“…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. “
– 2 Timothy 4:2-4
I’m Living in an Ongoing State of Legalized Adultery with Somebody Else’s Spouse. Can I Get Away With It?
We continue with our response to Part 2 of a three-part blog series written by David Servant which denies that all non-widowed remarriage is, as Jesus repeatedly stated it was, an ongoing state of adultery which needs to be renounced to gain or recover one’s inheritance in the kingdom of God. Our response to Part 1 of this series can be read on this link. We find ourselves rejoicing that this post is only about half the length of installment 1, especially when we see that the first couple of paragraphs amount to nothing but demonizing ad hominem and substanceless sarcasm.
Our serial polygamy apologist makes this statement, after crowing for bit about how many folks have lined up to be told what their itching ears long to hear,
“There is, of course, a diversity of opinion within the body of Christ regarding divorce and remarriage, but Divine Divorce Proponents (or the “Marriage Permanence Community” as they refer to themselves) are definitely on the fringes.”
Indeed, due to the carnality of so-called “Christians” and the torrent of false conversions in the body of Christ, there is quite a diversity of opinion, but there remains only one redeemed path to the kingdom of God. I defy Mr. Servant to name one Old or New Testament saint who wasn’t “on the fringes”, as indicated by their jailings, beatings, beheadings, crucifixions, etc. There should not be this “diversity of opinion” nor any pridefulness in it. Servant’s boasting is not good. Pastors should encourage Christ-following, not self-worship. Jesus said, once the salt has lost its savor, it is good for nothing except to be trampled under foot.
The Comforter of the Covetous continues,
“The narrow way is apparently much narrower than most of us have ever imagined. And hundreds of thousands of professing Christian married couples are going to be very surprised when God casts them into hell for keeping their marriage vows…”
David, you’re not paying attention! The reason there’s an issue in the first place is that at least one of those “maligned” parties isn’t keeping their marriage vows to their true spouse, and in a lot of cases, its both of them. It doesn’t matter what they “profess” if they ignore God’s word and mock the blood of Jesus with the conduct their very lives. And yes, because only a faithful handful of the saints are telling them the truth (and those don’t tend to run multi-million dollar mega media ministries), these people are going to be VERY surprised when they find themselves in hell as Paul warns (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4), and as Jesus warns (Matt. 5:27-32 and Luke 16:18-31). Hellbound, unless they repent, for that matter, are their false shepherds who knew what God’s word plainly says, but still discounted it, and who made humanistic excuses while they went right on misusing the Lord’s name to perform vain acts, namely, solemnizing adulterous weddings. And yes, Jesus made it very clear that the teeming millions would be on the broad path leading to destruction, while only a few would find (or even be attracted to) the narrow path. Following blind guides almost guarantees this, unless here and there, the Holy Spirit convicts a person to listen to the dissenting minority voice long enough to be persuaded to do their own research. The narrow way has at no time in history been any narrower than God’s word, and specifically no narrower than the words of Christ and Paul explicitly state.
As before, it’s necessary to cut through a whole bunch of myopic, self-serving Servant rhetoric. Which isn’t difficult at all….
“During conversations with Divine Divorce Proponents, I’ve actually wondered if I’m on Candid Camera. The conversations seem unreal. I can hardly believe I’m having a discussion with professing Christians who advocate that hundreds of thousands of Christian couples should divorce. Here is what one of them recently wrote in response to my claim that God hates divorce (as God Himself said in Mal. 2:16):
‘God does not hate the divorce that is a repentance of adultery. God loves repentance. The angels rejoice. By not being on the right side, you are labelling what God loves (repentance), as what God hates, you make yourself an enemy of the cross. Christianity calls for self denial and loving the truth even when it hurts. There are many who have a ticket to hell because they have remarried into adultery. Their destiny will only change if the adultery by remarriage comes to an end. Abandoning such adultery is an act of repentance, which God loves, not hates.’
“So, they claim, God sometimes loves it when Christians divorce and families are divided. In fact, the angels rejoice when Christians—who have been previously divorced—divorce again. Those who don’t agree with this view are “enemies of the cross.” One zealous Divine Divorce Proponent believes that great revival would come to America if all the Christians who have been previously married and divorced would divorce again.
