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Author Topic: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?  (Read 5346 times)

Theophilus

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Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
« on: May 01, 2006, 12:11:38 PM »
Hello,

I Just came across this article titled: DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE---What Does The Bible Really Say?):

http://www.bethelministries.com/divorce.htm

This is the conclusion of it:

    "Putting away" and "giving a bill of divorcement" are not the same thing and Christians should realize that a divorce is an absolute dissolution of a marriage. And while a person who puts away a spouse and gives him or her a certificate of divorcement will have to account to God, it is not adultery to be married to a divorced person. Those who teach that divorced people who are married are living in adultery and must separate will have to account to God for that false teaching.

Can anyone comment?

In Christ,

Jorge


Sue Landow

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Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2006, 02:27:06 PM »
This is the conclusion of it:

    "Putting away" and "giving a bill of divorcement" are not the same thing and Christians should realize that a divorce is an absolute dissolution of a marriage. And while a person who puts away a spouse and gives him or her a certificate of divorcement will have to account to God, it is not adultery to be married to a divorced person. Those who teach that divorced people who are married are living in adultery and must separate will have to account to God for that false teaching.

Can anyone comment?

In Christ,

Jorge




My comment is that we will always have people in the church who will look for justification for their sins. We've seen many instances of this on many different subjects. I think many spoke of this as "handling the word of God deceitfully," and I would concur with that judgment. This is no exception.

 Mark 10:11
 "And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her".

 Matthew  5:32
 "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery".

It is a sign of the times that divorce and remarriage are so widespread in the Church and that almost everyone is looking for ways to overlook or justify it. The marriage covenant is so shattered in the church that it seems no one even cares anymore about God's view of marriage.

"And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened". Luke 13:20-21

Theophilus

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Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2006, 02:57:09 PM »
Hello Sue,

Thank you for answer.

My comment is that we will always have people in the church who will look for justification for their sins. We've seen many instances of this on many different subjects. I think many spoke of this as "handling the word of God deceitfully," and I would concur with that judgment. This is no exception.

 Mark 10:11
 "And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her".

 Matthew  5:32
 "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery".

It is a sign of the times that divorce and remarriage are so widespread in the Church and that almost everyone is looking for ways to overlook or justify it. The marriage covenant is so shattered in the church that it seems no one even cares anymore about God's view of marriage.

According to the author, he is not justifying divorce.  He states that there is a biblical differentiation between 'putting away' which is separating from a wife without giving her a bill of divorcement and 'divorcing' which is separating from a wife AND giving her a bill of divorcement.  In the first case 'putting a way' the marriage has not yet being ended, therefore the man (or woman) commits adultery if they marry with another, but if a bill of divorce has been given to the woman, there is no adultery committed with the 'new' marriage to another person since the first marriage has ended an no longer exists, it has ended. He also states that that was the case with God and Israel.  God divorced Israel and said 'you are no longer my wife', therefore, the marriage contract ends when a bill of divorcement has ended and there is no adultery commited by the new marriage, since the 'letter of divorce' was disigned to do just that "allow another marriage".

Thanks,

Jorge

Sue Landow

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Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2006, 04:03:03 PM »
According to the author, he is not justifying divorce. 


But that's what they all say, is it not?  He's no different than anyone else.


Quote
He states that there is a biblical differentiation between 'putting away' which is separating from a wife without giving her a bill of divorcement and 'divorcing' which is separating from a wife AND giving her a bill of divorcement.  In the first case 'putting a way' the marriage has not yet being ended, therefore the man (or woman) commits adultery if they marry with another, but if a bill of divorce has been given to the woman, there is no adultery committed with the 'new' marriage to another person since the first marriage has ended an no longer exists, it has ended.

He says yes, but the bible does not agree with him. I repeat what I quoted before.


 Matthew  5:32
 "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery".


Anyone who marries someone who has been divorced, is committing adultery. So he is wrong. A divorced person cannot remarry.


"And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened". Luke 13:20-21

Theophilus

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Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2006, 08:33:03 PM »
Hello

He says yes, but the bible does not agree with him. I repeat what I quoted before.

 Matthew  5:32
 "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery".

Anyone who marries someone who has been divorced, is committing adultery. So he is wrong. A divorced person cannot remarry.

In that verse Matt 5:32, the word translated 'put away' is [apoluo] and the word translated 'divorced' is also [apoluo]. So, it seems that his arguement stands since there is a difference being made between 'putting away' [apolou] AND 'divorcement' [apostasion] (v. 31) in which case there would be no 'adultery' in a new marriage since the previous marriage has been legally ended, thus allowing the put away woman to remarry withouth incurring in adultery.

The reason for my post is to further investigate if such a distinction is a sound one or if the Bible is just using the two words as 'synonyms'.

