Essay on Divorce and Remarriage in the Church

Today we live in an age where divorce runs rampant in the Church even though we preach it from the Pulpit, in our marriage-ministry, and in the pre-marriage courses. Divorce and remarriage is still a highly emotional and debated subject even after 2,000 years of Christianity. We claim to have an understanding on this subject, but our divorce rate is just as high as the World. It goes without saying, the family unit is under attack like never before and a house divided cannot stand.

Let’s look at the foundation of marriage contrasted with present day living. First, it was originally designed to be until the death of the spouse (Matt. 19:8-9 “from the beginning it was not so” and “what God joined together, let no man separate”). The Bible also says a marriage is not a contract but a covenant with intended lifelong obligations. But many of the principles of marriage in the Bible seem to be cultural, impractical and outdated. For, we come from a culture and age that is extremely sexual immoral and promiscuous. Furthermore, our civil laws governing divorce and remarriage seem to be based on an ever-changing world view of morality (legalizing homosexual marriages).

Concerning divorce, there are those who believe “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.” Meaning, what is allowed for the man should also be allowed for the woman. But, the Bible teaches a woman is to be submissive to her husband “in all things.” Sometimes these two ideas collide. It can get confusing to know at what point does a woman “submit” to her abusive husband and at what point does she rebel against his reign. When is that fine line crossed over, from grace and forgiveness to self-preservation and protection?

The Bible comes from a unilateral position; where bride prices are prescribed (Ex. 22:16-17) and betrothal means more than engagement (Deut. 22). The bride price transfers the authority (Numbers 30:2-16) and subsequently ownership of the woman to the man (“purchase price”). Where her vows are not what holds her to the marriage, but the “law” of her husband does (Romans 7:2, 1 Cor. 7:29, Gen. 3:16). Consequently, being that the marriage was unilateral meant the divorce was also unilateral (Deut. 24:1). Only the man could initiate a divorce being she was “acquired” for him by price?

Despite the fact that the Corinthian culture followed a bilateral form of marriage (both parties promise to be faithful to the other) Paul still held to the commands of Moses combined with the purposes of God (1 Cor. 7:10-11 “woman not to separate from her husband… and man not to divorce his wife”). The Gentile culture did not affect the morality of divorce/remarriage to Paul, or the authority of a man, regardless of the type of marriage covenant they made (bilateral or unilateral). The Corinthians had questioned how to apply Jewish law to their freedoms in Christ (Acts 15:28-29).

Paul, taking the Gentile culture into consideration, still commanded the woman to “remain unmarried or reconcile with her husband” after her unlawfully recognized Greco-Roman divorce (1 Cor. 7:11). Paul was not influenced by their relaxed culture, or tickling their ears, but teaching a theory based on woman’s origination and design for man (Adam was created first than Eve, and Adam was not deceived but the woman). Still, Paul’s main concern was love, mercy and grace in a life led by the Spirit (1 Cor. 13 “love” Chapter). This is why 1 Cor. 7:12-16 Paul expressed more of an egalitarian response (man and woman) than strictly a patriarchal one (man only).

It’s God’s (speaking through the Apostle Paul) position, His Perfect Plan, that marriage is a relationship based on love, forgiveness and mutual respect for one-another. Never do you see a godly man or godly woman initiating a divorce that would cause the other trouble or pain. 1 Cor. 7 was simple answers to complex questions, concerning divorce and remarriage, to Gentiles living in times very similar to our own. Therefore; I believe the message for us today would be the very same answer he gave over 2,000 years ago. That is, “Do not separate what God has joined together, unless the unbeliever wishes to depart.”

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Divorce dilemma in the early Church

Yes, this writing has never been taught in 2,000 years. That God’s design of the bride price and unilateral marriage was the fundamental basis for Moses’ concession expressed in Matt. 19:9 (only man could initiate divorce for porneia). When the Gentile Church started to grow on its own, without the Jewish council of James and the elders in Jerusalem, they read the command’s for the Church from a “bilateral” culture and in a literal fashion. This is what caused so much confusion in the first 400 years of Christianity.

The majority of bilateral thinkers read scripture and came to the conclusion that the woman was “never” allowed to remarry (remain unmarried or reconcile with her husband vs. 11) until the death of her husband (1 Cor. 7:39). Not because their view was bilateral, but because this is the literal “expressed” interpretation of chapter 7. They really did not understand how to combine Paul’s writings with Jesus’ exception clause. This was evident by the majority of Christian commentaries in 200-400 C.E.

