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#44009 - Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:24 PM Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage  
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Al Margheim Offline
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Question: I have a question about Gordon J. Wenham's position on the reason why Deuteronomy 24:1-4 forbids remarriage to the original husband when a divorced woman's second marriage ends. (The position he sets forth in the article "The Restoration of Marriage Reconsidered")

Wenham posits that the reason the remarriage is prohibited is because the first marriage established a familial-type bond between the wife and her first husband that would cause a remarriage to be akin to incest.

My question is: if Wenham's position is correct then why does the prohibition depend upon the woman marrying a second man? Why wouldn't the prohibition apply to all instances of remarriage between a man and his wife? In other words, if something-akin-to-incest is the reason they can't remarry, why does the passage allow the husband to remarry his ex-wife if she hasn't married someone else in the interim?

This seems like such an obvious flaw in Wenham's position that I fear I have overlooked an obvious explanation.

I don't have access to Wenham's article so I don't know if he addressed this question there. Your insights would be appreciated.

Best regards,
Al Margheim

#44011 - Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:14 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Al Margheim]  
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Pilgrim Offline
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Al, first of all... [Linked Image]

Since all I have to go on is your summary of Wenham's view, going on that basis I would have to disagree that the "reason" the remarriage is prohibited is because the first marriage established a familial-type bond between the wife and her first husband that would cause a remarriage to be akin to incest."

It is the "familial bond" which I find questionable, but again not knowing what exactly he means by that phrase, I am forced to be less than absolute in my rejection of it. From my reading and understanding of the text I hold that the reason that the original husband is forbidden to remarry his former wife IF she has subsequently married another after having been given a "writ of divorcement" is that to do so would be a "defilement". This defilement is to be understood as creating an "unclean" situation, for not only both parties; man and woman, but for the entire nation. (cf. Lev 18:25) There, it is true that Moses speaks of unnatural licentiousness and incest. In this, the conclusion of Wenham is agreeable. The more specific reason why this would be considered a moral defilement due to that in the second marriage there would have doubtless been a sexual union, i.e., a blemishing, desecration of the sexual communion which was sanctified by marriage in the same sense in which adultery is called a defilement in Lev. 18:20 and Num 5:13,14.

I think one cannot say that the second marriage was actually adultery for the penalty for that sin was a capital sin in which the guilty party(s) were to be put to death (cf. Lev 20:10-12). But the seriousness of the sin of remarrying one's former wife who had remarried was in the same league of adultery yet without the consequential punishment for it.

So again, the phrase "familial-type bond" is that which causes the question as to whether or not Wenham's view is acceptable, although the final conclusion appears to be sound enough.

What are your thoughts? [Linked Image]

In His grace,


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

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#44014 - Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:34 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Al Margheim Offline
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Pilgrim,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. First, I have to say that the term "familial-type bond" is mine and not Wenham's. Although I do not have access to Wenham's article, his position is discussed by J. Carl Laney in an article published in Bibliotheca Sacra 149 (Jan. 1992): 3-15. Laney's article is online at: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted...eronomy/Text/Articles/Laney-Dt24-BS.htm.

Laney writes:

Wenham has noted that the reasons the husband should not take back his former wife--defilement, abomination, and pollution of the land--occur repeatedly in connection with the sexual offenses listed in Leviticus 18 and 20.

As background for his viewpoint, Wenham argues that marriage establishes a close and lasting "one flesh" (Gen. 2:24) relationship that does not terminate with divorce. From a biblical perspective, marital intercourse makes a man and wife as closely related as parents and children. If a man may not marry his sister-in-law because she has in effect become his sister (Lev. 18:16; 20:21), may he remarry his former wife?


Assuming Laney has correctly represented Wenham’s position, I think it is safe to say that Wenham would agree that the reason the remarriage is prohibited is because of defilement. It is Wenham’s attempt to define the nature of the defilement is that has attracted my attention.

More specifically, my focus at this time is to try to understand why, under Wenham's theory; a wife would not be prohibited from remarrying her husband even if she hadn’t married another man.

May the Lord’s grace and peace be upon you.
Al

#44016 - Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:27 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Al Margheim]  
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Pilgrim Offline
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Originally Posted by Al Margheim
More specifically, my focus at this time is to try to understand why, under Wenham's theory; a wife would not be prohibited from remarrying her husband even if she hadn’t married another man.

