A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A Discussion of Divorce and Remarriage

Several of you have asked recently for our thoughts on what the Bible says about a divorced person remarrying.  This is a HUGE issue for abuse victims/survivors for reasons that you already know.  Christians want to obey Christ, no matter how hard that might be.  This zeal and love for the Lord is often used by abusers to keep their victims in bondage — “You know that the Bible says you can’t divorce me.” You all know how that goes, I am sure.

On top of the abuser’s deceptions, victims also have to deal with the advice of “well-meaning-Christian” friends.  What I find incredible is how quickly Christians can be to pronounce judgment upon a divorced and/or remarried person when even a brief survey of books and sermons on the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage evidences an obvious disparity of opinion among Christians.

  • Some churches exercise church discipline if a member violates their no-divorce-for-any-reason position, and pronounce as adulterous those who remarry.
  • Many others insist that divorce is not permitted by God for abuse, but only for adultery and literal desertion.
  • Some of them also would even ex-communicate an abuse victim who divorces their abuser, and if they were to remarry, they would again be viewed as guilty of adultery.

This is doing cruel harm to victims of abuse who often are sincere Christians, doing their best to know God’s will and obey it.

In this article, I am just going to state some basic conclusions I have come to, giving what I believe to be the biblical support for those positions.  However, if anyone is going to have a clear conscience and come to a sound decision on what God says about marriage, divorce, and remarriage, you are going to need to do some study of Scripture yourself and see it for yourself.

You can get some help in such a study and I would recommend that you begin by getting a copy of Barbara Roberts’ book Not Under Bondage [*affiliate link].   You can find it on her website notunderbondage.com or at any book retailer.  The value of this book is that not only does it examine the pertinent Scriptures, but it does so through the lens of abuse, Barbara being a survivor of abuse herself.  So I recommend that you start there.

David Instone-Brewer’s book, Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities [*affiliate link] has also helped a number of victims that I know.

Does God permit divorce for abuse?

My Answer:  Yes.  Most assuredly, yes.  Now, please understand that we are defining abuse as the habitual, evil quest for power and control over another human being, characterized by a profound sense of entitlement to possession of that power, and by a virtually conscienceless rationale of justification for using whatever means are necessary to maintain that power and control.  We say this lest critics claim we teach people they can divorce for virtually any sin on the part of their spouse.

But God does permit divorce for abuse.  Why?  Because abuse is a violation of the terms (vows) of the marriage covenant. Marriage is a covenant –

Proverbs 2:16-17   So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God

Ezekiel 16:8  When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine.   [Here, God compares His covenant with Israel to a marriage, indicating that marriage is a covenant].

Malachi 2:14  But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
[By the way, did you know that in verse 16 in the ESV, as in several other translations, a “favorite” phrase used to support the no-divorce-for-abuse position is missing?]

So marriage is a covenant. Covenants have terms, just like our contracts today have terms. Covenants can be broken. In fact, there is only one covenant that cannot be broken: the New Covenant established by Christ for His Church.  That covenant is unbreakable because Christ has met all of the terms for us AND He effects a heart-change in His people so that they love Him and obey Him (See Jeremiah 31:31ff; Hebrews 8).

When Israel broke her covenant with the Lord, the Lord divorced her —

Jeremiah 3:7-8  And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me,” but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.  She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.

God then remarried.  In Christ, He established the New Covenant with the true Israel, His Church. Is it going too far then to maintain that God is divorced and remarried? I don’t think so. The Israel He married in the New Covenant is not the physical nation of Israel that broke the Old Covenant. Oh, I know that the woodenly literal hermeneutics of much of contemporary evangelicalism will disagree. But this is one reason reformed theology has helped me and many others so much. God does not have two peoples and two plans of salvation for each.  He has one people, His Church — and that Bride is the true Israel, set to inhabit the New Heavens and the New Earth, the real Promised Land. So God did not turn right around and re-marry the same wife when He effected the New Covenant in Christ.

Galatians 4:24-26  Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

Romans 2:28-29  For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

In my opinion then, once we understand that marriage is a covenant, and the vows taken by the husband and wife are the terms of that covenant, things begin to fall into place.  This means that a marriage covenant can be destroyed by the ongoing, unrepentant violation of the vows.  

It means that the offended party has a right to sue for divorce, which is nothing more than asking the civil authorities to recognize that the marriage has been destroyed by the guilty party.

So then, what are the vows?