It is clear, if the marriage covenant was broken according to Moses laws both are free to remarry without being guilty of “adultery” in remarriage (Matt. 5:31-32). But, what was not clear is that Deut. 24:1, being unilateral, meant only the man could initiate the divorce. The woman cannot divorce her husband for anything other than if he was an unbeliever and requested the divorce (1 Cor. 7:15). The early Church fathers missed putting all these points together.

So, with an unbalanced approach, their teachings were soon rejected as “flawed” by the majority for skipping the basic premise of Deut. 24:1. It is my assumption and observation that at the beginning of the 5th C.E. the majority of Christians flip-flopped with Deut. 24:1 being their primary text (bilateral marriages being practiced) while skipping the premise of Paul’s clear unilateral unwavering approach to remarriage.

Paul did not need to reiterate Deut. 24:1 to the believers living in Corinth, for it is obvious they had an influence of the Law of Moses by mentioning “circumcision” and dietary laws. It’s as if the far “left” Christians were not able to agree with the far “right” Christians in the early Church. So, divorce and remarriage became a highly contentious subject. But, there is a balanced approach to Paul’s writings and Deut. 24:1-4. Paul never tried to change or do away with Moses’ permission, only answer those questions posed by the Gentile believers who already knew and accepted the Law.

 

 

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Marriage?

Hello everyone, today I am going to talk about marriage. Not in the way that you would expect or even like. But, one that will bring truth to our lives, and truth will help us live a life that is well pleasing to God. And, by the way, is that not what we are here for, to please God?
 
For one thing, statistics show us that around 75% to 80% of all divorces are initiated by women in the United States. Now, this does not mean that 75-80% of women are more sinful than common man; it just means that they are the ones that “pull the plug” first. I will demonstrate why…
 
Learning a little from my blogs or books you will see that marriages were designed to be unilateral, not bilateral. Paul knew this. But, if you noticed in Paul’s writing (1 Cor. 7) he was not interested in bringing “bride prices” back or even enforcing unilateral marriages again, but to teach us how to live a life that is well pleasing to God regardless how we got there. That is, one of sacrificial living and not of selfishness, unforgiveness or hardness of heart.
 
Paul starts off telling us the commandment of our Lord in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 to remind us that He said we must not divorce one another! But, in 1 Cor. 7:12-16 you will get more of a universal feel. Paul preaches equal compassion and concern for our lost spouses and to live according to grace in the Spirit. I do not want you to be deceived though, Paul was very clear to the Gentile women living in Corinth that if you divorce your husband you must not remarry another man (vs. 11) because only the man was given permission by Scripture to divorce his wife (Deut. 24:1, Matt. 19:9).
 
Paul was not commanding the Gentile believers that they must now practice Judaism or the Law of Moses but that our obedience to Christ means that wives obey their husband and husbands love their wife in everything we do. Therefore; since the women were made for man, they must be submissive to him regardless of the type of marriage they are in (either Gentile or Jewish). The woman must not initiate a divorce to rebel against this authority (vs. 10). After all, isn’t this what the law also says? (1 Cor. 14:34, Gen. 3:16)
 
In contract law, a woman was correct; in a Greco-Roman bilateral contract she would have every right to divorce her husband fairly. But, to the contrary, God did not approve in bilateral, equal authoritative marriages (Gen. 3:16). Therefore, all divorces are to be unilaterally initiated only by the husband in accordance to the Law of Moses (Deut. 24:1) regardless if you are Jew or Gentile. Today, women have a power that they were never designed or biblically allowed to have according to Scripture.
 
Looking back… Men in the Old Testament did not always initiate a divorce with their wife when they were not happy but many times they would simply marry another woman (i.e. Esther). Women, on the other hand, could not divorce or marry in polyandry, according to the Law, so they would eventually leave the husband (Jer. 3:8-9, Judges 19:1-).
 
We see this played out in marriages today.
 
The men, rather than jumping into a divorce, would go back to their natural urges and simply look for another woman to lust after. For, isn’t it far easier for a man to have two women at the same time (polygamy) then it is for a woman (polyandry) who has children? Women, however, are more naturally inclined to leave their husband when displeased with his leadership. Scripture says we can’t have two Masters for we will end up loving one but hating the other. And so with a woman. In a polyandrous relationship she would end up loving one man and hating the other. Men do not have these issues.
 
