”

Eventually, I came to realize that many Christians simply have no exposure to this terribly complex, deeply sorrowful issue. And to that, I say “Amen!” May nothing strip them of their innocence. Would to God the rest of us could return. Unfortunately, we must deal with life as it is.

The problem is evil. It’s terribly confusing for those who believe that God is all-powerful, sovereign over creation, and fundamentally good. God hates evil and He’s all-powerful, so why does He allow evil to continue? This “problem of evil,” as it is called by philosophers, also makes divorce difficult for believers to comprehend, especially as it relates to filing the necessary forms with the court.

Perhaps we struggle with the issue of divorce because it suggests we have given up on God.

I was three years into a four-year program, earning a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, when my wife suddenly left me for another man. The event came as a shock, not only emotionally but theologically. In addition to the heartache of losing a partner for life, I found myself struggling to understand how God could allow such a thing. So I began to pray for the restoration of my marriage and had every reason to believe my prayers would be answered. Jesus promised that if we prayed in His name—that is, according to His will—the Father would grant us anything (John 16:23). Certainly, God wanted my marriage to continue, I reasoned, so I diligently prayed for reconciliation while “believing I had received it” (Mark 11:24). I sincerely believed that restoration was only a matter of time. Meanwhile, I pursued every practical means of putting my marriage back together, including the redemptive divorce process.

Weeks turned to months, and it became clearer with each passing day that my wife was not going to return. In fact, she demonstrated very clearly that she was committed to her present course. Eventually, the state recognized her common-law union with the other man. In other words, they were legally married, which brought the “problem of evil” very close to home. If God were sovereign, how could He permit something so contrary to His will? What of the promises about prayer Jesus offered in the Upper Room? Had I not prayed fervently enough or with enough faith?

God originally crafted the world, fashioned man and woman in His own image, and declared His creation “good.” Every physical need of the couple found ample supply in the goodness of His handiwork, their one-flesh union sated their emotional needs, and they enjoyed spiritual abundance in regular communion with God. They were “naked and were not ashamed” because they had no reason for worry or shame or doubt or sadness (Gen. 2:25). But then they chose to disobey their Creator, subjecting all of creation to the consequences of their sin. The world then became a grotesque perversion of what God had created to be good. And ever since that horrific choice in the Garden, we have been living east of Eden, banished from the goodness that God desired—and still desires—for us. Collectively and individually, we are living with the consequences of sin in a creation that does not work like God wants it to.

Even so, God has not left us alone. He made the “problem of evil” His own by becoming one of us. In the person of Jesus Christ, God became a man to redeem the world, and He will eventually make it even more glorious than before. This universe will give way to “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1). In the meantime, God has not promised that we will remain untouched by evil or escape death. Instead, He has promised that death will not be the end and that evil will not have the final victory in the cosmic battle that rages around us. Until Jesus returns to reclaim the world from the clutches of Satan, “the whole creation groans and suffers” (Rom. 8:22), we “groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23), and the Holy Spirit “intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26).

God did not ordain marriage to end in divorce any more than He fashioned our bodies for death. Both divorce and death are an affront to His created order. Nevertheless, death is inevitable because of sin, and sometimes divorce cannot be avoided because at least one partner has chosen sin to become his or her new mate.

In time, I realized that my prayers had to change. Instead of praying for the resurrection of my dead marriage or for the revival of the future I thought should have been, I began to pray for the ability to accept the fact that my marriage had become a casualty of evil, a circumstance that God didn’t like any more than I did. I began to pray for a redeemed future in whatever form God saw fit to fashion.

He did not disappoint. If we rest in His grace, God will always have the last word over evil. When the time was right—and much sooner than I expected—the Lord intricately wove events together to give me a joyful future and an extraordinary mate to share it with. He gave me Charissa, my wife. And I don’t consider it any coincidence that her name is based on the Greek word charis, which means “grace.”

What Is Redemptive Divorce??

A Biblical Process that Offers Guidance for the Suffering Partner, Healing for the Offending Spouse, and the Best Catalyst for Restoration

 -Gives biblically sound advice to individuals in a hopeless marriage relationship.    

