Grounds for divorce

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
This question isn't regarding anyone particular or close to me, as this topic typically is, I'm just trying to understand the teaching.

Matt. 19:8-9 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Matthew Henry comments:
Moses complained of the people of Israel in his time, that their hearts were hardened (Deut. 9:6; 31:27), hardened against God; this is here meant of their being hardened against their relations; they were generally violent and outrageous, which way soever they took, both in their appetites and in their passions; and therefore if they had not been allowed to put away their wives, when they had conceived a dislike of them, they would have used them cruelly, would have beaten and abused them, and perhaps have murdered them. Note, There is not a greater piece of hard-heartedness in the world, than for a man to be harsh and severe with his own wife. The Jews, it seems, were infamous for this, and therefore were allowed to put them away; better divorce them than do worse, than that the altar of the Lord should be covered with tears, Mal. 2:13. A little compliance, to humour a madman, or a man in a frenzy, may prevent a greater mischief. Positive laws may be dispensed with for the preservation of the law of nature, for God will have mercy and not sacrifice; but then those are hard-hearted wretches, who have made it necessary; and none can wish to have the liberty of divorce, without virtually owning the hardness of their hearts.

He further explains that Christ now forbids divorce due to hardness of hearts because we are under a dispensation of love:
The law of Moses allowing divorce for the hardness of men’s hearts, and the law of Christ forbidding it, intimate, that Christians being under a dispensation of love and liberty, tenderness of heart may justly be expected among them, that they will not be hard-hearted, like Jews, for God has called us to peace. There will be no occasion for divorces, if we forbear one another, and forgive one another, in love, as those that are, and hope to be, forgiven, and have found God not forward to put us away, Isa. 50:1. No need of divorces, if husbands love their wives, and wives be obedient to their husbands, and they live together as heirs of the grace of life: and these are the laws of Christ, such as we find not in all the law of Moses.

To me, Moses made the accommodation for divorce due to a hard heart because we don't live in a perfect world. Obviously the 1st century Jews were abusing it, but how is it any different today?

In a perfect world, husbands would not "beat, abuse, and perhaps murder" their wives, but they do. I don't follow Matthew Henry's logic that Christians are now under a dispensation of love. Because Jesus makes an accommodation for divorce due to adultery - that's not very Christian. Why not continue the accommodation for hatred like Moses did?
 
The Lord's provision for divorce, (through Moses and through himself in Matthew), is indeed a provision of love for people in a relationship with unrepentant adulterers.
 
This question isn't regarding anyone particular or close to me, as this topic typically is, I'm just trying to understand the teaching.

Matt. 19:8-9 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Matthew Henry comments:


He further explains that Christ now forbids divorce due to hardness of hearts because we are under a dispensation of love:


To me, Moses made the accommodation for divorce due to a hard heart because we don't live in a perfect world. Obviously the 1st century Jews were abusing it, but how is it any different today?

In a perfect world, husbands would not "beat, abuse, and perhaps murder" their wives, but they do. I don't follow Matthew Henry's logic that Christians are now under a dispensation of love. Because Jesus makes an accommodation for divorce due to adultery - that's not very Christian. Why not continue the accommodation for hatred like Moses did?
We have to take, at least in my understanding the whole scope.

1. Marriage is for life.
2. An unapproved divorce means lifelong singleness while the divorced partner is alive.
3. The scripture only gives 3 very clear reasons for divorce and remarriage, and abuse isnt one of them. They are sexual immorality, physical abandonment, and the death of a spouse.

When given Pauls testimony of the gift of singleness with the consequence of divorce, we see a picture painted. That is Jesus is giving you two crosses to choose from; you either divorce, and since not being gifted with singleness, your celibacy will become a cross instead of a blessing. Or, bear the cross of your present marriage and work it out until it becomes blessed once again, or deal with the cross of pro-longed celibacy. Notice he says "because of the hardness of your hearts." This isnt supposed to highlight divorce as an option, but as a disgrace on the sanctity of the vow. "Let no man separate what God has joined together." Again, another highlight of the severity.

Now days many people will still get divorced and try to put anything they do not like under abandonment. But that is not what the text is talking about. IT is talking about one spouse, packing up their things and leaving because of your faith in Christ. But, because no one would believe God would want you to bear the cross of celibacy for your infraction, many will convince themselves it is permissible to commit adultery and remarry.

