Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh.
When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’ He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.
There are those so deeply wounded by the disintegration of morality, culture and society that they don’t join the rest of us in believing that the arrival of the Messianic Covenant through Christ’s baptism, ministry, death and resurrection is such a good thing. Perhaps they didn’t get the memo that the Mosaic Covenant was only conditional (with Israel and Judah both flunking the test) and was established on a temporary basis, to be fully replaced by a far superior unconditional covenant that cannot be broken by God, no matter how many times we humans fail to keep up our end. You cannot tell these people this, however — and we’ve exhaustively tried, Lord knows! If they accept the idea of the Messianic Covenant completely replacing the Mosaic Covenant at all, they insist that it wasn’t in effect until after Christ’s resurrection, therefore He couldn’t possibly have been abrogating any part of the law of Moses, especially the part where Jesus flatly stated that it is not possible for men to dissolve holy matrimony, nor has it ever been possible for men to do so. (Matthew 19:6,8)
These folks are easy enough to spot. They read the Sermon on the Mount as though Matt. 5:17 is the only verse contained therein. They piously call El Elyon, “YAH”, and behave as though it’s an unspeakable abomination for the rest of us uncircumcised Philistines to do otherwise. Whereas, Jesus ben Joseph repeatedly told the assembled crowd on the hill, “it is written….BUT I SAY UNTO YOU…” on everything from taking one’s own revenge, to adultery and divorce, to character assassination and swearing oaths, their synthesized “Yashua” couldn’t possibly have contradicted Moses, nor have countermanded that rock-striker with any higher authority which abrogated one jot or tittle of Mosaic regulations. They are all things Jewish at all times, except when it comes to kiddushin tradition and the ketubah (curiously enough).
To date, we’ve discovered that these neo-Judaizers come in two varieties, both of which stand in utter rebellion to Christ’s authority to change the morals of marriage (more accurately, to enforce what was from the beginning, from the Garden, but was distorted over the centuries following Moses’ death by the same sort of Pharisees.)
The Paperwork Crowd
The first group insists that Jesus was not re-establishing the absolute, no-excuses prohibition on divorce and remarriage that the Pharisees had ignored from Malachi’s mouth. Citing Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jeremiah 3:8 and Isaiah 50:1, they claim that’s it’s simply a matter of not “neglecting the paperwork”, whereby they claim (without scriptural support) that the holy matrimony bond is “dissolved” by said paper. We’ll take a closer look at that theory in a moment. This group rejects outright what Jesus said in Matthew 19:6, 8 and Paul echoed in Romans 7:2-3 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 about the holy matrimony not being severable by any act of men other than physical death. They are, in effect, creating a state of serial polygamy based on Torah, while not necessarily embracing the practice of concurrent polygamy.
The Polygyny Crowd
The second group says it is not necessary to disobey God and divorce the wife of your youth in order to take another because there’s supposedly no prohibition against men who are not clergy taking more than one wife in concurrent polygamy. They, of course point to Abraham, Jacob, Elkanah, David and Solomon, and make a couple of unsupported claims about Old Testament saints, including the prophets Ezra and Hosea. This group mostly accepts that holy matrimony bonds are indissoluble by men, but they refuse to accept Christ’s description in Matthew 19:6 and Paul’s echoing description in Ephesians 5:31 that the one-flesh state is supernatural and instantaneous (instead of gradual and physical), created only by God, and exists only with one living partner at a time, one’s first (or covenant) partner, until death.
( SIFC: Our “hat-tip” to Jan, a commenter on one of our previous blog posts for this example link. Whenever we link to heretical pieces like this, we do so with much fear and trembling, but we believe most readers are readily able to see that in five tedious installments, this ear-tickling blogger utterly failed to prove that polygyny is “biblical” with actual scripture, as opposed to mere narrative examples, in a way that overcomes all that Jesus and Paul taught to the contrary. He makes several unsupported historical statements as well.)
Normally, when we have debunked the appeals to Old Testament polygamy in the past, it was in response to conventional Christians seeking to rationalize remarriage adultery, a la David and Bathsheba. They personally have no intent to engage in concurrent polygamy themselves. They much prefer the serial variety of polygamy as their way of avoiding taking up the cross of Christ and carrying it, when the secular dissolution machine purports to “dissolve” their covenant marriage, or when they wish that machine really had the power to do so, due to some actual or perceived deficiency in the spouse of their youth. Obviously, most of the same scriptural principles apply, regardless of the motives for appealing to Old Testament polygamy practices, except that in the conventional group they infer that the “permission” or “grace” is on a unisex basis, when in fact, it’s Christ’s absolute prohibition that is on a unisex basis. (But those are volatile “fighting words” to the randy Judaizer who is the actual subject of this post, who insists that the rules of morality remain looser for men than for women, since it’s hard to deny that they were so under Moses.)
So, to what type of person are these cultish Torah-based twin theories more attractive than the gospel and commandments of Jesus Christ? We have a pretty good feel for this, because so many of them have trolled our pages from their earliest days, challenging our message. Most of them are young males whose covenant wife has unilaterally divorced them for another man. They feel humiliated (one even referred to himself as “cuckolded”) and feel the only way to rectify that humiliation is to enter into an adulterous relationship in retaliation. Only, that offends their spirituality, so they shop for a system that accommodates their lust “scripturally”. When you inform them that their covenant marriage tie is only severed by death, not their wife’s court papers, you hear, “that’s OK, she divorced me, I didn’t divorce her. I now have a second wife by common law, and my bible says it’s OK since she (#2) has never been another man’s wife.” They point out that because women were made by God for men, and not the other way around, men have more liberty to replace their wife than women have to replace their husband. They insist that adultery by men has always been defined according to Deuteronomy, as marrying another man’s estranged wife, while adultery for women is defined as remarrying at all (since Jesus didn’t specifically say “whoever marries a divorced man commits adultery.”)
The polygyny heresy also appeals to a handful of wounded women. Typically they are young women standing for their covenant marriage which is intact but hanging by a thread, whose husband won’t live with them (or has threatened to abandon them) unless they tolerate his ongoing adultery with this second “wife” with whom he’s cohabiting. These women are being literally blackmailed emotionally, and they so lack in a real relationship with the Bridegroom that their lecherous husband remains their idol. Finding false comfort in “Torah” seems less demanding than persevering in the spiritual battle of prayer and fasting necessary to wrestle their husband out of his lascivious self-worship.
In an even stranger twist, we recently encountered an adult child raised in a remarriage adultery home whose parent is now under conviction to divorce out of that immoral union, and remain unmarried or be reconciled to their covenant spouse. This child is resentful of the repenting divorce, and since the genders fit, is insisting that the second “marriage” isn’t adulterous because Jesus “never condemned polygyny.” With more false teachers cutting heretic videos and posting them to youtube (such as this one – who needs to publicly apologize for his recent “public apology”), and as the numbers of repenting prodigals continues to grow, the emotional upheaval experienced by their young adult children is likely to cause us to see even more deceived Torah observers.
A closer look at the “paperwork” heresy….
Adherents to this theory claim that with what Matthew quoted Jesus as saying in chapters 5 and 19, He was only condemning the “putting away” of the wife of one’s youth if she was not given a certificate of divorce so that she would be legally and morally able to remarry. According to them, Jesus was counting it “cruel” not to leave the rejected wife in a position to have another husband. They base this theory on what they claim is a difference in word usage, i.e. that the Hebrew “shalach” / Greek “apoluo” is immoral abandonment or enslavement to polygyny which exploits the wife, but the Hebrew “kerithuth” / Greek “apostasion” is the “compassionate divorce” of which Jesus “approves.” They are fond of claiming that Jesus only used the term “shalach” when condemning divorce and calling subsequent remarriage adultery, since the Greek translated word is “apoluo” in the passages of the three gospels that recorded His teaching on this.
It should be readily apparent what is wrong with this heresy without going too deeply into the word study, but we’ll do so anyway.
Here is an inventory of all the Hebrew and Greek words for “divorce” or “putting away” used in either the Old or New Testaments, along with their bible dictionary meanings.
Sharon further points out that in Graeco-Roman society, a document was not strictly necessary for civil dissolution. This information might reasonably be seen as supporting the theory that Jesus was rebuking this practice, but here are the top ten reasons it’s more clear that this was NOT Christ’s intended message:
10. Jesus was speaking in either Aramaic or Hebrew when He delivered this message, not Greek, to which His words were later translated. We do not have the Hebrew manuscript, only the Greek translation, but even so….
9. As noted by the asterisks (*) in the chart above, Jesus apparently used the Hebrew equivalents of BOTH terms in each of the Matthew passages, as well as the Mark 10 passage, based on the same logic as 10. and the translated Greek words that appear there….
8. Which would make perfect sense, inasmuchas “shalach” is the verb or action, and “kerithuth” is (properly speaking) the instrument by which the “shalach” is carried out in Hebrew culture.
7. The entire context of Matthew 5:31-32 is being shamelessly ignored by this “putting away” theory:
“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 adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
(Notice that Jesus did not say, “whoever marries a divorced woman who lacks a writ of divorcement commits adultery.” Also notice that no marriage can possibly be half-adulterous. If it’s adulterous for the gander, it’s equally adulterous for the (adequately-papered) goose and vice-versa. “BUT I SAY TO YOU” should speak for itself coming from the mouth of Jesus Christ.)
6. Ditto for the entire context of Matthew 19:8-9, which we’ll have to look at in the King James Version due to bible translation fraud in all the contemporary English versions….
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but FROM THE BEGINNING IT WAS NOT [ever] SO. And I SAY UNTO YOU, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
5. Matthew makes it clear to the unbiased reader that Jesus was neither agreeing with Rabbi Hillel nor with Rabbi Shammai, per the disciples’ astounded reaction in verse 10, yet this heresy would actually be confirming both erring Pharisees.
The disciples *said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”
4. That said, women were never empowered under Hebrew law to issue a “get” or a writ of divorcement, but that doesn’t stop the neo-Judaizers from insisting that this heresy applies equally to both genders.
3. One of the professed justifications of this paperwork theory is that Jesus purportedly agreed with Moses that it was “inhumane” to prevent a repudiated, discarded wife from finding another husband. This is in direct conflict with Matthew 19:12.
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.
(The T.O.’s would naturally argue here that with the proper paperwork, there’s still a loophole for those who are unable to “accept this”. )
2. While it’s clear the only verse in Matthew 5 the T.O.’s are “feeling” is verse 17, this heresy denies the entire context of Christ’s abrogation of less-than-moral, less-than-holy Mosaic regulations of every type, and His intrinsic authority to change the rules.
…and finally, the Number 1 reason Jesus never said people could “paper over” their covenant-breaking…
1. The paperwork heresy directly conflicts with the Creational truth Jesus called us back to in Matthew 19:6, bypassing Moses altogether:
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
Man’s paper never severs the one-flesh state. Only death does that.
…And, a closer look at the polygyny heresy:
Today’s neo-Judaizers are indeed correct about one thing, at least: Centuries of Hebrew natural law permitted polygyny while forbidding polyandry. Bloodlines and inheritance were important issues in Hebrew society, as was the importance of male heirs to continue the family line. It does not follow from this, however, that Jesus agreed with Moses, nor does it follow that He did not radically change the sexual morality necessary to claim an inheritance in the kingdom of God. It was He, after all, who bluntly stated:
For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
As pointed out in an earlier post, 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.”
None of this stops those who push the serial polygamy of legalized adultery from appealing to the concurrent polygyny system of ancient Hebrew society, while being so bold as to seek to justify adulterous remarriage equally for both genders while their covenant spouses still live!
We should understand that as morally repugnant as concurrent polygamy is, it is legalized adultery without the additional immoralities of economic abandonment and ongoing unforgiveness that is intrinsic to serial polygamy.
For some time, we’ve been following the case of the Mormon polygamous family featured on the reality show “Sister Wives” because, emboldened by the immoral state and Federal court rulings that installed sodomous “marriage” as a protected legal status, they brought a religious discrimination lawsuit seeking to change the bigamy laws of the state where they reside. This case appeared to have much stronger constitutional merit than the gay cases, but just this past week the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the appeal from a lower court who tossed the case because they said that Kody Brown was in no danger of being arrested due to general non-enforcement of the relevant laws in that state. Had it gone the other way, the Mormons and the Muslims would soon lead the way for the final destruction of U.S. society as we’ve known it. The legalized adulterers who glibly appeal to this system to justify their own sinful state will have received far more than they bargained for, were it not for God’s extreme mercy to the nation this week.
It actually turns out that the #1 slap-down of the polygyny heresy is the same as that for the “paperwork” heresy discussed above. When confronted by the divorce-and-remarriage-happy Pharisees who were also hoping to inflame the adulterous King Herod against Him, Jesus was asked to choose whether He would side with the liberal followers of Rabbi Hillel, or with the conservative followers of Rabbi Shammai — both of whom were wrong for presuming that anything but death dissolves a one-flesh, God-joined state of holy matrimony, and were appealing to Moses’ attempts to regulate the various deviancies that surfaced (concubinage, polygyny, etc.)
Jesus would have none of it, including the appeal to Mosaic law. It was as if the Pharisees weren’t listening to a thing He had earlier said when He delivered the Sermon on the Mount. He had already declared a new order, which God ordained would replace the Mosaic Covenant entirely with the Messianic Covenant which His ministry had ushered in, beginning with His cousin, John-the-Baptizer who had recently called out Herod’s remarriage adultery on this same basis and authority.
Jesus, as we know, refused to couch the conversation in anything Moses had to say at all about regulating marriage, since most of it was irrelevant to the new Messianic order in which He had come to restore things back to the way they were before the fall of man in the Garden. Hence, He declared both Hillel and Shammai wrong, and referred back instead to Moses’ account of the first wedding in Genesis 2:21-24.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Jesus echoed Moses in His response to those He called the “blind guides” (whom the Judaizers insist we should still be following)…
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
In Mark 10:11-12, Jesus went a step further in abolishing even the gender-based aspects of the morally-bankrupt Mosaic system, when He declared lifelong indissoluble, monogamous holy matrimony henceforth to be a unisex proposition:
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.”
Paul, who tells us in Galatians 1:11-18, that he spent 3 years with the resurrected Jesus in the Arabian desert, echoed Jesus (Galatians 3:28) in eliminating the gender-based differences in sexual morality:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
How then can any form of polygamy fit with what Christ and Paul both said concerning the one-flesh aspect of the holy matrimony of our youth, that being a supernatural bond which is not replicated in subsequent unions for as long as our covenant spouse is alive? Jesus told us this was “from the beginning”, hence it is not compatible with the practice of any form of polygamy. Indeed, the supernatural, God-joined one-flesh state, which is severable only by death, is what gives rise to all subsequent unions constituting serial polygamy. In the case of the bible’s concurrent polygynists such as Jacob, David, Solomon, Elkanah, etc. , they were only made one-flesh with their original wife, and each lived in carnality with all of the others, from the beginning.
We should say before wrapping up, that Messianic congregations which celebrate the rich Hebrew heritage and which stick to their very valid mission of drawing Jewish people to true Christian discipleship add so much to our modern walk. Even though most follow Rabbi Shammai instead of Jesus Christ when it comes to man’s divorce and attempts at “remarriage”, they are not who we’re talking about in this post. The sins of those Messianic congregations are remarkably similar to the Baptists or Pentecostals in that regard, and we’ve blogged extensively on such. Whereas neo-Judaizers tend to be churchless altogether, some even vainly imagining that their website is a “church”, because they not only will not submit to Christ’s authority, they will not submit to any human authority.
Both varieties of neo-Judaizers reject Christ’s message from the Sermon on the Mount, but they hide behind Matthew 5:17 as a mechanism for denying that this is what they are actually doing. Those who hold to Torah Observance (a.k.a the “Hebrew Roots Movement”) for the purpose of justifying these lustful practices cannot truthfully claim to be following Christ at all – the One Who said,
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.
Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
(Matthew 18:7-10, repeated, Mark 9:42-47 in the same context)
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.
I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!
They are, in fact, thoroughly denying and rebelling against His authority in these matters. So how exactly did Jesus Christ fulfill the law in a way that sharply contrasts with the heresy of the neo-Judaizers who worship their distorted view of Moses? We leave the reader with these words of Jesus:
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22: 34-41)
SIFC: We humbly submit that a significant portion of loving our neighbor as ourselves includes an overriding concern for where they will spend their eternity, for snatching them from the hell flames, far above any concern for their temporal “happiness” or emotions. Isn’t that what we would ultimately want for ourselves?
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!