“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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Marriage: Is it a Bilateral or a Unilateral Covenant in the Bible?

There are two types of Covenants in the Bible: Bilateral and Unilateral

(“Bi” or “Uni” count the number of promises between the parties)

  1. Bilateral comes from the word “Bi” meaning two. Like a bicycle.
  2. Unilateral comes from the word “Uni” meaning one. Like a unicycle.

Unilateral contracts or covenants can start immediately but they can also have a delayed start if the offeree (the one who has not promised) was offered to perform an “act of acceptance” by the offeror (person who made the promise) or if offeree later completes a service/action that was required to start it. For a unilateral covenant/contract to start there has to be a provable (confirmed) and defining point of the contract to show that it “was” started and not simply a promise by the offeror that was not acted upon or revoked.

In the court of law there needs to be an “act” of acceptance or completed service by the offeree but for God, He himself can offer the sign to confirm His oath (Heb. 6:17).

The entrance into what was promised by the offeror was considered to be the “performance” or “consummation of sale”. This can be shown in the God’s covenant with Moses. While the covenant was promised to Moses, it wasn’t until Joshua that God’s promise was actually fulfilled (Promised Land).

(Unconditional) Unilateral Covenant: Rainbow Covenant where God provided the symbol (rainbow) and no action was required by the offeree.

(Conditional) Unilateral Covenant: God’s promise to Abram (Gen. 15) that first required circumcision as the “act of acceptance” to enter into God’s unconditional promise (Gen. 17).

So, the beginning of a unilateral covenant can be either conditional or unconditional but after it has started, it is always “unconditional”. Bilateral is always conditional immediately and throughout its life-span. A bilateral can “morph” into a unilateral contract/covenant if one party fulfills their promise but the other is ongoing.

Covenant comes from the Hebrew word “Berith”. This word means to “cut” as Abram cut the two animals in half when God passed between them. Cut can also refer to the blood that’s poured out such as a “blood covenant”. There is no word for contract in Hebrew.

Theses are the two Covenants.

The Jews have always practiced the biblically illustrated unilateral covenant that was designed for the marriage.

1) The groom is required to pay or perform the bride-price (item of value, or service of value in which he claims that she is betrothed to him).

2) The father and the groom (w/ two kosher witnesses) signed or agreed to the marriage contract (the ketubah) beginning the bilateral covenant.

3) The Bride (or bride and groom) would drink from the cup of wine that was offered to her as an act of acceptance which finalized their marriage commitment to one another.

The Jews say the ketubah is a unilateral covenant because the bride was offered the cup of acceptance (wine) to accept the unilateral covenat and the groom is the only spouse of the two that made the promise when he signed the ketubah (although in the ketubah it states her requirements in the marriage but this would not be legally binding).

In ancient Israel they practiced marriage a little differently. But, the first century Rabbis wanted to make entering marriages a little easier and divorces harder. They hoped that a change would make getting married at a younger age easier by not requiring an initial large bridal price sum. Also making divorces less prevalent by having a large payment required in the back end if he decided to put her away (under certain conditions).

First, the bride price was to be paid to the father. The bride price CANNOT be paid to the bride such as a wedding band (this is considered a gift). The reason being is that the authority over his daughter required his approval and a direct exchange (purchase) for her. The exchange could be money or services for the bilateral covenant to be legally complete and binding to both parties. A father had the right to give his daughter away without a bridal price (Rebecca’s father) but this would not be considered a sale (purchase price) but still within his rights as a father.

Numbers 30:2-16 states that the father had power to nullify any promises by the young girl under his roof. Deut. 22 and Ex. 22:16-17 clearly states that a virgin bride price was to be paid and permission by the father was essential for marriage. Only the widow and the divorced women were said to have the ability to make binding oaths of their own (Numbers 30:9).

There are Conditional Unilateral Contracts (Covenants). This is a condition placed upon beginning the contract. The Conditional Unilateral Contract can also be seen if the individual’s services/action require a certain completion before it is accepted. We can see this in Abraham’s covenant. Although it was unilateral the individual needed to be circumcised before being accepted under that covenant, but once the circumcision has taken place the covenant becomes unconditional from that point forward.

