Thursday, January 03, 2013

RAD is bad part 3

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 divorce Two weeks ago 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 I will debunk some common misconceptions about additional exceptions that some Christian scholars try to argue for.

I don’t believe that you have to search the whole Bible to be sure that a commandment doesn’t have exceptions.

Other than the exception mentioned in Matthew 19:9 (which is mentioned above), I Corinthians 7:15 is the only passage in the New Testament which could possibly be construed as an exception by any stretch of the imagination.  But upon close examination of this passage, you can see that it isn’t.

I don’t believe that “not bound” (NIV or NAS translation) in this passage really means “OK to remarry”.  In Romans 7:2-3 it says that a woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives and if she marries another man while he is still alive, she is an adulteress.  The Greek word for bound (Strong’s # 1210) means legally binding or literally bound as with ropes.  In other words, the word for bound is chosen to indicate that the woman is prohibited from doing something which is in perfect agreement with the context. 

Note also that I Corinthians 7:39 says the same thing as Romans 7:2-3 and uses the same Greek word for bound.  This is important because someone might think that Romans 7:2-3 is just hypothetical because Paul is just using it as an analogy.  But it is clear from the context in I Corinthians 7:39 that Paul is here talking about a real commandment from the Lord which applies to all Christians.

But the word for bound in I Corinthians 7:15 is not the same Greek word.  The word used here means bound to slavery or servitude (Strong’s # 1402).  It is not saying that the deserted spouse is free from the type of bondage mentioned in Romans 7:2-3, but rather it is that he or she is free from the obligation to perform the biblical duties associated with marriage.  Some of these duties are mentioned in this chapter (especially verses 3-5).  The main theme of the chapter is about the pros and cons of getting married and whenever reference is made to a woman considering marriage she is always referred to as a virgin or a widow (e.g. verse 8--It goes without saying that all other women shouldn’t even consider marriage).  There is also a strong implication that I Corinthians 7:15 releases the deserted spouse from his or her obligation to try to keep the marriage alive.  And notice the phrase at the end of the verse: “God has called us to live in peace.”  Certainly someone could live in peace without being remarried, but to have to try to fulfill the obligations of marriage in this situation certainly would rob someone of their peace.  God is not the author of confusion--I Corinthians 7:15 does not contradict or provide an exception to the rule that women can never remarry after divorce.

Some people say that various exceptions come from the Old Testament.  I know of no such exceptions, but I think it is very clear from the teachings of Jesus that even if there was one, it would be superseded by Mark 10:12 and the other similar passages.  Paul said “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” Galatians 2:16, Acts 13:39.  More specifically, the Pharisees tried to justify their divorces (and by implication remarriages) using the Law of Moses (Matthew 19:7).  The Pharisees were not mistaken about divorce certificates being provided for in the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).  But Jesus clearly indicated that fulfilling the requirements of the Law was not good enough (Matthew 5:20, 19:9).  The implication here is that the laws concerning divorce in the Law of Moses were only a type of civil law and were meant to constrain even the wicked (Matthew 19:8), not to be confused with a moral justification of divorce and remarriage.  Jesus clearly holds his followers to a higher standard than the Law of Moses in these passages (Matthew 19:11).  And it is not that Jesus is creating a new teaching or making a new law here, but He is only teaching what was true from the beginning (Matthew 5:17-19, 19:4-6).  Morality did not change from the beginning, only the civil laws changed.  Passages like these and Mark 10:12, Luke 16:18, and Romans 7:2-3 can stand on their own without further interpretation.  The Bible does not contradict itself. 

If you are divorced and you think that you are an exception to the rule--so that you can remarry, you had better be really, really sure.  
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (KJV)

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

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