The Strongs Lexicon definitions are as follows:

Quote
apoluo

1) to set free

2) to let go, dismiss, (to detain no longer)

a) a petitioner to whom liberty to depart is given by a decisive answer

b) to bid depart, send away

3) to let go free, release

a) a captive i.e. to loose his bonds and bid him depart, to give him liberty to depart

b) to acquit one accused of a crime and set him at liberty

c) indulgently to grant a prisoner leave to depart

d) to release a debtor, i.e. not to press one's claim against him, to remit his debt

4) used of divorce, to dismiss from the house, to repudiate. The wife of a Greek or Roman may divorce her husband.

5) to send one's self away, to depart

AND...

Quote
apostasion

1) divorce, repudiation

2) a bill of divorce

In Christ,

Jorge


Sue Landow

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Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2006, 10:20:38 PM »

In that verse Matt 5:32, the word translated 'put away' is [apoluo] and the word translated 'divorced' is also [apoluo]. So, it seems that his arguement stands since there is a difference being made between 'putting away' [apolou] AND 'divorcement' [apostasion] (v. 31)

apostasion simply means separation, which is the same thing as putting away. I don't believe that it stands by that Greek word. Would you say the dragon and the serpent represent two different things because they are different words. I don't believe that, because they are synonyms. I think that is just more justification of divorce without any real basis for it. I don't read anywhere that God made a distinction between putting away your wife and divorcement.

 Mark 10:2-4
"And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away".

Clearly this bill of divorcement that you could put away your wife represents the same thing, not two separate things. By writing a bill of divorcement, you would have lawfully put her away. I still think it is simply another case of of this guy attempting to make justification of divorce without biblical backing. Everybody has a different reason why they can divorce and remarry. This is just one of them. I've heard ten or eleven more.


Quote
in which case there would be no 'adultery' in a new marriage since the previous marriage has been legally ended, thus allowing the put away woman to remarry withouth incurring in adultery.

That ignores the rest of the bible which commands there is no legal ending of marriage because what God hath joined together no man is to put asunder. But they always just ignore this law. This seems to me to be just another attempt to justify divorce. Not surprising, but still a little insight into the deceit that Christians will accept if it is with a slick presentation.

"And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened". Luke 13:20-21

Theophilus

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Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2006, 07:09:29 AM »
Hello Sue,


Quote
in which case there would be no 'adultery' in a new marriage since the previous marriage has been legally ended, thus allowing the put away woman to remarry withouth incurring in adultery.

That ignores the rest of the bible which commands there is no legal ending of marriage because what God hath joined together no man is to put asunder. But they always just ignore this law. This seems to me to be just another attempt to justify divorce. Not surprising, but still a little insight into the deceit that Christians will accept if it is with a slick presentation.


If there is no 'legal' ending of marriage, how are we then to understand the declaration of God who said that Israel was no longer his wife and that He was not her husband:

    Hosea 2
     1 "Say of your brothers, 'My people,' and of your sisters, 'My loved one.'

    Israel Punished and Restored
     2 "Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
          for she is not my wife,
           and I am not her husband.

           Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
           and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts. [/list]

    I see that God "legally" divorced (terminated the marriage) with Israel because of spiritual adultery.

    In Christ,

    Jorge

    Tony Warren

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    Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
    « Reply #7 on: May 02, 2006, 08:38:55 AM »
    >>>
    apostasion simply means separation, which is the same thing as putting away. I don't believe that it stands by that Greek word. Would you say the dragon and the serpent represent two different things because they are different words. I don't believe that, because they are synonyms.
    <<<

    Very well stated Sue. Both the words divorce and putting away are illustrating a separation. It's no more complicated than that. But leave it to willful man to complicate something for his own purposes. The two words are synonymous in meaning, and this can be easily seen in their root meaning. The Greek word [apoluo] often used for "putting away" is from the two root Greek words [apo] meaning off, and [luo] meaning to loose. To be off from or to loose from, and by extension it means to be separate from. Loose is a word used for separated or "not joined." Likewise the Greek word [apostasion] from divorce is derived from the root Greek word [aphistemi] meaning to be removed from. i.e., to be put away from or removed away from. So clearly it basically means the very same thing as the word translated "put away." Namely, it is simply a separation of something, or a being loosed or removed away from something.

    As a practical example, the word used in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 translated "falling away" in describing the apostasy of the church, is  [apostasia] and is derived from the "EXACT" same word [apostasion]. Again, it simply means a separation or "removing away" from the faith. So the two Greek words are synonymous with each other in meaning. A removing away or a putting away is the same thing. This "theory" that these two words carry some different meaning is self-serving and groundless as far as scripture goes. This kind of thing is often brought about by the grammatical-historical form of interpretation, which is an unsound hermeneutic.


    Quote
    >>>
    I think that is just more justification of divorce without any real basis for it. I don't read anywhere that God made a distinction between putting away your wife and divorcement.
    <<<

    Thank God for the faithfulness of His people. Yes, unfortunately you are right again. Particularly about the inherent "humanistic" deceit and underpinnings of such declarations. As I've said many times, whatever man wants, he can imagine in his heart the justification to have it.