The terms of this “deal” or contract?  Are they only that neither spouse will commit adultery?  “I promise in the presence of God and these witnesses that I will not chase after other women/men.  As long as I don’t do that, you are stuck with me for life”? No, it seems that we recall some other promises in the vows.  Things like love, honor, cherish.  Does the abuser keep those vows?  Of course not. Abuse is precisely the opposite of what was promised. Abuse smashes the terms of the covenant. The innocent party is not under bondage of that covenant any longer, and they can divorce, if they so choose.

What about re-marriage then after divorce?

Some Christians teach and believe that once divorced, a person can never marry again, at least as long as their ex-spouse is still alive. Many abuse victims have been pronounced guilty of adultery when they remarried.

I like what a member of our Wednesday Bible study said recently: “We make the abuse victim wear the scarlet ‘A,’ but we should be making the abuser wear this label —’A’ — (abuser).”

God does not prohibit remarriage absolutely.  He condemns remarriage by the guilty party following a treacherous divorce (Roberts’ term).  Even in such a case as a treacherous divorce, however, I do not believe we should make widespread pronouncements that sentence even the guilty party to lifetime celibacy.  What, for example, if that guilty spouse truly repents later? Emphasis on truly. Are we going to tell him/her that God would never let them marry again?

In other words, it is an error to take Jesus’ words in isolation and make them an all-inclusive, absolute law for all situations —

Luke 16:18  Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Far too many Christians and pastors and writers come along, see a verse like this, and BOOM! — it’s their answer for every situation. No divorce, no remarriage.   But other Scriptures indicate otherwise.  God did re-marry after divorce.

I am sure that some of you can provide even more insight — this is only a bare beginning.  But let me conclude my comments by encouraging you to remember this:  Whenever our interpretation and application of Scripture results in putting innocent people under a heavy load of cruel bondage. it is time for us to go back and re-examine how we have handled Scripture. Because something has gone wrong.

God does not do this to people —

Matthew 23:4  They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

In contrast, this is Jesus’ way —

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Following Christ is tough.  It can be incredibly difficult.  But in the kind of labor and difficulty He calls us to, there is this “rest” in our souls.

***

* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ  gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

Related posts:

Do not add an extra clause to the marriage covenant after it has been ratified

Marriage Vows: What Are We Really Vowing to Do? (by one of our readers)

Profaning God’s name with false vows

False Vows do not a Covenant Make – by Pastor Dietrich Wichmann

Another reason why Christ’s covenant with the church is DIFFERENT from the covenant of marriage between a husband and wife.

 

 

38 Comments

  1. Marianne

    HI Jeff, I am going to read this again. You gave sound reasoning for what you said. Thank you for teaching on a subject that most churches will not. You have given me hope that God is with me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Great, Marianne! And as I said, if you haven’t read Barbara’s book, be sure to do so. It goes into much more detail and is very helpful.

  2. “Whenever our interpretation and application of Scripture results in putting innocent people under a heavy load of cruel bondage, it is time for us to go back and re-examine how we have handled Scripture. Because something has gone wrong. God does not do this to people!”

    Well put, Jeff!

    Jesus was very clear in saying that He came “to set the captive free.” He did not come for the purpose of heaping yet more burdens on top of an already overly burdensome system of legalism.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Joe. I believe that in our zeal to protect the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, we have somehow developed a Pharisee type hermeneutic. We study Greek and Hebrew in seminary. We carefully analyze syntax and grammar and do in-depth word studies. But then so often it seems that on important issues like divorce, remarriage, forgiveness, reconciliation, and so on, we end up in a totally bizarre and illogical conclusion that hurts people. That is the very thing Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for. Is it possible that the conservative, Bible-believing church (like mine) has been enslaved by a New Pharisaism of tradition that trumps Scripture? The thing may be spread far more widely than we think. The Pharisees were oblivious to it themselves.

      • “Is it possible that the conservative, Bible-believing church (like mine) has been enslaved by a New Pharisaism of tradition that trumps Scripture?”

        I believe that is exactly the case…and I say that even as I realize I’ve been there myself…and likely still am in areas that I have not yet seen…

        Our bent toward legalism is stronger than most of us realize. God’s grace is too radical for most of us to fully accept and embrace…even those of us who grew up in church under regular Bible study…

      • “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

        If we could ever fully grasp the meaning of this verse…fully comprehend the impactful nature of Jesus Christ, we would never again view scripture or the Christian life the same.

        We (myself included) tend to either fall too far toward Law, in exclusion of Grace, or too far toward Sympathy, in exclusion of Truth.

