But Mr. (or Mrs.) “New Creation” HASN’T Passed Away – Stop Abusing 2 Cor. 5:17: The “Debunk” Series – Part 7

RevAllWet10by Standerinfamilycourt

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.   Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…
2 Corinthians 5:16-18

This is our final installment of the “Debunk / Stop Abusing” Series.   Hopefully we’ve taught you, dear reader, how to systematically examine any scripture and discern when someone is twisting it for their own misguided purposes.    Most Christians who misapply God’s word are parroting someone else, and don’t actually know any better.   Fewer and fewer of today’s evangelicals even read the bible for themselves on a regular basis, much less study it deeply, so they are prone to absorbing popular heresies.   To be sure, there are abused scriptures that deal with endless topics besides marriage and divorce (some of which are also heaven-or-hell matters), so this is an invaluable skill to become proficient in.

In sharp contrast to the contemporary caricature of a “new creation in Christ”,  here’s a portrait actually more like what Paul had in mind as he penned this portion of his second epistle to the church at Corinth:

And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.  Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.   So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.   When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”   And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.   When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”   Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”   And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  –  Luke 19:2-10

So…let’s see if our new life in Christ transforms a sinful relationship with somebody else’s one-flesh spouse into a sanctified one, and excuses us from reconciling with or making restitution to those we have wronged before our conversion. What is a one-flesh spouse?   Does becoming a new creation in Christ make one-flesh two again, contrary to what Jesus declared–since man’s civil paper does not?    We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

The Principle of CONTENT
As we did with our core truth in Matthew 19:6, we will take 2 Cor. 5:17  back to the original Greek manuscript and literal syntax to strip away any bias about what it actually says on the surface.     We will rely on the Greek interlinear text tools and the literal syntax for our analysis of content, in order to detect any translation bias that may have occurred in your favorite bible version in more contemporary times. One very useful technique for detecting any possible tampering with word translation or manuscript choice versus the version in our hands (in this case, NASB) is to bring up the passage in a mix of versions, being sure to include some versions based on the Antioch manuscripts (such as KJV).   In this case, we are pleased find no material difference between the translations in the two interlinear tools, so we’ll present the more understandable biblehub.com version: 2Cor5_17 For the curious, however, the link to scripture4all.org’s version is here.

 The very first thing to notice about this text concerning  “old things” passing away (and everything becoming new) is that it is entirely conditioned on being [remaining / abiding] in Christ.   But what does it actually mean to be in Christ?    Are those “old things” external things or are they internal things?   If we do not fully graft-in to begin with, or if we later pull away,  can we then claim that all things have been made new?    This conditional phrase argues that we cannot!

Once again the dry topic of verb tenses becomes very important to accurately understanding the passage, so we will again have to suffer through that discussion.      There are five verbs in this passage, including two forms of “is” that are only implied, that is, we can’t see their tense (was, is now, is becoming, continuing to be, etc.) including whether they are in the active or passive voice, because they are merged with either a preposition or with an adjective.

ἐν          Χριστῷ,
[is] in   Christ ,

Here, we may need to jump to the COMPARISON principle where we look at similar verses in which Paul and others spoke in the New Testament of being in Christ.   To properly discern whether this is referring to a sort of completed transaction of external cleansing (similar to taking one’s suit to the dry cleaners), or whether it is a continuous abiding, makes an enormous difference in the understanding of what Paul was saying, because the latter would shift the transformation from external to internal. καινὴ [he is] a new…      it seems reasonable here to place this verb in the present tense, since it is associated with an adjective, new.

The other three verbs are: “passed away”  παρῆλθεν (parēlthen) , “behold” ἰδοὺ (Idou), and “emerged”, become new  γέγονεν  (geogonen).  Did the “old things” pass away suddenly and in a single transaction?   Did they pass away gradually but in the past?    The verb tense used by Paul here is aorist indicative active.    In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense, but it is a misnomer to thus imply that, in every instance, the action only happened at one point of time.  This can be true, but it is often dependent on other factors such as the meaning of the verb, other words in the context, etc.   (source: www.ntgreek.org/learn).
The past tense is strongly supported here, and is consistent with the Young’s Literal Translation rendering.   However, the root verb is parerchomai, meaning to pass by, to come to.

It’s also helpful to zero in on the literal meaning of “old things” (archaios ἀρχαῖα),  actually meaning ancient things from which we get the word “archaic”.
(We don’t know of anyone who would get saved and call the marriage of their youth “ancient” or “archaic”  –  though we can think of many other “a”-words that get applied in the culture today).    Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it:  ἀρχαῖος, ἀρχαῖα, ἀρχαῖον “(from ἀρχή beginning, hence) properly, that has been from the beginning, original, primeval, old, ancient, used of men, things, times, conditions.” Accordingly, “old things”  seems to be referring to mindsets, predispositions, proclivities, etc. , not to relationships and commitments, nor to vows.

Since these things are not of a nature that can pass away in a single transaction, it seems more reasonable to conclude that these old things passed away over a period of time in the past.   This understanding would also be consistent with the other main verb,  “emerged”, become new  γέγονεν  (geogonen).   This verb is in the perfect indicative active tense.   The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on,  full effect.   In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence. Unlike the English perfect, which indicates a completed past action, the Greek perfect tense indicates the continuation and present state of a completed past action.

Once again, we see that this verse cannot be referring to externals, as though one takes a dirty suit to the cleaners and picks it up cleaned and pressed.   This scripture is clearly dealing with internal attitudes and affections, the ongoing fruit of the completed process of having become a disciple.   This is not a transaction, but a completed process.   

Not too much needs to be said about the verb, behold (idou).   It’s in the aorist imperative active voice, as one would expect for a command.    All that remains is a bit of elaboration on the noun, κτίσις  (ktisis)  meaning “created being” (or in this case, newly-created being).    And the Christ that he / she is in?       Χριστός,  Christos – literally “the Anointed One,” the Christ (Hebrew, “Messiah“) from the root word,  xríō, “anoint with olive oil”. Summing up the analysis, this verse is describing the transformation that has taken place inside a person, but only if they are truly in Christ, the old propensities and inward iniquities have given way to the mind and nature of Christ.   This is in keeping with what the Lord described in the Sermon on the Mount, where externals no longer substituted for righteousness, but obedience now is to come from the heart, which is at the heart of the Messianic Covenant.

The Principle of CONTEXT:
It’s always important to look at the surrounding verses to make sure our interpretation is consistent with the larger context.

As we’ve seen from previous posts in this series, notably 1 Corinthians 7,  the popular understanding can be in severe conflict with the overall message of the chapter, and with the strong, clear statement that ends the chapter.   In 2 Corinthians, chapters 4 and 5, Paul is laboring to fix the disciples’ eyes on the eternal.  He tells the church that even if the gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing because the god of this age has blinded minds.   He says that our treasure is held in jars of clay to show that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from men, speaking of the crushing trials, tribulations and persecutions, dying to self as Jesus died to self so that the life of Christ can come about in others.    Paul reminds that while externally it may seem we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day-by-day, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a far greater glory in eternity.    He urges his readers to fix their eyes not on what is seen which is temporary, but on what is unseen which is eternal.  He then speaks of our body, calling it an earthly tent which is being destroyed, but we have a heavenly body awaiting that is not made with human hands.   Until we achieve it, we are going to have an inward longing (groaning).

Importantly, Paul reminds that we have been given the Holy Spirit as a deposit toward that heavenly covering, guaranteeing what is to come.   We live by faith and not by sight, and we will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive according the things we’ve done, good or bad, while occupying our earthly bodies.   He speaks of the fear of the Lord which compels us to try and persuade others, and of no longer living for ourselves but for Christ who died for us and was raised to life.    These were the thoughts that preceded the notion that if we are in Christ in this way, we are a new creation, and this is what has driven out the former things from within us.

Very importantly, the very next thing Paul says is that we are charged with a ministry of reconciliation, and given a message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).   We are told that we are Christ’s ambassadors.   That is, we are ambassadors of the Bridegroom who said on three separate occasions, “everyone who marries a divorced person enters into an ongoing state of adultery.”  [Matt. 5:32b; Matt. 19:9b;  Luke 16:18].   It seems that any ambassador carrying around such a civil-only “remarriage” is carrying around excess baggage that impedes from this ambassadorship, and in fact makes it impossible to even head in the direction of the assignment, while at the same time actually misrepresenting the Bridegroom.    Indeed, in one 1990  Barna Group survey of professing believers, 90% of the divorced and remarried admitted that their family destruction came after their conversion, and not before.  

It seems the popular evangelical application of 2 Corinthian 5:17 to absolve an abandoned covenant marriage vow for that which Jesus repeatedly called adultery could not be more out of context with these two chapters.    It seems the ministry of reconciliation should begin with the only person on the face of the earth that God has joined us to as one-flesh, and to the covenant children and grandchildren of that union.

The Principle of CULTURE:
Remarriage apologists are fond of coupling this passage with their (jaundiced) version of 1 Corinthians 7, reflecting today’s culture of the apostate church promoting serial polygamy under the heavy influence of unilateral divorce laws.     (See our two previous discussions of 1 Corinthians 7,  here and here.)

We’d argue that the much better linking is actually with 1 Corinthians 6, because that passage so completely captures the culture Paul was speaking into.   This was a culture where it was illegal to commit adultery with someone’s wife, but prostitution was not only legal but encouraged by the culture.   The city was the home of the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and reportedly over 1,000 temple prostitutes.   Paul was very blunt in stating in verse 16 that our union with Christ should preclude union with anyone we aren’t one-flesh with by God’s supernatural joining, precisely because Christ is being involuntarily made a party to the immorality.    This reasoning makes the contemporary evangelical mishandling of 1 Corinthians 7 the very antithesis of what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 6.

Indeed, what makes us a new creation in Christ is this union with Him, whereby we no longer live, but crucified with Him,  Christ lives in us; and the life which we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God. Because of this, rather than use the Greek sarx mia as Jesus did when speaking of divine and permanent one-flesh joining, Paul spoke of the natural and carnal hen soma, when referring in 1 Cor. 6:16 to the immoral and transitory transaction of the flesh which is devoid of God’s voluntary participation.    Addressing the saints (the born-again who profess Christ), Paul warns them not to be deceived by what their sex-saturated culture was telling them,  that adultery, fornication, sodomy, idolatry and several other apostate sins, if not repented by ceasing them, will cost them their inheritance in the kingdom of God.    He goes on to commend them “and such were some of you…”  but as a consequence following their becoming a new creation in Christ, these old proclivities had passed away, replaced by the character of Christ – they had been washed, sanctified, and justified.    He could certainly not say that about someone who did not also crucify their immoral partnerships and reconcile their sacred, consecrated relationships out of reverence for their new relationship with Christ.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
By this fourth basic principle of sound hermeneutics, scripture interprets scripture, with the clearest passages helping to answer any ambiguity remaining after an honest analysis of CONTENT, CONTEXT and CULTURE.   Since  God’s word tells us that all scripture is God-breathed, that is,  equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, then if its seems that one scripture contradicts another, it’s a sign of bias or that the analysis is not complete enough.   In other words, we don’t just run with it as the “Reverend All-Wets” of our day are all too prone to do, but we keep studying until the conflict is resolved.

Part 1 of our series, on Matthew 19:6 built a strong case for this verse (and its counterpart verse, Mark 10:8-9 from the same historical occasion) being the cornerstone verse for this comparison, but as also shown, there are many others.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.   What came directly out of the mouth of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with attempts to interpret 2 Corinthians 5:17 as “biblical evidence” that coming to Christ  dissolves a pre-salvation covenant or validates as holy matrimony a remarriage undertaken in adultery (i.e. any situation where there is living, estranged first spouse).   The only instance where this ear-tickling evangelical presumption would actually be the case is where the first spouse was actually the spouse of another, making that first marriage non-covenant.   (This is actually what happened with Ronald and Nancy Reagan due to the fact that the Gipper’s first civil-only marriage with Jane Wyman was a case of legalized adultery that was never recognized in God’s courthouse.)  

Psalm 103
This magnificent psalm is sort of the “trail mix” psalm in the hands of those who wish to believe that God “forgives” and “cleanses” marriages undertaken and divorced while not yet born again, excusing the disciple from reconciling that marriage and freeing them to marry another person (often, the estranged spouse of another).    Verse 3 assures us He pardons all our iniquities   עֲוֹנֵ֑כִי     ă·wō·nê·ḵî   (forsaken wrongdoing).    Verse 5 says He satisfies our years with good things, which they take as “proof” of God’s “blessing” on the remarriage.  Verse 8 tells us the Lord is compassionate and gracious.   Verse 10 says He does not deal with us according to our sins nor rewards us according to our iniquities.  Verse 12 assures us that as far as the east is from the west, He has removed our transgressions פְּשָׁעֵֽינוּ׃  pə·šā·‘ê·nū    (from the root word pasha, meaning revolt or rebellion)  from us.   Verse 14, He is mindful that we are but dust.   The image must be of David gadding about the countryside, picking up and discarding wives and concubines as readily as he changed his sandals, and still being called a “man after God’s own heart”.    However,  that’s a bit of an incomplete picture without the counterbalancing accounts of David’s journey, such as his chastisement to repentance, and his isolation at the end of his life.

At the same time, verses 11, 13 and 17  all say these things are for those who fear him.   Verse 18:  To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.    This was written centuries before there was a Savior, so these precepts included daily animal sacrifice as atonement for willful sin.   Since we no longer have that means of atonement, all we have is abiding in Christ, which entails obeying Him.   Is a first (covenant) marriage wrong-doing, so that it must be forsaken, or is the subsequent one, which Jesus repeatedly called adulterous, the true wrong-doing that must be forsaken?    Which marriage reflects revolt and rebellion against God’s precepts, and indeed reflects the lack of the fear of God? 12524355_1297370276945019_62108117333624254_n

Here are additional verses shedding light on what it is to be in Christ, without which we are the same old carnal person and nothing is made new:

John 3:5-7
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

Matthew 5:27-32 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;  but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.   If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.  “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’;  but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit [ongoing] adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits [ongoing] adultery.

Matthew 7:21-23
“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.’

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?  May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.”  But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.   Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh…. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,  because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

 

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.

. 2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 4:22-24
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

2 Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

 

The Principle of CONSULTATION:
It is clear from all the commentary on this passage that the transformation spoken of here is of internal constitution, not external choices and circumstances, and certainly not of forsaken covenants joined by God.

Justin Martyr (First Apology; ca 155 A.D.)
As many are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to live accordingly, are instructed to entreat God with fasting…then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we ourselves were…For Christ also said :”‘Unless you be born-again, you cannot see the kingdom of God”.

Tertullian ( ) They who are about to enter baptism ought to pray with repeated prayer, fasts, and bendings of the knee, and vigils all the night through, and with the confession of all bygone sins, that they may express the meaning of the baptism of John.

Didache (ca. 100 A.D.): But before the baptism, let the baptizer fast, and also the baptized, and what ever others can; but thou shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

Irenaeus , Against Heresies ca. 180 A.D. We are lepers in sin, we are made clean by means of the sacred water and invocation of the Lord, from our old transgression; being spiritually regenerate as new born babes, even as the Lord has declared “except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. A wealth of additional quotes concerning regeneration in Christ are available for further study at this link:  http://www.bible.ca/H-baptism.htm

5:16-21 The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him. He is the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Though the same as a man, he is changed in his character and conduct. These words must and do mean more than an outward reformation. The man who formerly saw no beauty in the Saviour that he should desire him, now loves him above all things. The heart of the unregenerate is filled with enmity against God, and God is justly offended with him. Yet there may be reconciliation. Our offended God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. By the inspiration of God, the Scriptures were written, which are the word of reconciliation; showing that peace has been made by the cross, and how we may be interested therein. Though God cannot lose by the quarrel, nor gain by the peace, yet he beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation he offers. Christ knew no sin. He was made Sin; not a sinner, but Sin, a Sin-offering, a Sacrifice for sin. The end and design of all this was, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, might be justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Can any lose, labour, or suffer too much for Him, who gave his beloved Son to be the Sacrifice for their sins, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him?

Therefore if any man be in Christ – The phrase to “be in Christ,” evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in him as the branch is in the vine – that is, so united to the vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it. John 15:2, “every branch in me.” John 15:4, “abide in me, and I in you.”

2 Corinthians 5:17. Εἰ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, if any one be in Christ) so as to live in Christ. If any one of those who now hear us, etc. Observe the mutual relation, we in Christ in this passage, and God in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:19; Christ, therefore, is the Mediator and Reconciler between us and God.—καινὴ κτίσις, a new creature) Not only is the Christian himself something new; but as he knows Christ Himself, not according to the flesh, but according to the power of His life and resurrection, so he contemplates and estimates himself and all things according to that new condition. Concerning this subject, see Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.—τὰ ἀρχαῖα, old things) This term implies some degree of contempt. See Gregor. Thaum. Paneg. cum annot., p. 122, 240.—παòρῆλθεν, are passed away) Spontaneously, like snow in early spring.—ἰδοὺ, behold) used to point out something before us.

Verse 17.Therefore. If even a human, personal, external knowledge of Christ is henceforth of no significance, it follows that there must have been a total change in all relations towards him. The historic fact of such a changed relationship is indicated clearly in John 20:17. Mary Magdalene was there lovingly taught that a “recognition of Christ after the flesh,” i.e. as merely a human friend, was to be a thing of the past. In Christ; i.e. a Christian. For perfect faith attains to mystic union with Christ. A new creature; rather, a new creation (Galatians 6:15).   The phrase is borrowed from the rabbis who used it to express the condition of a proselyte. But the meaning is not mere Jewish arrogance and exclusiveness, but the deep truth of spiritual regeneration and the new birth (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:23, 24; Colossians 3:3, etc.). Old things; literally, the ancient things, all that belongs to the old Adam. Behold. The word expresses the writer’s vivid realization of the truth he is uttering.  All things. The whole sphere of being, and therewith the whole aim and character of life. The clause illustrates the “new creation.”

2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore — Since all Christ’s true disciples do thus live to him, and not to themselves, and only know him in a spiritual manner; if any man be in Christ — By living faith and the indwelling of his Spirit; if any man have an interest in and union with him; he is a new creature Καινη κτισις, there is a new creation, in the soul of that man. His understanding is enlightened, his judgment corrected, and he has new ideas and conceptions of things. His conscience is informed, awakened, and purged from guilt by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 9:14. His will is subjected to the will of God, his affections drawn from earth to heaven, and his dispositions, words, and actions, his cares, labours, and pursuits, are all changed. Old things are passed away — All old principles and practices; behold — The present, visible, undeniable change! all things are become new — He has new life, namely, a spiritual and divine life; new spiritual senses, new faculties, new desires and designs, hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, passions and appetites. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives as it were in a new world. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, angels, men, sinners, saints, and the whole creation — heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.

New Testament Church Source Another common justification is the statement by Paul regarding all things becoming new in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is interpreted by some to mean that if a person is in an adulterous relationship (a second “marriage”) when they come to the Lord, “all things are new” and the one they are with is their legitimate wife or husband from this point forward. If marriage were a Christian institution, perhaps this argument could have some validity. However, in the passages pertaining to marriage, there is no mention of faith before God being a factor. If a man and woman “leave and cleave,” God considers them one whether they are Christians or not. The Amplified Bible translation of this passage may help us: “Therefore if any person is [engrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Amplified Bible) This brings out the truth that the “new creation” refers to the interior of a person, not his exterior circumstances, such as his marital situation. Becoming a Christian is not an opportunity to get a new wife or husband, nor does a couple need to be married again because they were not Christians at their original ceremony. If a couple is in adultery when either or both turn to the Lord, the only way to be free from this sin is to repent and forsake the adulterous relationship. Yes, all things are new in the sense that I am now a new creation in Christ Jesus, but this does not make another person my lawful wife or husband in Christ if they were not they were not before.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

www. standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Does a Holy God Do What He HATES? – Stop Abusing Jeremiah 3: The “Debunk” Series – Part 6

 JudgeAllWetby Standerinfamilycourt

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….. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce….Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you…       
Jeremiah 3: 1, 8, 14

So did God divorce Israel?   Is He indeed the author and perfecter of marriage dissolution while both one-flesh spouses live?

Whenever Deuteronomy 24 is abused to promote the evangelical serial polygamy we call “biblical” divorce and remarriage, the brash butchering of this prophetic passage typically follows in the very next breath.    (That is, that very next breath invariably rests its apostate case at verse 8.)   If you stop reading right there, it looks for all the world like it was none other than the Most High Himself Who instituted divorce, and in fact sent away the very apple of His eye!  Better yet, just as through Moses, the Lord apparently said through Jeremiah that He could never take her back!   Why, if God even refused to ever forgive Israel, then surely we’re excused from ever forgiving or reconciling with our one-flesh spouse, aren’t we?

We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

Since then, we have taken each of the major “go-to” verses for evangelical marriage heresy  (Deut. 24:1-4,  1 Cor. 7:15, and Matt. 19:9) through the same disciplined process to show the glaring lack of evidence for using these to overcome the abundance of straightforward scripture that overwhelmingly supports the indissolubility, except by death, of original holy matrimony .   As the series winds down, we address a couple of the secondary passages the remarriage apologists occasionally fall back on.

The Principle of CONTENT:
As before, we go back to the original text seeking to identify and strip away any modifications that may have occurred in the translation process on its way to becoming part of our contemporary English-language bibles.   Such distortions may have come from manuscript selection and possibly from translation bias.    We compare two online source tools for this purpose:   scripture4all.org  and biblehub.com, finding a few differences between them.    For this purpose, we will compare and take a deep dive into verses 1 and 8, then come back and compare that analysis with a thorough analysis of verse 14.

Jeremiah 3:1 (Young’s Literal Translation):
Saying, `Lo, one sendeth away his wife, And she hath gone from him, And she hath been to another man, Doth he turn back unto her again? Greatly defiled is not that land? And thou hast committed whoredom with many lovers, And turn again to Me, an affirmation of Jehovah.

S4all_Jer 3_1
Source: scripture4all.org

Biblehub_Jer 3_1
Source: biblehub.com

In this passage we see the typical Hebrew usage of ish”  אּישׁ
and “isha” נָשִׁים 
almost interchangeably for  “man / husband” and “woman / wife”, respectively.    We’ve pointed out before that even a betrothed woman was called (and legally considered to be) a wife under Hebrew custom, and that a writ of divorcement was required from the time of Moses to dissolve a betrothal contract.   In our related discussion of Deut. 24:1-4, in Moses’ time this would have been for a situation where the capital offenses of fornication or adultery had not been committed, but over the next few centuries the application of that law had expanded to those situations, as from time to time, the Jews lost the ability to carry out the stoning described in Deut. 22.    Jeremiah lived some 900 years after Moses, during the time of the exile, when the Persians were again denying this practice of Mosaic law, so the substitution of unilateral divorce would have covered most situations where disposal of a betrothed or consummated wife was desired.   We see the reference to fornication (the premarital sin of whoredom, harlotry or prostitution) in this verse –  “zanah”  זָנָה,  (rather than na’aphנָאַף, or adultery) in Jeremiah’s verse 1 utterance.    He seems to be making the analogy of Israel violating her ketubah in selling herself out to idolatry or false Gods.

UPDATE:  (with a “hat tip” to covenant marriage stander, John Hasch for pointing out the contemporary bible translation discrepancy versus the manuscripts and more-faithful older translations such as King James Version, Douay-Rheims, and the 1599 Geneva Bible)    We also find that the original texts do not ascribe to God the saying in Jeremiah 3:1,  but are instead faithful to ascribe the saying to men only, in the form of Mosaic tradition.    By contrast, most of the contemporary translations unfaithfully ascribe the saying directly to God.    Quoting John Hasch, concerning his observation in studying the versions and texts:

“This is a sad example of how the modern translations have taken the words of God and completely turned them 180 degrees. Look at Jeremiah 3:1 in a King James Version Bible. ‘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.’  Note the language used: ‘THEY SAY…….’ and ‘SAITH THE LORD’. This verse is painting a contrast – first, what others have said, then what God has said. This same pattern was used by Jesus, for example in the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time...’  (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31) After Jesus stated what others said, He then corrected the record with his own instruction – ‘But I say unto you…’ (Matthew 5:22, 28, 32) In Jeremiah, God was calling the people back to Him in spite of their past transgressions. He wanted (WANTS) relation with us. Read the rest of Jeremiah 3 to see a story of our God who cries out for us to repent and return to Him. Next, take a look at Jeremiah 3:1 in other, more modern translations. ‘They say…’ has been replaced with various other wording, including ‘God says…’, thereby attributing the false first premise to God Himself.

By making the additional observation that Jesus later used the same language in the Sermon on the Mount  when He raised the moral standard for the kingdom of God back to that which God established in the Creation (since Jesus was part of the “let us” who was a present eyewitness to that event),  John is also applying the additional hermeneutical principles of Context and Comparison.   John correctly observes that Jesus is here abrogating so very many of the abusive Mosaic traditions that emerged under the rabbi’s over the centuries since the bones of Moses had turned to dust in the ground, as the prophet Jeremiah was likewise attempting to do under Holy Spirit inspiration in his day.   Going undetected, the contemporary translation fraud obscures this very important bit of context.

Jeremiah 3:8 (Young’s Literal Translation):
And I see when (for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery) I have sent her away, and I give the bill of her divorce unto her, that treacherous Judah her sister hath not feared, and goeth and committeth fornication — she also.

S4all_Jer 3_8
Source: scripture4all.org

Biblehub_Jer 3_8
Source:  biblehub.com

In verse 8 we begin to see both terms shalach שָׁלַח   (sending away) and “karath”   כָּרַת (cut off) for the severing of the marriage tie.   We see that Israel is receiving her “divorce paper” before Judah has.    Further, we see that Israel has now been charged with adultery  na’aphנָאַף,  while Judah has been charged with harlotry “zanahזָנָה,    Further discussion of this is deferred to the CONTEXT discussion which follows next.    So, is Yaweh irrevocably divorcing Israel, or does He remember His unconditional covenant after a period of chastening her?     Verse 14 appears to give a clear answer to this:

Jeremiah 3:14 (Young’s Literal Translation):
Turn back, O backsliding sons, An affirmation of Jehovah. For I have ruled over you, And taken you one of a city, and two of a family, And have brought you to Zion…

S4all_Jer 3_14

Source: scripture4all.org

Biblehub_Jer 3_14
Source: biblehub.com

Here Jeremiah tells us that rather than repudiating the apple of His eye, God is affirming the indissolubility of His covenant with her, and urging her to return to Him, to cease her backsliding and be faithful to the One who cares for her.   In verse 14, (as contrasted with verse 1),  we don’t see the word ish”  אּישׁ  used for “husband”, but rather the word “baal” בָּעַל .   Baal (ruler) is also the term by which the Lord called Himself with respect to Israel in the poignant passages of another exilic prophet, Isaiah (Is. 54 and 62), depicting the role of the husband as the head of the wife.    The literal translation, “I have ruled over you”, for this reason is rendered, “I am married unto you” in the King James version, and “I am your husband” in the NIV.

