Saturday, October 11, 2014

A verse by verse apologetic for the permanence of marriage

Apologetics is a Greek word defined as “speaking in defense.” When I first came to Christ, I was fascinated with the word of God and the idea of Christian apologetics. In particular to apologetics, I read books by C.S. Lewis, Norman Giesler, Ravi Zacheriahs, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig and  Gary R. Habermas, to name a few. These works defended Christianity from a philosophical, historical, and empirical point of view. What needs to be clear is that the word of God is the foundation of these works. Therefore, in any apologetic regardless of religion,there are underlying presuppositions.

In presuppositional apologetics, the belief is that the Christian worldview is the only rational way to understand anything. Therefore,any argument against the Christian worldview is in direct conflict with God’s will. I personally tend to lean this way when defending the faith because scripture gives clear insight in determining truth. I personally have concluded that God really needs no one to defend what everyone already knows to be true.(Read Romans 1:18-33)

In the New Testament, we see Jesus making definitive claims about who He is and why He came. The disciples all suffered and died believing Jesus was the Messiah. Paul makes a claim that he saw the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. C.S. Lewis is famous for saying that Jesus is either lunatic, a liar or LORD. Regardless of what we believe today, we have the word of God that points us to the truth.
 2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God maybe perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

This presupposition is that God wrote a book that has endured the ages. The Holy Bible is the most sought after piece of literature on the planet. Either this book contains truth for all humanity or it is a hoax and must be ignored. Objectivity is the norm in any apologetic. This is not a subjective matter to say the least.

With this in mind, this is a presuppostional apologetic of the permanency of marriage firmly rooted in the word of God. This apologetic will rely on the New Testament for accuracy. It is clear that Jesus often used the word of God to make His point. When I say that Jesus used the word of God, we refer to the Old Testament as the foundation of the Law. When we refer to Jesus, we refer to One who fulfilled the Law and it was through Him that we have a better way to salvation. Men inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote both the Old and New Testament to give us complete revelation to God and His promises for humankind.  

Since we have this presupposition in place, we can begin a complete apologetic for the permanency of marriage.

There are for Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and only the synoptic Gospels contain words from Jesus on marriage and divorce.  The synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all contain the historical account of Jesus and His ministry. They all contain the same point of view and clearly link to each other as separate accounts of the same story.
Since they are linked, it is imperative that we have an understanding of why they were written and who did they address. Nearly every scholar will tell you that Matthew’s Gospel was primarily directed to the Jewish Christian who understood the correlation of the Old Testament laws and how Jesus fulfilled these laws as the long awaited Messiah. Marks’s Gospel was directed to the Romans and Luke’s Gospel was directed towards the Gentiles. Since we have this knowledge, we can differentiate certain passages concerning marriage to why the author wrote this to those it concerned.  
We also have a detailed explanation of marriage from Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth. We know from history that the church at Corinth was a Gentile church. This city worshipped many idols and thus contributed to this worldliness in the church. It would be safe to say that we could combine the Gospels of Mark and Luke and the letter to Corinth as a background of what Jesus says about marriage to the Gentiles. We could put the Gospel of Matthew aside as a stand-alone book addressed to Jewish Christians.

We will use the book of Mark since this book pertains more to the Gentiles more than it would to those who understand the betrothal marriage of the Jewish culture. In chapter 10, Jesus begins to teach to the people and among the crowd are the Jewish leaders (Pharisees) who came to tempt Jesus so that they can find fault in Him.     

Mark 10:1 And hearose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side ofJordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.
2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away hiswife? tempting him.
3 And heanswered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
4 And they said,Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you thisprecept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if awoman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

This is a verse-by-verse look at what transpired in this text.

1.      “And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again”-Jesus goes to the coast of Judea to teach. This was His ministry, to teach and bring all to Him.
2.      And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him”-The Pharisees sought to tempt and test Jesus. The Pharisees knew the Old Testament from front to back. They knew the words of the prophets, proverbs and psalms.These men were the law. However, Jesus often exposed their wickedness as men who hated God because they did not love God; they loved themselves and their power. They ask a question about divorce. They refer to Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it cometo 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 itin her hand, and send her out of his house. 2. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.3 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;4 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.