The first downfall in America of the traditional family was not LGBTQ or the sexual revolution. It was divorce and remarriage. If it were a principle that men and women would have to be faithful to their vows, or else go without, their present issues with their spouses may start to pale in comparison to the thought of 20 years with no sexual relations. For the one gifted, that is their pleasure, for the one not, it would be excruciating unless grace were bestowed.

Just my thoughts. I have had this convo a lot, but have found that people who want to get divorced, are going to do so, and if they want to get remarried, nothing is going to stop them. Only God can be the judge of that on that day. Its hard to remain faithful to Jesus' words on the issue, when we tell ourselves all we have to do is ask for forgiveness, and all is well. It is too much for many, even in the case of abuse, to admit they made the wrong choice in a spouse and though sorrowful of their divorce, remain faithful to the consequences of their fate or indiscretion. I simply do not see in the text abuse as a given reason for approved absolution.
 
We have to take, at least in my understanding the whole scope.

1. Marriage is for life.
2. An unapproved divorce means lifelong singleness while the divorced partner is alive.
3. The scripture only gives 3 very clear reasons for divorce and remarriage, and abuse isnt one of them. They are sexual immorality, physical abandonment, and the death of a spouse.

When given Pauls testimony of the gift of singleness with the consequence of divorce, we see a picture painted. That is Jesus is giving you two crosses to choose from; you either divorce, and since not being gifted with singleness, your celibacy will become a cross instead of a blessing. Or, bear the cross of your present marriage and work it out until it becomes blessed once again, or deal with the cross of pro-longed celibacy. Notice he says "because of the hardness of your hearts." This isnt supposed to highlight divorce as an option, but as a disgrace on the sanctity of the vow. "Let no man separate what God has joined together." Again, another highlight of the severity.

Now days many people will still get divorced and try to put anything they do not like under abandonment. But that is not what the text is talking about. IT is talking about one spouse, packing up their things and leaving because of your faith in Christ. But, because no one would believe God would want you to bear the cross of celibacy for your infraction, many will convince themselves it is permissible to commit adultery and remarry.

The first downfall in America of the traditional family was not LGBTQ or the sexual revolution. It was divorce and remarriage. If it were a principle that men and women would have to be faithful to their vows, or else go without, their present issues with their spouses may start to pale in comparison to the thought of 20 years with no sexual relations. For the one gifted, that is their pleasure, for the one not, it would be excruciating unless grace were bestowed.

Just my thoughts. I have had this convo a lot, but have found that people who want to get divorced, are going to do so, and if they want to get remarried, nothing is going to stop them. Only God can be the judge of that on that day. Its hard to remain faithful to Jesus' words on the issue, when we tell ourselves all we have to do is ask for forgiveness, and all is well. It is too much for many, even in the case of abuse, to admit they made the wrong choice in a spouse and though sorrowful of their divorce, remain faithful to the consequences of their fate or indiscretion. I simply do not see in the text abuse as a given reason for approved absolution.

So if a man is physically abusive to his believing wife, to the point of forcing her out of the household, the burden of guilt is on the wife?

Seems like a manipulation of the law to me. This is what Jesus was condemning the pharisees for.

The provision for divorce in 1 Corinthians is given because the guilty party had basically already instituted a de facto divorce. By the offender insisting on abandoning the relationship, that becomes grounds for the believer to initiate legal divorce.

Can someone force their spouse out of their household, to the point of essentially rendering them abandoned, without actually leaving themselves? I think so.
 
So if a man is physically abusive to his believing wife, to the point of forcing her out of the household, the burden of guilt is on the wife?

Seems like a manipulation of the law to me. This is what Jesus was condemning the pharisees for.

The provision for divorce in 1 Corinthians is given because the guilty party had basically already instituted a de facto divorce. By the offender insisting on abandoning the relationship, that becomes grounds for the believer to initiate legal divorce.

Can someone force their spouse out of their household, to the point of essentially rendering them abandoned, without actually leaving themselves? I think so.
I apologize for taking so long. But we must consider this thing, that I believe many do not. Abuse is not original to the 21st century. In this we also miss the mark regarding redemption. If marriage is for life, why is it a sin to separate for a moment to work on your issues? A year, two years, 5 years? If the spouse is willing to remain married, then the covenant is not broken. But, the choice of divorce is still open to both parties, but in the case of abused, that choice comes with consequence. That consequence is singleness until you reconcile or the other spouse dies. Jesus was not talking about any other unfaithfulness except sexual immorality; Paul was not talking about any other abandonment except the spouse refuses to live with you because of your faith, and widowhood; that is self-explanatory. And this was in a time when many marriages were arranged; how much more in a time where people choose their spouses? The problem is many allegorize these three reasons to fit any situation.