        We must, somehow, learn to be both Full of Grace and Full of Truth, if we are to truly follow Christ and fully embrace His gospel.

  3. Back in the day, i use to get really tickled because those in leadership who pronounced judgement on those seeking to remarry were many times (get this) divorced and remarried. Somehow they had found justification for their own decisions while slamming the door on everyone else’s.

    But of course, they were forgiven because they had “repented” even if they’d remarried in error.

    Ah… so *that’s how it works… 🙂

    • Jeff Crippen

      Hey, if you would have asked them, I’m sure they could have told you that the only reason they got divorced was because of that rotten, no-good, woman they got tied up with in the first marriage! Otherwise, yes, there is the default argument of the conversion experience after the sin. The Pharisees are alive and well.

    • LOL! Yes, I’ve noticed the same thing. It is truly astounding how legalistic people can be toward divorce, even after they have experienced it themselves.

      “It didn’t count because I wasn’t saved at the time.” “My situation met the ‘exclusion clause’ of adultery.” Even, “Although I couldn’t prove it, I’m pretty sure my spouse was having an affair.”

      And then I have to wonder if they are even listening to themselves. Are we so blind that we cannot see that such talk makes it obvious just how legalistic we have become on this topic?

      It’s hard to find a Christian book on the topic of divorce and remarriage that doesn’t mention “the exclusion clause.” If we are using terms like “exclusion clause,” isn’t that sufficient proof in itself of just how legalistically we’re viewing the whole topic?

      And “It doesn’t count because I wasn’t saved”? Really? God’s grace extends to unbelievers, but not to believers? How does that work?

  4. I love your article and how you brought all this out so clearly. Defintely love the interpretation of who the true Israel is.

    God bless you and I am so glad I came across this blog.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks much for the encouragement. Yes, it took me years having been raised in dispensationalism but our church finally arrived at a reformed understanding of Scripture about 10 years ago after a 3 year study of Romans. Now the Bible makes sense.

      • Amen. I to was once hung under the dispensational sway, but praise God, God lead me out of that.

    • PaulM

      I second that! It’s a breath of fresh air!

  5. survivor

    Jeff, in support of someone’s (barnabasintraining?) idea of putting stuff on youtube, I am just wondering how possible it would be for you to present your argument on youtube? I went in search of the Instone-Brewer’s series the other day, and got disheartened by the myriads of youtube messages on divorce and remarriage that were legalistic. Some even had fire and brimstone as the background! I tried to comment on some youtubes that were uploaded by churches/pastors or organisations (not whacky individuals) but none were published.

    I think there are creative many ways of doing it (not that I’ve done it before!). If you don’t want to be visible, you don’t have to be the talking head. It could be just a scrolling text to summarise what you have said, but in font, style and presentation that is attractive and readable.

    In time, others may follow suit. Just as we need as many different books on abuse, divorce/remarriage,- written for different target audiences and in different styles – as possible, iwe need to have representation in the youtube world.

    Joe Pote, great to have another male voice. Sounds too sexist I know, but the reality is that many abuse support sites only have women commenting, and makes it sound like we’re a bunch of whiney females! I know we’re not, but it’s nice not to give the perpetrators any more fodder for vilifying victims. And I think most female victims would empathize with males who have been through the same thing – no one deserves to be treated that way.

    • Why thank you, Survivor! I appreciate that.

      It’s a difficult thing for men to talk about, I think. Partly because men just aren’t wired to be comfortable talking about emotional wounds, and partly because female abusers are equally as good as male abusers at presenting a facade of righteousness and/or repentance.

      Thank you for the kind words.

      • “…partly because female abusers are equally as good as male abusers at presenting a facade of righteousness and/or repentance.”

        We all need to hear *both* sides to the story. Right now, some of the ladies are speaking out and that’s a wonderful start. But to understand the entire spectrum of how this works, we need to hear from the men.

        Perhaps the incidents of wives and girlfriends physically abusing their mates is lower but most of us know good and well that verbal/emotional abuse is not. I’m guessing its about equal. And even a ‘I remember when’ story here or there adds a piece to the puzzle.

      • That’s a good point, Ida Mae. In my case there was no physical abuse, but many years of emotional abuse and manipulation. To this day, I have never met a more convincing liar, nor a person more obsessed with emotional manipulation. I am so thankful to God for redeeming me from that covenant of abusive bondage!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Someday it would be really helpful to hear your story, Joe. I don’t know how public you would be able to make it, but actually I really have not had hardly any male victims of abuse tell me their experiences. I have read a few cases and I am pretty sure I have – no, I am absolutely sure! – that I have known some women who are abusers. I have been their target in the church before. I actually think my grandmother was one.