To start off with covenants and contracts are the same biblically. You don’t see two different meanings for these supported in scripture. But, they are different in meaning. A covenant “berith” had the meaning of the splitting in two and the shedding of blood. We can clearly see this example in Gen. 15 when God asked Abram to split (most) of the animals in two and went between them as a smoking oven and fire (similar to how God reveled Himself to Israel in the Wilderness).

An unconditional covenant was a covenant that could not be broken. This was a promise. But, more than a promise, it was a promise associated with a sign. And this sign was most likely the blood of an animal. This really shows how important a covenant was to them!

A conditional covenant was a covenant that had conditions and if those conditions were not meet, the covenant could be broken! Bilateral covenants are a good example of conditional covenants. This is very similar to our modern day contracts but confirmed with a sign and meaning of blood. A covenant was not something that one made lightly.

A bilateral covenant is defined as promises that are made by two or more people to each other. A unilateral covenant is a promise that was only made by one person to the other or others. I will show you how these work.

The law of covenants can be seen to be very similar throughout all of time and in many different cultures. So, it does make sense that this was a “truth” of ethics and morality. I.e. murder is wrong in almost any culture and time, therefore, we can see there is an excepted truth to be explored and known here that is common to all.

In ancient Israel a bilateral covenant was made between the groom (and/or his father) and the bride’s father. Scripturally, we see that the bride was not always given opportunity to turn down her father’s wishes for marriage. We also see laws (Deut. 21:14) about women who were taken by war, allowed to morn their mother and father, then taken as wives. It does show that this was against their wishes many times by saying if she does not please the man then he can let her go, but he must set her “free”! We also see a similar law where a man owns a girl and gives her to his son as a slave wife as an addition to his free wife. It later also states that if she is neglected in food, clothing and marriage rights, he too was required to set her “free”.

It is common knowledge that many Jews over the centuries have betrothed their daughters at the age of 12 years old or younger believing that since these girls are before the age of accountability (maturity)  the father has ultimate authority over her decisions (Numbers 30:2-16) and is able to give her away in marriage without her consent. Although it is illegal in the Talmud to marry girls off at this age, despite this prohibition many Jews have done so anyways throughout the middle ages. This again is common knowledge. This goes to show that the Jews do believe in bilateral marriages morphing into unilateral marriage covenants without an act of acceptance from the girl. At least for young girls. Now that this is known to be an accepted concept, it is just an argument over age and authority at this point. The Jewish tradition since the first century have required girls over the age of 12 + 1 day to give a sign or act of consent.

So, with the understanding that the bride’s father (while young and living under her father’s roof) dictates who his daughter can and can not marry. He has the power to either confirm or deny a marriage. He has complete “authority” over his daughter.

When the groom contracts with the bride’s father, the father hands over his authority (or ownership) to the groom. The father can not refuse the man taking his daughter upon arrival after all conditions were met. But, the marriage is not completed at the betrothal stage. It is true, when a man and a woman get betrothed that they are promised to one another and God hold’s them accountable which would require a Writ of Divorcement if ever they were to depart (Joseph and Mary). Meaning; that she was considered his betrothed wife and he her betrothed husband. But they have not entered into the marriage until consummation (performance) is complete.

With a virgin, the consummation is a sign of the splitting of two and blood. This happens naturally, and a girl purchased as a virgin but not having the marks of her virginity on the wedding blanket (blood) was considered a great tragedy and injustice. The man was swindled. Since the father was presumed innocent all blame fell on the young girl.

Later in Deut. 22:23-24 it states if a betrothed girl is ever raped that she is required to “yell” out for help if in a city (supposing someone to help her) but if in a country, knowing her cries will not go heard, she was not stoned to death if she was not heard vs. 25-26. If she was not betrothed, the man was directed to marry her and for his punishment, he was not allowed to divorce her all the days of his life Deut. 22:29. (It does state later that a man who slept (enticed, not raped) with a virgin not being betrothed that he was to marry her and pay the virgin price, but the father did have power to refuse the marriage and still require the man to pay the virgin bridal price. So, many believe the father also has authority to refuse a marriage to the man who raped her in Deut. 22:28-29.)