“Divine Divorce Proponents actually believe that a person could be a believing, born-again, self-sacrificing, devoted, fruitful, unashamed follower of Jesus in every sense, even one who spends decades as a missionary to a remote region in an impoverished nation, but if that person dies in the state of being married a second time while his or her original spouse is still alive, that person will be cast into hell. Stranger still, if their original spouse dies one second before they die, they will go to heaven, as the death of their former spouse will release them from their “adulterous marriage.” If you are a divorced and remarried Christian, you not only need Jesus’ death to inherit eternal life. You also need the death of your original spouse at least one second before you die.”
As discussed in the previous blog, Servant rejects the authority and most especially, the application, of what Jesus stated in Matthew 19:6 and 8:
“So they are no longer [never again – by the present-indicative verb tense] two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let NO MAN separate…He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not [ever – by the perfect indicative verb tense] been this way.”
We shouldn’t take Christ’s words so literally, Servant says. After all, He said a thing or two that were clearly hyperbolic, that He didn’t actually mean to be applied, especially to our own lives. That reduces what sounds like a commandment to any reasonable person, to merely a “design”, an “ideal”, a “purpose”, or “God’s best” – a target that it’s OK to miss, in other words. It’s easy to see how someone who denies that Jesus meant that a one-flesh (sarx mia, as contrasted with the hen soma referred to in 1 Cor. 6:16) entity, never again to be seen by God as two, is supernaturally created by God’s hand as an essential element of holy matrimony….would therefore find it that much easier to also deny the three separate times Jesus flatly stated that any third party “marrying” the God-joined spouse of another living person under immoral civil laws, was REALLY entering into a state of ongoing adultery. It would explain why Servant would presume to think that God can be removed from that original unconditional covenant, and not only that, but why a holy God would turn right around and participate in a second purported covenant that by its very nature repudiates the first one.
Our guess is that David Servant rails against other non-marriages that are civilly legal, but does not cry in his (root) beer when those purported “spouses” legally and physically sever when coming to Christ, and as a consequence of repentence, those “families” are broken up. You see, there’s repentance and there’s repentance. Socially acceptable “Christian” sin isn’t supposed to be covered under 1 Cor. 6: 9-10, we hear. We must make a distinction between adultery and adultery-lite, the purported “one-time act”, Servant tells us. Heck, most contemporary English bible translations these days don’t even list adultery in Galatians 5:19-21 (even though the original manuscripts did), so the legalized variety “can’t” be all that soul-destroying. “Christian” sin is different from unchurched sin, apparently, especially when legalized adulterers volunteer on every church project they can, and they give profusely out of their gratitude for the “grace” they’ve received. Our guess is that a lesbian pair, if admitted as such to a grace-filled church, would give and serve even more than the heterosexuals, and the children of that “family” would suffer just as much initial emotional pain if their parents repented of the illicit union it is built upon.
We pointed out last time that divorce is an entirely manmade construct that is not only immoral, but equally impossible.…unless you reject outright what Christ said in Matthew 19:5-6, and 8 (the straightforward meaning of which Servant has stated in this blog series that he does indeed reject). Servant insists that divorce is a provision from God for “hard-heartedness”, and claims that Jesus endorsed it for “sexual immorality”. The preponderance of hard, objective biblical and historical evidence shows otherwise.
Hence, contrary to the emotional appeal above, the God-joined couple is only “divorced” in men’s eyes, and the subsequent faux couple is only “married” in men’s eyes. Jesus would have no other basis for stating on three separate occasions, “EVERYONE who marries one who has been put away enters into an ongoing state of adultery.” Paul would have no other basis for stating at least twice in his epistles, “So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.” On the testimony of two witnesses, a fact is established. Servant’s alibis cannot hold together based on scripture, so he has no choice but to twist scripture and appeal to emotions. He behaves just like the legalized sodomy advocates in the harlot church do.
We demonstrated in the last rebuttal that the context of Malachi 2 is such that the cherry-picked verse 2:16, “God hates divorce” cannot be applied to the same sort of adulterous remarriage it is actually rebuking. It would have been better if the spokesperson for marriage indissolubility whom he is taking to task had taken the time to point this out (and perhaps they did, but this part wasn’t quoted), nonetheless, it seems that anyone who runs a ministry, writes books, does recordings, and presumes to teach others, would at least do an honest enough reading of Malachi 2 to discern this for himself. It’s not that hard.
