MDR: A Reader’s Question

I received this email from a reader. Your input would be appreciated.

Jay,

I need your advice on an issue concerning divorce.  Let me first give you the background.

Growing up I was taught the “traditional” view of MDR. Basically, the teaching was divorce is wrong but you can divorce.  If you want to remarry then you must have had a “scriptural divorce.”  “Scriptural divorce” means that adultery was involved in the dissolution of the marriage.

I was never very comfortable with this position. It never struck me as very Christ-like.  I’ve struggled for years with this and finally came to the realization that it’s just wrong.  My position now is very close to yours.  I believe God hates divorce, period.  I believe we need to be doing more to teach one man, one woman for life. I don’t believe that marriage after divorce is unforgiveable.  God’s grace is big enough to cover all sin.  

The eldership at my church is split on this issue.  Half are of the traditional view.  Half hold basically the same view as I do. One elder goes back and forth.

The eldership’s approach has been to handle remarriage issues on a case by case basis, calling the couple in, ascertaining the details of their divorce(s), and the circumstances concerning their marriage.  If the couple is seen as not having “scriptural reason for remarriage,” they are welcome to attend the services and participate in events; however the woman will never be allowed to teach a bible class, and the man will not be allowed to take any kind of leadership or public role.  I don’t agree with this policy nor do half the elders, but peace has been kept in the congregation.

The issue has come to a head.  We have a young man in the congregation who started dating a young girl from another town, and they became engaged (she is not a Christian). The parents of the son learned that she had been married twice before.  One was when she was VERY young and was a huge mistake.  The second ended badly and her husband was “sleeping around.”  Through the urging of his parents he broke things off with her because she was not “scripturally” able to marry as her first marriage did not end with a “scriptural divorce.” She has two children from her second marriage.

The couple recently got back together, and she is now pregnant.  The young lady, at the request of the boy’s parents, has been talking with another of our ministers, and he is a traditional view guy.  She has shown interest in becoming a Christian, and he will continue to study with her. However, he is firmly convinced that her only way “in” is to remain unmarried.  He and I have had brief discussion in which I have expressed my concern over the “traditional”  teaching, and even he has expressed that he finds it “difficult yet too plainly spoken in scripture to get around.”

The young man spoke to me today and wants to counsel with me concerning his relationship.  I cannot counsel him according to the “traditional” view and be true to what I know is truth.  However, if I counsel him, I will be giving him a very different view from what his girlfriend is getting and what his parents apparently believe.

The church has been doing well lately, and we have experienced growth. I fear that this issue could put a stumbling block in the way of the congregation.  How can I approach this and keep the issue on the level of other “non-salvation” issues?  There are so many things we don’t divide over, why is this an issue that makes people want to divide?  Is there any way to navigate this storm successfully?

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38 Responses

  1. I fear this is one of those situations where you cannot treat the individual right, without creating some level of furor among the legalists.

    And I land on the side of treating the individuals right — and then, simply choose not to debate the matter with the legalists.

  2. he has expressed that he finds it “difficult yet too plainly spoken in scripture to get around.

    “He who has doubts sins if he he eats.” I’d never counsel a person to go against what they find “too plainly spoken in scripture to get around.”

    To me, the idea of a Christian marrying a non-Christian would be the bigger issue. It’s a perilous road in many ways. They haven’t gotten off to a great start, and there’s not a lot of evidence in the letter to suggest that their spiritual lives would suddenly get better if they got married. I’d try to help the two of them separately with their personal relationships with God.

  3. I got up extra early to work. I didn’t know it was for a divine appointment. This one really struck a nerve, as you can tell by the length. But this situation speaks to the very foundation of what God is doing, and if I stay silent, my desk will cry out! So I write to you, Emailer, and all who would listen. (Disclosure: at 19, I married a 19-year-old non-christian after being raised CofC. Many told me it was unscriptural. I baptized my wife 3 months after we were married. Seventeen years later, we’re still together with four happy kids, and a new ministry for single parents set before us.)

    God’s hand can be seen all over this situation.

    Jesus knows how difficult relationships are in a fallen world. The joining together of man and woman is supposed to reflect multiple Kingdom principals, and ultimately, God’s heart. Notice Jesus’ reactions to the woman at the well, and the woman caught in adultery. He saved them, drew them in, redeemed them, loved them. That is the heart of God. That is how we are to act.