      • Jeff, I would be glad to share a brief version of my story, if it could be of benefit to someone. However, we would need to find a way to “change the names to protect the innocent,” as she is the mother of my children and the grandmother of my grandchildren.

      • survivor

        Joe, I think if only people knew the dynamics of abuse, then they wouldn’t be duped and would be able to see the red flags and distinguish whether someone is crying victim as a perpetrator or a real victim.

        Lundy Bancroft exposes male abusers who claim they are victims by pointing out that those who are only interested in denigrating their ex’s and women in general are not victims. Victims understand how other victims feel. I think the same would apply to female abusers who pose as victims – if all they do is blame then that is a red flag.

        The trouble is when abusers get counselled in church they get more covert because they know that they shouldn’t be blaming. So my ex’s speech often starts with a lot flattery and spiritual talk, then comes the blame, then all the talk about changing and taking responsibility. It’s hidden but it’s sharp and aggressive all right.

        In many of my cousins’ families, there are male and female abusers and they are quite obvious – the perpetrators are vicious and scary (when you get to know them, that is) while the victims are just about the most accommodating people you will ever meet. They are mostly still together (although the victims are barely “alive”).

        So Joe, even though many of us are females, and don’t walk in your shoes, we still empathize and appreciate your contribution. In Christ there is no male or female anyway!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Great ideas re: Youtube. Yes, imagine a victim searching there and all the chaos of information that confuses. If we can find someone who would be able to handle the project of putting them there, we have the recordings on CD in our church office, and in mp3.

      • PaulM

        I notice this posting is from about a year ago. Has this YouTube idea been realized? If not, I’d like to help.

      • Jeff Crippen

        No, it has not been done, PaulM. We have the audio files posted on Sermon Audio at sermonaudio.com/crc but they have not been put on YouTube. I suppose that could be done with just a stand alone picture. Thanks for the reminder. I will follow up and if I need someone to help me, I can email you.

  6. Sheryl

    I type with tears streaming as I am finally serving papers to my husband of 26 years – separated 3+. Thank you for this, thank you. Never physical abuse in my marriage but verbal, emotional and psychological stemming out of the narcissistic mindset of one lost in multiple addictions. Living on the edge of insanity that I have experienced in this and in coming to gripps with separation/divorce. I grew up in a legalistic church – though, thankfully now fellowship with a body of believers that teach AND extend grace. Through this journey I have been blessed to have had sanity-saving co-dependency recovery work as well as a godly marriage-family therapist and I now serve with a NPO working to break the cycles of Abuse.
    Thank you for your efforts in searching the Truth of the Word and coupling it with the Love of the Lord towards extending Grace to the hurting.
    Agree that we need to work for the truth to be shared with as many as possible. The insidiousness of my non-physical abuse kept me circling the drain of insanity thinking that it was just my perception, just my perception. Not until I finally found the co-dependency recovery group that is biblically based did I learn that he was also abusive. Just thought the problem was his addictions. It was then that I also learned what a raging co-dependent I was.
    Accurate, so accurate – that they flatter and then dive right in to tearing you up. And the control: I will be left, not only broke, but in debt because he is determined to teach me to dare to have ‘ultimatums’ (in his words).
    I could go on as the hurt is still raw enough, but just wanted to say, Thank You.
    Sheryl

    • Jeff Crippen

      Dear Sheryl – You are very, very welcome. It is just GREAT for us to know that we are being used by the Lord to help abuse victims just like yourself. I understand “raw”! But if you ever feel like sharing your story, we would love to hear it, even if not on the blog but via personal correspondence. Your story is being sounded out with more and more volume now and we pray that the Lord will expose this evil that plagues so many Christians and churches, and effect real reformation. Blessings on you. Please keep visiting us here and letting us know how you are doing. In Christ, Jeff

  7. The YouTube idea is great. I hope someone does it.
    Sheryl, welcome and bless you, and thanks for sharing!
    Joe, welcome and bless you too. Like other women here, I’m glad to hear another male survivor’s voice. Women survivors are not whiners, but we are characterised as that by folk who don’t understand (and don’t want to understand) abuse. When genuine male survivors add their voice to our chorus, we feel vindicated and validated, like we’ve been brought in from out of the cold – that empty place somewhere beyond Pluto where no matter how much we raised our voices, were we were not being heard.
    There is a testimony by a male survivor on the Hidden Hurt site:
    Thomas’s abuse story

    I personally know this man to be a genuine victim of domestic abuse. I hope you share your story somewhere online Joe. You can dis-identify as much as you like.