    Jeremiah 16:12
    • "And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:"

    The same man of lawlessness in the house of faith, making up precepts so that he can walk every one after the imagination of his own heart. Lawlessness is found in not hearkening to God's commandments, refusing to receive the love of truth. And why? Because man wants to divorce. He doesn't really like what God says about hating it. And because he wants to have the avenue of being loosed from the marriage bonds (as did the Pharisees), he wrests scripture in order to have it his way. The "why" man does this is simple if we understand the nature of man. But it's the deceivers with their purporting biblical justification that makes God's laws seem complicated.And man doesn't need much to seek justification "wherever" he may find it.

    Mark 10:2
    • ""And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him."[/li[
    Clearly they are asking about divorce.

    Mark 10:3-4
    • "And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
    • And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away".

    Again, clearly they are referring to divorce.


    Quote
    >>>
    Clearly this bill of divorcement that you could put away your wife represents the same thing, not two separate things. By writing a bill of divorcement, you would have lawfully put her away (divorced her).
    <<<

    ..and all God's people said A M E N ! There is not one single scripture that illustrates that putting away was not divorce.

    Ezra 10:3
    • "Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law."

    Clearly, they divorced those strangers who they had married contrary to the law of God. And the word used for this covenant of divorcement is "put away," or [yatsa] meaning to go away from, or separate from. Again, clearly here, as you have demonstrated in the chapter of Mark, the phrase "put away" is used as synonymous with divorce.

    ...of course, not that any of this will convince anyone who seeks divorce or justification of it, for man will always find ways to get around the word of God.

    Deuteronomy 5:32
    • "Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left."

    Yet they will not hearken unto the Lord and they turn to the right, and they turn to the left so that the don't have to see what is right in front of them. This is nothing new in God's house.


    Quote
    >>>
    ..in which case there would be no 'adultery' in a new marriage since the previous marriage has been legally ended, thus allowing the put away woman to remarry withouth incurring in adultery.

    That ignores the rest of the bible which commands there is no legal ending of marriage because what God hath joined together no man is to put asunder.
    <<<

    Bingo! It's very easy to come to wrong conclusions when you don't take the whole Bible into consideration and just pick and choose verses were the Greek can be subtly manipulated. If we only receive truth that we want and ignore the rest, we cdan believe anything.

    Matthew 19:5
    • "And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
    • Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, Let not man put asunder."

    There is God's command that today's Christians refuse to hearken unto. Translated today to mean, "What God has joined together, man can pull it asunder if he gives her a bill of divorcement as Moses commanded." This is deceit! Indeed, the Church today has made this law of God pretty much null and void. They have almost completely eliminated it from God's word, not by literally removing it from the paper of the book, but in their works! And all it took was a Pastor declaring that they could receive a bill of divorcement.

    Matthew 19:7-8
    • "They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
    • He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so."

    Again, they effectively remove completely Christ's answer to them against writing a bill of divorcement, and against putting your wife away, and against the Old Testament Law of Moses allowing divorce, and they proceed "as if" Christ really hadn't addressed the question of if Divorce was still allowed at all!

    Why?

    Because they "want" divorce to be lawful and so they ignore, trample under foot, or wrest any scripture which declares it not lawful.

    Jeremiah 17:9
    • "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

    But God knows it, and He is not mocked by appearances, by sophistry, or by Greek manipulation.


    Quote
    >>>
     Not surprising, but still a little insight into the deceit that Christians will accept if it is with a slick presentation.
    <<<

    Amen! "Deceit" is the operative word. And let's not kid ourselves, man would accept divorce even without a slick presentation, because he wants to. i.e., it's the will of man at work in the Church again forsaking the will of God. An apostasy or separation from the true faith! The "eye" is the window to the world and man has seen carnality he has pleasure in it just like the unbelievers. The phrase, if thine eye offends thee, pluck it out is pretty much meaningless today. Only the true child of God will have the strong desire to do the will of God and to receive the love of truth. The rest will all look for self justification and seek ways where they can claim to be following God, and yet continue to do their own will rather than His. That is why we have the great plague of divorce and remarriage crop up and spread like wildfire in the Church. Where is the balm? Where is the medicine? Where is the ointment? Where is the physicians of the Church to lay hands on the sick to fight this plague? Is their treatment with wormwood and their sores covered in the soot of self justification?

    2nd Thessalonians 2:3
    • "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"

    A putting away, a separating, a divorcing oneself from the faith once delivered unto the saints! It's all the same thing! And as Judas was the son of perdition and yet a part of the 12, so there are those in the Church today who are sons of perdition and yet a part of the Church. Satan has deceived them and they have fallen away as surely as Satan entered Judas and he betrayed Christ. This speaks of the "putting away" of the love of truth, so that lawlessness is the rule seated in the holy temple. It is a separation from the truth of those in the house of faith. Using the Greek deceitfully as a means to accomplish this is just part of the great picture, the great deception. Behold He has told us before, and we've seen it before, even in this forum. And we'll see it again.

    Jeremiah 17:9-10
    • "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
    • I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."

    Divorce is an unruly evil plague on both society in general, and the Church in particular. But it's made even worse when you have the so-called leaders and ministers of the Church bending over backwards to justify it.

    nosce te ipsum"
     
    Peace,
    Tony Warren
    "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. -Psalms 32:5"

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    Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
    « Reply #8 on: May 02, 2006, 09:11:27 AM »
    Quote
    >>>
    If there is no 'legal' ending of marriage,
    <<<

    Romans 7:2
    • "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband."
    1st Corinthians 7:39
    • "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord."
    There "is" no leagl divorce, the wife is bound by the law of God to her husband so long as he lives. Or to put it as Christ did:

    Matthew 19:6
    • "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
    The problem is not in God not saying it, the problem lies within man not receiving it. God says He Hates putting away (divorce). 


    Quote
    >>>
    I see that God "legally" divorced (terminated the marriage) with Israel because of spiritual adultery.

    In Christ,

    Jorge
    <<<

    But that's the whole point. The law of Moses allowing for putting away (divorce) was allowed because of the hardness of Israel's heart (Matthew 24). So that because of Israel's sin and inability to keep the law, by God's separation from them, salvation could go to the whole world. Through the marriage of the world to Christ. But from the beginning divorce or putting away was not so. In other words, divorce is not (and never has been) God's plan for His people. God allowed Moses to institute it for Salvation's sake. A Spiritual picture. That we "all" could be married to the Lamb through faith, and not think as Israel, that we could get right with God by the law of Moses.

    Jeremiah 3:1
    • "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD."

    How is that possible via the law? It's not, it's only possible via marriage to God "through Christ." The congregation Israel could be divorced, the eternal Congregation cannot because they are married through Christ. This is an eternal marriage of the New Testament era. In it there can be no divorce possible because of sin (our spiritual fornication), for Christ will never leave or forsake us because of our breaking of the law. Likewise:

    Ephesians 5:25
    • "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"

    We husbands are equated with Christ in our dealing with our wives. So if Christ could ever divorce His Church, then yes, man is free to divorce. But Christ would NEVER put away His bride for we are "joined" part of Him in communion. Inseperable is how Christ loves the Church. He loves His wife unconditionally, not conditionally as the Covenant with Israel! This is what man neglects. These are two different Covenants, one of law (the law of Moses) and one Grace (the Grace of Christ). Two different marriages, one subject to divorce because of the hardness of Israel's heart, and one never ever "EVER" subject to divorce. Which marriage covenant are we of is the real question. Yes, it's unpalatable in our day, but it is the will of God that there be no divorce by His people!

    nosce te ipsum"
     
    Peace,
    Tony Warren
    "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. -Psalms 32:5"

    Theophilus

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    Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
    « Reply #9 on: May 02, 2006, 11:52:10 AM »
    Hello Tony,

    Thanks to everyone who replied for your answers.  It was that 'detail' about ‘putting away’ vs. ‘divorce’ and the supposed “different” meanings or concepts of the Greek words that prompted my posting here. 

    >>>
    But that's the whole point. The law of Moses allowing for putting away (divorce) was allowed because of the hardness of Israel's heart (matthew 24). So that because of Israel's sin and inability to keep the law, salvation could go to the whole world through the marriage of Christ.


    How is that possible via the law? It's not, it's only possible via marriage to God "through Christ." The congregation Israel could be divorced, the eternal Congregation cannot because they are married through Christ. This is an eternal marriage of the New Testament era.
    <<<


    I agree.  Christ followed the law and to make things completely ‘legal’, Christ (Jehova God) did not simply make a new marriage covenant relationship with Israel without ‘first’ legally abolishing the previous relationship through his own death on the cross.  When the husband dies, the woman dies in him therefore their marriage is done away with (terminated) and she is free and can marry again.  After Christ died (…and we with Him) and rose again, Paul says that now the church (Israel) is married to ‘another’, not the one who died with an Old Covenant but to the one who rose from the dead:

      Romans 7

      4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.[/list]

      So, even while in the Old Testament there was permission given to ‘legally’ divorce a wife and God did so He did not remarry without first abolishing the first marriage contract. He (Jehova God) died in the person of Christ to ‘end’ the previous contract by death and thereby establishing a “NEW Covenant” with the church. A New marriage Covenant that was promised to Israel in Hosea 2 and fulfilled in the Church through Christ.

      There is no doubt in my mind and my heart that 'marriage' is terminated only by death.  I am sickened by and my soul cries with the present 'increasingly ongoing' situation in the Church where ministers and pastors so easily divorce their wives and say they have God's approval and 'biblical basis' for doing so.  Sadly, everything is done in the name of 'Grace', 'Love' and 'Understanding'.

