I ran across an article online today discussing a modern day Christian’s thoughts on divorce. The following was taken from that article:
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. (emphasis’ mine)
That’s really as far as I could get in the article before I had to stop and blog it! I’ll go back in a minute to finish reading it. But I had some immediate “moments of truth” while reading this one paragraph!
First – who becomes an “expert in Jewish thought during Jesus’s era”? Seriously? I want to know! Maybe I’ll go that route too … that would be really cool to tell people that you have Ph.D. in Jewish Thought During Jesus’s Era! That’s too funny to me!
Second – DUH! Are there really people today who truly believe that the ONLY reason you can divorce your husband or wife is due to adultery? REALLY?? But I guess I’m not surprised it took someone who claims such expertise to spell it out for them. If your spouse is abusing you – you don’t have to stick around for the abuse! CHRIST drove the nails into his own hands FOR YOU. You don’t have to carry that same load! You don’t have to drive the proverbial nails into your own hands, you aren’t Christ. It’s not required of you! Thank you Jesus! And thank you God for that provision!!
But! Alas! Wait! There ARE people today who believe that EVEN IN THE CASES of adultery, abuse, neglect or abandonment a Christian should STILL not seek a divorce! Neither should they endorse a divorce if requested by the offending party! There are Christian Evangelical Pastors, right here in my own home town, preaching to families that with a little Love and Respect, God can heal anything as long as the spouses are willing to take full responsibility for each other’s actions. Note – I didn’t say take responsibility for their OWN actions – but take responsibility for the decisions of the other person. For example – if a wife is respectful enough of her husband he will never cheat on her again. And if a husband is loving enough to his wife, she will never cheat on him again. And that, my friends, is total and complete bull ****. So if he or she DOES cheat again it’s because the faithful spouse wasn’t loving or respectful enough – it has nothing to do with the fact that the cheater is an idiot, has no moral character and makes poor decisions without considering the very deep ramifications for those decisions. And, if he or she is lucky enough, and they are in one of these churches – well good for them because they are going to really enjoy watching the leaders attack and tear down the faithful spouse.
Third – and this one is a doozy! The author states that Christ was simply reiterating “…of one of several divorce permissions in the Old Testament…” I love that he brought this up because it goes to the heart of the New Testament. There is something a lot of us Christians fail to realize. There was no “New Testament” when Christ was on Earth for him to reference in his teachings. Everything he referenced in his teachings was from the Torah – the first 5 books of the Bible. Nothing else had been written yet. He went to the Temple and studied with the Jewish leaders of the day….who taught from the Torah. (Not that Jesus didn’t know it “by heart” already…come on… He’s GOD! He didn’t NEED to study with the Jewish Elders….) Christ WAS and IS the New Testament. The Scriptures that we call the New Testament are the Gospels about Christ time on Earth and then letters from His disciples written in an effort to fulfill the Great Commandment – to go out and make Disciples of Men. My point is not that he reiterated divorce permissions – but that Jesus did what he always did – he referenced the Torah, the Pentateuch, to teach us something about how to live TODAY.
Personally, I no longer believe that a man or woman should remain in a marriage that is not healthy. I would never pass judgement on someone for divorcing. Jesus was a sensible guy. God is a sensible God. As much as he HATES divorce – He also knows that we are only all human – and we are fallible. And we make mistakes. And that with those mistakes comes consequences.
I’m thankful for a God who is loving enough to realize that about us. And even more-so…knowing what a mess we’d make of this gift of life that He’s given us…He sent someone to pay our restitution.
The flat out truth is – I’m not really sure how much longer I’ll be married. I’m thankful for the umbrella of protection that comes with the world assuming I’m married. But things may be different a few years from now. I don’t know. You just never know what God has in store for you. None of us have any guarantee that in 2 years from now you won’t be a single mom, single dad, whatever.
I had an epiphany moment again yesterday. I realized that 2+2 does NOT always = 4 where God is concerned FROM MY PERSPECTIVE – but 2+2 will ALWAYS equal 4 as long as God is in control.
Now I’m going to go finish reading that article!