    Thanks for recommending my book, Jeff.
    Jeff’s contractual approach to divorce gives immediate and wonderful relief to hurting victims of abuse. However, some may still wonder: “So what am I supposed to do with all those other scriptures? The ones that that *seem* to say marriage is indissoluble because it is only dissolved by death; nothing but adultery (or adultery and literal desertion) are grounds for divorce; all remarriage is adultery.” If that’s you, then my book should prove helpful. Some people have said it is a challenging read, but others have said it was pretty easy to understand. I certainly went into some intricate argumentation – I felt I had to, because the doctrine of divorce had been so misunderstood, controverted and weighed down with unnecessary tradition for centuries that it took complex argument to untangle it all.

  8. PaulM

    Greetings!

    I was forced to watch my mother endure an abusive marriage until almost exactly eight years ago. When she finally divorced my dad, friends told her emphatically that she was still married in God’s eyes and absolutely could not get remarried. Fortunately, though those friends ended up “separating themselves” from her, she never bought into that concept. Today, though she hasn’t remarried, she is much freer and happier than my brother and I have ever seen her. As for myself, I realized there was something wrong with the “bound forever” concept, and after some heartfelt and prayerful study learned much of what this blog reveals. I ended up meeting, dating, and joyfully marrying a woman who herself had escaped a neglectful and abusive relationship (as a matter of fact, she was victim of a treacherous divorce). In light of both my mother and my wife, I am delighted to find your blog, which affirms what I have learned. I have subscribed, and I intend to order copies of Ms. Roberts’ books. I hope to use this information to one day help other people escape abusive relationships with a clear conscience. Thank you and bless you for your hard work on this topic!

    • Jeff Crippen

      And thank you for the encouragement, PaulM. Welcome to our small but growing community. And we are very glad that you have been helped by the blog and the books.

  9. MicroGal

    I am going to be stewing on this one for a while – not in a bad way, it’s just a lot to think over. After years of abuse and emotional neglect, and growing up in a Catholic home, I need to pray and ask God for wisdom and clarification in my own mind.

    How do victims remarry? By that I mean, how can they trust again? Be vulnerable with someone? As I contemplate separation and divorce from my abusive, serial-cheating husband, I have a hard time picturing myself ever getting remarried. I would like help, I think, in raising my children (heaven knows my husband has never lifted a finger to help in anything around the house), but I don’t know that I would be able to trust someone with my kids – and with me. How do I know I won’t be duped again?

    • joepote01

      Yes, how, indeed!

      There are so many apsects to this question.

      First off, my personal conviction is that another marriage should not be an area of focus until well after the divorce. We need time to heal…time to learn to trust the Holy Spirit and our own ability to hear the HolySpirit, outside of a marriage relationship…time to learn more about the nature of abuse and how to watch for signs and symptoms…time to grow in knowledge and wisdom…

      And, that’s part of the answer. As we heal…as we grow in knowledge and wisdom…we learn to trust God and to trust our own ability to hear His voice.

      And that trust enables us to also enter into another trusting relationship.

      You might also enjoy this guest-post I wrote on a friend’s blog, where I touch on this topic: http://www.messymarriage.com/waste-of-divorce/

      May God richly bless you and guide you, MicroGal, as He leads you out of bondage into His glorious liberty!

      • MicroGal

        Thank you, Joe. I have no intention of dating or marriage at ALL after this is all settled. Healing and caring for my children are my main concerns. It is good to hear there is healing from such pain and sadness but it seems beyond me just yet. Hopefully soon it will come.

  10. Round*Two

    I didn’t read all the comments yet, but i have a question. If the abuser, (myhusband), I did not know of his abusive behavior at the time of marriage, has been married several times, I knew he had been married several times (I married him because in his other relationships the WOMEN were at fault and I being naive believed him!) hmmm. So my question is this. I know I was decieved (after the fact), and I did love my husband, does this make me an adulteress? Ugh! that hurts!

    • No Round*Two, it only means you were naive about the tactics used by abusers, and were conned by one. To understand the remarriage teaching in scripture, I recommend you get my book.