      Question 1:

      Tony, since a marriage after a divorce is adultery, what practical pastoral counsel can we give to those who realized that they have been wrongly adviced into re-marrying after a divorce.  People ask me that often and I honestly have a hard time answering that question.  When I was a kid I remember people were told to get a 'divorce' since that marriage was not 'lawful' in the eyes of God. It was really adultery.

      Question 2:

      Based on 1 Chor. 7, I thought that 'separation' (departing) means 'divorced' and that a couple could get back together after they had separated:

        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.

      But I was told recently (in casual conversation) that the Bible 'forbids' a man from remarrying his divorced wife again even if he/she has not married someone else.  I know that Deut 24 talks against receiving a wife 'back' after she has being married to another man.  Do you know of any verses that forbid a re-union of a couple after a divorced has occured?

      In Christ,

      Jorge


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      Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
      « Reply #10 on: May 02, 2006, 12:14:21 PM »
      A great paper on this topic (IMHO) is from John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/library/topics/divorce_remarriage/div_rem_paper.html

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      maestro232

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      Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
      « Reply #11 on: May 02, 2006, 12:17:34 PM »
      I wrote a position paper on this a couple of years ago too.  I don't know if it's helpful or not:

      Quote
      Concerning Remarriage

      by J. P. Hession

      Introduction

      Permit me to begin with two thoughts. First, I am not a Biblical scholar, nor do I have training in Biblical exegesis. Such training would be helpful in tackling this issue, but I do not believe it is a necessary prerequisite. It is my belief that we can come before God's Word and still leave with a prodigious understanding of His will for marriage regardless of our professional training or lack of it. Praise God for the understanding He gives us through the Holy Spirit. This is not to discount the vastly helpful scholarly works on the subject. And, more importantly, the whole of the Bible speaks volumes to this issue. Second, this paper is not meant to be a condemnation in any way. Our God is a God of grace and mercy and forgiveness. That we sin in this very area and receive God’s forgiveness, however, does not nullify the value of forming a clear and solid belief that can guide our future decisions despite our pasts.

      This paper, then, is not an exegetical study of the scriptures, but rather, an attempt to bring together and discuss some key Biblical texts that seem relevant to the topic of remarriage. My hope is that this paper would simply serve as an encouragement to seek obedience in this area and to trust in God’s promises above all other things.

      Foundations of Marriage

      A well-rounded discussion on the issue of remarriage necessarily includes a look at God’s intention for marriage and His commands about divorce. There are many texts we could look at, but I will suggest just a few passages here that might serve as a representative of God’s will for marriage.

      Perhaps a reasonable place to start is in the very first pages of the Bible. I have come to find more and more value in Genesis as wholly relevant to us today. Furthermore, it lays out God’s will for all of creation over all of time. And, as we know, God begins to reveal His will in regards to marriage in these first chapters of Genesis.

      And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:22-24 ESV)

      I could say many things about this passage, but Paul gives it much force in Ephesians 5.

      "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph 5:31-33 ESV)

      I want to stress a couple of important points from these passages before we look at texts dealing with remarriage. Firstly, notice that there is a mysterious literal and allegorical one-flesh relationship in marriage created purposefully that way by God to demonstrate His relationship to us. We have a Creator who has an intention for marriage. Therefore, it is significant whether we ignore or obey His commands in this area.

      Secondly, these passages implore us to hold fast to our partner. Marriage is not a relationship to be held loosely. It was created to be permanent. Just as Christ holds fast to His Church despite the Church’s adulterous behavior toward Christ, we are expected to hold fast to our husband or wife, despite their adulterous behavior toward us. I encourage you to read the book of Hosea, as God uses Hosea and his adulterous wife to illustrate this very point.

      Let’s look at another passage.

      And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, "Why does he not?" Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. "For the man who hates and divorces, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless." (Mal 2:13-16 ESV)

      Notice the phrase, “…with a portion of the Spirit in their union.” This is profound. It seems that the union created by marriage is not just the union of a man and a woman. This is the union of a man, a woman, and God. God becomes a part of that one-flesh relationship. We should not fall into the trap of thinking that a divorce only breaks bonds with each other. A divorce from a marriage union is also a divorce from a union with God.

      I would encourage readers to spend time dwelling on these and the many other passages that speak about marriage. As we come to a deeper appreciation and understanding of God’s will for the marriage union, it will greatly shape how we think about divorce and remarriage.

      Prohibitions Against Remarriage

      There are several passages in the Bible that speak with clarity on the issue of remarriage. Again, I am not a Biblical Scholar, and I recognize that scholars on both sides of the issue have studied and analyzed the texts and have come up with reasons for or against remarriage. I would like us to seek out the spirit of the law in these passages, though, and see if we can gain a sense of clarity and peace about God’s Word in this area without having to pick apart the Greek.

      First, let us look at a few Old Testament passages.