-Offers a plan to establish moral and legal accountability for the offending spouse.    

-Describes how to restore order and safety in a home torn apart by dysfunction or unrepentant sin.

Redemptive Divorce Introduction

“I don’t believe in divorce.” As Diane responded to the pleas of her non-Christian friends, the waver in her voice only dignified her desperate resolve. Some might have even called it heroic. Her husband of sixteen years, however, had demonstrated all too clearly by his love of alcohol and rage that he did not share her perspective on marriage. The sacred covenant she entered as a young woman had become his license to drink and hurl insults with no accountability. And after a thousand broken promises and countless wasted hours in counseling, Diane was at the breaking point. For the sake of her children’s safety and sanity, and for the survival of her own withered soul, something had to change. Unfortunately, her family, her church, and her own Christian conscience spoke in heartbroken, anguished accord: “I don’t believe in divorce.”
Diane’s no-win scenario has a solution, but like many thousands of suffering, conscientious followers of Jesus Christ today, she knew of only two options: divorce without sound biblical support or a life of perpetual, unrelenting misery. Somewhere between the secular disregard for the commands of Christ and the sacred unwillingness to deal with real problems of people, there is a way: Redemptive Divorce. 

 

 Comments from others about the Redemptive Divorce concept:

Thank God for the courage of Mark Gaither. Out of the crucible of his own experience and the grid of Scripture, Mark provides practical direction and encouragement for Christians whose marriages are broken or unbearable. The good news: you don’t have to remain passive or suffer in silence anymore. Divorce is an ugly word, but Redemptive Divorce is an assertive plan that enables you to use the courts and the law while still being genuinely Christian.”

Dave Carder, 1st Evangelical Free Church, Fullerton, CA, author of Torn Asunder: Recovering from Extramarital Affairs and Close Calls: What Adulterers Want you to Know About Protecting Your Marriage

Finally, we have some fresh, creative and practical thinking on an issue which has divided many believers. I appreciate the emphasis that has been placed upon the individual who is creating the problem rather than placing so much ill-placed responsibility upon the victim. This resource is bound to create some healthy discussion and hopefully some changes and perspective within the church.”

H. Norman Wright
Author, professor and Grief Trauma therapist

 I’ve never read a more sensitive, biblically balanced and carefully researched book than Redemptive Divorce. It will be a source of clarity and inspiration to anyone struggling with the question, ‘How can a Christian divorce?’ Mark is to be commended, his book is simply brilliant. I only wish it had been written decades ago.”

Marilyn Meberg
Women of Faith speaker
Author, Love Me, Never Leave Me

Rather than dodging the practical issues and performing semantic footwork when faced with the teachings of God’s Word, Mark answers the hard questions. Rather than merely quoting Bible verses and using pious clichés when dealing with longstanding offenses that break the heart and wound the soul of a marriage, he acknowledges the difficulties of navigating through the minefields of uncertainty and disharmony, anger and even danger. His counsel is reliable, fair, and balanced.”

Chuck Swindoll, Founding and Senior Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church, Bible Teacher on Insight for Living, Chancellor at Dallas Theological Seminary

Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views

SOURCE:  Adapted from the book by Carl Laney, William Heth, Thomas Edgar and Larry Richards

The following are summary notes gleaned by Dr. Randall Johnson from the book, Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views.

The authors of this book each present one of four standard arguments about the validity of divorce and/or remarriage based on Scriptural support.  You can overview the following notes about each position and assess your own position about this important and complicated topic.  It is suggested you consider obtaining the book for greater detail and insight into these positions.

No Divorce, No Remarriage (Laney)

Three Requirements for Marriage:

-a public act of leaving one’s family to establish a new home

-a permanent bond or partnership as husband and wife

-sexual union to become one flesh (sexual union does not make a marriage without the preceding requirements, but all sexual union results in two people becoming one flesh; sexual gratification is not an end in itself but designed to produce children)

Definition of Marriage:  God’s act of joining a man and a woman in a permanent, covenanted, one-flesh relationship.

The vow or promise makes the obligation binding, making faithfulness to one’s word a priority in spite of the personal cost.