After a man has made the bilateral covenant with the bride’s father, scripture does not say that the bride and groom later “share” vows with one another. Matter of fact, Scripture clearly shows that the bilateral covenant was made with Laban and Rebecca’s father by Abraham’s servant (he was sent there to get a wife for Abraham’s son). This was now an agreement that neither party could not go back on. When she dismantled, put on her vale, and came to Issac in the field – they did not share vows, and he did not make a vow to her. But, regardless, Scripture said that upon consummation they were considered husband and wife (not the act of sex alone made them married, but an agreement of the authoritative parties acted in a contract of marriage).

It is absolutely the father’s prerogative if he wanted to ask his daughter “if” she would like to marry a man before they got betrothed. But the father asking the daughter if she would like to marry him does not show that it was a legally binding “agreement” or an “act of acceptance” but only that the loving father is respecting his daughter’s wishes before he makes a bilateral covenant with the young man. According to contract law, the act of acceptance has to be in accordance to the Offeror’s specific ‘said’ requirements.

But, as in the story of Rebecca and Isaac, the final agreement was already made between Abraham’s servant and Rebecca’s father (Gen. 24) “51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken” So, the servant honoring the father and showing legal sign of acceptance gave the payment to the mother and brother, “53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. ” But later the father asking if she was ready to go was more of a matter of convenience and comfort for Abraham’s servant was anxious to get back to his Master, “54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master. 55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.” In order to handle the disagreement between the two parties the family requested the daughter, “58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go” for it was already the next day. Therefore, we can see that Rebecca’s question was not concerning her marriage to the Abraham’s son, but concerning when to leave.

Such as shown in the case of Judges 19 where the father tried to hinder the guests departure by drinking and comforts of home before he left for his own house, “And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there. And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way. And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry. And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again. And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.”

Either after a wine ceremony or a “consummation of sale” (performance) the betrothal covenant between the father and the groom ends and a new covenant between the man and his wife begins. This is called “morphing” in legal terms. A sign or act of acceptance is not required for morphing, but only a fulfillment of the father’s bilateral agreement. It is commonly excepted that a bilateral contract becomes a unilateral contract when one of the parties fulfilled their promise while the other one still has ongoing obligations.

The wine ceremony is important because it is the “covenant”. Therefore; a Writ of Divorcement would be required to end this (as Joseph considered putting away his betrothed wife, Mary). Without the wine ceremony the agreement between the father of the bride and the groom is simply considered a “contract”. Therefore, if no unilateral marriage covenant started between the bride and groom if there was a “breach of contract” then the only thing considered would be the exchange of money and any financial debt that occurred. There would be no need for a divorce between the two parties.

The Bride price protected the groom. For, if there was no legal “contract” then the groom would worry if the father might revoke his agreement. And the wine ceremony protected the bride, for if the groom came back to consummate the marriage and found her “displeasing” in his sight the father may be concerned that he might revoke his agreement. The bride price and the wine ceremony protected all parties and officially began the marriage (Deut. 22:23-27 any sexual immorality by betrothed wife was considered “adultery”).

If a man finds a single woman, and does not make a bilateral covenant with the bride’s father he can make a unilateral covenant or a bilateral covenant with the woman individually. This is not a direct scriptural practice and later can prove to be problematic. Deut. 25:5-10 states that a widow (although independent of her own) does not make a bilateral covenant but the younger brother takes his brother’s widow to raise up a seed for his name (Gen. 38:9).

Example: If a groom makes a unilateral covenant with a bride alone (and not a covenant with her father) according to contract law an “acceptance” is required from her to show she entered the covenant on her own free will. The reason being, is if the bride has all authority over herself there needs to be a defining point of the entry of the unilateral covenant for it to be legally binding and provable in the court of law. (You can see this performed in the Jewish “wedding band” practice although the father signs the ketubah and “gives” his daughter away).

