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Rigid/legalistic doctrine concerning divorce and remarriage
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Post Rigid/legalistic doctrine concerning divorce and remarriage Dave Dorsey
We sometimes see extremely rigid/legalistic views toward divorce and remarriage on this forum. For example, absolutely no grace or space for a woman who is abused, but whose husband does not want to abandon her. The text says what it says, and we must interpret and apply it rigidly and legalistically.

If I were to leave my wife and pursue marriage with someone who was leaving her husband for me, we would all surely agree that both me and my mistress would be committing a heinous sin. We would be committing adultery.

However, if I were to first murder both my wife and my mistress' husband, the rigid divorce/remarriage folks would have no biblical objection to my resulting marriage. It would, in their eyes, absolutely not be any form of adultery. I would need to repent of having committed two murders, sure, but my new marriage would not be adulterous.

I do not object to a very conservative view of divorce. I could never in good conscience counsel a Christian couple to divorce and remarry. But if we are going to place an abused woman in bondage so long as her husband doesn't have an affair, we also must acknowledge that the same rigid textual approach gives her freedom if she will just murder her husband first.

Does that strike anyone else as maybe just a little bit off?

"For 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 7:2-3
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Post Quiet Wyatt
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Post Re: Rigid/legalistic doctrine concerning divorce and remarriage Link
Dave Dorsey wrote:
However, if I were to first murder both my wife and my mistress' husband, the rigid divorce/remarriage folks would have no biblical objection to my resulting marriage. It would, in their eyes, absolutely not be any form of adultery. I would need to repent of having committed two murders, sure, but my new marriage would not be adulterous.


But some 'rigid divorce folks' would object that you should be stoned for your hypothetical crimes, assuming there were witnesses.

Quote:

I do not object to a very conservative view of divorce. I could never in good conscience counsel a Christian couple to divorce and remarry. But if we are going to place an abused woman in bondage so long as her husband doesn't have an affair, we also must acknowledge that the same rigid textual approach gives her freedom if she will just murder her husband first.


We can also separate 'divorce and remarriage' into 'divorce' and 'remarriage'. We could throw separation in there, too.

Normally, a king's subject, one of his generals, should be faithful to his king. If the king is anointed by God (as a 'prince' even if not as a king), the general should obey the king. But David ran away. Why? Saul was 'abusive'. He was trying to kill David, throwing spears and such. Under normal circumstances, David should have stuck around. But the threat to his life was another consideration.

David did not betray Saul, though, but promoting himself or supporting himself as another king, so that he could be provided for and be in a safer situation.

An abusive situation in marriage-- and I mean a serious situation with physical abuse not just occasional name calling, which is bad but I digress-- is an unusual circumstance. But if a woman's husband is abusive, how does that mean she is free to remarry.

If your spouse kills someone, steals, does drugs, is violent, doesn't support your ministry, etc. how does that make it not adultery to marry someone else?

Paul says, 'but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.' Isn't that the verse we should be looking at for unusual situations and exceptions between two people who profess faith?

Also, what if a pastor, without any scripture backing, thinks abuse is so bad that he can tell a woman she can divorce and remarry over it..but turns out to be wrong and has to give an account to God for encouraging the woman to remarry?
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There is also the fact that 'abuse' is actually a term used rather widely. The US has a number of domestic violence centers. They are almost all exclusively for women, though there are actually a fairly large percentage of households that experience domestic violence where the woman is violent. She's usually smaller, but if she's constantly hitting you, violently waking you up, or if she's got a knife...and you go to jail if you hold her back or restrain her, that's a dangerous situation.

DV centers are typically run by feminists based on feminist philosophy. Many of them rely on the Duluth Model, which extrapolates the attitudes and actions of one morally and mentally messed up man to all abusive men. There is also the 'divorced wheel' model which includes quoting scriptures on submission as abusive behavior. The man controlling the family purse strings may be considered abusive behavior.

I've seen some DV literature. Women may be taught that a number of typical male behaviors are part of a pattern of abuse. Conservative Christian doctrines and traditional husband behaviors (e.g. the man being in charge of finances) are presented as abusive. The idea that a couple fight or argue and then make up is presented as part of an abusive cycle.

If a woman reads up on 'abuse' and then hears her pastor say she can divorce and remarry because of 'abuse', how does she respond? The pastor is talking about broken ribs and black eyes. Maybe she's thinking of her husband controlling the checkbook, quoting scripture about wives' submission, and telling her she looks fat in that dress. (Extreme example here.)

Throw in some of the stuff that is promoted as 'rape' when feminist fornicators take over the dialogue... like if a man talks her into it when she wouldn't have wanted to otherwise, or if she felt pressured.

I'm not sure if this is still the case, but some of the DV literature has promoted the idea of 'once and abuser, always an abuser.'-- maybe not those words, but that was the general idea. I know abusing one's wife is a horrible thing, and there are a lot of good things about living in a culture where there is a strong stigma against hitting women. But is it the heart of God for abusers to repent and marriages to be restored, or for marriages and families to be broken up? Are men who have gotten drunk and hit their wives and children beyond redemption? It may make us angry to think about it, but does God want to save and restore even the ones who are guilty of what we would all agree is actual 'abuse'?

Looking at some of the material and later at some of the models and tools used online, it is fairly easy to label a lot of men as abusive. There is also a radical feminist idea that all men are 'potential abusers'

There are also a number of genuinely rotten behaviors that get labeled as 'verbal abuse'-- demeaning and degrading someone. But more innocuous speech can be labeled as abusive also. There are different levels of 'abuse.' Saying from a pulpit that a wife can divorce over 'abuse' may be giving your audience permission to divorce over a myriad of offenses of varying degrees of severity.

Take a look at this 'Power and Control' Wheel. If you sit around and think of it, you could think of a list of behaviors that a husband does that you would not label as abusive, but ticks a spoke of every one of these wheels. The man may not be the nicest husband, but probably nothing that comes to mind when most conservative Protestants think of 'abusive'. There are courts sending men accused of domestic violence to feminist programs, where they learn that the source of domestic violence is their being uncomfortable with female power and all kinds of feminist ideology.

I don't remember the exact figures, but some estimates I have heard of is that 30 or 40 percentish of marriages or couples with physical abuse are cases where the wife is physically abusive. Those are the one's reported. This may be underreported by men who don't want to speak ill of their wives or admit to being being up by a girl. She hits. He can't hit back. There is a stigma against him hitting her, but not vice versa. If he defends himself or bruises her restraining her, and she calls the police, there is a very high chance he gets carted off in handcuffs and charged. There are places where police are required to take someone away from a DV call where there has been violence. There have been cases where they arrested too many women for feminist groups tastes, they complained, and the police started arresting more men again. The man is arrested, has a black mark on his record, and is labeled as an abuser. Oh, yeah, and the wife might be able to get permission from her pastor to divorce and remarry based on this.
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Post Dave Dorsey
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Post Re: Rigid/legalistic doctrine concerning divorce and remarriage Dave Dorsey
Link wrote:
If your spouse kills someone, steals, does drugs, is violent, doesn't support your ministry, etc. how does that make it not adultery to marry someone else?

It doesn't. That's why this person needs to kill their spouse first -- so it's A-OK!
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Post Cojak
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Yes


Amen!
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Post Cojak
DD.... We don't like the hard questions. Honestly there are so many variables today as compared to Biblical times.

Sad to say, I never expected Divorce in our family. Mom and dad were married over 50 years my Valentine and I are working on 64 years. BUT the 'D' word raised its ugly head in the lives of my family.

Personally I guess folks will say I am justifying Divorce, but honestly my son married a girl in DC because her Mormon parents had custody of her son and would not release him to her unless she was married, so my son liked her and married her to get the son they did. Would that be a REAL marriage?

My second son was moving in with his girl friend, my wife cried a little and begged him not to do it until they were married so he married her.

There are even stranger reason folks are 'legally married'

personally I have no idea how GOD looks at our society and its marriages today, but for sure things are DIFFERENT than in Biblical times. Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed

I told my son, let me pick the next one... He smiled and said,"Just because you got the right one doesn't mean you can pick the right one for me." He was correct of course, but I miss the times parents picked for their kids. LOL
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Post Cojak
Are some 'Marriages' just legal fornication? Just asking..... Embarassed
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Post Dave Dorsey
Cojak wrote:
Are some 'Marriages' just legal fornication? Just asking..... Embarassed

This is another very good question. How do we define "what God has joined together"?

If both spouses are confessing believers I think we are right to take a very, very conservative/restrictive approach to the subject of divorce and remarriage.

But as you point out, there are a LOT of variables. A rigid/legalistic approach makes things easy, which is probably why we are continually drawn to such things. It is much easier to write off the concept of abuse as feminist propaganda than it is to wrestle theologically and practically with the issue of women (and men) in our churches who are married to ungodly, abusive spouses and are continually suffering and hurting.

Is it right to encourage them to suffer as Christ suffered, and trust in Him? Maybe it is. I'm not saying it's not. But I cannot stand the stone-hearted legalistic approach many take (and I don't mean that as an attack on Link, as he is far from the only one in the church with such views).
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Post Serious question... Quiet Wyatt
Link, have you ever looked upon a woman with lust whom you were not married to? If so, have you plucked your eye out yet? Jesus was very specific about plucking your eye out if it causes you to stumble.

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. KJV
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Post Re: Rigid/legalistic doctrine concerning divorce and remarriage Link
Dave Dorsey wrote:
Link wrote:
If your spouse kills someone, steals, does drugs, is violent, doesn't support your ministry, etc. how does that make it not adultery to marry someone else?

It doesn't. That's why this person needs to kill their spouse first -- so it's A-OK!


That's a straw man. A lot of us believe in the death penalty. I would imagine most posters would think that at least they should put a murderer in prison...especially killing their own wife or husband.
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Dave Dorsey wrote:
Cojak wrote:
Are some 'Marriages' just legal fornication? Just asking..... Embarassed

This is another very good question. How do we define "what God has joined together"?


The Old Testament law didn't require God write a wedding invitation in the sky. The father gave the virgin daughter in marriage. Boaz took the widow Ruth to wife by agreeing to take her along with redeeming the property with elders as witnesses. Ruth was apparently willing. Rebecca agreed to marrying Isaac. (And Jewish traditional requires bridal consent.)
[quote]
If both spouses are confessing believers I think we are right to take a very, very conservative/restrictive approach to the subject of divorce and remarriage.

But as you point out, there are a LOT of variables. A rigid/legalistic approach makes things easy, which is probably why we are continually drawn to such things. [quote]

Do Jesus words give a lot of leeway? The exception clause doesn't even show up in two of the Gospels that quote Jesus on the issue. The church had a 'rigid' view for the few centuries at least, and the Roman Catholic view is fairly rigid in some ways up until now (though there have been those who have skirted the rules, with bishops approving cousin marriages in one case and disallowing them after the fact in others, but only for kings, kind of like how the chief priests allowed Herodius to divorce.)

Quote:

It is much easier to write off the concept of abuse as feminist propaganda than it is to wrestle theologically and practically with the issue of women (and men) in our churches who are married to ungodly, abusive spouses and are continually suffering and hurting.


That is not an accurate depiction of my post. There is real abuse. Within the realm of abuse there is physical abuse. Then there are other forms of abuse, verbal for example. Then there is a broader range of behaviors that feminists in the domestic violence line of activism that would consider abuse that God-fearing traditional Christians for generations would not have considered abuse. You could probably find someone who fulfilled one item out of each section of that wheel model I cited and label a non-abusive man as being abusive. Threatening suicide is one of the components of abuse in the model. Yet those involved in organizations that help the suicidal say to always take such threats seriously.

The reason I brought that up is that making broad public statements that spouses may divorce and remarry for 'abuse' is especially dangerous because there are women in difficult marriages who can read material telling them that they are abused, when they might not fit in that category in the mind of the preacher making such a statement. I believe there are people in 'fixable' marriages who read materials and listen to people who say things that support their justification for divorce. Even some of the men or women who start dating someone on the side do that and tell the next partner, "Our marriage was over a long time ago."

Quote:

Is it right to encourage them to suffer as Christ suffered, and trust in Him? Maybe it is. I'm not saying it's not. But I cannot stand the stone-hearted legalistic approach many take (and I don't mean that as an attack on Link, as he is far from the only one in the church with such views).


If taking the stance that abuse is not grounds for a believing couple to remarry (and we aren't even talking about separation for safety, etc., but remarriage) is stone-hearted, are you stone-hearted on the issue of gay marriage? LGBT apologists make that argument. You are telling someone they cannot marry the person their heart desires, condemning them to decades of singleness when they could have someone they love. Isn't that the same issue?

If you believe a homosexual sexual relationship is sinful, and calling it marriage doesn't change anything, and you are not stone-hearted and you want to see these people live right with God, you will not encourage same sex sexual activity. Your being 'rigid' on the issue does not prove you are stone-hearted. If you were stone-hearted you might be happy they were on the path to hell or protest angrily at their funerals or dance on their graves if they died from AIDS. But believing that there are sexual morals in the Bible doesn't prove you are stone-hearted or legalistic.

In past generations, a woman supporting herself financially was a major issue. If the church tell a woman not to remarry, the church should also help her find a way to support herself. That's reasonable, IMO. But it is less of a problem now that we have a diversified economy where women work, but still an issue.
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Post Dave Dorsey
Link wrote:
Isn't that the same issue?

No, not even close. The discussion concerns the biblical permissibility (c.f. 1 Cor 7) of separation from an ungodly spouse and the freedom of the believing spouse to remarry. 1 Cor 7 provides significant theological gray area concerning this issue when it pertains to mixed marriages of believers and unbelievers. The only retort I have ever seen is, "Well, Jesus said this..." as if the words of 1 Cor 7 are not equally inspired.

I am not expecting to change your mind on this issue. My original point was simply that if we are going to read the Bible with a legalistic heart, then let's do it. You'll probably have to serve some jail time, but killing your spouse and your lover's spouse is a good way to pursue your desires in remarriage without committing adultery.
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Post Re: Serious question... Link
Quiet Wyatt wrote:
Link, have you ever looked upon a woman with lust whom you were not married to? If so, have you plucked your eye out yet? Jesus was very specific about plucking your eye out if it causes you to stumble.

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. KJV

I still have my eyes, and I haven't castrated myself. What about you? I tend to view that as hyperbole.

I did break up with a young woman I was dating when I was in my early 20's before I met my wife because there were a few cues from her that I interpreted that there was a willingness on her end if I were to try to indulge fleshly lusts. That seemed dangerous and that was one reason I thought of when I decided to break up with her. An older friend of mine I talked with about it told me after the fact that this was like cutting off my hand. He took the passage a bit metaphorically.

But I don't see how interpreting the words of Christ or Paul on divorce and remarriage as hyperbole or allegory makes much sense in this case.

I like sex as much or maybe more as the next guy my age. I enjoy the companionship of my wife and having a family, too. But is being celibate akin to some kind of death sentence? Did Jesus marry on this earth? Didn't Paul live single? Didn't he recommend it as a superior lifestyle for being focused on pleasing the Lord. Timothy probably did, too. Is remaining unmarried or being reconciled a severe, heartless thing to recommend?
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Post Re: Serious question... Dave Dorsey
Link wrote:
Is remaining unmarried or being reconciled a severe, heartless thing to recommend?

It definitely is not, for the reasons you mention. But recommending is much different than commanding.

The irony here is that you and I would likely have the same conclusion about 99.5% of individual cases placed in front of us. But there are a lot of wounded, hurting people in that remaining 0.5% who are being given a yoke the Bible has not commanded them to carry.

I apologize that my tone has been too strong in this thread. I know you are just trying to live in accordance with Scripture, as we all are.
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Post Re: Serious question... Link
Dave Dorsey wrote:
Link wrote:
Is remaining unmarried or being reconciled a severe, heartless thing to recommend?

It definitely is not, for the reasons you mention. But recommending is much different than commanding.

The irony here is that you and I would likely have the same conclusion about 99.5% of individual cases placed in front of us. But there are a lot of wounded, hurting people in that remaining 0.5% who are being given a yoke the Bible has not commanded them to carry.

I apologize that my tone has been too strong in this thread. I know you are just trying to live in accordance with Scripture, as we all are.


I appreciate that and accept your apology.

I want to bounce a scenario off of you and other readers.

I had a coworker many years ago who told me some of her family history. I believe this was an uncle of hers. The husband got stuck behind the Berlin Wall, but his wife and child got out and moved to Canada. Since they could not be together, he managed to process a divorced and inform her so she could remarry. She married again. Years later, after she was dead, the Berlin Wall came down and he traveled to Canada to see his descendants there.

It's a sad story. She was in some kind of United Church. It bothered me that the husband and wife did not just stay single. I believe in staying celibate in that case. Each even knew the other was alive. It wasn't an MIA or lost at sea situation. What do you and other posters think?
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Post Dave Dorsey
I do not feel very comfortable commenting on situations for which I cannot know the full details, but based on the details you provided, and assuming they were both believers, I would concur with your view.

If the wife did not want to consent to this and was essentially divorced/abandoned by her husband, I could see a potential cause for her remarriage. But in general, I would concur with your view.
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Post Re: Serious question... Quiet Wyatt
Link wrote:
Quiet Wyatt wrote:
Link, have you ever looked upon a woman with lust whom you were not married to? If so, have you plucked your eye out yet? Jesus was very specific about plucking your eye out if it causes you to stumble.

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. KJV

I still have my eyes, and I haven't castrated myself. What about you? I tend to view that as hyperbole.

I did break up with a young woman I was dating when I was in my early 20's before I met my wife because there were a few cues from her that I interpreted that there was a willingness on her end if I were to try to indulge fleshly lusts. That seemed dangerous and that was one reason I thought of when I decided to break up with her. An older friend of mine I talked with about it told me after the fact that this was like cutting off my hand. He took the passage a bit metaphorically.

But I don't see how interpreting the words of Christ or Paul on divorce and remarriage as hyperbole or allegory makes much sense in this case.

I like sex as much or maybe more as the next guy my age. I enjoy the companionship of my wife and having a family, too. But is being celibate akin to some kind of death sentence? Did Jesus marry on this earth? Didn't Paul live single? Didn't he recommend it as a superior lifestyle for being focused on pleasing the Lord. Timothy probably did, too. Is remaining unmarried or being reconciled a severe, heartless thing to recommend?


The reference to plucking your eye out is in very close proximity contextually to Jesus’ statements about divorce and remarriage. Why take one not literally and the other literally? How do we decide what is literal and what is not? It actually is better to maim oneself to stop sin than it is to be damned to hellfire. That part is literally true for sure.
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Post Re: Serious question... Cojak
Link wrote:
...
I want to bounce a scenario off of you and other readers.

I had a coworker many years ago who told me some of her family history. I believe this was an uncle of hers. The husband got stuck behind the Berlin Wall, but his wife and child got out and moved to Canada. Since they could not be together, he managed to process a divorced and inform her so she could remarry. She married again. Years later, after she was dead, the Berlin Wall came down and he traveled to Canada to see his descendants there.

It's a sad story. She was in some kind of United Church. It bothered me that the husband and wife did not just stay single. I believe in staying celibate in that case. Each even knew the other was alive. It wasn't an MIA or lost at sea situation. What do you and other posters think?


Taking that on the facts given I think the man was wrong. Both are alive and no one knows the future, I cannot imagine living without hope.

I remember some hi profile preacher making the statement if the wife has full blown dementia, the man is free to marry. that is also an error to me. Embarassed Crying or Very sad
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