Deuteronomy 24

Increased laxity regarding divorce and remarriage among the Hebrews necessitated this legislation.

The legislation does not institute or approve divorce, but merely treats it as a practice already known and existing.

Its intent is not to give legal sanction to divorce but to prohibit the remarriage of a man to his divorced wife if there is an intervening marriage on her part.

It’s unlikely that the matter of indecency (nakedness) refers to adultery because was punishable by death.

Her second marriage defiles her making it similar to adultery.

A certificate of divorce (which typically read “you are free to marry any man”) was not required by the text but noted as the custom to protect the rejected wife from further responsibility to her husband and from his interference in a subsequent marriage.

The prohibition against remarrying the divorced wife after her second marriage is to prevent bringing guilt of sin upon the land of Israel because it would be tantamount to marrying his sister (a one flesh relationship still existing in some sense) and that this was designed to discourage divorces.

Other Passages on Divorce in the Old Testament

A divorced woman could not marry a priest (Lev. 21:7) suggesting that there was a measure of moral or ceremonial defilement associated with her.

In Ezra 10, the word “put away” could mean merely a legal separation rather than a divorce.  We should not assume that the Gentile wives remarried or that the Jewish men remarried.  Either way, this passage is not designed to provide us with a Biblical pattern for divorce and remarriage.  We cannot conclude that it is okay to divorce an unbelieving spouse because this would contradict 1 Cor. 7:12,13.

God hates divorce, not the divorced person, because it comes from treachery toward women and violation of one’s vows, and makes raising a godly family very difficult.

Jesus’ Teaching

Because Jesus rejects both the Hillel (more liberal view of Dt. 24) and Shammai (adultery only view of Dt. 24) schools by pointing out that God’s original intent was no divorce period, we should focus on God’s original plan instead of the concession Moses (and God?) makes because of hard hearts.

Jesus opposed the teachers of his day by labeling divorce and remarriage as adultery, since the legal divorce does not dissolve the actual marriage created by God, except in the case of porneia.

Porneia does not mean adultery (this would make Jesus’ view the same as the school of Shammai), nor general sexual sin (this would make his view more liberal than Shammai), nor violation of the betrothal period (the context is consummated marriage, not betrothal), but marriage within the prohibited relationships of Lev. 18:6-18.

Even in the case of divorce for porneia there is no allowance for remarriage.  Jesus’ remarks about becoming a eunuch for the kingdom may refer to remaining unmarried after divorce.

The adultery of marrying a divorced person is not a continual sin, but a one-time transgression.  Confessing the sin but continuing the marriage is the least guilty course of action, though those who choose to end their wrongfully created marriage are to be respected.

Paul’s Teaching

1 Cor. 7:10-11 is Paul’s interpretation of Jesus that divorce (the words “leave” and “send away” both mean divorce) is not permitted.

Paul recognized however that believers do divorce and so he left them only the options of remaining unmarried (for life) or remarrying one another.

A believer is not to divorce his unbelieving spouse, but if the unbeliever refuses to live with the believer he or she is not under obligation to prevent it, and is not free to remarry another.

Remarriage is only allowed if the former partner dies.

Divorce, But No Remarriage (Heth)

Genesis 1&2

The words “leave” and “cleave” are covenant terminology (Hosea did not divorce his wife but stopped living together with her as husband and wife, and so neither did God abandon the covenant with Israel); “one flesh” does not refer primarily to the sexual union nor the child from their relationship, but speaks of the husband and wife becoming closely related in kinship (marriage requires both covenant and consummation).

The aloneness that marriage is designed to take away is not “loneliness” or lack of companionship, but the need for help in perpetuating the human race and cultivating and governing the earth.

Leviticus 18

These forbidden unions (whether marital or otherwise) for affinities of marriage (also described as “flesh of his flesh” in the Hebrew) indicate that the one flesh of Gen. 2:24 equals becoming one kin or blood relation through marriage.

Though the kinship aspect of marriage does not continue after the death of a spouse, the circle of relationships established by marriage endure beyond death.  If that is the case, they continue beyond divorce, also.  The only exception is the law of levirate marriage (Dt. 25) or sororate marriage (Lev. 18:18).

