Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christian Marriage...I Had To Address Some Issues


Also See: "Marriage & Forgiveness. What That Means For The "Other Woman" (or Man)"
Arguably, the foundation of any society and community is the family. Though modern families come in all kinds of sizes, shapes and component parts, traditionally, the most fundamental element of the family is the marriage between a husband and a wife. In fact, in Western society, the whole social system is built on this type of union.

This is often called the nuclear family, which includes about 2 to 3 children and a pet thrown in to spare. Until recent times this type of union (between a man and a woman) was a standard part of the American culture and a solid part of the American church. However there are all sorts of arrangements marital, non-marital, cross-generational and even cross gender core units that now comprise the basis of "family".
There are many factors that have led to the changing face of the family. To name a few, it can't go without noting that there is a  rapidly growing diversity of social moral values within the American population,  changing demographics, partially promoted by culturally accepted relativism, and an increased post modernistic approach to previously formed social structures.  In addition there are financial pressures, high incarceration rates  in some demographic groups, and increased substance abuse issues which in many cases are a reflection of the lack of self-worth and value. All of this has led to the traditionally oriented nuclear family becoming simply one type among many types of family structures within society.
Marriages. How Stable Is The Foundation?

To our shame, these are the facts of our marital condition:
  • According to Religious Tolerance.Org current research shows that the overall divorce rate peaked around 1980 and appears to have declined modestly since then. Divorce rates per 1,000 marriages were 22.6 in 1980, 20.9 in 1990, and 18.8 in 2000. (1)
  • A recent study by the Barna Research Group throws extreme doubt on these estimates. Barna released the results of their poll about divorce on 1999-DEC-21. 1 They had interviewed 3,854 adults from the 48 contiguous states. The margin of error is ±2 percentage points. The survey found: 11% of the adult population is currently divorced.  25% of adults have had at least one divorce during their lifetime.  Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics (nonbelievers) experience (2)
  • Estimates of the incidence of marital infidelity in the United States range from 20% to 50%. (3)
  • One estimate rated the percentage of all Americans who would have an extramarital affair during their lives as high as 70%! (4)
  • Nearly half of all U.S. marriages are remarriages for at least one of the spouses (5)
  • In a 2001 report, the CDC stated that 1/5 (20%) of first marriages end within five years; 1/3 (33%)within ten years. Second marriages fare even worse. The CDC found "a strong probability that second marriages will end in separation or divorce: 23% after five years and 39% after ten years.”
  • Researcher Donald Hughes states that 90% of divorce among Christians occur AFTER they have been saved. (6)

When you click "read more" stop the video until you get to it. I don't want to mess up your concentration. You'll see.
It hasn't helped that the church (or should we say church PERSONALITIES) have also become the victim and in some cases the promoter (certainly the facilitator) of the breakdown of the nuclear family. In fact many statistics say that Christian based marriages (where both spouses are confessing Christians) dissolve equally as quick as partially or non-Christian marriages. In other words even among Christians marriage has become an expendable arrangement within which children are reared, educated and given the social moral values upon which to build their lives.

"It's Only For A Season"

For those who didn't know, a little recap is on order:

What has made this the ever increasing problem is that television personalities such as Evangelists/Pastor Paula White makes open claims that the bible condones marital dissolution. Regarding her previous marriage to former Bishop Randy White, (which was her second divorce) of Without Walls International Church, the now Pastor Paula White, of Without Walls International Church, claimed that her previous marriage was only for a "season" based on Ecclesiastes 3:1. Yes, she used the bible to justify her marital failure.
"I wish there was a magic formula that gave you guarantees in life,"...  "Now I have to draw deep into my faith and let God draw me out of this dark place." (7)

Bishop Randy was equally as insane claiming that he was 100% responsible for the failed marriage even though, according to him, there was no sexual infidelity, he had been seen with many woman who weren't his wife, all too regularly. In 2009, when Randy got too ill to continue Pastoring the church, even though Paula had moved on, and founded a new ministry, she found her way back (at Randy's request) to oversee the flock of God.