If the bride makes a bilateral covenant directly with the groom, then this would be a “conditional” covenant (as we do here in America). Meaning, if he broke a covenant promise then she should have the legal right to end the marriage for “breach of contract”. It would be impossible to assume that a bilateral covenant between two individuals (bride and groom) would make one person’s covenant “unconditional” while the other person’s covenant is still considered “conditional”. Or, that they both enter into a dual unilateral contract (as only one marriage contract was signed by each of the parties, not two separate contracts).

It would not be fair or right to expect the groom to make a bilateral covenant with the bride’s father then worry about enter into a bilateral covenant with his daughter when he returned to a wedding ceremony: i.e. “Do you take … to be your lawfully wedded husband?” It was already a legally completed marriage at the betrothal. No further vows or actions were required by the two other than at the wedding feast following the consummation.

To ask the bride for an acceptance, or a shared cup of wine, after the covenant allows the woman a chance to say “no.” And if she says “no” or does not accept the cup of wine that is handed to her, then this act shows that there was never truly a prior binding covenant. To make a bilateral covenant with the father at betrothal and later offer the bride a shared drink of wine at a wedding ceremony would fundamentally be incorrect and problematic also.

If at the chuppah or huppah the bride was offered a shared drink of wine (breaking of the glass) then the first cup of wine offered at a betrothal would really only be acting as a request for marriage while the real marriage was not until a wedding ceremony. Therefore; the cup of wine shared between the bride and groom was most likely at the Betrothal stage (as Jesus offered His blood as a covenant to His Disciples to drink from) to symbolize their covenant together and not simply an “act of acceptance”. For ancient marriages always drank wine together to fulfill their covenant together. Matter of fact, any covenant made was by a “shared” cup of wine.

Although the wine was drank with the bride and groom at the wedding fest, this was to symbolize the completion of the marriage and not actually the start.

love you guys, Michael

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The foolish doctrines of divorce and remarriage

