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Back of the book: When we were children and made a mistake during play, we could call for a “do-over” to get a second chance to get it right. For those of us who.
Table of contents

Jesus replies that divorce was only allowed, not commanded, and not ideal, and he again includes the porneia exception clause. Does the exception clause apply to divorce, or also to remarriage? Grammatically, it applies only to divorce. But the effect of the clause extends to remarriage.


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The adultery applies only to people who fit both conditions: 1 divorce without sufficient cause, and 2 remarriage. Jesus did not comment on the person who divorces because of porneia and then remarries. Rather, he implies that remarriage under such circumstances is permissible. Jesus sided with the strict school of the Pharisees on this point. Second, the disciples were not known for being smart.

They were often astonished by Jesus, or they did not understand or have faith. Their dismay in this case is similar, showing that they needed the teaching as much as the Pharisees did. If remarriage were permitted in some cases, why did Jesus speak about voluntary eunuchs? For two reasons: Some people will divorce for inadequate reasons, and they should not remarry. Not every disciple is affected by this saying. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

To the married I give this command not I, but the Lord : A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

Divorce, Annulments, and Remarriage

And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace…. Do not seek a divorce.

Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this…. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. Paul is addressing some problems the Corinthians had with sexuality. Perhaps influenced by a Greek philosophy that separated body and spirit, some were willing to accept an incestuous situation 1 Cor as if it had no bearing on spiritual maturity.

Others seem to have ceased sex even within marriage, perhaps thinking that sensual pleasures were incompatible with spirituality, and Paul therefore told them that they should have sex within marriage Paul then makes a few comments toward the unmarried and then toward the married If married Christians separate, he says, they cannot remarry.

There is no criticism or rebuke regarding such separations Furnish 41 ; the tone is matter-of-fact.

Part III: If a Person Has an Unscriptural Remarriage, What Must He Do to Become a Christian?

Who are these people? Those who had unbelieving spouses b The Christians in such circumstances should not initiate a divorce. Apparently so. Paul encouraged people to be single, but he made it clear throughout that it was simply his preference, not an apostolic command vv. Perhaps he expected Christ to return soon, or perhaps he simply expected persecution. Regardless, his advice was not a requirement, and it was based on a temporary situation. Paul permitted divorce, with possibility of remarriage implied, on the basis of desertion by an unbeliever.

He saw that the Corinthians faced a situation Jesus never addressed, and Paul did not rigidly adhere to the letter of the saying — he simply indicated that there was another exception. The Old Testament takes divorce as an already-established custom. Abuses were criticized, but the practice was not outlawed. The Synoptic Gospels report what Jesus said about divorce. In Mark and Luke, his statements seem to prohibit divorce, but Jesus did not intend for those statements to be used as an exceptionless code of conduct.

In Matthew, an exception is allowed for cases of porneia. Paul, recognizing that he faced a new situation, permitted divorce and remarriage in cases of desertion. Paul did not intend to provide an exhaustive list of exceptions just as none of his lists of spiritual gifts, virtues or vices is complete. Situations arise that were not addressed by either Jesus or Paul.

New situations may call for new exceptions, and new judgments. Paul indicates one way the church can judge: the principle of peace, which he deemed more important than a law-based prohibition. This suggests that Christians today may also use the principle of peace to release people from the bondage of certain marriage vows.

Ethical principles are more important than strict rules. Principles are sometimes even more important than the exercise of specific freedoms: Although a Christian may eat meat, it is better to abstain if eating might offend another believer Rom These examples show that principles are more important than narrowly defined laws. In a bad marriage, principles must be weighed. Commitment within marriage is an important principle; peace, unity and love are important, too. If the unity and love are so lacking that the marriage threatens Christian peace and joy, perhaps the principle of peace outweighs the principle of commitment.

The marriage may in fact be an oppressive relationship that opposes God. Divorce may be permitted for adultery. In financial terms, forgiving a debt does not necessarily imply an obligation to make a new loan. A Christian could forgive an adulterous spouse, having no desire for vengeance, and also have the wisdom not to stay with a person with a life-threatening character flaw. But reconciliation should be attempted.

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

May the guilty party remarry? Davis p. Admittedly, this can create awkward situations: There may be a divorce, the church may permit one person to remarry, and later accept the repentance of the other person and in effect allow spouse-swapping within the church. Time and counseling need to be involved before divorce and before a remarriage. Can divorced persons serve in the ministry? Some people read 1 Timothy in that way, but Keener refutes the arguments:. Bruce, F. Davis, John Jefferson.

Efird, James M. Marriage and Divorce: What the Bible Says. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon, Furnish, Victor Paul. Second edition, revised. Nashville: Abingdon, Geisler, Norman. Grand Rapids: Baker, House, H. Wayne, editor. Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, We will struggle to understand the Scripture if we approach it with this type of legal mindset.

Words, therefore, are central to the expression of His government. Rejection of His words is tantamount to rejection of Him and rebellion against His authority. It is in this sense that Scripture functions as authoritative in the life of the Church. The Biblical approach to marriage, divorce and remarriage is determined by the state of the covenant.

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What Does the Bible Say About Divorce and Remarriage?

Are we living faithfully in the covenant? At what point is covenant made? Under what conditions is the covenant actually broken in the eyes of God? We must remember that there is an important difference between being unfaithful to the covenant and the covenant actually being broken. Any type of sin is unfaithfulness, but covenant is stronger than the sin.

However, some sin is an actual breaking of covenant effectually dissolving it.


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From Genesis onward, we understand that marriage is to be lifelong. Any dissolution of marriage must be a radical breach of the divine institution. It could not occur without a rupturing of the human-divine relationship first. Indeed, that is what happened leading to the entrance of sin and all of the devastation that is its fruit.

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At the same time, we recognize that while the reason for divorce may be sinful the permission to divorce may actually be God-given. It is to say that there are situations when it is tolerated and valid. What leads to divorce is sin and evil. However, God provides mercy and grace within the aftermath of sin.