A Cry For Justice

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

Is allowing divorce the same as allowing gay marriage?

A reader emailed this question:

What is your doctrine surrounding divorce and remarriage in comparison to the sin of homosexuality? I’ve had an argument with someone recently who holds to the permenance view of marriage. This person says that allowing divorce is the same as allowing gay marriage.

I obviously think this is wrong, but I wanted to know what A Cry For Justice’s doctrine is on this, and some good ways to counter that person’s argument. I’m shocked at how popular this doctrinal belief is.

I replied to his email as follows: 

All of us on the team at ACFJ believe in the orthodox Biblical doctrine which is that sexual relationship is meant only for one man and one woman committed in marriage together. 

We do not take a liberal view of homosexual lifestyles at all. 

We have barely written about same-sex issues as they really don’t have all that much to do with the chief purpose of our blog — awakening the evangelical church to domestic violence and abuse in its midst. 

However, I have certainly heard the argument from the Permanence View types, and from so called ‘Family Values’ types, who beat their chests claiming: “To allow divorce is tantamount to allowing gay marriage”
Or: “To allow divorce for anything other than adultery and desertion by an avowed unbeliever is tantamount to allowing gay marriage.” 

Their argument is not logical, it is emotional. The fear factor is the biggest element to it. 

Many male abusers get on this bandwagon. It makes it look like they are on the high moral ground, defending The Family from being sucked into the pit of hell in the ‘culture wars’.  Rah rah rah. I have seen male domestic abusers get into positions of power in so-called Christian political parties and Christian lobby groups, pushing these barrows. I know they are abusers because I have been friends with their wives.

Sigh. The mystery of iniquity is always at work. 

Now readers, over to you. How would you answer the emailer? What are good ways to counter the argument that allowing divorce is the same as allowing gay marriage?

28 Comments

  1. Glenn E. Chatfield

    First, divorce in and of itself is not sinful; what makes it sinful is the reason it was undertaken. I have studied the marriage/divorce issue for a couple decades and have come to the conclusion that a biblical divorce is available for sexual immorality (adultery, pornography, etc), abandonment, and abuse (which, from my studies, was considered abandonment of marital vows).

    Secondly, homosexual relations are ALWAYS sinful.

    Just because something is sinful, that doesn’t make it analogous to other things that are sinful. But the person’s logic, allowing a prideful person to continue his behavior is the same as allowing same-sex fake marriage.

    The only thing resulting from divorce and same-sex fake marriage is destruction of the family unit and the social order. But same-sex unions cause an even more destructive effect than does divorce.

    One last thing; God never told the nation of Israel to execute those who divorced, yet he commanded them to execute those who practiced homosexual behavior. That should be enough evidence to demonstrate God’s attitude towards both.

    • Thanks Glen. All good points and I especially like your last one.
      Regarding divorce destroying the family unit, and ‘having a destructive effect’ I would like to add this. In the case of domestic abuse, the divorce is not what destroyed the family unit, the abuse was what destroyed it. And when the victim divorces the abuser, the children of the union are often quite a lot better off if they remain with the victim rather than the perpetrator. The victim is usually a very good parent.

      I’m pretty sure you agree with me. 🙂 Please don’t hear my addition as carping at you, it is only meant to add to and confirm what you said. 🙂

      • Glenn E. Chatfield

        Barbara, I agree with you about abuse. My wife and I sheltered an abuse woman and her children for a while and counseled her in regards to her desire to divorce, demonstrating that abuse made it Biblical. However, as for destructive effect, the majority of divorces in my experience with people we know and with studies, have nothing to do with abuse.

  2. joepote01

    It is an absurd illogical statement.

    Regardless of one’s perspective on divorce for abuse and regardless of one’s perspective on homosexual marriage, the two are separate topics. Agreeing with one by no means requires agreeing with the other.

    It is an absurd statement intended solely as a means of diverting discussion from the primary topic. Incidentally, this is a tactic many abusers excel at using.