The irony in this is that when Paula left Randy in Aug. 2007 (during the process) she bought a new home for over $700,000, started a new ministry, and attached herself to Bishop Rick Hawkins the founder of Family Praise Center of San Antonio, TX. Now get this, both Bishop Rick and his son Dustin Hawkins, (appointed pastor of Family Praise Center by his father) were both divorced in February of 2006.  Now, all of this is highly suspect and rightfully so, just a quick view of the video explains more than I will detail here. I'll simply say this, these are individuals who skirt over the details, appear and do evil, divorce and hang with them that are divorced, and continue their ministries as if their sins are simply a minor inconvenience and frankly don't care what's said as long as the offerings continue to pour in and appointments are booked.

Then there are individuals such as alcoholic minister Todd Bentley, (seemingly following Paula's lead) also claimed that marriage is not only for a "season" but allows his "covering" to deliver a full apologetic regarding his moral failure and marital failure and divorce from his former spouse Shonnah. One such individual, Rick Joyner, of MorningStar Ministries on 3/2009 (8) delivered the following insights about about Evangelist Bentley and his new start in life:
"Todd has taken full responsibility for the failure of his marriage. He and Jessa (current/new spouse) also admit that their relationship was premature and should not have happened the way it did. Both are adamant that it was not the cause for the failure of his first marriage, nor did they begin their relationship until Todd was convinced that his marriage was over. They have both expressed that it was wrong and premature. They do not want to try and cover this up even though they know many will never accept them for it. Even so, they are married now and are resolved to make the most of their marriage, their lives, and to continue to serve the Lord in the best way that they can." (parenthesis and emphasis added)
He also goes on to try to level the playing field regarding the failed marriage by stating the following:
"King David, possibly the greatest hero in the Bible after Jesus, made one of the most horrible mistakes, not only committing adultery, but murdering the husband of the woman he committed it with. God knew that was going to happen with David when He called him, and He loved David before, during, and afterward...One of the remarkable events in the Bible is that the Lord then used Bathsheba to bring forth the heir to the throne, Solomon, and she is part of the genealogy of Jesus. It still stretches me, but we need stretching in the grace of God. At the same time, we must balance it with how God hates divorce, and it is one of the scourges of our times that is tragically hurting many, many people. Marriage is under such an assault now because it is so important. However, legalism will not overcome lawlessness" (emphasis added)
So get this, according to Joyner, sound marital advice is "legalism", people are generally inflexible and need to be "flexed" and need not be upset when marriages fail because there are worse sins and problems facing us than infidelity and all things should be treated as equal value. Here's part of the video of the Bentley's acknowledgement of their now future lifetime situation. Jessa, Todd's new wife,  states that Todd and she should have waited "6 months to a year after his divorce" before they remarried. Go to (9) for the full video reference.


One thing is for sure. The New Testament writings regarding marriage were not directed to them that would not live by the rule of God. In other words, for a sinner to live according to the biblical view of marriage is commendable, but also impossible. That is not to say as many assume that a non-biblically centered marriage is a failure or a sham. The statistics don't support that assumption. Contrary to the critics assertions however the statistics also do not support the conclusion that the bible is a failure when it comes to marriage. Though Christians may fail, the prescriptions of the word of God when adhered to are beneficial for the family, community and nation.

What Does the Bible Say Regarding Marriage And Divorce?
Hebrews 13:4 ~ "MARRIAGE [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."

There are many scriptures regarding marriage that could be pointed to. I will begin with a comparison of two of the most criticized scriptures then make statements regarding the issue in general.
The first verse of scripture:
Matthew 5:31-32 ~"31-It hath been said, Whosoever shall PUT AWAY his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32- 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 is the Greek Study Bible of those two verses with certain words emphasized by me:
31- Ἐρρέθη δέ· ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ δότω αὐτῇ ἀποστάσιον. 32 - ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας [porneias (Strong 4202) : from porne ~ harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry -- fornication] ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχευθῆναι [moicheuó: to commit adultery -- commit adultery] καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ μοιχᾶται. [moichaó: from moichos (middle voice) to commit adultery -- commit adultery; a (male) paramour; figuratively, apostate -- adulterer]  ~ Greek Study Bible

Here is the second verse of scripture:

Matthew 19:8-9 ~"8- 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. 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."

Here is the Greek Study bible of those verses also with emphasis provided as referenced above:
8- λέγει αὐτοῖς ὅτι Μωϋσῆς πρὸς τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν ὑμῶν ἐπέτρεψεν ὑμῖν ἀπολῦσαι τὰς γυναῖκας ὑμῶν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς δὲ οὐ γέγονεν οὕτως. 9 - λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳporneia (Strong 4202): immorality from porne ~ harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry -- fornication]  καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην μοιχᾶται. [moichaó: from moichos (middle voice) to commit adultery -- commit adultery; a (male) paramour; figuratively, apostate -- adulterer]  ~ Greek Study Bible

In order to understand the scriptures, they must first be contextualized.
1- The Jewish male under the law was the only one who had the ability to decree a divorce. That decree was to be a written one according to what Jesus says was the command of Moses:
Deut 24: 1-5 ~ "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. 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. 5-When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: [but] he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken."

2- Jews had abused this decree of divorce contrary to the original intent of the scripture and allowance. During Jesus day, not only was the written decree not being adhered to but the reasons for divorce were beyond ridiculous and were causing spouses to suffer abuse and social atrocity. Jesus corrects and addresses this to the ultra pious.

3- The context of "uncleanliness" as found in Deuteronomy dealt with not only the premarital condition of finding that one had sex before marriage, but also the extramarital condition of adultery. Therefore the quotes in the NT regarding this and the use of the word porneia included both fornication (non-marital sex) and adultery (extra-marital sex). Remember culturally, there was a high value on abstinence and sexual purity.

4- Rather than referring to the perpetual law of the husband, I pose that the later part of the above verses Mt. 5:32b "and whosoever shall MARRY her that is divorced committeth adultery." and Mt. 19:9b "whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." refer only to the ORIGINAL husband and not any successor husbands that a wife which was "put away" or divorced would have. (Please see my special note in the summary regarding an alternate theory)

This is based on the rendering of the Deuteronomic text and specifically Deut. 24:4
Deut 24:4 ~ "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."

In this case I propose that the word defiled (Heb. Tame- טָמֵא)  indicates that the spouse, being remarried, but not in a condition of physical sin, is simply off limits to the first husband for the rest of their lives. Why? The Lord in Deut. 24:2 gives the divorced wife the right to depart, if she is rejected, without declaring her to be in sin. She also has the right to be the wife of another without him being considered a sinner or adulterer.
Deut. 24: 2-"And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's [wife]."

There is no condition of sin set upon the divorced or "put away" spouse and neither is she implicated as being in sin. Jesus also never states that the divorced spouse is in sin simply because she is divorced. My arguments seems to be further confirmed by the beginning of a prophecy that God gave to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 3:

Jeremiah 3:1 ~ "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's shall he return uto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again unto me saith the Lord"

This was a contrast to the nation of Israe's sin and leaving God, but no one can say that it is not based on Deut. 24 and the common understanding of Deut 24 among the people. To conclude that there is a condition of sin set upon the divorced spouse is a superimposition upon scripture. In other words, to make the conclusion that a woman, remarrying after a divorce is an adulteress or is causing the ongoing condition of adultery is not scriptural certainly and especially when that woman is the innocent spouse and the one not responsible for the disillusionment of the marriage.

Paul's Instructions Clarified:

1 Cor. 7:10-11 ~ "10-And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband: 11-But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife."

Remember that Paul was a former Pharisee and at times his Pharisaic training showed up within his teaching. Paul thoroughly understood Deut. 24 and understood that the spouse, if she departed, was in a situation where she would not be allowed to return to her husband IF she remarried and at a later date decided to undergo restoration of her original marriage at any point.

Paul's teaching deviated dramatically from his Pharisaic training also. He commanded the husband to NOT divorce his wife additionally he indicated that the "wife" HAD a right to depart under certain circumstances, which was unheard of under the law. Remember the Jewish context, the woman had no right to such decree of divorce, however under Paul's construct she does within certain limits and understandings.

Paul's ultimate answer was to advise the departing spouse (wife) to "REMAIN UNMARRIED" leaving the door open for possible marital restoration and reconciliation. This was Paul's ministry. He was a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). To advise against his basic premise would place Paul in an uncomfortable and unordained place ministerially.

Paul's Further Instructions On Handling The Unsaved Spouse:

12-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. 13-And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14-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.
But what of this verse:

15-But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such [cases]: but God hath called us to peace.

