Christian Ethics - Lesson 21
Divorce and Remarriage
You will gain an understanding of the issue of divorce and remarriage within the church and the responsibilities of Christian leaders in addressing it. The lesson discusses the growing rate of failed marriages and single-parent families within the church and highlights that many pastors are not providing a biblical perspective on the issue or support for troubled marriages. It urges Christian leaders to take a stance on this issue and make it public, and suggests that Christians need to think through what the Scripture teaches on these matters and formulate principles that will guide their thinking and conduct.
Divorce and Remarriage
Contemporary Moral Issues
A. Positions on divorce
1. Never permissible
2. Sometimes permissible
b. Adultery and desertion
c. Adultery, desertion, and extreme cases
3. Usually permissible
4. Always permissible
B. Questions and Biblical Answers on Marriage
1. What is the biblical view of marriage?
a. Utilitarian view of the world
b. Covenantal view of Scripture
c. Permanence is the ideal.
2. What is God's view of divorce?
a. Malachi 2:16
b. Deuteronomy 24:1-4
3. Are there scriptural grounds for divorce?
a. Matthew 19:8-9
i. Porneia, not moicheia
ii. Permitted, not commanded
b. 1 Corinthians 7:15
4. What is porneia?
a. Not simply adultery (moicheia)
b. Sexual immorality
c. Hosea 1:2 and Jeremiah 3
5. What is desertion in 1 Corinthians 7:15?
a. Additional grounds for divorce
b. Sub-instance of porneia
c. Does not expand porneia
A. Reconciliation, if possible
B. Repentance, if necessary
C. Right to remarry?
2. Value of the single life
3. Principles for remarriage
- Gain insights into philosophical ethics and Christian responses, and the Christian role in society regarding the state, justice, economics, and education.
- In this lesson, Dr. Nash introduces you to the concept of hedonism, which is an example of a consequentialist ethic. He reviews non-hedonistic consequentialist philosophies, psychological hedonism, and ethical hedonism.
- This lesson introduces you to the theory of deontological ethics and Emmanuel Conte. You will learn that the deontological ethic judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of agents rather than goals achieved.
- In this lesson you will learn about the system of ethics that focuses on virtue and introduces the Four Cardinal Virtues, which are temperance, wisdom, justice, and courage, and emphasizes the importance of being the right kind of person who possesses the traits of character, and C.S. Lewis's book "Christianity" provides an informative treatment of the Four Cardinal Virtues and the Three Theological Virtues.
- You will gain insight into C.S. Lewis's views on Christian ethics and the morality analogy he presents, where morality is like a fleet of ships that must fulfill three conditions to succeed: every ship must run properly, the relations between ships must be proper and orderly, and the fleet must head to the right destination.
- You will learn about the importance of distinguishing between society and the state. Society is a voluntary organization of people, while the state is the group of people who claim a monopoly on the use of coercive force within a geographic boundary. By understanding this difference, you can prevent the government from interfering with your voluntary associations.
- You will gain an understanding of how the professor's theory of the state in Social Justice in the Christian Church aligns with the New Testament. He explains that the state is a God-ordained institution to check against sin, and he is a moderate anti-statist who recognizes the need for government but also the inherent evil in any concentration of human power. The New Testament recognizes constraints upon governmental power, and Revelation 13 is an example of how the state can symbolize anti-Christian government. The lesson also discusses the concept of justice and how it is often invoked without a clear understanding, suggesting that Christians should study ancient Greece for a better comprehension of the term.
- In this lesson, you will gain insight into the evangelical civil war that happened 20 years ago, learn about its early stages recorded by Clark Penick, understand the harmful effects of left-wing evangelicalism, and see how many evangelicals on the left became enamored with their own self-virtue in what they thought was a crusade to help the poor.
- By studying this lesson, you will gain insight into the major differences between capitalism, socialism, and interventionism. You will learn that interventionism is often responsible for economic crises that are attributed to capitalism. You will also learn about the overlapping and continuum nature of economic systems and the gray area where an economic system may be viewed as socialism or interventionism.
- This lesson discusses the decline of old liberation theology and how some of its proponents are now advocating for capitalism and democracy as being what the poor of the third world need, and presents shocking quotations from individuals characterized as evangelical, such as Jose Marquez Bonino, who promotes Marxism and praises tyrants like Castro and Mao Tse tung, as well as material about the three major kinds of Marxism that have existed in the world.
