Thursday, December 27, 2012

RAD is Bad, part 2

This is series of articles designed to help professing Christians to turn from their wicked ways and get back to following New Testament ethics.  Compromise is increasing in the church.  Popular opinion among churchgoers is often in stark contrast to the very words of Jesus on many issues.  Christians need to know the word of God and get back to using it as a reference book when they are faced with important decisions.

RAD is my acronym for remarriage after divorceLast week I started a sub-series on this topic.  In review I wrote:

1. RAD is sin.  It is the moral equivalent of adultery.
2. There is only one exception given in the Bible.  A divorced man can remarry without sinning only if the reason for the divorce was his wife’s fornication (i.e. it must be a sin of a sexual nature--the NIV incorrectly translates that word as “marital unfaithfulness”). 

These are the scriptures which form the basis for this teaching:

Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:2-3 and I Corinthians 7:10-11, 39.

Now for some very minor and common sense clarifications:

1. If you were divorced, you can become reunited with your former spouse as long as neither of you married someone else since the divorce occurred (Deuteronomy 24:4).  This does not count as RAD, but it is a reconciliation of an existent marriage commitment.  Some of the passages above make this point very clear (especially I Corinthians 7:11).

2. If someone has already committed the sin of RAD, that marriage is still a real marriage in the eyes of God.  Therefore, such a person should remain in the same marital state that he or she is currently in.  RAD is a sin, but you can’t undo it.  If you go back to the one who you first married (especially if you are a woman) you have only compounded your sin even more (Deuteronomy 24:4).

3.  There are no exceptions for cases where the divorce was caused by physical abuse, alcoholism, or any form of immorality except as mentioned in Matthew 19:9 (KJV).  It doesn't matter whose “fault” the divorce was, who left whom, how much time has passed since the divorce, whether the ex-spouse has married someone else since, whether the divorcee became a Christian before or after the marriage, or whether the divorcee became a Christian before or after the divorce.  None of these things are in the Bible.  Just because there may be justifiable reasons for a divorce, that doesn't mean that a RAD isn't a sin in that case.  Again, Matthew 19:9 has the only exception.

4.  If you reverse the genders in Matthew 19:9, the statement is no longer necessarily true.  It only permits a divorced man to remarry in this special case.  There are no exceptions at all for divorced women. 

5.  Deuteronomy 24:2 says, “And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.”  But this does not mean that RAD is not a sin.  Jesus explains why the Law of Moses was permissive of something that God hates (Matthew 19:4-9).  

6.  The Greek word used in Matthew 19:9 to describe the exceptional case is pornea which means fornication.  Translations which use the word “immorality” or “marital unfaithfulness” should not be taken as license to RAD in cases where the wife has committed some sin other than a sexual sin.  The Greek word is slightly broader than the word for adultery, so it might include things like flirting, pornography, and other sinful, sexual behaviors that fall short of full blown adultery.  But I do not include sexual deprivation in the definition of fornication.

7. Some people believe that the exception mentioned in Matthew 19:9 is talking about when a woman claims to be a virgin, but upon marrying the woman, the husband finds that this is not true and divorces her as a result.  I would consider the woman’s actions to be fornication and thus if the man remarried, it would be included in the exception to the rule that RAD is sin.  But this is not all that Matthew 19:9 covers.  If a woman commits adultery after her wedding and before the divorce, this also makes it acceptable for her husband to divorce her and to marry another woman.

8.  “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.  If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.” Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV) “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”  Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (KJV)

From these passages I conclude that the promiscuous are married in God’s eyes.  Therefore if such were to marry anyone else other than the one with whom the promiscuity occurred, this is also sin.  The New Testament teaches that whatever is considered fornication is sin in Acts 15:29 and 21:25.  These passages are talking about how the Gentiles are not to be required to obey the Law of Moses, but fornication is mentioned as an exception.  Therefore one can conclude that any sexual behavior that was not permitted in under the Law, is also to be considered sinful for New Testament Christians.  The Law of Moses is generally more strict than New Testament ethics, but on the issue of fornication it is more permissive. 

Click here to read the next article in this sub-series.

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