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Divorce and Remarriage in the Christian Scriptures

XXXX, Thanks again for asking me about this topic. My overall impression with your friends treatment of divorce and remarriage is that its a little sloppy. There are some verses he includes that I dont see the relevance of, and he does not really get too far into the nuances that life presents when were dealing with real-life scenarios that involve failed or failing marriages. Ill leave it to you to discuss with him how his views differ from my views or not. Also, I know you didnt ask for this, but I have been subject to a lot of judgment within our little circle of friends, and I have never really given account of my marriage to Carmen clearly and publicly, so I have to use the opportunity to do that. Many of our friends have been influenced by the lines that have been laid down by the Jim Roberts group (JRG). While I generally agree with the direction of the boundaries they advocate vis a vis the recklessness of the mainstream church, I feel like there are certain mistakes in their teaching that would tend to implicate some who I feel are innocent, and clear others who should be guilty. On the other hand, I am a remarried man, and one has to be vigilant against teaching coming from me that would tend to bias toward justification of re-marriage, or otherwise simply justifying myself without doing any real justice to the issue. I have to be careful about this, too. How can I be sure that bias of this sort has not clouded my judgment? So search the Scriptures independently and diligently before you receive any of this. If you find error, please let me know about it. I was committed, while with my first wife, to no put her away except it be for fornication (Mt. 19:9), and I feel like, despite great personal suffering for the duration of that commitment, that it was a commitment that I fulfilled. Divorce was entirely a unilateral decision on her part, (I was not consulted and did not have opportunity to raise so much as an objection) and I did not remarry until I was certain she had lived in fornication and had refused outright my request to return. Although reared in the doctrine of the JRG, and going into my first marriage with that doctrine at the front of my mind, I soon learned from experience that there was a fatal flaw wrapped up in it. Im trying to show exactly what that flaw is in the following paper. Im going to use their teaching as kind of a point of reference, because its pretty clear and there are a lot of people are familiar with it. It also falls roughly into the ultra-conservative or reactionary camp, and I tend to identify roughly as a reactionary when it comes to issues like this. Here is an example of the brothers teachings that sums up their position pretty succinctly:

The general purpose of the Christian Scriptures teaching on the subject of divorce and remarriage is to revise the Torahs teaching in the direction of greater stringency. Yeshua shows that the reason for this has to do with original intent. Divorce, or putting away which was allowed under Moses, is all but banned in the Christian Scriptures. Remarriage, especially marrying a previously married woman, becomes the focus of several restrictions introduced by the Christian Scriptures. The general practice of the church-world has followed the direction of advancing civilization, which has become more and more romantically loose and liberal. The Christian Scriptures are very strict; the Torah is not quite as strict, the church-world is as strict as it is fiscally comfortable for an institution to be that is totally dependent on pan-handling its membership. There, just find your fit and almost anything goes. Teachings vary between rural and urban churches, between educated and unlettered churches, and reflect more accurately the cultures and attitudes of the people making offerings than righteous men taking a stand. GOD HATES DIVORCE Divorce is a popular thing these days. Who will speak against something popular? The Christian Scriptures place the most emphasis on this aspect of the Marriage relationship: it is a lifelong covenant, and God hates divorce: "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mat 19:3-6) "...whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:" (Mat 5:32) "He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery:" (Mat 19:8 -9) "And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mar 10:8,9) "And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her." (Mar 10:11) "And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery." (Mar 10:12) "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery:" (Luk 16:18) "And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife."(1 Cor 7:10,11) "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away." (1Cr 7:12) If it seems rhetorical to say that God hates divorce, it is only fair to point out that it says that he hates it in just so many words: "For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away." (Mal 2:16) It seems that the focal point of Christian Scriptures teaching on the subject is that once people get married, they need to stay married, or they will be in danger of serious iniquity. Dealing with groups of people, however, we find that often it so happens that marriages do fail. The JRG belongs to a school of thought that is unwilling to take many of the liberties with scripture that the church world uses in service of its pecuniary avarice and its goal of growth. HalleluYah. They and some others within this school, with an eye towards the severe language and prohibitions attached to remarriage, argue that a marriage between two people is not valid while the original estranged partner is physically alive. This is a simple approach. Its pretty straightforward.

