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Author Topic: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage  (Read 28354 times)

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Offline Sherman Nobles

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Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« on: September 05, 2007, 01:35:00 AM »
Hello everyone,

Several years ago I came across some information that revolutionized my understanding of Jesus' statements concerning divorce.  As I researched further, I soon found many scriptural inconsistencies in the traditional doctrine of marriage, divorce, and remarriage (MDR).  Thus I wrote a book on the subject entitled, "God Is A Divorce' Too!  A Message of Hope, Healing, and Forgiveness".  Much of it can be previewed on amazon; however, I will be presenting a condensed version of it on this thread. 

I realize that this is a very controversial heated subject, but I pray that we can reason together without attacking each other.  Personal attacks typically reveal a weakness in the argument, communication skills, and/or character of the attacker.  It takes strength of character and argument to be gentle.  So please, let us do proceed with respect for each other and do our best to refrain from personal attacks. 

The doctrine of MDR is a mammoth, elephant-sized discussion, far larger than can be dealt with in an article, or even a series of articles.  And many of the things that I will present will challenge long-held beliefs and assumed meanings of phrases and interpretations of scripture.  Thus, I propose that we eat this elephant one bite at a time.  To start with, let me define what I mean by the traditional doctrine of MDR.

The traditional doctrine of MDR asserts that Jesus disagreed with Moses, and intended to repudiate (reject as invalid) the bill of divorce, making marriage indissoluble.  Some ministers amend this to say except for adultery or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse (the Pauline privilege).  Marriage came to be considered a sacrament, under ecclesial authority, and indissoluble – resulting in a “No Divorce
« Last Edit: November 17, 2007, 07:26:26 AM by Sherman Nobles »

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Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« on: September 05, 2007, 01:35:00 AM »

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2007, 02:33:34 AM »
“Why is this topic important to me?

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2007, 02:33:34 AM »

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2007, 12:41:26 PM »
The Divine Ideal - The Goal,   Becoming One Flesh,

How one defines marriage is foundational to the theology of marriage.  What is marriage?  I believe it is a covenant-based relationship whereby a man and woman are legally and socially united for the purpose of establishing a new family.  It is “the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2007, 12:41:26 PM »

Offline Akrabbim

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2007, 01:31:23 PM »
Sherman, the topic on how to treat people who are divorced, divorcing, or remarrying is a very upsetting issue to me.  I have had people try to guilt me into boycotting Christian musicians who are divorced (or have had affairs) and dissolving friendships with people who are going through marital troubles.

I just don't feel urged by the Holy Spirit to give up on my friends like that.  I just assumed that the marital troubles are between my friends and God.

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2007, 01:31:23 PM »

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2007, 02:28:53 PM »
Sherman, the topic on how to treat people who are divorced, divorcing, or remarrying is a very upsetting issue to me.  I have had people try to guilt me into boycotting Christian musicians who are divorced (or have had affairs) and dissolving friendships with people who are going through marital troubles.

I just don't feel urged by the Holy Spirit to give up on my friends like that.  I just assumed that the marital troubles are between my friends and God.
Akrabbim, that's a very good assumption to hold and thanks for sharing.  When it comes down to it, MDR is primarily a personal moral issue, though with limited civil oversight forbiding specifically immoral relationships and acts.  One of the most important issues that we must determine biblically is which authority structure is MDR under; is it personal, domestic (familial), ecclesial, or civil authority that governs MDR?  I'll cover that more later. 

Concerning your friends, I encourage you to continue to be there for them as a support.  Concerning Christian musicians who have or are going through divorce, the last thing they need is for everyone to boycott them.  How about let's pray for them and maybe find some way to bless them and encourage them in the Lord. Now that's a novel idea -- being loving and caring instead of judgmental and condemning!

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2007, 02:28:53 PM »



Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2007, 09:49:03 PM »
Civil Law Designed by God

Before we look at the New Testament passages concerning MDR, it is very helpful to review the key passages in the Old Testament, especially Deut. 24.1-4. 

After delivering Israel from the slavery of Egypt, Moses definitely had his hands full maintaining order, and establishing religious and civil law and authority structures for the new nation of Israel, much less facilitating the radical paradigm changes required by the giving of the Law of Moses.  Law, inspired by God, was to be the foundation of man’s government, rather than man governing man in the form of a dictatorship–civil, domestic, or religious!  

Many of the teachings of Moses brought significant positive social reform in the treatment of disenfranchised segments of society, especially women, children, slaves, and aliens (as in foreigners, not extraterrestrials).  In fact, most of the laws concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage are for the protection of women.  In Moses’ day, the legal and social standing of women was drastically lower than that of men.  Women had few rights except those given them by their closest male relative.  In most Ancient Near Eastern cultures, women were considered property and almost completely dependent upon their father’s, husband’s, or owner’s good will.  This is still prevalent today in some of the Arabic countries of the Near East.

In his book “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible,

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2007, 09:49:03 PM »

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2007, 09:29:03 PM »
Civil Law Designed by God  part B

Concerning specific guidelines for marriage, divorce, and remarriage, relatively little is mentioned in Moses’ teachings or the remainder of the Bible, especially considering the importance of the subject.  Moses forbids sexual intercourse and thus marriage with a close relative (Leviticus 18:6-17), marrying a woman and her sister (Leviticus 18:18) or a woman and her mother (Leviticus 20:14), and a priest marrying an expelled wife or prostitute (Leviticus 21:7).  A daughter in line to inherit property was not allowed to marry outside of her tribe (Numbers 36:8); and if a man took a slave girl as his wife and then married another, he was not to diminish the slave wife’s food, clothing, or conjugal rights.  If he decided to divorce her or refused to meet her needs equitably in comparison to his other wives, she was to be given her freedom at no cost (Exodus 21:10 & 11).