- This lesson will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of interventionism and its role in the Great Depression, including the fact that blaming capitalism for the depression is based on four myths, and that interventionism actually deepens recessions by disguising the information produced by a market economy.
- Through this lesson, you will gain an understanding of the crisis facing American education, as highlighted by Alan Blum's book The Closing of the American Heart and the author's complementary book. The focus is on the importance of values, standards, and morality in education, and the need to reopen the American heart to reopen the American mind. The lesson introduces the three kinds of illiteracy currently affecting Americans at every level of the educational process, with a particular emphasis on functional illiteracy, which refers to the inability to read, write, or use numbers well enough to get along in society.
- In this lesson, you will learn about the incompetency of public school teachers in America, caused by academically weak students being attracted to the profession, lack of content courses in their college curriculum, unimpressive and radical left-winged professional educationists, and the National Education Association being an enemy of America's young people, with four essential steps to improve education, including getting a clear focus on the educational role of the family, increasing local control of education, changing the curriculum to prepare students for life after school, and changing teacher education programs.
- Gain knowledge of the difference between the biblical ethic and other philosophical systems. Though it may seem simple, it is an underlying system that can lead to complex issues. The divinely revealed scriptures are the starting point for moral reflection, but not a ready-made answer. Some New Testament commandments are archaic or obsolete, and many modern moral problems are not discussed in the Bible.
- You will gain insight into the pro-life stance and be equipped to inform others. Christians need not be timid about talking about these issues.
- This lesson explores the arguments and counterarguments surrounding abortion, arguing for caution and conservatism in ending any life, emphasizing the need to balance the right of the mother with the rights of the infant, and briefly touching on the issue of rape and how it complicates the matter.
- As you go through the lesson, you will learn about infanticide and euthanasia, and how the disrespect for unborn human life has led to an increase in cases of infanticide, along with some suggestions for what Christians should do in the case of children born with life-threatening handicaps.
- In this lesson, you will explore the five major passages of Scripture related to homosexuality, including different interpretations of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and concludes that the Bible clearly condemns homosexual activity.
- This lesson explores the topic of capital punishment in the context of Christian beliefs, arguing for consistency and emphasizing the need to view Old Testament laws in the context of specific situations that are no longer applicable.
- This lesson discusses the three approaches to war and peace and distinguishes between principled pacifists and hypocritical, unprincipled pacifists, who are members of the political left and denounce American military actions but support violent revolutionary organizations.
- You will gain an understanding of the growing issue of divorce and remarriage within the church, the responsibilities of Christian leaders in addressing it, and the need for Christians to think through what the Scripture teaches on these matters and formulate principles that will guide their thinking and conduct.
- This lesson provides insight into how responsible Christians can make ethical decisions about birth control, considering the importance of intention, distinguishing between ethically acceptable and unacceptable forms of birth control, and emphasizing the importance of wise and careful means in achieving family planning goals.
Theoretical and theological basis for Christians living an ethical life.
Dr. Ronald Nash
Divorce and Remarriage
[00:00:01] The days when Christians could view divorce as a problem for people outside the church ceased to exist a long time ago. These days, the number of single parent families within churches is growing at a rate two and a half times that of two parent families. The number of failed marriages within evangelical churches is fast approaching a crisis Mark. In spite of this, many evangelicals have never heard sermons that offered Christians a biblical perspective on the issues of divorce and remarriage. Many pastors are doing little or nothing to help strengthen troubled marriages. Even less is done to minister to the hurting spouses and children who have gone through a divorce. Little has done to counsel divorced people who are considering remarriage. One of the arguments I'm going to make before I'm finished is this everybody in a position of credit? Christian leadership ought to recognize his or her responsibility to present a message that at the very least indicates where you stand on this divorce and remarriage issue. Early in one's ministry, in any church, I want to suggest, I think a preacher, maybe you don't want to devote a whole message to this, but a preacher ought to indicate the conditions under which he will marry. He will perform a marriage ceremony for divorced people. Now, on the Sunday you do that, there may be 50 or 60 people who get up and leave your church. But it's got to be done. People need to know. I will be very frank. When I was in the ministry, I was a very young fellow and I wasn't a particularly well trained young fellow at that.