Deuteronomy 24

The words for divorce here do not carry the weight of the view that the marriage bond is completely dissolved.

The issue at stake in this legislation is a man divorcing his wife legally (for some uncleanness short of adultery) and not being required to pay her dowry back, and then remarrying her after she has been divorced illegally (her husband dislikes her) or her second husband dying, resulting in her receiving her dowry back and other penalties, thus trying to profit from her new-found wealth after he had declared her unclean.  He cannot now declare that wrong and remarry her.  This is an abomination because it is a violation of the law, Thou shalt not steal.  Thus the legislation says nothing about the ability of divorce to “dissolve” the one-flesh relationship and make remarriage allowable.

Ezra 9 & 10

This is not a justification for remarriage because Ezra did not view these intermarriages as real marriages.  They were strictly forbidden by the Law.  The evils which flow from such unions are the responsibility of those who make them.  This was a nullification of illegitimate relationships.

These unions posed a threat to the nation of Israel of incurring God’s wrath.

Ezra does not use the normal word for marry but talks about the men “taking” wives and “giving them a dwelling” though they were foreigners.

Ezra’s prayer (9:2 with 9:14) shows he did not consider intermarriage to have actually occurred.  They could not put away legal “wives” if they had made a covenant in the presence of God.  Ezra might have been justified in asking for death for taking a foreign wife (Numbers 25:6-15) but mercifully only asked for divorce.

Just because the Old Covenant allowed for remarriage, this does not speak to the New Testament restrictions stemming from Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus’ Teaching

Jesus’ disciples responded to his teachings with shock at how strict they were.

Matthew 5 merely indicates that the man who divorces his wife who is already unfaithful has not caused her to commit adultery by marrying her next partner.  She did that.  It does not grant him permission to remarry.  Jesus’ statement immediately following that whoever marries the divorced woman commits adultery suggests that Jesus never sanctioned remarriage after divorce even for marital unfaithfulness.

The modern notion of divorce as a “dissolution” of the marital relationship with the possibility of remarriage afterwards was unheard of in the early Christian centuries.  This view must have gone back to Jesus himself.

Sexual sin in marriage does not dissolve the marriage bond.  If it did, divorce would be a requirement in such cases, or, if the spouse forgave the offender and wanted to take him or her back, a new marriage covenant would be required.  But marriage is not constituted solely on the basis of sexual union, and unfaithfulness is not even the most detrimental impact possible on the marriage relationship (consider battering).

The exceptive clause means, in light of the first century Jewish marriage laws and the ongoing debate between Hillel and Shammai, that the man is relieved of responsibility for the divorce and its consequences if his wife is adulterous.  It does not sanction remarriage.

Jesus is not saying that porneia is the only grounds for separating from a spouse but is only taking note of a situation that his disciples would encounter in the face of Jewish marriage customs that did not permit but demanded the divorce of an unfaithful wife.  If someone divorced a spouse for a single act of marital unfaithfulness today Jesus would call that person hard-hearted.

The exception clause in 19:9, “except for marital unfaithfulness,” does not have to be applied to both parts of the statement, divorce and remarriage, except if one presupposes already that Jesus permits remarriage.  The early Greek fathers did limit it to the divorce segment.

The discussion that follows Jesus’ statement seems to confirm Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage in verses 4-9.  Unbelievers cannot accept Jesus’ teaching, he says, but when his disciples act like unbelievers in their objection to his strict teaching, they must understand that he will give them help to accept and obey it.  Continence in the face of a broken marriage is possible, just as it is possible for eunuchs to do so, especially with God’s help, as is given to those who become eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom.

The Mark and Luke accounts of Jesus’ teaching do not include the exception clause because the general tenor of Jesus’ teaching is that there is no right to remarry.

Paul’s teaching

Paul does not mention sexual sin as a valid reason for remarriage for the believer.  He or she must remain unmarried or be reconciled.

