MDR: The passive-voice argument

[This is the last post. It’s long because only a few readers will find this of interest and so I don’t want to spread this over several days. But Edwards’ scholarship has been studied by so many, I figure some readers would profit from this.]

Edwards makes an elaborate argument based on the grammar of the sayings of Jesus. These arguments have been accepted by many, but rejected by at least some experts. I find the arguments fascinating, but I’m just that kind of guy.

Ultimately, I think I’m just not persuaded. I started off fully convinced but further study has led me to conclude that “adultery” is a metaphor for covenant breaking, which moots Edwards’ arguments altogether. Moreover, Collier’s counter-arguments seem right to me. But I’m no expert on the subtleties of Greek. I present both sides for your consideration. Continue reading


MDR: Pastoral implications (Conclusion)

Divorce is a very, very serious matter. Broken marriages injure not only the spouses but also the children, the congregation, and the community. The church therefore is morally compelled to work diligently to prevent divorce, or better yet, the problems that lead to divorce.

Older church members grew up in an age when divorce was rare and most parents had a pretty good sense of how to parent and most spouses knew how to be good spouses. We sometimes fail to realize how very much has been lost in the last two or three generations, as children have grown up in broken homes and never learned skills that were once commonplace. Continue reading

MDR: Pastoral implications (training)

i. Premarital counseling

In my hometown, many congregations of many denominations have gotten together and agreed to refuse to do a “church” wedding unless the couple agrees to pre-marital counseling. Excellent! The churches have agreed on a standard six-lesson course, and we’ve been very pleased with the instruction and results.

In my congregation, our ministers have occasionally persuaded couples not to marry, telling them they too immature or incompatible. Excellent! There’s no better time to end a bad marriage than before it happens. It’s not very romantic, and some preachers don’t have the courage to do this, but it can be the most compassionate possible thing to do. Continue reading

MDR: Pastoral implications, Part 2 (Modesty)

i.                  Modesty

Which leads me to bring up modesty. If it’s a sin for a man to lust, it’s a sin for a woman to tempt the man to lust. We have to teach our women and girls to sacrifice fashion for the sake of God and protecting marriages.

Women see clothing as “cute” and dress to please one another. Men see clothes as indicating sexual availability. When a girl wears a camisole as a blouse, she thinks she’s being fashionable. Her mother thinks she’s darling. A man thinks she wearing bedroom clothing to advertise her sexuality. Men don’t read fashion magazines, but they know lingerie when they see it — and they know where lingerie is supposed to be worn. Continue reading

MDR: Pastoral Implications, Part 1 (Divorce prevention)

If the state legislature can’t solve our divorce problem, what can? Plainly, Jesus is the answer, and regarding divorce, I believe Jesus works foremost through his church.

The church has to see divorce as a church problem and not merely a private problem for couples to wrestle with, perhaps with the help of counselors. Rather, we must share one another’s burdens and work together to build a community where marriages are strong and resist divorce. Continue reading

MDR: On covenant marriage laws

Given the incredibly high rate of divorce in today’s society, it’s hardly surprising that many Christians seek to deal with the problem legislatively. After all, divorce can be devastating to children and places a huge burden on society. The courts are overwhelmed with “domestic relations” cases.

Louisiana, Arizona, and Arkansas have responded to this very real crisis with new covenant marriage laws under which a couple may opt for a marriage in which divorce is more difficult to obtain. The Louisiana statute requires a couple to undergo pre-marital counseling before tying the knot and then significantly limits their ability to divorce. Divorce must be due to fault: adultery, conviction of a felony, abandonment for a year, physical or sexual abuse, living separately for two years, or living separately for one year after a court-declared legal separation (18 months if there are children). Continue reading

MDR: Examples

Even after all this discussion, I don’t think I have all the answers. But let’s review a few examples to see how this approach to the scriptures provides far more consistent, sensible, loving, and gracious results than the traditional view.

Suppose that a husband abandons his wife, leaving no forwarding address, through no fault of the wife. Under the traditional view, unless the wife can prove the husband guilty of fornication, the wife cannot file for divorce and, if she does, she may not remarry. However, under the view presented here, the sinner is the husband who violated the marriage covenant. He put away his wife when he left her. The wife is a victim, not a sinner. If she files for divorce, she is not sinning, because the marriage is already ended. She may remarry, and it’s not sin. Continue reading