[00:02:13] And I performed some marriages that I wish I hadn't performed. The people who would have got married anyway, but at least I wouldn't have had their blunder on my conscience. It is it is it is incumbent on Christian leaders to not only have a position, a stance on this, but to make that stance public. The emergence of divorce and remarriage is a problem within conservative churches, is leading a lot of pastors and a lot of people within those churches to choose sides. Kind of a split occurring. On the one hand, we have some people who are reacting against the crumbling morality of contemporary society and they are imposing increasingly tight and absolute prohibitions regarding divorce and remarriage. Now, maybe, maybe, as some people think, that's not bad, but if the leaders of churches like this cannot find a biblical text that justifies divorce or remarriage in some specific case, the church simply forbids the action. Couples that divorce and or remarry, contrary to the ruling of these church leaders, realize very quickly the wisdom of leaving that fellowship and finding another fellowship. Please note I'm not necessarily condemning or criticizing that practice. I'm simply drawing attention to the fact that there are people there on the one side of this issue who are putting up a lot of very rigid regulations and rules. But while some churches are dealing with these issues in a very rigid way, large numbers of Christians in different circles have virtually resigned themselves to expect fellow believers to be divorced on all kinds of less serious grounds. People like this would hardly ever dream of confronting their friends and saying, You are wrong in seeking a divorce. You are sinning against God and your family and you need to repent.
[00:04:25] Now, I would suggest that we need a little more of this, this last attitude. There's nothing wrong with going up. They may cease to be your friend, All right, if you do this, but perhaps your relationship would terminate anyway. It can often be difficult for pastors and elders to insist on biblical standards on divorce and remarriage in an age in which so many people think that anything can go, anything is permitted. It's a matter of great urgency that Christians think through what the Scripture teaches on the subjects of divorce and remarriage, and formulate principles that will guide their thinking and their conduct on these matters. And then, after a pastor has formulated his understanding of the biblical principles that apply, he should share them with the church on a regular basis. Our sermons should provide help to troubled marriages. You know, with all the video stuff and all the books and all of the special lessons and all of the experience lectures out there, who would be glad to come to your church and hold a weekend, a weekend seminar for married couples? There's no excuse for churches ignoring this problem. Preachers should carefully explain the situations within which they will marry divorced people. Now what I have on the board, I have indicated, first of all, at the top level, the four major options that people within Christendom, actually it wouldn't be limited to Christendom. The people take on divorce these these days, and I've identified these positions in a very ingenious way. I call them A, B, C, and D. I just came to me one night and it was vision. All right, now let's look at A and D, the two extreme positions. Way over here. The D position says is a is a view that says divorce is permissible for any reason whatsoever.
[00:06:31] Now, this position used to be confined pretty much to people who lived either outside the Christian church entirely or to people who were members of liberal denominations. Openness to this extreme D position on the part of any church or denomination is a sign of serious moral laxity within that fellowship. Believers within such fellowships ought to be concerned to deal with these problems. There's no excuse for any Christian organization taking an attitude like the D position. Now, Position even says divorce is never permissible, whatever the reason. Now, you might wonder whether anybody since 18th century New England has advocated the position of the United States. But it was recently the position of a book written by Gordon Wenham. His is the only name that I've written on the board. His coauthor was William H. Hef, H, e t H Wenham, and had this. Their book was titled Jesus and Divorce and was published by Thomas Nelson and Sons back in 1985. It was their argument that divorce is never justifiable, and that made that that extreme view may come as a shock to some of you who are familiar with some of these other texts that we will be looking at in a few moments. Back in 1980, Christianity Today took a poll of American Christians. I guess I don't know. I forget the target. No, I guess the poll was simply a Gallup poll taken of all Americans maybe, and of American clergy and of the clergy surveyed by the poll. Only 10% aligned themselves with this position. Now, remember, that was 12 years ago. And many of those people may have retired. So that my guess would be that the percentage defending position A would be much less today. Interestingly, back in 1980, the same percentage of the general public aligned themselves with position A That surprised me.
[00:09:07] Position B reads Divorce is permissible for biblically faithful Christians in a limited number of cases. I am not going to talk any more about Position C, which says divorce is permissible for far more reasons than be, but nonetheless, there might be a few reasons that might not justify divorce. I don't really know many people. It seems to me that position C has just about faded from view, but it's up there just to fill in that big gap in our chart for the rest of today. I'm going to argue, I'm going to talk about position B and you'll notice that on my chart there are now three sub cases under position B. Now, there's nothing terribly original about the rest of this or about any of this, for that matter. Position B one says there's only one circumstance that justifies divorce that would be based on. An approach that would take Matthew five versus 31 and 32 as the definitive and limiting text in this matter. Position B2 would say adult scripture does justify divorce in the case of adultery. Matthew five But it also justifies divorce in the case of desertion. First Corinthians 715 a text that we will look at. So here we have one circumstance and one circumstance only adultery. Here we have two circumstances and two circumstances only adultery and desertion. But then position B three says there may be a small number of extreme circumstances that also justify divorce and that can also be justified on biblical grounds. In addition to adultery and desertion. Okay, you got that. Many biblically faithful Christians find themselves convinced that these two exceptions, adultery. We'll continue to use that translation, even though I'm going to correct it a little later on. Adultery and desertion are insufficient to cover the agonizingly complex problems of men and women in their churches.