 

The Principle of CONTEXT:
Jeremiah was the prophet whom God appointed young, who ministered in Judah under the last five kings, from Josiah to Zedekiah.   The northern kingdom, Israel, had fallen to Sennacherib following God’s judgment several years before the southern kingdom, Judah fell to Nebuchadnezzar.   Two other prophets had preceded Jeremiah, whose messages were remarkably parallel to his, namely, Hosea of the northern kingdom, and Isaiah who also ministered in Judea and was slightly older than Jeremiah.   All three predicted that God would discipline His people by removing His hand of protection for a season in order to give them over to the pagan culture which they already worshipped, and all three predicted the restoration of the Hebrew nation under God’s hand.   All three used man’s invented divorce mechanisms as an analogy, then each asked the rhetorical question under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, thereby sharply contrasting God’s character with man’s: “if you seek to return, will God take you back?”

As further prophesied by Jeremiah, God’s “legal separation” with Israel was not a dissolution, but was to last 70 years.    Two other prophets, Ezekiel and Ezra ministered toward the end of the period of exile, the latter man of God bringing forward the cost of restored sovereignty:  the righteous purging of their unlawful spouses and the resulting children, as described in Ezra, chapter 10.   Since these were not one-flesh unions (in the sense that God did not join them), they were orderly civil dissolutions, just as a civil divorce of an adulterous remarriage would be today.

Context is provided by the prophesied future event that was fulfilled when the returned exiles rebuilt the temple 70 years after going into captivity, and were able to rebuild the Jerusalem wall with God’s restored favor shortly after obeying Him in purging the unlawful marriages with which He had not covenanted.    According to Rabbi Eliezer Ben-Yehuda,  “as the civilization of the people reached a higher plateau and, especially under the teaching of the prophets, the Jewish people’s moral and religious consciousness developed, the polygamous marriage system gradually declined. This is noticeable in Israel after the return from the Exile.”
On the surface, the chastening God brought about during the Exile made a fairly lasting impression on the morality of the Jewish patriarchy, but as Malachi later decried, this also elevated the immoral use of the “get” (writ of divorcement) to promote serial monogamy instead, which of course, was a complete departure from the covenant behavior God had graciously demonstrated toward them, and was behavior which Jesus later rebuked.

Just as context was provided by God’s allowance of the Babylonian captivity (the “divorcement” spoken of by the three prophets),  followed by the return from exile and rebuilding the temple (God’s dwelling place, hence covenant restoration, whereby the writ was torn up),  further evidence has been on display in modern times that God did not permanently divorce Israel.    Another prophecy was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel was miraculously restored as a nation, and God thereafter fought off the rabidly-hostile Arab enemies that surrounded her.    Indeed, in the 1990 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was decisively reminded of the Abrahamic Covenant:

And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed….

…when the late Mr. Hussein vainly attempted to invade Israel.

 

The Principle of CULTURE:
Throughout Israel’s history, God made a succession of covenants with them, most of these were permanent and unconditional, but at least one, the Mosaic Covenant, was largely conditional and was designed from the beginning to be replaced by the Messianic Covenant, with the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.   Hebrew culture followed those covenants, but to this very day, tends to dwell on the Mosaic Covenant (the only one that was transitory), even though it was been replaced with a Covenant that is infinitely superior and will never be dissolved.    The writ of divorcement was a man-made component of the transitory Mosaic era, as were some 613 external Levitical laws which Jesus simplified to just two internal ones.

The Hebrew culture into which Jeremiah, and the other prophets whom he echoed, spoke was remarkably similar to our culture today.    Each of these, as we’ve shown,  used the Mosaic “bill of divorcement”, not in an approving way, but as a rhetorical analogy with which they each immediately contrasted God’s holy character.  Because the permanent covenants, such as the Abrahamic Covenant, have little appeal to the flesh compared with the Mosaic Covenant, the human tendency (then and now) is to forget the attributes of God’s character that make the superior, everlasting covenants possible.   Because of this, we make our golden calves of unilateral divorce and remarriage today, and we insist that the resulting temporal affluence is a sure sign of God’s “blessing”.     Jesus brought this idea back down to earth 500-600 years after these prophets in a very forceful way in Luke 16:

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.

19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’

 

The Principle of COMPARISON:
By this fourth basic principle of sound hermeneutics, scripture interprets scripture, with the clearest passages helping to answer any ambiguity remaining after an honest analysis of CONTENT, CONTEXT and CULTURE.   Since  God’s word tells us that all scripture is God-breathed, that is,  equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, then if its seems that one scripture contradicts another, it’s a sign of bias or that the analysis is not complete enough.   In other words, we don’t just run with it as the “Reverend All-Wets” of our day are all too prone to do, but we keep studying until the conflict is resolved.   In this case, it is resolved simply by reading on and catching the rest of what that prophet had to say, sometimes within the same chapter, and certainly within the same book.

Part 1 of our series, on Matthew 19:6 built a strong case for this verse (and its counterpart verse, Mark 10:8-9 from the same historical occasion) being the cornerstone verse for this comparison, but as also shown, there are many others.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.   What came directly out of the mouth of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with attempts to interpret Jeremiah 3 as “evidence” that God instituted divorce, but not necessarily is it in conflict with dissolving subsequent, non-widowed civil remarriage which actually lacks the characteristic of one-flesh joining by God, as was also the case for the instances of sequential and concurrent polygamy of Moses’ day, and Jeremiah’s.

Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:6-11; Genesis 17:4-8   –  All of the parts of the Abrahamic Covenant form an unconditional promise of God to His people, Israel.   As a central theme, the  Abrahamic Covenant is substantially more important as a lens for interpreting any of the Exilic prophets (including Jeremiah) than the Mosaic Covenant, because the former looks forward to the permanent Messianic Covenant which has now replaced the latter.

Hosea 2:16-17 –  In one of the most amazing illustrations in the bible, the prophet Hosea was instructed by the Lord to marry a known prostitute and have children by her.   After obeying, Hosea grieved (as a covenant marriage stander grieves) as he watched his wife chase after those who could provide luxuries and delicacies for her.    He distanced himself from her emotionally but never lost his care and compassion for her, telling his children “Plead with your mother, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” (2:2).    Yet Hosea went on to speak of a time of discipline followed by redemption and restoration, resulting in Hosea expressing the outcome:  “In that day, you will call me ‘my husband’ [ishi], and no longer will you call me baali [master or possessor].

Hosea 2:19-20 –  The Lord had told Hosea that his marriage would be an extended metaphor for God’s relationship with His people.
I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.

Isaiah 49:24-26; 50:1-2 –   In the latter verses of this passage, the Lord asks (rhetorically) through Isaiah, “Am I the one who abandoned you [ did I issue a bill of divorcement or sell you into slavery] ?   No, it was your own sins that did that.”    Keeping in mind that there were no chapter breaks in the original text, and that Isaiah was prophesying about the Babylonian captivity still more than a century into the future, it’s helpful to look at the verses that immediately precede this, assuring the actual deliverance from that captivity.   God “divorcing” Israel?   Not so much!

In fact, Hosea 3:2-5 is the parallel to this passage and also to Jeremiah 3:14-15, when Hosea rescues his disgraced and demoralized Gomer from the slave block:
So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.  Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.”
 For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.

Isaiah 54 – Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
 “For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the Lord of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth.
 “For the Lord has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”
Says your God.
 “For a brief moment I forsook you,
But with great compassion I will gather you.

Isaiah 62 – It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”  [Hephzi-Bah]
And your land, “Married” [Beulah]
For the Lord delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 – Far from a “divorce”,  this subsequent inspired pronouncement through the prophet Jeremiah was the future promise of the Messianic Covenant, a substantially increased and costly commitment to Israel….”My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “

Ezekiel, chapter 16 – this prophet also speaks graphically of Israel’s harlotry and God’s redemption from that disgraced state, of the humbling and forgiveness that follows, another parallel account to the Hosea prophecies that preceded the exile, but this time from within Babylon.

Ezekiel 20:40-44 – “For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.   I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.   And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.   And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.   And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

Romans, chapter 11 –  One of the unsavory legacies of the fact that some of the Protestant Reformers may not have themselves been regenerated disciples of Jesus Christ, is the cluster of companion heresies that join with and reinforce the heresy that holy matrimony is dissoluble by men.   As we’ve shown before, one such heresy is “once saved, always saved”,  and the other is known as “replacement theology” (supersessionism) : the idea that Israel somehow forfeited the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant by rejecting Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and instead crucifying Him.    Aside from myopically selective embrace of scripture that this theory obviously entails, it also shows an egregious lack of understanding of both the nature of covenant, and of God’s character in covenant.    Paul certainly knew that God had not “divorced” Israel.   In fact, he urged the Gentile converts to make the Jews jealous of their newfound relationship with Christ.

 

The Principle of CONSULTATION:
Whom is it most appropriate to consult on the authority of scripture which seeks to “sanctify” marriage to another while still having a living one-flesh spouse?     Due to the carnality of man which tends to escalate over time, that is a very important question which requires a strong knowledge of church history to reliably answer.    Hopefully, we’ve made it clear with indisputable evidence up to this point exactly where Jesus and the Apostles (including Paul) stood.   They discipled the next generation of followers of The Way, who in turn discipled the successive generations of the ante-Nicene church fathers.   It makes sense therefore to start the consultation with the writings of those who knew the Apostles (for example, Luke and Mark), and with those whom the next generation  discipled.

We need to be a bit skeptical while consulting theologian commentators from the time  of the Reformation forward when it comes to this topic.    Some will be biased in defense of the heretical Westminster Confession of Faith, which has dominated mainline Protestant Churches from the 17th century, and others will be swayed by the tampering with word translations that began to occur in the lexicons published after the latter half of the 19th century.    On this basis, an equal number of later scholars will refute and discredit the many writings of the disciples of the Apostles, literally lapsing into “Reverend All-Wet” mode, and only superficially applying the  principles of disciplined hermeneutics  that we’ve just stepped through together.    For example, in convoluted fashion they’ll say that “scripture cannot contradict itself”,  so since “most scholars agree” (a presumption based on confirmation bias — and a weakened, distorted application of the COMPARISON principle that completely bypasses application of both the CONTEXT and  CULTURE principles) it must be so and conflicting scriptures can therefore be ignored, considered “analogy” or “hyperbole” rather than reconciled with rigor and discipline.

Two free downloadable scholarly books are available, here and here, that will be very helpful in carrying out the CONSULTATION step for almost every scripture we’ll be examining in this series.   Our Church Fathers and Church Wolves series will also be historically helpful.        What follows below is intended to be a sampling and not exhaustive.    Once again, it shows that the proponents of the heretical view did not surface for centuries after the first disciples of the apostles were unanimous in the faithful gospel.

Clement of Alexandria (circa 215 A.D.)
Now that the scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication,” and it regards as adultery the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.   The Church cannot marry another, having obtained a bridegroom;  each of us individually has a right to marry the woman he wishes according to the law; I mean here first marriage.

Tertullian ( circa 160-220 A.D.)
A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commits any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage?    Such is God’s verdict, within narrower limits than men’s, that universally, whether through marriage or promiscuously, the admission of a second man to intercourse is pronounced adultery to Him...so true, moreover, is it that divorce “was not from the beginning,” that among the Romans it is not until the six hundredth year from the building of the city that this kind of “hard heartedness” is set down as having been committed.  But they indulge in promiscuous adulteries, even without divorcing their partners: to us, even if we do divorce them, even marriage will not be lawful.

Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

FB profile 7xtjw   SIFC Note:   All of the above quotes are from  Daniel R. Jennings, “Except for Fornication – Why Evangelicals Must Reevaluate Their Interpretation of Matthew’s Divorce Exception Clause” (2011)
Sean Multimedia (www.seanmultimedia.com).

 

Martin Luther (circa 1522)
But you ask, “Is there no reason for which there may be separation between man and wife?”  Answer: Christ states here Matt. v. 31-32, and in Matthew xix.9, only this one, which is called adultery, and he quotes it from the law of Moses which punishes adultery with death.  Since now death alone dissolves marriages and releases from obligation, an adulterer is already divorced not by man but by God himself, and not only cut loose from his spouse, but from this life…because now God here divorces, the other party is fully released, so that he or she is not bound to keep the spouse that has proved unfaithful, however he or she may desire it.

“For such ruthless wrath of God is sufficient evidence that they [i.e., the Jewish people] assuredly have erred and gone astray. Even a child can comprehend this. For one dare not regard God as so cruel that he would punish his own people so long, so terrible, so unmercifully … Therefore this work of wrath is proof that the Jews, surely rejected by God, are no longer his people, and neither is he any longer their God” (“On the Jews and Their Lies,” Trans. Martin H. Bertram, in Luther’s Works [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], p. 265).

Verse 1.They say, etc.; as the margin of Authorized Version correctly states, the Hebrew simply has “saying.” Various ingenious attempts have been made to explain this. Hitzig, for instance, followed by Dr. Payne Smith, thinks that “saying” may be an unusual equivalent for “that is to say,” “for example,” or the like; while the Vulgate and Rashi, followed by De Wette and Rosenmüller, assume an ellipsis, and render, “It is commonly said,” or “I might say.” But far the most natural way is to suppose that “saying” is a fragment of the superscription of the prophecy, the remainder of which has been accidentally placed in ver. 6, and that we should read, “And the word of the Lord came unto me in the days of Josiah the king, saying.” So J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Graf, Naegelsbach. If a man put away his wife. The argument is founded on the law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which forbade an Israelite who had divorced his wife to take her again, if in the interval she had been married to another. The Jews had broken a still more sacred tie, not once only, but repeatedly; they worshipped “gods many and lords many;” so that they had no longer any claim on Jehovah in virtue of his “covenant” with his people. Shall he return, etc.? rather, Ought he to return? The force of the term is potential (comp. Authorized Version of Genesis 34:7, “which thing ought not to be done”). Shall not in the next clause is rather would not. Yet return again to me.  So Peshito, Targum, Vulgate, and the view may seem to be confirmed by the invitations in vers. 12, 14, 22. But as it is obviously inconsistent with the argument of the verse, and as the verb may equally well be the infinitive or the imperative, most recent commentators render, “And thinkest thou to return to me?” (literally, and returning to me! implying that the very idea is inconceivable). Probably Jeremiah was aware that many of the Jews were dissatisfied with the religious condition of the nation (comp. ver. 4).

Verse 14.Turn, O backsliding children. There is a play upon words, or rather upon senses, in the original, “Turn, ye turned away ones” (comp. ver. 12). To whom is this addressed? To the Israelites in the narrower sense, for there is nothing to indicate a transition. Long as they have been removed from the paternal hearth, they are still “sons.” For I am married unto you. The same Hebrew phrase occurs in Jeremiah 31:32. Its signification has been a subject of dispute. From the supposed necessities of exegesis in Jeremiah 31:32, some (e.g. Pococke and Gesenins) have translated, “for I have rejected you,” but the connection requires not “for” but “though,” which, however, is an inadmissible rendering; besides, the Hebrew verb in question nowhere has the sense of “reject” elsewhere (yet the Septuagint already has it, virtually at least, in Jeremiah 31:32, q.v.). The literal meaning is for I have been a lord over you, i.e. a husband. Israel is despondent, and fears to return. Jehovah repeats his invitation, assuring Israel that he does not regard the marriage bond as broken. He is still (in spite of ver. 8) the husband, and Israel the bride (comp. Hosea 2; Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 54:6, etc.). One of a city, and two of a family. The promises of God are primarily to communities, but this does not prevent him from devoting the most special care to individuals. “One of a city, and two of a family,” even though there should be but one faithful Lot in a city, and two such in a family (larger than a city, a single tribe containing only a few mishpa-khoth, or clans), yet I will admit these few to the promised blessings.”

They {a} say, If a man shall put away his wife, and she shall go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return to her again? shall not that land {b} be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many {c} lovers; yet {d} return again to me, saith the LORD.

(a) According as it is written, De 24:4.

(b) If he take such a one to wife again.

(c) That is, with idols, and with them whom you have put your confidence in.

(d) And I will not cast you off, but receive you, according to my mercy.

And I saw, when for all the causes by which backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put {k} her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

(k) And gave her into the hands of the Assyrians.

Jeremiah 3:1. They say — That is, men use to say, If a man put away his wife — Or give her a bill of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1; and she go from him — In consequence thereof; and become another man’s — Engage herself to another; shall he return unto her? — He cannot take her again according to the law, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Or, rather, will a man do such a thing? If the law were not against it, would any man be inclined to take such a woman again? Certainly not. Such playing fast and loose with the marriage-bond would be a horrid profanation of that ordinance, and would greatly pollute the land. Thus they had reason to expect, that God would refuse ever to take them again to be his people, who had not only been joined to one strange god, but had played the harlot with many lovers. If we had to do with a man like ourselves, after such provocations as we have been guilty of, he would be implacable, and we might despair of his ever being reconciled to us again. But he is God and not man, and therefore he adds, Yet return again to me — Namely, forsaking all those other lovers; which invitation implies a promise, that he would receive them upon their repentance and reformation.

Jeremiah 3:14. Turn, for I am married unto you — I am in covenant with you, and this covenant, notwithstanding all your unfaithfulness, I am ready to renew with you. Hebrew, בעלתי בכם, which Blaney translates, I have been a husband among you; observing, that God hereby “means to remind them that he had fulfilled the covenant on his part, by protecting and blessing them, as he had promised when he engaged to be their God: and therefore, as they had never any reason to complain of him, he urges them to return to their duty, and promises, in that case, to be still kinder to them than before.” I will take you one of a city, &c. — Some interpret these words thus: “I will receive you, though there should be but one from a city willing to return, and two from a province, or tribe.” This prophecy was accomplished in the letter, after the edict of Cyrus, when several of the Israelites returned to Palestine, but only by little and little, and, as it were, one by one. But undoubtedly it was intended to be understood chiefly, in a spiritual sense, of their conversion to Christianity, and their reception into the gospel church, into which they partly have been, and probably hereafter in greater numbers will be admitted, “not all at a time, or in a national capacity, but severally, as individuals, here and there one.” See Isaiah 27:12.

III.

(1) The parable of the guilty wife who is condemned in spite of all her denials is carried out to its logical results.

They say.—Better, So to speak, as introducing a new application of the figure. The direct reference is to Deuteronomy 24:4, which forbade the return to the past husband as an abomination, a law which the recent discovery of the Book of the Law (2Kings 22:10-11) had probably brought into prominence. But there is also an obvious allusion to the like imagery in Hosea. There the prophet had done, literally or in parable, what the law had forbidden (Hosea 2:16; Hosea 3:3), and so had held out the possibility of return and the hope of pardon. Jeremiah has to play a sterner part. and to make the apostate adulteress at least feel that she had sinned too deeply to have any claims to forgiveness. It might seem as if Jehovah could not now return to the love of His espousals, and make her what she once had been.

Yet return again to me, saith the Lord.—The words sound in the English like a gracious invitation, and—in spite of the authority of many interpreters who take it as an indignant exclamation, and return to me! an invitation given in irony, and so equivalent to rejection, as though that return were out of the question—it must, I think, be so taken. The prophet has, as we have seen, the history of Hosea in his mind, where there had been such a call to return (Hosea 2:19; Hosea 3:3), and actually refers to it and repeats it in Jeremiah 3:7; Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:14. It surely implies a want of insight into the character of Jeremiah to suppose that he ever came before men as proclaiming an irrevocable condemnation, excluding the possibility of repentance.

(8) And I saw, when for all the causes.—Better, perhaps (following a conjectural emendation, which gives a much better sense), And she saw that for all the causes. The technical fulness of the words suggests the thought that they were actually the customary formula with which every writing of divorcement began, recapitulating the offences which were alleged by the husband against the wife. The actual repudiation consisted, of course, in the bitter exile and loss of national life, which Hosea (Hosea 2:1-13) had predicted under a like figure. Judah had witnessed the sin and the punishment, and yet was following in the same path.

(14) Turn, O backsliding children.—In his desire to individualise his call to repentance, the prophet drops his parable, or rather combines the sign and the thing signified, with the same assonance as before—turn back, ye children who have turned away.

I am married unto you.—The tender pity of Jehovah leads Him to offer pardon even to the adulterous wife. Jeremiah had learned, in all their fulness, the lessons of Hosea 1-3.

One of a city, and two of a family.—The latter word is the wider in its range of the two—a clan, or tribe, that might embrace many cities. The limitation to the “one” and the “two” is after the manner of Isaiah’s reference (Isaiah 1:9) to the “remnant” that should be saved, and reminds of the “ten righteous men” who might have saved the cities of the plain (Genesis 18:32).

 Dr. David W. Jones and Dr. John K. Tarwater (2005)  –  In this article, we have sought to call attention to various scriptural clues that we believe point to the indissoluble nature of covenants in which God is a participant. We have noted that the language used to describe the nature of biblical covenants, the manner in which biblical covenants are established, and the way in which God deals with violations of biblical covenants all point to the enduring nature of these covenants. We are convinced that this evidence, coupled with the absence from Scripture of any dissolved covenant in which God is a participant, provides evidence that points to the permanence of biblical covenants.

If the materials marshaled in this introductory study are accurate, we believe that their potential for influencing our understanding of the institution of marriage is great. While there is certainly more work to be done, such as proving the covenantal nature of marriage (cf. Gen 2:24; Prov 2:16-17; Mal 2:10-16), proving that God is a part of nuptials (Gen 2:23-24; Matt 19:6), and exegetically handling the so-called “exception clauses” in Matthew’s Gospel (cf. Matt 5:32; 19:9), it is our hope that this study will contribute to the church’s understanding of marriage and divorce, as well as the nature of biblical covenants.

Myron Horst, Biblical Research Reports
In Jeremiah 3 God states that He gave Israel a certificate of divorce. However at no point did that annul or end the covenant that He had made with the ten northern tribes of Israel even though Israel had married other gods. Jeremiah 3:1 says “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.” In spite of the command by Moses in Deut. 24:1-4 that a divorced woman could not return to her first husband, in Jer. 3:1 God says to Israel, “Yet return again to me.”

God infers that the instruction given in Deut. 24:1-4 on divorce and remarriage is not a command that He gave to Moses. God says in Jer. 3:1 “They say” not “I said” in referring to Deut. 24:1-4. He then goes on to ignore the command that a divorced woman may not return to her first husband by saying “yet return again to me.”

Jesus also implied that divorce and remarriage in Deut. 24:1-4 was something that Moses permitted because the people demanded it, but it was not a permission that God gave. Jesus said that from the beginning it was not so. In Matt. 19:8 Jesus said, ” Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Jesus at no point indicated that Deut. 24:1-4 was a command that God gave to Moses.  Hardness of heart is refusing to believe what God has said and is sin.

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:  Hardness of heart separates us from covenant.  It never dissolves the covenant because of God’s ownership and participation.   However, marriage is for this life only, and human life is finite.   Hardened hearts always simply run out of time on the earth.   The family court gavel is a purely human contrivance, and a presumptuous one at that, to vainly imagine that it would ever speak for the Most High.

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
Matthew 19:8

 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.   But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.   For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,  while it is said,

Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”
Hebrews 3:12-15

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

The Granddaddy of Them All – Stop Abusing Matthew 19:9: The “Debunk” Series – Part 5

RevAllWet9by Standerinfamilycourt

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.   Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.     –  2 Timothy 2:14-15

 

The human sense of justice absolutely demands that adultery be punished, and punished urgently.   How can a just God possibly NOT release someone from an unfaithful spouse?    And how can a just God “punish” the innocent party by decreeing that they cannot have another spouse unless the first spouse dies?    The Pharisees were incensed, and the twelve disciples were absolutely livid to hear this from Jesus!

 The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”  But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.    For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
– Matthew 19:10-12

Three different kinds of “eunuchs” did Jesus compare, the first two, analogies, with the third type the one Jesus was intending to emphasize.    What made the disciples ask again (incredulously) if Jesus really meant what He had just said?

He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to [a]divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever [b]divorces his wife, except for [c]I[immorality – NASB], and marries another woman [d]commits adultery[e].”

New American Standard Bible Footnotes:

[a.] Matthew 19:8 Or send away
[b.] Matthew 19:9 Or sends away
[c.}
Matthew 19:9 Literally,  fornication

[d.] Matthew 19:9 Some early mss read makes her commit adultery
[e.] Matthew 19:9 Some early mss add and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery

It’s not hard at all to jump over footnotes [d] and [e] and assume that just because those little side bars have been relegated to the bottom of the page that the “early manuscripts” must somehow be inferior or faulty.    That would be a deeply erroneous assumption, however.    Many other contemporary English translations (such as NIV) don’t even bother to tell us what they’ve omitted, or even that they’ve lopped off such a key ending to verse 9 as “he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”      What’s up with that?

Furthermore, if Jesus literally referred to the specific sin of fornication, as footnote [c] advises, then on what basis has the translation team seen fit to put the far more generic word “immorality” in His mouth instead?    Are we incapable of understanding for ourselves what fornication means?   (Apparently less so than this bible translation team!)

We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

Having done that, we will now do the same with each of the most egregiously mishandled passages that apostate theologians and church leaders seek to water down or refute that unpalatable truth with.    You may see these same scholars dutifully applying these principles to other biblical topics,  but when it comes to this one, they’ve never heard of “Herman”.      We will tackle these in subjective order of damage to the church and society, doing the worst of them first, the ones that trap people in a life that the bible makes clear will send them to hell if they don’t repent and sever the illicit “marriages”.

So, here’s the  most egregious case in all of scripture where bible scholars refuse to agree on what the content even is, yet God’s hireling shepherds today don’t hesitate to make it the cornerstone of the basis on which they counsel,  and are willing to perform weddings  –  in the face of what Paul tells us twice is a heaven-or-hell issue.   If we can’t even agree on what the content of this passage is, how can disciplined interpretation have been mastered in any of the other principles?

Why don’t we pause for a moment, and hit the “re-wind” button on these “helpful” bible society edits and get back to the full, unabridged content of Matthew 19:9 ?

   And I say to you, whoever [sends away] his wife, except for fornication, and marries another woman commits adultery, and causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a woman who has been sent away commits adultery.

[ Caution:  correctly transcribing and translating the entire verse of Matthew 19:9 can be hazardous to Rev. All-Wet’s exception clause. ]

We’ve posited our opinion that Deuteronomy 24:4 is the most abused verse in the Old Testament.    Without a doubt, Matthew 19:9 is the most mangled and misapplied verse in the New Testament.    Unlike the blissfully ignorant and  out-of-context  interpretations  we commonly see of 1 Corinthians 7,  the revisionism of Matthew 19:9 involves outright intentional scripture-tampering that goes back a few hundred years (see Bengel’s Gnomen and Pulpit Commentary, under CONSULTATION, below) and seems to be serving as the model for a cascade of revisions that support other immoral life choices, in addition to man’s divorce and adulterous remarriage.   We will follow the same disciplined approach of applying the basic five principles of sound hermeneutics to prove the accurate handling of Matthew 19:9.

The Principle of CONTENT
Because of all that Matthew 19:9 has suffered over centuries of willful tampering, it is vital to revert back to the original Greek text and literal syntax.

Legō                 de   hymin   hoti   hos an                            apolysē             tēn   gunaika               autou    ei mē   epi   porneia…..