  3. LorenHaas

    I predict the comments on this topic are going to spin out of control. Very soon someone going to insist that their convictions about marriage equality are God’s unchanging law and anyone expressing a viewpoint other than their own is not a “real” Christian. End of civil discussion. End of unity on that which unites supporters of “A Cry for Justice”.
    I wish that you would put this toothpaste back in the tube!
    I feel this topic as it has been framed is a mistake.

    • I don’t think that will happen, Loren. We moderate all commments at this blog before they go live, and if anyone sends in a comment defending gay marriage, we simply will not publish it. So far, we have not received any such comments.

  4. Annie

    Getting a divorce is not a statement of belief that two men or two women can be “married” !

  5. Don Johnson

    Conflating 2 different topics is an attempt to use a “slippery slope” argument as one of the topics can seem scarier than the other to many people. It uses the fears of a “bogeyman” to try to get others to agree with the need to “hold the line” on the other, less scary, topic. In other words, it is a way to manipulate people who do not want to go through the hard work of interpreting Scripture. Such attempts are manipulation should not be done by a believer, as I see it; rather, each topic should be discussed as its own topic, acknowledging that there may be some overlap of relevant verses.

  6. Glenn E. Chatfield

    The fact that heterosexuals have degraded marriage through divorce is not an argument for same-sex marriage. In fact, the recent history of the law and divorce actually argues against same-sex marriage. The vast social problems we are experiencing since the liberalization of divorce laws should help us realize just how important the law is to the health of the family. When you pass laws that weaken the family, the entire nation gets sick. This should cause us to protect marriage, not weaken it further. When a patient has a disease, giving him another disease is not a prescription for wellness.

    Frank Turek, Correct, NOT Politically Correct, pg. 41

  7. When your marriage is a case number in a court of law.
    When the abuser signs a declaration stating that he thinks his wife needs to move out.
    When your financial support is ordered by a judge.
    When the abuser tries to manipulate the court to side with his twisted schemes.
    When he lies to the court.
    When he stalks his victim.
    Theses are all ligit reasons to file for a divorce.
    Not to mention
    Attempted murder.
    Using a church to do his dirty work.
    If the above are not enough evidence.
    I have more.

  8. Valerie

    “It is an absurd statement intended solely as a means of diverting discussion from the primary topic. Incidentally, this is a tactic many abusers excel at using.”

    This is just what I was thinking! :-/ An abuser can be very skillful at naming a truism or universally held belief and using that as their foundation for an unrelated issue. It is posed so that others feel forced to agree with all of the premises they have chained together or to seemingly disagree with a statement that would “out them” as having questionable character for not holding to both parts of the linked premises.

  9. Using God’s Word in context is the first and last answer to this faulty “logic.”

    God’s Word is clear that, according to His own definition, “marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” WE don’t “allow or not allow” anything. God does. We are purveyors of the physical message and it is up to each person to decide whether they will follow God’s Word or not. I see NO connection to that and seeing what God’s Word has to say about abusers.

    Again, WE don’t “allow” divorce or “not allow” divorce. Reading God’s Word IN CONTEXT shows a loving God who is the champion and protector and provider of the downtrodden and brokenhearted, (ie: the abused, although some people don’t include married people as if they don’t have the same value in God’s eyes?), Who in no way, condones — or worse, makes it mandatory — to continue to allow an abuser free reign. Sometimes, this can be accomplished through actions IN the marriage (with the abuser making IMMEDIATE, RADICAL, LONG-TERM changes), sometimes this can be accomplished through a separation (with the abuser making IMMEDIATE, RADICAL, LONG-TERM changes) and sometimes, stopping the abuser from having free reign can only be accomplished through divorce (with the abuser refusing to make radical, long-term changes, or usually any changes at all).