This is why the cost of breaking the vow is so harsh, it is not to be taken lightly. Every marriage is a risk. You think of abuse, but what about the couple who get married then a month later one spouse becomes crippled, unable to even enjoy sexual relations, and now they are bound for 60 years amidst heart-ache and hardship. Is that too grounds for divorce? What about the pastors in illegal countries, who get arrested for their faith, and spend the rest of their lives in prison; is that union now invalid? Every mother who has children risks losing their lives during child birth; not only is being a wife a risk, but so is being a mother. This is why sex is used as the punishment. The procreative urge is almost irreversibly impulsive to those who are not gifted with singleness. Every yearning for sex in a separated relationship should emphasize the disparity of an unresolved fracture. This should lead you to begging, pleading, praying, pursuing; actively reconciliation at any cost. And, both parties should be experiencing this. Yet, if one does not, does this give the other an excuse to be unfaithful? Why would it? Are they going to stand before God on that day as a couple, or alone? The Bible says give God room for wrath. Yet would we rob him of enacting his justice to become just like the one who did us wrong? Again, many just do not understand how severe an illustration "the two shall become one flesh" depicts. It literally is saying, you cannot survive if someone were to cut you in two.

It will always come down to whom and what we hold in higher esteem; God, or our own desires? The adulterous murderer who kills, yet repents, is their or their illegitimate childs life automatically saved? Or might God smite their child, or send them to prison, or thrust them in a life of violence; not counting it against the salvific standing on account of their repentance; but as a consequence of their actions. Even Moses, dear Moses was forbid the Promised Land for one angry outburst; and God talked to him face to face; was he not beloved?

When we add this with all God forgives us for, yes, it is because of the hardness of our hearts that we cannot forgive an adulterous spouse, an abusive spouse, an addicted spouse, etc. Why, because many of us really do not believe love never fails. We want to be loved, but God forbid we should get mocked, slapped, smacked, spit upon, whipped, stripped naked, humiliated for love. And yet if marriage is an earthly expression of a heavenly principle, we should all be thankful our Lord was willing to do that for his bride while we are not willing to do it for our spouses. But, I think this cross is what he had mind for some to bear for their marriages. For, just like those who are patient to endure the hardship, with their eye on the prize, they can say with the one who suffered more than us all for his spouse; that for the joy set before them, they endured their cross.

Now I am not saying one should be a punching bag, nor stay where they are actively getting abused; certainly not. But I do believe reconciliation should be the primary goal. And this is where the risk for the abused comes in; that is, they will have to trust God, and trust their spouse once again for that to happen after the time of healing. And the even greater principle is this; if they will not trust God, nor their spouse, even if abused; they must be faithful to the dictates of unsanctioned divorce, even though they are not gifted; and even though they are beloved.

Gods love for us will never contradict his word. And in a way, it just may be a Jobian test to see if we in fact love him. Jesus said, "if you love me, you will obey me." Not only when it is convenient. And what a life we may have, if God in his sovereignty predestines us to a life of depending on daily grace to get by, in faithfulness; rather than to fulfill our fleshy angst of pursuing an excuse to disobey him; and possibly the perpetual unclean conscience of that letter A always in the back of our minds..

There really isnt anything God cant and wont forgive; but he will not be mocked. That should make us wretches exceedingly and reverently fearful. That is, he can both pardon our souls and punish our mistakes, and still do both in love.
 
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@davejonescue

I'm not disagreeing with you at all that marriage is intended to be a lifelong commitment, and that reconciliation is always priority.

However, if we accept "willfull desertion" as a legitimate reason for divorce, we have to realize that the act of desertion is an act of one's will. What we will at one point in time is not necessarily eternal.

How do we discern what constitutes willfull desertion? Is there a period of time that a spouse must be gone for? Can they leave for five years and say "it's OK hunney, I'll be back."?

If I tell my wife and kids that I love them, and I just want to go away for a year, I would expect my elders to call out my desertion and earnestly beg me to repent. I can cloak my intentions by saying that I am going to come back some day, but the truth is I made a temporal decision to abandon them.

If I refuse to repent, my wife has the right to divorce me because of my hard heartenedness. If I change my mind in five years after the divorce, it's too late. I reap what I sowed in my willfull desertion.
 