Λέγω                δὲ   ὑμῖν     ὅτι     ὃς   ἂν                           ἀπολύσῃ             τὴν   γυναῖκα                 αὐτοῦ   ἐὶ μὴ   ἐπὶ   πορνείᾳ….

I am saying     yet to you that   who ever should be from-loosing the  woman [wife]  of him   if   no on prostitution…..

(….first thing to notice here is this verse has nothing to do with secular government regulation or recognition of marriage, which is purely a post-Reformation construct.   This inconvenient historical fact does not stop contemporary lexicons, bible dictionaries, version publishers and commentators from equating “putting away”  with “civil domestic litigation” by assumption, as though the “institution” of civil unilateral divorce was handed down from On High!)

 

….poiei    autēn       moicheuthēnai

….ποιεῖ   αὐτὴν       μοιχευθῆναι

is making her         to be adultering

 

…kai    gamēsē                            allēn                         moichatai

…καὶ    γαμήσῃ                           ἄλλην                       μοιχᾶται

….and   shall be marrying     another         is committing adultery,

kai      ho                              apolelymenēn              gamēsas            moichatai

καὶ       ὁ                                ἀπολελυμένην            γαμήσας           μοιχᾶται›

and he who   one having been from-loosed   marries       is committing
adultery

(….the second thing to notice that when all the omitted pieces that the various manuscripts indicate were originally part of Matthew 19:9 are added back, it causes the reading to be virtually identical with Matthew 5:32, and completely consistent with both Mark 10:11-12 as well as Luke 16:18. )

The propensity of so-called scholars to re-engineer this unpalatable verse also makes it crucial to take a VERY close look at all the verb tenses,  because preposterous claims have been made down through the centuries (and today) about the duration and permanence of the adulterous state Jesus warned about.   In the phrase, “whoever should be dismissing his wife and marrying another…”,  both actions are in the aorist subjunctive active tense, approximating a present tense possibility, while the next verb, “commits adultery” is in the present indicative tense showing an ongoing action, rather than a one-time completed act, as many (even scholarly) abusers of Matthew 19 are fond of claiming while hoping Greek verb tenses are far too dry a topic for most of us to bother researching.

In the next phrase, “causes her to commit adultery..”,  the verb “is making / causing” is in the present indicative active, once again indicating an ongoing, continuous state of activity, while the verb “to commit adultery / to be adulterating” is in the aorist infinitive passive.

In the final phrase, “and he who marries one who has been put away, commits adultery“, there are three verbs.   The first, “marries” [aorist participle active],  the second verb, been put away [perfect participle passive-indicating past action], and the third verb, commits adultery [present indicative – ongoing, continuous action].    In each case where “commits adultery” is stated, it is never a one-time act, but an ongoing one requiring some intervention in order to cease, such as death or repentance.    This link is one of the most helpful this blogger has found in guiding the correct understanding of Greek verb tenses.

Note, too, that certain translation liberties have been taken in contemporary English bible translations to imply that the gender of the “from-loosed” person, whom one may not marry is female, when the actual words out of Jesus’ mouth (at least in the Greek) are gender-neutral in the text.     There is a less-than-honest reason for this!   The revisionist translators would like to limit the women who are allegedly ineligible for remarriage to those,  or more specifically, the actual one put away for “adultery” (or “sexual immorality”,  as the revisionists prefer).   On the contrary, the syntax clearly points to the one-flesh restriction, that of marrying any living person’s God-joined covenant spouse under any circumstances.   For this reason, the Online Greek Interlinear Tool from scripture4all.com is more faithful and accurate than its interlinear tool counterpart in biblehub.com.

Any discussion of Matthew 19:9 with remarriage defenders inevitably entails a fierce etymology war over the meaning of “fornication” (Greek porneia, πορνείᾳ).   Whereas Matt. 19:6 is the “hill to die on” for those of us who take Jesus and Paul at their word on the indissolubility by men of the covenant of holy matrimony, it’s obvious that the counterpart “hill”, for those who would take issue with the truth of indissolubility, is instead Matt. 19:9, based on their fiercely-defended broad rendering of the meaning of fornication.   Two recommended authors, Daniel R. Jennings and Sharon L. Fitzhenry have written extremely well-researched books that do a deep-dive into this.   The object of the etymology debate is to attempt to validate the stepwise re-translation of porneia in bible dictionaries and lexicons written since the mid 1800’s, first as “fornication” (whereas formerly, porneia had been specifically rendered as prostitution or whoredom), then as generic “sexual immorality” in order to sweep in adultery, homosexual practice, and more recently, a pornography habit as a basis for God purportedly  “allowing” civil divorce and remarriage.   (See Jennings, pages 63-68).   It is on this basis, for example, that we suddenly see the distinct term “moicheia”  evaporate from contemporary English translations of Galatians 5:19,  merged with porneia and renamed “sexual immorality”.

 

The rendering of porneia as “fornication” was reasonable enough, since that word derives from “fornix”, or the architectural arches under which the Roman prostitutes plied their trade.    What came to be deliberately obfuscated in this process, however, is the prior understanding that porneia / fornication was not a sin of the married, but rather of the unmarried.   One of the two authors mentioned above debated a seminary theologian on Facebook last summer in a far-ranging exchange that went on for many days.

For now, we note that both Jesus and Paul repeatedly spoke of fornication, adultery, and sodomy as separate sins, in Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21, as well as Matthew 19:9.    Paul did likewise in
1 Corinthian 6:9-10  and Galatians 5:19-21.

The Principle of CONTEXT
The narrowest context of the exchange in Matthew 19, is the carnal attempt by the Pharisees to apply Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to dissolve a one-flesh covenant marriage, contrary to God’s commandment, and possibly entrap Jesus with the intent of discrediting His ministry after the rebuke He gave in the Sermon on the Mount of the Pharisaical practice of serial polygamy, Matt. 5:27-32.  Leading up to the definitive words that begin in verse 6 and culminate in verse 12, which reaffirmed the total indissolubility of covenant holy matrimony, and which shut the door on the prior acceptability of all deviations, including polygamy and divorce, is His confrontation by the Pharisees, following three or four important events that had preceded:

(1) The Roman occupation had removed the ability of the Jews to carry out the Mosaic law for stoning that applied to porneia  and moicheia under Deuteronomy 22.    This upped the ante on civil divorce as a substitute means of disposing of unwanted wives.

(2) Jesus had just publicly lauded His cousin John the Baptist, who had recently been beheaded by Heriod after rebuking his adulterous mutual divorce and remarriage to Herodias, saying “return your brother’s wife — it is not lawful for you to have her.”

(3) A recent attempt by the Pharisees to entrap him had failed when He was brought the woman taken in adultery — related to (1) above.

(4) Jesus had previously delivered the Sermon on the Mount, where He had informed his audience that He was raising the moral standard on a host of Mosaic laws, not the least of which was marriage.   He began by warning them that to lust after another man’s wife, and not be content with one’s own wife would send them to hell if they acted on it.   (There was really no indication that this wasn’t the case all along, even under Moses, but under the New Covenant, there would no longer be atonement available through animal sacrifices, so obedience to Him must begin to come from the heart.)  
Furthermore, He was redefining adultery, no longer to be based solely on an act of the woman, but now it would be based on either gender marrying somebody else’s one-flesh spouse while that person was still living.  This was the first of three recorded occasions where He repeated the identical message without any exceptions that pertained to the 3rd party involved.

For the Pharisees, there was also no mistaking, due to the Hebrew betrothal custom and (1) above that when Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:32 of “except for a report  of unchastity” [logou  porneias],  He was not speaking of a consummated wife by any stretch of the imagination.   This could only be applied to the betrothed legal wife who was the subject of an unconsummated  ketubah.    Speaking as God, He was, in effect slamming the door on “Plan B” which at various earlier points in their history following Moses’ death, they accustomed themselves to resorting to when periodically deprived of the power to carry out stoning.    All of the above created the incendiary backdrop for another Pharisaical attempt to trap and incriminate Jesus, hoping Herod would be motivated to do to Jesus what he had just done to John the Baptist.

Most contemporary Protestant commentaries fixate on the running dispute between the Hillel and Shammai camps of the Pharisees, while presuming in a weakly-supported manner that Jesus sided with the Shammai’s  because of the “exception” He mentioned in  Matthew 5.   This is not only an inept analysis, it is also a total red herring!    Full context shows that Jesus flatly rebuked both schools, and Moses along with them!   Jesus brushed aside their dispute and moved the whole conversation to a place of impact in the kingdom of God, as can be seen in the private discussion with His disciples in the house afterward, verses 10-12:

The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.   But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.  For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.   He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

Sometimes the context that immediately follows the passage being interpreted is just as important as the context that preceded it.   In this instance, if Jesus were merely agreeing with the “conservative” Shammais, verses 10-12, the discussion of becoming a eunuch for the kingdom of God would have no context, nor would the incredulous statement of dismay by the disciples.    But the parallel account in Mark 10 strengthens it even further because Mark, who was not there but spent years ministering with Peter among the Roman Gentiles, was impressed enough with the strength and firmness of what Jesus said that day to drop the gender distinction, indicating that was only relevant in the patriarchal Hebrew culture:

In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;  and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

 

The Principle of CULTURE:
Much has already been covered in this series concerning the cultural considerations in interpreting Matthew 19:6 as rendering holy matrimony altogether indissoluble by any act of men.   The central element is without question the tradition of the Hebrew betrothal, and well as the politics around the on-again, off-again stoning law established by Moses.    Other elements that factor in include the long history of polygamyespecially among the great patriarchs of Israel, the divorce practices learned from among the Egyptians and other pagans prior to and during the Exodus that corrupted the Hebrews and multiplied their adulteries.   The final element is the ritual animal sacrifice that atoned for personal iniquity on a daily basis, which ended shortly after the Mosaic covenant gave way to the Messianic covenant which shifted men’s moral responsibility to maintaining a pure heart in taking up their personal cross and following Him.    Not to love Jesus more than any possession or family relationship was now deemed to be idolatry, which was another for which one forfeited their inheritance in the kingdom of God.

When Jesus had His confrontation with the Pharisees in Matthew 19,  if going back to Deuteronomy 24 in agreement with them was appropriate to the kingdom of God, He would have done so.   However under the Messianic Covenant, where His bride was to be purified, as so vividly described by Paul in Ephesians 5, it was necessary to go all the way back to the Garden, and repudiate this transitory law of Moses that only endeavored to “manage” sin.

Before moving on to discuss COMPARISON (scripture interpreting scripture), it’s worth noting that Jesus, while He was immediately addressing a Hebrew male audience when He made His Matthew 19 response to the challenge of the Pharisees, was also speaking into a Greco-Roman culture, since the Romans were occupying Judea at the time.   In modern times, traditional marriage champion Ryan Anderson said, “..the law is a teacher”, which is essentially a cultural statement.   Not only had the Romans stripped the Jews of their traditional Mosaic penalty of stoning for adulterous wives or fornicating fiancees, they had also enacted a law that held husbands legally responsible if prostitution was carried out by their wives, (while maintaining a vey liberal divorce law).    This certainly compelled a husband of an adulterous wife to separate from her, at minimum to avoid prosecution by the Romans.    (See Jennings, pages 74-78, and Fitzhenry, page 43-44; Lefkowitz & Fant,  Women’s Life in Greece and Rome, 2005.)  The controversy Jesus brought into this separation scenario was His declaration that these circumstances nevertheless did not dissolve the covenant, nor sever the one-flesh state, therefore any resulting remarriage constituted ongoing adultery.   Only God could dissolve covenant and unjoin one-flesh according to Matt. 19:6 / Mark 10:7-9.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
Scripture must always be interpreted in light of all other scripture on the same topic, and accomplished in such a way that there is no contradiction.    All canonized scripture is equally-inspired.  The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself.    Where there appears to be an inconsistency, disciplined investigation must continue until the source of the error is proven, and until scripture again aligns.   All of the relevant Old and New Testament scripture passages must be considered, and appropriate rigor demands that none be ignored as “analogy”, or dismissed as “hyperbole”.

Genesis 2:21-24  –  Matthew 19:6 is verbatim Genesis 2:24, but verses 21-23 give us even richer context.   The covenant wife of a man’s youth is “flesh of his flesh” and “bone of his bones” precisely because of God’s supernatural role in every holy matrimony joining.   God did not take a slab of ribs out of Adam, nor did He send Adam into a second sleep to supply a replacement when Eve did not turn out to be perfect.   There was no provision whatsoever for severing their one-flesh relationship except death.   That’s precisely why Jesus took the Pharisees back to the Garden, and why it wasn’t even necessary to say in the Pharisees’ hearing (because they already knew) the private elaboration He saved for His disciples, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;  and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

Exodus 20:14, 17  – the Ten Commandments were in effect a ketubah, the written evidence of an enduring covenant between Elohim and His chosen people.    In light of how Jesus redefined man’s notion of adultery, the seventh and tenth commandments also echo our understanding of Matthew 19:6.

Deuteronomy 22:13-22  – Under Mosaic law, the penalty for either adultery by a fully-consummated wife (verse 22), or fornication by a betrothed wife (verses 13-21) under a ketubah, was stoning, not dissolution of the marriage by dismissal.   This is fully consistent with the truth that death was required to unjoin one-flesh, which Moses fully understood.

Deuteronomy 22:23-29 – This passage demonstrates a situation where justice required that an unbetrothed virgin who was raped was made legally equivalent to a consummated wife, necessary because would now never be offered a ketubah, therefore was robbed of her opportunity to become one-flesh with a future husband.   Not only was her rapist required to marry her, but he could not divorce her all his days.   This was necessary because of the possibility that her rapist was already married, so without this provision, she might otherwise not be made equal with the one-flesh wife, but instead subject to the law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 –   Although the Pharisaical controversy with Jesus (and also the text of Malachi 2) shows that the system had broken down at some point, but under Moses, “divorce” constituted release from the ketubah, and was reserved for situations where supernaturally God-joined one-flesh did not yet exist, or could never exist (and not situations involving sexual immorality because that was defined in Deuteronomy 22).   Examples included:  “some indecency” or “some nakedness” such as an undisclosed disease in the bride that resulted in ongoing ritual uncleanness – such as leprosy or bleeding;  an unhappy concubine who had been captured in war;  subsequent spouses in polygamy;  too-close consanguinity, and the like.    The reason the husband could not take such a divorced wife back was because the marriage could never be lawful either before or after it occurred.   The obvious analogy with today is the non-covenant wife of remarriage adultery  who must be relinquished permanently in order for both spouses to have a chance to enter heaven.   

Jeremiah 3:1-14 –  This is the passage where the prophet draws an analogy between the covenant violation of adultery and the covenant violation of worshipping other gods (idolatry).   Because it seems to imply in verse 8 that God “divorced” Israel,  this is another widely-abused passage, both in terms of claims that God instituted and / or allows divorce,  and to justify replacement theology, our series will address this passage as well.   There is much to get into with word translation and context that we will cover at that time.   For now,  suffice it to say that the book of Revelation, as well as the march of 20th century history clearly demonstrates that God’s covenant marriage bond with Israel and Judah were violated but certainly not dissolved, and verse 14 is quite explicit in its corroboration of our understanding of indissolubility described in Matthew 19:6,
“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion….” 

Hosea 1, 2 – In another prophetic analogy similar to Jeremiah, this prophet was told by God to marry a known prostitute.   The one-flesh joining occurred, despite her past, due to their vows before God.  Her return to prostitution after taking those vows did not dissolve their covenant, despite his anguished declaration (2:2),
For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband...”  nor did he have her stoned under Mosaic law, as he could have.   Instead, he buys her back from off the slave auction block, saying (2:14, 16, 19-20),

“…Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her…….It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord,   “That you will call Me Ishi  [husband]
And will no longer call Me Baali [master]….I will betroth you to Me forever;  Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.”

It is as if God set the extreme story of Hosea to show that no act of men dissolves the marriage covenant of our youth, nor unjoins one-flesh.

Ezra, chapters 9 and 10 –  Over 100 priests were found to have entered into prohibited marriages (perhaps even polygamously) to pagan women with whom they had many children.   The Lord commanded that they be sent away in order to purify the people and have the nation restored.   When a nation, and especially with the involvement of its spiritual leaders, becomes so evil as to trample the sanctity of life and marriage, God begins to demand drastic cleansing measures.  Some cite this passage as evidence that God allows divorce, especially if the spouse of one’s youth is not a believer.   The problem with that is Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 7: 12-13 to the contrary.   That instruction is based on the foundational fact that only  God can unjoin one-flesh.   However, in the instance of a prohibited marriage, it is not holy matrimony and God does not perform a one-flesh joining even if there are children born of the union.

Malachi 2:10-17 –  The Amplified Version brings in some important context that is not otherwise evident in the prophet’s rebuke of the adulterous priest(s) who were indeed guilty of remarriage adultery, of sending away an innocent one-flesh wife of their youth in order to “marry” a pagan woman, the identical situation that is so pervasive today.   God makes clear in verse 14 that He does not covenant with this second marriage, nor did he join them as one-flesh.   He is graphic about the human attempt to tear away,  or violently sever the one-flesh that Jesus says in Matthew 19:6 that only God can sever.   It is possible, as well, that Malachi is referring to false accusation that may have resulted in the wrongful stoning of an innocent covenant wife when Malachi speaks of “covering your garment with violence”,  and Jesus might have been alluding to the abuse of stoning when He spoke of hard hearts.   The term “shalach” used in 2:16 is literally “sending / putting away”,  but as we see in Deuteronomy,  the “get” (bill of divorcement) was reserved for other purposes than to dispose of a consummated one-flesh wife.
It is clear in this passage, that when God says He hates divorce (sending away),  He is speaking specifically of only the one-flesh spouse of our youth.

(Before turning to our comparison of New Testament passages, we pause to note what we’ve seen from scripture interpreting scripture,  the Pharisees who challenged Jesus were violating  God’s law from the beginning, as Jesus points out to them in Matthew 19:8.   Even in the Old Testament, there was never any true provision for sending away or abandoning a one-flesh spouse of one’s youth, consistently with all three “truth nuggets” gleaned above from  Matthew 19:6.   This is further supported by the fact that in all of the books of the Old Testament, we see a certain amount of polygamy, but we do not see one instance of “shalach” of a one-flesh consummated wife among those of any of the named figures of bible history except Vashti, the wife of the pagan King Xerxes in the book of Esther, until we come to the New Testament, where we see Herod directly rebuked by the Holy Spirit as an adulterer.)

Matthew 1:24-25 –   Mary was a betrothed wife under ketubah during the Roman occupation of Palestine, during which stoning for adultery or fornication was deprived of the Jews to carry out, so his option according to the post-Mosaic rabbinical tradition was “shalach“, which he purposed to do quietly, not wanting to disgrace her.   When the angel of the Lord commanded him to take her as his wife rather than issue her a “get” sending her away, he obeyed but kept her a virgin until Jesus was born.   As a result, though the ceremony took place, it is possible the one-flesh joining was delayed by God in this instance.   But why did God choose a betrothed mother and not an unattached virgin?    Perhaps it was so that we would have a well-known example through the ages to understand the importance of Hebrew betrothal to Jesus’ role as our unconditionally faithful Bridegroom.   Jesus subsequently gained several brothers whose biological father was Joseph.

Matthew 5:27-32 –  the key theme of the Sermon on the Mount was that Jesus was ushering in a new covenant, where no longer would there be animal sacrifices and external atonement for sin, nor the law to grudgingly fall short of, but obedience was to flow from the heart out of love and gratitude for His taking our place, and suffering the punishment we deserved.   Therefore, the Mosaic law was being superseded, especially the 613 sundry Pharisaical rules and the bulk of the Mosaic laws, in favor of a much higher standard:  love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.    No more eye for an eye , tooth for a tooth.  No more taking our own revenge or loving only those who love us.   We were no longer to allow sin to form even in our hearts.   Jesus redefined adultery as lustful thoughts, and murder as hateful, angry thoughts.   Against this backdrop, how is it even possible to seek to terminate a one-flesh God-joining for any reason?   How could such hate be committed against one’s own children?    A word of clarity is necessary concerning verse 32:

ἐγὼ δὲ   λέγω  ὑμῖν     ὅτι     πᾶς   ὁ       ἀπολύων                            τὴν
I however say to you that everyone “from-loosing”[dismissing] the

γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ  παρεκτὸς         λόγου       πορνείας
wife     of him      except for     a report of prostitution / whoredom

ποιεῖ   αὐτὴν      μοιχευθῆναι                        καὶ      ὃς         ἐὰν
causes   her      to commit adultery              and   whoever if

ἀπολελυμένην                                 γαμήσῃ               μοιχᾶται
her having been divorced        shall marry     commits adultery.

Why did Jesus say it was entering into a state of adultery  for a man to marry a woman who had been put away?    Was it not because she was still joined as one-flesh to her true husband, a condition that only God, not men, could unjoin?    Why does putting her away cause her to commit adultery?   Is it not for the very same reason Jesus stated in Matthew 19:6, that they would never again be two, once joined by God?     Note, too, that contemporary English translations make an unsupported word substitution for “porneia” (rendering it as “sexual immorality”)  when the original usage was much more specific than that.   Lastly, it should be noted Jesus referred to  “porneia”  (whoredom) and “moicheia” (adultery) as two separate and distinct sexual sins, not only here, but also in  Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21, as well as Matthew 19:9.    Paul did likewise in
1 Corinthian 6:9-10  and Galatians 5:19-21.    All of the above is consistent with the truth Jesus stated in Matthew 19:6, that man has no power to dissolve holy matrimony for any reason, by any act short of dying, and cannot unjoin what God has joined.   We can see that construing Matthew 5:32 as creating an adultery exception permitting one to divorce and remarry  causes the verse to contradict all other marriage scriptures except (on the surface) Matthew 19:9.

Matthew 14:3-4; Mark 6:17-18  –  These are the two  accounts of John the Baptist openly rebuking the adulterous divorces and remarriage of Herod and Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.    On what basis was John justified in making that charge if either civil divorce or adultery dissolved holy matrimony?    Note that even though they were both pagans, as presumably both of their true spouses were, God still irrevocably joined them as one-flesh to their respective true spouses.   Jesus highly commended John the Baptist for taking the stand that he did.

Matthew 19:8 –  “…Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so….”     Jesus is reiterating exactly what He said two verses earlier, that flesh-of-a-man’s-flesh and bone-of-his-bones cannot be unjoined by man,  a foundational truth from the Creation account, Genesis 2:21-23.

Matthew 19: 10-12 –  After Jesus offended the Pharisees’ carnal line of questioning by slamming the door shut on divorce and remarriage as being something tolerable in the kingdom of God, His incredulous and stunned disciples confronted Him privately in the house, where He delivered the hard word in Matthew 19:9 / Mark 10:10-12.   We know that Jesus was not stating an exception for adultery because this was the accepted position of the school of Shammai, and would have triggered no controversy whatsoever with the twelve.   Their response, “it is better not to marry”  (if there’s no way holy matrimony can be dissolved by men) is once again perfectly consistent with our understanding of Matthew 19:6.     Jesus then spoke of three types of eunuchs:  those born that way, those who have been emasculated, and those separated from a one-flesh spouse who may not remarry for the sake of the kingdom of God, which directly follows from His straightforward message in Matthew 19:6.

Mark 10: 1-12 – This is the parallel account of the same event as Matthew 19: 1-12, but addressed to a mixed-gender Gentile audience.    The key verse is 10:11-12,  “And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”     John Mark, nephew of Barnabas was not present for this event,  but he was Peter’s companion and ministry partner, thereby learning of it from Peter who was present.   Whatever Jesus said in that house following the exchange with the Pharisees was obviously made so strong an impression on Peter that his young disciple felt it applied equally to both genders, overcoming the traditional patriarchal bias of the Mosaic law, and dispensing with any exception whatsoever.  

Luke 16:16-31 –  This is one of the two passages where Jesus is commending John the Baptist, martyr and rebuker of remarriage adultery, just before He delivers an exceptionless rebuke of divorce and remarriage, stating for the third time that to marry a person who has been put away by a spouse is entering into an ongoing state of adultery.    On what basis?   On the basis that they are attempting to marry someone who is still joined as one-flesh to their true spouse, and violating an indissoluble covenant according to what He said in Matthew 19:6.    Immediately following this, Jesus goes into a vivid description of hell, describing the rich man who lived for self and received his reward in full during his life on earth while others suffered under his feet.   Coincidence or design, is Jesus’ account?

Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39  –  Two pronouncements of Paul, echoing each other, that only death dissolves the covenant of holy matrimony and frees a previously married person to marry another.    On what basis was Paul saying this, if not Matthew 19:6, and the other exceptionless instances where Jesus is calling marriage to a divorced person adultery?

 

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 –  This chapter addresses various groups in the church body, including “the married”,  reiterating that separation and divorce is not an option, but if separation occurs, the spouses are to remain celibate or they are to reconcile.   They are not to seek separation due to a difference in faith,  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband.”   This is as much an allusion to the one-flesh state that exists between them as it is to godly daily influence.   The instruction not to obstruct a spouse from departing who cannot abide the believing spouse’s discipleship has little to do with other causes of marital rupture, and the reference to the believing spouse not being bound refers to their freedom to follow Christ rather than a dissolution of the marriage bond.    All of this is perfectly consistent with Matthew 19:6.   (The pervasive abuse of verse 15 will be the subject of another blog in the series.)

1 Corinthians 7: 26-27 –  Another commonly-abused scripture in the same passage is used to justify remaining in a civil marriage that Jesus called adulterous.    Paul instructed those in the Corinthian church, in light of the persecution they were suffering, to remain as they were “called”,  meaning the state they were in when converted to Christ, also referring to slavery a few verses above.   However, verse 25 specifically addresses this to the virgins, and is once again referring to the kiddushin betrothal.    Therefore, his references to “wife” are mixed.    In the case of an indissoluble covenant with the wife of one’s youth, one is always “called” in the married state and required to cease and repudiate any accompanying state of sin.     The foundation for saying that one is called in the married state, not to a spouse of serial polygamy but to the covenant one-flesh spouse is, of course, Matthew 19:6 (also Luke 16:18  and Mark 10:11-12).

Eph 5:28-32 –   This passage is one of the clearest possible elaborations of the one-flesh relationship that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 19:6.   Paul goes so far to say that however a man treats his one-flesh companion, he is treating his own body.   From there Paul reiterates the symbolism of holy matrimony as depicting Christ’s relationship with His body, the church.

[“Standerinfamilycourt”  has endeavored to include in the COMPARISON step all of the scriptures commonly used (misused, actually) to negate or undermine the unpalatable message from Jesus in Matthew 19:9 “rightly-divided”, however if such a scripture has been overlooked,  the reader is encouraged to use the Comments section of this blog to bring it to our attention.]

The Principle of CONSULTATION
Whom is it most appropriate to consult on the authority of scripture which condemns man’s attempts to dissolve holy matrimony and to “sanctify” marriage to another while still having a living one-flesh spouse?     Due to the carnality of man which tends to escalate over time, that is a very important question which requires a strong knowledge of church history to reliably answer.    Hopefully, we’ve made it clear with indisputable evidence up to this point exactly where Jesus and the Apostles (including Paul) stood.   They discipled the next generation of followers of The Way, who in turn discipled the successive generations of the ante-Nicene church fathers.   It makes sense therefore to start the consultation with the writings of those who knew the Apostles (for example, Luke and Mark), and with those whom the next generation  discipled.