      "If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? (Jer 3:1 ESV)


      "When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. (Deut 24:2-4 ESV)

      Let me first mention that the divorce spoken of here was only allowed by Moses ‘because of the hardness of their hearts.’ Christ establishes in the Gospels that this is not permission for us to divorce. The main thing I want to draw our attention to here, though, is how Moses classifies divorce and remarriage. The scenario is that a woman is sent off by her first husband, remarries, and is later sent off by her second husband. Moses then concludes, “Her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife.” Moses seems to be telling us here that creating a new marital union makes it impossible to come back to the former union. “For that is an abomination before the LORD.” The defilement that occurs from remarriage in this passage is great, as it is called an abomination even after the issuance of a ‘lawful’ divorce.

      Let us keep this in mind as we look at Christ’s teaching in the New Testament.

      And he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” (Luke 16:15-18 ESV)

      The context of this passage is that Christ is telling a parable to His disciples. At the end of His lesson Christ concludes, “You can’t serve both God and money.” He seems, from His parable, to be appealing to our usage of things in this world. They will either aid or hinder us in the life to come depending on how we use and regard them here on earth. This draws the attention and ridicule of the watching Pharisees who “were lovers of money.” Christ has some words for them, which is the portion of the passage I have included, and then tells them another parable, this time of a man’s eternal torture because of his abuse of the things of this world. It is in these few words in between parables that Christ speaks about divorce and remarriage. It seems strange then, that this instruction would be here. Perhaps, though, it is connected.

      Matthew Henry suggests that the link is the phrase, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.” He says,

      “The moral law is confirmed and ratified, and not one tittle of that fails; the duties enjoined by it are duties still; the sins forbidden by it are sins still. Nay, the precepts of it are explained and enforced by the gospel, and made to appear more spiritual. The ceremonial law is perfected in the gospel colours; not one tittle of that fails, for it is found printed off in the gospel, where, though the force of it is as a law taken off, yet the figure of it as a type shines very brightly, witness the epistle to the Hebrews.”

      Perhaps then, Christ’s command concerning divorce and remarriage here is an example of the written law which God established that has not changed, but is reiterated and brought to even more light in the Gospels. I contend that is exactly how the New Testament treats this issue. And, the first example is Christ’s perfectly clear command in verse 18 that says, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Christ purposefully chose this command as an illustration of written law that has not changed.

      Christ’s command here is so clear that there seems to be no room for misinterpretation. He says that two things are adultery. One, divorcing and remarrying another is committing adultery. Two, marrying someone who is divorced is committing adultery. John Piper reiterates this,

      This verse shows that Jesus does not recognize divorce as terminating a marriage in God's sight. The reason a second marriage is called adultery is because the first one is considered to still be valid. So Jesus is taking a stand against the Jewish culture in which all divorce was considered to carry with it the right of remarriage...Since there are no exceptions mentioned in the verse, and since Jesus is clearly rejecting the common cultural conception of divorce as including the right of remarriage, the first readers of this gospel would have been hard-put to argue for any exceptions on the basis that Jesus shared the cultural assumption that divorce for unfaithfulness or desertion freed a spouse for remarriage. [John Piper; Divorce and Remarriage: A Position Paper; Desiring God Ministries; July 21, l986]

      Were it not for the enormous number of objections and disagreements on Christ’s teaching about this matter, I would just stop right here. Unfortunately, one verse rarely convinces. Let us go to another Gospel.

      And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away." And Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." (Mark 10:2-12 ESV)

      This passage reaffirms the first passage in every way. Let me draw your attention to a few particular points. Firstly, Christ uses the one flesh nature of a marriage union as a reason that divorce is not allowed. He appeals to our creation, stating God’s intentions for us. Secondly, notice that Christ acknowledges, as we saw earlier, that this union is something that God created, not man. A marriage union is of God’s making with “a portion of the Spirit in it.” Thirdly, Christ appeals to the commandment “You shall not commit adultery,” and calls divorce and remarriage adultery again when He is speaking with just His disciples. This same account also appears in Matthew 19:3-8.

      Finally, let us look at Paul’s teaching on divorce and remarriage.

      To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife? (l Corinthians 7:10-16 ESV)

      Paul has several commands here, which he says come from the Lord. Paul first states that a wife should not separate from her husband. Then he says that if the wife does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled. There is a kind of separation, then, that appears to keep the marriage union in tact. Paul seems to allow this with the intention of the two coming together again. However, because he first says the woman should not separate, per orders from God, it seems akin to when Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of hearts. And, as we saw in the Gospels, Christ speaks to this by saying that it is not supposed to be that way and it is not what the law commands.

      Paul also deals with the case of a believer being married to an unbeliever. Again, the command is, do not divorce him/her. The only exception here is that, “If the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so.” Still the believer may not divorce, then, but only let the unbeliever leave.