Others have taken the impulse for purity a bit further, arguing that a marriage is only valid between two people that are each virgins. Although that would be the closest thing to original intent, it would tend to significantly reduce the number of people eligible for marriage, especially among a group of people that have repented from a previous life-without-God. The positive intent of seeking in these ways to err on the side of caution cannot be discounted. The motivation is clearly to avoid unlawful marriagesmarriages that are regarded as iniquitous relationships by God, not true marriages at allthat would condemn souls in the end, and leave knowing-but-silent observers with blood guiltiness on their hands. Yet sometimes, in trying too hard not to fall off of the starboard side of a boat, we can tumble right over the port-side railing and into Davie Jones Locker. I think the Jim Roberts group interpretation of the divorce and remarriage scriptures are a lot better than what we see in the church-world, but there are a few problems. If you will notice in their paper above, instead of relying on the scriptures to support their teaching, as is their usual practice, they are forced to go out on a limb, talking about nuances of Greek usage, as well as the traditions of the Hebrews and Orientals. This seems to me to be a rather shaky basis for a doctrine that they take so seriously in their practices: They will not accept hospitality from or enter into business relationships with people, believers or not, who are involved in second marriages. At times they seem to treat second marriages as if they were at least as serious as fornication. The errors I believe to be inherent in their teaching revolve around these questions:

1) Does their handling of what they call the Matthew exception reflect an insufficient severity against the act of fornication?
Does a believer need to passively tolerate their life-partner being sexually unfaithful? What is the appropriate level of toleration for fornication within a body of believers? 2) Do prohibitions against remarriage apply in an identical way to males and females? How does this affect the authority structure of the home? As touching the first question, we should begin with an overview of other places in the scriptures that treat fornication, rather than in the traditions of men or elsewhere. In the Scriptures, we find that fornication is much, much more serious than adultery by re-marriage. Fornication was prohibited in Torah, while divorce and remarriage was clearly allowed, even if it was simply because of the hardness of your hearts (Mt. 19:8). Another thing is that this type of adultery, in some places, is listed with a group of commandments labeled by Yeshua as these least commandments (Mt 5:19), and a straight reading of the AVs rendering of that verse almost opens the question whether breaking one of those commandmentswhich include looking lustfully upon a woman and being angry with your brother causelesslywould indeed bar one from the Kingdom of heaven, or just reduce ones stature in it. Must we excommunicate every time someone loses control of the carnal eye? Every time one is angered? Of the four aspects of the Torah that gentile converts were required to keep (Acts 15:20, 28-29/ 20:25), one of them was certainly fornication, perhaps in the sense of all sexual immorality, perhaps the act of coitus specifically. Paul speaks of the unique character of fornication among sins (1 Cor 6:18), showing that it is a sin that will defile the body, but also if it comes into the camp will defile the body of believers. [Notice also, that the way the JRG paper above distinguishes between fornication and adultery is immediately falsified. There is no place in the Christian Scriptures that fornication is talked about as extensively as in Pauls first letter to the Corinthians (other than in Revelationsbut the fornication discussed in that book is mostly allegorical and not literal). What Paul refers to as fornication in 1 Corinthians revolves around a certain case, between a man and someones wife] It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, [concerning] him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying [is] not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Cor 5)

In verse six, Paul indicates that a little leaven leavens the whole lump, and in the following verse he tells them to purge out the old leaven. If a few certain things come into the body, they will affect the whole body. In verses 9-11 he makes it clear that they are not to keep company with fornicators who are called brothers, (i.e., who are believers or are considered to be believers). In verse thirteen he tells them to put away from among yourselves that wicked person; in verse five he says to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, and that this man be purged out from their midst. This is a form of severing the offending party from communion with the saints. Invoking the Baal of Peor incident of Numbers 25 and other incidents described in the Torah, Paul talks of some of them who had made the Exodus out of Egypt being overthrown in the wilderness, pointing to the mass carnage that resulted from the entry of fornication and idolatry into the camp: But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as [were] some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Cor 10:5-12). When fornication entered, it brought a deadly plague closely on its heels. To prevent Gods wrath from affecting the church, ifGod forbidfornication ever were to make an entry, the only remedy is to cut off the offending member as per Matt 18:7-9 and Matt 5:2932: Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast [them] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. The tone of these passages is severe and unyielding. They seem at face value to advocate self-mutilation, but as other scriptures bear out the fact that the heart is the origin of sin (i.e. Matt 15:18), and the context of Matthew 18 refers to men being the source of offences, we must look for a plausible allegorical meaning. In Romans 12:4, 5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, it refers to the church as the body of Christ. If we apply the passage above from Matthew to the church, it would seem to imply that there could be singular members of that body to cause all in communion with them to be cast into everlasting fire and that the singular way to avoid this corporate fate was to cut off those particular members. Matthew 18 outlines a sort of due process for cutting off. There are few things more dangerous than the power of excommunication being routinely exercised by a single personit is the place of the entire body to judge such matters, generally speaking. Notice as well, in the latter Passage from Matthew 5, Yeshua mentions plucking out and cutting off in close proximity to the Matthew exception for fornication cited by the JRG paper. Its noteworthy that it doesnt say in Numbers 25 that twenty-something thousand actually committed fornication. This is a principle we also see in Joshua 7, where thirty-six otherwise innocent men died as a result of the transgression of one man named Achan. Fornication and Idolatry brought a plague that affected the whole congregation, because of Gods great anger about the acts of the people, and was only stayed when blood was shed and someone was cut off from the congregation. There is a uniquely defiling character when it comes to fornication. Returning to 1 Corinthians 5, Paul speaks a little about this: Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make [them] the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body;

but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (vs. 15-19) Just as we cannot send forth waters both sweet and bitter, and as we cannot partake of the cup of devils and the cup of Christ, and as two cannot walk together except they be agreed, we cannot be joined to Christs body as his members, and have spiritual fellowship and communion with a fornicator. If we dont cut off, pluck out, and put away fornication from within the body, death will enter like gangrene. It is one of the places Yeshua seems to draw the line. If one were to make a straw man out of the JRGs doctrine, it would seem like a Christian man could have a wife, and she might be such a wife as to sleep around, catch disease, have bastard children, even have long and protracted affairs with others, marriages with others, and it would be of course nothing less than the husbands duty to stand by her, provide for kids that arent his own, and while he seeking to render unto the wife due benevolence accept all her diseases into his body. It seems not to occur to them that if we are not to make Christs members one flesh with a harlot in a spiritual sense, through fellowshipping with fornicators, how are we to take the members of Christ, our own bodies, and make them one flesh quite literally with a harlot, through the act of coitus with an unrepentant fornicator? Again, there is a lethal quality about fornication. Paul does not allude to Numbers 25, where through fornication over twenty thousand fell, for no reason, just like Yeshua doesnt tell us to cut off our hands or pluck out our eyes for no reason. It is also no coincidence, when it comes to the spiritual discipline owing fornicators, that Paul uses the words put away. When two people are married, they become one flesh. When a spouse fornicates, in a sense, they become dead. It becomes the spiritual obligation of the believing other to put them away, hoping for true repentance. To be joined to a fornicator is to be joined to the grave, and to be cut off from Christ. This applies not only to the husband, but extends to as much of the body as has fellowship with the member who has fornicated. This is why Paul is so insistent that the guilty person is banished without delay. Our heart attitude towards fornication should bear some resemblance to Phinehas in Numbers twenty-five, although we should not act with violence. He had zero tolerance and acted with total severity, treating the offenders as if they were of some mongrel alien race bent on wreaking uncontrollable havoc. As was said, fornication was one of the laws of Moses the Apostles considered the Gentile converts to still be under. Frequently transgressions of the Law of Moses resulted in the death of the transgressor. In fact, Phinehas won the covenant of an everlasting priesthood for his stand against fornication, an act that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore (Num 25:7-13; Psa 106:28-31) As close a thing to the death sentence allowable under the Christian Scriptures is what the Anabaptists used to call the ban, that is, something along the lines of excommunication and total severance of company. The point, however, is that there is no room for tolerance of fornication, and a believer who is a fornicator is supposed to be utterly dead to us. There is sometimes opportunity given for repentance from fornication. If a man has put away his wife for fornication, it would appear in light of 2 Corinthians that he should both desire and recognize repentance on her part, and take her back, but there is a limit to this. The JRG has actually endorsed the position thatbecause subsequent marriages are not lawfulthat men and women who are remarried need to divorce and return to their original spouses, no matter how many times they have been remarried and divorced (because subsequent marriages supposedly dont amount to anything). But notice how directly this stands in conflict with Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Jeremiah 3:1: When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's [wife]. And [if] the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth [it] in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her [to be] his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that [is] abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance. They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?... At a certain point, taking back an unfaithful wife can be defiling, polluting; something considered an abomination.

So hopefully we have presented an adequate scriptural basis for a straight reading of the Matthew 19 exception clause. No need to make a special trip outside the scriptures, there are plenty of reasons a man should be not only allowed but required to put away his wife for fornication, or for a woman to depart from a fornicating husband, all right in the Bible. Perhaps the reason the JRG feels compelled to such great lengths to blot out the language of the Matthew exception is because it doesnt quite fit in to with the rest of the picture they have formed of divorce and remarriage. MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM In what seems like a common mistake today, and a forgivable one, especially considering how much push there is toward gender equivalence in society, they treat remarriage as if there were no difference as to how it affects the separate genders. I know it is popular to put no difference between men and women, but the fact is that each of them is unique, with separate constitutions, tendencies, and needs. If any attempt is made to look at verses that talk about remarriage with special attention to separating them according to gender, what emerges is not a uniform single doctrine, but one that contains distinct guidelines for each gender; one for boys, and one for girls. Theyre similar to each other, but just like the real boys and girls, there are differences. What would happen if we split up the verses that specifically discuss remarriage into two categories, based on whether the verse is talking about a man remarrying or a woman remarrying? Is there any sort of clear, consistent pattern that emerges? As a case in point, Matthew 5:31-32 discusses remarriage, but only in the case of a woman: 1) "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." This verse does not mention anything about the man remarrying; that is not a topic that this particular verse addresses. It is specifically addressed in other verses elsewhere, but not here. This verse addresses the husband putting away, but the consequences of the husbands action are listed not as to how they affect the husband, but how they affect the wife, and anyone that the wife marries subsequently. Twice it is mentioned in different ways, that if the wife remarries, even if the husband was the party that originated the divorce, it would be considered adultery and not marriage. These are more verses pertaining specifically to a woman remarrying: 2) "whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery" (Mat 19:9) 3) "And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery." (Mar 10:12) 4) "and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery." (Luk 16:18) 5) For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of [her] husband. So then if, while [her] husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress (Rom 7: 2,3a) 6) "And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband:" (1 Cor 7:10,11) 7) The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God. (1 Cor 7: 39, 40) Now it appears that, pretty universally, marrying a divorced woman is a strict taboo. It is talked about in different ways, from different angles, and under different circumstances with pretty much the same end result. Marrying a divorced woman is adultery. Before we venture on and discuss the passages that discuss remarriage among men, let us take a look at an important characteristic of the marital covenant: HUSBAND AND WIFE AS A REFLECTION OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be]

to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband. (Eph 5:22-33) This is a picture of a form of hierarchy within the home, not speaking of who is boss of whom, but who is to submit to whom. I dont say this to pretend there is no authority structure described here, but it is important to realize that Christs method of governing is gentle, meek, and one that requires some effort on the part of the governed to even discern. He does not Lord over us, subjugate us, etc. The key to a successful marriage is not the ability to fire orders from the sofa. Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation [coupled] with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Pet 3:1-7) In the last verse, there is a hint as to why wives need to be in subjection. Peter refers to them as the weaker vessel. This is certainly true, generally speaking, in terms of physical strength and endurance, but there are other forms of weakness inherent in women. Notice how Peter finds it fitting to admonish that wives be given honor by the husbands. It is not dishonorable to be weaker; actually, it is quite honorable for someone who is weak to contend with a situation or a lifestyle such as radical discipleship that requires continual application of spiritual and emotional strength. Who has stretched themselves further and displayed more courage and better quality in vanquishing the same enemya strong person, or a weak one? Remember also that men are also themselves required to be in a different form of subjection. Judging from how frequently men end up totally submitting to their wives instead of to God, I would contend that it requires more strength and personal control to be in submission; submitting to a visible person is easier than submitting to a set of abstract principles or an invisible spirit. Perhaps men submit to their wives because it comes easier to them than it does to their wives. This isnt the counsel of the Scriptures, however. Submitting to a demanding woman can simply be taking the easy way out. Winning her total trust and respect is where most men fail. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (1 Tim 2:8-14) Perhaps one area of weakness might be proneness to deception. This was certainly the case in the Garden. Its said from time to time that women can be more materialistic than their male counterparts; while this might be the case or it might not, I have met women who make any Jim Roberts brother, with fancy camping gear and high-end mountain bike, look quite obsessed with material possessions, if not with quantity then certainly with quality. Nevertheless, we live in a society whose merchants operate the most sophisticated and ubiquitous system of propaganda ever known to humanity, convincing people they need or at least want everything from a hamburger to the very latest smart piece of disposable Chinese technology. This is deception. The JRG does not neglect to offer a more-or-less clear teaching regarding submission in the home. There has been talk among JRG critics from time to time as to how their group authority structure interferes or conflicts with this marital authority structure, but there is a more important topic to address.

It cannot be overlooked that for some time now there has seemed to be a clear anti-marriage bias in the JRG praxis. How did this come to be? Is there something about the Roberts group teachings on marriage that led to a situation which was undesirable, and could only be corrected with an effectual ban on marriage? During the seventies, the leadership of the JRG sanctioned many marriages. Eventually, so many of these married couples left the group that further marriages appeared to threaten the very survival of the group as such. I cant say with any certainty why this phenomenon occurred, but I can introduce a hypothesis based on personal experience if the admission of anecdotal evidence may be permitted. My first marriage was horrible. I married a woman that I felt sorry for, but hardly knew at all. We were both awful for each other. She had traveled in the JRG for six years to my almost seven, and she had gotten her fill of the demanding lifestyle of the group. I had no intention of living any other way, but felt like the strange ban on marriages was an affront to the gospel. I married her despite restrictions, much good advice, and efforts to prevent me from being able to. We had a horrible relationship. I was a bad husband, especially in the important beginning stages of the relationship. Due to a variety of circumstances that I can claim only partial responsibility for, her needs went largely unmet, and so she was not a pleasant person to be near. Without going into detail, Ill just say that in order get her wants and needs satisfied, she quickly learned to resort to terror tactics: She would threaten me with divorce. I dont know how evident the emotional impact of this method was at first, but it put me in a dilemma. I believed the JRG teaching that if my first wife were to leave me, I would be faced with a lifetime of celibacy. Therefore, my one and only opportunity to have a chance at a successful marriage would be used up, and I would be, in a sense, a failure. So, taking her threats at face value, it put the choice before me of obeying Christ or obeying a cruel tyrant of a woman who had the power of permanently robbing me of the comforts of romance. Eventually, it occurred to me that I needed to obey Christ, and whatever this woman could threaten me with was not what I needed to be fearing. Just as she wasnt given authority over me, she wasnt really supposed to have any power over me either. While a husband should listen to his wife, if she incessantly makes demands on the husband that conflict with his obedience to the gospel, or even demands that just dont make good sense, he ought to obey God rather than [wo-]men. Now, I was lucky enough to have married a woman who, to anyone who knew her well, obviously lacked the markings of a life transformed by a relationship with Yeshua. I found her to be completely incorrigible. I only say this was lucky because she threatened to leave me so many times and for so many petty reasons in the first six months of our relationship that I was forced to see the farce of the position I was being put in. It was impossible to fear God and to fear these threats. Had she been more subtle with her trump card, as I suspect most wives would have been, her efforts to usurp might have amounted to something more difficult to recognize and contend with. I dont expect anyone to be even vaguely persuaded by such a story. I do think that its fairly self-evident, that someone who is supposed to be in a position of authority over someone else needs to have relative immunity from threats or actions carried out by the governed party. It is impossible to have a free hand in making decisions for the family while under the threat of the amount of power the Roberts group interpretation donates to wives. I simply submit the story to enlist the help of personal experience to help illustrate what we will see the Christian Scriptures clearly state. Additionally, Im not familiar with everyone who ever got married and left the Roberts Group, but there are a few small splinter groups around the country that were formed by or are significantly under the sway of married couples that had been in but subsequently left the JRG. The contact Ive had with these groups has left me with the clear impression that they tend strongly towards matriarchythe wives being dominant over the subjugated and spiritually impotent men. By making it impossible for a man to remarry after his spouse leaves him, the Roberts group places a powerful tool of extortion in the hands of wives eager to re-enact the scene from the garden of Eden. The wives can then play on the husbands fear of divorce and imposed celibacy to almost force his hand in important decisions, particularly those regarding whether or to what extent to choose an easier life of selfish pursuits over the demanding life of radical discipleship. WHOSOEVER PUTTETH AWAY HIS WIFE Far more important than anecdotal evidence, however, is what the Scriptures have to say. Do the Christian Scriptures ban a man from remarrying? As far as divorced women go, the most emphasized point is that they cannot remarry. While examining verses pertaining to a man remarrying, it should become apparent that, for the man, the most emphasis is placed on not being allowed to put away or divorce his wife. In fact, the only instance where a man can put away his wife is if she were to fornicate, the JRGs arguments about espousal divorce notwithstanding.

In scripture, men and women are sometimes treated distinctly, with distinct rules that apply specifically to one gender and not the other. In most cases, Gods law applies equally for a man and a woman. It is not okay for either a man or a woman to murder. But in other cases, a commandment will apply specifically to one or the other. "Husbands, love [your] wives, and be not bitter against them" (Col 3:19) This verse, for example, begins with the word "husbands", because this verse is specifically addressing husbands. Its true that wives need to love their husbands as well, but the verse immediately preceding this one is not so versatile: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (v.18) It is an unrighteous thing to create gender-confusion. The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a womans garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God (Deut 22:5) The Christian Scriptures do not allow a husband to put away his wife. This is a very clear, very much emphasized aspect of teaching on this matter. We looked at these verses above, where we also read that God hates putting away, but take another look: 1) "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her" (Mar 10:11) 2) "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery" (Lk 16:18) Here, it is stated that if a husband DOES do this thing that God has made clear that he hates, the result will be that any subsequent marriage he enters into will be considered adulterous; the man committing adultery against his own estranged partner. It is often overlooked, but these verses, and ALL of the verses prohibiting a husband from remarrying, are prefaced with a clause, essentially, "Whosoever shall put away his wife" What is the purpose of this preface? Why is it consistently and invariably used where the man remarrying is concerned? and more often than not omitted where the woman is concerned? Some things to point out about the preface: (1) It contains the word If, (2) It mentions putting awayan act that God has made clear he has a hatred for. Putting away ones wife is not the sole means of becoming single while your original wife is still physically alive. She could also leave you unilaterally. Frequently, the dissolution of a marriage can be a mutual decision. Other times, one partner can leave against the others best wishes. If a mans wife left him against his will, then it can be stated that he did not put her away. In a similar account, there is an exception added to the putting away clause in Matthew, the Matthew exception, which weve discussed already: 3) "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery" (Mat 19:9) These three verses are ALL the verses that Im aware of that address the topic of a previously married man remarrying. There is a consistent construct throughout these verses that include three elements whose relationship can be related algebraically: Whosoever [does A], AND [does B], commits [C]. Therefore, if A + B = C then to assume that B = C is to completely negate the value of A That is, if A + B = C AND B = C then the value of A MUST equal Zero. To put that back into English, if remarriage by a man is adultery irrespective of any other factors, then to add the clause about putting

away was of zero relevance to the discussion. There are two reasons that this is unlikely: 1) The first reason is that, given the general tone of the scriptures against putting away, if any part of this construct is important, its the part that discusses something we know God hates. There are only a handful of things that the Scriptures indicate that God has a hatred for, and if God tells us that he hates something specific, it would stand to reason that its very important to him. So to pretend the clause prefacing all of the verses that touch on a man re-marrying does not exist, despite the fact that it contains a reference to something very important, is sloppy logic. 2) Secondly, in two of the three cases above, Yeshua was responding specifically to questions regarding whether or not it is lawful to put away one's wife. Can a man get divorced if he wants to? for any reason? He was asked nothing whatsoever about the marital eligibility of divorced men; this re-marital ineligibility was tacked on to demonstrate the seriousnessby means of the addendum of drastic consequencesof a man putting away his wife. This is often the case; if you do something that God hates, there will be some sort of consequence or other. It therefore follows that if you do not do something God hates, the consequences are not the same as if you did do it. Why should they be? The importance of this, in part, is that it illustrates the chief duty and obligation of a husband beyond any other: to be someone who will put up with his wife almost no matter what; to be the very picture of Christ to the wife, in mercy, love, and forbearance (among other things). We have a large measure of security in Christs love for us because he has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. A woman having that same security, that her husband will never put her away almost unconditionally, is one of the keys of a successful marriage. So for the husband, the most important aspect of marriage is to demonstrate and exercise charity, the love of Yeshua towards his wife. Putting away his wife is the opposite of charity, and is generally only done out of some selfish desire or other. Moreover, it should demonstrate why it is so evil for a man to originate a divorce. He does not have jurisdiction over the marital bond. He is only creating the appearance and effects of divorce, and causing others to sin by so doing. Now, to people that have a habit of treating divorce and remarriage as a single principle or set of principles that apply the exact same way to man as it does to woman, it might seem novel that I have separated the verses according to gender. However, the rules of divorce and remarriageor even marriage in generaldid not apply to men and women in the Torah in the exact same way without distinction, so what would be the intent of equalizing the rules of the genders in marriage with the dawn of the New Covenant? Does the Christian Scripture seek elsewhere to undermine the historical Biblical gender roles in the home? Are we no longer to regard the Torah as inspired? REPAIRING THE WALL Although fornication was discussed above, it is necessary to briefly revisit the topic to understand the next several verses were to look at. In Pauls first letter to the Corinthian church, he seems to be largely concerned with the fact that fornication had made an entry, and gives a lot of counsel about how to both get it out of the camp and keep it out. How many things are more important than this? In the seventh chapter, he talks about the superiority of the single life over the married life, but admits that marriage is better than fornication, and seems to consider it (among other things) as a defense against the entry of fornication, which he seemed to find catastrophic. He says, it is better to marry than to burn. It therefore follows, that we should not cast an overly broad net when teaching who is ineligible for marriage, or ever forbid to marry, because to do so would be to leave off an important defense against something that would prove lethal if it made a successful entry into the camp. You cannot neglect any defense against a potent adversary, or change out the defenses God provides through the Scriptures for artificial defenses like standards. They will not hold. Wanting to err on the side of caution is compatible with the fear of God, but so is having precise awareness of the difference between right and wrong in our judgments and teachings. Its not good enough to be aware of one boundary and steer as far clear of it as possible; you have to know where ALL the boundaries are and observe them diligently. Otherwise, youre going to go off the other edge of the boat, as was mentioned earlier. First Corinthians chapter seven is especially relevant to the topic of divorce and remarriage, because Paul addresses quite a few plausible real-life scenarios that could raise questions about the topic, and more-or-less re-hashes and clarifies the teachings about it in general. What if my spouse is an unbeliever? What if my unbelieving spouse leaves me? Some of these topics have been covered above, and several of the verses are listed above. For instance, notice verses ten and eleven, which were in at least one of the lists of verses above:

And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife. Observe how careful Paul is to mention that the wife, if she departs from her husband, needs to remain unmarried, or to seek reconciliation with her husband. These are the only two options. When he says But and if she depart, he almost appears to give the wife a reluctant license, perhaps in the event of some extreme case, to depart from her husband unilaterally. He allows absolutely no such room or liberty like that for the husband. Also, he mentions absolutely nothing whatsoever about the husband being unable to re-marry. In verse thirty-nine, he explains that The wife is bound (Strongs #1210) by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. He does not say that the husband is bound in the same way. This language is reminiscent of the first three chapters of Romans chapter seven, in which Paul talks about being under the law in more general terms, using marriage as an example: Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound (#1210) by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of [her] husband. So then if, while [her] husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. In discussing marriage in which one party is a believer and the other isnt, he explains that the unbeliever is sanctified by the other, and as long as the unbelieving partner is happy to live with their believing spouse, the believer should not originate a divorce: But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. (1 Cor 7:12-14) It is the unbelievers pleasure the believer is to be concerned with. Not his/ her own. However, if the unbeliever departs, the believing partner should not resist, as he explains in the very next verse: But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage (#1402) in such [cases]: but God hath called us to peace. (v. 15) What does he mean when he says is not under bondage in such [cases]? The Jim Roberts group holds that this does not introduce a license for either the husband or the wife to remarry within the faith. The bondage would then have to refer to something like a continuing marital obligation of some sort that the believer is thus freed from such as needing to continue to maintain a relationship with the abandoning former spouse or following them around (or something). This explanation of the usage of the word bondage is not only vague, it is also somewhat novel. There is no other example of the word being used that way in the scriptures. A better approach would be to look at how the scriptures use the word bondage in other places and contexts, as well as how the Greek word Paul chooses is used elsewhere in the various ways its translated. In general, the scriptures speak of people being in bondage to men as slaves, referring especially to the time in Egypt before the Exodus; the Christian Scriptures (especially in Pauls writings) refer to being under the law as a form of bondage; we can be in bondage to sin as slaves to lust and pride, in bondage to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, and we can be freed from sin and become slaves in bondage to Christ. As the English words bind, bond, bound, and bondage are closely related, there is a direct relationship among the Greek words translated as bound and bondage in the last several passages above. The Greek word translated as bondage (Strongs #1402) in verse fifteen comes from the Greek word translated as bound in Romans 7:2 (For the woman which hath an husband is bound (#1210) by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of [her] husband.) and in 1 Cor 7:39 (The wife is bound (Strongs #1210) by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.) The implication here is that a sister who had, at some point, an unbelieving spouse who originated a divorce against her, might not be under bondage in the sense that she is not bound by the law to her husband, but is instead at liberty to be married to whom she will as long as its in the Lord. The same would hold true for a brother. As long as the believer did not originate the divorce.

Someone in the Jim Roberts group once said, Yeshua did not come to annul marriages. This is absolutely true. However, marriage is a lifelong covenant; as the saying goes til death do us part. Death is something that is treated in a novel way in the Christian Scriptures. Unbelievers are considered dead in a sense, and believers are also considered dead in an entirely different sense. Apostates are considered twice dead. Perhaps this is the basis for Pauls willingness to release from bondage those who have been formerly married to unbelievers. On the other hand, Paul is also careful (1 Cor 7:12) to point out that this was his own judgment and not something that Yeshua taught. Even so, Paul probably had an eye toward the hardness of the hearts in Corinth, and in an ideal world, original intent would be the safest place to dwell. In real life, marriages sometimes do fail. Those who have been married in the past are not immune to the desire for marital companionship and relations in the future. A sticky, complicated, and confusing mess is the usual result. God is not the author of confusion. This is possibly part of the reason he hates divorce. The cases discussed in 1 Corinthians chapter seven are near the extreme boundary of Scriptural liberality, the fine line that separates something the Scriptures reluctantly allow from the realm of sin. That means its as far as you can get away from original intent and still maintain any sort of safety, (not even to touch on ones stature in the hereafter). The closer ones particular circumstance compels them toward that line, the more extreme caution must be used to check against selfishness from tricking them across that line. To prevent selfish errors from biasing our judgment in cases that are tricky, it is best to submit the cause to a reliable and healthy body of believers that have less personal interest in subjective judgments. When an unbelieving spouse departs, for instance, you dont want to get engaged the following day. What if the unbeliever comes back? Before remarrying, you want to settle whether or not the unbeliever is likely to become a believer, and whether they are likely to return. You shouldnt rely on your own judgment if you can possibly avoid it, because your high level of personal interest makes it difficult in the extreme to be objective. A believing spouse that has apostatized should be formally condemned by an assembly of believers that is able to go through the due process outlined in Matthew eighteen before you should feel like you can move oneither by leaving them or remarrying if they are gone. If one is not happy in a marriage, it is definitely never okay to work against the peace of the marriage hoping for your spouse to depart. You are pushing them towards sin. How could that be charitable or righteous? If a man wishes to be technically innocent, not "putting his wife away", yet works against the peace of the marriage to the point that she departs, I believe the law of grace is wiser than the letter of scripture, and will hold such a one guilty. There is no weaseling around the law of grace. It is not okay to be secretly nurturing hope to get married again in the future if you are married in the present. This is natural, but it is an indication that your heart is not right. You still need to put everything you have into making your current marriage work and make your current partner happy. This is called dying to self and taking up your cross. In the event you ever do get lawfully remarried, you will have a happier and healthier marriage as a result of the exercise. Of clear and incontrovertible benefit, Pauls various reluctant licenses greatly narrow the number of people we should feel the need to condemn. This is a big relief: mercy rejoices against judgment. It is presumptuous for someone to judge and condemn someone for something Paul would not have seemed to regard as a sin, and this brings us to our final thoughts. For existing marriages, one would want to be less inclined to judgment than to mercy, especially for the murkier and more controversial aspects of divorce/ remarriages. It is a dangerous thing to condemn people who God does not condemn, as per Matt 7:1-5. Is the measure of our righteousness based on how many people we can condemn? If so, ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of. Moreover, seeing how much God hates putting away, what if our counsel leads people to put away their current spouses when God does not consider the marriage to be unlawful? Then we are causing them to commit adultery in the future. This is the Physician whose eyes are so crossed he doesnt know the difference between the disease and the cure. For those pursuing specific marriage partners, or wanting out of unhappy marriages, thats the time to be more careful and picky. It is dangerous to see someone going down the road to iniquity and not call out with a warning, even if its just that theres this gray murky thing up ahead; Im not quite sure exactly what it is, it might be harmless, but it might be poisonous and aggressive. Heres what I know about it, so be careful. Counseling people contemplating marriage, it would be wiser to steer them farther away from those murkier scenarios, and closer to the very center of Gods will, where everything is clear and confusion has no place. There is a huge difference between how we are to judge existing marriages and how we are to counsel people who are contemplating a specific marital relationship. Erring on the side of caution can be the opposite hand depending on perspective: Are you looking at a man

walking one way down the street or the other? Or are you looking in a mirror? Thanks for your patience.