We need to be a bit skeptical while consulting theologian commentators from the time  of the Reformation forward when it comes to this topic.    Some will be biased in defense of the heretical Westminster Confession of Faith, which dominated mainline Protestant Churches from the 17th century, and others will be swayed by the tampering with word translations that began to occur in the lexicons published after the latter half of the 19th century.    On this basis, an equal number of later scholars will refute and discredit the many writings of the disciples of the Apostles, literally lapsing into “Reverend All-Wet” mode, and only superficially applying the  principles of disciplined hermeneutics  that we’ve just stepped through together.    For example, in convoluted fashion they’ll say that “scripture cannot contradict itself”,  so since “most scholars agree” (a presumption based on confirmation bias — and a weakened, distorted application of the COMPARISON principle that completely bypasses application of both the CONTEXT and  CULTURE principles) …that porneia “should always be” translated as “sexual immorality”,  all of the many scriptures that refute this must therefore be interpreted as not universally authoritative, and the church fathers should be dismissed as “flawed” asceticists.      Our Church Fathers and Church Wolves series will also be historically helpful.

Here’s what several of the early church fathers and other bible commentators had to say on this topic of whether there were ever any “biblical grounds” for divorce and remarriage:

Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D)
And, “Whoever shall marry her who is divorced from another husband, commits adultery.”   And, “There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake; but all cannot receive this saying.”  So that all who by human law, are twice married, are in the eye of our Master sinners, and those who look upon a woman to lust after her.

Hermas (circa 160 A.D.)
And I said to him, “Sir, if any one has a wife who trusts in the Lord, and if he detect her in adultery, does the man sin if he continues to live with her?”  And he said to me, “As long as he remains ignorant of her sin, the husband commits no transgression in living with her.  But if the husband knows that his wife has gone astray, and if the woman does not repent, but persists in her sin, and the husband continues to live with her, he also is guilty of her crime, and a sharer in her adultery.”  And I said to him, “What then, sir, is the husband to do if she continues in her vicious practices?”  And he said, “The husband should put her away and remain by himself.  But if he put her away and marries another, he also commits adultery.”

Theophilus (circa 170-190 A.D.)
“And he that marries”, says [the Gospel] , “her that is divorced from her husband commits adultery; and whoever puts away his wife**, saving for the cause of fornication, cause her to commit adultery.”   Because Solomon says: “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Or can one walk across hot coals and his feet not be burned?  So he that goes into a married woman will not be innocent.”      (**Recall that “wife” in the Gospel also referred to a betrothed legal wife who was the only type of “wife” who could commit fornication rather than adultery.)

Athenagoras (177 A.D.)
For we bestow our attention; not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions, that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery.   “For whoever puts away his wife,” says He, “and marries another commits adultery;” not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to marry again.

Clement of Alexandria (circa 215 A.D.)
Now that the scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication,” and it regards as adultery the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.   The Church cannot marry another, having obtained a bridegroom;  each of us individually has a right to marry the woman he wishes according to the law; I mean here first marriage.

Tertullian ( circa 160-220 A.D.)
A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commits any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage?    Such is God’s verdict, within narrower limits than men’s, that universally, whether through marriage or promiscuously, the admission of a second man to intercourse is pronounced adultery to Him...so true, moreover, is it that divorce “was not from the beginning,” that among the Romans it is not until the six hundredth year from the building of the city that this kind of “hard heartedness” is set down as having been committed.  But they indulge in promiscuous adulteries, even without divorcing their partners: to us, even if we do divorce them, even marriage will not be lawful.

Council of Arles, 314 A.D.
Of those who discover their wives in adultery and are young Christians and are forbidden to marry, it was determined that they be most strongly advised not to take other wives while their own live, though they be adulterous.

Gregory Nanzianzen (circa 325-389 A.D.)
For I think the word here seems to deprecate second marriage.  For, if there were two Christs, there may be two husbands or two wives; but if Christ is One, one Head of the Church, let there also be one flesh, let the second be rejected…now the [civil] Law grants divorce for every cause, but Christ not for every cause; but He allows only separation from the whore; and in all other things He commands patience.

Ambrose of Milan (333-397 A.D.)
Therefore, the right to marry is given you, lest ye fall into a snare and sin with a strange woman.  Ye are bound to your wife; do not seek release because you are not permitted to marry another while your wife lives.

 

Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Jerome (circa 340-420 A.D.)
The apostle has cut away every plea and has clearly declared that, if a woman marries again while her husband is living, she is an adulteress.   You must not speak to me of the violence of a ravisher,  a mother’s pleading, a father’s bidding, the influence of relatives, the insolence and the intrigues of servants, household losses.   A husband may be an adulterer,  a sodomite, he may be stained with every crime and may have been left by his wife for his sins; yet he is still her husband as long as he lives; she may not marry another.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.)
It cannot be correctly affirmed either that the husband who puts away his wife because of immorality and marries another does not commit adultery.   For there is adultery, also, on the part of those who marry others after the repudiation of their former wives because of immorality…If everyone who marries another woman after the dismissal of his wife commits adultery, this includes one who puts away his wife without cause of immorality and the one who puts away his wife for this reason.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

(See Jennings, pages 81-99)

And I say unto you,…. To his disciples, when they were with him alone in the house, and asked him more particularly about the subject, concerning which he had been discoursing with the Pharisees, as Mark observes, Mark 10:10 when he said to them much the same things, he had delivered before in Matthew 5:32

whosoever shall put away in his wife; separate her from his person, house and bed, and dismiss her as his wife, no more to be considered in that relation to him,

except it be for fornication; or whoredom, for defiling his bed: for this is not to be understood of fornication committed before, but of uncleanness after marriage, which destroys their being one flesh:

and shall marry another woman, committeth adultery; Marks adds, “against her”; which may be understood either of the woman he marries, which not being lawfully done, she lives in adultery with the husband of another woman; or of his former wife, and who is still his wife, and to whose injury he has married another; and he not only commits adultery himself, but, as in Matthew 5:32 “causeth her to commit adultery also”, by being the occasion of marrying another man, when she is still his lawful wife:

and whoso marrieth her which is put away, for any other cause than adultery,

doth commit adultery also; since he cohabits with the wife of another man; see Gill on Matthew 5:32

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be {h} for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

(h) Therefore in these days the laws that were made against adulterers were not regarded: for they would have no need of divorce, if the marriage had been severed by punishment of death.

We met with the like determination of our Lord’s upon this question Matthew 5:32, only there it was (instead of committeth adultery) causeth her to commit adultery, that is, in case she married again. Here our Lord saith the like of the husband: we have the same, Mark 10:11 Luke 16:18. The reason is this: Because nothing but adultery dissolves the knot and band of marriage, though they be thus illegally separated, yet according to the law of God, they are still man and wife. Some have upon these words made a question whether it be lawful for the husband or the wife separated for adultery to marry again while each other liveth. As to the party offending, it may be a question; but as to the innocent person offended, it is no question, for the adultery of the person offending hath dissolved the knot of marriage by the Divine law. It is true that the knot cannot be dissolved without the freedom of both persons each from another, but yet it seemeth against reason that both persons should have the like liberty to a second marriage. For,

1. The adulteress is by God’s law a dead woman, and so in no capacity to a second marriage.

2. It is unreasonable that she should make an advantage of her own sin and error.

3. This might be the occasion of adultery, to give a wicked person a legal liberty to satisfy an extravagant lust.

But for the innocent person, it is as unreasonable that he or she should be punished for the sin of another. But what our Saviour saith here, and in the other parallel texts, is undoubtedly to be understood of husbands and wives put away not for adultery, but for other light and trivial causes, for which by the law of God no divorce is allowed.

Matthew 19:9. Μὴ, not[860]) The word occurs with the same force in 1 John 5:16.—καὶ γαμήση, and shall marry) The criminality of the divorce is especially aggravated by a second marriage.

[860] Lachm. rends παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας with BD Orig. 3,647c, 648ac, 649b; “exceptâ causâ fornicationis” in c. CZ read μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ, and so Tischend. Rec. Text reads the same, prefixing εἰ. Vulg. “nisi ob fornicationem,” which favours Rec. Text. “Nisi ob causam fornicationis” in ab seems a blending of the two readings, εἰ μὴ and λόγου.—ED.

Bengel reads ὃς ἄν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ, whosoever shall put away his wife NOT for fornication; E. M. has εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνωίᾳ, IF NOT (i e. except) for fornication. The meaning is the same. In his Apparatus Bengel writes, in loc—

μὴ) Comp. et al. edd. Aug. 1, 4, Bas. 1, Byz. Cypr. Gehl. Med. Mosc. Steph. omn. Wo. 2, et sedecim et viginti alii: nec obstat Cant. Colb. 8, L. Par. 6, Arab. Syr. εἱ μὴ. Er et al. edd. cum pauculis MSS.”—(I. B.)

Verse 9.And I say unto you. Our Lord here enunciates the law which was to obtain in his kingdom, which, indeed, was simply the reintroduction and enforcement of the primitive and natural ordinance. Except it be for fornication; εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ: nisi ob fornicationem (Vulgate). This is the received reading. Tregelles, Tischendort; Westcott and Hort omit εἰ. The parallel passage in St. Mark (where Christ is stated to have made the remark to his disciples “in the house”) omits the clause altogether. Lachmann, following some few manuscripts, has introduced παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας, “saving for the cause of fornication,” from Matthew 5:32. The interpretation of this verse has given occasion to acute controversy. There are some questions that have to be considered in expounding this matter.

(1) What is here meant by πορνεία? Does it bear its usual meaning, or is it equivalent to μοιχεία, “adultery”? These who affirm that the sin of married persons is never expressed by the word porneia, hold that it here signifies ante-nuptial unchastity, which would make the marriage void ab initio; post-nuptial transgression would be punished by death, not by divorce. In this view, our Lord would say that no divorce is allowable except where the wife is proved to have been unchaste before marriage. In such a case, the union being void from the first, the man is free to marry again. But there are difficulties in this interpretation. Why, at the end of the verse, is it called adultery to marry the divorced woman, if she was never really and lawfully married? Again, it is not correct to say that porneia denotes solely the sin of unmarried people. All illicit connection is described by this term, and it cannot be limited to one particular kind of transgression. In Ecclus. 23:23 it is used expressly of the sin of an adulteress. We may also remark that metaphorically idolatry is often called by this name, whereas, since Israel is supposed to be married to the Lord, the breaking of this bend by the worship of false gods might more strictly be named adultery. And yet again, there is no proof that the discovery of previous immorality in a wife did ipso facto vitiate the marriage (see Hosea 1:2, etc.). The passages that are thought to bear on this matter are Deuteronomy 22:13-21 and Deuteronomy 24:1-4. In the former there is no question of divorce, – the offender is to be stoned; in the second passage the ground of divorce is “some uncleanness,” or some unseemly thing, whether immorality or personal defect is meant cannot be decided, the rival schools taking different sides. But it is quite certain that adultery is not intended, and ante-nuptial unchastity is not even hinted. The interpretation, therefore, given above cannot be maintained.

(2) Omitting for the moment the limiting clause, may we say that the general teaching of Christ makes for the indissolubility of the marriage bond? The majority of the Fathers from Hermas and Justin Martyr downwards affirm this. Those who admit that divorce is permissible in the case of the wife’s adultery are unanimous in asserting that, by Christ’s ordinance, remarriage is prohibited to the husband during the culprit’s life; so that, practically, if divorce a mensa et toro is allowed, divorce a vinculo is refused. All Christ’s utterances on the subject, saving the apparently restrictive clause (Matthew 5:32) and here, absolutely and plainly forbid divorce, on the ground of law and nature. The words in Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18 are given without any limitation whatever. St. Paul draws from such his conclusion of the indissolubility of the marriage tie, as may be seen in 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11, 39; Romans 7:2, 3. There could never have been a doubt about this subject had it not been for the difficulty in interpreting the parenthetical clause.

(3) Are we, then, to suppose that Christ, by those words, modifies his general statement, and allows absolute divorce in the case of a wife’s misconduct? Such is the view taken by many theologians, and practically endorsed by the civil law of many countries. Neither the Roman nor the Anglican Churches support this laxity. Ecclesiastical and civil laws are here antagonistic. It is said that Christ allows the wronged party to marry again. If so, if the oneness of the parties is wholly destroyed by the sin of the woman, why is it not permitted to a man to marry a divorced woman? This cannot be called adultery unless she is still one flesh with her husband, although separated. We must argue from this that divorce in such a case does not destroy the vinculum matrimonii, the marriage bond. and if not under this circumstance, surely under no other; for any other ground must be always less serious than adultery. If the clause in question enunciated an exception to the absolute rule elsewhere given, Christ would seem to stultify himself, to give two opposite decisions, and to introduce uncertainty in a most important verdict. The principle on which he based his dictum would be overthrown, and his hearers might have accused him of inconsistency. The solution offered for this difficulty is this – that Christ is contemplating merely what we call judicial separation; he considers that no trivial cause justifies this, in fact, nothing but fornication, and that this modified divorce does not free the man so that he may marry again; he is bound by the Law as long as his wife lives. Our Lord seems to have introduced the exceptional clause in order to answer what were virtually two questions of the Pharisees, viz. whether it was lawful to “put away a wife for every cause,” and whether, when a man had legally divorced his wife, he might marry again. To the former Christ replies that separation was allowable only in the case of fornication; in response to the second, he rules that even in that case remarriage was wholly barred. And whosoever marrieth her which is put away (ἀπολελυμένην, without the article); her, when she is put away (Revised Version); or, a divorced woman. The clause is wholly omitted by א and some other manuscripts, and some modern editors, as Westcott and Hort. But it has very high authority in its favour. Alford renders, “her, when divorced,” and restricts the application to a woman unlawfully divorced, not extending it to one separated for porneia. But the language is too indefinite to admit of this interpretation as certain (see Luke 16:18, and the note on Matthew 5:32, where the popular view is expressed). The clause, pondered without regard to foregone conclusions, surely contains an argument for the indissolubility of the marriage tie, as we have said above. Marriage with a divorced wife can be rightly termed adultery only in consideration of the continuance of the vinculum. Doth commit adultery. The binding nature of marriage does not depend on the will or the acts of the persons, but on its primal character and institution. By the repeal of the Mosaic relaxation and the restoration of marriage to its original principle, Christ not only enforces the high dignity of this ordinance, but obviates many opportunities of wickedness, such, for instance, as collusion between husband and wife with a view to obtain freedom for marriage with others.

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.   If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two…..

 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:38-48

 

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!


Excuse Me, Was I Addressing YOU? Stop Abusing 1 Cor. 7:26-27: “Debunk” Series – Part 4

RevAllWet2by Standerinfamilycourt

 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called…..Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 
I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is.
   Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife?   Do not seek a wife.  (NASB)

 

While we’re at it, PUL-EEEZE let’s stop abusing any part of
1 Corinthians 7 !!    Since verse 25 makes it abundantly plain precisely who Paul was addressing in this passage, and verse 39 unequivocally  ends any doubt it was somebody “called” while “married” to somebody else’s spouse, it is a crying shame that this blog even had to be written in the first place.   But, since the U.S. state that gave us unilateral divorce back in 1969 is also the state where the abundance of “grace” flows, and from where certain mega-church multimedia superstar ear-ticklers hail, and the divorce rate in said state is now reaching 70%, and since some of these celebrity hirelings also happen to run seminaries in this slip-shod manner without the slightest qualm of James 3:1, this sad duty must be carried out by SIFC and other faithful messengers.

We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

Having done that, we will now do the same with each of the most egregiously mishandled passages that apostate theologians and church leaders seek to water down or refute that unpalatable truth with.    You may see these same scholars dutifully applying these principles to other biblical topics,  but when it comes to this one, they’ve never heard of “Herman”.      We will tackle these in subjective order of damage to the church and society, doing the worst of them first, the ones that trap people in a life that the bible makes clear will send them to hell if they don’t repent and sever the illicit “marriages”.    Hijacking a message intended for the betrothed, certainly has its appeal for those who have married somebody else’s spouse (and / or do not want to forgive their own), especially when the Apostle is saying “stay as you are”.   Context is everything, and obvious context is more than everything.

The Principle of CONTENT:
As we’ve done in all of the previous posts in this series, let’s go back to the Greek manuscript and the literal syntax of the passage, and look closely at some of the key words, and the verbs with their tenses to be clear on Paul’s meaning.

1Cor7_25(source:  www.scripture4all.org)

Verse 25:
Peri de                           tōn   parthenōn   epitagēn                 Kyriou         ouk  echo    gnōmēn         de            didōmi     hōs              ēleēmenos

Περὶ   δὲ                         τῶν παρθένων    ἐπιταγὴν             Κυρίου            οὐκ  ἔχω       γνώμην         δὲ             δίδωμι   ὡς                 ἠλεημένος

Concerning moreover the virgins a commandment of [the] Lord          not  I have   judgment          however I give         as     having received mercy

hypo     Kyriou       pistos           πιστὸ
ὑπὸ      Κυρίου       πιστὸς         εἶναι

from   [the] Lord trustworthy     to be


Verse 26:

Nomizō        oun touto   kalon   hyparchein   dia                     tēn   enestōsan      anankēn       hoti         kalon

Νομίζω         οὖν   τοῦτο καλὸν   ὑπάρχειν     διὰ                     τὴν     ἐνεστῶσαν   ἀνάγκην ,     ὅτι           καλὸν

I think   therefore this   good                   is     because of       the
present   necessity         that     [it is] good

anthrōpō     to     houtōs     einai
ἀνθρώπῳ   τὸ   οὕτως       εἶναι
for a man           as [he is]   to remain

Verse 27:

Dedesai                                       gynaiki                     mē   zētei       lysin   lelysai apo                                             gynaikos                      mē   zētei   gynaika

δέδεσαι                                      γυναικί ?         μὴ   ζήτει     λύσιν    λέλυσαι ἀπὸ                                                        γυναικός ?     μὴ     ζήτει   γυναῖκα .

have you been bound to a wife (woman)             not   seek   to be loosed have you been loosed from  a wife (woman) not  seek a wife(woman).

 

So who are these  παρθένος   (parthenos)   whom  Paul was counseling to “remain as they are?”   And what precisely is a “wife” here?

According to  Strong’s exhaustive concordance parthenos are:  “a maiden, virgin; extended to men who have not known women.”     According to  Thayers:  a man who has abstained from all uncleanness and whoredom attendant on idolatry, and so has kept his chastity“: Revelation 14:4, where see DeWette.  In ecclesiastical writings, one who has never had commerce with women; so of Joseph, in Fabricius, Cod. pseudepigr. Vet. Test. ii., pp. 92, 98; of Abel and Melchizedek, in Suidas (10 a. and 2450 b.); especially of the apostle John, as in Nonnus, metaphorically, ev. Joann. 19, 140 (John 19:26).

Is there any way in the world they can be someone whom God has previously made one-flesh (σὰρξ μία sarx mia) with another–against whom they’ve committed  chorizeto and  apoluo , according to Matt. 19:6?       Is Paul addressing the adulterously remarried and urging them to stay as they are?

So then,  how can a virgin be bound to a wife?    How can he be loosed from a wife?    We need to move on to the CONTEXT study to answer that.


The Principle of CONTEXT:
Paul was writing in response to a letter full of questions from the Corinthian church body about the place of marriage in the church.    He’s doing so after dealing with immorality, specifically the use of prostitutes in chapter 6, and the fornication between a young man and his stepmother in chapter 5 necessitating church discipline.  In dramatic fashion Paul has just ended chapter 6 by reminding us that in Christ our bodies do not belong to us;  we used to be fornicators, adulterers, sodomists and idolators, but now we are justified and are being purified,   Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit with which we’ve been permanently sealed once we accepted the bride price of that justification.    Keeping in mind that there were originally no chapter breaks in Paul’s letter (added by bible editors), he then seques into chapter 7 by also reminding us that when the Lord made us permanently one-flesh (Matt. 19:6) our bodies also came to belong to our husband or wife.

Paul proceeds to answer those marriage questions by partitioning off and addressing each status group very specifically.    Therefore, as we read 1 Corinthians 7, we must pay attention in each section to who he’s talking to.   We also must keep our cornerstone verse firmly in mind, (Matthew 19:6) and the one-flesh joining that can only be unjoined by death (as Paul confirms in ending this very passage, verse 39, as well as Romans 7:2-3).   For example, when Paul says “to the married“,  he would be referring to that one-flesh relationship, whether or not there was a purported dissolution under civil law.

Paul starts to address the questions concerning the “unmarried” and widows in verse 8:

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.    But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion  (NASB).

Here the term agamois (unmarried) is different from parthenos (virgin).     It certainly includes virgins, but also includes those who have been put away, who may or may not have a living, estranged spouse.   Based on Matthew 19:6, Romans 7:2 and 1 Cor. 7:39, it cannot mean that the marriage bond is dissolved if both original spouses are living.   It is noteworthy that 1 Corinthians 7 is the only book of the bible where the term agamois is actually used.    This term cannot mean,  for those who have irrevocably been made one-flesh with a spouse who is still living, that lustful desires now justify “marrying” another person and staying in an ongoing state that Jesus called adulterous on three separate occasions.    Paul starts out by saying “it is better for a man not to touch a woman.”    And Jesus says in Matthew 5:29-30, “if your eye or your hand ensnares [entraps] you, rip it out / off and cast it away” rather than be thrown into hell with a whole and intact body.

12654218_1678118972427516_7970617867512649034_n
(Greek:  skandalizó   σκανδαλίζω )

{Modern English translations take the considerable liberty of adding the translation phrase “with passion” to the literal and supportable phrase “burn“,  thereby losing the unfashionable original connotation consistent with Matthew 5:29-30, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21 and Jude 23.   Faithful older bibles simply say “burn”.]

Once we’re back to a faithful understanding that this is an admonition about avoiding hell, rather than merely avoiding our addicting lusts, we should be able to readily see that it does no good at all to simply exchange one path to hell for another, hence the latter part of verse 8 is addressed to the never-married and to the widows (divorced or otherwise), and not to those whom Paul tells us just 30 verses later – as does Jesus, that they are subject to their one-flesh marriage bond until a death severs it.

That being the case, then how do we explain how Paul can be speaking in verse 27 about virgins being bound to a wife?  (And unlike verse 15, this is indeed based on the term dedetai (deóδέδεσαι  for marriage bond).   We’re back to the centrality of the Hebrew kiddushin (betrothal contract – ketubah) for the explanation.  If only contemporary pastors would teach this very rich area, understanding of the indissolubility of holy matrimony would be greatly enriched, but they are loathe to do it.

Once a ketubah marriage contract proposal was accepted and the bride price paid, the bride became the legal wife of the groom approximately 12 months before the groom returned for his bride and consummated the marriage.   If the bride committed fornication (played the harlot) during this time, or lied about her virginity and it was discovered on the wedding night, she was brought before the priests and stoned to death unless her parents could produce the “tokens of her virginity” in the form of bloody bed sheets.     However, harlotry was not the only cause for seeking dissolution of the binding arrangement.   Other traditional (Mosaic) reasons may have included disease such as leprosy developing during the betrothal period, discovery of too-close a consanguinity, a bleeding disorder, and other causes short of provable infidelity (however, the arrival of Jesus eliminated all of the ceremonial uncleanness laws, made the elimination of capital punishment for allegations of adultery permanent).    The only way in all those cases to legally dissolve a ketubah was a writ of divorcement.   If the betrothed wife died before the wedding, was put away for fornication or some other cause, the virgin man was now loosed, not yet made one-flesh with his former bride, otherwise he was legally bound to the ketubah.

It’s also helpful to look at the verses 17 – 24 immediately preceding verse 25, where Paul is still addressing the married-but-not-intact,
“Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk…”,
just before he shifts to address the not-yet-married, or “virgins”.     He likens being called while in the married state and having it cause marital separation or alienation, first to circumcision (symbolic of Hebrew citizenship) or uncircumcision (Gentile citizenship).   Next he compares it to slavery.   None of these compared conditions are intrinsically immoral nor against God’s law –  a hugely important point.   All of these conditions are generally beyond the disciple’s control, though never beyond God’s power, nor possibly the disciple’s influence.
By contrast, choosing to marry another person while being estranged from a living one-flesh spouse, or choosing to remain married to someone else’s one-flesh spouse, is intrinsically immoral and violates God’s law.   It is fully within the disciple’s control to repudiate and turn from this ongoing state of sin, as traumatic as that requirement might be.   Nothing in all of chapter 7 gives any support for either entering into, or remaining in, this profoundly sinful condition.    Just imagine Paul saying, “were you called while entrapped in sex trafficking?…do not seek to be free”   or “were you called while in a homosexual civil union?  do not seek to be released” !

The verses that follow verse 27 allow the eligible to enter into holy matrimony, without giving the ineligible any license to marry adulterously.    However, all are warned not to become too comfortable with this present world, and to seek first the kingdom of God because the world is transitory.    Always in marriage, we are to love the Lord more than our spouse, then love our spouse out of love for Him.   Anything else constitutes idolatry, which gets to the heart of why remarriage while having a living covenant spouse is immoral and a hell-bound offense, if not fully repented.

The Principle of CULTURE:
Corinth was just the sort of hyper-sexualized culture that our Western culture has degenerated to in the past few decades.   Premarital fornication, especially prostitution was rampant.   Serial polygamy due to free and easy civil divorce was also epidemic.   Some in the church were pushing a reactionary asceticism, even for the married.   There were also those in the church who were of Jewish background who were betrothed under the traditional Hebrew kiddushin contract and were questioning whether it was  less godly to carry out the contracted marriage.   In addition, there were those who became Christ-followers while already married, and they wondered if they could be a true disciple while unequally-yoked.    Paul addresses each of these groups in turn in his letter, in response to the questions he had received.

A single temple in Corinth was reported to have 1,000 legal prostitutes, both male and female, while a young Corinthian man typically did not marry until age 30.   Using prostitutes until that time was legal and considered a normal expectation .   Quoting from Sharon L. Fitzhenry’s book, Jewish Marriage, Biblical Divorce and Remarriage, page 30,

Idol worshippers believed that they could join with the gods through sex with sacred prostitutes. Greco-Roman society encouraged young men with no other outlet to resort to prostitutes and slaves, but Paul warned, “Abstain! Avoid!” What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot [porne] is one body? . . . Flee fornication” (1Co 6:16-18).

In chapter 5, Paul rebukes a young man for living with his father’s wife (apparently, his stepmother).   It is unknown whether the father’s absence was due to death or divorce, nor whether the father’s marriage to this woman was also adulterous because it followed a previous divorce, all possibilities.   What is said is that there was such “fornication as was not found even among the pagans”, and Paul demanded that they put this man out of the church (which seemed not to realize the need to administer church discipline, and had to be told to do it.)

The Principle of COMPARISON
Scripture must always be interpreted in light of all other scripture on the same topic, and accomplished in such a way that there is no contradiction.    All canonized scripture is equally-inspired.  The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself.    Where there appears to be an inconsistency, disciplined investigation must continue until the source of the error is proven, and until scripture again aligns.   All of the relevant Old and New Testament scripture passages must be considered, and appropriate rigor demands that none be ignored as “analogy”, or dismissed as “hyperbole”.