I have noticed that the different Christian theories of “Divorce and Remarriage” sounds much like the Scientist trying to explain the “big bang theory.” It just sounds foolish in wisdom and circular in thought. Example:
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1. You can divorce for abuse.
Answer: This is crazy thinking since Jesus only spoke about “sexual immorality” in the Gospels and Paul only spoke about “abandonment” (which really was not abandonment but a desire and initial response of the unbeliever to end the marriage). Trying to get abuse out of sexual immorality or abandonment takes a lot of scripture twisting. The Greek word “abuse” is never mentioned by Jesus or Paul.
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2. You can divorce but not get remarried.
Answer: This is ridiculous and should not even be addressed. I have two scriptural points to address this doctrine. One, Deut. 24:2 did not say it was a “sin” for the woman to remarry her second husband. And two, God had made a covenant with Abraham/Christ and another with Moses 400 years later. Gal. 3:17, “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” God divorced Israel and Judah in Heb. 8:8-13 making that covenant “obsolete” while the marriage covenant of Jesus and the Church began. Otherwise, the Jews and Christians would be saved at the same time by two entirely different covenants and standards.
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3. You can divorce but only the innocent party can remarry.
Answer: This is also silly because when a divorce occurs the marriage covenant or contract is made “void”. The man is able to release his wife and by doing so gave her freedom to marry another man. It says so on the Jewish divorce document itself. It would just sound silly that God would allow one person to get remarried, have kids, dog and the picket fence will the other one is bound to a life of singleness. But in reality, if the guilty person was foolish enough to commit sexual immorality in the marriage then they would eventually remarry. Especially, if they found out their former spouse married someone else already.
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4. The “sexual immorality” (Porneia) mentioned in Matt. 19:9 was only for the betrothal period and not the marriage.
Answer: This is completely silly because Moses concession/permission is about a woman who is married to her first husband then marries her second husband and not allowed to remarry the first. This scripture is all about marriage and not about betrothal. And this is what Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders were clearly talking about in Matt. 5:32-33 and 19:9 when they asked, “Can a man put away his wife for any reason?” Jesus was answering the question. If Jesus did not answer the question to the Jews or His Disciples privately than this question would have never been known till this day. What is Moses’ concession and can a man put away his wife for this? Jesus was not addressing Deut. 22 but Deut. 24:1. This was the controversy of Hillel and Shammai.
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5. No one can get divorced.
Answer: God divorced Israel in Jer. 3:8-9. So, if God could do it then it is clearly allowed under certain circumstances scripturally. Moses would not have given the law of divorce if it was never allowed to be used. But, the man should only divorce an unrepentant wife who will not return back to the home and is living in adultery. Or, if a professing unbeliever no longer wants to be married to you, that is, a Christian (a believing man or a believing woman). But for remarriage allowances always test it according to the Law of Moses.
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6. Even though the Jewish people only allowed the man to initiate the divorce, Gentiles now have freedom to allow both sexes to divorce each other.
Answer: This goes completely against everything Paul and Jesus taught about headship, submission, authority and the Law of the husband. We teach that the man has authority from Gen. 3:16. And this is where the Jews believe only the man can initiate the divorce, have authority in the home and leadership in the Synagogue. It’s just silly for Paul to say the woman is submissive to the man because of Adam and Eve but she can ultimately rebel against his (rule) authority and put him away. It would be like an employee firing his boss, a robber arresting a police officer, or a slave being able to put his master in chains.
          Jesus said that, “in the beginning (divorce) was not so.” Neither person could divorce their spouse for uncleanness but when the Law came Moses mediated for his people and God allowed the man to put away his wife (out of his home) for violating this simple concept of keeping her body for him alone. Man was allowed to marry in polygamy, according to the Old Testament, because he was not under the law of his wife as she was under the “law of her husband” (Rom. 7:1-2). The rule of man prevented the wife from putting away her husband or multiplying husbands in polyandry (Gen. 3:16).
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7. A man must not deprive the wife of her food, clothing and marital rights otherwise she can sue for a divorce!
Answer: Although this scripture does carry some biblical weight it is in reference to a man who sells his daughter as a slave, probably to release off some debt, then the master gives this slave-girl to his son as a wife who has married (or will eventually marry) a free woman. Now yes, I agree these three aspects are common sense and no woman should be lacking any of these moral rights. But, this was a protection to women who have been sold exclusively as slaves. This girl did not get the opportunity to refuse the marriage, she was not given by her loving father in marriage, and generally she has very little rights. It would be easy for a man (or his other free wife) to treat such a person as a second-class citizen. This law was written to the slave-women only. There are other passages that speaks about the laws of slaves seemingly regarding them as property of their owner. The Scripture also protects women who are captured by war and became wives by force (Deut. 21:14). Since these women where purchased or taken by acts of war they will get their freedom if either neglected or unwanted according to the commandments of scripture because they were humbled sexually in the marriage. If it were not for this biblical protection it is foreseeable that a displeased master could divorce and ultimately sell her again. Exodus 21:10 only speaks about the slave wife and not the free wife. The scripture offers the free wife protection in certain situations by not allowing her husband to ever divorce her and honoring the covenant he made with her.
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Ok, guys. This is just a few main theories of divorce and remarriage that just doesn’t make sense. And, the reason is they have never really heard anything on the contrary. But, the Jews have it correct on this one. Only the man can initiate the divorce and that if the wife is continually rebellious in her sexual immorality and acting like a harlot inside her marriage (unrepentant). For, the reason God divorced Israel in Jer. 3:8-9 but stayed married to unfaithful Judah was both were acting like a harlot but one came back home.
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Adultery is ALWAYS committed in divorce and remarriage. Meaning, its takes an act of adultery for a man to end the marriage or any subsequent remarriage by either person would be adulterous.
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The Jewish believers told the Gentile Churches/believers to abstain from “sexual immorality” (Acts 15:19-20). And, any remarriage apart from the concession of Moses would clearly be breaking this requirement. “19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.”
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love you guys,
feel free to write.
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Michael Sayen
Posted in bible, Christian, Christian living, Christian sales, divorce, Divorce and remarriage, If not for fornication, Jesus, Marriage divorce and remarriage, Matt. 19:9, Matthew 19:9, Objections, Paul, remarriage, remarry, what does the bible say about divorce | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Authority, Polygamy and Bride Price