[00:11:42] Ken. And here I'm trying to give you a clearer understanding of the B three position. There's been an attempt on the part of such people to justify a small, limited, but clearly justifiable number of other circumstances that would provide warrant for divorce. Here is a short list of actions, circumstances that people in the B three position have identified as justifications for divorce, philandering. I don't know what the difference between philandering and adultery is. Alcoholism, along with the unfortunate things that go with alcoholism, violence, violence, criminality. I mean, have lots of, you know, marriages that are little riddled with violence and cruelty, sociopathic behavior, psychotic or serious neurotic conditions. I mean, what do you do if you marry someone and you discover that they are psychotic, for example, homosexuality? Although that would certainly seem to be covered under marital unfaithfulness, impotence, sociopathic behavior, abandonment, extended imprisonment, that might be a sub case of desertion. The difference between desertion and imprisonment is that in the case of imprisonment, the desertion is not voluntary incest or abortion without the consent of the husband. However, some that's serious stuff in spite of what the feminists in this country are saying, for the wife to proceed to abort a baby without the consent of one's husband, this is serious business. Now, Sam McCloskey argues, and this is in the Encyclopedia of Biblical and Christian Ethics, Sam McCloskey argues that there is no warrant in Scripture to submit to such evils. In some cases, spiritual heroism on the part of a suffering spouse may be redemptive, maybe redemptive in the sense that it might eventually lead the sinning spouse to repentance. But where redemptive steps prove fruitless, most Christians understand the scriptures to allow merciful escape from such evils. And I must confess that there is a kind of prima facie obligation to sympathize with spouses who suffer in horrible cases like that.
[00:14:41] Perhaps some of us know advocates of positions one and two, B one and B two who maintain, for example, that a Christian wife has no right to a divorce, even if a deranged husband threatens her life or abuses the children or engages in similar acts as husband may be psychotic. He may be on drugs. He may be an alcoholic. He may regularly abuse the wife. He may or he may be threatening threatening the children in a sexual way. Surely some people would say Christian leaders are remiss if they somehow imply to spouses in cases like that that they have a biblical obligation to keep that marriage together. Such an attitude displays an insensitivity to the threatened or injured parties. That certainly looks inconsistent with biblical values. All right. But now we have a problem. See what's listen, I might look at my problem. As I've said, when you take a look at evil such as those we described, there certainly is a prima facie right to leave that kind of harmful situation. But how do we reconcile that prima facie right with these clear texts of Scripture? Matthew 531 Again, if a man sets aside his wife for any other reason other than marital unfaithfulness, he causes her to commit adultery. The problem, of course, then, is that Scripture does seem to limit divorce to cases of sexual immorality alone. B one or two the additional ground to divert desertion. B to. Clearly, some have said there is need to examine the biblical grounds for divorce more thoroughly. So in the pursuit of that objective, the rest of my discussion will explore a biblically faithful answer to the following question. And listen to me here. You can't really do justice to this business until you provide people with an answer to all of these questions.
[00:17:06] Question one What is the biblical view of marriage? Question two What does God think of divorce? What is the biblical view of marriage? What does God think of divorce? Number three Are there any scriptural grounds for divorce? And if so, what are they? The next question and whether you get the exact wording or not. Can a biblical case be made for divorce in other extreme circumstances other than sexual immorality and desertion? And then what do you do about the remarriage of divorced people? What do you do about the remarriage of divorced people? Question one Then what is the biblical view of marriage? The necessary starting point for any reflection about divorce should be a proper Christian understanding of marriage. Couples who marry without comprehending what marriage should be. Can hardly be expected to see why divorce is portrayed the way it is in Scripture. Perhaps the majority of people in America today hold a view of marriage that can best be described as utilitarian or pragmatic. Something has value for utilitarian. If it produces desirable consequences, something is good for a pragmatist. If it works for people who view marriage in this way, the question of when a marriage should be ended is simple You end a marriage when it no longer gives the husband or wife what he or she wants from the marriage. When the marriage no longer produces the desired consequences, or when one of the partners believes that his or her needs can be better met under different circumstances. Thoughts turn towards the most convenient ways of breaking the union. Setting a husband or wife is no different on such a view than trading in an old car for a newer one. If you happen to see something you like better find a way to dump the old partner.