Al,

Again, I have to plead ignorance as to Wenham's view as to remarriage of a former wife who has NOT remarried. I find nothing in Scripture which would persuade me that such a prohibition exists. Our Lord Christ in the NT makes very clear that there is but one legitimate ground for divorce; adultery. This effectively abrogated both the spiritual covenant of marriage and annulled the physical bond. Further, there is also a real "innocent" party and a "guilty" party in such actions. Of course, by the personal teaching of Christ to Paul, it would seem there is a second ground for divorce; desertion, but I have always understood this desertion to be connected with remarriage or infidelity by and after the unbelieving spouse's departure. The point being, that "for the hardness of heart", these OT divorces based upon whatever reason the man felt was justified were allowed... i.e., Moses was unable to persuade the people to repent of this tradition. However, in the NT having received the proper understanding of the teaching concerning marriage and divorce as the people in the OT should have understood, a legitimate divorce fully breaks the marriage bond and thus the "innocent party" is free to remarry.

Now, how does this affect the view that a man cannot remarry an ex-wife who has subsequently married after a divorce? This is a sticky question to be sure, but I would like to offer some thoughts for consideration. Does the Scripture DEMAND an innocent party divorce the guilty spouse on the occasion of adultery? No, it ALLOWS the innocent party to divorce the guilty spouse. However, there is room and hope for repentance by the guilty party and thus if the innocent party is given to this end, he/she does no wrong in not suing for divorce. Yet, the adultery has effectively broken the marriage covenant and legally allows the innocent party to divorce and remarry. But, there is clearly no prohibition against the innocent party receiving the guilty (adulterous) party back into the relationship. Is this so much different than a divorced woman remarrying after a divorce and then being received again after a divorce or death of the subsequent husband? The reason/ground for the divorce is the same, it seems, as a subsequent marriage to another man after a divorce. So, how is one to understand all this? scratchchin

There is one difference one can see in the matter of the desertion allowance, however. In that situation, the one who deserts is said to be an unbeliever. And, if after the marriage covenant has been abrogated by that desertion (and subsequent adultery or marriage?), a remarriage to this person by the innocent party would be forbidden but on another ground... i.e., a marriage of a believer to an unbeliever (2Cor 6:14ff). Thus there would have to be a major repentance on the part of the guilty party; repentance of the breaking of the marriage bond and repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Christ unto justification.

Okay.... enough of the rambling thoughts. What do you think? You really haven't stated where you stand on this matter of remarrying a former wife who subsequent to a divorce has remarried and then has either been divorced or widowed.


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

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#44017 - Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:13 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Al,

In the following article in the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, G. Wenham presents his view on Remarriage after Divorce in the context of NT.

"Does the New Testament Approve Remarriage after Divorce?: http://www.sbts.edu/media/publications/sbjt/sbjt_2002spring3.pdf


The gist of his view is that "...the New Testament nowhere approves of remarriage after divorce".

Btw, I'm in agreement with Pilgrim on this.

Carlos


"Let all that mind...the peace and comfort of their own souls, wholly apply themselves to the study of Jesus Christ, and him crucified"(Flavel)
#44018 - Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:55 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: carlos]  
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Carlos,

Thanks for the link to Wenham's article. I am familiar with the argument that forbids remarriage for ANY reason whatsoever but have always found it wanting. Methinks John Murray, in This Article rightly exegetes the infamous 'exception clause' which Murray understands to permit remarriage after a legitimate divorce.

Here are a couple more articles which I have found helpful. Their inclusion here does NOT mean I give 100% approval of everything these authors have written, but I do believe in the main, they are faithful expositors to the Scriptures on this particular subject:

- Split Asunder: Divorce and Remarriage Scripturally Explained, by Craig Booth (Online Book)

- The Husband of One Wife - Qualification for Elder, by Robert Saucy


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
#44020 - Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:53 PM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Thanks Pilgrim!

I agree with you regarding Murray's view. I read that article and his excellent book, Principles of Conduct, which also deals with the topic. I will check out those two others links, as I am unfamiliar with both works.

Btw, I'm so very glad this site is still up, and may say, it looks FANTASTIC!!!!! I had not had chance to check it(often) for the last couple years. It was to my delight, that this site is still available. I feel like a "Plebeian" all over again.

Carlos


"Let all that mind...the peace and comfort of their own souls, wholly apply themselves to the study of Jesus Christ, and him crucified"(Flavel)
#44022 - Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:23 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: carlos]  
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Al Margheim Offline
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Carlos,

Thank you very much for the link to Wenham’s article on remarriage. I’ll try to find time to read it in the next few days. For me, arguments that are summarized with the statement “…the New Testament nowhere approves of…” are rarely compelling. But, I’ll read Wenham’s article with an open mind. If his article changes any of my beliefs on remarriage, I’ll share that with this forum.