    If the man involved here is willing to love the hurting, and be a father to children that are not his, this reflects the scandalous love that God has shown to us! That’s a good thing. Even if the man doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into, God has given him an irresistible scenario that he has chased (of course!), and it seems that no one can ultimately change his mind (because God is behind this).

    This is a young woman who is very hurt, and might consider herself “damaged goods”. We’re talking about a man who loves her enough to make great sacrifices for her. There’s only one thing missing: they need a community to support and raise them so this story ends well.

    Be encouraged: God expects to get glory from this story! He set it up. He brought it to your church. He brought it to you. You’ve been called out by God Himself. It’s time to go low, so that God will be raised up.

    When the ambulance arrives at the hospital, do the nurses stand around waiting for the patient to get well enough to walk in under their own power? No! They rush in and do what they can to bring life to the injured and dying. They bring people in when they can’t come in on their own!

    Our churches must be a place that gives life support to the hurting.

    Otherwise, what’s the point? We go to great lengths to make sure we mentally understand all of God’s commands, and then go to those same lengths to disobey Him when it’s time to actually do the work He gave us to do, because we might get ceremonially unclean! This is why so many churches will pass by this couple on the other side of the road.

    If there are those like you in your church who can build a community around this family regardless of what others think, then do it. Tell the couple that there are two or three couples like yourself who will join them on the opening steps of this journey. Every week, get together and study the heart of Jesus as illustrated in Scripture, and apply it to marriage. Confess to one another that all of you are weak and struggling. Pray for each other. This approach will not only support them, but transform the church. It will not be a painless transformation, and some may end up leaving over it. (Or they may kick all of you out! If so, rejoice, accept God’s mission of planting a church.) But most will end up being reminded of God’s extravagant, scandalous love for them. Hallelujah!

    We are not called to a safe world to play even safer. We ARE called like medics in war to the hurt and dying. Like the housing bubble, the dot com bubble, and all the other bubbles set up in the 80s and 90s, the church’s safety bubble must collapse so that Jesus is once again glorified in His body.

    There has been enough pain in these people’s lives. They need to personally experience how Jesus treats the hurting, the afflicted, the ashamed. Jesus has chosen the church to be His hands and feet. That’s you.

    It seems that this is a divine appointment in your life. You are passionate about this subject. You know from Jesus’ example how to treat sinners. You have been called to make a life-changing decision for you, this couple, and the church you attend. God has trusted you with this assignment, and He is with you. As I have been reminded so many times, He never calls the equipped, He simply equips the called.

    Now, have a conversation with God. It might go something like this:

    “God – I know your heart. You desperately want to make things right on the earth. You have given me this situation, and by your grace, I want to live your life in this situation. I want to do your will, and your will only. I love these people like you do, Lord. They need you, and this part of your body here needs them, Lord. Thank you from bringing them to us! You are incredible and infinite in your wisdom! Transform this church into a place that raises up people. Search all of our hearts, and clean out anything that isn’t from you! Don’t let this couple fail because we are caught up in laws. Protect this couple by the power found in the name of Jesus. Let the story of this couple and the transformation of this church shake the enemy. Let the world take notice, God, of your love and life in this situation. O, God! Have mercy on us! And if I have found favor in your sight, let this go well, in Jesus name! Tell your servant what to do. I am listening.”

    You have one life to live for the Master, and time is short. How do you want to be remembered by those who are close to you?

    Think about this: John lost his head. Jesus went to the cross. The apostles were scattered and killed or exiled. Paul had a long list of troubles. He even described people being sawn in two. (Encouraging, huh?)

    But what is the cross you’ve been asked to carry? You might upset some people. Some might even get really angry. You might be considered a “lover of sinners”. Your reputation might be soiled. You might have to move. You might find yourself in extremely awkward social situations. Someone might tell you that you are damned for breaking the law of God.

    None of those compare to being sawn in two, beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, or exiled.

    Scripture says that Jesus suffered the cross “for the joy set before Him”. What is the joy set before you? You will have gone “…into the world making disciples”. You will have loved like Jesus loved. You will have demonstrated on the earth just how incredible God is. You will not only be filled with springs of living water, but have the privilege of giving it to others as well. You will see people saved well beyond this couple. Other churches could be motivated to change how they love the community. You might inspire the next Billy Graham to get started preaching. The results are numerous, powerful, life-changing, and kingdom-spreading.

    I say take up your cross, and follow Him.

    God is a loving Father – He will not let you hurt His church. But where there are things that can be shaken, they will be shaken. It’s a promise!

