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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I Admit, I Don't Get It

I've attempted to deal with the textual issues in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9. You can see a summary of my argument (and follow the links for more detailed explanation). I would even suggest reading John Piper's position paper on Divorce and Remarriage. (Though I don't know that I agree with his handling of I Corinthians 7, and therefore wouldn't say I agree with his final conclusion, I do believe his handling of the gospel texts are very beneficial.)

It Feels Like a Merry-Go-Round to Me.

This post is not like the previous posts. This post is a confession, that even if Jesus' exception was permission to pursue divorce on the grounds of adultery, it doesn't make sense to me. I willfully chose not to include this issue in earlier posts, for my lack of understanding a passage is hardly proof the common understanding is wrong (on the contrary, it may be proof that understanding is right!). But I do find myself on a logical merry-go-round with the conventional understanding.

Allow me to lay out my confusion (Using names that totally correspond to no one.):

Under the popular understanding of the "exception":

George and Helga are married to one another. George decides to divorce Helga (without adultery occuring). If George or Helga remarry, they (and the people who marry them) will be involved in adultery. However, if Helga, while married to George chose to commit adultery, then George would be released and free to remarry without it being considered adultery.

If this is the proper understanding of the passage, then God does not see a marriage as severed simply because a divorce took place (otherwise, He wouldn't say to marry a divorced woman was adultery). Instead, the only divorce that seems to be recognized is if it was caused by adultery (in the popular understanding).

Yet here's where I don't understand things:

George decides to divorce Helga (without adultery having occured). Then, George marries another woman. God would see that marriage as adultery, therefore, does that mean Helga is now free to marry? But suppose George divorces Helga (and Helga didn't want the divorce) but Helga is the first to remarry. God would see that as adultery and now George is justified in his pursuit of divorce? And if George divorces Helga, (and the presumption here is so that he is freed to remarry someone else eventually), how does that cause Juan to commit adultery if he chooses to marry Helga?

Or stanger yet, George divorces Helga and then begins to date Penelope. He and Penelope have sex, thus committing adultery and severing the marriage relationship with Helga (in the popular understanding). Then what is wrong with him marrying Penelople? If Helga is freed from the marriage at that point, isn't George too?

So, can two people divorce and then have a showdown to see who will remarry first, so that the other then has permission to remarry without it being adultery?

The only possible way I can get my fingers around this text is if God sees remarriage as adultery because He does not see union of man and wife as severed. 1 Corinthians 7 appears to give two exceptions:
    1. If the spouse dies, you are then free to remarry (7:39).
    2. An unbeliever chooses to leave a believer (7:15)
But adultery is not listed as an exception.

Of course, my logic may be skewed (and I fear the illustration was as clear as mud), but it seems the only way the "exceptions" are consistent with the totality of Scripture, is if they are referring to the betrothal period of Jewish marriages.


  • At 3:25 PM, Anonymous peppo said…

    Just in the way of brotherly constructive criticism, it "hornks" me when you post multiple entires at one time. I'm having enough trouble keeping up as it is. (I know, first I say hurry up, then I say slow down. I've never claimed to be very consistent.)

  • At 3:41 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    sorry brad.

    i'm just as inconsistent. i had my reasons for going slow, and have since seen that reasons for speeding it up may exceed those of slowing it down.

    i'll explain later.


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