I apologize for taking so long. But we must consider this thing, that I believe many do not. Abuse is not original to the 21st century. In this we also miss the mark regarding redemption. If marriage is for life, why is it a sin to separate for a moment to work on your issues? A year, two years, 5 years? If the spouse is willing to remain married, then the covenant is not broken. But, the choice of divorce is still open to both parties, but in the case of abused, that choice comes with consequence. That consequence is singleness until you reconcile or the other spouse dies. Jesus was not talking about any other unfaithfulness except sexual immorality; Paul was not talking about any other abandonment except the spouse refuses to live with you because of your faith, and widowhood; that is self-explanatory. And this was in a time when many marriages were arranged; how much more in a time where people choose their spouses? The problem is many allegorize these three reasons to fit any situation.

This is why the cost of breaking the vow is so harsh, it is not to be taken lightly. Every marriage is a risk. You think of abuse, but what about the couple who get married then a month later one spouse becomes crippled, unable to even enjoy sexual relations, and now they are bound for 60 years amidst heart-ache and hardship. Is that too grounds for divorce? What about the pastors in illegal countries, who get arrested for their faith, and spend the rest of their lives in prison; is that union now invalid? Every mother who has children risks losing their lives during child birth; not only is being a wife a risk, but so is being a mother. This is why sex is used as the punishment. The procreative urge is almost irreversibly impulsive to those who are not gifted with singleness. Every yearning for sex in a separated relationship should emphasize the disparity of an unresolved fracture. This should lead you to begging, pleading, praying, pursuing; actively reconciliation at any cost. And, both parties should be experiencing this. Yet, if one does not, does this give the other an excuse to be unfaithful? Why would it? Are they going to stand before God on that day as a couple, or alone? The Bible says give God room for wrath. Yet would we rob him of enacting his justice to become just like the one who did us wrong? Again, many just do not understand how severe an illustration "the two shall become one flesh" depicts. It literally is saying, you cannot survive if someone were to cut you in two.

It will always come down to whom and what we hold in higher esteem; God, or our own desires? The adulterous murderer who kills, yet repents, is their or their illegitimate childs life automatically saved? Or might God smite their child, or send them to prison, or thrust them in a life of violence; not counting it against the salvific standing on account of their repentance; but as a consequence of their actions. Even Moses, dear Moses was forbid the Promised Land for one angry outburst; and God talked to him face to face; was he not beloved?

When we add this with all God forgives us for, yes, it is because of the hardness of our hearts that we cannot forgive an adulterous spouse, an abusive spouse, an addicted spouse, etc. Why, because many of us really do not believe love never fails. We want to be loved, but God forbid we should get mocked, slapped, smacked, spit upon, whipped, stripped naked, humiliated for love. And yet if marriage is an earthly expression of a heavenly principle, we should all be thankful our Lord was willing to do that for his bride while we are not willing to do it for our spouses. But, I think this cross is what he had mind for some to bear for their marriages. For, just like those who are patient to endure the hardship, with their eye on the prize, they can say with the one who suffered more than us all for his spouse; that for the joy set before them, they endured their cross.

Now I am not saying one should be a punching bag, nor stay where they are actively getting abused; certainly not. But I do believe reconciliation should be the primary goal. And this is where the risk for the abused comes in; that is, they will have to trust God, and trust their spouse once again for that to happen after the time of healing. And the even greater principle is this; if they will not trust God, nor their spouse, even if abused; they must be faithful to the dictates of unsanctioned divorce, even though they are not gifted; and even though they are beloved.

Gods love for us will never contradict his word. And in a way, it just may be a Jobian test to see if we in fact love him. Jesus said, "if you love me, you will obey me." Not only when it is convenient. And what a life we may have, if God in his sovereignty predestines us to a life of depending on daily grace to get by, in faithfulness; rather than to fulfill our fleshy angst of pursuing an excuse to disobey him; and possibly the perpetual unclean conscience of that letter A always in the back of our minds..

There really isnt anything God cant and wont forgive; but he will not be mocked. That should make us wretches exceedingly and reverently fearful. That is, he can both pardon our souls and punish our mistakes, and still do both in love.
I’m having a very hard time understanding how a man who habitually and violently beats his wife and children is even remotely in the same universe as a man who becomes crippled and can’t have sex with his wife anymore.
 
@davejonescue

I'm not disagreeing with you at all that marriage is intended to be a lifelong commitment, and that reconciliation is always priority.

However, if we accept "willfull desertion" as a legitimate reason for divorce, we have to realize that the act of desertion is an act of one's will. What we will at one point in time is not necessarily eternal.