A popular bible commentary says this regarding the verse:
 depart-that is, wishes for separation. Translate, "separateth himself": offended with her Christianity, and refusing to live with her unless she renounce it.
brother or a sister is not under bondage-is not bound to renounce the faith for the sake of retaining her unbelieving husband [Hammond]. So De 13:6; Mt 10:35-37; Lu 14:26. The believer does not lie under the same obligation in the case of a union with an unbeliever, as in the case of one with a believer. In the former case he is not bound not to separate, if the unbeliever separate or "depart," in the latter nothing but "fornication" justifies separation [Photius in Æcumenius]. 
but God hath called us to peace-Our Christian calling is one that tends to "peace" (Ro 12:18), not quarrelling; therefore the believer should not ordinarily depart from the unbelieving consort (1Co 7:12-14), on the one hand; and on the other, in the exceptional case of the unbeliever desiring to depart, the believer is not bound to force the other party to stay in a state of continual discord (Mt 5:32). Better still it would be not to enter into such unequal alliances at all (1Co 7:40; 2Co 6:14). [See 10]
Once again, dealing with the context of scripture, a spouse had the clear right to depart and was free from the "bond" of her husband IF he required that she renounce her faith. This partially supersedes the later scripture of

I. Cor. 7:39 ~ "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."

The spouse is free and not bound by a spouse that requires that she reject God, but she is only given leave to marry a believer and never marry the former spouse if she has ever been remarried. (even if the new spouse has died) ultimately, this simply solidifies the idea that a saved spouse is the best option for marriage.

Summary:

Now, we must answer a few questions in light of this. But first let's address some concepts:

1- Neither Paul nor Jesus was referring or asking any spouse to place themselves in physical danger within the context of a marriage. Spousal threatenings of death were not included as it would be common sense for a spouse to get away from a husband threatening the life of a wife or vice-versa. AIDS is ultimately a killer and vinerial diseases can not only hamper an individual's health but also minimize or eliminate one's service to children and family. Life is not to be threatened even by sexual means. Any pastor worth his salt advises a spouse to flee for personal safety even if that means advising divorce.

2- The bible does not take into consideration crack heads, addicts, alchoholics that call themselves saved, to give them power over a saved spouse. Domination, abject humiliation and unaccountable and unloving subjection are not a biblical practices. There is a high value placed in spousal honor and marriage is to be administered within that context. Seperation may be an appropriate situation in some cases, but a spouse after praying and asking for reconciliation, and receiving none, should know that moving on and consummating marriage with another spouse is a one way trip. God has not given marriage as a penalty, but marriage is to be a blessing.

3- Financial considerations are an appropriate consideration in any marriage. Financial addiction and mismanagement are certainly grounds for marital counciling or even separation if there is unrepentance especially when the security of children is at risk. The bible was written with the assumption that a man marrying a spouse would take care of and consider her biblically and value her highly, and that in response the spouse would react in financial wisdom. Even Christian's have a right to financial relief in the event of marital failure, although all possible means of reconciliation should be sought BEFORE this happens.

4- Spousal consent to immoral sexual practices does not make those practices acceptable. Agreement to see others or to be polyamorous in the marital relationship is unholy and ungodly. Agreement to enter into pornography, or other dishonoring practices cannot merely be agreed upon and called holy because spouses agree. Spouses that insist on sexually immoral practices and conscious and reality altering fantasies etc. should repent, learn to honor their spouses and enjoin godly sexual practices, behaviors and habits.

Questions & Answers:

Q: Is marriage a lifetime proposition?

A: First, most indivuals made vows committing themelves for life at marriage. This was done before God and in the presence of witnesses. Marriage is ordained for a lifetime but there are certain circumstances under which marriage can be dissolved. The bible outlines extra-marital sexual activity and denouncement of faith as two reasons or bases for marital dissolution. However, personal threats, mental and physical abuse, marital immorality, and irresponsibility can also be raised to the level of marital dissolution if there is no repentance or change from those paths. At either rate the Christian, within the marriage, is bound to seek reconciliation of the marriage before anything else. All possible reconcilation ceases at the second marriage of the departing spouse. The confession of faith is not to be compromised either to be married or within the marital context.  

Q: Can people such as White and Bentley then make the case that their marriages were "up in the air" and can we further conclude that marriage only offers a wishful permanence?

A: I don't think so. The scripture is yet clear. Adultery, and the Pauline concept of forced denial of faith, were the only acceptable reasons for divorce recorded within the text. In addition, I believe the grace of God is displayed even more when a spouse trusts God through infidelity. Not everyone can do this, and this is why God gives the innocent spouse the ability to decide. I believe whatever their choice God will bless them however I believe greater blessings will be upon those who reconcile with spouses who are TRUELY repentant. One is unwise to open themselves to further abuse and hurt and or competition because of the infidelity of an unrepentant spouse. There must be some responsibility along with freedom and "buying land ain't cheap" There must be repentance and a full and concerted effort to turn and a system of accountability reestablished. The spouse would certainly have all the power in that case.

What these television evangelists did is called charlatanism, no more and no less. These individuals, in my opinion, were and are money mongerers gone arwy. They are and were TV personalities parading their sins godlessly before God and his church and they will pay a high price for it. The false and "insurance policy" type repentances do nothing for me, however God will be their ultimate judge. In other words, don't guage your actions by what they have done. Many of them will suffer in hell for the deceit that they have pulled upon the people of God and the public.

Q: My spouse and I were saved in a first marriage. He/she backslid and we ultimately divorced. I married another and he/she is saved and all is well. Am I living in adultery?

A: This goes back to the perpetual law of the spouse that I refrenced above and under the special note. Remember, marriage is not a penalty. If marriage was not avaible for reconciliation then there is nothing to wait for, although one can if they like. On your behalf, there must be repentance if you were the cause of the marital failure. Then one would have to look at the details, but if there is a new marriage in place, there's certainly no turing back and nothing to gain. People don't just get divorced because they loose their faith or backslide. I would try to match the problem up with what we know about scripture first, then advise.

Similar to the above question:

Q: Both my spouse and I were married previously. We were both saved and ran into marital difficulties for one reason or another. Are we living in sin?

A: It depends. If there was unrepentant sin by either of you that caused the marital failure and no effort to reconcile or to make right what you damaged, then you need to reevaluate your situation. The reevaluation would be for repentance and restoration of what was damaged not for restoral of marriage since both of you have consummated your marriage. However, if you were not to "blame" for the failure and all biblical measures were taken to assure that God was honored, why be bound by what you didn't do? The failure is not yours...you may have had a part, but IF you were willing to work it out and obviously your former spouse wasn't, why feel or be bound?

Q: I am married to the man/woman I cheated with. Am I in sin?

A: You certainly WERE...however, the same goes for you too as under the answers to previous questions. If your heart has not changed you are certainly still in sin. If your aim was to tear up a happy home, or simply "be there for a hurting married brother or sister", whether incidentally or not, be careful because you will reap what you sow. However, if there was an honest effort at restoration, then you're stuck and rightefully so. Just don't seek to be free...live in it and deal with it. In this case, I would also think that a truely repentant individual, who came in on someone elses marriage would simply walk away from the complete situation and not give into selfishness or add to the situation. Personally, I think I would rather chastize and discipline myself at the mercy of God rather than continue in a situation that I formed in some way by my actions.

Special Note:

Q: Do the scriptures in Matthew point to a perpetual law of the husband?

A: I don't believe so but if they do, that law, according to the text,  is only in effect for the man marrying the put away spouse. Both verses call the man that marries the "put away" woman an adulterer, saying that he is committing adultery; not saying that "they" are committing adultery or that "she" commits adultery. This is why I tend to believe that the perpetual law of the spouse was not the reference or emphasis here and also tend to believe that this refers back to the original spuse according to the Deut. 24 text.

An equally as good insight here is the demonstatration of how God, with much greater vision, views the situation of marriage as truly being a perpetual construct since nothing happens by chance. Thus the scripture would simply be pointing out the human fraility and inability to make the situation right or acceptable to God. The point could be to reveal the sin is not reconcilable. Similar to committing adultery by "looking upon a woman and desiring her", the standard is so high, that all are lost and without hope. Those who have ever been married and remarried under any circumstance are destined to be lost without some kind of favor, intervention or exception. The only antidote to this condition would be grace and mercy which God displays in Jesus. Therefore, God takes what is an impossible situation, and one that according to God, deserves the greatest punishment and judgement and turns it around and extends mercy through Jesus Christ. This concept is similar to the concept of sin as presented in the NT. Sin is an unbridgeable chasm and there is nothing that can be done to overcome it. Only through Jesus do we find the grace and mercy necessary to elimate the ultimate punishment for sin.

Let's evaluate this more. I'm interesting in hearing your thoughts.

Blessed!

References:

1- Religious Tolerance.Org (Source: National Marriage Project, State of Our Unions, 2005)

2- "Christians are more likely to experience divorce than are non-Christians," Barna Research Group, 1999-DEC-21, a review of the report is at: http://www.adherents.com/

3- Lampe, P. E. (ed.). Adultery in the United States: Close Encounters of the Sixth (or Seventh) Kind. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1987

4- 'Marriage and Divorce Today', June 1, 1987, cited in Fisher, Helen E. Anatomy of Love: the natural history of monogamy, adultery and divorce. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1992, p. 86.

5- Statistical Abstract of the United States – 1999, Table 156. U.S. Census Bureau

6- Donald Hughes, "The Divorce Reality." 109 pages. This is an eBook written from a positive, conservative Christian. It can be purchased and then downloaded from Theatron Media at: http://www.bookstore.theatronmedia.com/

7- 'Interruption During Megapastors' Divorce Announcement Was Intentional' Tampa Bay Tribune Online 2007

8- 'Todd Bentley Begins The Restoration Process' MorningStar Ministries Rick Joyner.

9- 'Personal Thoughts From Jessa Bentley' Special video From Fresh Fire Ministries

10- Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary 1 Cor. 7:15

7 comments:

  1. As I was researching this one I came across the criticism that failed marriages among Christians prove the inefficacy and inadequacy of the bible and the Christian God as a moral law giver or judge.

    The facts are plain however in refutation of that assertion:

    1- The actions of Christians says nothing about God's inadequacy. In fact God is clear on the issue but man compromises. Therefore the nature of sin is displayed and any Christian can rightfully claim that's EXACTLY why we need a savior.

    2- There is no poll that adequately reflects the difference between individuals with a said faith and individuals who actually practice and live their faith.

    Many say they are Christians but do not practice Christianity in any way shape or form. When all of that is stripped away we see a commonality in both believer and non-believer.

    Now, that is sad, but somewhat understandable. Christians identify problems and because of their desired lifestyle and choice are more likely to remove themselves from situations (not all the time) but that could be one reason we see the similarity and a higher divorce rate among professing Christians.

    At either rate, it would seem that adhering to the biblical principles of marriage would actually strengthen the marriage and not make it worse. But that thing called "free-will" can be an obstacle when that will is not surrendered to Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There are 2 contrastingly different situations with a similar outcome that I think is interesting:

    1- Early on in ministry, there was a woman who had an abusive spouse (backslidden preacher) that threatened to kill her if she left him. In other words he continued to beat and batter her and dared that she go away. He had done this for years all the while she was praying for the deliverance of her husband. Eventually, the pastor advised her to leave her spouse. One day he showed up and killed her in front of her children in broad daylight. Stabbed her to death gruesomely.

    Now for the ultra fundamentalists who believes that marriage is until death under any circumstance, do you also believe that God ordained this lady's murder at the hand of this killer? Do you believe that God ordained that the children would witness this tragic event?

    2- In another situation, the spouse decided that she was going to stay and try to work it out after going through similar abuse as outlined in #1. Her husband eventually killed her too.

    Once again, I wonder if Paul under these type of circumstances would have ever counseled a spouse to stay in that marriage for 2 seconds? I'm sure that the answer is no, as this would be paganistic spousal behavior and would not qualify as a spouse "pleased to dwell" with the Christian. However, this is the type of erroneous council that is being perpetuated.

    As you can see, we are bypassing the burnt eggs and toast scenarios. The Hollywood scenarios of the White's, Weeks/Bynum's Bentley's and others are garbage. We already know those situations aren't divorcable, and in many cases aren't even real and the people aren't hardly Christians (if that) but we're talking about life issues and people potentially devastating issues.

    For the real people of God, we need to know what the bible actually teaches regarding the issue.

    FYI- Ringo4Life teaches that the texts I referenced were interpolated or had insertions. He's about as far off in la-la land as he can be. The key to understanding Jesus teaching is contextualization and the use of words in the text.

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  3. EnochWalked said,

    Happy New Year!

    Pastor Burnett...Awesome commentary and much wisdom from this article.

    I have a special request, Sir, Would you please breakdown the Greek on 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 12 and Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 5:9 like you did in this article. I would be fascinated to know what the Greek shows and I trust your discernment on this subject.

    Love you big brother in CHRIST!
    EnochWalked

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  4. Enochwalked,

    God bless my friend and I heard you may be snowed in...Happy New year also...