[00:19:11] And I'm looking right now at an article that appeared in the Orlando Sentinel that says basically the same thing. Very interesting. This is Stephen Chapman. He says marriage is, among other things, a contract between two people. And when one person violates a contract, the courts normally require him to come and compensate the person he has hurt. But in these recent days, the contractual, the covenant, an aspect of marriage has become totally submerged in American society. Marital breakdown has become the norm, not the extreme. Now, while the picture I've just presented may be a bit crude and certainly does not describe all divorces, it is hardly credible to deny that this way of thinking exists in this country or that many churches look the other way when this sort of thing happens. Too many Americans resist the suggestion that divorce is wrong, that it is caused by sin, that it is displeasing to God, and that the Christian church may find it necessary to discipline people who knowingly violate God's moral demands. One reason, then, why Western society tolerates such a high incidence of divorce is because so many people hold a shallow, utilitarian and biblical view of marriage. Now, in contrast to this utilitarian view of marriage, theologian Sam Mikulski explains that the biblical in the Bible marriage is a gift of God in creation to the human race, and that monogamous marriage is a bond between two covenant ing persons is intended to be permanent. Genesis 224 McCloskey goes on to point out that the Bible does not talk about marriage in any abstract sense, but presents it rather as a unique kind of personal relationship involving deep love and commitment to each other. So in other words, the ideas of covenant and permanence should be seen as central in the biblical view of marriage before one engages in marrying two people.
[00:21:23] There ought to be a period of counseling and which young people in particular realize how serious God views this thing that they are about to engage in a covenant. D.J. Atkinson explains, is a personal relationship within a publicly known structure based on promises given and accepted. The Bible elevates marriage to the highest possible human level by comparing it to the covenants God makes with human beings. You've been studying the Old Testament covenants, the God made with Israel that God made with the human race. The Bible elevates marriage to that level. It is as serious. As the covenants God makes with the human race. The relationship between Jesus Christ and His church is offered as the model of human relationships within marriage. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her. Ephesians 525. Wives are to submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ, a covenantal relationship that fits this biblical pattern. A relationship pursued by two Spirit filled believers living in accordance with God's revealed word would seem to be in little danger from the scourge of divorce. Now, once this biblical view of marriage is understood, it becomes clear that God's ideal regarding marriage is permanence. Have you not read Jesus taught that in the beginning that the Creator made the 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 me am not separate. Matthew 19 four six. So much for the biblical view of marriage now. What does God think of divorce? You don't know. You look. You turn to Malachi.
[00:23:30] 216. Divorce is clearly, clearly serious business. It reflects the fact that sin has broken what should have been an inviolable covenant. Hence, it is no wonder when the Prophet Malachi states, quote, I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel. Those who believe that divorce is permissible for any whim or inclination suffer from a faulty understanding of marriage, from a defective understanding of God's Word, and from a dangerous misunderstanding of how seriously a holy God takes such matters. If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and that requires some interpretation there, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house. And if after she leaves his house, she becomes the wife of another man. And the second husband dislikes her and writes a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house. Or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. End of quote. Now we got to pay some attention to what's going on in Deuteronomy 24. It would be a mistake to regard these words as a divine, as an expression of divine approval of divorce. Rather, as D.J Atkinson points out, this Old Testament legislation and here I quote, affords recognition of the fact that marriages are sometimes broken, even though divorce is not approved by God. Marriages sometimes fall apart. And so Deuteronomy 24 acknowledges the need of civil legislation for the sake of society. That would be the bill of divorce. In other words, in Israel, if a man decided to dissolve his marriage, there was at least a modicum of legal business that he had to go through.