How do we discern what constitutes willfull desertion? Is there a period of time that a spouse must be gone for? Can they leave for five years and say "it's OK hunney, I'll be back."?

If I tell my wife and kids that I love them, and I just want to go away for a year, I would expect my elders to call out my desertion and earnestly beg me to repent. I can cloak my intentions by saying that I am going to come back some day, but the truth is I made a temporal decision to abandon them.

If I refuse to repent, my wife has the right to divorce me because of my hard heartenedness. If I change my mind in five years after the divorce, it's too late. I reap what I sowed in my willfull desertion.
I see your point, but I think there are ways to tell. For instance, Paul makes it clear that the desertion was based on the other spouses conversion; hence, if they are willing or not willing to live with you. If after conversion, a spouse abandons the other, because of their Christianity, I think there will be little effort from the departing spouse to put up a charade of future reconciliation. This is why my temporal time period of willful separation was in the context of abuse and not religious desertion. Those who are perpetrators and victims of abuse must do two different things. 1. The victim needs to remove themselves from the active abuse. 2. The perpetrator needs counseling and repentance. These things both may take extended periods of time from each party; but the cohesion will be both parties seek ultimate reconciliation . A woman, for instance, may not feel comfortable risking abuse again until strenuous counseling is done on the husbands part, or vice versa; and this may be a year, 3 years, or five years; which is a drop in the bucket in a 50 or 60 year marriage. As far as a general desertion; like a father "going to pick something up from the store" and never coming back; it should be well assumed, and quickly confirmed by the eldership that he was either kidnapped, or deserted his spouse, since the behavior of not coming home is so out of the ordinary. If it can be further confirmed that the husband has left, plus "moved on," I think that is definitely a legitimate case of desertion. I however have a problem allegorizing everything we dont like, then trying to say our spouse deserted us because they may or may not live up to a biblical ideal. Desertion is physically abandoning their family and spouses; not addiction, abuse, laziness, etc.
 
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I’m having a very hard time understanding how a man who habitually and violently beats his wife and children is even remotely in the same universe as a man who becomes crippled and can’t have sex with his wife anymore.
Both were used in the context of the covenant being a risk; whether the manifestation of a marital reality we didnt imagine comes about through abuse, or tragedy, a vow taken in "good times" doesnt necessarily mean the remainder of that covenant is going to be just as good as when you took it. But what is not covered in the vow "for better or worse, until death do us part?" So many people all good with the better, but when the worse comes thats when they contact the lawyers.

And this goes further into the context of my statement. If you do contact the lawyers, dont try to fit your reason for divorce into the three clearly explained reasons where remarriage is allowed by allegorizing them to suit your fancy if it doesnt fit. Be a man or woman, and suffer the long-term consequence of your divorce. Which is reconciliation, or celibacy until the other spouse dies.

This is why I showed a correlation to Moses' and David's punishments even in the midst of their blessedness. So many people believe God would not desire they be alone for divorcing; but ask those same people if they think God would kill an innocent child because of their indiscretion or cut their callings short for a single bout of anger?
 
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3. The scripture only gives 3 very clear reasons for divorce and remarriage, and abuse isnt one of them. They are sexual immorality, physical abandonment, and the death of a spouse.
So what do you think of Matthew Henry’s commentary where (at least in the time where Israel was a state) divorce was permitted if your heart was hardened toward your spouse? i.e. you hated your spouse and divorce was preferred to physical abuse.
 
So what do you think of Matthew Henry’s commentary where (at least in the time where Israel was a state) divorce was permitted if your heart was hardened toward your spouse? i.e. you hated your spouse and divorce was preferred to physical abuse.
Divorce being permitted, and divorce and remarriage being permitted are two different thing, at least I think. A valid grounds for divorce does not necessarily mean a valid grounds for remarriage. Of what I have read in scripture, the only valid reason for divorce is sexual immorality; and abandonment if you take it is a form of divorce. But, divorce is one sin, divorce and remarriage is another. I also think this was one of Jesus' "you have heard it said, but I tell you" statements, but I could be wrong on that.
 
Both were used in the context of the covenant being a risk...
You aren't understanding me. Do you agree that there is a qualitative difference between a husband being incapacitated and a husband repeatedly violently assaulting his family? You are speaking as if the difference is only in degree, not kind.

But what is not covered in the vow "for better or worse, until death do us part?"
Adultery? Abandonment by an unbeliever?
 
You aren't understanding me. Do you agree that there is a qualitative difference between a husband being incapacitated and a husband repeatedly violently assaulting his family? You are speaking as if the difference is only in degree, not kind.