3.      “And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?”-Jesus answers their question with a question. He knew the hearts of these men. He asks them what Moses commanded. He also refers to Deut 24:1-4 when He asks the Pharisees this question.
4.       And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.”-The Pharisees say that Moses offered a bill of divorce for a man to divorce if they found disfavor in his wife. What must be noted is that there were two types of Pharisees camps in the first century; the Hillel and the Shammai. The Hillel believed a man could divorce his wife for almost any reason.  Shammai believed that only serious sin was a reason to divorce. Both the Hillel and Shammai’s believed a man could remarry after divorce. We have no knowledge of which camp questioned Jesus. We only know that these were Pharisees. If we say they were a particular Pharisee, we would be adding to the text.

5.      “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Forthe hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.”-In verses 5 through 9 Jesus answers their answer to His question with authority. He specifically points to the underlying problem of their seeking to divorce. He points to the wickedness of men. He points to the hardheartedness of a decision to divorce a wife. In one sentence, He quotes the prophet Malachi.
 Malachi 2:14 Yet ye say, Wherefore?Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth,against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and thewife of thy covenant.15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue ofthe spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore takeheed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of hisyouth.16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth puttingaway: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts:therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

These Pharisees know what the Lord said to Malachi. Jesus also knows the Pharisees know that a marriage covenant God ordained from the beginning. In fact, Jesus reiterates this to the Pharisees.

6.      “But from the beginning of the creation Godmade them male and female.”- Jesus is saying here that Moses permitted this hardhearted decision under the Law. However, by using the word “But” Jesus is giving a new commandment because He is the author of the New Covenant… “From the beginning”…This is a direct reference to Genesis 2:24.

7.      “For this cause shall a man leave hisfather and mother, and cleave to his wife;”Jesus quotes scripture. This scripture points to the beginning of what God calls “good.” Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a manleave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
8.      “And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.”- Jesus is essentially saying that what God ordained in the beginning is the standard of what God requires. This marriage is a binding covenant. This has nothing to say for hardheartedness.

9.       Whattherefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”-Since Jesus is God in the flesh, it is His new commandment that what God joined; no man has the authority to put asunder. Jesus makes it completely clear that what Moses decreed was not what God intended from the beginning. It was Moses who permitted divorce and it is God who calls divorce hardheartedness. If we notice in this particular Gospel, the Pharisees do not offer a rebuttal. In fact, in every Gospel the Pharisees remain silent when Jesus speaks of remarriage as adultery. 

10.  “And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.” -The disciples wish clarity in this manner. They wanted to be sure what Jesus was saying here.

11. “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.” Jesus makes a profound statement. He calls any remarriage after a man divorces his wife adultery. This speaks contrary to what the Pharisees taught. The Law states that anyone caught in adultery are stoned to death. (Lev 20:10) Jesus knew the Mosaic Law and if a hardhearted man divorced his wife by Moses decree, they were forced to commit adultery and this defiled a nation. (Deut 24:4) The divorce actually caused the sin of adultery. Adultery was severely condemned under the law.

12. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery -This divorce was applicable to both spouses of a one-flesh marriage covenant. Notice this has nothing to do with gender. This wife put away her husband and she is thus “required” to remain single or commit adultery if she remarry. You might say that this scripture allows for “remarriage” for the “innocent” spouse that did not seek or wish to be divorced. However, this scripture must corroborate with other scripture on the subject.

 In Luke’s Gospel, we have one verse where Jesus addresses the permanency of marriage.   
Luke 16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another,committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
Here again we see that anyone seeking to divorce to remarry another, commits adultery. In this verse, we could apply that the very act of divorce is hardheartedness. Also notice that the wife who was put away without consent must remain single or she commits adultery if she remarries. This has nothing to do with “innocence” of the wife. She is still in covenant marriage even though the man puts her away. The very act of remarriage is adultery and would remain adultery until the “remarriage” is dissolved.

In conclusion, marriage is God’s design. Divorce is not an option and “remarriage” after divorce is not a marriage, it is adultery and remains adultery until repentance. This simple verse by verse apologetic is easy to understand, yet many seek to change and alter God’s word to seek their own desires. The time is now to repent of the false understanding that God approves of divorce and remarriage. The time is now to repent and stand fast stand for the permanence of marriage. We need only go to the word of God and believe what it says.   
Paul echoes what the Lord Jesus Christ has to say for all marriages between one man and one woman…  
1 Cor 7:10,11 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.

In Christ’s love,

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