We established earlier Matthew 19:6 as the cornerstone scripture for comparison (Part 1 of our series) before accepting a particular interpretation of any other other scripture.

So they [that is, the man who leaves FATHER and MOTHER to be joined by GOD to the wife of his youth] are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.

In the same disciplined, hermeneutic approach as we’re pursuing here, we substantiated the following unchangeable facts from this passage:

(1)  from the point God joins husband and wife, they cannot be unjoined as long as both live

(2) God actively and instantly creates the joining

(3)  God commands and decrees that no act or law of men has any power or authority to unjoin holy matrimony.

Therefore,  we must reject any interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:26-27 that conflicts with these three immutable truths.    This alone should immediately rule out remarriage while having a living, estranged spouse as part of the mix.    Our holy, righteous God does not participate in a “marriage” where one of the spouses is still joined and covenanted with the spouse of their youth.    In other words,  the “joining” (gluing) of Matthew 19:6 is not replicated for legalized adultery even if a pastor performs the ceremony, any more than He would “join” two homosexuals as one-flesh who stand up in front of a pastor willing to perform a “wedding” over them.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.     Since it is God who performs this miracle of one-flesh joining, and since it is never in His holy character to break covenant or enter into a competing covenant, this is never replicated in a union of the type that Jesus called adulterous in Matt. 5:32b; Matt. 19:9b and Luke 16:18.

Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18 –   Citing the King James version here, because virtually all modern English translations wrongfully omit the phrases, “whoever marries one who has been put away commits adultery” and “causes her to commit adulteryfrom Matthew 19:9, due to the deliberate choice of the bible translation team to translate a faulty and incomplete manuscript.   These are three separate occasions where Jesus redefined the popular understanding of adultery from the patriarchal view (going into somebody else’s civil current wife) to marrying anyone’s divorced partner of either gender under any circumstances.

Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39  –  Two pronouncements of Paul, echoing each other, that only death dissolves the covenant of holy matrimony and frees a previously married person to marry another.    On what basis was Paul saying this, if not Matthew 19:6, and the other exceptionless instances where Jesus is calling marriage to a divorced person adultery?     We add that it is in these two verses that the actual Greek word  (dedetai (deo) for marriage bond IS used:

A wife is bound for as long as time may live the husband of her if however shall have died the husband free she is to whom she wills to be married only in the Lord.  7:39

Gynē DEDETAI (deo) eph’ hoson chronon zē ho anēr autēs ean
de koimēthē ho anēr eleuthera estin hō thelei
gamēthēnai monon en Kyriō

Γυνὴ δέδεται ἐφ’ ὅσον χρόνον ζῇ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς ἐὰν
δὲ κοιμηθῇ ὁ ἀνήρ ἐλευθέρα ἐστὶν ᾧ θέλει
γαμηθῆναι μόνον ἐν Κυρίῳ .
(1 Cor. 7:39)

Luke 14:26 –  Although chapter 7 begins with the counsel that to avoid sexual immorality, every believer should possess their own one-flesh covenant spouse [literally, the one “that is theirs / of them“], it does not follow that anyone is entitled to a sexual relationship.   Whether in an intact marriage or not, Christ-followers must each take up their cross and follow Him, loving Him most and their spouse second after that.   Central to loving Him is obeying His commandments.   Anything or anyone else put ahead of that is idolatry, which will also cause a believer not to inherit the kingdom of God, if unrepented.
    

Matthew 18:7, 23:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4 – Neither are we to interfere in any way with another person’s entry into the kingdom of God through maintaining an ongoing state of sin by willful direct violation of God’s law.  (Speaking of stumbling blocks, we’re citing the King James version here because virtually all modern English translations wrongfully omit adultery from Galatians 5:19 due to the deliberate choice of the Westcott & Hort late 19th century bible translation team to translate a faulty and incomplete manuscript, and to merge the separate single / married sins of fornication and adultery into the far more fungible “sexual immorality” in order to appear to justify civil divorce with remarriage while having a living covenant spouse.)

Hebrews 13:4 –  Jesus redefined adultery, repeatedly teaching that it was coveting and marrying someone else’s one-flesh.    This is another verse that confirms the wages of doing so and not repenting.   Adultery almost always takes people to hell in pairs, at least.   It is therefore very unloving toward that second would-be spouse to be the cause of their perdition.

Exodus 20:3,14, 16,17  – the Ten Commandments were in effect a ketubah, the written evidence of an enduring covenant between Elohim and His chosen people.    In light of how Jesus redefined man’s notion of adultery, the seventh and tenth commandments also echo our understanding of Matthew 19:6.   Pursuing an unlawful relationship is setting an object above our obedience and devotion to God, and it is directly disobeying His Son – this is idolatry!   Jesus Himself called it adultery three separate times.  It is bearing false witness against the covenant spouses involved to claim that that which only God can unjoin is unjoined and dissolved by man’s paper.   It is coveting and stealing the one-flesh spouse who belongs until death to another.

The Principle of CONSULTATION:

Origen  (248 A.D.)
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 seems to marry who has been divorced does not marry her but, according to the declaration of our Savior, he commits adultery with her.

Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Augustine of Hippo (419 A.D.)
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.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

R.A. Torrey (circa 1890)  – Moody Bible Institute
“Look at this legalized adultery we call divorce.  Men marry one wife after another, and are still admitted in good society, and women do likewise.  There are thousands of supposedly respectable men married to other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women married to other women’s husbands.”

7:25-35 Considering the distress of those times, the unmarried state was best. Notwithstanding, the apostle does not condemn marriage. How opposite are those to the apostle Paul who forbid many to marry, and entangle them with vows to remain single, whether they ought to do so or not! He exhorts all Christians to holy indifference toward the world. As to relations; they must not set their hearts on the comforts of the state. As to afflictions; they must not indulge the sorrow of the world: even in sorrow the heart may be joyful. As to worldly enjoyments; here is not their rest. As to worldly employment; those that prosper in trade, and increase in wealth, should hold their possessions as though they held them not. As to all worldly concerns; they must keep the world out of their hearts, that they may not abuse it when they have it in their hands. All worldly things are show; nothing solid. All will be quickly gone. Wise concern about worldly interests is a duty; but to be full of care, to have anxious and perplexing care, is a sin. By this maxim the apostle solves the case whether it were advisable to marry. That condition of life is best for every man, which is best for his soul, and keeps him most clear of the cares and snares of the world. Let us reflect on the advantages and snares of our own condition in life; that we may improve the one, and escape as far as possible all injury from the other. And whatever cares press upon the mind, let time still be kept for the things of the Lord.

I suppose – I think; I give the following advice.

For the present distress – In the present state of trial. The word “distress” (ἀνάγκην anagkēn, necessity) denotes calamity, persecution, trial, etc.; see Luke 21:23. The word rendered “present” (ἐνεστῶσαν enestōsan) denotes that which “urges on,” or that which at that time presses on, or afflicts. Here it is implied:

(1) That at that time they were subject to trials so severe as to render the advice which he was about to give proper; and,

(2) That he by no means meant that this should be a “permanent arrangement” in the church, and of course it cannot be urged as an argument for the monastic system.

What the “urgent distress” of this time was, is not certainly known. If the Epistle was written about 59 a.d. (see the introduction), it was in the time of Nero; and probably he had already begun to oppress and persecute Christians. At all events, it is evident that the Christians at Corinth were subject to some trials which rendered the cares of the marriage life undesirable.

It is good for a man so to be – The emphasis here is on the word “so” οὕτως houtōs; that is, it is best for a man to conduct “in the following manner;” the word so referring to the advice which follows. “I advise that he conduct in the following manner, to wit.” Most commentators suppose that it means “as he is:” that is, unmarried; but the interpretation proposed above best suits the connection. The advice given is in the following verses.

26. I suppose—”I consider.”

this—namely, “for a man so to be,” that is, in the same state in which he is (1Co 7:27).

for—by reason of.

the present distress—the distresses to which believers were then beginning to be subjected, making the married state less desirable than the single; and which would prevail throughout the world before the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Christ’s prophecy (Mt 24:8-21; compare Ac 11:28).

I suppose therefore that {u} this is good for the {x} present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

(u) To remain a virgin.

(x) For the necessity which the saints are daily subject to, who are continually tossed up and down, so that their estate may seem most unfit for marriage, were it not that the weakness of the flesh forced them to it.

I suppose, therefore, that this is good,…. The opinion of the apostle, the sentiment of his mind, his judgment in this case were, that it was better, more advisable and eligible, for persons that were single to continue so; his reason for it follows,

for the present necessity; by which is meant not the shortness of life, and the necessity of dying, when husband and wife must part, upon which trouble ensues; nor the various sorrows, cares, encumbrances, trials, and exercises that attend a conjugal state, as bearing and bringing forth, and bringing up children, provision for the family, &c. which are common to all, and at all times more or less; but the present time of persecution, under which the churches of Christ were; agreeably the Syriac version reads it, , “because of the necessity of the time”, or season: using the very Greek word in text; as the Targumists (q) also have frequently adopted it into their language, and use the phrase , “an hour, or time of necessity”, for a time of great affliction and distress, just as the apostle does here; because this was the present case of the Christians, he thought it most prudent for such as were single to remain so; since as they were often obliged to move from place to place, to fly from one city to another, this would be very incommodious for married persons, who might have young children to take care of, and provide for; see Matthew 24:19 upon a like account, the Jewish doctors advise to the same the apostle here does (r);

“from the day that the empire is extended, which decrees hard decrees upon us, and causes the law and the commandments to cease from us, and does not suffer us to circumcise children; it is right that we agree among ourselves, , not to marry, and beget children:”

I say it is good for a man so to be; to remain unmarried, to live a single life, to be a virgin; for the word “virgin”, as here used, relates to men as well as maidens, and denotes the single state of either. The apostle does not add, “even as I”; as he does in 1 Corinthians 7:8 which seems to confirm the conjecture already made, that he was not a bachelor, but a widower; otherwise he would doubtless have enforced this advice by his own example, as before.

(q) Targum Jon. & Hieros. in Genesis 22.14. & xxxviii. 25. & Targum Sheni in Esth. v. 1.((r) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 60. 2.

26. the present distress] The literal rendering of the word here translated distress is necessity, and it is so translated in 1 Corinthians 7:37. But it frequently in the New Testament, as in the Septuagint, has the sense of distress, as in St Luke 21:23; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:7. Here it means either (1) ‘the great tribulation’ which was to precede our Lord’s coming (see St Matthew 24.; St Mark 13.; St Luke 21.; Revelation 7:14), or (2) the general distress and anxiety which attended the profession of Christianity in those times.

so to be] “thus to be,” as explained in the next verse.

1 Corinthians 7:26. Διὰ τὴν ἐνεστῶσαν ἀνάγκην, for the present distress) The famine in the time of Claudius, Acts 11:28. It was very long and severe, especially in Greece. Therefore this counsel of Paul was, partly at least, suited to the time.—ἀνθρώπῳ, for a man) This term is intended to apply to both sexes.—οὓτως, so) as he is [in the same state in which he is]: comp. 1 Corinthians 7:27.

Verse 26.I suppose. St. Paul only states this modestly, and somewhat hesitatingly, as his personal opinion. For the present distress; rather, on account of the pressing necessity; in the urgent and trying conditions which at the present moment surround the Christian’s life, and which were the prophesied “woes of the Messiah” (Matthew 24:3, etc.). For a man; rather, for a person – whether man or woman. Be to be; that is, unmarried. The words are not improbably a quotation from the Corinthian letter. Otherwise we might explain the “so” to mean “as he is – whether married or unmarried.”

In this case, none of the scholarly commentators, nor any of the early church fathers pointed to any support for the divorced to remarry on account of 1 Cor. 7:26-27,  for the obvious reason that this passage addresses only the never-married.   To construe it otherwise directly conflicts with the core teaching of both Jesus and Paul, that to marry again while having an estranged living spouse was entering into a state of ongoing adultery.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war  according to the flesh,  for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ….   2 Corinthians 3-5

 

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I Don’t Know My ‘Deo’ From My ‘Douloo’ – (Do You?) Stop Abusing 1 Cor. 7:15: The “Debunk” Series – Part 3

RevAllWet8by Standerinfamilycourt

‘…Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called [a]us [b]to peace.

 …A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband [a]is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
1  Corinthians 7:15 and 39

We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

Having done that, we will now do the same with each of the most egregiously mishandled passages that apostate theologians and church leaders seek to water down or refute that unpalatable truth with.    You may see these same scholars dutifully applying these principles to other biblical topics,  but when it comes to this one, they’ve never heard of “Herman”.      We will tackle these in subjective order of damage to the church and society, doing the worst of them first, the ones that trap people in a life that the bible makes clear will send them to hell if they don’t repent and sever the illicit “marriages”.

Of all the verses profoundly abused by contemporary me-evangelicaldom, this one had SIFC itching to start the series.   Part of it is purely visceral, based on a personal experience some 40 years ago, when a well-meaning church lady laid this one on her, and told her that she wasn’t accountable for the vows she had made as a very young bride, now that she had given her life to the Lord but had an unsaved prodigal husband.   The Holy Spirit spoke up loudly, and to the contrary in that moment, praise God!   It was many, many years before the knowledge came to surface as to why this woman was speaking for satan, but there was no doubt in that earlier moment that she was.    (A few years later, the young groom involved also surrendered his life to the Lord and became a new creation in Christ, which sealed him with the Holy Spirit, according to the word of God. )…..The other part of the itch to address this in a methodic and disciplined way is the total lack of excuse for the widespread dishonesty in handling this particular passage.    Unconscionable!

The benders of this verse would like to use the surface translation to justify divorce with a presumed “right” to remarry upon abandonment and “abuse” (leaving is certainly abusive, causing cruel anguish, after all, as evil things are indeed said), as well as for the purported “obeying the commandment” not to be yoked with unbelievers.

The Principle of CONTENT:
Is leaving effectively divorce in this verse?   What exactly does it mean to not be under bondage?   What is the consequence if God has called us to peace  — what is that supposed to look like?   How much scripture-bending has occurred in our contemporary English translation?    Let’s just go back to the Greek text and find out!

de ho apistos chōrizetai chōrizesthō ou DEDOULōTAI (douloo) ho
δὲ ὁ ἄπιστος χωρίζεται χωριζέσθω οὐδεδούλωται
If moreover the unbeliever separates [puts distance between]
himself, let him separate himself – not is UNDER BONDAGE

adelphos ē hē     adelphē      en tois toioutois 
ὁἀδελφὸς ἢ          ἡἀδελφὴ ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις
the brother or the sister       in  such [cases]

en de                        eirēnē …   keklēken     hymas     ho Theos
ἐν                              δὲεἰρήνῃ    κέκληκεν      ὑμᾶς       ὁ    Θεός 
into moreover    peace       has called           us               God.

A few questions:
(1) Does “unbeliever”  (apistos, ἄπιστος) in this case include once-saved backsliders, or just the unsaved?

(2) Does this “separation” (chōrizetai χωρίζεται) mean civil divorce or just abandonment?   Are there more specific Greek words for divorce (apoluo ἀπολύω /  aphiemi ἀφίημι) ?   If there are, why weren’t they used here?

(3)  Is “under bondage”  DEDOULōTAI (douloo)  the same as being “bound” (dedetai (deo) verse 39) ?

(4) What is this peace (εἰρήνη (eirēnē) we’re called to?

With the exception of “separates himself” (present indicative – continuous ongoing state), there’s a lot of perfect indicative verb tense used here – “not under bondage” , “called us into peace”, indicating a state of completion, something that has taken place in the past.   It seems, then that the latter two states have more to do with being a brother or sister in Christ, than a prodigal’s ongoing action of staying away from home.    Chorizetai is also much weaker word than apoluo, which is used in Matthew 19:9, “whoever divorces his wife….”    The marriage revisionists appear to want to take a passage about standing for one’s marriage and turn it into a license to take the matter into one’s own hands and pursue a vengeful remedy against sundry violations of the marriage covenant.   That said, we’ve started to segue into our discussion of ….

The Principle of CONTEXT:
Paul was writing in response to a letter full of questions from the Corinthian church body about the place of marriage in the church.    He’s doing so after dealing with immorality, specifically the use of prostitutes in chapter 6, and the fornication between a young man and his stepmother in chapter 5 necessitating church discipline.  In dramatic fashion Paul has just ended chapter 6 by reminding us that in Christ our bodies do not belong to us;  we used to be fornicators, adulterers, sodomists and idolators, but now we are justified and are being purified,   Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit with which we’ve been permanently sealed once we accepted the bride price of that justification.    Keeping in mind that there were originally no chapter breaks in Paul’s letter (added by bible editors), he then seques into chapter 7 by also reminding us that when the Lord made us permanently one-flesh (Matt. 19:6) our bodies also came to belong to our husband or wife.

Paul proceeds to answer those marriage questions by partitioning off and addressing each status group very specifically.    Therefore, as we read 1 Corinthians 7, we must pay attention in each section to who he’s talking to.   We also must keep our cornerstone verse firmly in mind, (Matthew 19:6) and the one-flesh joining that can only be unjoined by death (as Paul confirms in ending this very passage, verse 39, as well as Romans 7:2-3).   For example, when Paul says “to the married“,  he would be referring to that one-flesh relationship, whether or not there was a purported dissolution under civil law.

In the surrounding verses, Paul had stated emphatically that separation and divorce should not occur for any reason (verse 10), but if it does for some reason, the Christ-following spouse is to stand for their marriage — that is, to remain celibate and seek reconciliation.    He then went on to say that the believing spouse sanctifies the unbelieving spouse, without really saying how this happens, but leaving a presumption that it’s day-to-day interaction in the difference of attitude.  But certainly, prayers of intercession play a part, as might the one-flesh relationship itself.   The latter two of these might not necessarily require day-to-day proximity since the battle is in the spirit realm for the soul of that spouse.   Countless restored couples can attest to the Lord working behind the scenes for years to defend the marriage covenant and pursue the prodigal spouse by the power of the Holy Spirit bringing him or her to the end of themselves and back into the kingdom of God.   Note that while Jesus refers directly to “the divorced person” (using the term ἀπολελυμένην (apolelymenēn) three different times in forbidding anyone to marry them, Paul never once addresses the deserted that way in this passage.

Before moving on to another group, Paul assures the believing spouse whose unbelieving spouse has separated from them (a form of persecution for the sake of the kingdom of God), that their rebirth into the kingdom left them free to follow Christ in the absence of their spouse, and rendered them a full recipient of the peace of God.    It is important to remind that verse 11 applies to these married for the duration, as long as their absent spouse remains alive.    Any other rendering that permits remarriage is quite simply out-of-context, with verse 11 as well as with verse 39, causing this passage to contradict itself, which cannot be.

The Principle of CULTURE
Corinth was just the sort of hyper-sexualized culture that our Western culture has degenerated to in the past few decades.   Premarital fornication, especially prostitution was rampant.   Serial polygamy due to free and easy civil divorce was also epidemic.   Some in the church were pushing a reactionary asceticism, even for the married.   There were also those in the church who were of Jewish background who were betrothed under the traditional Hebrew kiddushin contract and were questioning whether it was  less godly to carry out the contracted marriage.   There were also those who became Christ-followers while already married, and they wondered if they could be a true disciple while unequally-yoked.    Paul addresses each of these groups in turn in his letter, in response to the questions he had received.

A single temple in Corinth was reported to have 1,000 legal prostitutes, both male and female, while a young Corinthian man typically did not marry until age 30.   Using prostitutes until that time was legal and considered a normal expectation .   Quoting from Sharon L. Fitzhenry’s book, Jewish Marriage, Biblical Divorce and Remarriage, page 30,

Idol worshippers believed that they could join with the gods through sex with sacred prostitutes. Greco-Roman society encouraged young men with no other outlet to resort to prostitutes and slaves, but Paul warned, “Abstain! Avoid!” What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot [porne] is one body? . . . Flee fornication(1Co 6:16-18).

In chapter 5, Paul rebukes a young man for living with his father’s wife (apparently, his stepmother).   It is unknown whether the father’s absence was due to death or divorce, nor whether the father’s marriage to this woman was also adulterous because it followed a previous divorce, all possibilities.   What is said is that there was such “fornication as was not found even among the pagans”, and Paul demanded that they put this man out of the church (which seemed not to realize the need to administer church discipline, and had to be told to do it.)

 

The Principle of COMPARISON
Scripture must always be interpreted in light of all other scripture on the same topic, and accomplished in such a way that there is no contradiction.    All canonized scripture is equally-inspired.  The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself.    Where there appears to be an inconsistency, disciplined investigation must continue until the source of the error is proven, and until scripture again aligns.   All of the relevant Old and New Testament scripture passages must be considered, and appropriate rigor demands that none be ignored as “analogy”, or dismissed as “hyperbole”.

We established earlier Matthew 19:6 as the cornerstone scripture for comparison (Part 1 of our series) before accepting a particular interpretation of any other other scripture.

So they [that is, the man who leaves FATHER and MOTHER to be joined by GOD to the wife of his youth] are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.

In the same disciplined, hermeneutic approach as we’re pursuing here, we substantiated the following unchangeable facts from this passage:

(1)  from the point God joins husband and wife, they cannot be unjoined as long as both live

(2) God actively and instantly creates the joining

(3)  God commands and decrees that no act or law of men has any power or authority to unjoin holy matrimony.

Therefore,  we must reject any interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:15 that conflicts with these three immutable truths.    This alone should immediately rule out remarriage while having a living, estranged spouse as part of the mix.    Our holy, righteous God does not participate in a “marriage” where one of the spouses is still joined and covenanted with the spouse of their youth.    In other words,  the “joining” (gluing) of Matthew 19:6 is not replicated for legalized adultery even if a pastor performs the ceremony, any more than He would “join” two homosexuals as one-flesh who stand up in front of a pastor.

Hence, when we say,   “the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases,” and we’re talking about their original first marriage where neither partner had a prior living spouse,  this departure of the unbelieving spouse cannot be interpreted as a release from the covenant marriage bond.   (It might, however, be a release from an adulterous, subsequent remarriage tie, enabling reconciliation with one’s true one-flesh spouse.)    In the earlier section on CONTENT, we also proved directly that the actual Greek word used means something else, and does not mean “marriage bond”.

Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39  –  Two pronouncements of Paul, echoing each other, that only death dissolves the covenant of holy matrimony and frees a previously married person to marry another.    On what basis was Paul saying this, if not Matthew 19:6, and the other exceptionless instances where Jesus is calling marriage to a divorced person adultery?     We add that it is in these two verses that the actual Greek word  (dedetai (deo) for marriage bond IS used:

A wife is bound for as long as time may live the husband of her if however shall have died the husband free she is to whom she wills to be married only in the Lord.  7:39

Gynē DEDETAI (deo) eph’ hoson chronon zē ho anēr autēs ean
de koimēthē ho anēr eleuthera estin hō thelei
gamēthēnai monon en Kyriō

Γυνὴ δέδεται ἐφ’ ὅσον χρόνον ζῇ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς ἐὰν
δὲ κοιμηθῇ ὁ ἀνήρ ἐλευθέρα ἐστὶν ᾧ θέλει
γαμηθῆναι μόνον ἐν Κυρίῳ .
(1 Cor. 7:39)

1 Cor 6:1-8; 15-20 –  In addition to flatly stating that ongoing, unrepentant adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God,
1 Corinthians 6 forbids using the pagan civil court system to avoid the godly authority of church leadership, and very importantly, it contrasts the constitutional differences between the permanent, supernatural God-joining of holy matrimony with the transitory carnal joining of an unlawful, immoral relationship.   It describes slavery to the wrong thing, lust and idolatry, as well as the sin of bodily dragging Jesus into the immorality.   If we’re bought with a price by the Bridegroom, and our bodies are not our own to do as we please,  the basis for this is also Matthew 19:6.

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 –  This chapter addresses various groups in the church body, including “the married”,  reiterating that separation and divorce is not an option, but if separation occurs, the spouses are to remain celibate or they are to reconcile.   They are not to seek separation due to a difference in faith,  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband.”   This is as much an allusion to the one-flesh state that exists between them as it is to godly daily influence.   The instruction not to obstruct a spouse from departing who cannot abide the believing spouse’s discipleship has little to do with other causes of marital rupture, and the reference to the believing spouse not being bound refers to their freedom to follow Christ rather than a dissolution of the marriage bond.    All of this is perfectly consistent with Matthew 19:6.

1 Corinthians 7: 26-27 –  Another commonly-abused scripture in the same passage is used to justify remaining in a civil marriage that Jesus called adulterous.    Paul instructed those in the Corinthian church, in light of the persecution they were suffering, to remain as they were “called”,  meaning the state they were in when converted to Christ, also referring to slavery a few verses above.   However, verse 25 specifically addresses this to the virgins, and is once again referring to the kiddushin betrothal.    Therefore, his references to “wife” are mixed.    In the case of an indissoluble covenant with the wife of one’s youth, one is always “called” in the married state and required to cease and repudiate any accompanying state of sin.     The foundation for saying that one is called in the married state, not to a spouse of serial polygamy but to the covenant one-flesh spouse is, of course, Matthew 19:6 (also Luke 16:18  and Mark 10:11-12).

Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18 –   Citing the King James version here, because virtually all modern English translations wrongfully omit the phrases, “whoever marries one who has been put away commits adultery” and “causes her to commit adulteryfrom Matthew 19:9, due to the deliberate choice of the bible translation team to translate a faulty and incomplete manuscript.   These are three separate occasions where Jesus redefined the popular understanding of adultery from the patriarchal view (going into somebody else’s civil current wife) to marrying anyone’s divorced partner of either gender under any circumstances.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17 –  When it comes to disputing the indissolubility of holy matrimony, this scripture passage has been abused by no less than several Roman Catholic popes throughout history, the worst being Innocent III who instituted the vile practice of marriage “annulment” partially on that basis in the 13th century, and paired it with an abusive rendering of 1 Corinthians 7:15.  It’s also been repeatedly abused by Protestant evangelical pastors with the education to know better.   In addition to the direct conflict with 1 Corinthians 7:14 and 39 that results from attempting to do this, it is clear that God was honoring the covenant one-flesh marriages He had joined, respectively, of Herod and Herodias when they were rebuked by John the Baptist for their adulterous remarriage.    Luke notes twice in Acts 16:1-3 that Timothy’s mother was a believer and his father was a Greek unbeliever, whom God had also joined as one-flesh.    Because one-flesh is inseverable except by death, and a covenant in which God is a party cannot be dissolved, 2 Corinthians 6:14 simply cannot be retroactively applied.   Even if this passage justified separation, it does not follow that marrying another while this put away spouse is alive would not be hell-bound adultery.

Luke 14:26 –  Although chapter 7 begins with the counsel that to avoid sexual immorality, every believer should possess their own one-flesh covenant spouse [literally, the one “that is theirs / of them“], it does not follow that anyone is entitled to a sexual relationship.   Whether in an intact marriage or not, Christ-followers must each take up their cross and follow Him, loving Him most and their spouse second after that.   Central to loving Him is obeying His commandments.   Anything or anyone else put ahead of that is idolatry, which will also cause a believer not to inherit the kingdom of God, if unrepented.

