Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2 Questions on divorce(Part 5) When Is Divorce Acceptable? Considering Adultery.

What about adultery?

Jesus first speaks to divorce in Matthew 5:31-32 in which He says, "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him giver her a certificate of divorce'.  But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

When asked about divorce in Matthew 19:3-9 Jesus makes it very clear what his stance is regarding divorce and what His definition of marriage is.  He also makes it clear what his one allowance is for divorce. It goes like this:

Some Pharisees came to him to test him.  They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"  "Haven't you read", he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'?  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery. 

Mark 10:1-12 tells pretty much the same account except toward the end in Mark 10:10-12 this account is given.  And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.  And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

Most scholars believe that Mark was the fist gospel written and that Luke and Matthew used Mark as a starting point and adapted it to their audience, not changing any of the truths in Mark, nor bringing any less truth, rather different perspectives.  With this in mind many scholars believe, as do I, that the texts in Matthew regarding divorce in the case of adultery could apply to either spouse.  In other words, a woman may divorce her husband in the case of marital infidelity just as a man may divorce his wife.  This makes sense because Jesus holds them both accountable, and guilty of adultery, in cases where one divorces the other without the offense of marital infidelity.

I will probably speak to this again in this series but I want to make a point to say here that no one should be looking for a way out of their marriage.  As believers especially, we should always bear in mind that marriage is a covenant relationship between man, wife, and God.  It is intended to represent Christ's faithfulness to the Church.  This is most difficult to do, yet most clear, in moments of infidelity.   We must never forget that Christ is faithful to his bride, the Church, in the face of continual infidelity.  Christ's death was necessary because of our unfaithfulness and his love continues to be faithful in the face of our continual struggle with sin. The Old Testament book of Hosea is a beautiful picture of Christ pursuing His bride even as she is unfaithful.

 With that in mind I would say two things.  One, if your spouse is a repeat offender and unrepentant  i.e.  they have no interest in fidelity or continue to make excuses then biblically, you have every right to pursue divorce. In those cases, quite often, you know about it, you have tried to hang in there and there and give it a chance multiple times and it is time.  In many cases, the offending spouse makes it "easy", so to speak, in light of the previous post because not only do they cheat, but they leave as well.  In this case they have not only committed adultery but they have shown that they are not bearing the fruit of a believer in their marriage by leaving their commitment for the other woman.

I realize that this hurts in an indescribable way and it no amount of justifying the divorce helps to take away the pain of the infidelity.  I in no way want to be insensitive to this.

Number two, I would encourage anyone who experiences the heartbreak of marital infidelity to be willing to fight, to a point, for marriage even in the face of that.  Especially, if their spouse is repentant and is making an effort to reconcile.  It will take a lot of work.  In the spirit of loving your enemy and turning the other cheek we should be very careful not to see the offense of adultery as a one and done.  Christ certainly does not do that to us.  I would not dare to suggest that this is easy or will not be painful.

Christ Feels Your Pain
Scripture reminds us however that  Jesus, worked tirelessly to satisfy the demands of the law by living a perfect, sinless life in our place.  He then satisfied God's just wrath against our sinful failure to obey the demands of the law by experiencing the worst pain their was to experience.  Not only did he experience the physical pain of crucifixion, but he experienced the emotional and spiritual pain of being separated from His Heavenly Father so that we would not have to be.  He took all the guilt, shame, and punishment due our sins onto himself.

He did this for His faithless bride.  So there is no guilt, shame or pain of any kind that you could experience due to marital infidelity that Christ cannot relate to.  For this reason, you can lean on him for strength and comfort in the midst of this storm.  Whether you are fighting for your marriage or letting it go, Jesus will grieve with you, walk with you, and when necessary carry you through.

My Prayer
My prayer for those going through the pain of divorce for any reason that is biblically supported, is that this serious would encourage you to fight and do everything you can to see success.  But also, to provide the knowledge that their is hope and healing when things don't work out.  Jesus still loves you and as the ever-faithful husband, he is not going anywhere.  He will never, leave you nor forsake you(Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5).

Until the next time.

Live Coram Deo-before the face of God.


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