    Those who espouse the idea that gay “marriage” and “divorce” are looked upon in the same way by God are scripture-twisting/creating at best and deceiving at worst. They make themselves out to BE God and to presumably “speak” for God. It is the assumption (based on what?) that a person who divorces due to abuse is viewed “badly” or as “sin” by God, or worse, viewed on the same “sin-level” as if it is included in the list from Corinthians 6:9. Are there people who “sin” when they divorce? Sure. But divorce because you are at the mercy of a person who IS sinning against you continually and unrepentantly, is not an example of that. This kind of twisting of scripture comes from their father and “he is a liar and the father of lies. There is no truth in him.”

  10. abirdcalledhope

    I think what’s going on with gay marriage should actually strengthen the argument for divorce in cases of abuses. If we are to say that God does not acknowledge some of the marriages that the state acknowledges, then we are saying that what the state considers marriage is not necessarily what God considers marriage. This seems to me to entail that a marriage can also be ended without legal recognition and that in cases of abuse, the divorce filing is just legal recognition of a failed marriage, as this site has addressed. Ultimately, it’s not the filing of divorce papers that destroys a marriage, it’s the condition of one or both partner’s hearts and actions. Filing divorce papers is usually an extension of that or a means of protection.

    • Valerie

      As I considered Piper’s permanence view of marriage this scenario struck me. Jack and Kyle get married. (ewww, but bear with me) Later Jack becomes a Christian, sees the error of his ways and wants to flee this state instituted marriage out of obedience to Christ. Kyle is grief stricken and pleads for Jack to continue to marriage. It would seem by Piper’s definition that Jack would not be allowed to divorce. There is no exemption clause for this in scripture. There are others who hold fast to the 2-fold exemption clause for divorce: desertion and adultery. For them, there is still no basis for Jack to divorce Kyle because these 2 scenarios are not applicable to them.

      This may seem like a ridiculous argument. Why is it ridiculous? Because as Christians…rather followers of Christ…we know that God does not view this as a marriage. But they were faithful to each other, had their ceremony in a church (SMH), recited vows and could check the box which would indicate they subscribed to every qualification man or scripture would have for marriage other than the obvious- God does not condone nor allow for this “union” to be considered marriage. So then we take Mark 10:9 What God has joined together let no man separate. Here’s the issue it seems- God has NOT joined these two together! The fact that they were able to marry and were not prevented from doing so nor struck down in the process does not indicate God’s blessing but his permissive will. God allowed them to be joined together (in that He did not prevent the marriage ceremony) but He most certainly did not join them together!

      Then can we draw the logical conclusion that not all marriages are seen as marriage before God? What is the criteria? Is it simply that it contains one man and one woman? Polygamist marriages contain this element (well, each one that is :-/) A 60 year old man “marrying” a 12 year old girl that he kidnapped isn’t polygamist but does God consider this a marriage? What defines the elements of a marriage that God has joined together that no one should separate???

      Some may say I’m trying to find an escape clause, but is this not a rational argument? Must we always defy logic in applying scripture?? Just a thought.

  11. joepote01

    Something else strikes me about this statement. It arrogantly assumes we have the authority to allow or not allow.

    We don’t have that authority!

    As Christians, our responsibility is to prayerfully search to understand God’s will and to rely on the Holy Spirit to help us follow His will to the best of our ability, in all of life’s circumstances.

  12. kind of anonymous

    I actually had correspondence from folks who adhere to this doctrine and are into the headcovering movement and I assume patriarchy as well; many of their beliefs are represented on a website calling themselves the Hosea project; (be warned that its a site that teaches that one may not divorce and remarry under any circumstance, and that its God’s will to break up second marriages and remarry one’s former husband; their proponents believe that divorce is always wrong and that remarriage is never permitted for the believer. )

    I had one of them send me a CD which taught that I was going to hell if I didn’t divorce my second husband. This argument that relates to gay marriage is one of their favorities. They say that we tell gay people who marry each other that they have to separate but we tell those who commit adultery by remarriage that they can and must stay together; we tell fornicators they must give up their sin and cannot continue in a wrong relationship after claiming to have repented so how come its okay in the case of a wrongful remarriage? (remember they have no allowance for divorce under any circumstance and so don’t recognize any biblical category of rightful divorce and remarriage)

    I read some of their arguments but have never seen anyone biblically rebutt their specific arguments directly but it would do me good to see that happen and a lot of others who have been troubled by their claims. Another key issue these folks use would be the issue of the narrow way; basically they claim that their way is the narrow way that leads to the Kingdom and if you don’t agree you are part of the worldy compromised church that tolerates sin. I can untwist some of them but others are way over my head.

    • I hear you, Kind of Anonymous. And i wish we had the time at the moment to write a critique of that Hosea Project group. But we are up to our ears in stuff already. Mabye one day. . .

      • kind of anonymous

        Hi Barb (((((( )))))))
        Good to hear from you 🙂 Love to see someone take them on with effective biblical confrontation but totally understand it can’t be you at this time. Glad for what you guys are able to do in providing clear and coherent discussions regarding bibilcal thinking on these issues. So much overwhelm in terms of all the flotsam and jetsam thrown at us as being from God.

        An additional thought, re the woman who corresponded with me; her counsel to me was that if I felt a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach then that was conviction and I should not ignore it. I remember thinking that was an odd definition of conviction and that it sounded more like fear and anxiety which I think is not the usual way the Holy Spirit speaks to us even about serious matters related to making a wrong choice. Strange.

      • Yes, a sick feeling in the pit of one’s stomach is most often due to fear or anxiety. That advice of hers indicates how oddball their whole approach is.

    • susan

      Sounds like a bunch of false prophets crowding about the narrow gate lest anyone less perfect than they might find it and pass through. Those pharisees almost ruined my marriage – yeah, i was divorced a long time ago (my fault – i wanted to pursue various sins, nuf said). These legalistic groups are wolf dens – plain and simple! Ugh!

  13. MicroGal

    This is so ridiculous. It’s ludicrous! It doesn’t even make sense. If someone said that to me, I would walk away from them.

  14. I just have a question. Which of these things is worse — that gay marriage is allowed by governments that are not conservative Christians but represent people of many different beliefs. Or that conservative Christians actively support marriages between unrepentant murderous abusers and their innocent victims?

  15. cindy burrell

    Divorce was provided in the law to protect and release women from spouses who did not wish to take care of them (Deuteronomy 24). If God provided divorce as a remedy for sin, which He did, would He provide sin as a remedy for sin? Of course not.

    Conversely, homosexual “marriage” is an oxymoron. Never in Scripture does marriage refer to two people of the same sex. Never.

  16. donna

    This argument/ “theology” is used by my recently outed gay husband… He calls it a form of Restoration theology. He was married 27 years, father, working in full-time student ministry but leading a double life (gay porn/ Skype sex, hook-ups, dates and sex-holidays….). He is now living as a practicing homosexual and ‘C’hristian and maintains that this is allowed just as divorce and re-marriage is allowed……as a concession for Christians living as sinners in a sinful world. ( seems to me a change in definition of what is sinful and therefore no need for repentance)

    [Note from Eds: We added the quote marks around the ‘C’ — hope the author of the comment does not mind. We also slighly altered her screen name, just for safety.]

  17. marriedtohyde

    To the person attempting to confuse the Word of God I would say:

    “You are a deceiver and trickster! You devil! You attack anything that is right! Will you never stop twisting the straight ways of the Lord into crooked paths?” (CEB) Acts 13:10

    Someone just taught us that. 😉

    • IamMyBeloved's

      That t’would be me and I love that you are using that Scripture!!! Can’t argue with the Word!

  18. IamMyBeloved's

    Well, let’s see. Let me search the Scriptures over to see where God compares homosexuality to divorce. Hmm…looking…still looking. Nope, can’t be found. God makes no such comparison, therefore no such comparison exists for the Christian. Therefore, anyone who makes such a claim using God’s Word or Name to do so, is nothing more than a blind deceiver, trying to lead others astray.

    End of argument. End of story.

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