“One zealous Divine Divorce Proponent believes that great revival would come to America if all the Christians who have been previously married and divorced would divorce again.” This assertion sounds a bit misquoted. Rather than mass repentance bringing on true revival, the enormous fear of today’s false shepherds is that the evangelical excesses of the past 50 years will be exposed and undone as a result of true revival, and the present trickle of repenting prodigals severing themselves from their adulterous unions will become a flood. God’s mercy is such that it would have to be this way, but one who does not believe that this sin is sending millions to hell would never see it that way. That fear, we would argue, is the core motivation behind this blog series we are rebutting. The fact is, that no matter how many blogs are written on either side of the issue, revival is in God’s hands, and no human force will stop what Servant fears. A man whose record is clean (or repented) and whose confidence is in the Lord does not fear such purifying moves of God.
“Divine Divorce Proponents actually believe that a person could be a believing, born-again, self-sacrificing, devoted, fruitful, unashamed follower of Jesus in every sense, even one who spends decades as a missionary to a remote region in an impoverished nation, but if that person dies in the state of being married a second time while his or her original spouse is still alive, that person will be cast into hell.”
On the contrary, we scurrilous “DDD-ers” actually believe that such a person (“believing, born-again, self-sacrificing, devoted, fruitful, unashamed follower of Jesus in every sense”), when confronted with God’s true and plain word on this for the spin-less first time, has a heart to study it deeply for themselves, and has a heart for the eternal souls of everyone around them, including the faux spouse and watching family members. We also point out that some people who spend decades on the mission field are not necessarily disciples of Christ. Some words of Jesus quickly come to mind here (probably “hyperbole” which can therefore be safely ignored):
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
(Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46-50)
The kingdom of God is a place where the King is OBEYED.
SERVANT: “If you are a divorced and remarried Christian, you not only need Jesus’ death to inherit eternal life. You also need the death of your original spouse at least one second before you die.”
This little sarcastic dart almost does not merit acknowledgment because it shows so little fear of God. However, there is a substantive misconception to be addressed for the benefit of the readers. People occasionally contact our pages saying their original covenant spouse has died while they were in their remarriage. They still don’t have peace, and they want to be right with God. We always ask them if they’ve fully confessed their remarriage as being the ongoing state of sin that it is, and a misrepresentation of Christ’s role as the Bridegroom before a watching world. Quite often, they have even more to confess, even as church-goers, such as adulterous cohabitation before they legalized. This confession must come from a chastened heart, which is not possible if they have believed a false shepherd who tells them the things that Servant tells them, especially the prevalent falsehood that Christ’s blood “covers” unrepented, ongoing sin. It is the Holy Spirit who leads them to our pages if they are indeed born again, and they will say something like, “well, I’m seeing that it was wrong, but no, I haven’t been on my face before God.” It’s important to understand that only sin confessed as sin, and then repudiated and ceased is forgiven. Furthermore, they are only coming to realize at that point that entering into a marriage Jesus called adulterous represents a decision to live in permanent unforgiveness and irreconciliation toward their sole and exclusive one-flesh. Jesus made it plain that living in a state of ongoing unforgiveness sends a person to hell just as surely as living in a state of papered-over legalized adultery. This, too, must be confessed and renounced even if it only comes after the death of that one-flesh, whom their own sinful attitude and example may have caused to die in legalized adultery. Jesus said that the man who divorces his wife after consummation of the marriage (that is, all Gentile believers who do not practice kiddushin, Jewish betrothal) and marries another causes her to commit adultery. Furthermore, they are not sarx mia with their current legal spouse until God makes them so, but only hen soma until then. We advise that this requires new vows, and perhaps even a short separation for the sake of the watching children, as the previous (second) vow to repudiate the prior covenant vow with God and their true spouse was never valid in God’s sight. One cannot validly vow to enter into and remain in a state of sin that will send them and others to hell if fulfilled. Servant is here shamefully trivializing the process of repentance and restitution, and the facetious little anecdote he offered up next, suggesting murder as the perfect solution, couldn’t possibly indict him more as a mocker of God. Woe to him if he does not repent on his face!
