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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Betrothal View

On December 9th, I got to enjoy presenting some answers during a "Question & Answer" Sunday School class. In that class, when asked about Marriage/Divorce/Remarriage, I made the (admittedly strong) statement "I can't think of any situation where I would ever encourage a person to pursue a divorce."

Unfortunately, many in the (universal) church erroneously support pursuing a divorce after a spouse has been unfaithful. Citing the "unfaithfulness clause" in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19, many think Jesus excused divorce after adultery. Instead, I believe Jesus was speaking in reference to the Jewish betrothal system.

In July 2006, I began a series of posts to explain this position. Since several after that Sunday asked for more information about hat perspective, I have reposted the links to those articles below:

Cultural Consideration With Sin
Marriage Killed by a Bad Hermeneutic
Who has Committed Adultery?
The Disappearing Exclusion
Did Matthew Put Words in Jesus' Mouth?
Who Said Anything about Adultery?
(editing correction)
Jews, Betrothal and Divorce
I Admit, I Don't Get It
A Heart Confession
The Gospel and Exceptions

In 2007, John Piper wrote an article advocating the "betrothal view," a perspective he has held since at least 1986.


  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger Darby Livingston said…

    While I disagree with the betrothal view, I appreciate the strong stand for marriage that view takes. I agree with your stand against advising for divorce. I can think of no circumstance where I would actually counsel for divorce.

  • At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    sexual abuse of your child perhaps? or does that only warrant a separation?

    and perhaps you wouldn't counsel FOR divorce, but would you really recommend AGAINST it if that is what she would seek? and for how long?

    i know this is a little unfair because each situation is unique, but i am curious as to what you have to say.

  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    i knew i could count on a great question from you ~d.

    here are my initial thoughts:

    no, i would not counsel for divorce. as horrible as this sin may be, i still don't see how it gives authority to break a covenant. (i've done some horrible things in God's eyes, yet praise be to Him, He has not broken His covenant with me.)

    this is where a REAL church comes into play. if the person committed this sin, was confronted, truly repented and asked for mercy...i think the marriage (and the whole home could be salvaged). but no wife should be expected to carry this load alone, a church should come along side and be able to do that. (sadly, so many churches...evident by the fact most would not even be ready to discipline if he did not repent...would be little/no assistance to the wife.)

    and honestly, jail time may be appropriate...whether there is repentance or not.

    couple of my initial thoughts.

  • At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I do agree that true repentance and desire for mercy can salvage the relationship over time. I've seen it happen. But wow, is it hard to trust that person again! There would have to be compelling evidence of change before I, personally, would allow that person back "in" and risk a repeat offense that could damage even further my child's emotional/spiritual state. These are lifelong scars we are talking about.

  • At 9:01 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    i agree d, it should not be taken lightly.

    but perhaps a thought...which is certainly open for review:

    why would the marriage have to be put on hold for the sake of the children?

    i can't think of any situation where the Bible excuses a person from their marriage (thus the point of the betrothal articles). this would include abuse situations. (not saying it isn't hard to work through, but i can't find Biblical justification to end the marriage.)

    however, the Bible is chocked full of situations where parent(s) released their children to someone else's care...for the sake of the betterment of the child(ren).

    is it possible (just thinking "out loud" on a blog) that the children could be released to grandparents, aunt/uncle, close friend for a season while the couple restores their marriage and reconciles?

    i just fear the "prove yourself before you can come home" scenario probably does not fit within the Biblical framework for accountability. support and care from the spouse is probably an important part of the restoration process.

    just a thought.

  • At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    with God anything is possible. we both believe that. it's just so complex a situation that i don't believe there is a "one size fits all" solution. and until one has experienced it, it's difficult to understand all the dynamics present. i'm not trying to change your mind about counseling against divorce. i know that is the right approach in a believer's marriage. i just hope that caution and compassion will also be companions in such situations.

    i appreciate you taking the time to respond to all this :)

  • At 11:07 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    absolutely ~d.

    like paul, if we could navigate through right and wrong regarding marriage, but have not love...we'd be resounding gongs. (we're can't neglect truth and call it love, but we can claim to embrace truth in an unloving fashion and betray the very "truth" we claim).

  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger Zach Doppelt said…

    Interesting posts that I have come across here. Though the Matthew passage does not give grounds to divorce, does it free one who is already divorced to remarry if attempts at possible reconciliation were made? Of course other scripture would come into play here. I am interested in your opinion...

  • At 10:38 AM, Blogger danny2 said…


    i would lay out two thoughts...somewhat borrowed from the posts:

    1) the way we engage someone who has remarried as opposed to the way i would counsel someone who is considering remarriage would be different. as 1 Corinthians 7 states, we should remain in the "state we are." (i recently had a person suggest they divorce their second husband to pursue remarriage to their first...whom they realized they never should have married. NO! NO! NO! was my answer.)

    2) speaking of 1 Corinthians 7, i think this is where the answer lies. we have to seek to understand what is meant by a spouse not being bound. it would also take individual discussion. at what point do we consider the spouse to have made sufficient attempts at reconciliation? at what point do we consider the person beyond reconciliation? (perhaps after THEY remarry???)

    good questions.


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