    People will forsake you. Jesus will not. He has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power. His favor is on you. His joy is set before you. God has called you out and given you a purpose. Move while there is faith!

    -Brad Stanford
    brad@bradstanford.com
    http://www.hopecanyon.org

  4. Divorce and Remarriage: A Redemptive Theology by Rubel Shelly http://books.google.com/books?id=0I3kGAAACAAJ&dq=rubel+shelly+remarriage

    Peter thought that eating with Gentiles was “too plainly spoken in scripture to get around” and God Himself taught him to go against it.

    Paul’s teaching about “he who has doubts sins if he eats” is directed to warring brethren who need to accept one another — it isn’t telling teachers and ministers to allow unhealthy practices and beliefs to continue. A grace-centered and compassionate study of all the MDR texts (not just the ones that fit our preconceptions) will open people’s eyes.

    God commands Hosea to do what Deuteronomy says is sinful (remarry a woman you divorced). This single example should burst our objective and legalistic reading of the MDR texts.

  5. Peter thought that eating with Gentiles was “too plainly spoken in scripture to get around” and God Himself taught him to go against it.

    Nick, the scriptures don’t say that. In fact, Peter’s behavior indicates it was not a conscientious issue. He behaved differently depending on who was around.

    If you believe something to be wrong, but do it anyway, you sin. If you counsel someone to do what they suspect to be wrong, you cause them to sin, and so you also sin. If the writer marries while doubting his righ to do so, he sins. If he decides not to marry because of his doubts, it is not sin. There is no biblical mandate for him to marry.

    God commands Hosea to do what Deuteronomy says is sinful

    If that passage implies what you say, then no command of scripture is mandatory. Your reasoning proves too much — so it proves nothing.

    Causing someone to sin is a serious matter. Don’t do it.

  6. Did the questioner state that the young man had doubts about the propriety of the marriage? Or that the traditiionalist minister teaching the young woman had those doubts, even though he was willing to continue teaching her (while believing she would need to remain unmarried)? Some of the above replies took it the first way. After rereading the letter from the questioner, I think he was referring to the minister. Which it is will make a difference in the advice you will give.

  7. Did the questioner state that the young man had doubts about the propriety of the marriage?

    Good point. I re-read the section and it is not obvious to me which person said that. It would indeed make a difference in how to advise.

  8. Did Hosea divorce Gomar, or did she simply leave him to chase her lovers? Certainly, Hosea bought her back when she was put on the slave market, but is it clear that he had earlier divorced her? Perhaps Hosea 2:2 suggests that, but is it clear that a divorce had taken place?

    “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.”

    So I question whether God actually commanded Hosea to do what Moses forbad in Deteronomy 24.

  9. A young woman with a messed up life is considering the claims of Christ (I hope this is the case and that she is not considering becomeing a devotee to the coC, there is a difference…) and the view of this spokesman for God is “The only way she can get in is to stay unmarried”.

    Why shouldn’t we demand that every sinner fix all of his mistakes, sins, short comings, before he puts his trust in Jesus and is baptised?

    Yes, God’s ideal is one man and one woman for life. He has not changed his mind about that. It is also God’s ideal that we not gossip, lie, cheat on our income tax form and ….need I go on? Have we forgotten that Christ died for the wicked? Included in that number under that heading is every self righteous preacher and elder who holds this scarlet sin over the heads of others while they themselves continue in their own sins.

    I would hate to stand at the judgement seat of Christ and give an answer as to why I discouraged a sinner to come to Christ because they were not good enough. Have we lost our minds?

    You can’t unscramble an egg. And you can’t do the job of the Holy Spirit. He presses the claims of Jesus upon the hearts of lost, helpless sinners, and ALL of them are welcome at His table.

    I do hope sanity prevails.

    Royce

  10. Alan,

    My edited version of the letter is likely not that clear. It’s the other minister who is of the “too plainly spoken in scripture” mindset. The potential husband is asking the minister who emailed to interpret the Bible for him.

  11. Royce,

    Exactly. One of most ridiculous teachings found in the CoC (and many other denominations share this error) is that you have to divorce your spouse or raise children without a father to please God.

  12. I had difficulty following the letter and understanding who said what, who believed what, who whatever. I did, however, get the point that this young woman had A LOT of troubles in her life.

    About 20 years ago a friend knew a woman who had “a bad reputation.” The friend wanted to know if the woman with the reputation could come to church with her. Could a person with a bad reputation come to Christ? Ouch. That says something about church culture that anyone would ask such a thing.