    Now what are you trying to do, kill a brutha?-LOL

    I'll take a look at the scriptures and see what I see-LOL (LAZZZY)

    Naw, you know I'll do it right and with much zeal. Thanks for the homework<<<;)

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  5. 1 Timothy 3:1-2~"1- This is a true. saying If a man desire the office of a bishop he desireth a good work 2- A bishop then must be blameless the husband of one wife vigilant sober of good behaviour given to hospitality apt to teach"

    "1- πιστος ο λογος ει τις επισκοπης ορεγεται καλου εργου επιθυμει 2- δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι, μιᾶς [One] γυναῖκος [Wife] ἄνδρα, νηφάλιον σώφρονα κόσμιον φιλόξενον διδακτικόν,"

    This verse is a good one concerning qualifications of a Bishop and other church leaders. v.12 deals with decons using the same terminology as we find in verse 2 (one wife)

    Now there are two possible interpretations here:

    1- It is possible to have more than one wife and be a Bishop. If a spouse died or if a spouse left according to the Pauline rule (cursed God and desired the Bishop to do the same) or managed to get into an adulterous situation and was either unrepentant or unwilling to repent etc.

    I think the point of the scripture is to emphasize stability of mind and heart. This leader should be aware enough to make choice of a good spouse with lasting and enduring values and morals.

    Can a bishop be twice married? Let me ask this, why is a Bishop disqualified from the protection of certain aspects fo God's word simply because of his call?

    I certainly don't believe or want to paint the picture that I believe a Bishop can marry and divorce like we see these doing today. That to me is a sign of instability and exactly what the scriptures are pointing to. I only state that he has the same protections of scripture as any other married man and a call to a much more stable living or life out of which his leadership is modeled.

    2- This second option states that the office of the Bishop was to be occupied by a once married man NO MATTER the marital situation or what had occurred. This is a traditionalist interpretation but it does have it's validity. Under this construct, my argument of "protection" is ineffective and not necessary. One could say that God simply says Bishop = ONLY 1 wife PERIOD!

    The only time that would run amuck is at the death of a spouse. This strict rule would seem to suggest that the Bishop must operate by the numbers and nothing else. It would be inconsistent to suddently switch the standard at spousal death.

    Titus 1:6 uses the same words in the greek (one wife) but adds an additional qualification that the children must not be unruly. In fact it says (asótia)[given to excess or wastefulness] and (anupotaktos) [not subject to rule or governance] So in this verse a Bishop's qualification is also measured by his family's conduct and disposition.

    I'll get back on the widows indeed. That was good also.

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  6. One thing I didn't insert in this post was Pauls command for the Husband and wife in Ephesians:

    Ephes. 5:21-28~"21-Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22-Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23-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. 24-Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing. 25-Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26-That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27-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. 28-So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself."

    Now this post I don't deal with the interactions of marriage, I primarily deal with the basis and conditions of marriage since so many are in different positions and situations.

    Ephesians deals with the obligations within the marriage. Certainly divorcing seems to go against these obligations. There are two things to say:

    1- Love can win the lost IF they want to be won.
    2- Love is out of order when it clings to death. What I mean by that is that letting "Tom" whoop you night and day in the name of "love" is ungodly and out of order. There is a mental issue at work. If God will fix Tom God will fix him without you living in constant physical danger. Some have taught "stay and watch God move"...YES he can, but you have a greater obligation to protect your children, self and family in the meantime.

    Some don't like that but I dare anyone to council a person in physical danger to stay in a marriage because of a fundamental misinterpretation of the bible. We KNOW what the power of God can do and will do, but use wisdom in the meantime because that's how the house will be built.

    Proverbs 24:3~Through WISDOM IS an house builded; and by understanding it is established:

    Anyone thinking that I should say DON'T DIVORCE in Christ under any circumstance...please present a case to examine as well as scriptural support...These Christian Stars are certainly wrong and many of them adulterers anyway. I'm not talking about people who are simply under financial stress in their marriage or things like taht either. This info isn't for sinners, it's for those looking for peace and believing God for either instruction or direction...Don't sin to remove yourself from marriage and don't seek to be loosed, but you sure better seek safe ground while the water falls.

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  7. Also, to be clear, I don't believe that Christians can have irreconcilable differences.

    Somebody either fell away (backslid) or simply is not subject to Christ. In other words two saved folk shouldn't be getting a divorce UNLESS the biblically defined sin is involved and or lives are threatened.

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