[00:25:46] He had to go through this bill of divorce. Now, what Atkinson points out is that the bill of divorce money actually served to protect the divorced woman and to legislate against cruelty in its own negative way. Deuteronomy 24 was seeking to preserve the divine ideal for marriage as far as possible within a sinful world. It was a concession on the part of God to the fallen nature of sinful human beings. Deuteronomy 24 is not a case in which God says, Okay, I approve divorce. Here are the ways. Now God is rather saying, I know what's going to happen, and since it is going to happen because of your sinful human nature, you must at least take these steps to protect the wife. Okay. Now, when we come to the New Testament, the debate over the biblical grounds for divorce centers around the two passages, two passages of Scripture. I put Matthew five 3132 up here, but I guess we better turn our attention now to Matthew 19, verses eight nine. Here's what Matthew 19 says Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. This is Jesus talking. The reason why Deuteronomy 24 is there is because your hearts are 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. Now, the Greek word that is translated marital unfaithfulness is poornima. We get lots of English words from that pornography. But this is the word that used. Keep that in mind because in a few minutes we will return to this issue and try to understand more clearly what the significance of paranoia is. What's important here is this Under no circumstances does Jesus command the wronged party in Matthew 19 to seek advice.
[00:28:14] He simply states that the divorce is permissible. In other words, there is an implication in Matthew 19 that a wronged spouse May has the right to choose to forgive the sin, forgive the unfaithfulness and not seek divorce. But what Jesus is saying is, if this if this wrong has been committed, then no one can condemn the wronged spouse for seeking divorce. The only other text in in the New Testament that comes even close to justifying divorce is First Corinthians 715, which we've already looked at in 715. First Corinthians, Paul says. As we've noted, he refers to a case where an unbelieving spouse deserts the believer. In that case, Paul says, let the deserting spouse go. And he then adds that in such circumstances, the believer is no longer bound. Which most commentators correctly understand to mean that the deserted spouse is free to divorce. And that's it. That's all the New Testament has to say explicitly. That's all the New Testament provides by way of explicit grounds for divorce. And of course, some people would dispute the Corinthians text. And Gordon Wenham and William have dispute the Matthew text. Of course, that is not all that Christian commentators have had to say on this issue. And so now I'm going to turn my attention to the to the word cornella and ask try to clarify in more detail what cornea is. What is this justifying ground for divorce in Matthew 19? And then what is what is the meaning of desertion in first Corinthians 715? What is paranoia? It is clear that Jesus permitted divorce in cases where a spouse is guilty of this. It is commonly thought that what Jesus was referring to was adultery. But that seems unlikely. Had that been Jesus point, if he was specifically stating that adultery, that is marital unfaithfulness on the part of a husband, let us say, is the only ground for divorce, he would have used a different word.
[00:30:44] So there's a there's a different Greek word that is the right word to use if you want to talk about adultery. And that's my case. Jesus didn't use my Monica. He used porn. Yeah. It seems reasonable to conclude, then, that poor nature is a more general term that refers to sexual immorality in general, and that within this general classification, it may refer to a number of specific sins depending on its context. And I take that last quote from the 1991 minutes of the General Assembly of the Church in America. Now, let me illustrate what I'm talking about here. Think about let's draw a big circle and let's let this circle represent the whole class of acts that would be covered by the word Pawnee, a sexual immorality. If this suggestion is right, what Jesus was doing in Matthew 19 was not limiting justifiable divorce to the one instance of adultery, he was limiting justifiable divorce to a broader number of cases, all of which are more specific instances of sexual immorality. Adultery would be only one of those sub cases. All right. So what we have is a big circle, and then we can draw a lot of smaller circles. And adultery would be one of them. But there would be other instances of Pawnee, which would also justify divorce. Those other instances might include prostitution, that sexual immorality, incest, homosexuality and chastity. Now, if this line of thought is right, Matthew 19 is a lot broader than many people would have you believe. Okay, if this line of thinking is correct, we've already begun to expand the list of biblically justifiable grounds for divorce. People think it's adultery and desertion, but it is wider than just the matter of adultery. It would include these other instances of sexual immorality.
[00:33:13] Adultery in Israel, in the Old Testament, in Jesus time had a more narrow meaning. I'm not sure in the Old Testament homosexuality would have been regarded as a form of adultery. Adultery would have been defined narrowly as sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who was not one's wife. Okay. So that homosexuality was clearly condemned in the Old Testament would not have been regarded as an instance of adultery, perhaps. Well, but let's do a little let's go into this a little more deeply. Yet, if this line of thinking is correct, the grounds for the verse of Matthew 19 nine turns out to include forms of sexual immorality other than adultery. But now something very interesting emerges. The very same word, horny is used in 012, obviously in the Septuagint. Okay. In the Greek translation. Now, here's the context and also the one to where God speaks of the spiritual betrayal of Israel as paranoia, which had spiritually turned its back upon. Jehovah was guilty of unfaithfulness of poor may Well, the same point is made in the third chapter of Jeremiah, then the Septuagint again. Now, later on today I'm going to consider the suggestion of some. But this new usage of cornmeal in the Old Testament Septuagint opens up the possibility of some interesting new dimensions to Jesus, meaning in Matthew 19 nine. Let's turn now to desertion. See if we can understand what that might mean. Paul's very blunt and first Corinthians seven if the unbelieving spouse deserts a believer. Them. Goal. The marriage is over. Not only is the deserted believer under no obligation to try and stop the divorce, the believer is free to remarry. This is the clear implication of Paul's words. However, there are three different, basically different ways in which this text is approached, and we need to look at these three different ways.