    The letter in this post reminded me of that situation 20 years ago.

    I appreciated Royce’s comments. “You cannot become a Christian until you first do a lot of things that make me more comfortable.” Ouch.

  13. So we should never teach against legalism, because it might cause a legalist to sin?

    That is madness.

  14. And on Hosea & Deuteronomy — then what changed? What principle changed that allows us to counsel men and women to reconcile after a divorce, when God clearly says NOT to do it?

    Hosea 2:2 implies nothing. It states ancient divorce language. “You are not my wife, and I am not your husband,” is not mere poetry; it is divorce language of the ancient world.

    My reasoning no more suggests that “no command of Scripture is mandatory”, any more than Hezekiah’s Passover implies that anything goes in worship. What both suggest is, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” When following the letter of the law violates the spirit of the law (as Hosea ignoring his ex-wife being auctioned on the slave block surely would violate the spirit of grace and redemption and protection of women that is encapsulated in the Deuteronomic code), then mercy trumps. Gomer needed to be rescued; it would be a sin for Hosea to let her perish. To obey Deuteronomy 24 in that instance would be to tithe dill and ignore justice.

  15. If you persuade a legalist to violate his conscience, you have caused him to sin. He is not accountable to follow your conscience, but rather to follow his own.

    It’s ironic to hear liberal voices that apparently feel compelled to make everyone else agree with them. Why not rather accept your brother whose conscience does not permit him to marry a divorced woman (or etc… substitute your own controversy).

  16. 1) Can someone please explain to me the difference between retraining an erroneous conscience and persuading someone to violate their conscience? How can anyone teach against anything without persuading someone to violate their conscience?

    2) There is a biblical mandate for this young man (currently the only Christian parent in the situation) to raise his out-of-wedlock (currently unborn) child in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Please tell me how he is going to do that, while simultaneously teaching the child that his father will go to hell if he marries his mother.

    3) Acts 10 is addressing a totally different situation than Galatians 2. In Galatians 2, when Peter was playing the hypocrite, Paul taught him the error of his ways. In Acts 10, when Peter is still unable to fellowship Gentiles in the church, God Himself teaches him to violate that conscientious objection.

  17. In Acts 10, when Peter is still unable to fellowship Gentiles in the church, God Himself teaches him to violate that conscientious objection.

    When God himself tells you something is ok, you no longer can have a conscientious objection.

    It’s never (I mean NEVER) ok to violate your conscience, nor to tempt someone else to violate theirs.

  18. When God himself tells you something is ok, you no longer can have a conscientious objection.

    Really?

    Peter still had a conscientious objection after the first two times he received the “Take and eat” vision directly from God.

    Yet God continued to, as you put it, “tempt him” to violate his conscience by eating what his conscience said was unclean.

    My question remains: how does the minister or Bible class teacher teach the truth on a subject (Communion, for example) and at the same time avoid “tempting” someone to violate their conscience?
    What is the difference between retraining an erroneous conscience and tempting someone to violate their conscience?

  19. Nick, you and I may have different definitions of a “conscientious objection.” Since I introduced that terminology into the discussion, here’s what I meant by the term: It is where you believe that doing a certain thing would be disobedient to God. If you believe that, and do it anyway, you sin. It’s NEVER ok to do something you believe to be disobedient to God. Peter didn’t understand after one or two visions. It took the third one to convince him of what God was saying.

    My question remains: how does the minister or Bible class teacher teach the truth on a subject

    As long as the student is free to make up his own mind, and to accept or reject the teaching (“really” free, no pressure, no disapproval…) then it’s safe. It’s not safe to pressure the person in any way to do something before they have become convinced in their own mind that it is permissible. Changing someone’s conscientious convictions is touchy and can be dangerous spiritually. Perhaps that’s why Paul said there are situations where we should keep those things between ourselves and God.

  20. Alan,

    I see what you mean now, and we are in considerable agreement. My confusion came from the difference between these two statements:

    1) If you believe something to be wrong, but do it anyway, you sin. If you counsel someone to do what they suspect to be wrong, you cause them to sin, and so you also sin.

    2) As long as the student is free to make up his own mind, and to accept or reject the teaching (”really” free, no pressure, no disapproval…) then it’s safe. It’s not safe to pressure the person in any way to do something before they have become convinced in their own mind that it is permissible.

    I think the last statement is what all teachers should strive for; an encouraging and loving teaching voice. Paul’s voice is very different between how he addresses the legalists in Galatia and the weaker brethren in Rome and Corinth.

