Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Question for Discussion

Ok, I receieved an e-mail from a dear friend of mine who is struggling right now with this issue and I'm just curious and wondered what people's views/thoughts are on the whole marriage thing, specifically, marriage after divorce. Like, in light of Scripture, how do you interpret that? Is it ok for a Christian to marry a person who has been divorced? Under what circumstances is it ok or not ok? Throw your thoughts out there, that is if anyone is out there reading this!

Personally, I think it becomes a very personal decision between the two people and God. And I think it has a lot to do with what circumstances surrounded the divorce in the first place. Was the person abandoned, cheated on, abused? Not a Christian at the time? Then I think God is big and redeems all situations if we allow Him into our lives and desires for us to be fulfilled and happy. Not that marriage should take the place of God in our lives who wants to fulfill us Himself, but an extension of His blessing in our lives as we seek to know Him. And that's as far as I'm gonna go right now cuz I haven't actually sat down and studied the Scripture or asked God what He thinks. :-)


heidi said...

Tim and I studied this before we got married, an obvious time to look at the Word on this issue. We also had a few long talks with a Pastor friend who has studied it a lot. I hesitate to share thoughts this way, b/c this is a horribly sensitive, personal, and hurtful topic and I pray my thoughts won't offend. The Bible is quite clear in expressing God's plan for marriage and if you look, especially at the Greek, you can see that God never offers divorce as an option. In Matthew, at first read, it does sound like He's made it an option in the case of unfaithfulness, but the originaly translation defines it as more of a tolerance, a permission rather than an option. And this tolerance is b/c of the hardness of their hearts. When two people marry, they become one flesh. To divorce is to tear than flesh. Having been married for 5 months, I can't imagine getting divorced. But I admit there are definately cirsumstances that, in my flesh, I can't see how I wouldn't be drawn to divorce. (Lord help us.)

Now all that said, divorce happens. Is it right or wrong? Well, I think the Lord expresses His will through His Word and divorce is never in His will. But, there is grace, amazing grace. Is getting remarried after divorce wrong. I don't think so. But I pray that anyone in that situation would deeply search their heart to know what God is calling them to. He will tell you. In light of that, I have heard of many individuals who have sought God and chosen to remain faithful to an absent/unfaithful/promiscuous spouse in stead of opting for a divorce. Their strength and faithfulness to that committment of marriage astounds me and inspires me.

For what it's worth! Thanks for the outlet.

roomie said...

This issue is, of course, a very sensitive one and I have tried to keep my discussion on what the text appears to say. The application to individual circumstances is never black and white, and I don’t think that we can rely solely on our interpretation of God’s word. His word is complete, but our understanding is not. Only the Spirit can cut through our hopes/ fears/desires/brokenness and experiences to reveal what His Word says. His body, the Church, is one tool of the Spirit, so I think discussions such as this are very useful. One last qualifier, my comments are confined to what I have found in scripture to this point. They are in no way complete or absolute as I know that my understanding of God’s word is constantly growing, so please blast any thing you see as mistaken or off track in my response. That’s how I grow! (please be nice)

I agree with a lot of what Heidi says, especially the part about studying these issues before you are married, and preferably when you are single. Our emotions, of which love is a very powerful one, have a strong influence on our decisions and knowing the Word of God before that emotion is ignited offers a healthy balance to the desires of our heart.
Concerning Jesus' “tolerance” of divorce in cases of adultery I'm wondering what you mean by tolerance? In my understanding, just because your spouse has committed adultery does not mean you should automatically divorce. However, Jesus clearly states that sexual immorality is an exception to the sin that follows remarriage after a divorce, and the “hardness of their hearts” did not apply to this exception but explained why Moses had permitted divorce.

10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.
11 So He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.
12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
Mark 10: 10-12

8 He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."
Matthew 19:8,9.

Jesus describes the consequence of remarriage after a divorce "except for sexual immorality." Furthermore, defining sexual immorality' constitutes another challenge. Another translation for the word used here is 'fornication,' which is used to describe harlotry, incest and idolatry. Interestingly it is not used to describe adultery per se, which is has a different word in the Greek. Here are some definitions of fornication and biblical references:

(1) Any sexually-intimate relationship or activity except for those which occur between a man and his wife. (Matt. 5:32; Matt. 19:9; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:2-12; I Cor. 7:2; I Cor. 10:8; I Thess. 4:3; Rev. 9:21; Deut. 27:20-23; Lev. 20:10-21; Lev. 18:6-23; Exodus 22:16.)
(2) Incest. (I Cor. 5:1; I Cor. 10:8; Lev. 18:6-23.)
(3) Idolatry and adultery in honor of idol gods. (II Chron. 21:11; Isa. 23:17; Ezek. 16:15, 26, 29; Acts 15:20, 29; Acts 21:25; Rev. 2:14-21; Rev. 14:8; Rev. 17:2-4; Rev. 18:3-9; Rev. 19:2.)
(4) Natural harlotry. (John 8:41; I Cor. 6:13-18.)
(5) Spiritual harlotry or unfaithfulness. (Ezek. 16:15, 26, 29; Rev. 17:2-4; Rev. 18:3-9; Rev. 19:2.)
(6) Sodomy, homosexuality, bestiality and male prostitution. (I Cor. 6:9-11; Heb. 12:16; Jude 6-7; Romans 1:24-29; II Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5. See also: Gen. 19:5-8; Exodus 22:19; Lev. 18:22-23; Lev. 20:13-16; Deut. 23:17; Deut. 27:21; Judges 19:22; I Kings 14:24; I Kings 15:12; I Kings 22:46; II Kings 23:7.)
(this is not my list of references so please check them out for yourself, I have checked out a number of them, but not all).

Also, Paul talks about abandonment as a viable reason for being released from the bond of marriage in 1 Cor. 7: 12-15 which opens up a whole other discussion. Heidi, I am curious about what your studies revealed about this topic?

roomie said...

I also have to post my pastor's response to Nicole's question:

Here's the very insightful and important comment I had to make:

"It is very clear from both scripture and natural law that we should
never divorce someone without marrying them first."

Just to add a light note!!