Galatians 4:30-5:1 –  We have freedom in Christ; we are free to act and obey only Him, from our heart.   If our spouse refuses to be subject to Christ, they are out of order, but our one-flesh state is not severed by that.   Christ will be our spouse (Isaiah 54) during this time.   Our only duty is to stay celibate and to intercede faithfully for them,  leaving the door open always for reconciliation and realizing that their eternity and redemption depend on it.

As always, we’ve endeavored to bring all of the directly relevant scriptures into the COMPARISON exercise for the one being examined.   If we happened to miss one, please use the blog Comments to bring it to our attention.

 

The Principle of CONSULTATION
Whom is it most appropriate to consult on the authority of scripture which seeks to “sanctify” marriage to another while still having a living one-flesh spouse?     Due to the carnality of man which tends to escalate over time, that is a very important question which requires a strong knowledge of church history to reliably answer.    Hopefully, we’ve made it clear with indisputable evidence up to this point exactly where Jesus and the Apostles (including Paul) stood.   They discipled the next generation of followers of The Way, who in turn discipled the successive generations of the ante-Nicene church fathers.   It makes sense therefore to start the consultation with the writings of those who knew the Apostles (for example, Luke and Mark), and with those whom the next generation  discipled.

We need to be a bit skeptical while consulting theologian commentators from the time  of the Reformation forward when it comes to this topic.    Some will be biased in defense of the heretical Westminster Confession of Faith, which dominated mainline Protestant Churches from the 17th century, and others will be swayed by the tampering with word translations that began to occur in the lexicons published after the latter half of the 19th century.    On this basis, an equal number of later scholars will refute and discredit the many writings of the disciples of the Apostles, literally lapsing into “Reverend All-Wet” mode, and only superficially applying the  principles of disciplined hermeneutics  that we’ve just stepped through together.    Two free downloadable scholarly books are available, here and here, that will be very helpful in carrying out the CONSULTATION step for almost every scripture we’ll be examining in this series.   Our Church Fathers and Church Wolves series will also be historically helpful.        What follows below is intended to be a sampling and not exhaustive.

Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D)
And, “Whoever shall marry her who is divorced from another husband, commits adultery.”   And, “There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake; but all cannot receive this saying.”  So that all who by human law, are twice married, are in the eye of our Master sinners, and those who look upon a woman to lust after her.

Athenagoras (177 A.D.)
For we bestow our attention; not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions, that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery.   “For whoever puts away his wife,” says He, “and marries another commits adultery;” not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to marry again.

Clement of Alexandria (circa 215 A.D.)
Now that the scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication,” and it regards as adultery the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.   The Church cannot marry another, having obtained a bridegroom;  each of us individually has a right to marry the woman he wishes according to the law; I mean here first marriage.

Gregory Nanzianzen (circa 325-389 A.D.)
For I think the word here seems to deprecate second marriage.  For, if there were two Christs, there may be two husbands or two wives; but if Christ is One, one Head of the Church, let there also be one flesh, let the second be rejected…now the [civil] Law grants divorce for every cause, but Christ not for every cause; but He allows only separation from the whore; and in all other things He commands patience.

Ambrose of Milan (333-397 A.D.)
Therefore, the right to marry is given you, lest ye fall into a snare and sin with a strange woman.  Ye are bound to your wife; do not seek release because you are not permitted to marry another while your wife lives.

John Chrysostom (circa 347-407 A.D.)
‘Let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.’….’What then if he will never be reconciled?’ one may ask.   You have one more mode of release and deliverance.  What is that?  Await his death.  For as the (consecrated) virgin may not marry because her Spouse always lives, and is immortal; so to her who has been married it is then only lawful [to remarry] when her husband is dead.

Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Jerome (circa 340-420 A.D.)
The apostle has cut away every plea and has clearly declared that, if a woman marries again while her husband is living, she is an adulteress.   You must not speak to me of the violence of a ravisher,  a mother’s pleading, a father’s bidding, the influence of relatives, the insolence and the intrigues of servants, household losses.   A husband may be an adulterer,  a sodomite, he may be stained with every crime and may have been left by his wife for his sins; yet he is still her husband as long as he lives; she may not marry another.

 

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.)
It cannot be correctly affirmed either that the husband who puts away his wife because of immorality and marries another does not commit adultery.   For there is adultery, also, on the part of those who marry others after the repudiation of their former wives because of immorality…If everyone who marries another woman after the dismissal of his wife commits adultery, this includes one who puts away his wife without cause of immorality and the one who puts away his wife for this reason.

“Ambrosiaster” (370 A.D. – rogue scholar emulated by Erasmus)
The reason why Paul does not add, as he does in the case of the woman, but if he departs he should remain as he is because a man is allowed to remarry if he has divorced a sinful wife.   The husband is not restricted by law as a woman is, for the head of the woman is the husband.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Pope Innocent III (circa 1200 A.D. who instituted “annulment”)
Be not willing to cohabit without blasphemy of the Divine name, or without drawing him onto mortal sin, he who is thus deserted may pass over to a second marriage if he will…

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

The Westminster Confession of Faith – 1649 (observed by most mainline Protestant denominations and adopted by popular vote of clergy and Members of (British) Parliament)
V.  Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments, unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage; yet nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage; wherein a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it, not left to their own wills and discretion in their own case.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

The Assemblies of God (1973) -DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE Application of General Scriptural Principles (also adopted by popular vote of clergy following the enactment of unilateral divorce in several U.S. states, and removing 60 years’ by-laws that required pastors to be disfellowshipped for performing weddings where either the bride or groom had an estranged living spouse.)
Point 5 – Paul forbade Christians to take the initiative in divorce simply because their partner was an unbeliever….pages 4-5)… “While making every effort to preserve the marriage, when the unbelieving spouse was definitely unwilling to continue, the believer should not, at all costs, attempt to restrain him/her. In these cases, abandonment, by implication, may be interpreted as grounds for divorce and remarriage.”
Point 7 – The Right to Remarry…  “Paul has already addressed the problem of abandonment in verse 15 and shown that “A believing man or woman is not bound [that is, free to remarry] in such circumstances.”     

Dr. James Dobson (circa 1990)
There are three occasions when divorce and remarriage appear to be justified in scripture….3. When one mate is an unbeliever and willfully and permanently deserts the believing partner

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
But if the unbelieving depart.
—Supposing, however, the desire for separation arises from the unbelieving partner, how is the Christian partner to act? If the married life, for example, be made intolerable by the unbeliever urging the believer to join in such religious acts as conscience cannot approve, the Apostle’s previous commands for continued union do not hold good: a brother or a sister, in such cases, is not bound to insist upon the continuation of the union. “Let the unbeliever, if he so desire, depart.”

This permission is in no way contrary to our Lord’s permission of divorce on only one ground, for the Apostle has carefully reminded his readers that our Lord’s command does not apply to the case of a marriage between a believer and a heathen. In ouch cases we have no command from Him.

A brother or a sister.—That is, a Christian. In such cases, when the unbelieving partner wishes to depart, let him or her do so. The Christian partner is not, under such circumstances, bound by the marriage to continue together. Their doing so might destroy that very peace in which (not “to peace” as in the English) God has called us.

Benson Commentary
1 Corinthians 7:15-17
. But if the unbelieving party depart, let him, or her depart — And take the course they think best. A brother or sister — A Christian man or woman; is not under bondage — Is at full liberty; in such cases: but — Let it be always remembered; God hath called us to peace — To live peaceably with them, if it be possible: and therefore it ought to be our care to behave in as inoffensive a manner as may be, in all the relations of life; that so, if there must be a breach, the blame may not be chargeable upon the Christian. For what knowest thou, &c. — As if he had said, It is of great importance that you should conduct yourselves properly toward those who thus make, as it were, a part of yourselves, and that you should adorn the gospel by the most amiable and engaging behaviour possible, that thereby the unbeliever may be gained over to Christianity. And surely the everlasting happiness of the person, now the companion of your life, will be more than an equivalent for all the self-denial to which you may be required at present to submit. See on 1 Peter 3:1-2. But — However it be, whether the unbeliever be converted or not; as God hath distributed to every man — The various stations of life, and various relations, let him take care to discharge his duty therein; for the gospel disannuls none of them: And as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk — “By declaring here, and 1 Corinthians 7:20; 1 Corinthians 7:24, that men were bound, after their conversion, to continue under all the moral and just political obligations, which lay on them before their conversion, the apostle condemned the error of Judaizers, who taught, that, by embracing the true religion, all the former obligations, under which the convert lay, were dissolved. The gospel, instead of weakening any moral or just political obligation, strengthens them all.” This I ordain in all churches — This I lay down as a general rule for all Christians to observe, and insist on it, as a matter of the greatest importance.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
7:10-16 Man and wife must not separate for any other cause than what Christ allows. Divorce, at that time, was very common among both Jews and Gentiles, on very slight pretexts. Marriage is a Divine institution; and is an engagement for life, by God’s appointment. We are bound, as much as in us lies, to live peaceably with all men, Ro 12:18, therefore to promote the peace and comfort of our nearest relatives, though unbelievers. It should be the labour and study of those who are married, to make each other as easy and happy as possible. Should a Christian desert a husband or wife, when there is opportunity to give the greatest proof of love? Stay, and labour heartily for the conversion of thy relative. In every state and relation the Lord has called us to peace; and every thing should be done to promote harmony, as far as truth and holiness will permit.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
But if the unbelieving depart – If they choose to leave you.

Let him depart – You cannot prevent it, and you are to submit to it patiently, and bear it as a Christian.

A brother or a sister is not under bondage … – Many have supposed that this means that they would be at liberty to marry again when the unbelieving wife or husband had gone away; as Calvin, Grotius, Rosenmuller, etc. But this is contrary to the strain of the argument of the apostle. The sense of the expression “is not bound,” etc. is, that if they forcibly depart, the one that is left is not bound by the marriage tie to make provision for the one that departed; to do acts that might be prejudicial to religion by a violent effort to compel the departing husband or wife to live with the one that is forsaken; but is at liberty to live separate, and should regard it as proper so to do.

God hath called us to peace – Religion is peaceful. It would prevent contentions and broils. This is to be a grand principle. If it cannot be obtained by living together, there should be a peaceful separation; and “where” such a separation has taken place, the one which has departed should be suffered to remain separate in peace. God has called us to live in peace with all if we can. This is the general principle of religion on which we are always to act. In our relation to our partners in life, as well as in all other relations and circumstances, this is to guide us. Calvin supposes that this declaration pertains to the former part of this verse; and that Paul means to say, that if the unbelieving depart, he is to be suffered to do so peaceably rather than to have contention and strife, for God has called us to a life of peace.

 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.  It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
GALATIANS 4:31-5:1

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!




The “Indecency” of Abusing Deuteronomy 24: “Debunk” Series – Part 2

RevAllWet7by Standerinfamilycourt

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.   Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.     –  2 Timothy 2:14-15

 

We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

Having done that, we will now do the same with each of the most egregiously mishandled passages that apostate theologians and church leaders seek to water down or refute that unpalatable truth with.    You may see these same scholars dutifully applying these principles to other biblical topics,  but when it comes to this one, they’ve never heard of “Herman”.      We will tackle these in subjective order of damage to the church and society, doing the worst of them first, the ones that trap people in a life that the bible makes clear will send them to hell if they don’t repent and sever the illicit “marriages”.

In our view, the most abused scripture on marriage in the Old Testament is purported to “prove” that God instituted divorce through Moses for adultery and other sundry causes, and that once a divorced spouse “remarries”,  they can never be reconciled with the one-flesh partner of their youth.    But is this actually so?

The Principle of CONTENT
As we did with our core truth, Matthew 19:6 we will take Deut. 24: 1-4 back to the original Hebrew manuscript and literal syntax to strip away any bias about what it actually says on the surface.     We will rely on the Hebrew interlinear text tools and the literal syntax for our analysis of content, in order to remove any translation bias that may have occurred in your favorite bible version in more contemporary times.    The text of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 reads (NASB):

When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that 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 from his house,  and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, and if the latter husband turns against 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 husband dies who took her to be his wife,  then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.

Naturally, the surface conflict with Matthew 19:6 and some other scriptures is that according to Jesus and Paul, men have no power or authority to dissolve holy matrimony, nor to unjoin a one-flesh entity joined by God.   If Moses was speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, how can he be contradicting the Word Incarnate?     And what exactly was the “indecency” that justified a certificate of divorce (rather than Deuteronomy 22 stoning)?

Deut24one_4

Young’s Literal translation (YLT) reads:

`When a man doth take a wife, and hath married her, and it hath been, if she doth not find grace in his eyes (for he hath found in her nakedness of anything), and he hath written for her a writing of divorce, and given [it] into her hand, and sent her out of his house,

and she hath gone out of his house, and hath gone and been another man’s,

and the latter man hath hated her, and written for her a writing of divorce, and given [it] into her hand, and sent her out of his house, or when the latter man dieth, who hath taken her to himself for a wife:

`Her former husband who sent her away is not able to turn back to take her to be to him for a wife, after that she hath become defiled; for an abomination it [is] before Jehovah, and thou dost not cause the land to sin which Jehovah thy God is giving to thee — an inheritance.

A few key words need a bit of a deep dive in this passage:

כְּרִיתוּת    kerithuth: divorcement  –  from the Hebrew word karath which means “a cutting”, which in the Mosaic usage functioned like a sort of “quit-claim” deed so that such a woman could survive by marrying another man, perhaps also protecting her from being stoned as an adulteress under the law in Deuteronomy 22 if she did so.     This word is used in just two other scriptures Jeremiah 3:8 and Isaiah 50:1,  and it differs from the other Hebrew word for severing a spouse,  the more generic word, shalach  שָׁלַח  meaning “send (or put) away”.  The latter word was more often used in the post-exile days when stoning was not available to dispose of fully- consummated wives of many years standing, such as in Malachi 2:16.  

 דָּבָר   dabar:  word, saying, commandment, law Many different meanings and 1441 OT occurrences.

עֶרְוָה    ervah / erwat: nakedness, shame, uncleanness

From arah; nudity, literally (especially the pudenda – female genitals) or figuratively (disgrace, blemish) — nakedness, shame, unclean(-ness).   This word has 54 total occurrences throughout the Levitical moral laws and the Genesis account of Noah’s drunkenness.

The Principle of CONTEXT
 The major context for Deuteronomy 24 is the 40-year extended trek through the wilderness under the often embattled leadership of Moses, following the Israelites’  release from captivity in Egypt.   A major biblical covenant was established between God and His people on Mount Sinai.   Bible teacher Ray Vander Laan called that momentous occasion a Divine “wedding” of sorts.   It was the only conditional covenant God made, and it was from the beginning designed to be replaced by the Messianic covenant at the commencement of Christ’s ministry.   After the Ten Commandments were given to Moses near the start of the journey, it wasn’t long before they had to be interpreted and specifically applied to real life stuff.   That Serpent, whose favorite sport was (and still is) saying “Did God REALLY say…??”  had slithered from the Garden to the desert plains.

Moses was constantly putting down large and small uprisings.    He had been given a gig that he would have been the last man on earth to sign up for.    He was leading something like 4 million men, women and children and the various plunder they removed from Egypt, but that wasn’t all they carried out of Egypt with them, as the golden calf incident vividly illustrates.    They had just spent some 400 years learning from the Egyptians how to build marriage around anything but covenant.    In a bit of a double-standard, the descendants of Isaac and Jacob had also carried some distinctive things into Egypt with them, including the custom of kiddushin betrothal with its bride price, which they also carried back out of Egypt into the wilderness.  How amazing was it to hear from Moses that animal sacrifice done daily could atone for living however they chose, despite the Lord’s commandment?   How much of a relief to  Moses. the reluctantly-drafted leader of this multitude  to learn that this system  would allow him to manage sin rather seek to eradicate it  and promote holiness instead?   How disheartening must it have been for the Pharisees to stomach Christ’s New Covenant announcement that obedience to God must now flow from devotion to Christ and gratefulness for His appearing to take away the sins of the world, to such an extent that we begin to emulate Him?    No wonder they (and modern-day Pharisees) hanker again for the days of Moses, but this time with the siren song of Luther and Calvin playing in the background, “Christ died for your past, present and future sins!”    Those bent on justifying their fleshly lusts are indeed comforted by the (false) notion that one cannot wander from their salvation, even though Paul repeatedly warns that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

How, specifically, does kiddushin (Hebrew betrothal) factor into the context of Deuteronomy 24:1-4?   Once a ketubah marriage contract proposal was accepted and the bride price paid, the bride became the legal wife of the groom approximately 12 months before the groom returned for his bride and consummated the marriage.   If the bride committed fornication (played the harlot) during this time, or lied about her virginity and it was discovered on the wedding night, she was brought before the priests and stoned to death unless her parents could produce the “tokens of her virginity” in the form of bloody bed sheets.    However, harlotry was not the only cause for seeking dissolution of the binding arrangement.   Other reasons may have included disease such as leprosy developing during the betrothal period, discovery of too-close a consanguinity, a bleeding disorder, and other causes short of provable infidelity.    The only way in those cases to legally dissolve a ketubah was a writ of divorcement.    Under Moses, this was not an open-ended opportunity to unilaterally divorce a one-flesh spouse (with or without due cause) after God had joined them as one-flesh, but rather a legal way to dissolve the betrothal for a cause other than a capital cause.

To ensure survival of the family lines throughout the deprivations,  as well as the wars in reaching and settling in the Promised Land, Moses also laid down laws that cultivated concurrent polygamy, a practice unrighteously deviating from the holy principle of one-flesh, and a practice that carried over in the Hebrew race from the time of Abraham’s grandsons Jacob and Esau, actually traceable to his concubinage with Hagar.     For example, Moses required the brother of a widow of childbearing age to marry that widow to give her a son, and he did not set aside an exception if that brother was already one-flesh with the living  wife of his own youth.     Moses’ example for that went back several generations to an incident in the family of Judah.    Moses also permitted men to take more than one wife if the first (one-flesh) wife did not produce a son.   That being the case, some sort of writ was likely necessary to prevent a woman not guilty of a capital offense from being stoned as an adulteress if her one-flesh or polygamous husband abandoned her in the wilderness and she had no son or birth family.    Verse 4 specifically prevented men from engaging a sort of arbitrage of the bride price of kiddushin through divorce and remarriage to a materially-enriched widow, but this civil system did not dissolve the one-flesh state that God had created in a wife of a man’s youth.

While studying CONTEXT of this scripture, it is also important to consider the difference in the nature of the presence of the Holy Spirit before and after Jesus was resurrected, and Pentecost arrived 40 days later.    There may legitimately be a difference in the inspired nature of an Old Testament passage, especially one that was later explicitly repudiated by Jesus.    Unlike the provision for the sealing and  constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit that came with the New Covenant, scripture tells us that the presence of the Holy Spirit rested on and departed from God’s Old Testament spokespersons at various times.    We know that Moses was far from infallible because he built his altars and offered sacrifices for his own sins, including the murder of a man.    We know that he was disqualified from entering into the Promised Land despite all that he had accomplished because he committed the sin of unknowingly transgressing a holy symbol of God which stood for Jesus Christ’s crucifixion  when he disobeyed God and struck the rock instead of speaking to it as instructed by God.    If the Holy Spirit revealed this to him, he evidently ignored Him.  Those who quote Jesus’ saying “not one jot or tittle of the Law shall pass away”,  and construe it as authority that everything Moses ever pronounced is still binding as inspired instruction during the New Covenant, are missing the much larger context of the historic overlap or phasing of the major covenants of God.


The Principle of  CULTURE

Hebrew culture was patriarchal and valued virginity enough to pay a bride price for it, so that the bloodlines and inheritance would be uncorrupted and genealogies would be as pure as possible.   Even so, this was not the only law of ceremonial cleanness stringently observed by the Jews of Moses’ day and of Jesus’ day.    Additional laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus deal with the ceremonial uncleanness produced by blood, semen, excrement, disease, touching a dead body, types of animals that could be used for food, etc.  that would exclude a man from the temple of God for a season.   It’s not hard to see how some of these laws, intended mostly for public health and hygienic purposes under the conditions of the time  also tended to encourage polygamy in a misguided effort to maintain a sort hypocritical “holiness”,  not too unlike the civil and ecclesiastical stronghold around serial polygamy today.    When Jesus came along knowing that He would take the place of animal sacrifice, would usher in the age of direction by the Holy Spirit, and a new order where obedience would flow from the heart,  the context of what He said in Mark 7:20-23 gains an incredible power:

And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.   For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.   All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

These things were now true precisely because the Messianic Covenant had suddenly arrived 1400 years since these rules had been promulgated, and was now an unconditional, superior covenant to replace the conditional Mosaic Covenant, with its former dependence on animal sacrifice and stringent regulation of cleanness and uncleanness,  which was never intended to be permanent.

Therefore, when Jesus had His confrontation with the Pharisees in Matthew 19,  if going back to Deuteronomy 24 in agreement with them was appropriate to the kingdom of God, He would have done so.   However under the Messianic Covenant, where His bride was to be purified, as so vividly described by Paul in Ephesians 5, it was necessary to go all the way back to the Garden, and repudiate this transitory law of Moses that only endeavored to “manage” sin.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
By this fourth basic principle of sound hermeneutics, scripture interprets scripture, with the clearest passages helping to answer any ambiguity remaining after an honest analysis of CONTENT, CONTEXT and CULTURE.   Since  God’s word tells us that all scripture is God-breathed, that is,  equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, then if its seems that one scripture contradicts another, it’s a sign of bias or that the analysis is not complete enough.   In other words, we don’t just run with it as the “Reverend All-Wets” of our day are all too prone to do, but we keep studying until the conflict is resolved, and we err on the side of holiness, out of love and gratitude toward the Bridegroom in the meantime!

Part 1 of our series, on Matthew 19:6 built a strong case for this verse (and its counterpart verse, Mark 10:8-9 from the same historical occasion) being the cornerstone verse for this comparison, but as also shown, there are many others.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.   What came directly out of the mouth of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with Deuteronomy 24: 1-4, at least as it applied to the still-living husband or wife of our youth, but not necessarily is it in conflict with dissolving subsequent, non-widowed civil remarriage which actually lacks the characteristic of one-flesh joining by God, as was also the case for the instances of sequential and concurrent polygamy of Moses’ day .

Matthew 5:23-25, 6:14-15, 18:21-35; 1 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:18  –  Jesus and Paul both instructed us that insofar as it depends on us, we are never to leave our relationships unreconciled, much less our sole and exclusive one-flesh relationship.    

Matthew 18:7, 23:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4 – Neither are we to interfere in any way with another person’s entry into the kingdom of God through maintaining an ongoing state of sin by willful direct violation of God’s law.  (Speaking of stumbling blocks, we’re citing the King James version here because virtually all modern English translations wrongfully omit adultery from Galatians 5:19 due to the deliberate choice of the Westcott & Hort late 19th century bible translation team to translate a faulty and incomplete manuscript, and to merge the separate single / married sins of fornication and adultery into the far more fungible “sexual immorality” in order to appear to justify civil divorce with remarriage while having a living covenant spouse.)

Matthew 15:8-9,19-20; Mark 7:6-7, 20-22 –  God indeed “knows our heart” and sets the record straight on moral defilement, not by Deut. 24:4, nor by the letter of any other Mosaic law, other than the Ten Commandments.

Matthew 22:35-40 –  Jesus pared down the 613 laws of Moses to just two easy-to-follow commandments, which actually fully encompass all of the Ten Commandments.   If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, there’s no excuse for disobeying Him when His Son declares three different times that marrying and staying civilly married to a divorced person is adultery, and refusing to remain celibate, as explicitly instructed by Paul in the name of the Lord, in order leave room to reconcile with our sole one-flesh partner, is living and walking in the state of ongoing unforgiveness,.   Moreover,  the first greatest law encompasses the first four commandments, and the second greatest law encompasses all of the last six, as well as the Golden Rule of treating others as we would like to be treated, but with eternal destinations firmly in mind for all persons involved.

Deuteronomy 21:10 -14 –  The situation of taking a captive woman as a wife as a result of war spoils, perhaps polygamously, which might also have required a writ of divorcement if she wanted to go free, where there wasn’t necessarily a one-flesh relationship joined by God.    This is because this was essentially an unlawful marriage, of the type repented of in Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, where a holy God forbid the taking of pagan wives and presumably would not have participated.   It seems a bit unclear why Moses permitted it.

Deuteronomy 22: 13-28 –  The penalty for both fornication by a betrothed wife, for whom a bride-price has been paid under a ketubah, and a fully-consummated wife of some years was always stoning under the Mosaic law.   In the latter case, this law was ripe for possible abuse and false witness, and for this reason, it is possible or even likely that the scope of Deuteronomy 24:1 was expanded over time.    Jesus was likely referring to this when He talked about the hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts.

1 Samuel 25:44 / 2 Samuel 3:13-15 –  Saul gave Michal, David’s betrothed wife to another man;  he later recovered her, even though they were not yet one-flesh.   In this case, the ketubah governed (apparently God chose not to join her with Paltiel)  and Michal was not tainted by the immoral union because she was a valid wife for David to begin with so he was able to take her back.    (That said, David was apparently only supernaturally joined by God with Ahinoam, the first wife he actually took in consummation.)

Isaiah 50:1 / Jeremiah 3:1 –  Aside from Deuteronomy 24, these are the only two instances where reference to a writ of divorcement (also known as a “get”) was used instead of the far more common variations of the word “shalach“, which is putting away, sending away, dismissing, and never with God’s approval if the marriage was consummated and lawful to begin with.     In both of these two instances, He is speaking to Judah or Israel in rhetorical fashion, saying quite emphatically in the first instance that He did not issue such a writ (due to the nature of His character in covenant), and in the second instance, He’s beginning a long rhetorical discourse that actually ends up to Jeremiah 4:1 with God urging His bride to return 5 different times, and declaring Himself to be her Husband.   The point is that Deuteronomy 24 can never be used as conclusive evidence that anyone but Moses permitted the attempted severing of God-joined holy matrimony.    It does not appear that God ever approved of the issuing of a writ of divorcement to any one-flesh spouse.

Jeremiah 3: 8-14 –  Another pervasively-abused passage, typically mentioned almost in the same breath by the Rev. All-Wets of our churches, will be the subject of an upcoming blog in the series.   For now the discussion above suffices, except to note that we had to shift between versions again because of some documentable translation hanky-panky around the word “husband” in verse 14.

Malachi 2: 10-14 –  Some 1,000 years after the bones of Moses had returned to dust, (and about the time of the purge of unlawful wives and children from what remained of Judah after a remnant returned from 70 years’ exile in Babylon), here’s a prophet of the Lord thoroughly dressing down the remarriage adulterer, whose one-flesh wife presumably had been issued a writ of divorcement, since she was evidently still alive for the Lord to stand as a witness with.  Among other graphic rebukes, the Lord makes clear that man’s paper never dissolves a covenant in which God is a party.

Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18 –   Citing the King James version here, because virtually all modern English translations wrongfully omit the phrases, “whoever marries one who has been put away commits adultery” and “causes her to commit adulteryfrom Matthew 19:9, due to the deliberate choice of the bible translation team to translate a faulty and incomplete manuscript.   These are three separate occasions where Jesus redefined the popular understanding of adultery from the patriarchal view (going into somebody else’s civil current wife) to marrying anyone’s divorced partner of either gender under any circumstances.    Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is wrongfully applied to the covenant spouse of our youth because one-flesh joined by GOD is inseverable by man’s paper, and does not even exist with man’s remarriage where there is a prior living spouse.

 

The Principle of CONSULTATION:
Whom is it most appropriate to consult on the authority of scripture which seeks to “sanctify” marriage to another while still having a living one-flesh spouse?     Due to the carnality of man which tends to escalate over time, that is a very important question which requires a strong knowledge of church history to reliably answer.    Hopefully, we’ve made it clear with indisputable evidence up to this point exactly where Jesus and the Apostles (including Paul) stood.   They discipled the next generation of followers of The Way, who in turn discipled the successive generations of the ante-Nicene church fathers.   It makes sense therefore to start the consultation with the writings of those who knew the Apostles (for example, Luke and Mark), and with those whom the next generation  discipled.

We need to be a bit skeptical while consulting theologian commentators from the time  of the Reformation forward when it comes to this topic.    Some will be biased in defense of the heretical Westminster Confession of Faith, which dominated mainline Protestant Churches from the 17th century, and others will be swayed by the tampering with word translations that began to occur in the lexicons published after the latter half of the 19th century.    On this basis, an equal number of later scholars will refute and discredit the many writings of the disciples of the Apostles, literally lapsing into “Reverend All-Wet” mode, and only superficially applying the  principles of disciplined hermeneutics  that we’ve just stepped through together.    For example, in convoluted fashion they’ll say that “scripture cannot contradict itself”,  so since “most scholars agree” (a presumption based on confirmation bias — and a weakened, distorted application of the COMPARISON principle that completely bypasses application of both the CONTEXT and  CULTURE principles) …that porneia “should always be” translated as “sexual immorality”,  all of the many scriptures that refute this must therefore be interpreted as not universally authoritative, and the church fathers should be dismissed as “flawed” asceticists.   Two free downloadable scholarly books are available, here and here, that will be very helpful in carrying out the CONSULTATION step for almost every scripture we’ll be examining in this series.   Our Church Fathers and Church Wolves series will also be historically helpful.        What follows below is intended to be a sampling and not exhaustive.    Once again, it shows that the proponents of the heretical view did not surface for centuries after the first disciples of the apostles were unanimous in the faithful gospel.

Clement of Alexandria (circa 215 A.D.)
Now that the scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication,” and it regards as adultery the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.   The Church cannot marry another, having obtained a bridegroom;  each of us individually has a right to marry the woman he wishes according to the law; I mean here first marriage.

Tertullian ( circa 160-220 A.D.)
A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commits any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage?    Such is God’s verdict, within narrower limits than men’s, that universally, whether through marriage or promiscuously, the admission of a second man to intercourse is pronounced adultery to Him...so true, moreover, is it that divorce “was not from the beginning,” that among the Romans it is not until the six hundredth year from the building of the city that this kind of “hard heartedness” is set down as having been committed.  But they indulge in promiscuous adulteries, even without divorcing their partners: to us, even if we do divorce them, even marriage will not be lawful.

Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

FB profile 7xtjw   SIFC Note:   All of the above quotes are from  Daniel R. Jennings, “Except for Fornication – Why Evangelicals Must Reevaluate Their Interpretation of Matthew’s Divorce Exception Clause” (2011)
Sean Multimedia (www.seanmultimedia.com).

R.A. Torrey (circa 1890)  – Moody Bible Institute
“Look at this legalized adultery we call divorce.  Men marry one wife after another, and are still admitted in good society, and women do likewise.  There are thousands of supposedly respectable men married to other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women married to other women’s husbands.”

Bill Gothard (circa 1983)  – (morally-discredited evangelist who was forced to step down from the bible institute he founded)

“….God has expressly forbidden a divorced woman who has remarried to return to her first husband — even if the second husband dies. (See Deut. 24:4 and Jeremiah 3:1)…”

Dr. John MacArthur (circa 2009) – President and founder, Masters Theological Seminary in Sun Valley, CA (a multi-point inspiration for “Rev. All-Wet”)

“…As a matter of fact, in the same passage where Moses permitted husbands to issue a certificate of divorce, the law added this restriction:  ‘When she has departed from his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of the house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD.   Clearly, the second marriage — whether biblically-justified or not becomes as binding as the original marriage was supposed to be.   A return to the original spouse is strictly forbidden.”

The remainder of the citations are from biblehub.com :

Benson Commentary  Her former husband may not take her again — This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which, by this offer, he now acknowledgeth. Defiled — Not absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but with respect to her first husband, to whom she is as a defiled or unclean woman; that is, forbidden; for things forbidden are accounted and called unclean, (Jdg 13:7,) because they may no more be touched or used than an unclean thing. Thou shalt not cause the land to sin — Thou shalt not suffer such lightness to be practised, lest the people be polluted, and the land defiled and accursed by that means.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
4
. after that she is defiled] Ambiguous indeed, as the most carefully chosen terms of some laws often are. But the natural meaning is that she is unclean to the former husband by her union with the latter. It cannot be a matter of indifference to him that she has been another’s, as (presumably) the popular humour took it. Such easy passage of a woman from one man to another did defile her: it is an abomination before Jehovah (notice the peculiar construction before and the absence of thy God after the divine name). She was, therefore, taboo, or unlawful to her first husband. Marti suggests that the uncleanness may have a demonistic origin (cp. Deuteronomy 22:9-11). This, of course, may have been the motive of the original law, but if so, it has disappeared from its present form.

thou shalt not cause the land to sin] Sam., LXX ye shall not, etc. Cp. Deuteronomy 22:9.

which the Lord thy God is to give thee, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 4:21.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary
This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which by this offer he now acknowledgeth.

After that she is defiled; not simply and absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but respectively, or as to her first husband, to whom she is as a defiled or unclean woman, that is, forbidden; for things forbidden are accounted and called unclean, Judges 13:7, because they may no more be touched or used than an unclean thing.

Thou shalt not cause the land to sin, i.e. thou shalt not suffer such abominable lightness and lewdness to be practised, lest the people be polluted, and the land defiled and accursed by that means.

Geneva Study Bible
Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is {b} defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

(b) Seeing that by divorcing her he judged her to be unclean and defiled.

 

FB profile 7xtjw   SIFC Note:  The most faithful of the commentators above carefully note that the defilement existed prior to the first marriage and divorce (functioning more like an annulment, actually),  hence it was not the second marriage that defiled her.

Father God, in Jesus’ holy name, may the Person of the Holy Spirit be faithful to carry this message to at least that one (hopefully many) prodigal husband or wife who now feels trapped and ensnared, indeed who sees no way out of what he or she knows is a wrongful, non-covenant marriage, and who longs with all their heart to make their covenant family whole again, redeeming the generations from repeating this debilitating pattern of sin.   May Your holy anointing rest on these words and that person, and may you make them a level path back to their inheritance in the kingdom of God.   May  You, O God, open their eyes to the only act of true eternal love that will restore their non-covenant spouse to a chance to inherit the kingdom of God, and may You give them the holy resolve to do it, blessing their righteous obedience to Your commandment.

We ask these things in Jesus’ name, thanking You in advance for the extra measure of grace you are pouring out over them.    Amen.

(Next blog in the series:  Part 3, “I Don’t Know My ‘Deo‘   From My ‘Douloo’  –  (Do You?)   Stop Abusing 1 Cor. 7:15″ )

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall   |   Let’s  Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

 

 

 


Let’s Stop Popular Scripture Abuse: The “Debunk” Series – Part 1

Part 1 - What Hill...by Standerinfamilycourt

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.   Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.     –  2 Timothy 2:14-15

Fans of our Facebook page “Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional” have been regaled recently with the foibles of a church leader many of us would unmistakably recognize (even if, like the “Proverbs 31 Woman“, he’s a composite),  one “Reverend All-Wet“.    Our cartoon evangelical hireling isn’t intended merely to skewer the post-“no fault” clergy, but use a bit of winsome humor, or outright sarcasm if necessary, to point out the considerable scripture-bending that has caused church-salt to lose its savor over the past 40 years.    We also aim to teach the basics of hermeneutics along the way,  and get our fans to start thinking systematically in those terms for purposes of testing the various doctrines that blow their way from the harlot church.

There’s only so much that can be accomplished with a meme, however.    A blog series seemed like a good idea to expand on effective antidotes to the perilous misadventures of “Rev. All-Wet”.    If dying in a state of remarriage adultery were not a heaven-or-hell issue according to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Hebrews 13:4 and Revelation 21:8,  we’d indeed be more loving to stay quiet about it, but since it is, it behooves us to prove it in a disciplined way that gets to the “why” this is so, and more loving to undertake the effort.     Upon the June 26, 2015 total melt-down of the U.S. Supreme Court, Barak Obama brazenly crowed over 50-state-sanctified sodomy (man’s futile attempt to join what only God can join) , “#LoveWins”.   We are faithfully pronouncing over serial polygamy (man’s futile and violent attempt to unjoin what God refuses to unjoin) , #LoveWarns!  

You may be asking, what do you mean by “hermeneutics” ?     Merriam-Webster’s dictionary lists the following definition:

Definition of hermeneutics:

  1.  plural but sing or plural in constr :  the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible)

  2.   a method or principle of interpretation

    When we attempt to “rightly divide” the word of God, we must cross languages (sometimes more than once), cultures and centuries or millennia to do so while preserving the original meaning of a scripture passage, all  the while keeping in mind what Paul found it necessary to remind his protégé Timothy of:

     All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    2 Timothy 3:16-17

     

If we are neither disciplined nor conscientious in our workmanship of understanding God’s word, it will affirm sin rather than rebuke it, and the training we will receive will be in self-will rather than righteousness.   Humanistic impulses will take over, as the prophet Jeremiah described:

The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?    (Jer. 17:9)

Faithful application of hermeneutics has a very interesting effect on the self-interested enemies of God’s truth.   This either shuts their mouths and causes them to retreat (hopefully to ponder, study further and eventually repent), or it causes them to act like an angry parrot with a repertoire of one or two unsupportable biases, repeated in an incessant loop, sometimes accompanied by ad hominem personal attacks.    It’s a painful exercise, but if refuted courteously, others will be reading and benefitting.

RevAllWet5

In successive installments, we will be applying a framework of five of the most basic concepts to each of the most-abused scriptures commonly mis-rendered to justify performing / entering, or remaining in marriages following man’s divorce that Jesus and Paul repeatedly called adulterous.    However, in this introduction, it seems right to apply the very same rigor to the most central of the scripture passages that formed the basis for what both Jesus and Paul had to say on the matter.   The purpose is not merely to affirm the belief and actions of the already-obedient, but to give them effective tools to start changing the culture in the church and perhaps in their own families or other sphere of close personal influence.    Learning this discipline is the most respectful way to approach the Rev. All-Wets in our lives.

How does one choose wisely “the hill to die on” when it comes to the indissolubility of holy matrimony?    These are only this blogger’s reflections, submitted for the reader’s consideration:

(1) we imitate Jesus, as best we can
(2) we examine what scripture the truth-opponents most avoid, “like kryptonite”
(3) we make sure it’s foundational to the creation, just as Jesus did.

In SIFC’s opinion, the scripture passage that best fulfills all three of these criteria is indeed the very definition of marriage given by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6 (echoed in Mark 10:7-9, and by Paul in Ephesians 5:28-31):

And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?   So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

With regard to considerations (1) and (3),  if this is the “hill to die on”,  we are imitating Jesus as He confronted the Rabbi “All-Wets” of His day, taking them back to the Garden and the Creation, just as He actually did.

To be sure, there are a quartet of scriptures universally dismissed, ignored, avoided and explained away by the remarriage apologists per consideration (2) that our cartoon series parodies, two by the mouth of Jesus, and two by the mouth of Paul.   Three of these represent the “what” more than they do the “why“, because they do not take us back to the Garden the way Matthew 19:6 does.    They are corroborating evidence under the COMPARISON principle.

We will therefore rigorously apply the framework of the hermeneutical basics (Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation) to Matthew 19:6 in this installment, and once having done so, the nuggets of truth we pull out of that passage should trump all conflicting arguments around interpretations of other scriptures since by principle Holy Spirit-breathed scripture cannot contradict itself, and in fact, heretical interpretations of those scriptures readily fall apart when the same rigor is applied to those, as we’ll do in upcoming installments.

Our Hill to Die On:   Matthew 19:6

The Principle of CONTENT:
We must first agree with certainty on what Matthew 19:6 actually says on the surface.   This is a function primarily of accurate manuscript / text selection, and accurate language translation.   One of the difficulties with the book of Matthew in general is that it was most likely originally written in Hebrew, then later translated into Greek before it was translated into English.   While Greek texts of Matthew were circulated and are available in many versions, only one such manuscript written in the original Hebrew has reportedly survived.   It is reportedly on display in Jerusalem, and is disputed.    We will rely on the Greek interlinear text tools and the literal syntax for our analysis of content, in order to remove any translation bias that may have occurred in your favorite bible version in more contemporary times.

Part 1 - Matt 19six

Source:  www.scripture4all.org   Greek Interlinear Bible

We must be accurate and faithful, not only with word translation but also with the parts of speech including verb tense, active or passive, imperative voice, etc.  that can greatly impact the meaning.

BiblehubFullParseKey
As a point of awareness, our scripture4all.org source above is the “Authorized Version” (also known as the Received Text) derived from the Antioch manuscripts which were translated by Dutch Catholic Humanist, Erasmus Desiderius (who was no actual “fan” of marriage permanence, according to the bulk of his various writings).    This translation went on to become the basis for the King James Bible, Geneva Bible and most other reliable older versions.   It is of note that this manuscript is NOT the basis for any of the contemporary English translations, because  occultist  / universalist scholars Westcott & Hort  rejected the Antioch manuscripts in favor of the weaker and less complete Alexandrian manuscripts which became the foundation of NIV, NASB (and other Revised Standard Versions), CEB, etc.     With some passages, notably Matthew 19:9, this is a really big deal due to missing or omitted crucial phrases, but with Matthew 19:6, all the manuscripts appear to agree with one another.

All of the above being the case, we are ready to look again at the translated Greek text, word by word, in literal syntax and merge the scripture4all.org  translation with the biblehub.com translation, taking the parts of speech into proper account:

Biblehub_Matt19_6

We’re almost finished with our analysis of CONTENT, but there are some key words highlighted in yellow where it’s useful to look at alternative words that appear elsewhere in the New Testament which Jesus did not choose to use, and also see where else (what context) the words He did use appear in scripture.    We’ve covered this in detail in two previous blogs,  May, 2015 and November, 2015.   Our takeaway from this part of the exercise is that the words for “joining” and “one-flesh” are used exclusively  in connection with God’s active role in supernaturally making them one (otherwise they could be two again, as contemporary man vainly imagines God, through His Son, to be a liar),  and covenanting with them in holy matrimony, but only where the bride and groom both meet the criteria in Matthew 19:4, alluding to Genesis 2:21-24 – opposite gender and leaving father and mother, that is, not already (still) joined to another because death has not occurred to sever the prior union.

Therefore, from our thorough analysis of  CONTENT, we can conclude with authority that all three of the “truth nuggets” identified above were communicated infallibly by the mouth of Jesus:

(1)  from the point God joins husband and wife, they cannot be unjoined as long as both live
(2) God actively and instantly creates the joining
(3)  God commands and decrees that no act or law of men has any power or authority to unjoin holy matrimony.

By extension, (and supported by the strong evidence of the unique words used, as contrasted with those used later by Paul in 1 Cor. 6:16),  joining that is withheld by God and therefore accomplished only by the carnal means of men, is immoral regardless of men’s civil laws, and it constitutes either adultery or fornication (or sodomy, more recently).    Unless repented of by terminating the relationship, there is forfeiture of entry or inheritance in the kingdom of God.    We can plainly see from this the basis for all of the other strong statements about the indissolubility of holy matrimony, as we’ll develop when we talk later about COMPARISON with other scriptures.   This is the “why” to the “what” of all those other scriptures.   It is foundational to the Creation, as Jesus Himself pointed out in voicing them.

The Principle of CONTEXT:
Most heretical interpretation of marriage scriptures flunk this test when closely examined.   Those that attempt to fit context around their particular theory draw it far too narrowly, which is hard not to do with the topic of marriage.    After all, holy matrimony is God’s first and His most sacred symbol, not only  for His relationship with His people, but also for His call to holiness itself.   This symbolism threads its way through every book of the Old and New Testaments, is reflected in each of the successive covenants God made with His people, and culminates in the last verses of Revelation:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”….He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.        REVELATION 22:17,20

God Most High cast His Son as the Bridegroom, both in prophecy and in His self-proclamations as He walked out His ministry on earth, but not just any sort of bridegroom.   Jesus was cast as the specific sort of Bridegroom that pays the price for a pure, virgin bride as part of the Hebrew betrothal custom called kiddushin.   Our justification upon agreeing to accept the offer of betrothal is our ketubah.    Though the consummation is in the future, we are the legal “wife” with full inheritance rights, unless we choose not to show up for the marriage supper.   However, even if we make that choice, He doesn’t tear up the ketubah.    We always have the option to seek forgiveness after again forsaking all others, and resume our journey toward that marriage supper spoken of in Revelation, and spoken of by Jesus in the Upper Room.    This is the broader context of Matthew 19:6, along with the Genesis account of the first wedding, and Paul’s explicit analogy in Ephesians 5: 31-32.

The narrower context of the exchange in Matthew 19, leading up to the definitive words that begin in verse 6 and culminate in verse 12, reaffirming the total indissolubility of covenant holy matrimony, and shutting the door on the prior acceptability of all deviations, including polygamy and divorce, is His confrontation by the Pharisees, following three or four important events that had preceded:

(1) The Roman occupation had removed the ability of the Jews to carry out the Mosaic law for stoning that applied to porneia  and moicheia under Deuteronomy 22.    This upped the ante on civil divorce as a substitute means of disposing of unwanted wives.

(2) Jesus had just publicly lauded His cousin John the Baptist, who had recently been beheaded by Heriod after rebuking his adulterous mutual divorce and remarriage to Herodias, saying “return your brother’s wife — it is not lawful for you to have her.”

(3) A recent attempt by the Pharisees to entrap him had failed when He was brought the woman taken in adultery — related to (1) above.

(4) Jesus had previously delivered the Sermon on the Mount, where He had informed his audience that He was raising the moral standard on a host of Mosaic laws, not the least of which was marriage.   He began by warning them that to lust after another man’s wife, and not be content with one’s own wife would send them to hell if they acted on it.   (There was really no indication that this wasn’t the case all along, even under Moses, but under the New Covenant, there would no longer be atonement available through animal sacrifices, so obedience to Him must begin to come from the heart.)  
Furthermore, He was redefining adultery, no longer to be based solely on an act of the woman, but now it would be based on either gender marrying somebody else’s one-flesh spouse while that person was still living.  This was the first of three recorded occasions where He repeated the identical message without any exceptions that pertained to the 3rd party involved.

For the Pharisees, there was also no mistaking, due to the Hebrew betrothal custom and (1) above that when Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:32 of “except for a report  of unchastity” [logou  porneias],  He was not speaking of a consummated wife by any stretch of the imagination.   This could only be applied to the betrothed legal wife who was the subject of an unconsummated  ketubah.    Speaking as God, He was, in effect slamming the door on “Plan B” which at various earlier points in their history following Moses’ death, they accustomed themselves to resorting to when periodically deprived of the power to carry out stoning.    All of the above created the incendiary backdrop for another Pharisaical attempt to trap and incriminate Jesus, hoping Herod would be motivated to do to Jesus what he had just done to John the Baptist.

Most contemporary Protestant commentaries fixate on the running dispute between the Hillel and Shammai camps of the Pharisees, while presuming in a weakly-supported manner that Jesus sided with the Shammai’s  because of the “exception” He mentioned in  Matthew 5.   This is not only an inept analysis, it is also a total red herring!    Full context shows that Jesus flatly rebuked both schools, and Moses along with them!   Jesus brushed aside their dispute and moved the whole conversation to a place of impact in the kingdom of God, as can be seen in the private discussion with His disciples in the house afterward, verses 10-12:

The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.   But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.  For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.   He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

Sometimes the context that immediately follows the passage being interpreted is just as important as the context that preceded it.   In this instance, if Jesus were merely agreeing with the “conservative” Shammais, verses 10-12, the discussion of becoming a eunuch for the kingdom of God would have no context, nor would the incredulous statement of dismay by the disciples.    But the parallel account in Mark 10 strengthens it even further because Mark, who was not there but spent years ministering with Peter among the Roman Gentiles, was impressed enough with the strength and firmness of what Jesus said that day to drop the gender distinction, indicating that was only relevant in the patriarchal Hebrew culture:

In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;  and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

The Principle of CULTURE:
Much has already been covered concerning the cultural considerations in interpreting Matthew 19:6 as rendering holy matrimony altogether indissoluble by any act of men.   The central element is without question the tradition of the Hebrew betrothal, and well as the politics around the on-again, off-again stoning law established by Moses.    Other elements that factor in include the long history of polygamyespecially among the great patriarchs of Israel, the divorce practices learned from among the Egyptians and other pagans prior to and during the Exodus that corrupted the Hebrews and multiplied their adulteries.   The final element is the ritual animal sacrifice that atoned for personal iniquity on a daily basis, which ended shortly after the Mosaic covenant gave way to the Messianic covenant which shifted men’s moral responsibility to maintaining a pure heart in taking up their personal cross and following Him.    Not to love Jesus more than any possession or family relationship was now deemed to be idolatry, which was another for which one forfeited their inheritance in the kingdom of God.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
Scripture must always be interpreted in light of all other scripture on the same topic, and accomplished in such a way that there is no contradiction.    All canonized scripture is equally-inspired.  The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself.    Where there appears to be an inconsistency, disciplined investigation must continue until the source of the error is proven, and until scripture again aligns.   All of the relevant Old and New Testament scripture passages must be considered, and appropriate rigor demands that none be ignored as “analogy”, or dismissed as “hyperbole”.

The most relevant scriptures from Genesis to Revelation are:

Genesis 2:21-24  –  Matthew 19:6 is verbatim Genesis 2:24, but verses 21-23 give us even richer context.   The covenant wife of a man’s youth is “flesh of his flesh” and “bone of his bones” precisely because of God’s supernatural role in every holy matrimony joining.   God did not take a slab of ribs out of Adam, nor did He send Adam into a second sleep to supply a replacement when Eve did not turn out to be perfect.   There was no provision whatsoever for severing their one-flesh relationship except death.   That’s precisely why Jesus took the Pharisees back to the Garden, and why it wasn’t even necessary to say in the Pharisees’ hearing (because they already knew) the private elaboration He saved for His disciples, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;  and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

Exodus 20:14, 17  – the Ten Commandments were in effect a ketubah, the written evidence of an enduring covenant between Elohim and His chosen people.    In light of how Jesus redefined man’s notion of adultery, the seventh and tenth commandments also echo our understanding of Matthew 19:6.

Deuteronomy 22:13-22  – Under Mosaic law, the penalty for either adultery by a fully-consummated wife (verse 22), or fornication by a betrothed wife (verses 13-21) under a ketubah, was stoning, not dissolution of the marriage by dismissal.   This is fully consistent with the truth that death was required to unjoin one-flesh, which Moses fully understood.

Deuteronomy 22:23-29 – This passage demonstrates a situation where justice required that an unbetrothed virgin who was raped was made legally equivalent to a consummated wife, necessary because would now never be offered a ketubah, therefore was robbed of her opportunity to become one-flesh with a future husband.   Not only was her rapist required to marry her, but he could not divorce her all his days.   This was necessary because of the possibility that her rapist was already married, so without this provision, she might otherwise not be made equal with the one-flesh wife, but instead subject to the law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 –   Although the Pharisaical controversy with Jesus (and also the text of Malachi 2) shows that the system had broken down at some point, but under Moses, “divorce” constituted release from the ketubah, and was reserved for situations where supernaturally God-joined one-flesh did not yet exist, or could never exist (and not situations involving sexual immorality because that was defined in Deuteronomy 22).   Examples included:  “some indecency” or “some nakedness” such as an undisclosed disease in the bride that resulted in ongoing ritual uncleanness – such as leprosy or bleeding;  an unhappy concubine who had been captured in war;  subsequent spouses in polygamy;  too-close consanguinity, and the like.    The reason the husband could not take such a divorced wife back was because the marriage could never be lawful either before or after it occurred.   The obvious analogy with today is the non-covenant wife of remarriage adultery  who must be relinquished permanently in order for both spouses to have a chance to enter heaven.    [This is one passage that is rampantly abused by commentators and ministry leaders, and will be the subject of our next blog in the series.]

Jeremiah 3:1-14 –  This is the passage where the prophet draws an analogy between the covenant violation of adultery and the covenant violation of worshipping other gods (idolatry).   Because it seems to imply in verse 8 that God “divorced” Israel,  this is another widely-abused passage, both in terms of claims that God instituted and / or allows divorce,  and to justify replacement theology, our series will address this passage as well.   There is much to get into with word translation and context that we will cover at that time.   For now,  suffice it to say that the book of Revelation, as well as the march of 20th century history clearly demonstrates that God’s covenant marriage bond with Israel and Judah were violated but certainly not dissolved, and verse 14 is quite explicit in its corroboration of our understanding of indissolubility described in Matthew 19:6,
“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion….”

Hosea 1, 2 – In another prophetic analogy similar to Jeremiah, this prophet was told by God to marry a known prostitute.   The one-flesh joining occurred, despite her past, due to their vows before God.  Her return to prostitution after taking those vows did not dissolve their covenant, despite his anguished declaration (2:2),
For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband...”  nor did he have her stoned under Mosaic law, as he could have.   Instead, he buys her back from off the slave auction block, saying (2:14, 16, 19-20),

“…Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her…….It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord,   “That you will call Me Ishi  [husband]
And will no longer call Me Baali [master]….I will betroth you to Me forever;  Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.”

It is as if God set the extreme story of Hosea to show that no act of men dissolves the marriage covenant of our youth, nor unjoins one-flesh.

Ezra, chapters 9 and 10 –  Over 100 priests were found to have entered into prohibited marriages (perhaps even polygamously) to pagan women with whom they had many children.   The Lord commanded that they be sent away in order to purify the people and have the nation restored.   When a nation, and especially with the involvement of its spiritual leaders, becomes so evil as to trample the sanctity of life and marriage, God begins to demand drastic cleansing measures.  Some cite this passage as evidence that God allows divorce, especially if the spouse of one’s youth is not a believer.   The problem with that is Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 7: 12-13 to the contrary.   That instruction is based on the foundational fact that only  God can unjoin one-flesh.   However, in the instance of a prohibited marriage, it is not holy matrimony and God does not perform a one-flesh joining even if there are children born of the union.