    I think, though, that some of the Judaizers believed it would be disobedient to God not to enforce the Law of Moses on Gentile Christians. How do we deal with those whose conscience compels them to enforce their rules on others, because they cannot see themselves as the weaker brother?

    For the record, I wouldn’t teach the young man above that he MUST marry — rather, I would teach him that he MUST teach his child to “grow up before the Lord” and he was free to marry the child’s mother.

  21. I suspected that we were not as far apart as it seemed.

    One more word of caution. Since teachers will be judged more strictly, I think it behooves us to give full disclosure, that there are sincere and well-studied people on both sides of the question. I think it’s fine to advocate “our” side of the issue, but it would be either arrogant, or disingenuous, to suggest that we know we are absolutely right beyond question, and that those who differ are ignorant or confused. In the end, after considering both sides, the individual has to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling.

  22. I used to think I knew all the answers to questions and problems and dilemmas like this one.

    I don’t.

    I have no idea what the context of 1 Timothy 4:3. I know that “forbid(ding) people to marry” there is paired with “order(ing) them to abstain from certain foods,” and Paul calls both the teachings of “hypocritical liars.” Certainly Jesus taught that all foods are clean Mark 7:19. Does that mean that all marriages are undefiled to begin with, too? Nothing in scripture says that. But “forbid(ding) people to marry” doesn’t sound like sound doctrine.

    Paul counsels against marrying at a specific time for specific reasons and in specific circumstances in 1 Corinthians 7. Are any of them in play here?

    Is Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:32 a law forbidding all divorce and remarriage? Or a commentary on the sadly chauvinist and libertarian attitude that had resulted from law?

    I don’t know the answers. I was divorced in the early 1980s. I married happily in 1990. Did I sin? Am I living in sin? The answer is that I sin all the time, and though I’m not at all proud of it, I do trust the blood of Christ to purify me from all sin while I walk in His light (1 John 1:7). I find no exception in the word “all.”

    That means living in continual penitence, service, gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ; living in partnership with God to work out my salvation; living the grace of Jesus in word and action.

    When I find the term “salvation issue” in scripture, perhaps I will know all the answers. In the meantime, I trust in God; I trust also in Christ (John 14:1).

  23. Not only does 1 Timothy 4:2 talk of “speaking lies in hypocricy” just before v. 3 says “forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from foods,” BUT v. 1 also says that those who teach such things have 1) departed from the faith and 2) are giving heed to deceving spirits and doctrines of demons.

    That sounds to me as if anyone who forbids marriage on theological grounds is getting his theology from the wrong source.

    Jay’s book on MDR has a good review of this subject – but does not address the specific question he asked for input on in this post. His immediate concern is how to answer the brother trying to counsel this couple in the context of a church that is badly divided on this issue.

    I have appreciated the depth of some of the comments on this very sticky issue.

  24. “Certainly Jesus taught that all foods are clean Mark 7:19. Does that mean that all marriages are undefiled to begin with, too? Nothing in scripture says that.”

    Actually, Hebrews 13:4 does say something very similar to that: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled….”

  25. That sounds to me as if anyone who forbids marriage on theological grounds is getting his theology from the wrong source.

    Jesus forbade certain marriages on theological grounds:

    Mat 19:9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    Paul also forbade certain marriages:

    1Co 7:10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.
    1Co 7:11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

    In light of those passages, 1 Tim 4 must have been talking about prohibiting marriage on grounds other than those stated by Paul and Jesus.

  26. My thoughts are can one be “walking in the light” who has remarried for reasons other than marital unfaithfulness.?

  27. Jay W,

    My thought about your question is, would Jesus say to you what He said to His disciple Peter when Peter asked Jesus about His betrayer Judas.

    John 21:20-22, “Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him,“If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

  28. Simple question, simple answer: Yes.

  29. Jay W,

    I agree with Nick’s answer to your question. What are your thoughts about his answer?

  30. The John 21 reference seems to me to be a rebuke for Peter’s curiosity about John’s future, which did not concern him. If John were guilty of sin, would Christs answer have been the same. The fornicator of 1 Cor. 5 was led to “repentance” If he returned to that illicit affair would he still be “walking in the light”?

  31. Jay, is remarriage as you describe it an unforgiveable sin? the equivalent of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

  32. John refers to himself as the one Jesus loved but this time also mentions it was he who asked Jesus at the supper “Lord, who is the one who betrays you” which tells us who Peter was asking Jesus about, Peter was asking Jesus about His betrayer who was Judas.
    Jay W,

    John wrote in verse 23-24 “Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.”