The believer whose unbelieving spouse does not want to be married is not under bondage to remain married or prevent the breaking up of a mixed marriage with all the means at his disposal, but this does not give freedom to remarry for the following reasons: (1) church fathers did not see this as permission to remarry. (2) Paul never uses douloō in reference to the biblical-legal aspect of marriage that can only be broken by death, he uses deō. (3) if Paul did not permit a Christian divorced by a Christian to remarry, why would he allow a Christian divorced by a non-Christian to remarry.  The bond is a creation ordinance that cannot be broken. (4) Paul’s whole argument centers on his strict adherence to the Lord’s command that a believer should not divorce. (5) Paul uses the same word for divorce in v.15 as he does in v.11 where it is clear that remarriage is not permitted. (6) Just as v.11 offers the hope of reconciliation if there is not remarriage, v.16 offers hope of the unbeliever’s conversion if there no remarriage. (7) The principle of vv.17-24 immediately following is the one should not change his or her status, which should include remarriage.

Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion (Edgar)

Common Misconceptions

The Bible clearly prohibits divorce.  In fact, of the nine passages usually referred to on this subject (Genesis 2:24; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:6-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:1-6, and 1 Corinthians 7:10-15) four seem to allow for some kind of divorce and remarriage and none definitively states that divorce and remarriage are never allowable.

Marriage is unbreakable or indissoluble.  No biblical passage directly states such a concept.  The concept of “one flesh” being equivalent to “blood relative” and therefore permanent is an invalid inference.  Its use in 1 Cor. 6:6 to describe sexual relations with a prostitute can hardly be referring to an indissoluble relationship, especially one which disallows marriage to another.  If it means “blood relative” then marriage creates an incestuous relationship, so it cannot be equivalent to it in the full sense and therefore cannot be used to argue for the indissolubility of marriage.  Even if it did mean “blood relative” and implied a permanent relationship, the fact that persons are blood relatives does not restrict them from marriage to others.  Dt. 24 clearly teaches that a divorced woman is so completely severed from her first husband that she can marry anyone else but her first husband without incurring God’s displeasure.

Matthew 19:9

It is a clear statement, not complex or strange.

Those who would exclude remarriage from Jesus’ exception would have the verse refer to both some who divorce (all those except for fornication) and all who divorce and then remarry, but this is grammatically impossible.  The main verb is “commits adultery” and is described by the relative clause “whoever divorces is wife except for fornication and marries another.”  These have to be the same individual.  Thus, the one who divorces his wife except for fornication is the same one who commits adultery.  This verse does not discuss the individual who merely divorces and does not remarry.  The fact that the church fathers denied remarriage is poor proof since they were frequently unreliable on matters of marriage and Scripture is our only authority.

Consider the sentence, “Whoever drives on this road except an ambulance driver on call and exceeds the speed limit is breaking the law.”  If interpreted as the no divorce/no remarriage view does, it would contain two propositions:  (a) anyone who drives on this road except an ambulance driver on call is breaking the law, and (b) to drive on this road and exceed the speed limit (including ambulance drivers on call) is breaking the law.  But both statements are actually contrary to the real meaning.  The problem is trying to interpret this statement with two different individuals in mind.  But that is grammatically impossible.  It is just as wrong to teach from Mt. 19 that all who remarry (including those divorced for fornication) are adulterers.  Jesus definitely states that the subject of the verb “divorces” is someone who divorces for some reason other than fornication.  One who divorces for fornication is not mentioned.  The verse can only say, therefore, “Some (not all) divorcees who remarry commit adultery.”  The one who divorces due to the exception and the marries another does not commit adultery.

The exception refers to adultery.  Even though porneia can mean any form of illicit sex, because it is used in this context of illicit sex on the part of the wife, it most probably refers to adultery.  The common word used for women in illicit sex is porneia, whereas the most common term used for men in illicit sex is moichao.  The words are therefore synonyms in this context.  It is unreasonable to imply that the term porneia indicates a meaning other than adultery.

There is no negative implication that the person who divorces his wife for adultery is spiritually deficient and should have forgiven his spouse.  But Jesus teaches that it is not wrong.  Jesus does not require divorce, but it is without stigma.  Jesus regards fidelity in marriage as far more important than the formal institution itself.