[00:35:38] Number one, this is approach number one. Some see the text and Corinthians as providing an additional ground for divorce besides the sexual immorality covered in Matthew 19. So some people would say Matthew 19 identifies one grounds for divorce, sexual immorality. Paul in first Corinthians identifies an additional ground. Now, look, one implication from that one and one. One possible consequence of that line of thinking might be this. Some people think this proves that Jesus words in Matthew 19 were never intended as an exhaustive list of the grounds of divorce. I am not suggesting this, but I don't think I would agree with this. But some people would say once you recognize that there's a set of legitimate grounds for divorce, in this case desertion, then clearly Jesus was never intending to give us such an exclusive list. Jesus was identifying one grounds for divorce, but the door was open for other legitimate grounds. You see how that line of thinking can get started, And some of us would be a little uncomfortable once we start down that path. Okay. But I said there were three approaches to first Corinthians seven approach. Number two, others maintain a sense point of view carries the broader meaning of spiritual betrayal. Remember that whole 012 situation? Because porno does carry the broader meaning of spiritual betrayal. The desertion mentioned imprisonment and seven may be viewed as an as a substance of koinonia understood in this broader sense. Right. In other words, approach number one, Paul is giving us a second different additional ground for the war approach. Number two. No, wait a minute. This desertion that Paul is talking about is really a substance of of of unfaithfulness, because that whole idea of unfaithfulness, spiritual unfaithfulness, is popped into the meaning of paranoia.
[00:38:10] And this reading, then the source. Desertion is not a second or new ground for divorce. It is rather one of several instances of the one basic ground for divorce, which is porno understood in this way that becomes reasonable to regard such acts as physical abuse, attempted murder, extreme physical or mental cruelty, or similar serious violations of the marriage covenant, or as instances of paranoia, as instances that are biblically as examples, the circumstances that are biblically justifiable grounds for divorce. See how that works once tornado in Matthew 19 comes to mean spiritual or physical unfaithfulness. When you can begin to group all kinds of horrible deeds under or into that circle, now you can begin to put mental cruelty or physical cruelty where we're talking not just sexual immorality, we're talking about spiritual unfaithfulness. And so you've got abuse, attempted murder and so on. Approach number three. Still, other people disagree with both one and two. They agree that porn may refer to forms of sexual immorality other than adultery. But whatever the full extent of pornography may be, they insist that it must be limited to acts that break the one flesh union between husband and wife. And I remember I told you a few minutes ago that I would be looking at an attempt to place restraints and those who might want to expand the meaning of Cornelia expand it to the. It becomes a kind of very elastic balloon under which all into which all kinds of things can be stopped. Now, for to this third group of people, what makes poor Negro the justification for divorce is because it violates the one first principle. Technically, desertion does not. Okay. Perhaps that violates the one plus principle because the offending spouse has a sexual relationship with someone other than that spouse.
[00:40:58] And that breaks the covenant. That breaks the one flesh relationship. The union people who fall into this third group think it is a mistake to open up the meaning of personal to include spiritual and hatefulness. Now, it would not be surprising if right now you're beginning to get a headache. Oh, my goodness. Nash. I used to think this was very simple. There were even the liberals who went ahead and did whatever they wanted to do, regardless of what Scripture said or they were the biblically faithful people who said adultery only, or maybe adultery plus desertion. But it's not cut and dried, and all of a sudden we're beginning to realize that we've got kind of a hermeneutical problem on our hands or approach one approach to approach three. How do we choose among these approaches? I'm content introducing you to these options, and you might as well recognize that these are options you're going to meet out there. These are options from which you're going to have to make a selection. And then you can you can deliberate about the grounds that finally justify these things. Now, what about remarriage? More likely, people in Christian service are going to have more personal dealings with people Who will those people who come to them seeking remarriage, then you will before you know it. You know, these divorces may be filed before anybody has talked to you. These people won't come seeking your counsel until they find somebody that they would like to get married to this whole business of remarriage. Now, here's here's an observation from Blomberg. See if you agree with it. He says, Divorce in biblical times virtually always carried with it the right the right to remarry. In other words, if the just if the divorce was justified, then the right to remarry accompanied it.
