Divorce

Saving souls is much easier than you think

“And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:12 KJV).

I suppose if you were a member of the Jesus Seminar, or at least cut from a similar cloth, this is one of the sayings of Jesus you would certainly eliminate from the gospels. Think about it.

First, from a legal point of view, it’s entirely counter-cultural. In Matthew’s account – generally speaking, the more heavily favored one among those who discuss this subject – the focus is entirely on a husband putting away his wife. That is natural. In most cultures, and ancient Judaism was no exception, men enjoy legal preeminence. However, in Mark’s record, Jesus indicates that the law works both ways (Mark 10:11-12). Surely, the real Jesus wouldn’t have said this.

Second, even if we could get over the counter-cultural element, from a moral point of view, there is no way Jesus would ever say such a thing. You mean to tell me that the loving, merciful Jesus would condemn someone who divorced their spouse and married someone else? God forbid it. (By the way, Jesus did offer one exception clause to allow for divorce, see Matthew 19:9).

Don’t get lost in the King James vernacular, folks. It’s actually quite helpful. The –eth suffix on committeth simply indicates the verb tense in the Greek, which is still preferable, in my opinion, to the modern rendering, “commits.” The Greek tense indicates something continual. The literal translation would be, “keeps on committing adultery.”

In this way, Jesus essentially defines adultery as both a specific sin, and categorizes the relationship that harbors it, as a sinful way of living. Since so many people practice this (by imagining more exceptions, or by simply ignoring the whole topic), it seems highly unlikely that the real Jesus would have said it. I mean seriously, think of how many people’s lives would be terribly uncomfortable if he did!

I read a written debate some years ago where a preacher argued that he couldn’t accept Jesus’ teaching on divorce and adultery because it didn’t give him enough opportunities to offer people grace in their chosen way of life. I guess that settles it. If the limits of Jesus’ grace don’t appeal to you, you know what to do: just pretend like he didn’t say what he said. Live however you want and make up a Jesus that approves of it.

Many more will be saved if we ignore or dismiss Jesus’ words, so let’s ignore them and claim that the real Jesus didn’t say them. We’ll call it a fabrication from a later editor of the gospels.

There. We just saved millions of people from eternal torment, and made Jesus much more appealing to the masses. See? Saving souls is easier than you think.

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A graduate of West Virginia School of Preaching (2004), Rick has been in full-time ministry since then serving the church in Prestonsburg, KY (2004-2014), and Massillon, OH (2014-present). He enjoys spending time with his wife, Samantha, their six children, and enjoys writing, playing and writing music, a good cup of coffee and a hot wood stove. He hates shoveling snow and plans to buy a snow blower soon.

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2 thoughts on “Saving souls is much easier than you think

  1. Dear bro. Rick,
    This has now taken so much of a hold on the churches today, some 20 to 30 years ago divorce amongst Christians was notably less than in the wider world, yet as the pressure to conform to the ways of the world to make us “less odd” and make the church more fitting to the modern age so that people are not “put off” the gospel by “hard-line thinking”. Surely this is a lack of faith and trust that the all knowing, awesome god that we believe in, knows better in these matters. There is also the overwhelming fact that marriage between man and woman is our physical relationship with that more permanent relationship of Jesus with the church as the bridegroom. Surely for truly God fearing people, it should be such that we would not want or desire to do anything to grieve God and since in the old testament we see the words “God hates divorce”, then we should be ever in avoidance of that which God hates.
    I understand the passage used from Matthew which indicates to some a “get out clause”, however this was spoken by Christ under the old law and was in context of what had been allowed through Moses, this clause is never reiterated elsewhere through the epistles or post Christ’s resurrection. On careful consideration of the statement by Christ in Matthew, can we be sure Jesus is allowing for divorce from a marital situation. Allow me to explain my thoughts on this point, when Joseph understood Mary to be with child, whilst they were pledged to be married, he sought to divorce her under the laws given in the old testament to allow Mary to go to the one that had made her pregnant to save her shame. this was a sign that Joseph was a) following the law, b) humbled by the situation, c) doing the right thing. At this he was assured that what was occurring was of the Holy Spirit and not by the will of man, therefore Joseph was free to continue and marry Mary and raise a family, in full compliance with the will of God. My consideration is that when Jesus talks of divorce from marriage in Matthew, that it may be in a similar vein to that of the divorce of Joseph from the pledge to Marry Mary.
    To me the very first recorded divorce was that of man from God by the action of Adams sin, when man was separated from the grace of God and suffered spiritual death, surely we have to see principles of God’s continual consistency in all matters, especially when he says “What God hath joined let not man separate”.
    In the last 2 decades I have seen many Christians in the UK marry divorcees whilst their previous spouse remains alive, I have also seen Christians divorce and remarry within the churches of Christ. similar issue even within my own family.
    My personal view is that a Christian should marry until death separates, this should be the desire and intention on both parties. I realise that Paul gives different instruction regarding a family where one becomes a Christian and the other doesn’t and Paul by inspiration instructs us to let the one go that cannot continue in the married relationship, once the other has become a Christian, whether this then allows the remain Christian to remarry is a matter I have not fully come to terms with but my personal view is that the understanding of God’s will regarding marriage would have to be carefully considered by the party left in such a situation.
    I agree that you have most certainly raised the question that there is now a deeply entrenched view to discard the words of Christ to “make salvation easier”, it is a subject I fear will allow the devil a great stronghold amongst god’s people.
    We then have to rest on the assurance of our Lord that the gates of hades will not prevail against the church.
    I pray constantly that such errors as you have identified here will be seen in the light of Scripture for what they are the lies of Satan.
    Thank you for your most encouraging post.
    May God continue to bless us as we endeavour to do his will.
    Adrian Limb, the church meeting in Eastwood, Nottingham, England

    1. Adrian,
      Since Jesus told everyone twice ( Matt. 5:31-32 ; 19:8-9 ) that the old way of divorce under mosaic law was not acceptable and that the only reason for divorce was sexual immorality (fornication), wouldn’t that be rejecting His word on the matter? Jesus did not tell us that we had to divorce someone for that reason but that it was the only reason that someone could get one. If the guilty one is truly sorry and repents then the other one should be willing to forgive them because God is willing to forgive us if we sin and ask Him to forgive us. However, if the guilty one is a habitual adulterer and won’t change then the other one should divorce them.

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