Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Biblical View on Divorce and Remarriage

In the late 20th century, the world became aware of the new plague called HIV. Some tel-evangelists were quite quick to condemn gays as the cause for this "curse" of God upon America.

I beg to differ. If ever there is a curse upon America, and Aids or HIV seems a natural consequence, it is because of Christian America's view on divorce and remarriage. We will dissect this here and call a spade a spade. People will get hurt, I am quite sure, but let us put ALL our PERSONAL opinions aside and just listen to what God is saying.

We will be using proper exegesis of the language with the cultural and historical context and we will be using no-nonsense and strict hermeneutics to make any oppositionists to this study condemn themselves, Biblically speaking!

This is one area of Scripture which is complementarian (women complement men) in nature. Hence, I expect strict egalitarians (men and women are equal in everything under God) to be slighted. However, this is not the time for emotions. This is the time to listen to God, understand and dissect what He is trying to communicate or continue to suffer the consequences.

Let me first clarify that I am egalitarian in everything except this issue not because it is my personal opinion but because I have ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to edit God's Word, especially if His revelation is crystal clear. For women preaching in church, I believe that the Spirit dispenses gifts equally without regard to gender (a common sense point, right?) and we cannot quench nor question Him. For women pastors and leaders, I recall Deborah with the same qualifications where her motive was not to gain personal glory (in fact, she wanted Barak to have it but Barak refused!) but only to save a nation (Golda Meir is a Jew and perhaps, one of the greatest Prime Ministers of Israel under a Jewish context, and hence, if it is not offensive to the Jews then that is the way this practice must be understood! We have to look at Scripture from a redeemed Jew viewpoint like St. Paul was).

On marriage and divorce, however, I am strictly non-egalitarian (or complementarian if you wish), for man is different from woman as are their sex organs. Man was not endowed to bear children physically in their womb.  As the physical characteristics of male vs female were divinely designed to be different, so are their roles when it comes to marriage and divorce.

The consequences are dire if we get the wrong message, and personally, we already have. Thanks to those first Christian leaders who started condoning divorce and worsened the situation by condoning remarriage of divorced women. I am tempted to say, "May the Lord's curse be limited to them". Unfortunately, we can see from the Biblical record that the innocents are normally affected by the curse of the guilty when they live together in the same community (That is why God had to get Lot out of Sodom and Gomorrah before His judgment!)

Let us lay down our points and not beat around the bush:
  1. God condoned (and at times encouraged) polygamy ONLY for men. God did not have a name for men with multiple wives. But it is clear that a woman with multiple husbands was ALWAYS called an adulteress! Is God anti-egalitarian here?
    • The Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob took multiple wives and concubines, and there was ABSOLUTELY NO JUDGMENT from God about this.  In fact, God even blessed some of the sons from the concubines. See Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:13, Genesis 49
    • David, a man after God's own heart took multiple wives. He was careful not to marry Abigail until Nabal died (or was killed by God). 1 Samuel 25:39. This is very consistent with St. Paul's stated principle in Romans 7:1-3 that women cannot re-marry unless the husband is deceased.
    • When David killed Uriah so that he could marry Bathsheba, God judged him as an adulterer and murderer, but God argued that if David wanted more wives, He (God) would have given it to him! 2 Samuel 12:8. David's adultery is obviously because he cohabited with a married woman and has nothing to do with multiple wives (and concubines if you will).
    • Solomon had 300 wives and 700 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Preachers misleadingly preach that Solomon was unfaithful at the end of his life due to his multiple wives but that is not the biblical record.  He was unfaithful not because he married multiple wives.  He was unfaithful because he started worshipping the idols of "some" of his wives.  That is a whole different reason and one thing does not necessarily lead to the other. Preachers are guilty of that non-sequitur argument.
  2. God and Christ condoned divorce but ONLY IF the WIFE is caught in adultery (Matthew 5:32; 19:9). There is no record of the same case if the husband is caught in adultery. In the Old Testament and the gospels, adulterers and the adulteress were stoned to death. The unbiblical alternative is a modern egalitarian invention.  [added 2012-03-07] Let us explore these 2 passages further and here we have to be technical and precise. The man in Matthew 5:32 is not guilty of adultery but is guilty of making his wife commit adultery, technically different where the man does not exactly sin but becomes a stumbling block to another. So God allows divorce BUT when the husband marries a divorcee (which is quite common in the United States of America including Christians and even renown pastors and preachers), the man becomes guilty of adultery, plain and simple if not distorted by modern preachers with biased agendas or conflict of interest. So, technically, divorce is not sin but remarriage may be and the bible is replete with God condemnation or even curse on such offenses.
  3. Romans 7:1-3 is the only clear exception WHEN a WOMAN can remarry. There are ABSOLUTELY NO other EXCEPTIONS to this. Widowhood, or the death of the husband, is the only case when a woman is NOT called an adulteress when she remarries (Remember Ruth vs. Rahab vs. Abigail vs. the woman at the well vs. the woman whom Christ saved from stoning?).  We should note that there is the Jewish practice of propagating the blood line where a woman may be conceived by the brother of an infertile deceased sibling just to propagate the bloodline and the offspring would bear the name of the deceased sibling as father.  However, this seems to be limited to the time and local context when it was practiced and the woman is normally a widow as well.
  4. Reiterating the previous point in a more direct way, a wife becomes an adulteress when she cohabits with someone else while she has a living husband OR when she divorces a living husband and  marries somebody else while the previous husband is still alive! (Mark 10:12; Romans 7:1-3)
  5. A man who marries a divorced woman (whose husband is still alive, implied but obvious) is also called an adulterer by Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 5:32b; Matthew 19:9b; Luke 16:18b)
  6. A man cannot divorce a wife apart from her adultery.  If a man divorces his wife for any other reason and remarries, he is also guilty of adultery (Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18)
Now, reflecting on these CRYSTAL CLEAR declarations of Scripture, which ones of the above do many Americans violate?  Let's go farther, which one of the above do many American Christians violate????

Now you know why America is cursed with AIDS and other things. I believe that since there is still a faithful remnant in the USA, America is still being preserved by God but it is not necessarily exempt on an individual and national basis from some of the curses of God.

Divorce creates dysfunctional families. It creates sons who have an utter lack of a correct Father image and daughters who have quite a deficient Mother image. Hence, it pushes many to become homosexuals and lesbians both arising from their psychologically dysfunctional state which they most probably grew up with and with a lot of repressed resentment and their lack of role models to pattern their lives, behavior, attitudes and choices against.

We do not discount that homosexuality may have some genetics involved or genes that are part of the curse on fallen man.  However, since the teaching of Scripture is unequivocally clear on divorce and remarriage, I point to it as the root culprit of this problem.

Homosexuality (a sex bias or pre-occupation) is no stranger than a lecherous male. Both have those "natural" drives based on hormones or genes, but both have to bring them under control or incur both social discrimination, and worse, the wrath of God as they are classified the same way as adulterers fornicators and idolaters. (1 Corinthians 6:9).

There is another crucial point that needs to be pointed out. Although God does hate divorce, the bible passages that relate to it, especially those coming from Christ's Own words, actually condemn remarriage the wrong way rather than the divorce itself.  For ANY man, marrying a divorced woman while her ex-husband is alive causes the woman to commit adultery.  A divorced man who remarries to a divorced woman also commits adultery.  A woman who remarries for any reason while the ex-husband is still alive is an adulteress. NO IF's, BUT's or any excuses allowed!

Christians beware of the curse of God! THUS SAYS THE LORD...!
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