“Naturally, the churches and denominations that embrace Divine Divorce Doctrine do not admit into their membership anyone who has been previously divorced and remarried. Such folks who do seek membership are told that they must separate/divorce until their original spouse is dead. Obviously understanding what an awkward and dangerous thing it is to demand that people divorce to qualify for membership, it is interesting to read the attempts by Divine Divorce Churches to soften their official doctrinal positions. For example, the doctrinal positon of the Southeastern Mennonite Conference reads, “While the final decision to separate from an adulterous relationship [marriage] would be voluntary, God requires it for reconciliation to Him.” Translation: “Although it may seem that we require divorced and remarried people to separate in order to join us, in order to avoid lawsuits from people whom our new members divorce, here is our disclaimer: We don’t force anyone to separate; we only inform them that they will go to hell if they don’t.”
Given the full discussion above, it should be amply obvious why it is sinful for any church to take an adulterously-wed couple in as a couple, and just as sinful to perform such weddings to the desecration of their sanctuary and egregious breach of the third commandment. Kudos to the handful of churches who love the Lord more than they love the filthy lucre that causes most churches to throw souls under the bus Whited sepulchers, Jesus called them, full of dead men’s bones! What does Mr. Servant do when Adam and Steve show up on his doorstep flashing their wedding rings? Do they do as one church in the Nashville area does, and onboard the mortal sin right along with the sinners? Or does he deem the homosexual souls more precious and worthy of being told the truth than the heterosexual souls? The latter would be our guess, based on what he’s professed in this debate. While reasonable precautions should be taken against lawsuits that would lead to bad stewardship of resources, at the end of the day, ministries of God must not cower in fear of man’s lawsuits where eternal souls are on the line! It is our hope that these Mennonite churches are not taking in legalized adulterers or legalized sodomites until they have fully repented. Upholding the no-excuses sanctity of authentic holy matrimony typically isn’t a denomination thing. There are liberal and conservative wings to denominations like the Mennonites and the Church of Christ. There are individual Baptist, Congregational, Word of God churches and individual churches in other denominations, a small but growing number, whose God-fearing pastor “goes rogue” in the eyes of the Pharasaical denominational establishment to be fully loyal to Spirit of God in this matter, taking the flak as necessary. We’d love to have a comprehensive directory of them to hand out to longsuffering covenant marriage standers and repenting prodigals who find themselves without a church due to their courageous walks. By contrast, we have megachurches bursting at the seams with people who were persuaded by the hucksters that they could come to Christ on their own terms.
Servant staggers off next into the very typical “look who agrees with me” argument. He cites a 1990 book, Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views. Did Jesus have four different views on this (or any) topic? Believe it or not, there are still Spirit-led seminarians and scholars who publicly remind us of the uncompromised biblical view, even if it sometimes costs them their job. Dr. Gordon Wenham, the late Dr. Leslie McFall, Dr. Wibur Pickering, Drs. John K Tarwater and David W. Jones, Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, to name just a few. Come Judgment Day, the only valid question is, “who agrees with Jesus?” The surest way to detect a counterfeit anything is to hold it up to the genuine article.
Servant trudges on: “As you might imagine, Divine Divorce Doctrine is attractive to professing Christians who want out of their current, subsequent marriages. If they’ve been previously married and divorced, Divine Divorce Doctrine gives them the justification they need to, once again, break their marriage vows. Obviously, breaking one’s marriage vows makes one a liar, and one would think that Divine Divorce Proponents would be just as concerned that Scripture warns that all liars will end up in “the lake that burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:6) as they are that Scripture warns that no adulterer will inherit God’s kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-10)
“Obviously, if after a “divine divorce,” a Divine Divorce Proponent were to remarry yet another time prior to the death of his original spouse, that would indicate that he no longer believes his doctrine (or perhaps really didn’t believe it in the first place, but only utilized it to escape his previous marriage).
As we clarified in the first rebuttal, the only “divine divorce” (a purifying severance and sending away, rather than a trip through “family court”) is recorded in Ezra, chapters 9 and 10. Believers are expressly forbidden by 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 from availing themselves of family court to “dissolve” a covenant marriage, which union actually constitutes a mini-church, whether or not there’s an unsaved spouse. All divorce is manmade and cannot be termed as “divine” under any circumstances. However, if immoral manmade laws got us into sin, it may be practical to use immoral manmade laws to get us out of sin, provided we are not availing ourselves of the unconstitutional aspects of those laws by forcing a petition on a counterfeit spouse we should not have “married”, rather than prayerful mutual consent and agreed petition, with permanent separation in the meantime.