[00:43:18] No New Testament text rescinds this permission needed partner of a divorced couple in which both of remain celibate should consider marrying a new spouse unless serious and sustained attempts to reconciliation either before or after the divorce to prove fruitless. Those who are already. All right. Now, let let me stop right there. Now what he's saying is reversed. Couples divorced people should remain celibate. Celibate until every effort at reconciliation, either before or after the marriage has failed. Now, in some cases, it would be obvious that efforts at reconciliation are doomed or hopeless from the very start. Obviously, if we're dealing with an alcoholic, someone on drugs, we're dealing with a homosexual, we're dealing with abuse, the hope of reconciliation there it isn't there would not appear to be a great deal of hope for reconciliation. But Blomberg is saying don't think about remarriage until all hope for reconciliation is doomed. Wouldn't be a bad principle for a preacher to operate with when he says those who are already remarried. What about people who go divorced, people who run off and get remarried without any consideration of these warnings and these restraints, Those who are already remarried or sexually involved should earnestly repent of any unconscious sin and commit themselves to faithfulness to making the present marriage and of Christ. In other words. If a preacher comes along and you're you're looking at a situation where people have ignored the biblical, ethical principles in this business of remarriage, what you try to do is lead people to repent of their sins, recognize their sins, and then commit themselves to making this present marriage as Christ honoring as possible. Now, let's put that on the table. That's Lambert. Is that how you operate? You get the picture. You've got let's say you've got a couple both divorced.
[00:46:06] Maybe they divorced their first spouses because they wanted to get together. All right. There was. We're tracking adultery from A to Z on this. And now these people are standing in front of you. What Bloomberg is suggesting is you have some spiritual leader. You don't compound the problems that may have existed in the past by getting these people to divorce again. Right. What you do is you you try to provide spiritual counsel and leadership where these people recognize what they have done before God, how they have learned other people, and how they must repent of their prior acts. And then you try to build them up in their faith and in their marriage. You try to pick them up where they are now. Bloomberg's assumption that the right to remarry is presupposed in the New Testament discussions of divorce is not shared by a lot of people. Now, he's certainly correct that the right to remarry was taken for granted in Jewish culture, right to the right of me 24. The question is whether it is right to think that this condition and the culture of the day is presupposed by Jesus and Paul. If if Jewish culture contains the right to remarry. Do Jesus and Paul simply accept that assumption? Those who agree with Lemberg, as well as those who don't agree, may find it easier to be tolerant of those with whom they disagree. If they recognize that any conclusion on this matter than by some extrapolation from the specific statements in Scripture. In other words, no matter what position we hold on this remarriage matter. You're going to be adding something or you're going to be drawing influences that aren't all drawn from specific statements in Scripture. Whatever conclusion we reach about the broader issue of remarriage.
[00:48:20] It seems clear that the wronged spouse referred to in Matthew 19 nine does have the right to remarry. The right to remarry is also present in First Corinthians 715, although as we've noted earlier, the specific situation perhaps about in first Corinthians is one in which the deserting spouses and unbeliever. I began this by noting that many Christian leaders, how many Christian leaders fail in their duty to the children and adults in their congregations who are suffering the consequences of troubled or broken marriages. Fortunately, large numbers of churches have begun to recognize the responsibility they have to minister to troubled families, to diverse people, to single parents, and to the children of broken homes. There's also a growing awareness of the urgency of helping young people in high school and college to understand the biblical model of marriage. Our churches should be doing more premarital counseling, which among other things, should discourage couples from marrying too quickly. Our churches should also be teaching people about the value of a single life. It is obviously God's will that some people not marry, and we should do everything possible to help these people feel whole and complete in their lives. Churches need to do a better job of ministering to singles and helping them with the special problems they encounter. We should also make public the principals will utilize when we respond to divorced people who come to us with with remarriage in mind. If we Christian leaders should see the urgency of developing counseling skills in these areas. Every church should reexamine what it is doing to minister to individuals threatened by divorce or suffering the consequences of broken marriages. Divorce is seldom the end of one's problems. The traumatic breakup of a marriage covenant as followed by many new.
[00:50:18] Unanticipated difficulties presents church leaders and compassionate church members with an unparalleled opportunity to befriend, help and minister to people in need.