Adultery? Abandonment by an unbeliever?
They are different kinds of risk, but risks none the less.

I think you are more partial to the former, because you may very well see an instance where that may be you. But you judge the other more harshly, because you not being an abusive husband, it is hard for you to fathom that such is worthy and capable through grace, of repentance and restoration, so it seems you are giving the offended an easier road to be done with it. Yet, even in the case of your crippling, God forbid it should happen, your spouse is still a victim of circumstance, and though what she suffers may not be abuse, it may be the same or worse in the areas she will perpetually lack due to your inability; such as provision, protection, and sexual intimacy.
 
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Abuse is an absolute condition for divorce. Abuse has both abandonment and adultery in a mix of degrees in every case. Let's not sacrifice people in the name of preserving a covenant that has already been violated. Especially since marriage is for the mutual help of man and woman.
 
Abuse is an absolute condition for divorce. Abuse has both abandonment and adultery in a mix of degrees in every case. Let's not sacrifice people in the name of preserving a covenant that has already been violated. Especially since marriage is for the mutual help of man and woman.
I don't believe it does. I think that is an allegorization people tell themselves to forgo the implications of sinful divorce and remarriage. Again, abuse is not original to our present time, and while a person may divorce if they so choose, abuse would not save them from the implications of non-reconciliation. Saying it is abandonment and adultery, is eisegesis at best. The text clearly defines what those mean within their context. Redefining them at will not only muddied the waters, but potentially gives credence for anything we do not like not only to be defined as abuse, but adultery and abandonment as well.
 
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But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

To fail to provide for your family is worse than denying the faith.

Is abusing your wife as a pattern failing to provide for her safety?
 
It's like I said. The texts are pretty clear, but if people want to divorce, or divorce and remarry, they are going to. I have yet to meet a Christian practicing long-term celibacy in the face of non-reconciliation. That is how rare obeying it is. Again, many can't fathom God would want you to be alone as a result of breaking the covenant; so, he will be the ultimate judge on the issue. Wish I could be of more help, but most people have their minds made up before they ask. They are only looking for affirmation: not really the severity of the issue.

The gate is narrow indeed.
 
I think that is an allegorization people tell themselves to forgo the implications of sinful divorce and remarriage. (...) Saying it is abandonment and adultery, is eisegesis at best.
You keep saying this, but you have yet to prove it.

The text clearly defines what those mean within their context. Redefining them at will not only muddied the waters, but potentially gives credence for anything we do not like not only to be defined as abuse, but adultery and abandonment as well.
I appreciate the motivation behind this. I really do. "Abuse" has become a trojan horse to infiltrate leftism into the church (in America, at least). At the same time, is this not the risk with every doctrine being handled by a fallen sinner—i.e., for it to be twisted to suit nefarious ends? Yet to say that we ought to formulate our doctrine on the basis of potential misconstruals reeks of pragmatism to me.
 
You keep saying this, but you have yet to prove it.


I appreciate the motivation behind this. I really do. "Abuse" has become a trojan horse to infiltrate leftism into the church (in America, at least). At the same time, is this not the risk with every doctrine being handled by a fallen sinner—i.e., for it to be twisted to suit nefarious ends? Yet to say that we ought to formulate our doctrine on the basis of potential misconstruals reeks of pragmatism to me.
I think one of the easiest ways to prove it is think of all the Christians you know who have gotten divorced. Now, did they reconcile or marry another. And out of them, how many are forgoing marriage due to the inability to reconcile?

If you want me to copy and paste the scriptures we all know, I can do that too. But it will have to wait until I get off work.
 
I think one of the easiest ways to prove it is think of all the Christians you know who have gotten divorced. Now, did they reconcile or marry another. And out of them, how many are forgoing marriage due to the inability to reconcile?
Respectfully, brother, I think part of the problem here is that I simply cannot follow most of what you post. I have no idea what you’re getting at here.
 
So if a man is physically abusive to his believing wife, to the point of forcing her out of the household, the burden of guilt is on the wife?

Seems like a manipulation of the law to me. This is what Jesus was condemning the pharisees for.

The provision for divorce in 1 Corinthians is given because the guilty party had basically already instituted a de facto divorce. By the offender insisting on abandoning the relationship, that becomes grounds for the believer to initiate legal divorce.

Can someone force their spouse out of their household, to the point of essentially rendering them abandoned, without actually leaving themselves? I think so.
I tried to find the PCA position paper on divorce and remarriage. There are at least three threads that had links but they no longer work for me. Can anybody find it for this thread?