There might be some limited, occasional truth to this charge of Servant’s that some might abuse the one-flesh and covenant principles to terminate an adulterous “marriage” on false pretenses, but the freedom thereby obtained comes at a very steep price — celibacy, or reconciliation with their true spouse, which may be many years in the future. Even so, it’s far better for both souls that they are out of it, and God can always bring the motives into alignment later, in the rare instance where that’s needed. While not personally in this repented-prodigal situation, “standerinfamilycourt” has met dozens of saints who have divorced out of adulterous unions in obedience to Christ. To date, and to the best of our knowledge, all but one or two have remained celibate for many years or decades, and even the ones who would be in a position to remarry with no fault biblically, because they have never been part of a one-flesh (sarx mia) entity, are still in no hurry to do so. These saints abhor the thought of even the appearance of immorality and the example it would seem to set. One such lady (and probably the one quoted above by Servant), after publishing her testimony, has lived for several years in near-poverty while devoting her life to the sort of high quality scholarship needed to be an effective conscience to the pastors and seminarians who are beginning to come to conviction on this matter. To the best of our knowledge, even the few repenters who have married righteously for the first time have only married a never-married person or a widowed one.
We have already addressed the sticky topic of “breaking wedding vows”, and would reiterate that an adulterer’s wedding vows are no more valid than a sodomite’s, which if fulfilled, will constitute a ticket to hell. One the other hand, God has this to say to the one who would repudiate valid, eligible vows, civil laws notwithstanding:
When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? – Ecclesiastes 5:4-6
Empty, false vows yank God’s chain, and repudiated first vows are wholly unacceptable in His sight.
Anyone who is already breaking the 1st, 7th, 8th and 10th commandments (self-worshipping idolatry, adultery, theft and coveting) is surely breaking the 9th (false witness) by representing that the God-joined one-flesh spouse of another living person is their own. This is precisely why a mere 60 years ago, no God-fearing shepherd would have performed such a wedding, and why Paul states twice that nobody in this sinful state is fit for a pulpit or for church leadership, in addition to forfeiting their inheritance in the kingdom of God.
“Interestingly, I was introduced to Divine Divorce Doctrine through a Facebook debate regarding a formerly-faithful Divine Divorce Proponent who recently remarried and is now being shunned by the faithful. I suspect their ranks are full of defectors who come to terms with the post-divorce discovery that God has not given them a gift of celibacy and that Paul’s words, “it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9) contain some relevancy.”
So, this last remark indicates that Servant has only heard of our community within the last three months, and is shooting from the hip without much worthy study, which requires some considerable time and digging due to the suppression of unfavorable early church history, translation fraud and fraudulent commentary in most contemporary English bible versions, failure of pastors to teach their congregations the sound principles of hermeneutics, and other severe moral compromises in both the evangelical and Roman Catholic churches. Someone who comes out of remarriage adultery based on the conviction of its immorality and eternal destination typically takes at least a year to study the topic before taking life-altering action, which is only prudent and God-honoring.
“Standerinfamilycourt” has firsthand knowledge of the prodigal and apostate to whom Servant is referring in this remark about a defector “coming to terms” with his presumed right to sexual autonomy despite the fact that he is not widowed or eligible to “marry” the wife of another man who is still living . The covenant marriage community is grieved that satan persuaded him to sell off his inheritance in the kingdom of God for his bowl of pottage, crushing the faith of his bewildered adolescent children. He is a relatively young man whose covenant wife (whom he now appears to be slandering as “unsaved”, rather than backslidden) unilaterally divorced him to adulterously remarry. He did not divorce from her willingly, and as I understand it, he stood for about four years before caving to the flesh and very recently “marrying” another man’s estranged wife. He found his excuse in the deceitful rationalization that God does not join pagan and mixed-faith marriages, despite numerous OT and NT instances to the contrary, even though he has falsified the underlying facts about the soul-condition of his true one-flesh (unless she actually got saved first). There are some other things to be observed over a period of time about this man. He continues to be a highly legalistic person, chastising the saints for things that are clearly not heaven-or-hell matters, like celebrating Christmas and (the women) for not wearing a head covering, which can’t be a very beckoning-home thing for his true prodigal wife. While he was for a season a very articulate spokesman for the indissolubility of covenant holy matrimony, and had thousands of followers, he still never seemed to express any public anguish for the soul of his one-flesh wife or for her eternal destination, which should be the main motivation for standing celibate for one’s covenant marriage for as long as restoration requires. Such a brittle faith was sure to crumble under pressure, especially in a relatively recent convert. This kind of thing will happen from time to time, and naturally, the godless finger points there instead of toward the dozens of others for each individual falling away, who have stood celibate for decades under the right heart motives. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.