History

I wanted to write a few short paragraphs of what the Bible said about divorce and why this understanding was so hard and challenging for the Gentiles coming to faith in Jesus. Gentiles did not look through the eyes of the Jews but of other Gentiles. Hence, this teaching fell short and did not survive the test of time.

Imagine if you will, the destruction of Israel in 70 AD; the primarily Jewish council in Jerusalem, where James and the elders resided, dismantled and dispersed abroad. Gentile Churches no longer having a central hub now appear to answer questions on their own. Without a great understanding of marriage from its Jewish roots, divorce and remarriage became a highly debated subject in the first early years of Christianity.

This writing is from a Jewish perspective using both New and Old Testament Scripture. Documentation shows that the Jewish people had primarily only allowed the man to initiate the divorce since the Torah. They still practice this today in the State of Israel according to Orthodox Jewish Rabbis.

Christian scholars agree up to this point so far. As I asked the question “why” the Jews only allowed the man to initiate the divorce, I was quite surprised with their answer. They gave similar reasons that us Christians use for teaching about headship and submission both in the home and in church leadership. In my research, this is what I found.

The reason Jewish leaders believed only the man was allowed to put away his wife was said to be for, “Well…because Deut. 24:1 said so!” When looking deeper in Jewish sources I found that this belief was from their understanding of Gen. 3:16. That is, the role of woman and the rule of man. The understanding of man’s unilateral divorce really stems from God’s makeup, design and principles of marriage seen all throughout the Torah.

Man typically paid a bride price for his wife in Scripture. This practice was from the belief that a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife. The woman did not usually leave the home (Num. 30:9). The man had to request a wife from the home of her father, which we still practice today. A suitor asks the father for his daughter’s hand in marriage in which, if accepted, eventually walks her down the aisle and symbolically “gives her away.”

After a man paid the bride price for his wife, the Jews believed she was therefore “acquired” by the payment. Although payment was a bilateral transaction between the groom and the bride’s father, the contract simultaneously created a “unilateral” marriage covenant between the man and his wife. Scripture says a bride price was required to pay for the Church, “Which [Jesus] hath purchased with His own blood” Acts 20:28. Since the father had authority over his daughter after he made the contract she legally and culturally could not refuse. The woman was not required to sign the marriage certificate but the father, groom, and two witnesses.

Although, traditionally there was payment given directly to the father of the bride, the Orthodox Jews accept a gold wedding ring (Rebecca’s gold nose ring) very similar to our engagement ring. Many people believe these principles were the reasons the Church quickly embraced this type of marriage proposal from the man, which formally came from possible pagan and Roman practices. Many cultures believed that the bride price created the rights for a unilateral divorce that only the husband can initiate. For, in theory, how shall someone who paid the bride price be divorced? At this point, it is all about authority and not about ownership.

Traditionally, either the father or the groom did not always ask the daughter for her consent or her hand in marriage. Scripture, on the other hand, suggests the father did ask her prior to the betrothal period. The Jews practice this by offering the bride a drink of the “wine of acceptance.” Only in rare cases were the daughter’s wishes not respected or considered but it still took a volunteered “acceptance” consummation to begin the marriage.

The Jews and Israel still practices the “unilateral” marriage covenant and call it the Ketubah. One side only presented unilateral, meaning oaths and promises. The woman was not required to make vows of her own; she only had to accept his offer to enter into the marriage covenant. The father of the bride and the groom discussed and agreed to the terms of the covenant. The Ketubah in the first century was to offer the woman financial security after a divorce in lieu of a large bride price prior to the marriage.

