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ccchhhrrriiisss
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 TIME Magazine: "An Evangelical Rethink of Divorce?"

[b]An Evangelical Rethink on Divorce? [/b]
By DAVID VAN BIEMA
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

On questions relating to the Bible's treatment of family and morals, one might expect assurance, if not rigidity, from Evangelical Christianity. So, it may surprise many to learn how "live" the topic of divorce remains in Evangelical circles. Last month, the cover story of the monthly [i]Christianity Today[/i] was titled "When to Separate What God has Joined: A Closer Reading on the Bible on Divorce." The heated controversy provoked by the story showed how Biblically flexible some Evangelicals can be — especially when God's word seems at odds not just with modern American behavior, but also with simple human kindness.

As the article's author, the British Evangelical scholar David Instone-Brewer, points out, for most of 2,000 years Christians have viewed divorce through two scriptural citations. In Matthew, the pharisees ask Christ, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?" Jesus refers to the Old Testament and then replies, "Whoever divorces a wife, except for sexual indecency, commits adultery." The apostle Paul adds in the book First Corinthians that a Christian is "not bound" to a non-Christian spouse who abandons him. Simple, right?

Instone-Brewer radically reinterprets the first passage using, of all things, quotation marks. The Greek of the New Testament didn't always contain them, and scholars agree that sometimes they must be added in to make sense of it. Instone-Brewer, an expert in Jewish thought during Jesus's era, writes that Christ's interlocutors were not asking him whether there was any cause at all for divorce, but whether he supported something called "any-cause" divorce, a term a little bit like "no-fault" that allowed husbands to divorce wives for any reason at all. Instone-Brewer claims Jesus's "no" was a response to this idea, and that his "except for sexual indecency" condition was not a statement of the sole exemption from God's blanket prohibition, but merely Christ's reiteration of one of several divorce permissions in the Old Testament — one he felt the "any-time" advocates had exaggerated. Finally, Instone-Brewer tallies four grounds for divorce he finds affirmed in both Old and New Testaments: adultery, emotional and sexual neglect, abandonment (by anyone) and abuse.

[i]Christianity Today[/i] has written previously on divorce, often bemoaning how easy it is in today's America. However, the Instone-Brewer essay appeared to be its editors' attempt to offer Evangelicals an escape from a classic dilemma. The "plain sense" of Jesus's words without quotes seems clear enough, but also inhumane: how could a loving God forbid divorce, even by omission, in cases of wife-beating, or of abandonment by a Christian spouse?

Each branch of Christianity deals with divorce in its own way: Catholicism bans it entirely, but many divorced and remarried couples nonetheless find that their conscience permits them to take Communion. Liberal Protestantism accepted divorce some decades ago without much engagement of the scriptural issue. Evangelicals define themselves as being tightly bound by scripture. But besides the humanitarian problem, there are some uncomfortable facts on the ground: The divorce rate among Evangelicals, which first became news after polls released by the Barna Research Group in 2001, has been as high or higher than the national average.

The Evangelical movement has actually made tremendous accommodations given the strictures it lives under. Ministries for the newly divorced are common at megachurches; and on the historically less-rigid Pentecostal side of the spectrum, celebrity preachers Juanita Bynum and Paula White both recently [url=http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1666552,00.html]announced their intention to divorce[/url]. Most experts interviewed for this story attested that whereas 30 years ago, a pastor might well order a battered woman home to return her husband, that is rare today.

More conservative Evangelicals remain uneasy about divorce. If a split itself is inescapable, notes [i]Christianity Today[/i] editor Andy Crouch, "remarriage is where the rubber meets the road," and many remarried couples find themselves denied church membership. Says Russel Moore, dean of the 16.3 million-member Southern Baptist Convention's influential Southern Seminary, "We teach our future pastors that marriage is a lifelong, one-flesh union." Any woman in an abusive marriage should "leave that situation," he acknowledges, and a "majority" probably accept remarriage. Asked if [i]he[/i] does, Moore demurred: "Let me think about that for a little bit. I could answer in a way that would be very easily misunderstood."

Evangelical conflict on the topic was obvious in reader response to the Instone Brewer essay. Initially the mail was heavily negative. The most stinging broadside sas a column by John Piper, a respected theological conservative, that called the essay not just weak but "tragic." The magazine's editor in chief, David Neff, felt the need to explain online that "Instone-Brewer's article did not... give people carte blanche on divorce." The mail eventually leveled off at 60% negative to 40% positive.

Still, the controversy suggests that even the country's most rule-bound Christians will search for a fresh understanding of scripture when it seems unjust to them. The implications? Flexibility on divorce may mean that evangelicals could also rethink their position on such things as gay marriage, as a generation of Christians far more accepting of homosexuality begins to move into power. (The ever-active Barna folks have found that 57% of "born-again" Christians age 16-29 criticize their own church for being "anti-homosexual.") It could also give heart to a certain twice-divorced former New York mayor who is running for President and seeking the conservative vote. But that may be pushing things a bit.

:-(

[url=http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1680709,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-full-nation]CLICK HERE[/url] for full article.


_________________
Christopher

 2007/11/6 11:55Profile
iansmith
Member



Joined: 2006/3/22
Posts: 963
Wheaton, IL

 Re: TIME Magazine: "An Evangelical Rethink of Divorce?"

This is a case when the scripture says something clearly, in several places, and we ignore it in order to continue living our practically aethiestic lifestyles. Does God's word speak any more?


_________________
Ian Smith

 2007/11/6 12:29Profile









 Re: What is the correct definition of fornication?



Matthew 19:9
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.


Throughout scripture God says His people fornicated but how could they fornicate if He was married to them? Than I was thinking that it's possible that He used that word because they forsook Him completely. Notice that He gave them the bill of divorcement but did not send them away,they went away from Him.

I'm wondering if adultery means that you commit a one time act (or even more than once) but fornication means you have forsaken your covenant entirely. The word whoredom is also used.

http://cf.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=02181

http://www.zhubert.com/ -(#4202 under find)

http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=greeklexicon&isindex=4202

Im wondering if fornication is a word to describe those who just want to commit whoredom and not have a covenant???

Fornication is the only allowance Jesus gave to divorce.

It's possible that adultery and fornication are used hand in hand because you are first an adulterer before you are a fornicator. First you commit adultery and than you decide to not return making you a fornicator(without a covenant). Even if that person remarries they are still without a covenant but you are free. If you remarry than the covenant would be terminated.

God could not have ever of broken His marriage covenant to His people.

God also made a covenant to never again flood the earth. Who would doubt whether or not God would flood the earth again???

Is His covenant to not flood the earth greater than His covenant to His people???

Genesis 9:13 (King James Version)
13I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

BUT...

....yet He said they fornicated, well how could they fornicate if they were married to Him? Is it because the covenant on their part was broken but His was not? Isn't it only when the husband/wife refuses to return and they have broken their part of the covenant making them fornicators?




Isaiah 50:1 reads,

"Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away."

"I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."

 2007/11/6 13:28
Compton
Member



Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re:

Hi Ian,

Quote:
Does God's word speak any more?



This is indeed sad.

I am reminded of the old puritan wisdom; a land is not made wicked when the wicked living in it do wicked things, but when the righteous living in it do wicked things without reproof.

From this perspective, we can honestly say our land is being made wicked by the very church who should be preserving righteousness. May God truly and powerfully help us.

Blessings brother,

MC


_________________
Mike Compton

 2007/11/6 13:44Profile









 Re:

Quote:

MY QUOTE:


Matthew 19:9
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.


Throughout scripture God says His people fornicated but how could they fornicate if He was married to them? Than I was thinking that it's possible that He used that word because they forsook Him completely. Notice that He gave them the bill of divorcement but did not send them away,they went away from Him.

I'm wondering if adultery means that you commit a one time act (or even more than once) but fornication means you have forsaken your covenant entirely. The word whoredom is also used.

http://cf.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=02181

http://www.zhubert.com/ -(#4202 under find)

http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=greeklexicon&isindex=4202

Im wondering if fornication is a word to describe those who just want to commit whoredom and not have a covenant???

Fornication is the only allowance Jesus gave to divorce.

It's possible that adultery and fornication are used hand in hand because you are first an adulterer before you are a fornicator. First you commit adultery and than you decide to not return making you a fornicator(without a covenant). Even if that person remarries they are still without a covenant but you are free. If you remarry than the covenant would be terminated.

God could not have ever of broken His marriage covenant to His people.

God also made a covenant to never again flood the earth. Who would doubt whether or not God would flood the earth again???

Is His covenant to not flood the earth greater than His covenant to His people???

Genesis 9:13 (King James Version)
13I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

BUT...

....yet He said they fornicated, well how could they fornicate if they were married to Him? Is it because the covenant on their part was broken but His was not? Isn't it only when the husband/wife refuses to return and they have broken their part of the covenant making them fornicators?




Isaiah 50:1 reads,

"Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away."

"I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."





Im going to do some more studying on this subject.

If Isreal was in fornication than who divorced who first? Would God divorce His people for no reason? Of course not. So we can only conclude than that Isreal forsook God first making them fornicators right? Weren't they married before the following verses?:


Wasn't God married to Isreal before
2 Chronicles?


2 Chronicles 21:11
Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.

2 Chronicles 21:10-12 (in Context) 2 Chronicles 21 (Whole Chapter)

Isaiah 23:17
And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.

Isaiah 23:16-18 (in Context) Isaiah 23 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 16:15
But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.

Ezekiel 16:14-16 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 16:26
Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy sleeperdoms, to provoke me to anger.

Ezekiel 16:25-27 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 16:29
Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied therewith.
Ezekiel 16:28-30 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)

[color=0000CC]Im not divorced and remarried just so you'll know, Ive only been married once so this is not about me if you were wondering ;-) .[/color]


 2007/11/6 14:10









 Re:



Hi glorytoglory,

This subject has been incompletely covered in many threads here in the past, mainly in the Scriptures and Doctrine forum.

you asked

Quote:
....yet He said they fornicated, well how could they fornicate if they were married to Him?

The word 'fornicate' is a general term for sexual sin. This means it can be committed between married partners as well as with someone outside a marriage or who is single.

In Matthew, Jesus is quoted as having used the word for a woman whose marriage had been consummated. In the light of Jewish betrothal practices, this is an important difference which ministers His thought into the New Covenant era.

Some of the links in the older threads on this topic, are very good.

 2007/11/8 11:20
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: TIME Magazine: "An Evangelical Rethink of Divorce?"

Quote:
Instone-Brewer radically reinterprets the first passage using, of all things, quotation marks. The Greek of the New Testament didn't always contain them, and scholars agree that sometimes they must be added in to make sense of it.


I have just finished reading Instone-Brewer's book. It is a challenging viewpoint. I would recommend that folks read it before they reject it. It is 350 pages of carefull reasoning; it will be hard work for some but I would recommend reading it.


[url=http://www.amazon.com/Divorce-Remarriage-Bible-Literary-Context/dp/0802849431/ref=sr_11_1/105-0342729-3886825?ie=UTF8&qid=1194542812&sr=11-1]Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible; the Social and Literary Context.[/url]

One of the difficulties, sometimes, in understanding the scriptures is trying to work out the question that was being answered. This is particularly so in 1st Corinthians. This book tries to understand the social context of the key scriptural passages. His thesis is that we cannot understand the scriptural comments without the cultural context. He certainly explains the cultural context well. I think this is an honest book written by a man of integrity. He has been a 'research fellow at Tyndale House in Cambridge, England'.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2007/11/8 12:29Profile
JelloTaster
Member



Joined: 2006/11/6
Posts: 44
Winnipeg MB

 Re:

I don't believe that everyone who is divorced is going to end up in eternal hellfire. That being said, I do think it's an indicator of spiritual lack, especially when we start dealing with remarriage.

This man may present some good arguments, but if I have to be a scholar and know my greek and my jewish history and so on and so on, then my Bible is worth nothing. If I need to present a 350 page, difficult to read argument of why any doctrine is Biblical, it probably isn't. Chris


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Chris Wiebe

 2007/11/8 15:53Profile
PreachParsly
Member



Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164
Arkansas

 Re:

Quote:

JelloTaster wrote:

This man may present some good arguments, but if I have to be a scholar and know my greek and my jewish history and so on and so on, then my Bible is worth nothing. If I need to present a 350 page, difficult to read argument of why any doctrine is Biblical, it probably isn't. Chris



Well, then maybe the book just isn't for you? What's the purpose of making comments like this?


_________________
Josh Parsley

 2007/11/8 16:07Profile
lastblast
Member



Joined: 2004/10/16
Posts: 528
Michigan

 Re:

It is interesting that in 1900 the episcopal church in NY was split over this issue of remarriage after divorce: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9405E5DF1339E733A25756C1A9649C946197D6CF

Some of the churches at that time broke away with the main church over this issue. It is ironic that today we see the same thing going on in the Episcopal church......same actions of separation, different sin. Then it was adultery (remarriage), now it is homosexuality.

I read an excerpt someone sent me by R.A.Torrey in his book, How to Pray. In it, he calls divorce, 'legalized adultery' and says that those who remarry are actually living with other people's spouses. What some of us believe today to be true was even believed by some of the great men of the faith of yesteryear.


_________________
Cindy

 2007/11/8 18:16Profile





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