The part I wanted to quote from that paper is old references to the Puritans If I recall correctly, or else old Reformed theologians who came after them. The gist of it is that if a husband is so violent that the wife leaves him, the responsibility for the leaving is on him, not her, and she is free to divorce. I realize the word "abuse" can be misused, and "he hurts my feelings" probably does not qualify, but, this sentence above in the thread: " The scripture only gives 3 very clear reasons for divorce and remarriage, and abuse isn't one of them. " directly contradicts that PCA position paper.

I have a dear Christian friend who ended up in the hospital getting X rays, after patiently enduring years of total misery. The night she went to the ER, previously her kids were watching, and the 11 year old son had a loaded rifle aimed at his Dad's head in case Dad went any farther. ( He's pretty messed up and recently renounced Christianity, but two sisters profess faith. ) With all that, she hesitated to divorce until she found out that in order to get any child support , or force him to pay the kids health insurance, she had to file for divorce, and just separation meant no child support at all. (PA, don't know about all states). I put the burden for that divorce on the state, not on her.

Anyway, might be nice to dig out that old PCA paper.
 
I tried to find the PCA position paper on divorce and remarriage. There are at least three threads that had links but they no longer work for me. Can anybody find it for this thread?

The part I wanted to quote from that paper is old references to the Puritans If I recall correctly, or else old Reformed theologians who came after them. The gist of it is that if a husband is so violent that the wife leaves him, the responsibility for the leaving is on him, not her, and she is free to divorce. I realize the word "abuse" can be misused, and "he hurts my feelings" probably does not qualify, but, this sentence above in the thread: " The scripture only gives 3 very clear reasons for divorce and remarriage, and abuse isn't one of them. " directly contradicts that PCA position paper.

I have a dear Christian friend who ended up in the hospital getting X rays, after patiently enduring years of total misery. The night she went to the ER, previously her kids were watching, and the 11 year old son had a loaded rifle aimed at his Dad's head in case Dad went any farther. ( He's pretty messed up and recently renounced Christianity, but two sisters profess faith. ) With all that, she hesitated to divorce until she found out that in order to get any child support , or force him to pay the kids health insurance, she had to file for divorce, and just separation meant no child support at all. (PA, don't know about all states). I put the burden for that divorce on the state, not on her.

Anyway, might be nice to dig out that old PCA paper.
Lynnie, I am of the opinion that murder, like adultery, is a death penalty offense. We are allowed, perhaps even expected for our and the greater good, to defend ourselves against someone attempting to murder or rape us, or to murder or rape our child. Defend ourselves to the death.

I have assumed that if we can kill a man trying to kill us, well, we can/should divorce him. In light of God's law. So I would say your friend in the hospital had more than ample grounds for divorce. It's attempted murder. Not a man being crabby or dismissive!
 
They answered, “Moses permitted a man to write his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away.” But Jesus told them, “Moses wrote this commandment for you because of your hardness of heart. 6However, from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” When they were back inside the house, the disciples asked Jesus about this matter. 11So He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

"Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hardness of heart; but it was not this way from the beginning. 9Now I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery.” 10His disciples said to Him, “If this is the case between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry.”

It has also been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, brings adultery upon her. And he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If a brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy But if the unbeliever leaves, let him go. The believing brother or sister is not bound in such cases.

So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.


I apologize if I am not really seeing all of these reasons for all of these things to fall under the above. These look very clear, especially in their context. Maybe I will never see it and just be that weird guy about this issue. But, given the prevalence of differing opinions, the weakness of the flesh, and the innate sexual desires of mankind; all I can lean on is the text; and the text looks very clear; even having it seems, more text to clarify its position than complementarianism vs egalitarianism. But, if any wondered, this is where my opinions stemmed from. I'm sorry I just have to let God be true in this case, and every man a liar.
 
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First time poster so apologies if this has been asked before but if a spouse has refused any intimacy for years and refuses to even talk about it, would that be abondamment?
 
They answered, “Moses permitted a man to write his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away.” But Jesus told them, “Moses wrote this commandment for you because of your hardness of heart. 6However, from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” When they were back inside the house, the disciples asked Jesus about this matter. 11So He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

"Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hardness of heart; but it was not this way from the beginning. 9Now I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery.” 10His disciples said to Him, “If this is the case between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry.”