Malachi 2:10-17 –  The Amplified Version brings in some important context that is not otherwise evident in the prophet’s rebuke of the adulterous priest(s) who were indeed guilty of remarriage adultery, of sending away an innocent one-flesh wife of their youth in order to “marry” a pagan woman, the identical situation that is so pervasive today.   God makes clear in verse 14 that He does not covenant with this second marriage, nor did he join them as one-flesh.   He is graphic about the human attempt to tear away,  or violently sever the one-flesh that Jesus says in Matthew 19:6 that only God can sever.   It is possible, as well, that Malachi is referring to false accusation that may have resulted in the wrongful stoning of an innocent covenant wife when Malachi speaks of “covering your garment with violence”,  and Jesus might have been alluding to the abuse of stoning when He spoke of hard hearts.   The term “shalach” used in 2:16 is literally “sending / putting away”,  but as we see in Deuteronomy,  the “get” (bill of divorcement) was reserved for other purposes than to dispose of a consummated one-flesh wife.
It is clear in this passage, that when God says He hates divorce (sending away),  He is speaking specifically of only the one-flesh spouse of our youth.

(Before turning to our comparison of New Testament passages, we pause to note what we’ve seen from scripture interpreting scripture,  the Pharisees who challenged Jesus were violating  God’s law from the beginning, as Jesus points out to them in Matthew 19:8.   Even in the Old Testament, there was never any true provision for sending away or abandoning a one-flesh spouse of one’s youth, consistently with all three “truth nuggets” gleaned above from  Matthew 19:6.   This is further supported by the fact that in all of the books of the Old Testament, we see a certain amount of polygamy, but we do not see one instance of “shalach” of a one-flesh consummated wife among those of any of the named figures of bible history except Vashti, the wife of the pagan King Xerxes in the book of Esther, until we come to the New Testament, where we see Herod directly rebuked by the Holy Spirit as an adulterer.)

Matthew 1:24-25 –   Mary was a betrothed wife under ketubah during the Roman occupation of Palestine, during which stoning for adultery or fornication was deprived of the Jews to carry out, so his option according to the post-Mosaic rabbinical tradition was “shalach“, which he purposed to do quietly, not wanting to disgrace her.   When the angel of the Lord commanded him to take her as his wife rather than issue her a “get” sending her away, he obeyed but kept her a virgin until Jesus was born.   As a result, though the ceremony took place, it is possible the one-flesh joining was delayed by God in this instance.   But why did God choose a betrothed mother and not an unattached virgin?    Perhaps it was so that we would have a well-known example through the ages to understand the importance of Hebrew betrothal to Jesus’ role as our unconditionally faithful Bridegroom.   Jesus subsequently gained several brothers whose biological father was Joseph.

Matthew 5:27-32 –  the key theme of the Sermon on the Mount was that Jesus was ushering in a new covenant, where no longer would there be animal sacrifices and external atonement for sin, nor the law to grudgingly fall short of, but obedience was to flow from the heart out of love and gratitude for His taking our place, and suffering the punishment we deserved.   Therefore, the Mosaic law was being superseded, especially the 613 sundry Pharisaical rules and the bulk of the Mosaic laws, in favor of a much higher standard:  love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.    No more eye for an eye , tooth for a tooth.  No more taking our own revenge or loving only those who love us.   We were no longer to allow sin to form even in our hearts.   Jesus redefined adultery as lustful thoughts, and murder as hateful, angry thoughts.   Against this backdrop, how is it even possible to seek to terminate a one-flesh God-joining for any reason?   How could such hate be committed against one’s own children?    A word of clarity is necessary concerning verse 32:

ἐγὼ δὲ   λέγω  ὑμῖν     ὅτι     πᾶς   ὁ       ἀπολύων                            τὴν
I however say to you that everyone “from-loosing”[dismissing] the

γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ  παρεκτὸς         λόγου       πορνείας
wife     of him      except for     a report of prostitution / whoredom

ποιεῖ   αὐτὴν      μοιχευθῆναι                        καὶ      ὃς         ἐὰν
causes   her      to commit adultery              and   whoever if

ἀπολελυμένην                                 γαμήσῃ               μοιχᾶται
her having been divorced        shall marry     commits adultery.

Why did Jesus say it was entering into a state of adultery  for a man to marry a woman who had been put away?    Was it not because she was still joined as one-flesh to her true husband, a condition that only God, not men, could unjoin?    Why does putting her away cause her to commit adultery?   Is it not for the very same reason Jesus stated in Matthew 19:6, that they would never again be two, once joined by God?     Note, too, that contemporary English translations make an unsupported word substitution for “porneia” (rendering it as “sexual immorality”)  when the original usage was much more specific than that.   Lastly, it should be noted Jesus referred to  “porneia”  (whoredom) and “moicheia” (adultery) as two separate and distinct sexual sins, not only here, but also in  Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21, as well as Matthew 19:9.    Paul did likewise in
1 Corinthian 6:9-10  and Galatians 5:19-21.    All of the above is consistent with the truth Jesus stated in Matthew 19:6, that man has no power to dissolve holy matrimony for any reason, by any act short of dying, and cannot unjoin what God has joined.   We can see that construing Matthew 5:32 as creating an adultery exception permitting one to divorce and remarry  causes the verse to contradict all other marriage scriptures except (on the surface) Matthew 19:9.

Matthew 14:3-4; Mark 6:17-18  –  These are the two  accounts of John the Baptist openly rebuking the adulterous divorces and remarriage of Herod and Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.    On what basis was John justified in making that charge if either civil divorce or adultery dissolved holy matrimony?    Note that even though they were both pagans, as presumably both of their true spouses were, God still irrevocably joined them as one-flesh to their respective true spouses.   Jesus highly commended John the Baptist for taking the stand that he did.

Matthew 19:8 –  “…Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so….”     Jesus is reiterating exactly what He said two verses earlier, that flesh-of-a-man’s-flesh and bone-of-his-bones cannot be unjoined by man,  a foundational truth from the Creation account, Genesis 2:21-23.

Matthew 19:9  –  This is the second most abused scripture in the New Testament when it comes to the sanctity of marriage, right after 1 Corinthians 7:15 (see below).   Both will be the subject of future installments to come.  If you click on the scripture’s link, please pay very careful attention to the footnotes at bottom.    These “manuscripts”, almost dismissively referred to, are the very ones rejected by revisionist translators Westcott & Hort.   Added back to Matthew 19:9 they cause this passage to read the same as Matt. 5:32 and Luke 16:18, with the concluding phrase casting serious doubt on the notion that “except for fornication” reasonably refers to a post-wedding state of sin.   The footnotes also show that “fornication” (“prostitution” or “whoredom” in pre-1800’s translations) was changed to the more fungible “immorality” in this version.

Matthew 19: 10-12 –  After Jesus offended the Pharisees’ carnal line of questioning by slamming the door shut on divorce and remarriage as being something tolerable in the kingdom of God, His incredulous and stunned disciples confronted Him privately in the house, where He delivered the hard word in Matthew 19:9 / Mark 10:10-12.   We know that Jesus was not stating an exception for adultery because this was the accepted position of the school of Shammai, and would have triggered no controversy whatsoever with the twelve.   Their response, “it is better not to marry”  (if there’s no way holy matrimony can be dissolved by men) is once again perfectly consistent with our understanding of Matthew 19:6.     Jesus then spoke of three types of eunuchs:  those born that way, those who have been emasculated, and those separated from a one-flesh spouse who may not remarry for the sake of the kingdom of God, which directly follows from His straightforward message in Matthew 19:6.

Mark 10: 1-12 – This is the parallel account of the same event as Matthew 19: 1-12, but addressed to a mixed-gender Gentile audience.    The key verse is 10:11-12,  “And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”     John Mark, nephew of Barnabas was not present for this event,  but was Peter’s companion and ministry partner, thereby learning of it from Peter who was present.   Whatever Jesus said in that house following the exchange with the Pharisees was obviously made so strong an impression on Peter that his young disciple felt it applied equally to both genders, overcoming the traditional patriarchal bias of the Mosaic law, and dispensing with any exception whatsoever.  

Luke 16:16-31 –  This is one of the two passages where Jesus is commending John the Baptist, martyr and rebuker of remarriage adultery, just before He delivers an exceptionless rebuke of divorce and remarriage, stating for the third time that to marry a person who has been put away by a spouse is entering into an ongoing state of adultery.    On what basis?   On the basis that they are attempting to marry someone who is still joined as one-flesh to their true spouse, and violating an indissoluble covenant according to what He said in Matthew 19:6.    Immediately following this, Jesus goes into a vivid description of hell, describing the rich man who lived for self and received his reward in full during his life on earth while others suffered under his feet.   Coincidence or design, is Jesus’ account?

Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39  –  Two pronouncements of Paul, echoing each other, that only death dissolves the covenant of holy matrimony and frees a previously married person to marry another.    On what basis was Paul saying this, if not Matthew 19:6, and the other exceptionless instances where Jesus is calling marriage to a divorced person adultery?

1 Cor 6:1-8; 15-20 –  In addition to flatly stating that ongoing, unrepentant adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God,
1 Corinthians 6 forbids using the pagan civil court system to avoid the godly authority of church leadership, and very importantly, it contrasts the constitutional differences between the permanent, supernatural God-joining of holy matrimony with the transitory carnal joining of an unlawful, immoral relationship.   It describes slavery to the wrong thing, lust and idolatry, as well as the sin of bodily dragging Jesus into the immorality.   If we’re bought with a price by the Bridegroom, and our bodies are not our own to do as we please,  the basis is also Matthew 19:6.

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 –  This chapter addresses various groups in the church body, including “the married”,  reiterating that separation and divorce is not an option, but if separation occurs, the spouses are to remain celibate or they are to reconcile.   They are not to seek separation due to a difference in faith,  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband.”   This is as much an allusion to the one-flesh state that exists between them as it is to godly daily influence.   The instruction not to obstruct a spouse from departing who cannot abide the believing spouse’s discipleship has little to do with other causes of marital rupture, and the reference to the believing spouse not being bound refers to their freedom to follow Christ rather than a dissolution of the marriage bond.    All of this is perfectly consistent with Matthew 19:6.   (The pervasive abuse of verse 15 will be the subject of another blog in the series.)

1 Corinthians 7: 26-27 –  Another commonly-abused scripture in the same passage is used to justify remaining in a civil marriage that Jesus called adulterous.    Paul instructed those in the Corinthian church, in light of the persecution they were suffering, to remain as they were “called”,  meaning the state they were in when converted to Christ, also referring to slavery a few verses above.   However, verse 25 specifically addresses this to the virgins, and is once again referring to the kiddushin betrothal.    Therefore, his references to “wife” are mixed.    In the case of an indissoluble covenant with the wife of one’s youth, one is always “called” in the married state and required to cease and repudiate any accompanying state of sin.     The foundation for saying that one is called in the married state, not to a spouse of serial polygamy but to the covenant one-flesh spouse is, of course, Matthew 19:6 (also Luke 16:18  and Mark 10:11-12).

Eph 5:28-32 –   This passage is one of the clearest possible elaborations of the one-flesh relationship that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 19:6.   Paul goes so far to say that however a man treats his one-flesh companion, he is treating his own body.   From there Paul reiterates the symbolism of holy matrimony as depicting Christ’s relationship with His body, the church.

1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6 –  Both of these passages forbid a man from serving in church leadership who is the husband of more than one wife, that is, one who has married another after putting away a wife, since Jesus defined this practice in Matt. 5:32b, Matt. 19:9b and Luke 16:18b as adultery.    Allowing a remarriage adulterer to serve as a pastor sets an immoral example which then attacks the families of that church who would emulate the pastor’s example.   Violating Paul’s clear instruction has also has historically polluted official church doctrine, from the Anglicans to the Assemblies of God, as humanistic impulses put the Matthew 19:6 commandment of Christ to a popular vote of the clergy in the 17th and 20th centuries, respectively.

Romans 13:1-2, 6-7Matthew 16:19; Acts 5:28-30 –  Some Christians will refute our disciplined interpretation of Matt. 19:6 by using Romans 13 to argue for the “validity” of civil divorce as “dissolving” holy matrimony.    They are correct that civil divorce dissolves unions of whatever type that God did not join and covenant with.   “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God….for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.  Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”        But did God ever grant the regulation of holy matrimony into civil government’s remit?   Matthew 19:6 directly states otherwise, by the mouth of Jesus!

The Roman Catholic Church claims authority to “annul” marriages, citing Matthew 16:19,  “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”     Yet, Jesus could not have been plainer, “therefore what God has joined, let NO MAN separate.”

As now with the legalization of both sodomous and serially-polygamous /  adulterous unions by the civil authorities, there arises a need for fearing and obeying God above men, even to the extent of civil disobedience and suffering civil consequences.    Peter and the apostles were rebuked and threatened for preaching the gospel:
“We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”  But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.”   
In
deed, the rebuked adulterer Herod was the governing authority,  yet John the Baptist put his and his adulteress’ souls above the civil law, fully willing to suffer for doing right, and was highly commended by Jesus for it .    Are we going recognize homosexual “marriages”, along with adulterous ones because “there’s no authority except as established by God?”   St. Augustine (echoed by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail)  stated, “an immoral law is no law at all.”

[“Standerinfamilycourt”  has endeavored to include in the COMPARISON step all of the scriptures commonly used (misused, actually) to negate or undermine the unpalatable message from Jesus in Matthew 19:6, however if such a scripture has been overlooked,  the reader is encouraged to use the Comments section of this blog to bring it to our attention.]

 

The Principle of CONSULTATION
Whom is it most appropriate to consult on the authority of scripture which condemns man’s attempts to dissolve holy matrimony and to “sanctify” marriage to another while still having a living one-flesh spouse?     Due to the carnality of man which tends to escalate over time, that is a very important question which requires a strong knowledge of church history to reliably answer.    Hopefully, we’ve made it clear with indisputable evidence up to this point exactly where Jesus and the Apostles (including Paul) stood.   They discipled the next generation of followers of The Way, who in turn discipled the successive generations of the ante-Nicene church fathers.   It makes sense therefore to start the consultation with the writings of those who knew the Apostles (for example, Luke and Mark), and with those whom the next generation  discipled.

We need to be a bit skeptical while consulting theologian commentators from the time  of the Reformation forward when it comes to this topic.    Some will be biased in defense of the heretical Westminster Confession of Faith, which dominated mainline Protestant Churches from the 17th century, and others will be swayed by the tampering with word translations that began to occur in the lexicons published after the latter half of the 19th century.    On this basis, an equal number of later scholars will refute and discredit the many writings of the disciples of the Apostles, literally lapsing into “Reverend All-Wet” mode, and only superficially applying the  principles of disciplined hermeneutics  that we’ve just stepped through together.    For example, in convoluted fashion they’ll say that “scripture cannot contradict itself”,  so since “most scholars agree” (a presumption based on confirmation bias — and a weakened, distorted application of the COMPARISON principle that completely bypasses application of both the CONTEXT and  CULTURE principles) …that porneia “should always be” translated as “sexual immorality”,  all of the many scriptures that refute this must therefore be interpreted as not universally authoritative, and the church fathers should be dismissed as “flawed” asceticists.   Two free downloadable scholarly books are available, here and here, that will be very helpful in carrying out the CONSULTATION step for almost every scripture we’ll be examining in this series.   Our Church Fathers and Church Wolves series will also be historically helpful.

Here’s what several of the early church fathers and other bible commentators had to say on this topic of the indissolubility of holy matrimony:

Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D)
And, “Whoever shall marry her who is divorced from another husband, commits adultery.”   And, “There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake; but all cannot receive this saying.”  So that all who by human law, are twice married, are in the eye of our Master sinners, and those who look upon a woman to lust after her.

Hermas (circa 160 A.D.)
And I said to him, “Sir, if any one has a wife who trusts in the Lord, and if he detect her in adultery, does the man sin if he continues to live with her?”  And he said to me, “As long as he remains ignorant of her sin, the husband commits no transgression in living with her.  But if the husband knows that his wife has gone astray, and if the woman does not repent, but persists in her sin, and the husband continues to live with her, he also is guilty of her crime, and a sharer in her adultery.”  And I said to him, “What then, sir, is the husband to do if she continues in her vicious practices?”  And he said, “The husband should put her away and remain by himself.  But if he put her away and marries another, he also commits adultery.”

Theophilus (circa 170-190 A.D.)
“And he that marries”, says [the Gospel] , “her that is divorced from her husband commits adultery; and whoever puts away his wife**, saving for the cause of fornication, cause her to commit adultery.”   Because Solomon says: “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Or can one walk across hot coals and his feet not be burned?  So he that goes into a married woman will not be innocent.”      (**Recall that “wife” in the Gospel also referred to a betrothed legal wife who was the only type of “wife” who could commit fornication rather than adultery.)

Athenagoras (177 A.D.)
For we bestow our attention; not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions, that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery.   “For whoever puts away his wife,” says He, “and marries another commits adultery;” not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to marry again.

Clement of Alexandria (circa 215 A.D.)
Now that the scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication,” and it regards as adultery the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.   The Church cannot marry another, having obtained a bridegroom;  each of us individually has a right to marry the woman he wishes according to the law; I mean here first marriage.

Tertullian ( circa 160-220 A.D.)
A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commits any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage?    Such is God’s verdict, within narrower limits than men’s, that universally, whether through marriage or promiscuously, the admission of a second man to intercourse is pronounced adultery to Him...so true, moreover, is it that divorce “was not from the beginning,” that among the Romans it is not until the six hundredth year from the building of the city that this kind of “hard heartedness” is set down as having been committed.  But they indulge in promiscuous adulteries, even without divorcing their partners: to us, even if we do divorce them, even marriage will not be lawful.

Council of Arles, 314 A.D.
Of those who discover their wives in adultery and are young Christians and are forbidden to marry, it was determined that they be most strongly advised not to take other wives while their own live, though they be adulterous.

Gregory Nanzianzen (circa 325-389 A.D.)
For I think the word here seems to deprecate second marriage.  For, if there were two Christs, there may be two husbands or two wives; but if Christ is One, one Head of the Church, let there also be one flesh, let the second be rejected…now the [civil] Law grants divorce for every cause, but Christ not for every cause; but He allows only separation from the whore; and in all other things He commands patience.

Ambrose of Milan (333-397 A.D.)
Therefore, the right to marry is given you, lest ye fall into a snare and sin with a strange woman.  Ye are bound to your wife; do not seek release because you are not permitted to marry another while your wife lives.

John Chrysostom (circa 347-407 A.D.)
‘Let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.’….’What then if he will never be reconciled?’ one may ask.   You have one more mode of release and deliverance.  What is that?  Await his death.  For as the (consecrated) virgin may not marry because her Spouse always lives, and is immortal; so to her who has been married it is then only lawful [to remarry] when her husband is dead.

Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Jerome (circa 340-420 A.D.)
The apostle has cut away every plea and has clearly declared that, if a woman marries again while her husband is living, she is an adulteress.   You must not speak to me of the violence of a ravisher,  a mother’s pleading, a father’s bidding, the influence of relatives, the insolence and the intrigues of servants, household losses.   A husband may be an adulterer,  a sodomite, he may be stained with every crime and may have been left by his wife for his sins; yet he is still her husband as long as he lives; she may not marry another.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.)
It cannot be correctly affirmed either that the husband who puts away his wife because of immorality and marries another does not commit adultery.   For there is adultery, also, on the part of those who marry others after the repudiation of their former wives because of immorality…If everyone who marries another woman after the dismissal of his wife commits adultery, this includes one who puts away his wife without cause of immorality and the one who puts away his wife for this reason.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

FB profile 7xtjw   SIFC Note:   All of the above quotes are from  Daniel R. Jennings, “Except for Fornication – Why Evangelicals Must Reevaluate Their Interpretation of Matthew’s Divorce Exception Clause” (2011)
Sean Multimedia (www.seanmultimedia.com).
The remainder of the commentaries, cited below, are courtesy of www. biblehub.com.

R.A. Torrey (circa 1890)  – Moody Bible Institute
RATorrey

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
Wherefore they are no more twain,…. They were two before marriage, but now no more so; not but that they remain two distinct persons,

but one flesh; or, as the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read, “one body”: hence the wife is to beloved by the husband as his own body, as himself, as his own flesh, Ephesians 5:28.

what therefore God hath joined together; or, by the first institution of marriage, has declared to be so closely united together, as to be, as it were, one flesh, and one body, as husband and wife are;

let no man put asunder; break the bond of union, dissolve the relation, and separate them from each other, for every trivial thing, upon any slight occasion, or for anything; but what is hereafter mentioned. The sense is, that the bond of marriage being made by God himself, is so sacred and inviolable, as that it ought not to be dissolved by any man; not by the husband himself, or any other for him; nor by any state or government, by any prince or potentate, by any legislator whatever; no, not by Moses himself, who is, at least, included, if not chiefly designed here, though not named, to avoid offence: and God and man being opposed in this passage, shows, that marriage is an institution and appointment of God, and therefore not to be changed and altered by man at his pleasure; this not merely a civil, but a sacred affair, in which God is concerned.

Pulpit Commentary
Verse 6.
Wherefore (ὥστε); so that. This follows from the quotation just given. Our Lord explains and confirms the original dictum by an assertion of his own and a general law. What God hath joined together. The institution of marriage is God’s appointment. Christ says ο{, what, neuter singular, not “those whom,” plural and concrete, that he may make it clear that he is here speaking in the abstract, not specially of Adam and Eve. What he enunciates is true of all wedlock, not simply of the case of our first parents. Let not man put asunder. Man does thus infringe the primitive rule when he divorces his with. Herein he opposes God and acts against nature. He and his wife are one; they can no more separate from one another than they can from themselves. If we regard our Lord’s language in this passage without prejudice, and not reading into it modern notions, we must consider that he here decrees the indissolubility of the marriage tie. His hearers plainly understood him so to speak, as we see from the objection which they urged.

Bengel’s Gnomen
Matthew 19:6. οὐκ ἔτι εἰσὶ, they are no more) They are now no longer two, as they were before.—δύο, two) We should not understand σάρκες, fleshes (carnes): for in Matthew 19:5 we find οἱ δύο (the two, they twain).—, that which (quod), not , those which (quae): for they are now one flesh.—συνέζευεξεν, hath joined together) hath made one.—ἄνθρωπος, man) see Matthew 19:3.—μὴ, κ.τ.λ., let not, etc.) The principle here involved admits of a widely extended application: what GOD hath separated, commanded, conceded, prohibited, blessed, praised, loosed, bound, etc., let not Man join together, prohibit, forbid, command, curse, blame, bind, loose, etc., not even in his own case; see Acts 10:15; Numbers 23:8; Romans 14:3; Romans 14:20.—χωριζέτω, put asunder) In every case of sexual connection, either God hath joined the two, or He hath not joined them: if He hath not joined them, their connection is unlawful; if He hath joined them, why are they separated?

To be sure, there are commentaries, Ellicott’s and Meyers’ for two examples, on Matthew 19:6 that comport with the Lutheran / Calvinist  (revisionist) view of holy matrimony being an “ideal” rather than a commandment, and with it being dissolved by the act of adultery, and by the decree of men.   However, this view as we’ve shown, is not supported by either church history nor by the vast body of scripture, nor by what the Lord repeatedly stated.

The United States of America was established, with the Lord’s help, as a nation dedicated to the freedom of men to pursue the kingdom of God, beginning in their homes.   Unlike Europe, to whom the Protestant Reformers handed off to the state the power to regulate that which belonged exclusively to God, civil marriage licenses did not begin to be instituted by state and local governments for nearly 100 years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified.    Morality was elevated and there developed a tradition that the family was sovereign and sacrosanct, and as a result,  God’s extreme favor rested on our nation.    Our forefathers likewise established their  hill to die on, the alienable right of conscience and to the free exercise of religious conviction in awe-filled reverence toward the word of God.

 

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;   Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.    1 Peter 2:9

 

 

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

 

 


From the Book, “Looking Back 25 Years” by Bob Steinkamp

SteinkampBook
transcribed by Standerinfamilycourt

This has been a favorite devotional from the returned prodigal husband who remarried his covenant wife, Charlyne, then founded Rejoice Marriage Ministries with her nearly 30 years ago.   The Steinkamps  have sustained, prayed for and coached thousands of covenant couples, seeing a very large percentage of them through to reconciled and restored marriages.   Bob graduated to heaven in December, 2010.   To the best of our knowledge, this devotional has not been featured so far in Charlyne Cares, perhaps because it’s more of a commentary than a devotional.   We think it’s still worth sharing.

(Rev. Steinkamp, who served as an auxiliary police officer:)

…One of the great fears of many standers is their prodigal spouse will never be obedient to God.   That can be illustrated by another law enforcement device, spike strips.

Almost weekly on the new we see police pursuits.  Let’s compare a prodigal on the run from God to a felon on the run from the police.

The first contact with a fleeing felon might be when a police officer pulls in behind a suspect vehicle, turns on the lights and attempts to make a stop.

Every prodigal who has left home does so while looking in the emotional rear view mirror.    They want to know who has seen what they just did.   An officer “lighting up” a suspect might be compared to God signaling a prodigal to stop what they are doing.

Even though it cannot be done, fleeing felons and fleeing prodigals often think they can do so without being caught.  As the pursuit increases, both felons and prodigals feel they will not be caught.  Watching a police chase on television from an aerial view as the subject drives without knowing where they are going is the same as many prodigals.

A major concern in a police chase is not to endanger the lives of innocent people.   Fleeing prodigals, just like fleeing felons show a total disregard for the welfare of others, namely their spouse and children.  God must look on the actions of us prodigals with a broken heart as we refuse to stop.

Finally someone makes a decision that the police chase must end.  Some distance ahead of the pursuit, the road is cleared and spike strips are readied.   A sturdy rope-type device holds multiple sharp spikes, designed to flatten the tires on the subject vehicle.  The spike strip is deployed just in front of the approaching vehicle.

God also has spiritual spike strips that He allows to be deployed in front of prodigals, if other efforts to have them stopped have failed.  I dare not give illustrations lest someone feel I am using their family as an example.

In police chases, we often see a vehicle driving on the rims, with all four tires flattened and even the rubber on the tire gone.  Prodigals can hit the spike strips of life and then continue running on the rims in the far country.

It is not uncommon to see a police chase coming to an end with the suspect starting to run on foot, and then suddenly surrendering to authorities.  We  know prodigals who run and run, and then suddenly give up.   In fact, that is what happened to me.    My running came to an end as I surrendered to my God and came home to my stander.

What is the real deal of a stander?   Someone just like you who, regardless of what today brought, is ready to put that all behind them by the shed Blood of Jesus, spend time with God, and then get up tomorrow as certain as ever that God is going to do just as He promised and restore your marriage.  To God be the glory!

Real deal standers are not Christians who are perfect.   They are people who can admit they are imperfect but who love and serve a God Who is always perfect.    Real deal standers depend not on Bob or Charlyne, nor on this or any Ministry to keep them standing strong.   They depend on God.

Dear stander, go fight the spiritual battle one more day with the weapons of God.   After that, fight the next battle and the one after that, always keeping one eye on your front walk to see if your prodigal is on the way home.

Your family restored, with everyone loving and serving Jesus, prepared to be with Him for eternity, is the real deal.

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www. standerinfamilycourt.com