      Only After Death

      I recognize our reluctance to take these words for what they seem to be saying. The case seems totally clear from these passages, though, so as we move into this next section, let us keep in mind these teachings so that they will frame our understanding for these other passages. The only exception for remarriage which seems totally clear is for the case of a spouse dying.

      A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God. (l Corinthians 7:39,40 ESV)

      Or do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to those who know the law--that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. (Romans 7:1-3 ESV)

      Paul reiterates yet again the clear teaching of Christ on the issue of remarriage and allows only for the exception of death.

      Exceptions?

      At this point, let me recall the clear teaching of Christ and Paul up to this point. Remarriage is adultery unless the spouse has died. Separation is allowed, but they must remain unmarried, because the union is still in tact. This is what we have now seen in several passages. Let us turn, then, to the infamous ‘exception clause.’ It would not be fair for me to discuss the issue of remarriage without looking at the passages in the Bible that are used to allow remarriage in the body of Christ today.

      "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31,32 ESV)

      He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." (Matthew 19:8,9 ESV)

      It is the phrase, “except for sexual immorality” which has opened up the doors for Biblical remarriage in the church. The text is often interpreted to be saying that remarriage is ok if ‘sexual immorality’ was involved. That is, if a partner was discovered to be having an affair, for example, divorce and remarriage by the other partner is allowed. This, then, seems to be the item worth refuting, because if we settle it in our hearts and minds that this is not so, then the whole issue will be settled.

      Let me first say, though, that if we are to take these passages to mean that divorce and remarriage is ok only for sexual immorality then that means divorce and remarriage is not allowed any other time. We have already established this from all of the other passages. Many divorces and remarriages in the Christian community, though, do not abide by this exception. If this was indeed an exception, thousands of people considering marriages in the Church still do not fall into this category.

      That being said, I do not believe marital unfaithfulness is the one exception besides death. Primarily, I don’t believe this because Matthew seems to fly in the face of all of these other teachings. Matthew is the only one who includes the clause ‘except for sexual immorality,’ and it is the only place in the scriptures that suggests such an exception. That only Matthew would include this exception should give us pause. When there are several other places in scripture that are clear about Christ’s teaching, we should be cautioned by a phrase that seems to imply something different.

      The teaching on remarriage is so clear to me from the whole of scripture that I confidently deem the exception as incorrectly interpreted if believed to allow remarriage. How, then, do I explain its inclusion? There are several good theories of course, but before I point you to the one that seems most likely to me, let me once again stress something. When the rest of scripture is saying something contrary, we must reconcile it with the rest of scripture. A passage that cannot stand crystal clear on its own should be read through the lens of all of the other passages that do speak clearly.

      That being said, let me suggest a rather appealing explanation for why only Matthew adds an exception to divorce and remarriage in his gospel account while the other two, Mark and Luke, do not. This explanation comes from John Piper, who suggests that Matthew was distinguishing betrothal from marriage, and implications of his writings earlier in the gospel necessitated a clarification here. He says,

      In these verses [Matt 1:18-20] Joseph and Mary are referred to each other as husband (aner) and wife (gunaika). Yet they are described as only being betrothed to each other. This is probably owing to the fact that the words for husband and wife are simply man and woman and to the fact that betrothal was a much more significant commitment then than engagement is today. In verse 19 Joseph resolves "to divorce" Mary. The word for divorce is the same as the word in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. But most important of all, Matthew says that Joseph was "just" in making the decision to divorce Mary, presumably on account of her porneia, fornication. Therefore, as Matthew proceeded to construct the narrative of his gospel, he finds himself in chapter 5 and then later in chapter 19, in a difficult situation. He has before him the absolute sayings of Jesus that if a man divorces his wife and marries another he commits adultery, that is, he commits a grave injustice. Nevertheless, the one divorce that Matthew has contemplated with his readers in chapter 1 has been described by him as a "just" possibility. Therefore, in order to avoid the jarring inconsistency between what he has said about Joseph and what Jesus says about divorce, Matthew inserts the exception clause in order to exonerate Joseph and show that the kind of divorce that one might pursue during a betrothal on account of fornication, is not included in what Jesus had said. [John Piper; On Divorce and Remarriage in the Event of Adultery; Desiring God Ministries]

      I believe, then, that this phrase ‘except for adultery’ is not an exception, but rather, a clarification. Let me say one other thing about the exception clause. If we look carefully at the grammatical form of the phrase in Matthew 5:32, the ‘exception’ seems to refer to the statement ‘you may not divorce your wife,’ and not the statement, ‘anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’ Let’s look at this verse again.

      But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (ESV)

      Here, the ‘exception’ or ‘clarification’ refers to divorcing. The phrase does not get associated with marrying a divorced woman, regardless of whether or not the divorce was justified. Let us look at one more translation.

