“11 And He *said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” – Mk. 10:11,12
Another theologian, David Instone-Brewer, in the most recent issue of Christianity Today, gets it wrong while trying to sound oh so sensitive to getting it right. With his special understanding of the Jewish Rabbinic writings, he supposes that he can better explain Jesus’ words on the subject of divorce and remarriage. Where Jesus was clear that adultery is committed by those who remarry, unless the divorce was on the grounds of sexual immorality, the author says that the full teaching on divorce and remarriage also considers subjective things like “neglect”, “abuse”, and “abandonment”. I can hear his marriage counseling session:
“So you have come here today because you want me to perform your upcoming wedding, but you are divorced and want to know if that is a problem. Is that correct? Let me ask you if your husband was unfaithful to you? No, not sexually? Oh. Well then did you divorce him because of abuse, or neglect, or abandonment? Hmmm, now that’s interesting. So your husband did not have an affair, but you divorced him because he watched too much television and did not pay enough attention to you. Well I have good news for you! Let me check my calendar to see if I’m open to perform the ceremony.”
Here are my thoughts on this matter:
– This teaching of Mr. Instone-Brewer pretends to respect a very difficult teaching akin to passing through the eye of a needle while at the same time suggesting there is a gate that an army could pass through.The author’s teaching is so subjective as to allow practically any case of divorce and remarriage making his teaching a direct contradiction to Jesus’ teaching. His explanation is nonsense.
– Jesus was clear on the message of divorce and remarriage and there was nothing subjective about what He said, Mt. 19:9; 5:31-32. The disciples perfectly understood the gravity of this teaching, Mt. 19:10-12. It was a difficult and stringent teaching with lifelong consequences. Seriously, who else besides the church is really defending the marriage institution by upholding Jesus’ teaching.
– Paul did not contradict what Jesus said, 1 Cor. 7:10,11. The so-called “Pauline Privilege” does not exist. Nothing that Paul said gives permission to remarrying another. The statement by Paul to “remain in the condition in which you were called” applies to a lot of conditions, but not a sinful one.
– The Law of Moses permitted things because of the hardness of men’s hearts. But those things nor the ancient Rabbinic teachings cannot negate what the New Testament says so clearly.
– The author’s admission to dodging the issue in a job interview with a vague answer shows the weakness of his Biblical study and maybe the weakness of his character. If he had studied the Bible more and the Rabbinic writings less, he would possibly have arrived at the truth.
– When I first started reading this article, I did not pre-judge the author. I read it to see what I might learn. What I found is the same old, same old where so much work is put into distorting the truth so that people do not have to repent. There is really nothing new here. The upshot of the teaching is that most anybody can remarry with no concern that couples are living in adultery.
Marriage is not ‘bondage’