It has also been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, brings adultery upon her. And he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If a brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy But if the unbeliever leaves, let him go. The believing brother or sister is not bound in such cases.

So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.


I apologize if I am not really seeing all of these reasons for all of these things to fall under the above. These look very clear, especially in their context. Maybe I will never see it and just be that weird guy about this issue. But, given the prevalence of differing opinions, the weakness of the flesh, and the innate sexual desires of mankind; all I can lean on is the text; and the text looks very clear; even having it seems, more text to clarify its position than complementarianism vs egalitarianism. But, if any wondered, this is where my opinions stemmed from. I'm sorry I just have to let God be true in this case, and every man a liar.
I have not thought about this topic for some time so while it is settled in my mind, I am open to a critique of my position. I largely agree with David. I believe the Biblical position is:
(1) As books and passages such as Song of Songs and Malachi 2 demonstrate, marriage is the clearest picture of our relationship to God making the covenant of marriage the most important that can be made, and the most important to be upheld by individuals and societies.
(2) In a fallen world, divorce is permissible. In Matthew 5 Christ neither permits or forbids divorce: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorcement. But I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife...." but rather acknowledges what has already been established in the moral law (consider what He had just said about the Law in vs. 17-19). But He does restrict its application back to the original gracious intent - no one should be forced to remain (though they may choose to do so) with a sexually unfaithfully spouse: "...except it be for fornication." The original Mosaic allowance for divorce and remarriage was for adultery: "When a man taketh a wife, and marrieth her, if so be she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath espied some filthiness [this is the Hebrew עֶרְוָה = indecent and shameful sexual "naked" behaviour] in her, then let him write her a bill of divorcement" (Deut. 24.1), though v.3 seems to open the door wider.
(3) This does not mean that there cannot be other reasons for divorce (such as abuse). But not all reasons for divorce are also reasons for allowing remarriage. Christ, in keeping with Moses, limits remarriage after divorce to those whose covenant of marriage has been broken by adultery. As M. Rothenbuhler alluded to, adultery, like murder, is a capital offense. Someone who commits adultery is considered covenantally "dead" (whether the punishment is meted out by the civil magistrate or not) and the "surviving" spouse is free to remarry. A woman who is divorced (for any reason) is no longer under the authority of the man she was married to (see Numbers 30.10), but she is still under the authority of God (as is the man) who does not permit her to remarry unless the moral grounds for doing so (her divorced husband remarries/commits adultery) are met.
(4) Practically speaking, I cannot think of any of my friends/family who have been divorced (regrettably it is a long list) whose departing partner did not either commit adultery prior to the divorce or remarry (which Christ defines as committing adultery after the divorce). In either case, the remaining partner (that is "remaining" true to the/their covenant of marriage) is free to remarry. Even in cases where I have seen divorce because of abuse or "incompatibility," one partner ends up finding someone else and commits adultery after the divorce, again freeing the remaining partner to remarry. In other words, I think those having difficulty with David's Biblical position that someone who divorces for reasons other than adultery may not remarry but should patiently seek/await reconciliation are missing the reality that most of the time this is quickly resolved by the departing partner committing adultery, thus ending the requirement to seek reconciliation (they may continue to do so, but they are also free to remarry). That there may be a case where an abandoned or divorced spouse has to wait years for their departed partner to commit adultery or die is possible and tragic, but I am confident that they are very few such cases.
(5) Some other thoughts on this topic:
I would suggest that there may be a "lower bar" for what constitutes adultery. Nowhere in Scripture is adultery limited to sexual intercourse outside of marriage - note Christ's words in Matt.5.32: "But I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife except it be for fornication [sexual promiscuity of any type] causeth her to commit adultery [breaking the covenantal bond]: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery." Sessions should investigate to some degree whether or not a person asking to be remarried in their Church is morally allowed to (evidence of the departed spouse's remarriage or living with someone else or civil documents verifying adultery, for examples).
 
As M. Rothenbuhler alluded to, adultery, like murder, is a capital offense. Someone who commits adultery is considered covenantally "dead" (whether the punishment is meted out by the civil magistrate or not) and the "surviving" spouse is free to remarry. A woman who is divorced (for any reason) is no longer under the authority of the man she was married to (see Numbers 30.10), but she is still under the authority of God (as is the man) who does not permit her to remarry unless the moral grounds for doing so (her divorced husband remarries/commits adultery) are met.
I am trying to understand the nuances here. Is a husband who abuses his wife (physically, but also mentally in certain cases) in no way breaking the covenant he made to God regarding her?
 
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