To argue that the exception clause is only recorded in Matthew because of his Jewish audience and Mark omits it because it does not apply to Gentiles loses sight of the fact that Jesus said it to the Pharisees, and implies that Mark is giving a false impression.  Mark must be assuming the exception even though he does not state it.  When in Mark 8:12 Jesus says, “There shall no sign be given to this generation,” but in Matthew he adds, “except the sign of the prophet Jonah,” these do not contradict each other and the normal response is to note that Matthew has the more full account.  The clearest account is the longer account.

Porneia cannot refer to an invalid mixed marriage because to allow divorce on such grounds contradicts Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 7 that such marriages are valid and should not be dissolved.  Nor can it refer to unfaithfulness during betrothal because the question being answered and the passages appealed to are all talking about marriage, not pre-marriage, and if it is argued that betrothal was as binding as marriage, then what Jesus teaches applies as well to marriage.  It cannot refer to an invalid incestuous marriage because if no dissolution of a one flesh relationship is possible, on their view of things, neither could this one flesh relationship be dissolved, even if it is considered immoral.  So is the “one flesh” relationship with the prostitute (1 Cor. 6), but God still considers it “one flesh.”  And would Jesus allow that the husband is not guilty if he divorces her when he must have known she was a blood relative?  Besides, there is no evidence to link the meaning of porneia to incestuous marriage.

Divorce and Remarriage for Desertion

Though the verb deō is used and not douloō the two verbs are approximately the same and deō is possibly stronger and its meaning must be determined by context.  Because Paul states the if the unbeliever is willing to stay you must not divorce him, it is reasonable to assume that if the unbeliever is unwilling to stay you may divorce him.  Besides, if the unbeliever chooses to leave, the believer hardly has a choice to stop a divorce.  And a biblically valid divorce should allow for remarriage.  Though it is not definitely stated that desertion by a believing spouse would allow for remarriage there is no substantial difference between the validity of marriage to a believer compared to an unbeliever.

The following teaching that one is not to change his or her status does not pertain to remarriage but to any marriage.  But if you desire to marry you do not sin.

Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances (Richards)

Malachi 2

It is not the case that God hates every divorce, but the divorce of a wife by his partner that is motivated by selfishness and is disloyal to his devoted wife.

Matthew 19

The context of this passage indicates that Jesus’ intent is to dispose of their legalism as a ground of spiritual pride and expose the shallowness of every Pharisee-like approach to faith.

“Is it lawful?”  Instead of asking what grounds legitimize divorce they should have asked, “How can a troubled marriage be saved?”  If we who minister the Word of God did a better job preaching how to live with others in God’s way we might not have the plague of divorces.

“In the beginning the Creator”  This was God’s ideal for marriage, a gift to bond two people together in a wondrous unity that enables each to enrich the life of the other.  He did not go back to creation to lay the foundation for a new, stricter law.

“Because your hearts were hard”  God has given permission in Moses’ law for human beings to take a course of action that actually goes against his own ideal.  If God treated human frailty so graciously in the old covenant, how can we in the age of grace treat it so legalistically?  How can we deny divorce to those few whose suffering cries out that their marriages, too, should end?

“Let not man separate”  This is not spoken to couples considering divorce but to leaders who assumed that divorce was a matter for an ecclesiastical court.  Human judges are not competent and have no right to say “this marriage can or can’t be put asunder.”  Dt. 24 indicates that the couple did not need to come to a court but determined the divorce on their own.  Modern pastors similarly have no right to make these judgments.  It must be a personal decision only as a last resort and with a heartfelt desire to know God’s will.

“Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery”  A comparison with Mt. 5 indicates that Jesus is teaching that though divorce and remarriage are permissible, they are sinful.  Since we cannot be sure what porneia means, we must view any divorce and remarriage as involving sin and adultery.  We must not justify ourselves or pretend that something terrible has not happened.  Just as Jesus, however, does not recommend legislation prohibiting lust or anger (what motivates adultery and murder), so he does not here create legislation against divorce and remarriage.  It does not result in an adulterous state, only an act, and it is forgivable.

Though 1 Cor. 7:10 seems to allow no exceptions for divorce, v.11 immediately begins discussion of exceptions and how to handle it if you divorce.

Tag Cloud