I am not saying that it does not happen the other way around, but due to scriptural examples, this would seem to be their first initial action towards sin. A man is concerned in having sex with another woman, and a woman is more concerned in getting out of her neglectful/abusive relationship. A sinful man usually tends to use his greater strength and size as intimidation/fear tactics in an argument, or try and disrespect her by ignoring her complaints all together. These are usually his “go-to’s” in a fight with his wife genetically.
 
Paul suggests that women are more easily deceived than man, “For Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.” If given the chance a woman will seek a divorce as a means to ultimately escape her relationship being deceived by the world into thinking this is permissible to God. For the world’s wisdom screams, “God would want you happy, right?” Hopefully, I have shown that to you in today’s writing to help couples in pain.
 
Paul said a woman is not to separate from her husband and a husband is not to divorce (put away) his wife. This was God’s design for marriage from the very beginning for [divorce] was not originally an option for him (Matt. 19:6).
 
In all things, God be gloried.
 
In Jesus name, amen.
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“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made” Gal. 3:16. Unilateral or Bilateral?

Is our Covenant with Christ conditional or unconditional on our behavior?

We are under the covenant that God made to Abraham and his Seed. We are told later that the Seed of Abraham is Christ (Gal. 3:16). Therefore, we can presume to see parallels between the two. But, there are also parallels said between the biblical marriage between a husband and his wife, “32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

God clearly made a unilateral covenant by He, Himself passing between the slain/split animals in Gen. 15 (Abraham did not pass between them). Therefore, since God cannot lie he confirmed it with a sign (Heb. 6:17). But, in Moses’ covenant with the people, Moses required the leaders of Israel to walk between the slain animals themselves and all the people promised to do and obey what was written in the Book of the Law. Two promises in any contract make it bi (two) lateral and conditional. God promises man rewards and in return man promised God obedience

But… This is where it can get confusing. Gen. 17:14 later said that Abraham and his children would need to get “circumcised” otherwise they would be “cut off” for breaking His covenant. In the Jewish marriage ceremony the marriage was considered unilateral and they asked the bride to drink from the “cup of acceptance”. Since “conditional unilateral contracts” require and act of acceptance, the act was not considered a condition after the contract started but only to symbolize the beginning of it.

You can see this parallel in Christ’s covenant with us. Jesus paid the “Bride price” for the Church in which we are considered the virgin bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). And the “act of acceptance” to enter this covenant, as Abraham, was the circumcision of the heart by faith (Deut. 30:6, Jer. 4:4, Romans 2:29). The baptism that is required can also be seen in the Jewish marriage at the ceremonial washing in the Mikvah before the wedding. John the Baptist baptized with water but Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit. Baptism is required to enter into our covenant by faith, as it is said to be our answer to God from a clear conscience (1 Peter 3:21).

But, Abraham was later told to offer up his son as a sacrifice after he already received the promise (Heb. 11:17). This was not a condition but a testing of his faith. We too after having received the promise of the Holy Spirit still have our faith tested to see if it is genuine (1 Peter 1:7). As Abraham offered up his son as a sacrifice, Christ also offered up His life as a sweat smelling sacrifice to God.

Therefore, we can conclude that we are under the “conditional unilateral covenant” of Abraham and his Seed (Christ). The conditions only apply before we “enter into” Christ’s covenant, not after. It is now considered unconditional and everlasting!

We are to continue in our “faith,” firmly established, to enter into the promise land that God has for us. For this was His condition of acceptance (Eph. 2:8-9, Col. 1:23). Lest any of us drift away from God in an evil hart of “unbelief” (Heb. 3:12). That is our most precious faith (2 Peter 1:1). If we truly believed, then God will write His laws on our hearts and minds and hold us and keep us. He is faithful and will complete the good work that He began in Christ Jesus! For, if we died in Christ then we shall surely live in Him.

The only condition IS the acceptance even though we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. For, Paul continues the sentence by saying, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The life we live, therefore, is no longer us but Christ who lives inside of us in whom we live move and have our being!

Amen.

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Did John the Baptist tell Herod to divorce his brother’s wife?