The unilateral marriage covenant is common for most Jewish marriages today. The Jews have documentation that it had very little changes for 2,400 years. Overall, these symbols are the foundations and making of a marriage covenant but now the scripture of Deut. 24:1 supported an abolishment. Once the covenant has become obsolete, and the woman released from her husband, she now has the freedom to marry another.

Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. The Scripture does not say it was unlawful or immoral for a man to have more than one wife; although, it does say that it was unlawful for a woman to have more than one husband (Rom. 7:1-4). If women divorce their husband according to Deut. 24:1 than men would not be able to multiply wives the way they did in the Old Testament.

Jesus paid a bride price for the church (leaving us an example of a biblical marriage) and offered a unilateral covenant to the Church with one-sided promises. Abraham was also offered a unilateral covenant by God (God went between the slain animals- not Abraham). In contrast, Scripture tells us the Jewish leaders went through the slain animals to enter into their “bilateral” covenant with God through Moses. This made the Mosaic Covenant of “Blessings and Cursing” different from Abraham’s. Since our Covenant was one sided all we had to do was accept the covenant through faith to enter in, much like Abraham’s covenant.

 

Jesus and Paul

The New Testament supports the doctrine that only the man can initiate the divorce and not the woman. The Jews asked Jesus (according to Deut. 24:1) if it was lawful for a “man” to put away his wife for any reason. Jesus did not answer their question directly but rather that Moses permitted it outside of God’s original design. Later in private, Jesus told His disciples that if the man put away his wife for sexual immorality that he would not be guilty of adultery if he married another. Matthew’s gospel written primarily to the Jewish audience is the reason why the exception clause was here.

 

9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

 

The reason Mark has an account of a woman putting away her husband in 10:12 is this book was a letter that was written to Gentiles living in Rome. Because it emphasized that this was a “private” account of Jesus we can understand the author is speaking directly to the Gentile audience, which allowed easy divorces (evident by Harold unlawfully marrying Phillip his brother’s wife and the Samaritan woman having married 5 times).

 

“10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

 

We can also see further evidence that only the man was allowed to initiate the divorce by 1 Cor. 7:10-11. Paul said the departed wife is to “remain unmarried or to be reconciled to her husband.” A woman bound in a way that many thought she was never to marry again (vs. 39). The reason Paul said a divorced woman is not to marry another man is because the only way for a woman to depart from her husband was to do it outside of scriptural concessions. So, Paul wanted to make this point clear both with the particular Greek words that he chooses to use and the very clear command (giving her only two options) of not allowing her to marry another man.

 

“10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”

 

Paul spoke about Jesus’ command saying the wife not to depart from her husband and the man is not to divorce his wife in 1 Cor. 7:10-11. Paul used the very common Greek word “depart” which comes from the same root word used earlier by Jesus when He said, “Do not (separate or depart) what God has joined together.” Since scripture permitted man to put away his wife for porneia and marry another, Paul used a rare and formal Greek word not typically seen in the New Testament. He did this in order to describe a more traditional style Roman divorce (11b).

Josephus used both of these Greek words in a story about a couple who divorced. He showed that the “depart” Greek word was to describe a general leaving or a more informal type of Greco-Roman divorce while the “divorce” word similar to Paul’s in 1 Cor. 7:11b was used by the Greek speaking Jews who wished to obtain a Get (Writ of Divorcement).

 

“But some time afterward, when Salome happened to quarrel with Costobarus, she sent him a bill of divorce and dissolved her marriage with him, though this was not according to the Jewish laws; for with us it is lawful for a husband to do so; but a wife; if she departs (similar to “departs” in 1 Cor. 7:10, 11a, 15a, 15b) from her husband, cannot of herself be married to another, unless her former husband put her away (similar to “divorce” in 1 Cor. 7:11b, 12, 13).” (Josephus Ant. 15.7.10, 259 emphases added)

 

Since the man did have allowances for remarriage Paul did not command him to likewise “remain unmarried or to be reconciled” 1 Cor.7:11. Paul latter says a man “loosed” from his previously “bound” wife will not sin if he marries, and if a virgin marries they will not sin (1 Cor. 7:27-28). Paul calls the men in these teachings “unmarried” men (vs. 32) but refers to the unmarried woman as a “virgin” (vs. 34). Paul says the woman is no longer “bound” to her husband when he dies (vs. 39). This is the first occurrences that a woman scripturally loosed from her husband.