Peace,
Al

#44023 - Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:34 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Hi Pilgrim,

First I must say that I fear I cannot do justice to our dialogue in terms of time or talent. I write painfully slowly and study, for me, is laborious and difficult. But, you have been generous and thoughtful in your responses and have asked a reasonable question, so I will try to answer.

Second, I believe that this topic is not one of the “main and plain” teachings of the Bible. Godly Christian men of much greater intellectual prowess and spiritual depth than I have studied every facet of divorce and remarriage and have arrived at different conclusions. Therefore, I freely admit that my belief on this matter may be wrong and that I could change my mind after further study and illumination by the Holy Spirit.

Here are my beliefs on divorce and remarriage.

1. I believe that it is far better to reconcile than to divorce, that divorce is never mandated, and that Christians should rarely divorce, even when Biblical cause exists.

2. I believe that Deut 24:1-4 does not apply to Christians and since the NT does not address the prohibition in Deut 24:1-4, I believe that Christians are free to remarry a divorced spouse, even after the wife has been married to another man.

3. I believe that divorced Christians should marry again only under three circumstances. First, when they divorced because their spouse was guilty of fornication (fornication, not adultery). Second, when their unbelieving spouse divorced them. (I am not certain that the Bible allows for these two exceptions, but the support for these two exceptions is strong enough that I can accept them.) Third, to remarry their divorced spouse.

I long for the day that all brothers and sisters in Christ celebrate at the marriage supper of the Lamb and we no longer have to deal with issues such as these.

Al

#44025 - Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:12 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Al Margheim]  
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Originally Posted by Al Margheim
3. I believe that divorced Christians should marry again only under three circumstances. First, when they divorced because their spouse was guilty of fornication (fornication, not adultery). Second, when their unbelieving spouse divorced them. (I am not certain that the Bible allows for these two exceptions, but the support for these two exceptions is strong enough that I can accept them.) Third, to remarry their divorced spouse.

Thanks for the 'painful' reply! grin

I, of course, would disagree with the first two of this #3 statement and I'm undecided on the last; remarriage of a former spouse who has remarried. No, I have no desire to push you any further, i.e., to defend your views but rather I would like a bit of clarification of one thing, if you don't mind. It is in regard to the "First" item. I am curious as to how you define and distinguish the terms "fornication" vs. "adultery" in the context of marriage and in regard to the two parties of that marriage covenant?

Thanks!!


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#44026 - Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:51 PM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Hi Al,

You are welcome. Just in case I was not clear: I, too, find Wenham's view wanting. I only gave the article so that you could hear his view in totality in his own words. Even within the same Journal issue, that view is,IMHO, sufficiently refuted by William Heth, who previously co-authored with Wenham and held the same views.

See here: http://www.sbts.edu/resources/category/journal-of-theology/sbjt-61-spring-2002/

As Pilgrim noted above, I would also be interested in the explanation of the first sentence of #3(i.e. "adultery" vs "fornication"). I recall in one of my readings while back, that there were some who distinguished them on the basis that one of the words included the "betrothal stage" and the other did not. Not sure if this is you're intention.

btw Thanks for sharing.

Carlos


Last edited by Pilgrim; Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:11 PM. Reason: Fixed the URL tag

"Let all that mind...the peace and comfort of their own souls, wholly apply themselves to the study of Jesus Christ, and him crucified"(Flavel)
#44037 - Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:24 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: carlos]  
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Al Margheim Offline
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Hi Carlos,

Not to worry, you were clear that you find Wenham's view wanting. I appreciate you giving the reference to Wenham's article even though you don't agree with his position.

I only recently became aware of the idea that the porneia that Jesus referred to in Matthew 19 includes the betrothal period. I'm not sure it is relevant to a position on divorce and remarriage in a world/culture where the betrothal period is vastly different than the betrothal period in Jesus' culture. It's not a part of why I distinguish between adultery and fornication

Peace.
Al

#44038 - Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:30 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Pilgrim]  
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My position that fornication is grounds for divorce is based on the idea that the word porneia in Matt 19:9 should be translated as fornication and not as adultery. Although it can’t be proven, I agree with the supposition that Jesus would have been more likely to use the word moicheia if he meant simple adultery.

