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Monday, July 10, 2006

Cultural Consideration with Sin

Through preparing for my ordination exam and some regular conversations lately, I've found myself working through the issues of marriage/divorce/remarriage again. There is little doubt that our society views marriage in a different way than Scripture. However, marriage itself presents a tricky dynamic when presenting it.

Allow me to make a few quick statements (understanding they may even appear a bit caustic) and explain them at a later time. (I'll deal with the why I believe what I believe in later posts, but for now, I just want to state what I believe.)
    I do not believe it is ever Biblically justified to pursue divorce. [There is a situation in I Corinthians 7 where your spouse may choose to leave you beyond your control or stopping them. But again, the person is not pursuing divorce, but rather conceding to their unbelieving spouse's desire to leave.] (Trust me, I'll explain later.)
    Our society (and even many churches) teaches otherwise, and therefore many people proceed in this direction.

So how do we respond to the person considering a divorce within our church, and how do we respond to those who have gotten a divorce in our churches? It seems that a distinction must be seen. In 1 Corinthians 7, as Paul speaks toward this whole issue, he speaks that a person should remain in the condition they are. Therefore, if we have people in our church who have divorced (and even remarried) it would be unbiblical to counsel them in a direction of leaving their current spouse. They should remain in the marriage status they are.

To some this may feel like a double standard. To the one we would tell them their actions would be disobedient to Scripture, to another, we encourage them to pursue a God glorifying marriage, even if the circumstances weren't quite biblical.

Perhaps, taken a step back (into the culture Timothy was around) or to another part of the world (an area still permitting polygamy) would help. Paul instructs Timothy that an elder must be the husband of one wife. It is apparent from this passage, that the marital status that is above reproach to our society and before God is to have a relationship with one woman. Undoubtedly, Timothy faced men who would consider eldership but would find himself unqualified in this area. Would Timothy then counsel the man to leave a current wife (or wives) to reduce his number back down to one woman? Would this be a good testimony in the city if a man sent multiple women packing and chose to just keep one? Obviously, Biblical discipleship would have to call for a standard above that which the person could reach, but also living within those circumstances striving to glorify God.

What does all this mean? Well, I would like to discuss some issues of marriage/divorce/remarriage on this blog. I believe the church has gravely mishandled a popular text on this issue. But I would like to address it first from the area of a person contemplating divorce. Then, in a later post, explain what the Bible directs for a person already in the current situation.

It may appear to be a double standard, and I will try to answer any questions (not posed anonymously). But I believe in an effort to be faithful to the text, we have to respond in a way that may seem incongruent.


  • At 4:48 AM, Blogger baker said…

    im confussed because there are several scriptures that state if the devorced person remariies they comit (perpetual) adultry. Is it then a matter of bearing with the weak until the are convicted (in their hearts- obviously by scripter). Otherwise for them to stay as they were was a comand given due to their "present" or current situation which would have been persecution by unbelieivig Jews but more significantly by the coming of the Roman government.
    please shed more light on what you are discussing in this blog. Everything else that you have written has been clear it seems to be weak here. By weak i mean it lacks the scriptual support you provided on other blogs. I know that it would be futile to seek every member and say divorce due to unscriptual marriage and have a positive outcome but it seems to go without saying that such a task in not only jusified but warranted.if you can sciptualy support a remarriage of the divorced parties please explain how and how do you then disregard what is stated in ma 19:9, mk 10:11,12, lk 16:18. when one repents there is a changing of the mind wich leads to a change of action. i can imagine a senario in volving a remarried couple of 15 years with children ranging from 4-9 but does there keeping a happy home out weigh their necesity to make right what they did wrong once they learend the truth? and since remarriage is denied to divorced person according to what you've already commentd on, then how can that couple remain a union honorable in Gods eyes? i am not trying to be witty or funny, i am trying to understand your logicas well as the gospel.

  • At 10:32 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    you're wrestling with a difficult issue, baker.

    that's good.

    God's design is that man does not divorce. however, if a man does, we must then return to the Word to find out what God would then desire. we can try to figure it out ourselves, but our logic may run contrary to God's will.

    while at first glance, it may seem that a divorced and remarried person, who then becomes aware that their divorce was not glorifying to God, nor was the fact that they remarried, may think a solution is to end their current marriage. however, i think a closer look at some other scriptures helps paint a better picture.

    consider john 4--the samaritan woman. in verse 18, Jesus replies that the woman has had 5 husbands. he does not refer to the husband 1 as her only husband and others were just affairs. her being seperated and remarried was considerd a marriage each time.

    also, deuteronomy 24:4 articulates that a man is not to remarry a woman he previously divorced if she has been married again (the defilement appears to be another marriage that God would not be pleased with). even though the first marriage would be restored, you would again be ending another marriage.

    this is a very difficult concept to gather. God desires that a marriage last till death. He is not pleased when a marriage is ended. He sees the pursuit of another relationship after divorce to be adultery. however, once a couple marries (even though He was not pleased with the marriage) He now considers the couple married and they are to then act with faithfulness to one another.

    God is never pleased to see divorce, even if it is a second or third (or more) marriage.


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