Concerning divorce, a man who rapes a virgin must marry her if her father demands/allows it; and that man is never allowed to divorce her (Deuteronomy 22:29).  A man may never divorce his wife whom he wrongfully accused of not being a virgin at the time of their marriage (Deuteronomy 22:19); and a man that divorces his wife may not remarry her if she has subsequently married someone else even though she is widowed or divorced by her second husband (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). 

Note the clarity and specificity with which Moses dealt with these issues.  Moses does not forbid divorce; nor does he establish guidelines for acceptable or non-acceptable reasons for divorce.   Apparently, the common practice of the guilty party in a divorce losing the dowry was sufficient and that Moses, as inspired by God, saw no need for further civil legislation.

Moses clearly does not forbid divorce or a divorcée to marry again.  In fact, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 makes provision for a divorcée to remarry legally with no fear of social or legal retribution.  Even polygamy was not outlawed; and Exodus 21:10 & 11, Leviticus 18:18, and Leviticus 20:14 all assume that polygamy would continue. 

Having briefly reviewed the Ancient Near Eastern and Old Testament biblical culture of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, let us examine closely the passage concerning divorce that Jesus is questioned about in the Gospels by the Pharisees, Deut. 24:1-4.

When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.  (NKJV)

This passage is a prohibition of a man remarrying his ex-wife after she has married another man, regardless of whether her second husband dies or divorces her.  One must ask why?  Why would Moses write this law?  What problem did this law address?  These questions cannot be correctly answered without an understanding of ancient Near Eastern cultures.  Recall that one of the primary reasons something is mentioned in the Pentateuch is to highlight beliefs and practices where the Israelites were to be different than the surrounding cultures. 

In ancient Near Eastern cultures, if a man dismissed or abandoned his wife, he could reclaim her several years later though she had married another man and had children with her second husband (Dr. David Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible. 28-33).  Not only was her first husband able to reclaim her, but he could also claim, as his own, any children from her second “marriage.

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2007, 12:33:01 AM »
Just a note to share with everyone my joy in finding out this week that my book, "God Is A Divorce' Too!" is a required text for the "Family Law" class in the law school at Regent University!   As we continue with this thread you'll find out that I believe that MDR is under civil authority and that Moses', Jesus', and Paul's directives concerning divorce are best understood through the lens of the culture that they addressed, especially the civil law concerning MDR. 

Of course, before my book was published I asked pastors, ministers, and theologians from a wide range of denominations, including the CoC, to review the manuscript and endorse it.  I was gratified and affirmed when almost all did so, and the couple that did not endorse it did not do so based on personal reasons, not because they found any errant interpretations or non-substantiated information.  It's my prayer that my book will bring great freedom to the church.  Jesus said, "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."   

Blessings,
Sherman

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2007, 12:39:37 AM »
Is Marriage a Sacrament?

Marriage is the legal and social union of a man and woman in an interdependent familial relationship established by the contractual exchange of relational vows—a marriage covenant.  But is marriage a sacrament?

A sacrament is “a formal religious act that is sacred as a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality; especially one believed to have been instituted or recognized by Jesus Christ.

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2007, 12:39:37 AM »

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2007, 11:58:22 AM »
The Covenant of Marriage

If the other dimensions of marriage are slats in a wooden barrel, the Marriage Covenant is the set of steel rings that holds them together.  It is the fundamental element that defines a relationship as a marriage.   Sexual intercourse does not constitute a marriage.  Having children together does not constitute a marriage; nor does just living together.  To marry someone is “to join as husband and wife according to law or custom.

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2007, 11:58:22 AM »

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2007, 04:59:32 PM »
Introduction to Jesus on Divorce

As an introduction to a detailed discussion of what Jesus said concerning divorce, I would like to briefly look at Paul’s quote of Jesus on this subject in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 for I believe these two verses summarize well Jesus directives concerning divorce.  A detailed discussion of 1 Cor. 7 will be covered later in this thread; but for now let’s take a brief look at Jesus’ words. 

Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart (χωρισθaναι  chorizo) from her husband.  But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce (aφιέναι  aphiemi) his wife.

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2007, 07:26:07 AM »
The “Plain

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2007, 08:00:51 AM »
Do you actually type all this stuff, or are you just copying it from someplace?

Offline Sherman Nobles

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2007, 08:59:48 AM »
Do you actually type all this stuff, or are you just copying it from someplace?
Much of it comes from my book which I typed, but I adapt it and condense it for this forum.  I also continue to study the subject as I interact with others and they raise questions, concerns, or information that I haven't previously considered.  I'm always looking to learn more. 

Blessings,
Sherman

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2007, 09:06:19 AM »
Do you actually type all this stuff, or are you just copying it from someplace?
Much of it comes from my book which I typed, but I adapt it and condense it for this forum.  I also continue to study the subject as I interact with others and they raise questions, concerns, or information that I haven't previously considered.  I'm always looking to learn more. 

Blessings,
Sherman

To be completely honest, I just skimmed your posts. But from what I've seen they look very sound and biblical. When I have more time, I'll devote more reading here. I'm sure I will enjoy your perspective from whats I've already seen.

Thank you for taking the time to share your work with us, especially on this difficult topic.