John Piper's position paper on divorce and remarriage is a decent introduction to the idea. I don’t agree with everything in Piper’s paper, but he introduces this idea acceptably well.

Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary defines porneia as:

illicit sexual intercourse adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18 sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; …

As you probably know, porneia is translated as sexual immorality in some modern translations (e.g. the ESV). IMO, the problem with translating porneia as sexual immorality is that sexual immorality is too broad and general and doesn’t adequately convey the meaning of porneia. Even though fornication is not an exact translation for porneia, I think it is better than adultery or sexual immorality.

- Al

#44039 - Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:28 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Al Margheim]  
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Originally Posted by Al Margheim
My position that fornication is grounds for divorce is based on the idea that the word porneia in Matt 19:9 should be translated as fornication and not as adultery. Although it can’t be proven, I agree with the supposition that Jesus would have been more likely to use the word moicheia if he meant simple adultery.

Al, the problem I have with your explanation is that you haven't defined what "fornication" is vs. "adultery". You only state that fornication is not adultery. scratch1

From my studies of the Greek word porneia, it is a much broader term than "adultery", but includes adultery. In short, it encompasses all forms of unlawful sexual intercourse. If you have it on hand, I would recommend you consult A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, by Arndt, Bauer and Gingrich (pp. 699-700). This is the standard lexical reference book used universally by students of Greek. Thus, adultery is a legitimate ground for divorce according to Jesus' teaching in Matt 19:9 for porneia includes it within its scope.

Perhaps Hendriksen's footnote on porneia in regard to Matt 19:9 will be helpful.

Quote
The term porneia ("fornication") is very broad in meaning. In its widest sense it indicates immorality or sexual sin in general (15:19; Gal 5:19), illicit (often clandestine) relationships of every description, particularly unlawful sexual intercourse (John 8:41). In Paul's epistles the word occurs frequently. In addition to Gal 5:19 see also 1Cor 5:1; 6:13, 18; 7:2; 2Cor 12:21; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5; 1Thess 4:32. In the book of Acts it occurs a few times; also several times in Revelation. In the latter book, as in the Old Testament (LXX), it may at times be used figuratively, to indicate departure from the Lord, who was considered his people's "husband." Hence, in such passages (see, for example, Hos 6:10 and Rev 19:2) it has at times been translated "whoredom," "harlotry," or even "idolatry." By reason of the context it is clear that here in Matt 19:9, as also in 54:32, the reference is to the infidelity of a married woman. - As to the other word, a form of the verb moichao, see on 5:32, where also the verb moicheuo is explained in the light of its context.

I am familiar with Piper's view and have to disagree with it as does his church's official statement. I find myself at variance with quite a number of Piper's views on important and less important subjects and thus consequently, I have little confidence in what he writes or says.

Thayer's & Smith's Bible Dictionary I think has the definition of porneia right. grin

Originally Posted by Al Margheim
As you probably know, porneia is translated as sexual immorality in some modern translations (e.g. the ESV). IMO, the problem with translating porneia as sexual immorality is that sexual immorality is too broad and general and doesn’t adequately convey the meaning of porneia. Even though fornication is not an exact translation for porneia, I think it is better than adultery or sexual immorality.

I would agree with you here also in that "sexual immorality" is too broad and to use that as an accurate description of the word would allow divorce for things less grievous than adultery, e.g., looking at pornographic literature, flirtatiousness, etc., which are sinful practices to be sure but which I do not believe qualify as grounds for a divorce. Restricting the meaning of the word to just adultery would do the opposite, i.e., disallow a divorce of a spouse who, e.g., is guilty of child molestation, bestiality, etc.

In His grace,


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
#44041 - Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:40 AM Re: Gordon Wenham on Deut 24:1-4 and remarriage [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Al Margheim Offline
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Al Margheim  Offline
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Pilgrim,

You are right. I’m sorry; in my haste to respond I failed to explicitly state that I would use the word fornication as an analogue for Thayer’s and Smith’s definition of porneia. (I know that means I’m defining fornication in terms of fornication. Forgive me, please.)

I freely admit that fornication is not an ideal translation for porneia. I simply know of no better translation.

I’m familiar with Hendriksen’s footnote on porneia. In fact, I reread it as I was writing my previous response to you. :-) One reason I didn’t refer to it in my response is because I dislike Hendriksen’s translation of porneia into “infidelity.”

Thank you for recommending A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, by Arndt, Bauer and Gingrich. I don’t have a copy but I will probably get one when finances allow.

Peace,
Al

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