Celibacy is never an innate “gift” to someone who remains part of an inseverable one-flesh entity, wrongfully estranged. That said, God equips us to our kingdom assignment if our heart remains right. But inasmuch as Servant is again bastardizing scripture to prop up the false Lutheran claim to sexual entitlement, it’s time to shine the floodlight once more on Servant’s sloppy hermeneutics in citing 1 Corinthians 7:9 as justification for the unwidowed “divorced” (that is, the physically and legally estranged) to be controlled by their flesh instead of walking in compassion for their true one-flesh estranged spouse, in obedience to Christ.
Any responsible reading of 1 Corinthians 7 takes note of the fact that Paul runs through a sequence of instructions for various marital status groups in the church. Irresponsible readings hijack the instructions intended for one group and try to suture it onto a group whom Paul was not addressing at that point. Responsible bible scholars point out that there is a symmetry that holds throughout 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul rhythmically addresses the male and then the female in each group, as follows:
– All parties: verses 1-2. The reference to “own” is crucial here,
–Intact holy matrimony according to Matthew 19:4-6: verses 3-6
– Widowers and widows – verses 7 – 9. Note that “unmarried” does not refer to anyone legally estranged here. There was no Greek word for widowed male, so the word “unmarried” (here appearing in plural male form) was the closest word of translation to English for “widower”. Paul clearly did not believe that man’s divorce dissolved holy matrimony, but only death does. It is unconscionable that most contemporary commentators omit mention of this fact, nevertheless, many clergy have discerned it.
– Distressed, intact holy matrimony, especially due to unequal yoking (but not limited to that distress) – verses 10 and 11
– Estranged holy matrimony (which would include today’s “divorced” but not the illicitly “remarried”) – verses 12-16
– Betrothed, never-marrieds, referring to the Jewish custom of kiddushin, contracted betrothal where a bride-price has been paid and legal status of wife already conferred on the unconsummated bride – verses 25 – 28
Note that there are no verses addressing anyone as though they have a permanently severed marriage, other than widowed people. Paul regarded the “divorced” as still married, translation issues notwithstanding. Even when he refers to the estranged wife “remaining unmarried”, he uses the term agamois, which literally means “without a wedding” in the Greek. Since fornication was also banned, the best translation is “remain celibate or be reconciled to her husband.”
The rhythm pauses here for verses 17-24 while Paul addresses all, but discusses vocations and religious trappings applying to all groups in the same contexts as cited in the verses above. For example, a married (intact or estranged) or widowed slave or Jew are called to remain in the state they are called, but this does not mean that they are to remain in an immoral state that prevailed when they were called. A prostitute, pimp or pornographer is not to remain in that state just because they were called while in it. Neither is a serial polygamist (unforgiver and covetous person), nor a “married” sodomite to remain in those states. Note that the only two instances where Paul is giving explicit permission to remarry is to widows and widowers, and to marry for the first time to (and among) the virgins (never married), not the civilly-divorced whose true marriages are undissolved by death. In particular, verse 15 refers to being free to follow Christ – dedoulotai (root word: douloo), a condition that existed both before and after any estrangement from the departure of a one-flesh spouse, not “free to remarry” (not at all mentioned) presumed just because the marriage bond dedotai (root word: deo) is imagined to be severed before death. Servant would interpret verse 7:8-9 in a way that distorts both content and context, and in a way that is inconsistent with other clear scripture on the same topic, and finally he would interpret this verse in a manner that conflicts with the unanimous practice and teaching of the early church fathers. Sloppy, biased hermeneutics here.