      But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (NASB)

      Again, we can see that the exception does not refer to marrying someone who is divorced. My contention then is this: If Matthew is making a valid exception to divorce, then so be it; but he still is not making an exception to remarriage. There has been no passage shown that allows remarriage, and only in the Gospel of Matthew do we see the possibility that divorce is allowed. My conviction from the clarity of scripture is that neither divorce nor remarriage is a ‘Biblical option’ under any circumstances. Further, if we are to read the Matthew passage as an exception rather than a clarification, it still does not allow remarriage.

      Implications

      At this point, you may be strongly objecting to my exposition of Scripture’s teaching on this subject. That objection may be purely based on theological disagreements, but perhaps for some, it is the drastic nature of the implications that cause discomfort. For those that have read this paper and become open and curious to further study of this issue but struggling with the undeniable implications of this truth, let me first offer some encouragement and then close with a few practical observations that could have a dramatic effect on our whole culture years down the road.

      Let me ask three questions. One, do you believe that God’s ways will bring you the most happiness and fruit in your life? This is a crucial question and the answer probably changes day by day and hour by hour for some. I know that is true for me. I feel that truth strongly in some areas of my life, but in others, I hold on to my own view of what is best for me, not God’s. Surely this is a lifelong process of turning every area of our lives over to God. The more areas we turn over to God, the more we can see that He knows best. So the question is simple: Do you trust that God’s command in THIS area is really the very best for you? Answering this question probably takes a good deal of prayer and reflection. I trust that the answer is ‘yes’ intellectually for many of us. Does that ‘yes’ resound deeply in our souls, though? Do we know it is true in a way that causes us to forsake our own desires for obedience to Him?

      The second question is this: do you believe that God will provide all of the strength you need to be obedient to His Word and lay hold on His promises? My hope is that you would read this as a rhetorical question; that the answer would immediately and unquestioningly be ‘yes.’ God has made this promise clear to us in many, many places of scripture. (Phil 4:13).

      Finally, let me ask a third question. Do you believe that disobeying God in this area will lead to pain and difficulty and dishonor that might have been avoided? Not only does God know what is best for us, but He also knows what is not good for us. Divorce and remarriage are not neutral subjects. They have dramatic effects on all involved. This leads me into some closing thoughts, that is, what might the future look like with a different mindset in the Christian community?

      One dramatic effect of a non-remarriage mindset, I believe, would be a significant decrease in the number of divorces. If things are getting hard in a home and divorce is being considered, the weight of that decision looks very different depending on the perceived options. If a person believes remarriage is ok, then it is tempting to think, “It is a shame that I have to terminate this marriage, but perhaps there is someone better out there.” Sure, a person may not be already thinking about who they could marry, but just having the security of knowing you can try again is enough to lighten the burden of separation. On the other hand, if a person has a non-remarriage mindset, their future is confined to singlehood if they separate. A decision to divorce, then, is understood to be a decision to live alone. This, I predict, would make many couples think twice about divorce and stick it out in their own marriages.

      Summary

      Let me summarize all that I’ve said quickly. First, we have seen, I believe, a clear indication from scripture that divorce and remarriage are prohibited by God, the explanation of which is grounded in our very creation in the beginning. The one apparent exception we found to this appears in only one Gospel, flying in the face of the rest of scripture. This exception can better be explained as a clarification on teachings about betrothal rather than exceptions to divorce. Further, if in this passage, there is indeed an exception made for divorce, it still cannot be connected with remarriage. Best case scenario: the only grounds for divorce are marital unfaithfulness and there are no grounds for remarriage. Most Christians do not fall into this strict category in their decisions to divorce or remarry. Finally, if we do believe these teachings, we must trust that God will give us the strength to obey. The benefits on our lives and our whole culture could be dramatic. May God give us an understanding of His Word and the strength to obey.

      A friend and servant of Jesus
      www.hessionweb.com/godissovereign

      Sojourner

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      Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
      « Reply #12 on: May 02, 2006, 02:05:38 PM »

      Bingo! It's very easy to come to wrong conclusions when you don't take the whole Bible into consideration and just pick and choose verses where the Greek can be subtly manipulated. If we only receive truth that we want and ignore the rest, we can believe anything.



      A wise man once told me,

      "beware of gifts bearing Greek."  ;)

      And it still means that I should be wary of people offering me  the  gift of divorce by manipulating Greek to their own benefit. It seems nothing has changed in all these years doesn't it? At least, not for the best.

      Sojourner

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      Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
      « Reply #13 on: May 02, 2006, 02:09:44 PM »
      For any of the new guys and gals who haven't read it yet, here is an excellent article by Tony Warren, "Divorce and Remarriage: The Authority of scripture!"

      http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/divorce.html


      Worth reading carefully. Because something stinks in denmark!

      Sojourner

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      Re: Is Divorce The Same As Putting Away?
      « Reply #14 on: May 02, 2006, 02:12:09 PM »
      I wrote a position paper on this a couple of years ago too.  I don't know if it's helpful or not:


        I like that. Very interesting.



       


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