    John wrote, this is the disciple who testified and wrote these things, and John wrote we know his testimony is true. At some time Judas wrote and testified of the things that took place. John included himself that they knew his testimony is true which tells us that Jesus and Peter were not speaking about John but about Jesus’ betrayer who was Judas.

    Now if you would please would please answer the question, do you agree with Nick that one can be “walking in the light” who has remarried for reasons other than marital unfaithfulness.?

  33. (Jay W ) was suppose to be at the top.

  34. Kieth
    I appreciate your kind responses and questions. I hope I don’t come off as sarcastic or mean spirited because my desire is to better understand what to me is a difficult subject.
    I believe 1John 3:4 and 2John 9, sin separates us from God. Alan referenced Mat. 19:9 and 1Cor. 7. and this is where I struggle. If a man is guilty of adultery and is divorced and marries another he causes her to commit adultery. My answer to your question would be that both are guilty of sin if not repented of. Certainly there is no exception in the word “all.” in 1Jn 1:7 but wouldn’t we agee one had to be” walking in the light”? So help me understand how one repents (turns from) adultery
    Thanks.

  35. Can one repent of murder? It can’t be undone. Is that what’s required in order to repent? to reneg on a second vow of fidelity, when the trust of the first marriage has been shattered?

    The question remains unanswered … is divorce and remarriage unforgiveable sin; sin that the blood of Christ has no power to obliterate?

    As I said earlier, I don’t have the answers. Just a lot of questions.

    What I understand of walking in the light is following Jesus, and drawing near to Him. Some come from different directions and farther distances than others.

  36. Jay, I believe Keith and the others may have a point. Consider the Gibeonite deception (Joshua 9). God had commanded Israel not to enter into a treaty with the peoples of the Promised Land. But they were deceived, and they did enter into a treaty. Even though God had forbidden the treaty, once they entered into it God held them accountable to abide by the treaty. In fact, in 2 Sam 21:1, we learn that God sent a famine in the time of David as punishment for Saul having put the Gibeonites to death in violation of that treaty.

    So once a covenant has been made, it must be honored. If a man has violated his first marriage covenant, and entered into a second one, the best thing he can do from that point forward is to keep the second covenant — even though he had been prohibited by God from making that covenant. He proves his repentance by keeping the covenant.

  37. In the interest of full disclosure I have been divorced. By most standards for Christians it was a “biblical divorce”. (somehow that make me cringe)

    1. If one party has an affair is the other automatically free to get a divorce? I doubt God sees it that way. What about forgiveness, long suffering, sacfifice, unconditional love, etc? Are all those to be dismissed just because of an act of infidelity? No way!

    2. To the coC and most other denominations divorce is the scarlet sin with more lasting consequences than almost any other. Isn’t it interesting that divorce did not make the list of sins in Galatians 5 or any of the other such lists of sins believers are to forsake and avoid? If it is so terrible why was it not mentioned along with the other offences? I am not hinting that God approves divorce. I am saying clearly that divorce, even if you are the offending party and wholly to blame is not a ticket to hell, even if you remarry.

    The idea that God will terminate a relationship with one who is in Christ, bought with the blood, because that person has done something sinful and foolish flies in the face of the whole scheme of redemption through Christ. He died for us because we are not able to please God on our own. Divorce in the life of a believer was dealt with over 2000 years ago when Jesus paid in full the penalty for our sins and the charges against us were dropped. The theological term is “Justified”. If this is not true not one person will be saved. It all depends on His perfect obedience.

    Royce

  38. Jay W., I’m persuaded that you didn’t intend your question personally, but for so many of us who have experienced divorce, the question is personal no matter who asks it or with what intent. None of us who have experienced it hates it more than God does, but I’d venture to say that very few if any of us don’t hate it.

    I will do the best I can for the rest of my years to point people to Christ, be a faithful husband and exemplary father to our two adopted children. If God sees fit at the close of my years to condemn me to an end in hell because I did not adequately repent, I praise His sovereignty to do so.

    But I don’t need to hear from a brother that I have no hope – a phrase used in scripture to describe those who do not believe.

    Having tasted a bit of the fires of hell in the experience of divorce, I have no desire for anyone to suffer either. But having tasted of the powerful grace of Christ, I have no desire to tell anyone that the have no hope; that it’s great for others who haven’t sinned a certain sin, but it’s not available to us.

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