Question:
Marriage with Herod was adultery and sin. If it’s sin you repent and not stay in it. This (is) how John the Baptist preached and lost his life.
Answer:
Herod’s marriage was an abomination due to Lev. 18, 20. She was exposing the brother’s nakedness and needed an immediate divorce due to the “abominable” marriage and not solely due to the adulterous one.
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1 Cor. 7:39 says a woman is bound to the “law” of her husband. What law?

What is causing some confusion in 1 Cor. 7:39 is that Paul said the woman is bound to the “law of her husband” as long as he lives. The “law” Paul was referring about was also mentioned in 1 Cor 14:34 but in context “…but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.” Paul was speaking about the law of submission to a husband from Gen. 3:16 (“rule over you”). A woman was bound to her husband by the law of submission because marriages were unilateral and not bilateral. The wife was not held to her oath for she never made an oath or contractual promise in the Jewish law, therefore the man’s authority held her to the covenant. That is why she was not able to divorce her husband. And this is why it was against the law for a woman to have more than one husband at a time, but the man could be married to more than one woman at the same time because he was not held by her authority. So, Romans 7:1-5 is clearly talking about polyandry and 1 Cor. 7:39 Paul is saying that the woman is free to remarry when he sleeps because he no longer holds authority over her in this life.

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Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage: a Biblical, Jewish and Legal Perspective

Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage: a Biblical, Jewish and Legal Perspective by Michael Sayen

Let me start off with the legal perspective.

This is not the Law of Moses but International Law standards that can be seen and accepted around the world.

There are two different contracts used in international law: “Bilateral” and “Unilateral”.

Bilateral is a contract where two people make promises to each other. This is commonly referred to as your every day “contract”.

A Unilateral contract is a “one sided” contract where only one person or party makes a promise to another. This is typically referred to in the Bible as a “Everlasting” covenant. This simply means that after the contract has begun it cannot be broken since there are no prerequisites. There is such a thing as a “conditional unilateral contract” but this has to do with the condition on entering or beginning the contract and not stipulations after it officially began.

Deut. 24:1 was a unilateral divorce that only the husband could initiate. The wife cannot initiate the divorce due to the Bride Price.

All Bride Price marriages are unilateral. Meaning, the Father of the Bride and the groom entered into a “bilateral” contract or agreement with one another. But, since the father obligated his daughter to the marriage, her marriage to him either after the cup covenant or the consummation (or performance) begins the unilateral marriage covenant between the spouses.

The wife never says “I do” or promises anything to her husband at any time. She only accepted a “cup of acceptance” after the Bridal Price or entered into a full cup covenant with the groom at the betrothal. Once accepted, she was now the man’s betrothed wife and unable to break the contract due to his authority/acquisition over her.

The man did not need to make oaths again after his betrothal, he simply came in a procession at night, called her name, took her to the Banquet Hall (or Chuppa) and entered into the canapé were their consummation began. Once consummated they fully entered into the marriage and a celebration occurred usually in a 7 day feast.

This is all typical in Jewish marriage ceremonies. Since the marriage was “unilateral” the divorce was also “unilateral”. If a Gentile marriage was “bilateral” (without bride price) then the divorce would also be presumed to be initiated by either party who might have “broken faith” by international legal standards. But, this causes a problem with biblical law.

It is key to note: a unilateral contract must be legally dissolved unilaterally. And a bilateral contract must be legally dissolved bilaterally. But, since God designed all marriages to be unilateral and subsequently all divorces unilateral according to the Law of Moses (Deut. 24:1) any and all divorces must be unilateral through the husband regardless in how it was entered (bilateral or unilateral).

The Jews practice this “unilateral marriage covenant” and call it the ketubah. Only the father of the bride, the groom and two witnesses were required to sign this document. The Jewish woman never made a promise to her husband in the marriage; she only accepted his proposal with an “act of acceptance”.

The Bride price was a purchase price. We see this in Jesus’ example to the Church. Jesus paid the purchase price and she became His. The Jews refer to the purchase price as a man “acquiring” his wife. Contractually, this made it impossible for her to divorce the man without his approval.

Now on to the New Testament:

Knowing that the Law of Moses’ divorce was based upon bride prices which were common in the land (Exodus 22:16-17, Deut. 22:29, Gen. 24:11 etc…) Moses only allowed the man to initiate the divorce. Jesus confirming this view said in Matt. 19:9 that if a man put away his wife for sexual immorality/fornication it would not be adultery if he married another. And he who marries a put away woman (presumed by context not to have committed adultery) commits adultery himself. The woman was not given an opportunity to put away her husband by Biblical law.

Yes, Mark 10:11-12 says a man and a woman is not to put away their spouse but this was not supporting bilateral divorces. We know in Mark 10:10 that this was a “private” account for the writer Mark to pass along a message to his Gentile readers. It can be presumed that Mark 10:10-12 is the exact same account of Matt. 19:9 by rhetoric. This Scripture does not support the woman divorcing a man nor does it show that it was commonly accepted by Jewish law.

We know that some prominent women were divorcing their husband by a writing of Josephus. Josephus stated that Salome (Jewish woman) divorced her husband (Harod) and gave him a wit of divorcement. But, Josephus later noted that this was not according to Jewish law. Since Greco-Roman law governed the Nations, many Gentile and Jewish women were anxious to use their new found freedoms.

Paul’s writing:

1 Corinthians 7

Paul starts off by saying in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 that this was a command of the Lord regarding divorce. Paul was clearly using Jesus’ statement from the Gospel accounts to support what he was going to say next.

Paul said a woman is not to “separate” from her husband. The separate word in Greek is the same word Jesus also used, in which Paul addressed, in Matt. 19:6, “Let no man SEPARATE what God has joined together.” In the Greco-Roman documents in the 1 C.E. the Greek word “separate” was a common word to describe a divorce. This word never inferred the type of Greco-Roman or Jewish divorce. It simply stated that they were divorced.

We know she was divorced by Paul’s next statement:

“But if separated let her remain unmarried” – this means that she was a divorced woman.

But Paul goes on and says, “or reconcile with her husband.”

Paul wanted the Gentile women to understand she only has two options after she divorced her husband. Either she remains in her current state or she reconciles back to her former husband. There was not a third option for her.

Paul did not say this to the man. He simply said that he is not to divorce his wife. This word in the Greek implies a separation similar to one who would put away. We can also see this in Josephus’ statement of Salome and Harod in that the Greek word in emphasis of Salome was that she put away her husband and give him a writ of divorce. The writ of divorce was referred to as the Jewish Get and is the divorce document indicated in Deut. 24:1. Scripture indicates that the man put a writ of divorce in his wife’s hand in order to send her out of his home.

This may have been an excepted norm of this perspective if not for the confusion in the next two verses.

Paul goes on to say, a man is not to divorce his unbelieving wife, and a woman is not to divorce her unbelieving husband. If this Greek word implied some reference to Jesus “put away” spoken in Matt. 19:9 then why were both the men and women using this type of divorce.

The answer is in Ezra 10:3, “…put away wife and children born to them.”

It was clear in this Gentile church, as well as Paul’s letters to the other Gentile churches, that the women had to be taught gender issues regarding Adam and Eve. We see this in this letter both in 1 Cor. 11:2-16 and 1 Cor. 14:34-36. The women believed they had the same biblical rights as the man. And since many of these women were probably married before or not purchased by a bride price, they too thought they were under a bilateral contract with their husband and shared equal divorce privileges.

It is not clear why the women thought they had the same rights as man to initiate a divorce, but clearly that was the case in this church.

We have further logical proof that 1 Cor. 7:12-14 was in reference to Ezra 10:3 because of Paul’s later statement, “otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.” They were concerned about the “holy seed” in reference to Mal. 2:14 and being married to these unclean unbelievers. Did not Paul later say, do not touch what is unclean? (2 Cor. 6:17)

Paul lastly says to this church that “in such case” meaning an exception to the rule of 1 Cor. 7:12-14. That is, if the unbeliever separates, to let them be separated. Paul is clearly giving a proposed future perceptive to the unbelievers that they are married to. That is, let them have their divorce if they no longer “will” to be married to you. God has called us to live in peace with all people when possible even the marriage you were saved in.

When Paul says that they are not in “bondage,” this was a common term used by Paul. It usually was referring to feelings of obedience to something or someone outside of the will of God (such as the Law of Moses or circumcision etc…). Paul does not say what they may be felt in bondage too, other than clearly not allowing the divorce. Paul goes on and says that he does not want them to feel guilty because they are giving up on an unbelieving spouse who one day may be saved vs. 16.

Paul later says that a loosed (used to describe a biblical freedom) man and a virgin can marry if they so desire. It is not a sin.

Thanks, Love you guys.

Michael

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