 

“26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned…”

 

Paul uses the formal Greek word for divorce again in both 1 Cor. 7:12 and verse 13 (evidently the women had an improper understanding of gender equality in this church 1 Cor. 11:2-16 and 1 Cor. 14:34-36) because the women must have felt that they had every right to divorce as a man in certain Scriptural mandated situations.

 

“12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.”

 

Therefore, when the question about the Law of Ezra 10:3 came up, among these believers, the women thought they were to obey this Law. They thought they were to put away their unbelieving husband, as the men put away their unbelieving wife. That is, in order to keep the seed pure.

 

“14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”

 

We know this is in reference to Ezra 10:3 because Paul says in 1 Cor.7:14 that the children would otherwise be “unclean” but now they are holy. The believers were later told to separate from the unbelievers and not to be “unequally yoked” together with them 2 Cor. 6. But even with this general understanding (not to touch the unbelievers) already becoming popular in the Corinthian Church, Paul said if the unbeliever wished to stay married than stay married to them since they are now sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor. 7:15 “depart” (same word used by Paul in 1 Cor. 7:10-11a) is in the present tense which demonstrates that the only allowance for a believer to divorce an unbeliever is if the unbeliever has already initiated the divorce according to cultural laws. Paul using the Greek word “departs” in 1 Cor. 7:15a he was demonstrating to the believer that he was authorizing the divorce even if it was for unscriptural reasons.

 

“15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?”

 

Paul responds by commanding the believer not to fight or resist the divorce but to give them this unlawful divorce even if previously commanded not too according to the Law (1 Cor. 7:10-11, 12-14). This is why Paul said that the believers are no-longer in bondage but rather to be at peace with the unbelievers by honouring their request (1 Cor. 7:15c). Paul (Gal. 4) typically referred to the Law as bondage or slavery.

Paul did not speak about remarriage in these last few passages because the Church, being familiar with the Law of Moses and Jesus teachings in the Gospel already, only had to address new situations/questions concerning the equality of divorced Gentile women according to Roman law (1 Cor. 7:11) and those who are married to non-Christians (Ezra 10:3). Besides this, they had no other questions in regards to being “loosed” according to Deut. 24:1.

Paul ends by giving a logical argument in verse 16 to release them from guilt or compulsion by explaining to the believer that we can never know if holding onto the marriage would ever lead to converting their spouse. Therefore, God called us believers to be at peace with the unbeliever and let them go. Paul is not giving his express permission to remarry.

In conclusion: the authority of man, the biblical allowances of polygamy and the general concept of the bride price all point to the woman not being allowed to initiate a divorce by design. Moreover, on the testimony of two or three witnesses every word is established. Amen!

 

References

 

Calvin College Computer Science website. The Christian Classic Eternal Library, CHAPTER 7. HOW HEROD SLEW SOHEMUS AND MARIAMNE AND AFTERWARD ALEXANDRA AND COSTOBARUS, AND HIS MOST INTIMATE FRIENDS, AND AT LAST THE SONS OF BABBAS ALSO. Retrieved Sept. 23, 2016 from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.ii.xvi.vii.html

 

Fineman, J. (2016, January). A Jewish Divorce: The Importance of a “Get”. Retrieved from https://theodysseyonline.com/jewish-divorce

 

Sayen, M.S. (2016, Feb.). Divorce: In the Bible. Saint Paul, MN: Publisher Michael S. Sayen

 

Sayen, M.S. (2016, May). Remarriage: In the Bible. Saint Paul, MN: Publisher Createspace.com

 

Posted in bible, Christian, Christian living, divorce, Divorce and remarriage, If not for fornication, Jesus, Marriage divorce and remarriage, Matt. 19:9, Matthew 19:9, Sales, what does the bible say about divorce | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment