Divorce question?

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Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Here is a divorce scenario that I've been thinking about for a while (and this scenario is common in a lot of families these days).

A woman gets married. Then she gets divorced (and it's not because of fornication or anything of that nature, its just because they didn't want to be together anymore, there is no legitimate reason), and she and her ex-husband are both still alive but didn't have any children. Later, she gets married again and has children with her new husband. Her ex-husband is still alive but never remarried. She on the other hand did remarry and now has two children. 20 years go by and the children are at a somewhat mature age.

She is technically living in adultery according to Matthew 5:32 (But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.)

So, if she stills lives with the 2nd husband she is still living in adultery but she can't exactly just end the relationship because both of them now have children together.

What is the best thing for the woman to do in a situation like this. Still live in adultery for the kids sake or what other options does she have? Many people are in these circumstances and I've been wondering what the best possible option, Biblically speaking, would there be. Or does the Bible not give us enough on this topic to be able to give a definite answer?
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
She is technically living in adultery according to Matthew 5:32
She may have committed adultery by an unlawful remarriage, but that doesn't mean she continues to live in adultery for the rest of her life. The woman at the well had 5 husbands, and the context was she had unlawfully married the other 4, but they were still husbands.

Grace is restorative. In confessional Reformed churches the woman in your scenario would never be denied membership unless she agreed to divorce her current husband any more than someone who converted from Hinduism would be told that they were idolaters. The best thing is for them to find a confessional Reformed church to join where she won't be told that she is living in adultery. She doesn't need that sort of extra Biblical burden placed on her.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Not sure why this question is bothering you.
It's not bothering me, I don't think I ever used that word. Plus this is a forum where we ask questions and have discussion, right? It's a personal question I wanted to see the Reformed position on. I won't go more in-depth than that since it is personal (although it's not about me or my immediate family).

Tim, I think you bring up a good point I haven't thought about yet..."She may have committed adultery by an unlawful remarriage, but that doesn't mean she continues to live in adultery for the rest of her life."

Is this the Reformed position: that one doesn't continue to live in adultery for the rest of their life but that adultery was committed by the unlawful marriage? If it is true then there is no dilemma because she would just continue the way she has.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Is this the Reformed position: that one doesn't continue to live in adultery for the rest of their life but that adultery was committed by the unlawful marriage? If it is true then there is no dilemma because she would just continue the way she has.
I can't think of a confessional Reformed denomination that would see her as living in adultery under the circumstances you've outlined. Believe me, I've had to look at this subject, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. An informed PCA, OPC, ARP, etc.. elder would be able to explain it further.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Is this the Reformed position: that one doesn't continue to live in adultery for the rest of their life but that adultery was committed by the unlawful marriage? If it is true then there is no dilemma because she would just continue the way she has.
I can't think of a confessional Reformed denomination that would see her as living in adultery under the circumstances you've outlined. Believe me, I've had to look at this subject, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. An informed PCA, OPC, ARP, etc.. elder would be able to explain it further.
Alright Tim, thanks for your response, I appreciate it.
 

Michael

Puritan Board Senior
Claudiu,

Your example lacks a few important details, but based upon what you shared, namely that they got divorced just "because they didn't want to be together anymore", it should be clarified that the first husband sinned as well (if the divorce was indeed mutual). This is so even if he never remarries, fornicates, or whatever else.

However, this sin is not beyond the scope of forgiveness. It is a grave and heinous offense--and certainly not one to be taken lightly--but should it be followed at some point by Godly repentance, there is yet hope. Tim's reference to the woman at the well also came to my mind. Christ didn't tell her to go back to her first husband by any means.

There is a frightening problem that exists for those who take this situation lightly though. For instance, if there is a couple who outwardly profess faith in Christ and yet grow weary of each other and pursue divorce thinking that they will just repent of it later and God will forgive...the results can be horrible. My former pastor used to call this sort of thing "attempting to swipe the grace credit card." I've seen this sort of thing happen before, and sadly what happens is that those involved so easily forget the sovereignty of God. More often than not what happens is that their hearts are hardened and before they know it there is no true desire to repent as a result.

The simple lesson here is that God is not mocked and we are not to be so foolish as to think that we can play games to our own advantage.

But back to the OP, for those who make their mistakes but seriously seek Christ alone as their remedy, 1 Cor 6:9-11 comes most poignantly to mind:

the Apostle Paul said:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the point of saying that you commit adultery by marrying another is to emphasize the nature of the offense against the divorced spouse -- that is to say, you have been disloyal to him/her. I don't think it was meant to provide a rule for the rest of your life. I agree with Tim, that once that offense has been committed, the damage is done. At that point, if there is repentance, there is forgiveness. Think of David and Bathsheba. He obtained her by adultery and was convicted for it, but later married her.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Is this the Reformed position: that one doesn't continue to live in adultery for the rest of their life but that adultery was committed by the unlawful marriage? If it is true then there is no dilemma because she would just continue the way she has.
I can't think of a confessional Reformed denomination that would see her as living in adultery under the circumstances you've outlined. Believe me, I've had to look at this subject, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. An informed PCA, OPC, ARP, etc.. elder would be able to explain it further.
The PRCA would...

http://www.prca.org/articles/family/family_12.html

Mat. 19:

10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Those who remarry, while their original spouse still lives, are living in continual adultery. Repentance from that sin is to leave the new spouse and remain unmarried, or be reconciled to the original spouse (I Corinthians 7:11). Reconciliation must be prayed for, sought out, zealously, for God's sake and the children's.
Hey, Bert

I'd heard about that denomination from other posts on this forum. I notice they aren't part of NAPARC, and I can see why. We confessional Reformed folk usually don't have too much time for that sort of authority to be invested in our leadership.

September 05, 2009, 4:20AM
HUDSONVILLE -- Leaders of the Protestant Reformed Church in America agreed clergy and those serving on congregations' governing bodies must send their children to denomination-affiliated schools.

That was the consensus last week at the PRCA's annual synod at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville.

The decision affects more than 300 office holders in the denomination's 30 congregations.
PRCA synod votes to require clergy to send their children to denomination's schools | Grand Rapids Living - - MLive.com
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Bottom line is that the adulterer needs to repent. Thank you all for your responses. Greatly appreciated.
 

reformedminister

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think that if a person finds themselves in this situation and comes to a real relationship with Christ, they should have the knowledge that they sinned. What they need to do at this point is confess their sin to God and move on with their life. When I was twenty two I got married to a Christian woman. I myself was a Christian too. However, after only a month into the marriage I got involved in a Oneness Pentecostal Church (much like a cult). After a year and a half my wife told me she would divorce me if I did not leave the church I was attending. Unfortunately because of false teaching I was led to believe that I would go to hell if I did because the belief system that I embraced was "the truth". When I sought council with my pastor, he told me to let my wife divorce me because she was an "unbeliever". I was ignorant and young in the Lord and obeyed the council that I was given. My wife obviously was given ungodly council as well. Later I came to my senses and tried to get back with my ex-wife. I admitted my sin, which was letting her divorce me. Five years had gone by and my ex-wife was living with another man. She didn't want to reconcile because she had gone through a lot of pain and was now in love with another man. The important thing for me is that my conscience was clean. I admitted my sin and tried to reconcile. Now, I have moved on with my life and have been happily married for eleven years with children. God hates divorce and so do I! My situation was messed up, as many churches and this nation when it comes to this issue.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Bottom line is that the adulterer needs to repent. Thank you all for your responses. Greatly appreciated.
We might also say, the consequences of unbiblical divorce and subsequent remarriage by the guilty party are enormous, last a lifetime, and can have effects beyond a lifetime, to generations.

Similarly, with true repentance and suffering to seek reconciliation as much as is within one's power, can lessen the lifetime consequences, and any effect on future generations.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hey, Bert

I'd heard about that denomination from other posts on this forum. I notice they aren't part of NAPARC, and I can see why. We confessional Reformed folk usually don't have too much time for that sort of authority to be invested in our leadership.
This is less than a charitable reply, which does not direct itself to the arguments actually made in the linked article.

For example, how do you respond to these important words from Rev. Gritters:

"Why this strict teaching of Scripture? Because marriage is a bond made by God, to be broken only by Him. No legal contract that can be broken by the parties at their will and whim, marriage is God's bond (I Corinthians 7:39). Genisis 2 says, "They two shall be one flesh." No man can do that."
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey, Bert

I'd heard about that denomination from other posts on this forum. I notice they aren't part of NAPARC, and I can see why. We confessional Reformed folk usually don't have too much time for that sort of authority to be invested in our leadership.
This is less than a charitable reply, which does not direct itself to the arguments actually made in the linked article.

For example, how do you respond to these important words from Rev. Gritters:

"Why this strict teaching of Scripture? Because marriage is a bond made by God, to be broken only by Him. No legal contract that can be broken by the parties at their will and whim, marriage is God's bond (I Corinthians 7:39). Genisis 2 says, "They two shall be one flesh." No man can do that."
Personally, I think there is a faulty understanding there of what it means to be "one flesh", and this is what leads some people to think that remarriage is never permitted, even when divorce is. Rev. Gritters' paper even suggests that remarriage is worse than divorce itself: "Divorce is an evil because of the sin it often leads to: remarriage." I think this is backwards, and I also don't think it makes much sense.

First, all of the biblical passages that relate to divorce and remarriage, it seems to me, are focused on divorce itself. In Matthew 19, the pharisees asked about divorce, and that is the question Jesus answers. His statement that you commit adultery by marrying another is to emphasize the nature of divorce and the offense against the divorced spouse. The Jews thought divorce was okay, as long as you gave your wife a certificate. Jesus says no, the certificate means nothing. If you divorce your wife to marry another, you are cheating on her; and since it is assumed that she will marry again also (note Matthew 5:32: "makes her"...), then there is adultery against that original marriage all the way around, by virtue of the divorce. The point, I think, is not to prescribe rules for a subsequent remarriage; it is to say "don't get divorced in the first place, as this is a grave thing." Obviously, if there is no divorce, then remarriage will not be an issue.

We see a similar thing in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. Some people key in on "she should remain unmarried", but once again, notice what the passage is about. He is talking about divorce. He starts out with "the wife should not separate from her husband" and he ends up with "and the husband should not divorce his wife." The statement about remarriage is sandwiched in between. Paul does not bounce between a rule on divorce, then a rule on remarriage, and then back to a rule on divorce, all in the same short sentence. Rather, the whole passage is about divorce. He says, as the Lord did, "don't get divorced". But then he says, "but if she does....". So now he is addressing a woman who had unlawfully separated from her husband, and he gives the command we would expect: Go no further, stay where you are or be reconciled, you should not have separated in the first place. He may be referring to a particular person in a particular situation here, but either way it appears that reconciliation is at least still an option: "stay unmarried or be reconciled". He is not, I believe, even beginning to address a circumstance where a divorce is, say, 10 years old and the former spouse has long since remarried, etc. He is not laying down a rule for the subsequent conduct of your life; rather he is laying down a rule for not irreparably separating from your spouse in the first place.

Second, back to the issue of "one flesh". To say that this forever prohibits remarriage is, I think, to view this phrase in metaphysical or ontological terms that scripture does not recognize. Scripture views marriage as a covenant. (Mal. 2:14). Adam's statement in the garden "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" is best seen as a covenant declaration. Adam is not telling God something that God already knows, he is making a covenant vow. See the similar language at 2 Sam. 5:1, where Israel makes its commitment to King David: "Behold, we are your bone and flesh." So it is a covenant, not a metaphysical reality that can never be broken. The idea that "you are still married in God's eyes", because somehow this "one flesh" union, once forged in the cosmic furnace, can never be broken, simply does not appear in scripture.
Now to call marriage a covenant is not to take it lightly, as it is a most solemn, life-long covenant. But, the fact is, it can be broken. Jesus does not say, "what God put together, man CANNOT put asunder." He says, "what God put together, LET not man put asunder." He recognizes that man can break the covenant of marriage; this is precisely why he says, "don't."

I think the "metaphysical" view of "one flesh", while ostensibly taking marriage as seriously as possible, actually leads not only to a lot of confusion and difficulty, but to a mixing up of priorities. The church ends up taking little of an active role in addressing actual divorces, thinking that as long as people don't remarry then all is not lost. And of course it's easier to prohibit remarriage in every case than it is for pastors to get there hands dirty and deal with the particulars of each situation. I could say a lot more on this topic, having dealt with this as a divorced person in the church these last 10 years, but I think I've droned on long enough.

Briefly, on several other points:

Some of Rev. Gritters' citations are not relevant. Romans 7:1-3, for example, simply has nothing to do with this issue.

Rev. Gritter's take on "enslaved" in 1 Cor. 7 is at least highly debatable. I don't have knowledge of Greek myself, but many scholars apparently disagree with his view. See, for example, Tom Schreiner's "Paul: Apostle of God's Glory in Christ" at 430-431.

Rev. Gritter's statement that "repentance from that sin [remarriage] is to leave the new spouse and remain unmarried, or be reconciled to the original spouse" is a bit perplexing to me, because it would seem directly to violate Deuteronomy 24:4, "her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled [remarried], for that is an abomination before the Lord." Jesus Christ abrogated Deuteronomy 24:1-3, and it is often pointed out that God does not positively allow divorce there, but merely acknowledges its practice; but it appears that 24:4 is an actual command of the Lord. I don't see why that is not still in effect, so to speak.
 

Dieter Schneider

Puritan Board Sophomore
In response to Claudiu responding to me I think that perhaps my comments found here may be of interest. I think that the Church can often be obsessed with sexual sins! Perhaps adultery may take place when a spouse refuses to obey 1.Cor.7:1ff., and there are many examples when husbands do not live with their wives - which may be work related (see 1.Peter 3:7). I know of many professing Christians who have committed adultery (also note Mt.5:28 and the context). We need to be careful, surely, about being censorious and self-righteous, lest we fall ourselves! Notwithstanding, the Church has a duty to discipline all who live in open sin, but perhaps not without tears!
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
For example, how do you respond to these important words from Rev. Gritters:

"Why this strict teaching of Scripture? Because marriage is a bond made by God, to be broken only by Him. No legal contract that can be broken by the parties at their will and whim, marriage is God's bond (I Corinthians 7:39). Genisis 2 says, "They two shall be one flesh." No man can do that."
I respond that the author should repent and accept what the WCF says about the subject rather than use tortured reasoning.
 

Nate

Puritan Board Junior
For example, how do you respond to these important words from Rev. Gritters:

"Why this strict teaching of Scripture? Because marriage is a bond made by God, to be broken only by Him. No legal contract that can be broken by the parties at their will and whim, marriage is God's bond (I Corinthians 7:39). Genisis 2 says, "They two shall be one flesh." No man can do that."
I respond that the author should repent and accept what the WCF says about the subject rather than use tortured reasoning.
Isn't the WCF much more explicit than the 3FU on this matter? Why should clergy in a denom that holds to the 3FU be required to subscribe to the WCF in an instance like this?
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
As a Presbyterian we know that the Westminster Confession of faith says on marriage and divorce that the basis she ended her first marriage was not according the Westminster standards.

V. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.[11] In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce,[12] to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.[13]

VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:[14] wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their own case.[15]

However, with true repentance and suffering to seek reconciliation as much as is within her power, I would say because of her long 2nd marriage and 2 grown children, God would forgive her and restore her to his grace. I think and hope her Presbytery session and the elders of her congregation would do the same.
 

Galatians220

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Prof. David Engelsma, in the April, 2006 issue of "Protestant Reformed Theological Journal," wrote a very eloquent, cogent, Scriptural defense of marriage based on Jeremiah 3: Protestant Reformed Theological Journal: April 2006

I've always liked the individuals whom I know in the PRC and their churches. Might disagree with a point or practice or two of theirs (my past denomination considers the PRC to be Arminian... whatever...) but I do enjoy attending their services when we go to Grand Rapids. There are some very friendly and hospitable people in the PRC.

Margaret
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Her first marriage and divorce was not according the Westminster standards

As a Presbyterian we know that the Westminster Confession of Faith says on marriage and divorce that the basis she ended her first marriage was not according the Westminster standards.

V. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.[11] In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce,[12] to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.[13]

VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:[14] wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their own case.[15]

However, with true repentance and suffering to seek reconciliation as much as is within her power, I would say because of her long 2nd marriage and 2 grown children, God would forgive her and restore her to his grace. I think and hope her Presbytery session and the elders of her congregation would do the same.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
Prof. David Engelsma, in the April, 2006 issue of "Protestant Reformed Theological Journal," wrote a very eloquent, cogent, Scriptural defense of marriage based on Jeremiah 3: Protestant Reformed Theological Journal: April 2006
:up:

I've always liked the individuals whom I know in the PRC and their churches. Might disagree with a point or practice or two of theirs (my past denomination considers the PRC to be Arminian... whatever...) but I do enjoy attending their services when we go to Grand Rapids. There are some very friendly and hospitable people in the PRC.

Margaret
Hi Margaret,

The PRCA being considered "Arminian" is amusing, because the most common insult hurtled their way, is that they are "Hyper-Calvinists!"

Evangelical Committees from the PRCA have personally and generously kept us spiritually alive and hopeful for almost a decade.

They are good folk; faithful Christian brethren; undeserving of the various criticisms and misrepresentations they endure.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Hi Margaret,

The PRCA being considered "Arminian" is amusing, because the most common insult hurtled their way, is that they are "Hyper-Calvinists!"

Evangelical Committees from the PRCA have personally and generously kept us spiritually alive and hopeful for almost a decade.

They are good folk; faithful Christian brethren; undeserving of the various criticisms and misrepresentations they endure.
lol...

on another forum I have been accused of being arminian AND hypercalvinist, and that in one sentence...

---------- Post added at 08:28 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:19 PM ----------

I should not have responded to Bert's comment. I'm sorry.
I gladly accept your apology. I also often speak without putting brain in gear first.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Protestant Reformed not alone

Is this the Reformed position: that one doesn't continue to live in adultery for the rest of their life but that adultery was committed by the unlawful marriage? If it is true then there is no dilemma because she would just continue the way she has.
I can't think of a confessional Reformed denomination that would see her as living in adultery under the circumstances you've outlined. Believe me, I've had to look at this subject, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. An informed PCA, OPC, ARP, etc.. elder would be able to explain it further.
The PRCA would...

The Family: God's Will Concerning Remarriage

Mat. 19:

10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
Not a denomination, but a minority of Anglicans both high Church Anglo Catholics, and Low Church Reformed types, hold a position identical to the Protestant Reformed Church position. Engelsma's Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church graces many a Rector's book shelf.
I know many Anglican clerics that will not marry a divorced person if their former spouse is living. For that matter I know of Baptist Elders who will not marry a divorced person if their former spouse is still living.
For the record, this is one a few issues where I disagree with the Protestant Reformed.
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
Is this the Reformed position: that one doesn't continue to live in adultery for the rest of their life but that adultery was committed by the unlawful marriage? If it is true then there is no dilemma because she would just continue the way she has.
I can't think of a confessional Reformed denomination that would see her as living in adultery under the circumstances you've outlined. Believe me, I've had to look at this subject, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. An informed PCA, OPC, ARP, etc.. elder would be able to explain it further.
The PRCA would...

The Family: God's Will Concerning Remarriage

Mat. 19:

10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
Not a denomination, but a minority of Anglicans both high Church Anglo Catholics, and Low Church Reformed types, hold a position identical to the Protestant Reformed Church position. Engelsma's Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church graces many a Rector's book shelf.
I know many Anglican clerics that will not marry a divorced person if their former spouse is living. For that matter I know of Baptist Elders who will not marry a divorced person if their former spouse is still living.
For the record, this is one a few issues where I disagree with the Protestant Reformed.
When you say "identical", do you mean that they likewise advise remarried people to divorce their spouses?
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
When you say "identical", do you mean that they likewise advise remarried people to divorce their spouses?
Good question. Another one: It would be interesting to see in how many branches of the Anglican church would a church court uphold a requirement to divorce a spouse under those circumstances if a complaint were to be filed. I rather think it would be similar to excommunicating an officer for homeschooling.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
When you say "identical", do you mean that they likewise advise remarried people to divorce their spouses?
Good question. Another one: It would be interesting to see in how many branches of the Anglican church would a church court uphold a requirement to divorce a spouse under those circumstances if a complaint were to be filed. I rather think it would be similar to excommunicating an officer for homeschooling.
A minority among Anglican clerics would hold that a person may seek a divorce because of adultery/fornication. The fact of the divorce does not mean they are then free to remarry. They would hold that such a marriage is adulterous while the former spouse is living and would suspend such a person from the Lord's Table.
I know this seems odd given the conduct of Henry VIII.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Anyway, if someone gets divorced according to their state's no-fault code and then remarries based upon their supposition that God recognizes whatever law the unbelieving authorities have enacted... I don't mean to argue with anyone; I just see that as a problem.
The difference in opinion on this particular thread is not between what the PRCA says about remarriage as opposed to the State of Michigan, but what the PRCA says as opposed to the Westminster Confession of Faith.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
I rather think it would be similar to excommunicating an officer for homeschooling.
The question of what should be done with a clergyman who does not send his children to a good Christian School but instead chooses to educate them at home is a separate issue. A new thread would be in order to discuss this issue.
 
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