I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
– Revelation 22:18-19
This will be a response to Part 1 of a three-part blog series written by David Servant which denies that all non-widowed remarriage is, as Jesus repeatedly stated it was, an ongoing state of adultery which needs to be renounced to gain or recover one’s inheritance in the kingdom of God. Indeed, why use a blog title that asks a rhetorical question, when the answer is repeatedly obvious to all on the most basic surface of God’s word? Nonplussed, David Servant, a non-profit founder, former pastor and book author from Pittsburgh, PA, takes serious umbrage at all opposition to the popular notion that remarriage adultery is the only sin under the sun where cessation and renouncement was (allegedly) “not required” by Jesus or the Apostles. Be forewarned that this will be a lengthy read, if only because the original blog we are rebutting is also quite a lengthy tome (over 40 pages in the print queue).
As the Proverb says, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”
To maintain readability in this post, we must be selective in what we address and leave the Holy Spirit to correct in the heart of the readers whatever else grieves Him. Hopefully in so doing, we can meaningfully respond to a 40+ pager in considerably fewer pages than that.
Although according to his biography, Servant is not personally involved in this soul-rotting sin of coveting and retaining the God-joined spouse of another living person, it has become quite common in the past 50 years since enactment of unilateral divorce, for pastors like him to have performed many such adulterous ceremonies, which are indefensible scripturally. It is also not uncommon in the past decade or two, for such “blended families” to now dominate churches, financially and in every other practical way, since they are no longer burdened with the difficult situations that cause those they deserted to have struggle with day-to-day survival while endeavoring to remain chaste and pure in obedience to God. Like “standerinfamilycourt”, David runs a Facebook community page (called Discipling the Body of Christ) in addition to his own wall under his name, which appears not to be a nom-de-plume.
( SIFC Note: As of the date of this blog post, only Parts 1 and 2 of this series have been published by the author, along with some related videos. Possibly, Part 3 will be out in mid-January. He has separately stated that a book on this topic is due out in January, 2018. Servant appears to make at least some of his books available for download on this ministry site, and has third parties reselling them on Amazon.)
David begins the first post, November 15, 2017, I’m Divorced and Remarried – Am I Living in Adultery? (Part 1) with an emotional appeal that is more typical of the liberal pagan enemies of the no-excuses sanctity of marriage, quite similar to appeals of those who advocate for preserving and defending sodomous civil-only unions where children have been obtained:
“Imagine this:John is an unregenerate drug-user who, during a weekend fling in Las Vegas, falls for a flirtatious bartender named Lisa and marries her at the Little Neon Chapel. Their marriage lasts one week.
“Fast forward to 20 years later. John is a completely different man. He’s been born again and drug-free for 16 years, and he has been married for 15 of them to a devoted Christian woman named Karen. They have 4 beautiful children, ages 5 through 14, whom Karen homeschools, primarily because they want to make sure that their children are raised in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
“At work, John is befriended by a Christian man who invites him to a daily lunch hour Bible study, and John, hungry for God’s Word and fellowship with other believers, begins to attend. He is very impressed with the depth of biblical knowledge possessed by those who attend. Their influence over him grows.
“Fast forward six months. One evening, after their children are all in bed, John sits at the kitchen table across from Karen and tearfully tells her that he has filed for a divorce. He explains that he doesn’t want to divorce her—because he loves her and their children dearly—but he has learned that theirs is an “adulterous marriage,” all due to the fact that he was once married to a Las Vegas bartender for a week. John explains that, in God’s eyes, he is still married to Lisa, and until Lisa dies, his marriage with her (Karen) is adulterous….John quotes Luke 16:18, where Jesus said, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery. “That is us,” John says. He also quotes 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which declares that no adulterers will inherit God’s kingdom. Karen tearfully argues with him for hours into the night, but to no avail….”
[End of appeal]
Liberals just love to argue the extreme case, illogically claiming that Assertion X, fitted to that extreme case, should therefore be the rule (never mind that God says Assertion X is an abomination). Enemies of God’s undiluted word are addicted to emotional arguments because they have no way of rigorously disputing the objective facts. Such is also the case with “Christian” humanists and situational ethicists who pose as God’s shepherds, while they do as Jesus sharply rebuked in their earlier counterparts in Luke 16…
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.”
Such shepherds fear men more than they fear God, even if they themselves are not personally caught up in the abomination of remarriage adultery. But let’s take a closer, more objective look at the straw-man example suggested by Servant: percentage-wise, just how many divorced and remarried people actually have a drunken, drug-laced quickie Vegas wedding in the family history? Aren’t the majority of adulterous remarriages among evangelicals (more realistically) sad arrangements where there are children from a combination of perhaps three or more legitimate and unlawful marriages, euphemistically called a “blended family” ? Is the number of children at all relevant to what Jesus had to say about it? Does God care more about the needs of, and obligations toward, the children born of an unlawful marriage than He does the needs of and obligations toward the covenant spouse and covenant children with whom God-sanctioned faith was broken? Malachi, chapter 2 is explicitly clear on this question. The book of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, should also point to a clear answer to these questions. Four hundred years before Jesus arrived on the scene, God did not hesitate to command that nearly 150 unlawful unions contracted by priests just like the one described in Malachi 2, civilly legal but biblically unlawful unions which He did not join, be renounced and purged. God commanded that the adulterous and concurrently polygamous concubines be sent away with all of the non-covenant children, as a condition of restoring the sovereignty of Israel as a nation.
Indeed, for every rare instance of a brief Vegas nuptial gone predictably awry, there have developed at least ten cases in the world of our profoundly immoral family laws (and morally lax, complicit churches who routinely admit the sin into their sanctuaries, right along with the two sinners)– of a 3 or 4-decade covenant union being squashed by a “family court” because some spouse-poacher couldn’t resist raiding that family’s godly wealth, unfettered as they are by a civil legal system that refuses even to consider clear marital fault in dividing the spoils. In fact, so-called “gray divorce” is statistically the only growing category of civil marriage “dissolution” precisely because the savvier younger set is “just saying no” to inviting civil government into their homes under such terms and conditions, even if it means living in fornication or non-legalized adultery.
A George Barna survey done in the year 2000 had a full 90% of the evangelical respondents admitting two things, as a matter of fact:
(1) their last “remarriage” occurred after, not before, they considered themselves “born again”
(2) at least one divorce had also taken place at their own initiation or mutual consent since their salvation experience.
In the interest of full disclosure, SIFC blogged several months ago about a real-life recent convert who married a such a man as David Servant hypothetically describes. In that instance, we advised this woman that her situation is quite “borderline” because in that situation, there was a swift civil annulment before a home was ever formed, and because consent to form a home and to enter into a lifelong commitment was very much in question. We could not, therefore, tell this lady what to do when she asked about separating from this Christian man who became her first husband, while she became his second wife. All we could do was relate to her what Jesus told us in Matthew 19:4-6 actually constitutes holy matrimony based on Genesis 2:21-24, namely eligibility, vows, witnesses and consent in the form of leaving and cleaving. All elements must be present before God creates the supernatural one-flesh entity. We told her that based on our understanding of the facts as she described them, it seemed doubtful that the God who looks into the hearts of the bride and groom would have supernaturally, instantaneously and inseverably created (Greek: sarx mia) the one-flesh entity with which He then unconditionally covenants so long as both spouses remain alive. Even so, how does it possibly follow that this narrow and quite rare circumstance should be extrapolated to all situations where a true marriage and man’s divorce took place before one or both parties surrendered to Christ, and for whatever reason, Jesus’ and Pauls’ straightforward commandment not to take the spouse of another was ignored by both the parties and their pastor?
Hypothetical John, meanwhile, if taught the biblical truth about how God creates the supernatural, lifelong inseverable one-flesh entity upon valid vows, should be able in his regenerated state to examine his own heart and determine whether this occurred between himself and the barmaid based on his firsthand knowledge of their mutual intent and consent (and her eligibility to vow). But he doesn’t have a chance of doing so if all he’s ever taught is the evangelical heresy that all “marriages” are morally interchangeable and current possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Mr. Servant continues: “This kind of doctrine not only can potentially destroy devoted Christian families like John and Karen’s, but it opens the door dangerously wide—for certain Christian couples who are struggling in their marriages—with a convenient justification to divorce. It can turn a treacherous sin—divorce between two Christians—into a holy obligation. It makes divorce, something that God hates (Mal. 2:16) into something that, in some cases, pleases Him. It forces those who do not have the gift of celibacy to pretend that they do. And it creates a lower, “unclean” class among those who have been cleansed of their sins by Jesus’ sacrifice, a class consisting of those who have previously been married and divorced.”
There are, of course, several problems with the above statement.
(1) The “doctrine” came directly (and repeatedly) from Jesus Christ beginning with the sermon on the mount, and was repeatedly confirmed by the Apostle Paul, as well as by all of the early church fathers for the next 400 years after Jesus ascended, following His resurrection. (We will provide historical examples in our rebuttal of the next blog in the series.)
(2) Truly devoted Christian partners care most whether they and their “spouse” will spend eternity in hell. For that matter, they care whether their children, who are likely to emulate their parents some day, will also spend their eternity in hell. There is a reason Paul repeatedly warned, “Do not be deceived…” when he twice warned that no adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of God. If Paul also turns out to be the writer of the book of Hebrews, the same warning appears in chapter 13, verse 4. One has every right to question whether a person who would choose to continue in a lifestyle of disobedience in which the 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th commandments are broken every single day, is actually a Christ-follower at all, despite the sullied label of “Christian”.
(3) Servant’s crass appeal to Malachi 2:16 is completely misplaced when taken in reference to anyone, Christian or otherwise, who has coveted and retained the exclusive God-joined spouse of another living person in defiance of Christ’s commandment forbidding it. The tell-tale sign of this is the willful disregard of what precedes verse 16, therefore ignoring the vital context of the entire chapter, which boils down to God’s sharp rebuke of a man who has abused the immoral laws of men to “divorce” the wife of his youth so that he could unlawfully “marry” another. God doesn’t buy it! He says that fellowship is indefinitely suspended between Him and this priest(hood). He calls the true but rejected wife “the companion of your marriage covenant” (which still stands, regardless of the “get” – certificate of man’s divorce -the woman who remains “bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh” was handed under the wicked hijacking of Mosaic regulation). Further, the Lord says, “she IS (not ‘was’) the companion of your marriage covenant” Hence, it is hermeneutically unfaithful to apply verse 16 to a counterfeit spouse with whom no inseverable one-flesh entity ever existed by God’s hand, and who may likewise have been inseverably joined by God’s hand previously to a true living spouse on the other side. The concubine IS the society-destroying problem; she cannot possibly be the “victim” who merited God’s protection which was reserved for the true wife; the wife of the priest’s youth.
(4) The direct appeal to the flesh near the end of Mr. Servant’s argument is so blasphemous it’s almost humorous. It slaps Jesus Christ in the face for all that He said in 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.
Jesus was not at all saying that those who find themselves estranged for whatever reason from their God-joined one-flesh partner who remains alive, have this “super-discipleship option” (should they be so inclined, as Mr. Servant might presume). What Jesus is actually saying is that “he who is not able to accept this” forfeits the kingdom of heaven! Jesus warned us to count the cost of following Him (Luke 14:28), warning us to enter by the narrow gate that few find, and to avoid the broad path that everyone wants to take instead, the one that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). He warned us that if we love anything or anyone more than we love Him, we cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:26). This false shepherd, on the other hand, parrots the foul advice of Martin Luther, that men are at all times entitled to a sexual relationship in order to allay worse debauchery. This, quite simply, is idolatry and self-worship. It neglects the underlying heart problem in order to appease the raw flesh.
(5) As for the next slander, “it creates a lower, “unclean” class among those who have been cleansed of their sins by Jesus’ sacrifice, a class consisting of those who have previously been married and divorced…“, we suggest that Mr. Servant take His complaint up directly with Jesus, for we have merely quoted Him, verbatim. Another blog of ours deals with the popular false claim that Jesus’ sacrifice “cleansed” the “sin” of an unwanted holy matrimony covenant occurring prior to “salvation”. The inconvenient truth for Mr. Servant is that God defended mixed and heathen (true) marriages as equally indissoluble for life in numerous examples in both the Old and New Testament.
That said, we’d like to ask Mr. Servant what exactly justifies his presumption that faithfulness to and (if necessary) chastity in honor of our original holy matrimony vows constitutes “second class citizenship”? Do we say the spouse whose one-flesh mate is serving in overseas in the military is a “second class citizen” because of the season of celibacy imposed on them? Or whose spouse is in prison? Or to the spouse of the cancer or Alzheimer patient, that they are “second-class citizens” due to a possibly permanent season of celibacy that the Lord commands? Don’t we instead admire them for this kind of fidelity and invoke church discipline on them when fidelity is lacking in those circumstances ?
From Servant’s charge of “unfair second class citizenship” arising from the commandment to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Christ, Mr. Servant moves on to a commentary-parroting account of the classic battle between Hillel and Shammai, while he chides the marriage permanence community for not buying into the popular contemporary commentators’ oft-cited claim that Shammai won that contest, “in Christ’s estimation”. Like them, he seems a bit oblivious to the implications of what both Matthew and Mark tell us next:
In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. …The disciples *said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” [ Mark 10:10; Matthew 19:10-11]
Following Mr. Servant’s reasoning for a moment, the disciples were, therefore, absolutely livid and aghast that they could only divorce their wives for adultery, an infraction that rarely occurred on the part of the wife in a consummated marriage, and when it did occur, the Mosaic remedy was stoning, not divorce (Deut. 22). We’re to believe those disciples were left incredulous and flabbergasted that Jesus had just had the audacity to say they could not divorce their wives for burning the pita or inadvertently showing their ankles. (They then went on, as copious historical accounts repeatedly tell us, to disciple their own converts during the decades that followed, that all remarriage was adultery regardless of what triggered man’s divorce.) The unbiased contextual fact is that Jesus disagreed with both Hillel and Shammai, according to Matthew 19:6 and 8, and left the disciples livid and aghast instead because Jesus said these two things which Mr. Servant conveniently ignores:
(1) “MOSES allowed you to divorce your wives….. but from the beginning, it was not (ever) so.” Matthew 19:8
(2) “Therefore, what God has joined, let NO MAN put asunder.” Matthew 19:6
In other words, the disciples were left livid and aghast enough to momentarily consider swearing off marriage altogether, because Jesus has just said that divorce of the wife of one’s youth was not only merely immoral, He was clearly saying that man’s attempt to “dissolve” God-joined holy matrimony is, and always has been, impossible. He was clarifying that all such attempts have always, in all cases, been a manmade contrivance that God never provided for from the beginning. To claim that all “marriages” are morally interchangeable with original holy matrimony while a true spouse lives, is to slanderously claim that God also “joined” the unlawful union, being untrue not only to the covenant spouse but to His own holy character, and personally covenanting with what Jesus clearly and repeatedly called adultery. It is a very good thing indeed for David Servant and his ilk, therefore, that Jesus made a point of saying this about blasphemy against God:
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. ” – Matthew 12:31-32
Speaking of the unpardonable sin, we observe that this false shepherd skates very perilously close at another point in his screed to committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to satan described in Matthew 12 ) by slandering the call to obedience to God’s clear, Spirit-inspired word as a “doctrine of demons”:
“I have no hesitation labeling the Divine Divorce Doctrine a “doctrine of demons,” the kind of which Paul warned would arise in the last days (1 Tim. 4:1). It is interesting that Paul specifically mentioned that those last-days demonic doctrines would be marked by “men who forbid (or hinder, as the Greek verb koluo is often translated) marriage” (1 Tim. 4:3). Again, Divine Divorce Proponents want millions of married Christian couples to break their vows and divorce. My advice is that you run for your life from anyone who is promoting this dangerous and destructive twisting of the Word of God.”
Serious bible scholars don’t make the shameless pretense Servant has just made that Paul wasn’t referring to the asceticism heresy (Augustine, Thomas and others) of the 1st-4th century church that also continued into the Roman Catholic Church. Legalizing one’s adultery, on the other hand, is not “marriage” any more than legalizing one’s sodomy is “marriage”, and it’s grievously required God to allow the persecutions from the rise of homofascism to get the attention of a stiff-necked church to make His point. The remainder of this rebuttal will make clear that the only one “twisting” the Word of God is Servant and his ilk. Woe to him, and may God be merciful to allow repentance from blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, in light of what he thinks he knows but does not.
Let not many become teachers, for they will incur a harsher judgment.
The only reason millions of “Christian” homes find themselves in this predicament is because men like Servant have exercised a seared conscience in the decades since 50-state enactment of unilateral divorce, which they did nothing meaningful to even resist. To lay responsibility for the abominable consequences of their own self-interested actions on the truth-tellers in the body of Christ is truly heinous.
Much of the rest of Servant’s defense of remaining in an adulterous civil-only union that God’s hand cannot join rests on two main arguments that amount to human speculation, with no further substantive swipes at hermeneutical principles or applications thereof, yet accusing the truth-tellers of hermeneutical “sins”. We will address both of these two remaining arguments of his shortly, but at this juncture, it would be good to review Elliot Nesch’s excellent work where he categorizes all of the arguments, devices and excuses of those who seek to discredit the no-exceptions indissolubility of holy matrimony.
Nesch breaks down all of the evangelical objections to the biblical doctrine taught by Jesus and Paul, that only physical death dissolves holy matrimony (the supernatural God-joining of a never-married or widowed man with a never-married or widowed woman, according to Matthew 19:4-6) into four categories:
(1) Redefinition of terms
(2) Ad hominem slurs
(3) Scriptural silence (what Jesus, Paul or whoever did not explicitly say)
(4) Hermeneutic / hyperbole arguments
(The audio link above is well worth taking the time to listen to.)
God’s so-called contemporary “shepherds” will all go after true disciples on one or more of these bases which are all fallacious, and all do shameless battle with the clear commandment of Christ, as well as with the very authority of His word. David Servant has lowered himself to resorting to all of them in his Part 1 blog, including the ad hominem.
Take, for example, the redefinition of terms, as Mr. Servant posits:
Notice that Jesus endorsed the Mosaic concession, “except for immorality.” Thus, immorality is a legitimate reason to divorce, and understandably so. A marriage covenant is consummated by sexual union. The adulterer, by his sexual union with another, breaks his marriage covenant. In that respect, adultery effectuates a divorce. The person who divorces his adulterous spouse only formalizes the divorce that has already occurred by the adultery. (Again, however, Scripture teaches clearly elsewhere that confrontation and mercy predicated upon repentance is the best route.)
As with his earlier quote, this statement is riddled with flaws of fact and logic. Servant is here referring to Christ’s words in Matthew 19:9, which were likely spoken originally in Aramaic, recorded by the Apostle in Hebrew, and later re-translated by the early church into Greek. A friend of this page has seen the Hebrew text which is held in archives in Jerusalem. The Greek text, available online with its literal translation, shows the following:
μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ
except for unchastity / whoredom / commercial prostitution (according to all concordances written before 1850)
The root form of πορνείᾳ, “porne” means “to sell off”. In the Hebrew culture it would have been almost unheard of for a consummated wife whose husband was living with her to be involved in commercial prostitution, notwithstanding Gomer, who was involved in it both before and after the prophet Hosea married her on the Lord’s command. The penalty for this under Mosaic law is, after all, swift and sure stoning, not man’s divorce! Similarly, Jerome used the Latin term “fornication” when he later did his translation from the Greek. Also similarly, the root word is “fornix“, which were the Roman colonnade columns under which prostitutes entertained their clients. It is no accident, therefore, that earlier lexicons didn’t generalize the term porneia. It is also no accident that the post WWII lexicons started to generalize it as the divorce rate started to rise in the church. Those earlier lexicons were being far more faithful to the history and context of the Matthew 5 and 19 texts than are the shoddy counterparts we’re left with today.
Liberal bible translation societies started generalizing and substituting terms in the mid 20th century because the more focused term discouraged divorce. While there is certainly scholarly dissent, and there are examples of other bible passages where derivations of the term porneia does refer to a range of sexual infractions and immoral practices, there remains a good-sized cadre of reliable scholars who object to contextually construing “porneia” to include adultery “moicheia” in any passage where the two words appear together. After all, why would the One who declared, “no more eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”, who further declared “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart..” suddenly reverse course, exclusively in the case of two one-flesh partners and prescribe more adultery as the sanctioned remedy for adultery? Is Jesus really that capricious, or is this another slanderous blasphemy of the Son’s character?
Our friend who has viewed the Hebrew text of Matthew likewise confirms that the word Jesus used corresponds to “z’nut” from the Hebrew root “zanah” which also meant “playing the whore” outside of marriage. (See our 2015 blog “The Great Granddaddy of Them All” for further links, and elaboration on this topic. )
Beyond that, Mr. Servant contends that Jesus “endorsed” the Mosaic concession regulating man’s practice of financial and spiritual abandonment of their families based on a unilateral piece of paper. This claim does not logically follow at all from the preponderance of everything else Jesus unequivocally said on the topic, as should be obvious by now. Servant suggests that it is sacrilege to infer that Jesus would not have been on the same page with Moses in all matters. This is far from a novel argument, and it is just as far from a supportable assumption. In fact, it’s another purely emotional and manipulative argument designed to distract from and devalue some of the harder teachings of Jesus that we don’t like, in our culture of institutionalized serial polygamy. We know that Moses was a very flawed man (as we all are). Even his wife Zipporah couldn’t resist rebuking him on one occasion when she had to intervene to protect her husband from God’s wrath:
Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him [Moses] and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” So He let him [Moses] alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”—because of the circumcision. – Exodus 4:24-26
We also recall the reason Moses was not permitted by God to lead His people into the promised land. Moses occasionally responded to situations in the flesh instead of in the Spirit of God. In fact, before Jesus ascended, and Pentecost followed, the Holy Spirit did not continuously indwell God’s servants, but He fell upon them at specific times. At other times, He seemed to be absent, for example:
So Moses took the rod from before the Lord, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the Lord, and He proved Himself holy among them. – Numbers 20:9-13
Having discredited the unsupportable notions that Moses was infallible and that Jesus had no authority or cause to ever differ with him, we also point out that numerous other instances of Mosaic teaching were directly abrogated by Jesus in the sermon on the mount in favor of His higher law which would now be obeyed, by those authentically redeemed, from the heart and would eliminate the option of daily ritual animal sacrifices as an available path to Kingdom citizenship. Each instance where Jesus stated “you have heard it said…..BUT I SAY UNTO YOU..” is a specific example of Jesus countermanding Moses because the moral standard was not high enough for the kingdom of God, on additional matters ranging from swearing oaths to taking our own revenge in lieu of forgiving transgressions against us. It’s also quite true that rabbinic traditions had GREATLY expanded the ideas that were attributed to “Moses” in the centuries after the man’s bones were returned to the dust of the earth. The expansion of the Deuteronomy 24 provision to legally end a marriage contract (“ketubah”) for a non-capital offense that would have been a defilement existing both before and after consummation of the marriage — to the list of Deuteronomy 22 capital offenses is a prime example of this trend over the centuries that unfolded between Moses and Jesus, as various conquerors deprived the Jews of their ability to carry out stoning. The post-Moses “mission-creep” of rabbinic regulations had gotten so bad that Jesus replaced the 613 ceremonial regulations with just two commandments that distilled and retained the 10 Commandments:
“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 22:36-40
Since Servant’s claim above that Jesus was not directly abrogating Mosaic regulations is not at all supportable, neither is his further extrapolation: “Thus, ‘immorality’ is a legitimate reason to divorce, and understandably so.” This vague and invalidly-substituted term “immorality” is meaningless because it is not specific enough in light of Christ’s assertion in Matt. 19:8, later confirmed by Paul in Rom. 7:2-3 and 1 Cor.7:39, that God-joined holy matrimony is indissoluble except by death. Hence, subsequent remarriage is always adultery, according to Jesus, following man’s divorce for a very straightforward reason: the parties of the first part are nonetheless still married. David Servant dismisses this truth as though man’s law trumps God’s law, thereby denying what Christ repeatedly either stated outright on numerous occasions, or He inferred on numerous other occasions.
But Servant’s statement above directly contradicts Jesus and / or Paul in some other profound ways:
“A marriage covenant is consummated by sexual union. The adulterer, by his sexual union with another, breaks his marriage covenant. In that respect, adultery effectuates a divorce. The person who divorces his adulterous spouse only formalizes the divorce that has already occurred by the adultery.”
While it’s true that sexual union consummates the marriage covenant, it’s also true that an eligible (never-married or widowed) bride and groom are just as inseverably joined, and the unconditional, indissoluble covenant is already in existence before the couple has departed the ceremony venue, according to Christ’s words in Matthew 19:4-6. Sex does not do any of this, according to Jesus, because becoming one-flesh (sarx mia) in the sense that Jesus spoke of it is an instantaneous, supernatural act of God, not a gradual, natural process of men. We know this because the language both Jesus and Paul consistently used when referring to holy matrimony joining is completely different than the language Paul used in speaking of merely carnal joining, for example, in 1 Corinthians 6:16 (where the term is hen soma, even though sarx mia is mentioned by Paul for comparison purposes at the end of the verse). Unlike with hen soma, Jesus says that a new entity is formed in that wedding ceremony moment….
“So they are no longer two [note: by the perfect-indicative active verb tense – “no longer” should be rendered “never again”], but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
Hence a new entity is formed which becomes the inferior party to the unconditional covenant, and the covenant is formed indissolubly because God is the divine superior party in that covenant. The state of holy matrimony is, in all cases, indissoluble for life precisely because God has never once gone back on an unconditional covenant in which He is a participant, and man can do nothing at all (short of physically dying) to remove God from it. Prior to these latter “Days of Noah”, this didn’t used to be rocket science. Even civil judges and legislators once used to respect this, out of the holy fear of God.
( SIFC Note:It was to the above set of concepts that this blogger expected David Servant to apply his coined-label “Divine Divorce Doctrine”–as opposed to applying it to the concept of full, physical repentance from remarriage adultery, as he has done However, had he applied his moniker to this core foundational principle, it would have been an absolutely ludicrous contradiction in terms, since we’ve just proven that the only instance in which man’s divorce is “divine” is when it’s part of a repenting prodigal spouse’s restoration and restitution plan where only a faux marriage existed on man’s paper alongside the God-joined one, no different than a sodomous civil-only union. Servant is better off simply calling it “Divine Indissolubility Doctrine”, in our view. )
From this point in David Servant’s quote, the extrapolation from false, unsupported premises goes absolutely off the rails:
“The adulterer, by his sexual union with another, breaks his marriage covenant. In that respect, adultery effectuates a divorce. The person who divorces his adulterous spouse only formalizes the divorce that has already occurred by the adultery.”
This is hardly an original thought (much less a truthful one), but not because it originated with either Jesus or any of the Apostles. Its originator was the smarmy 16th century Catholic homosexual humanist who did so much to corrupt the character of Martin Luther, namely, one Desiderius Erasmus.
What did Jesus say “effectuates” man’s divorce? Nothing, since “from the beginning it was not ever so”. What motivates it? Man’s hard-heartedness (Matthew 19:8). Men like Servant tend to make the eternally-mistaken presumption that this hard-heartedness is some sort of ongoing “concession” (or that it demands such a concession), but Jesus said “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The writer of Hebrews repeatedly warned that all such hard-heartedness causes disciples to fall away and, if not repented of, miss their entrance into the kingdom. What did Paul say “breaks” (or ends) holy matrimony? Death alone. This is most consistent with the totality of what Jesus said, and it is also quite consistent with original Mosaic law concerning the necessity of stoning.
As pastors often do, Servant feels the need to toss in a quick patronizing word for anyone who might, perchance, be naturally inclined to obey God from the heart (rather than callously assume up front that he – Servant – will be forced to “rubber stamp” everyone’s abomination). He concludes: “(Again, however, Scripture teaches clearly elsewhere that confrontation and mercy predicated upon repentance is the best route.)” Well, sir, which is it? Did you not just insist that the practice of adultery is “effective dissolution” of the marriage? Do couples then need to remarry each other to repent of fornication with each other as a result of one partner’s infidelity creating a de facto “dissolution”, as though God’s joining-glue is somehow just a little defective, and not at all as represented by His Son?
Speaking of remarriage, in his assessment of the “foundation” of true disciples’ opposition to serial polygamy, he makes this random statement:
“They also disagree on whether or not there is ever a legitimate reason to divorce, that is, a reason that would allow a person who initiated a divorce to remarry.”
We’ll set aside the first assertion because it is silly on the surface. There is no disagreement among the saints that man’s divorce doesn’t dissolve anything, and God’s divorce is spelled D-E-A-T-H. Hence, there can’t be any “disagreement” in our community about whether there is ever a “legitimate” reason to do something that has absolutely no effect in God’s courthouse in the first place. What Servant is doing is conflating two entirely separate issues, the humanistic fiction of “dissolution”, and the atrocity of consecutively polygamous unlawful union. While there’s no denying that the pretense of marriage “dissolution” would have far less motive were it not for the lustful desire to enter into an immoral state under the fraudulent appearance of “decency”, the two are quite separate sins, the first an act of sin, and the latter an ongoing state of sin.
Servant next takes dead-aim at the supernatural, inseverable sarx mia entity, conflating it with its transitory man-joined counterfeit hen soma:
The usual argument is that a married couple are declared to be “one flesh” (Gen.2:24), and are therefore bound to one another unconditionally for life. However, this certainly burdens the phrase “one flesh” with more baggage than it will bear, since a tryst with a prostitute constitutes a “one flesh” relationship, according to Paul (1 Cor. 6:16), yet not necessarily a permanently binding one.
Servant also gets into a very elaborate redefinition of terms when he moves on to discussing Paul’s varying instructions in 1 Corinthians 7 to various subsets of his audience in that church. I believe Servant’s later blog installment might get into this a bit more, so we’ll only grab one example point here to illustrate:
Servant postulates, of the Apostle Paul:
“Then, in a statement that summarizes much of his earlier advice for Christians to “remain in the state in which they were called” (see 1 Cor. 7:18-24), he advises the man who is married, “bound to a wife,” not to seek a divorce. Similarly, the man who is already divorced, “released from a wife,” should not seek a wife (“in view of the present distress”). However, Paul says, the already-divorced man, the one “released from a wife,” does not sin if he marries. And it is indisputable that he is speaking specifically to already-divorced men, because Paul continues in the same sentence saying, “and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.” Clearly, from reading 1 Corinthians 7, Paul did not believe that the marriage covenant was indissoluble. Just as marriage is annulled by death and (often) adultery, it is also annulled by divorce. Paul did not believe Jesus’ words in the Four D&R Passages should be interpreted, “Whoever divorces and remarries lives in a continuous state of adultery that can only be remedied by yet another divorce.”
The redefinition of terms here is that everyone who is “called” while God-joined to a lifelong one-flesh spouse, with whom God Himself is in unconditional covenant, is “called” while bound to that spouse — even if they are simultaneously “called” while in papered-over adultery with another person. That is the state in which they are called. “Wife” is clearly being redefined in this proposal, from someone a man is joined to in sarx mia until death, to his concubine to whom he has immorally joined himself in hen soma. That said, someone called while a single prostitute isn’t to remain in that state, are they? Why then, should Servant speculate that anyone called in a state of serial polygamy remain in that state? This is no trivial point, given the inexcusably sloppy hermeneutics of applying a passage that refers contextually to vocation (slave) and religious trappings (circumcision) to the supernaturally-created state of holy matrimony (or its counterfeit), while claiming this “proves” that Paul did not consider holy matrimony indissoluble – verses 7:11, and 39, in the same passage, notwithstanding. Servant claims this passage is speaking to the divorced and remarried (both states being purely fictional before God), but the fallacy here ought to be obvious to all. The rest of Servant’s remarks again directly contradict a vast amount of instruction that came directly out of the mouths of Jesus and Paul, not to even mention the practice of generations of early church leaders who followed, as documented in their historical commentaries, letters and other writings. We dealt in great hermeneutical detail with other common abuses of 1 Corinthians 7 in two earlier blogs, the one most relevant to Servant’s comments can be read here.
This concludes the lengthy discussion of the tactic of redefinition of terms, and we now move on to address the remaining two highly predictable tactics Servant launches to water down Christ’s commandment in his Part 1, namely speculative claims about the silence of scripture, and misplaced red-herring discussions of “hyperbole”. We will also continue to point out where and how application of rigorous hermeneutical principles was given the short shrift or ducked altogether.
Servant makes the shallow and false claim that faithful Christ-followers base their convictions of the lifelong indissolubility of original holy matrimony on just four scripture passages in the synoptic gospels, namely,
More accurately, the exhaustive list of evidence of the universal indissolubility of original holy matrimony is as follows, since the role of Jesus Christ the Bridegroom and His one inseverable bride, the church, is woven through almost every book of the bible:
Deuteronomy 22:13-29, with particular emphasis on verses 28-29
The Book of Hosea, in its entirety
Jeremiah 3:8-14, with particular emphasis on verse 14
Ezra, chapters 8 and 9
Malachi, chapters 2 and 4, with emphasis on 2:13-16 and 4:6
Matthew 5:27-32, with particular emphasis on verse 32b, “whoever marries a divorced woman enters into an ongoing state of adultery.”
Matthew 11:11; Luke 16:16
Matthew 14:1-12, with emphasis on verses 3-4
Matthew 19:4-6 and 8 (here bolded because it is the crucial core passage to the indissolubility of holy matrimony and God’s full definition thereof. Verses 6 and 8 are especially hated and downplayed by apostate shepherds.)
Matthew 19:9b (KJV, because this crucial phrase is omitted from every contemporary English bible due to fraudulent 20th century translation practices. This phrase is identical to Matt. 5:32b above and is the 2nd of 3 times Jesus repeated it without exceptions.)
Mark 10: 5-12 (we don’t think the events triggering the conversation are as materially important as Servant claims, due to the centrality of Matthew 19:6 and 8 to what Jesus said here).
Luke 16:18-31 (KJV here, to get rid of the distracting artificial heading that was not part of the original text.)
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
1 Corinthians 6:1-8 and 16
1 Corinthians 7, with particular emphasis on verses 2, 10-11, 14 and 39
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Why is this much broader list important? Two reasons, really.
First, the saints on the narrow path who do not carnally dismiss Christ’s commandments, and who believe both Jesus and Paul that obeying these commandments is a heaven-or-hell matter, are very careful to validate crucial details like Greek verb tenses and analyze word usages, also to apply other hermeneutical points of rigor that would not be possible unless one of the five essential principles is not neglected, namely, comparison with all related scriptures on a given subject so that a comprehensive unity of scriptural content is established. Indeed, David has falsely levelled this charge of omission against our community, and has done so out of his own ignorance and cowardly bias. After all, our community is not just a bunch of self-righteous busybodies who don’t have anything better to do than go around aimlessly pointing our fingers at people who have been ear-tickled into remarriage adultery by this generation of unfaithful shepherds who think nothing of misusing the name of the Lord to perform a vain act that NEVER would have been allowed to desecrate God’s sanctuary only 60 or so years ago. Indeed, pre-1970’s doctrine in many Protestant denominations forbid it for sound biblical reasons, from the denomination’s inception. Curiously, the Anglican church which was birthed expressly for the legitimization of serial polygamy, was the last to officially cave in this regard, in 2002.
Most of us either have an estranged prodigal spouse who is in severe danger of forfeiting his or her soul for their lustful faux “marriage” (while our children watch and might possibly follow them in emulation), or we have come to the conviction of truth and exited our unlawful unions. A few have blessedly restored holy matrimony unions after an intervening adulterous home was dissolved, often after many years and the birth of non-covenant children. Except for this latter group, most live celibate lives until the Lord brings redemption. Far too many of us wind up receiving the “left foot of Christian fellowship” by our threatened churches, and pastors who are afraid of their sin in performing these “weddings” being exposed to the congregation. Some of us were pastors fired by churches who would rather have an adulterously-re-wed shepherd than one who refuses, after being divorced by a prodigal wife, to live in the adultery of marrying another. An encouraging few are convicted pastors with intact, lifelong covenant marriages and intact congregations across a growing variety of denominations. We’d better know whereof we speak as we advocate for a very inconvenient and embarrassing ignored truth, and do so with as much studious rigor as we can possibly muster and communicate.
The second reason the exhaustive list of related scriptures is important is to dispute the typical false claims of “scripture silence” such as David Servant (and many others) have alleged. Our serial polygamy apologist asks:
“I ask: Where is this Divine Divorce Doctrine found outside of the Four D&R Passages? Surely if Jesus expected every divorced and remarried person to divorce again as a requirement for salvation—no small thing—He would have said so, and especially during those times He was talking about the very subject of divorce and remarriage to crowds that were full of divorced and remarried people.”
Our answer: “divine” divorce is found only one place in scripture, Ezra, chapters 9 and 10. However, all divorce and / or “putting away” is strictly man-made, not God-ordained, so we have to be very careful how we throw around the term “divorce”, which meant different things over time in different cultures. The actual idea to render unto Caesar what previously belonged exclusively to God was Martin Luther’s, and he would not have done so except for the clamor for fig leaf “cover” to financially and spiritually abandon one-flesh partners and children with an air of “respectability” that the church quite rightly refused to grant out of care for eternal souls. The civil legal contests as we know them, therefore, date back only to the 16th century, and only in Europe do they go back even that far. Ancient societies had unilateral self-issued paper, including Hebrew and Graeco-Roman societies that later collapsed morally, and this was the evil that Christ came rebuking when He said, “from the beginning, it was not ever so.” In the case of unlawful foreign (typically, concurrently polygamous) wives described in the book of Ezra, there was a sending away with material provision, which constituted repentance from the immoral relationships. God commanded this, and He did so because He had created no sarx mia in any of those instances. Those children were born of satan’s carnal counterfeit, hen soma. This is the identical situation to remarriage adultery and sodomous unions today, but due to the illegitimate and immoral jurisdiction of the civil state, civil dissolution is necessary to end the legal obligations so that the covenant moral vows and obligations can be fulfilled before God. Ideally, this eventually leads to the obeying of 1 Corinthians 7:2, on both sides of the former illicit relationship, now repented:
But because of immoralities, each man is to have [possess – echetO G2192] his own [heautou G1438] wife, and each woman is to have [possess – echetO G2192] her own [idion G2398] husband.
This was never a legal concept, but a metaphysical one, according to Jesus. Speaking of scriptural silence, Jesus never spoke of the necessity of civil sanction or documents of state regulation when He described the first wedding as the model for 1st century holy matrimony, and neither did the other Apostles. It was clear from Christ’s description “from the beginning” that God alone did the joining (or declined to, due to prior joining). Correct understanding hopefully leads to obeying some closely related commandments:
…to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own [idiois G2398] husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2-5)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess [ktasthai G2932] his own [heautou G1438] vessel [skeuos G463] in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
(1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
Christ-followers are not to possess (covet and retain) someone else’s one-flesh lifelong partner, but only their own. According to Paul, they are to release what does not belong to them back to the only one to whom God’s hand joined them, and they are not to forsake, abandon or live in unforgiving estrangement from their own one-flesh mate.
David Servant makes much of claiming that neither Jesus, nor any of the Apostles ever told anyone to divorce a “second” time who was living in sin with someone else’s God-joined spouse. This is not entirely true. John the Baptist called out Herod and Herodias, both of whom had divorced their God-joined spouses to “marry” each other, saying to Herod, “it is not lawful for you to have your brother Phillip’s wife.” (Mark 6; Matthew 14). The bible tells us that John, like Jesus, was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb, and Jesus lauded him, calling him the greatest of the prophets born of women, and connecting him with the kingdom of God which the violent take by force. John knew that unless this civilly-legal but Kingdom-unlawful union was renounced and ceased, the destination for this pair would be hell. He, John, was ready to meet his Maker, but they clearly weren’t. Jesus discussed this in the presence of His disciples, two of whom recorded it in the gospels.
Then there’s the episode of church discipline being applied in 1 Corinthians 5 at Paul’s command to the man who had taken his father wife (probably his stepmother, following either the divorce or death of the father). The scripture does not state that he “married” her, but there are three immoral possibilities: (1) the father was dead and they were cohabiting in fornication, or (2) the father had civilly divorced her and the son had civilly married her, or (3) the father had separated or divorced her, and they were cohabiting in adultery. Since the man was still in the church body whom Paul had to rebuke, (1) and (3) seem less likely than (2). What we do know is that Paul felt strongly enough that the son’s soul was on the line unless the church excommunicated him (“turned him over to satan that his soul may be saved”). While everyone wants to claim that the issue is incest here, since it’s not his biological mother involved, there’s no basis for calling it incest unless an intact one-flesh relationship still existed between the living father and the father’s wife. It appears that we have an overt church discipline situation being carried out on an instance of divorce and remarriage, and if the relationship was not renounced, another pair of legalized adulterers was headed for hell.
It also stands to reason that if neither Jesus nor Paul considered holy matrimony dissoluble as they both directly state more than once, the second “marriage” would not be valid to begin with, nor would the first “divorce”. There was no elaborate civil court system to purport to “dissolve” any marriage until the apostate aspects of the Reformation took shape in the 16th century, so severance of an invalid, unlawful union in the 1st century would simply consist of separating and returning to one’s true spouse. This was also true in Ezra’s time. Further, Jesus was quite clear that living in a state of permanent unforgiveness toward anyone, much less one’s God-joined one-flesh mate was equally a heaven or hell matter (Matt. 18:23-35; Matt. 6;15). Paul was equally clear that only death dissolved what God has joined (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39) and that Christ-followers are charged with a ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19). Our sealing with the Holy Spirit should mean that we come to conviction of all of this by His say-so, based on a changed heart and Spirit-led scripture illumination.
Servant argues (falsely):
“Furthermore, there is no evidence any of Jesus’ apostles ever interpreted His words about divorce and remarriage to be a requirement for divorced and remarried couples to legally or functionally divorce. Their initial reaction to His statement to the Pharisees in Matthew 19 revealed they only thought that, in light of Jesus’ endorsement of one-wife-for-life, it might be best if people never married. They did not come to the conclusion that divorced and remarried people needed to divorce again. In fact, it is much more likely that they were wondering if Jesus was advocating the stoning of all divorced and remarried people, since that is what the Mosaic Law prescribed for adulterers.”
The great flaw in any “silence of scripture” argument is that it can always be turned around on the debater. For example, where does scripture ever mention that anyone who is divorced and remarried in the churches after Christ’s ascension? Where does it explicitly mention any divorces in that era taking place? Estrangement is discussed simply as “departing”, and the commandment was to leave the door open to reconciliation, which of necessity precluded remarriage. There is no account of any of the Apostles or their disciples ever performing an adulterous wedding after the mention of Herod and Herodias. Regardless of whether scripture was “silent” on this, it is clear that the historians of the era were far from silent. As just one example, two of the early church fathers who were direct disciples of the Apostle John (Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and Justin Martyr) both wrote extensively of the invalidity of remarriage while one’s original spouse remained alive. Over the next 300 years, there’s good reason to believe from the extensive writings of church leaders across the region of Christendom who followed them, that there was no remarriage in the early church at all, based on the unanimous statement condemning it and requoting Jesus and Paul in the very context that Servant so hotly disputes. This biblical faithfulness didn’t just spontaneously happen — it was carried as a firm and universal conviction out of the house where the disciples had questioned Jesus, who spoke of becoming a spiritual “eunuch” for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Whereas stoning was not lawful under the Roman occupation since slightly before Christ’s birth, Servant’s baseless claim that the disciples were preoccupied with stoning as a horrible remedy to terminate all the legalized adultery is misinformed and ill-studied on the author’s part. The better explanation is that they realized Jesus was invalidating the scope expansion of Mosaic regulation under rabbinic tradition which had compensated for the Roman (and earlier Persian) frustration of the hard-hearted ability to dispose of unwanted “ribs”, as though God had taken a whole slab of them out of Adam.
Servant goes on to insist: “Nothing can be found in the New Testament epistles that supports the idea that those who are divorced and remarried are “still married to their original spouse in God’s eyes” or that they are “continually living in an adulterous relationship of which they must repent by divorce.”
Apparently the direct, unequivocal words of Jesus, repeated on three separate occasions, constitute part of the alleged “nothing” of which this blind guide speaks. It should be obvious to most that just because something is asserted, does not automatically make it true, but it seems that this gentleman who is attempting to pass himself off as a scholar either doesn’t understand Koine Greek verb tenses, or finds them inconvenient to his argument. He is not alone in this omission. None other than Dr. John MacArthur gets caught doing it all the time! Expert linguists point out that every time there is a synoptic gospel account of Jesus speaking of divorce and remarriage as “committing adultery”, including the three separate times He spoke of an otherwise innocent man “marrying” any divorced woman (Matthew 5:32b, 19:9b, Luke 16;18b) He consistently did two things:
(1) Used the all-inclusive term ὃς ἐὰν (hos ean) or Πᾶς ὁ (pas ho) –meaning, whoever, whosoever, EVERYONE, in various translations, with no exceptions. The term used in John 3:16 is likewise Πᾶς ὁ.
(2) Without exception, was recorded in the present-indicative verb tense / mood on each occasion. According to the source www.ntgreek.org, the effect of the author or translator selecting this verb tense while capturing the words of Jesus is: “The present tense usually denotes continuous kind of action. It shows ‘action in progress’ or ‘a state of persistence.‘ When used in the indicative mood, the present tense denotes action taking place or going on in the present time. “
In light of this, there are two things that are logically impossible:
(1) That someone can be in ongoing adultery against a “severed” spouse to whom they are no longer married in the eyes of Christ (and therefore God).
(2) That a subsequent “husband” can be in adultery by reason of marrying a still-married woman, but the woman is not in adultery (due to some claimed “exception”) when she marries the man (a “half-adulterous” marriage, in other words).
We herewith rest our case concerning Servant’s allegation that there is “no evidence that supports the idea that those who are divorced and remarried are “still married to their original spouse in God’s eyes” or that they are “continually living in an adulterous relationship “, since we have proven both directly from the scripture passages.
What remains, however, is Servant’s last “silence of scripture” assertion….“of which they must repent by divorce.” Actually, scripture requires that they must repent by cessation and renunciation of the illicit relationship without addressing the civil legalities that came about later in society as a fabrication of men. However, since the civil state has no delegated biblical authority over the creation, regulation or dissolution of holy matrimony, the only purpose of civil divorce in such an instance to clean up their legal life and make restitution as best they can to everyone around them that they’ve harmed by their idolatry and lustful choice to disobey God’s word. Technically, there’s nothing to dissolve in the kingdom of God, but like the thief who must stop stealing and return what he’s stolen, or the prostitute who must find another profession, or the murderer who must stop murdering, or the sodomite who must terminate that immoral and unlawful relationship, the adulterers must stop committing adultery and set a decent example of obeying God in front of everyone watching. Sometimes to prove this from scripture we must exert ourselves a bit in the instruction of the Holy Spirit (the Teacher), and make a holy linkage between a couple of unlinked scriptures in the spirit of holy fear and obedience. After all, nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus or any of the Apostles explicitly insist than anyone must cease using pornography or cease buying lottery tickets, either. For example, linking to Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b and Luke 16:18b the following admonitions from the Apostles cannot be shown to be inappropriate in light of the final outcome of dying in this state of sin, unrepentant:
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.”
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
We move on to briefly discuss the final tactic of the enemies of God’s truth, misplaced claims of “hyperbole”. In this case, Servant refers to hyperbole, but also terms this, “reasons to limit literality”. It is the classic serpent’s question, “Psssst….did God really say?’
Servant claims, a bit ludicrously: “….students of Jesus also know that, when they endeavor to interpret His words, they should not only consider context, but the fact that Jesus indisputably did not intend that all of His words should always be taken in their most literal sense. For example, everyone agrees that Jesus does not really intend that we pluck out our eyes or cut off our hands if they “cause us to stumble,” or even that our physical eyes or hands can actually “cause” us to stumble.” Yet that is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30 ” (Very good, David – we don’t literally act on Christ’s hyperbolic statements. But that does not mean that we project this understanding to all other serious commandments in a way that makes obedience to them optional, as he soon goes on to suggest.)
Neither does it mean that we can shrug off the important points He was making with His hyperbolic statement, including:
(1) Hell is real, and purportedly “saved” people to do go there
(2) The lust of our eyes and the covetousness of our hands make us prone to addicting acts, which then leads to entrapment in states of sin that can send us to hell
(3) Preemptive action tends to work a lot better with less pain than corrective action
(4) Sometimes extremely drastic action is needed to avoid God giving us over, due to wicked hearts and deceitful rationalization (may not be the severance of a limb, but it just might be the severance of an immoral relationship that the bible makes clear is unlawful.)
(5) Matt. 5:32b, marrying a divorced woman creates a state of adultery that will send a man to hell if he does not flee.
Servant continues his rhetorical derailment: “No one claims that Jesus expects some men to literally castrate themselves for the sake of God’s kingdom, but within a few seconds of one of the Four D&R Passages, Jesus said “there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:12).”
Um, Paul said something about wishing Judaizers would castrate themselves because they wanted to circumcise Gentile converts, but it is quite clear that Jesus never said anything, hyperbolic or otherwise, about anybody castrating themselves. He did say in Matthew 19:12 that involuntarily-estranged spouses who voluntarily submit to their season of celibacy rather than violate their holy matrimony vows and defile their one-flesh union are advancing the kingdom of God. Under today’s unilateral divorce laws, we have many who should be doing this, and relatively few true disciples who actually are obeying Him in it. Servant apparently regards this obedient containing of our vessels as “castration”. (The eye and hand reference was hyperbole, by the way, but the eunuch reference is not at all hyperbole in its usage, but rather a very straightforward analogy, with Servant still managing to see it as “hyperbole” with his jaded, humanistic eye.)
The next suggestion is interesting, indeed: “None of us think Jesus actually wants us literally to “hate father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters” (Luke 14:26) if we hope to be one of His disciples.”
Apparently our author friend acts like he has never encountered the Hebrew idiom before, whereby “hate” needs to be interpreted as “not love x more than we love Jesus”. That doesn’t change the truth that if we DO choose to love an “x” (including this life) more than we love Jesus, that’s called idolatry, and idolaters indeed cannot be His disciples. Servant would shamelessly suggest, just as Lucifer the serpent would, that this is creates justification to not feel bound to obey Christ’s clear moral teachings and commandments. Did God REALLY say?? The gospel according to Servant is that when Jesus is speaking of adultery, we are not to take it as a literal damning sin if there is a piece of civil or church paper claiming it’s OK, because He might not have literally meant it.
Perhaps when all a supposed bible scholar can say is perhaps: perhaps this, and perhaps that, he is speculating and doesn’t have anything authoritative to say at all. Perhaps, if he made an honest attempt to comprehensively apply all of the core principles of sound hermeneutics, including Context, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation, instead of mentioning one or two of them shallow passing (and misapplication) he would be instantly exposed as someone contradicting Jesus just because he rejects His authority to define moral absolutes, but is who is perfectly willing to offer up the lip service. Perhaps.
There is one small point on which SIFC and Servant are in agreement, even though there is no such thing as a “Christian” who is “married” to someone else’s God-joined spouse. One can be a Christ-follower or one can be an ongoing adulterer, but one cannot be both at the same time. There is no such thing as a “Christian” marriage to the spouse of another living person (much less “millions” of them, no matter how “heartless” this truth is painted as being.) It is a sure pathway to hell, just as Jesus and Paul repeatedly warned it was. That said, the moniker that the integrity-of-the-biblical-family movement has taken on is indeed a bit imprecise. As Servant puts it,
The tragic irony of the Divine Divorce Doctrine is that its adherents often identity themselves as promoters of “marriage permanence,” yet they are helping to destroy Christian marriages, and if they had their way, millions of married Christian couples would divorce as they repented of their “adulterous marriages.” It seems bizarre to identify yourself as being an advocate for “marriage permanence” when you hope to convince millions of married Christians to break their vows and divorce.
SIFC agrees wholeheartedly with the first sentence above and has made this same argument many times to peers and leaders in the narrow path movement. Every covenant usurper hopes their purloined “marriage” will be permanent — unless, of course, jobs are lost, flowers are no longer purchased, somebody gets fat or “comes out” as gay. The civil divorce rates are substantially higher for legalized adultery than holy matrimony, and mercifully so, in light of what the bible repeatedly states are the eternal consequences of dying in that state. The alternative term this page advocates in place of “marriage permanence” eliminates all ambiguity — marriage indissolubility. But I return to the point that “marriage” has to be properly defined according to both of the non-negotiable elements of Matthew 19:4-6 according to Christ, one of which is lifelong indissolubility, and the other is complementarity. We will defer discussion of the issue of “vow-breaking” to the next rebuttal of Part 2, since the topic is germane there.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:12-14
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!