This is the third part of a five-part post, entitled “More Harm than Good”
1 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables…
A fable is a story that is not true. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, Paul gives a prophetic warning to Timothy that a time will come when many will not endure sound doctrine. Paul says that people will abandon sound doctrine and turn to fables. We need to ask ourselves; is this happening today? That is an affirmative; many have abandoned sound doctrine to follow fables, myths, and more than a fair share of false teachers. Paul’s warning also says that many will follow their own lusts because they have itching ears that wish to affirm their lifestyles. We need not look any further for these passages coming to fruition when we discuss divorce and remarriage.
A person comes along and decides that someone interpreted scripture to endear their lusts to divorce and remarry despite scripture that says a husband must not divorce, and a wife must remain single if put away. (1 Cor7:10,11) There are common scriptures many specifically use to determine that God allows for divorce and remarriage. These primary scriptures are Matthew 5:32, 19:9, and 1 Cor 7:15. Those who wish to do what seems right in their own eyes typically ignore Mark 10:11,12, Luke16:18, Romans 7:2,3, 1 Cor 7:10,11 and 39, or the very least, they will say that these primary scriptures trump these other scriptures. Is this truth, or a fable? Well, it appears that Dr. James Dobson uses these primary scriptures in the last two premises on his “Dr. Dobson on Divorce and Remarriage” page.
After carefully reading, and considering Dr. James Dobson’s three premises on why he believes divorce and remarriage are optional to a one-flesh covenant that no man may break, I have concluded that I must point this ministry to the word of God and expose their false idea that Jesus and Paul allowed loopholes to exit a one-flesh marriage covenant. You can find these premises on his website, here. “Dr. Dobson on Divorce and Remarriage.” You can find the first post here, and the second post with the first premise here. Here is the second premise…
- "When one's mate is guilty of sexual immorality and is unwilling to repent and live faithfully with the marriage partner. Jesus states specifically that divorce and remarriage are acceptable when due to this kind of "hardness of heart" (see Matthew 19:9)."
I disagree completely with this premise for several reasons, and again, the word of God proves that this premise is incomplete at best. First, when do we as imperfect creatures define when a spouse will come to a state of permanent unwillingness to repent of sin? In this premise, we notice there is an assumption that we have knowledge that a spouse will “remain “unrepentant” thus concluding there is no hope for restoration of the marriage. This has nothing to say about the fact that a impenitent spouse will go to Hell if they remain in sin.
Are we God that we know when a prodigal will repent of sin and come to faith in Christ? Secondly, we are all guilty of “adultery”, not just sexual immorality, because of what Jesus says on the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5:27, 28). If that is the case, a man could put away his wife because he knew she was thinking lustfully of another man. After all, if he knows that she has a hard heart that will never repent; surely he can know that she will think lustfully even if she never commits physical sexual immorality. Do you see how silly this premise is?
Another reason this premise falls short is it is a clear example that clergy and ministries such as Focus on the Family and Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk ONLY refer to Matthew’s gospel account on marriage, divorce and remarriage. They do this because they create loopholes to divorce because of the “except for fornication” clause of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. These ministries usually rely on just Matthew19:9 to support their premise.
Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Notice the word fornication…this is not any act of sexual immorality, but pre- consummated marital sexual intercourse. The Greek word used here is “porneia” which means intercourse outside of a consummated marriage. If a spouse commits fornication in the marriage, it is adultery (Greek “moicheia”) and not porneia. The difficult dilemma for these ministries is the last part of this scripture…”and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Well, a simple fact is you can only commit “adultery” if the “divorced” woman is still married. (Matthew 5:32 uses the word "divorce")
In plain terms, Jesus is saying a divorce is not acceptable to separate or unbind the marriage covenant, and you commit adultery with a woman divorced by her husband. Therefore, if a man with a hard heart divorces his wife, she must remain single, and so must he, less both he and her commit adultery. In addition, anyone who marries her that is divorced commits adultery because she is still another man’s wife.
If we know the history of the gospel accounts, most scholars believe that Matthew’s account was penned after Mark’s Gospel and Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Both Mark (written to Gentiles) and Luke (written to the Romans) exclude this “exception” clause because Matthew’s gospel was written specifically for the Jewish Christians who understood that “fornication” (porneia and not the broad term of sexual immorality) in this case refers to the betrothal marriage process. This is similar to our understanding of engagement in our culture, the difference being the couples involved were husband and wife, as opposed to fiancés for engagement. Case in point is Joseph seeking to quietly putting Mary away during their betrothal period. (Matthew 1:18, 19) Joseph did not consummate the marriage until after the birth of Christ. (Matthew 1:25) Joseph showed us he was a just man and desired to put Mary away privately (Matthew 1:19) and this was under the laws of marriage violations.(Deut 22:13-29) Another example of betrothal marriage is Lot’s daughters who were virgins, (Gen 19:8) yet had husbands (Gen 19:14).
Even IF this clause is misused to confirm divorce, it says nothing of remarriage. Remember, it was the Pharisees who allowed divorce and remarriage, and Jesus pointed to the beginning… to the permanence of marriage.
1 Cor 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
Continuing, Dr. James Dobson says – “Jesus states specifically that divorce and remarriage are acceptable when due to this kind of ‘hardness of heart’”
Read Matthew 19:8 and Mark 10:5 carefully…those who” initiate” divorce have hard hearts! In addition, Matthew’s account says…: “but from the beginning it was not so.”
Matthew 19:8 He (Jesus Christ) saith unto them (the Pharisees), Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered_ you_ to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
Jesus did not allow divorce and remarriage…”for the hardness of heart”…Jesus says to those who “initiate” divorce, for the hardness of YOUR heart. Many ministers will claim that one may divorce because they can determine that their spouse is “hardhearted”. This is a common biblical hermeneutical error. The key word of the Gospel believer is reconciliation, not hardheartedness. Divorce is for the hardhearted, not for an ambassador of Christ. Any spouse, who commits and remains in unrepentant adultery, can never get married again. Not because they choose not to repent, it is because they are still bound in one-flesh to their covenant spouse. Church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17) is in order for the impenitent spouse and singleness for the innocent spouse to wait for the return of the prodigal. Few individuals, let alone churches follow accountability through these scriptures. More on these accountability scriptures (Matthew 18:15-17) in the last segment of this series…
Unfortunately, clergy have not only remarried unrepentant adulterers, some are unrepentant adulterers themselves. (The profession of "Pastor" has a very high divorce rate.) Since an unrepentant adulterer can never marry again they really only have one choice and that is to reconcile the marriage. Otherwise, they remain unrepentant sinners and face the judgment regardless if they remarry someone or not. Yes, there are thousands of invalid remarriages in the world today. These “remarriages” after divorce are adultery and remain adultery until dissolved. Very few clergy will admit this, and even more will twist God’s word to defend their own sin. Repentance is in order here and those willing to stand forward and repent of adultery will receive forgiveness.
In conclusion, this premise ignores the fact that a spouse that sins may one day repent of their adultery. This premise assumes that God cannot restore a prodigal spouse and that we as imperfect humans know that a spouse will never repent. This premise also ignores key scriptures that corroborate the need for repentance and forgiveness through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This premise also ignores other scripture that corroborates with Matthew 19:9 that God calls divorce a hardhearted choice and remarriage after divorcing a living spouse, adultery.
(Continue to part 4)
(Continue to part 4)
In Christ’s love.