Servant next reiterates his highly inaccurate claims about the foundations of the biblical marriage “doctrine” (God’s word rightly divided). Sound hermeneutics rest on Comparison and Consultation as two of the five essential principles of rightly dividing God’s word. Hence, Servant’s narrow list of just four purported scriptures he claims this “doctrine” is “proof-texted”, and by his NIV-regurgitated commentary on them (whose publisher Zondervan is also the proud publisher of the Queen James Bible, we note, a firm which sees fit to keep the NIV “culturally relevant” every few years), Servant gives the truth of God a very short shrift. This was covered in detail in Part 1 of our rebuttal. Sound hermeneutics relate OT scriptures to their NT counterparts, also to culture and historical events that give scripture its context, to Pauline epistles, and prophetic illustrations that relate back to what Jesus said. Observations and analysis are made on word usage patterns, comparing where words were and were not used, and analyzing on that basis whether contemporary translations are as accurate as they should be. In general, we find they are not, and we would argue that the only reasonably reliable contemporary English NT translation on the market today is The Sovereign Creator Has Spoken, by Dr. Wilbur Pickering, first released in 2013. The rest of Servant’s commentary flows from his rejection of the clear statements of Jesus and Paul that original holy matrimony is indissoluble by any act of men other than death, and that everyone who purports to “marry” a civilly-divorced person enters into an ongoing state of adultery. There is no reasonable response to this emotional manipulation except to say, “bunk”, and he’d better pay attention to the warned eternal outcomes of his theories.
Next, Servant claims that Moses set a standard that Jesus “endorsed”. This is a clear distortion of the sermon on the mount. Mosaic law was fine so long as animal sacrifices could be offered up on a daily basis as the means of atonement, and obedience to God’s commandments could be deferred on that basis, rather than coming from a heart of obedience. Clearly, this was not a moral standard worthy of the kingdom of God in several matters we see illustrated in Matthew 5 and 6. Under the New Covenant where every truly regenerated person is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, a Person who is God, it should be clear that we’re done with Moses as our likeable, lenient “sheriff”. I do not intend to get into a major debate here over the additional misguided tomes that Servant has written on this Moses topic – Proverbs 10:19. We either obey God from the heart under the power of the Holy Spirit, or we hide behind Moses as our excuse not to. This should eliminate any speculation over some sort of New Covenant “allowance” being made for the hardness of our hearts. All hard hearts fall outside the kingdom of God, including those that would take their own revenge instead of forgiving. It’s pretty clear where Servant is coming down. All the true Christ-follower needs to know here, is that when Jesus was challenged on the indissolubility of holy matrimony, He chose to talk about the best part of Moses’ authorship, Genesis 2:21-24. He purposefully elected to contrast a higher moral law that was “from the beginning” to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 the obscure regulation that had been so often hijacked and misapplied by the unrighteous–to the destruction of many souls, and this hijacking wickedness continues today. Once again, a key principle of biblical worksmanship is to interpret unclear scripture passages in a way that shows consistency with the clearest ones, and most especially those straight from the mouth of Jesus. We don’t know for sure what the “indecency” of Deuteronomy 24 was, but we have several strong clues that point away from post-marital issues, and toward a condition that existed both before and after the nuptials. Therefore it is invalid to use Deuteronomy 24 as an excuse not to forgive and reconcile with our true one-flesh, and release the counterfeit spouse to do the same. As stated in Romans 7: 1-3, we died to that Old Covenant (our “ex”, now deceased), and we are to please and obey our new Bridegroom now.
In case anyone missed the importance of rightly dividing the usage of verb tenses, we have this case-in-point:
“Thus, if the adultery that Jesus said is committed by some divorce and remarriage is to be understood as literal, physical adultery, it can only occur a single time when the second marriage is consummated.”
Without exception, every time Jesus says that “marrying” another person while our God-joined one-flesh partner lives is entering into a state of ongoing adultery, He used the present-indicative verb tense / mood, According to the source ntgreek.org,
“The present tense usually denotes continuous kind of action. It shows ‘action in progress’ or ‘a state of persistence.’ When used in the indicative mood, the present tense denotes action taking place or going on in the present time. “
There is no scholarly support whatsoever for the popular evangelical notion that this is a “one-time act”, since in not one single instance of His discussion is the word “commits” captured by the apostle-author in the aortist verb tense. In fact, logically, if this were the case, Jesus was blathering and wasting His holy breath on the thrice-repeated warning, was He not? If there was no eternal consequence for this sin of “marrying” someone else’s spouse, as Servant and many other contemporary cowards suggest without supportable basis, why would Jesus imply that there was? Why even talk about an infraction that is past, futile and not actionable?
Servant appears to foresee this scholarly shortcoming:
“Once we’ve arrived at a harmonious, coherent interpretation of how our unchanging, gracious and loving God views and has always viewed divorce and remarriage, there is much less of a need to engage in hair-splitting debates over Greek nuances, historical suppositions, technical analyses of similar texts, and strained theories about the indissolubility of marriage.”
In other words, “Bah, hermeneutics, schmermeneutics! Let’s revert back to humanistic reasoning and emotions.” This is a man who knows that his work has no integrity, rather than a man with limited knowledge of the principles.
Servant goes on to conclude this installment by making the usual hypergrace claims that “it’s all good”, and that this scripture warning from the book of Hebrews (like the ones on hard-heartedness which leads to falling away) has no application:
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Christian political commentator David French recently wrote an article asking Can America Survive as a Post-Christian Nation? He’s recognizing that due to the flood of false converts who populate, and even lead, many of our churches, much of the problem actually warms the pews with their posteriors every week. Far from following the model of church discipline Paul outlined in 1 Corinthians 5, people were allowed to think they can come to Christ on their own terms: “Come as you are, stay as you came”, and shepherds grew fat, Ezekiel 34-style as a result. As French observes:
“Some would argue that American Christian culture is being replaced by a separate, feel-good faith called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism — a vague belief that while God exists, he’s not particularly involved in human affairs and mainly wants people to be nice and happy. It’s a common moral code that applies to the conduct of one’s personal affairs; it is utterly inadequate, however, when it comes to addressing real human conflict and substantial cultural clashes. It provides no systematic moral worldview, and it ultimately leaves judgment of right and wrong to the individual conscience. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of Millennial culture is that the failure to be “nice” is often met with the most brutal of reprisals. It’s okay — mandatory, even — to be cruel to the cruel and intolerant of the intolerant.”
Servant has been shown to be a blasphemer of God (and has also been shown to come very close to blaspheming even the Holy Spirit, calling the inspired, straightforward, spinless word of God a “doctrine of demons”) in his zeal to keep adulterous unions together and have true spouses remain unreconciled and unforgiving – a goal that satan himself shares with Servant. This has a major heaven-or-hell consequence for many that this wolf is denying. He has shown himself to be an exceedingly sloppy workman with God’s word in several instances, and at the end even claims that concern for this lack of integrity with God’s word is of no consequence. Woe to anyone addicted to his ear-tickling!
Servant suggests in one of his three videos that the idea of holy matrimony being unconditionally indissoluble, and violations of this moral absolute being a hell-bound offense if not repented, is “entirely new doctrine” and was “never practiced before in the church”. He then points to the Mennonites (discussed above) who have always practiced it. Until 1973, the Assemblies of God operated by by-laws adopted at the denomination’s inception that forbid its pastors from performing any marriage where either party had a living, estranged spouse, and forbid its associated churches from employing a remarried pastor, or one who had married a divorced woman. Even the Anglican Church refused to perform weddings involving divorced people until 2002, notwithstanding the heretical, humanistic elements of the Westminster Confession that would have allowed it. Servant links us to a “friend” of his who apparently runs a website on early church history, then makes the hollow claim that this friend knows of no instance where marriage indissolubility was practiced in the early church discipline. This “friend” has apparently missed all of these writings from letters and commentaries by bishops of 1st through 4th century churches, while not providing a single example of a church father who recognized remarriage as holy matrimony:
Justin Martyr (151 AD) “Whosoever marries a woman who has been divorced from another husband commits adultery. According to our Teacher, they are sinners who contract a second marriage.”
Tertullian (200 AD) “Again He [Jesus] said, ‘They shall be two in one flesh’. . . not three or four.”
Origen (248 AD) “Just as a woman is an adulteress, even though she seems to be married to a man, while a former husband yet lives, so also the man who seems to marry who has been divorced does not marry her, but, according to the declaration of our Savior, he commits adultery with her.”
Basil the Great (375 AD) “A man who marries another man’s wife who has been taken away from him will be charged with adultery.“
Jerome (390 AD) “If she left him on account of his crimes, he is still her husband and she may not take another. . . . a second may not be taken while the first one lives.”
St Augustine (419 AD) “A woman begins to be the wife of no later husband unless she has ceased to be the wife of a former one. She will cease to be the wife of a former one, however, if that husband should die, not if he commits adultery.”
We mention this very briefly here in anticipation that Servant’s third blog (not yet published) might make this false claim, since it’s in the second video. If so, we will provide more thorough links, sources and examples of these important facts of early church history in that rebuttal.
For every mocker is an abomination to the Lord, and his communication is with the simple. – Proverbs 3:32
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!