  11. Round*Two

    Thankyou Barbara.
    I actually had a conversation with somone who came up to me after service today She knew my husband and his family many many years back. She told me she heard what happened and she said to me “It wasn’t anything you did.’ I knew she had known his family many years, I can only assume she knew of my husband’s behavior way back when? I came to this conclusion when about 3 weeks ago, I spoke with another individual who knew my husband way back when, as well. He had much to say about my husband’s behavior and how he was years ago.
    Yes, I was naive and yes, I was deceived! It’s time to move on! 🙂

  12. kind of anonymous

    I thought you might be interested to know of Jeremiah 3:14, where after God had divorced Israel He then implores them to return to him and says for He is married to her. This verse is used by webistes like cadz dot net (Hosea project) and marriagedivorce dot com to teach that marriage is indissoluble and that God considers us still bound to a marriage even after there has been a legal divorce even in the case of adultery. Not saying I agree with their interpretation but would love to see someone address the use of such verses..

    These folks also teach [TRIGGER WARNING] that if one remarries, they are guilty of ongoing adultery until they repent by divorcing and if one does not repent by divorcing their “non covenant” then they are going to hell because no adulterer will enter the kingdom of heaven. Their argument goes something like ” we tell homosexuals they must leave the immoral relationship and the man in Corinthians was expected to leave his wrong relationship in order to repent so how can someone who has wrongly remarried repent and yet stay in that relationship?

    Their arguments and use of scripture are upsetting because they ask questions I would have no idea how to answer scripturally. Have you come across these folks? Don’t wish to upset anyone but I’d like to know for myself; have no idea how to address some of the tough questions they raise or the use of scripture.

    • The teachings of Rev Steven W Willcox (Canada) and his group of permanence view suporters are wrong, and are very dangerous for victims of abuse.

      Hosea’s marriage and divorce and remarriage is a special case. It was providentially ordained by God as a way of prophetically showing what God would do for Israel. But nowhere in the book of Hosea, or anywhere else in the Bible, does it say that we must take Hosea’s story and apply it as a rule or precept for all cases of divorce and remarriage.

      People like Willcox are building too much on Hosea’s story. They are going beyond scripture. It’s typical of legalists to do this. They pick one or a few passages from scripture and make way too extensive inferences and applications of them, and they ignore the other passages of scripture which throw doubt on their conclusions.

      For scriptural arguments that show divorce is allowed for domestic abuse and the victim is at liberty to remarry, read my book. However, my book barely touches on Hosea’s story. If you want a more indepth discussion of Hosea’s divorce and remarriage, read David Instone Brewer’s books on divorce, especially his more scholarly one.

      In my book, in the endnotes (p. 159), I do mention that Hosea’s remarriage to the woman he had divorced was possibly an exception to the rule in Deuteronomy 24:4. That rule prohibited a man from marrying a woman he had divorced if she had been married to a second husband after he had divorced her and that second marriage had terminated.

      • The permanence crowd push the example of Hosea taking his wife back. But when Hosea did that, he was being disobedient to the principle of Deuteronomy 24:4. I’ve never seen any of the permanence crowd mention Hosea’s disobedience to Deut 24!

        They love having Hosea as their mascot, but they sweep under the rug his non-adherance to Deuteronomy 24.

    • Jeremiah 3:14 uses the marriage and divorce metaphor to describe God’s dealings with Israel. It is pulling a long bow to say that scripture commands us to apply this metaphor to human marriage cases. All analogies and metaphors have their limits. They point to a certain likeness between two things, but those two things are never identical or isomorphic in every respect. Over-applying the metaphor usually results in false doctrine or foolishness.

      Here are some of the differences between the metaphorical marriage of God and Israel compared to the actual marriage of a man and woman.

      1. God is perfect and is never the author of sin. In contrast, humans are born in original sin and in the course of their lives some humans become more and more deeply entrenched in sin, and some humans become regenerate Christians but even Christians still battle the flesh.

      2. In the Jeremiah passage, the metaphorical marriage is between the One True God and a nation (a group of people). In contrast, a human marriage is between one person (a man) and one person (a woman).

      3. In the metaphorical marriage between God and Israel, God was working out his covenant plan and purpose over time with the over-arching purpose of sending the Messiah, His Son, to die for the sin of the world. In His unfathomable and unsearchable soveriegn will, God ordained certain things to happen in the saga between Israel and Himself. What took place had world-wide significance and meaning. It is possible that some of what took place in that relationship was ordained because of its covenantal signficance and meaning, and should not therefore be mapped point by point onto an ordinary human marriage. No ordinary human marriage will ever have ALL the covenantal purpose and significance that God’s metaphorical marriage with Israel had.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: