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#38086 Sat Oct 27, 2007 5:45 PM
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I have been reading "Marriage: The Mystery of Christ and the Church" recently. It is an excellent book, and, in a few places, has pointed out some misunderstandings I have had about marriage. One issue I am not so sure about though is his discussion of remarriage. In particular, the remarriage of someone who has divorced due to a spouse's adultery. I have always heard (even in church) that this is the one permissible case for divorce (although I have also heard that abandonment by a non-Christian spouse is the other reason) and also remarriage. Engelsma points out that in Matthew 19:9, the subject is divorce and not remarriage, so this passage does not support remarriage in this case. He says that remarriage is not permissible in the case of even adultery and the only proper circumstance for remarriage is the death of a spouse. He makes a very strong case from Scripture, and I am inclined to change my view on this subject. I would like to gather some thoughts from others first.

John

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John,

I believe that Engelsma's exegesis of Matt 19:9 is flawed and thus his conclusion is of necessity flawed as well. For another viewpoint and exegesis of that passage by an able theologian of some note see here: Divorce & Remarriage, by John Murray.

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Pilgrim #38088 Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:53 AM
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Pilgrim said:
John,

I believe that Engelsma's exegesis of Matt 19:9 is flawed and thus his conclusion is of necessity flawed as well. For another viewpoint and exegesis of that passage by an able theologian of some note see here: Divorce & Remarriage, by John Murray.

In His grace,

Pilgrim,

Thanks for the article. I read it, but I think I need to read it one or two more times to digest it.

What do you think about Engelsma's book? Do you know of any other places where his discussion of marriage is flawed?

b.t.w., 500th post.

John

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john said:
What do you think about Engelsma's book? Do you know of any other places where his discussion of marriage is flawed?

b.t.w., 500th post.
John,

I have a sincere respect for much that David Engelsma writes on myriad subjects. And I must admit that it has been years since I read his book on marriage, so I cannot honestly answer your question re: "other places . . ." What I do believe is that he errs on the one subject you brought up and that Murray presents the biblical truth concerning remarriage which has been the majority view.

And congratulations on your 500th post. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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john #38090 Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:26 AM
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I haven't read the book by Engelsma, but it sounds like he has a similar view about divorce and remarriage as does John Piper (see Divorce and Remarriage). After giving the topic some much deserved study, I've had to review and even made a change to my stand on divorce and remarriage. I and the other two pastors at our church are having to come up with an official stand on divorce and remarriage and have been giving it quite some study.

Once I held that if a person was divorced (that is, didn't want to be divorced but was anyway because the other spouse wanted a divorce) then the one being divorced could remarried, but the one pursuing the divorce could not remarried. I also believe that remarriage in the case of abandonment or abuse (physical or mental) was permitted. After doing a more thurough study (due to situations in our church) I've change my understanding of the scriptures. I no longer believe that remarriage is permitted at all, for any reason. Here is why (in short order I hope):

Mt. 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.”

Here Jesus teaches that not only does the women commit adultery, but the husband who put her away is guilty of her adultery, and that any man that marries a woman divorced is guilty of adultery. Now we have the problem with the word ‘fornication’ (pornea) in stead of ‘adultery’ (moichea). It’s not that Matthew doesn’t know the difference, because he uses 'fornication' and ‘adultery’ correctly in Mt. 15:19, so he must be talking about something other than adultery by someone who is married. Most likely, Christ is talking about the betrothel period, where they are ‘considered’ to be married, but it has not been consummated as yet. Thus, sexual activity by either party in a betrothel would not be ‘adultery’ but ‘fornication.’

Matthew 19:9 - “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.

Same argument as above.

Mark 10:2-12 - “[2] And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. [3] And he answered 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 this precept. [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 a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

Rather than teaching that divorce is permitted (because vs. 9 teaches that it’s not), Christ is teaching that remarriage after divorce is wrong. Here Jesus tells us that the man divorcing his wife commits adultery if he remarries, and the woman that divorces her husband also commits adultery if she gets remarried. Neither the man nor the woman are free to remarry and if they do. Jesus quotes the Scriptures, then make a binding statement, What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

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.”

In Luke’s account of Jesus teaching on divorce and remarriage, there is not ‘exception’ clause. Divorce is not allowed according to Luke’s presentation. Instead, Luke’s account confirms that remarriage after divorce is adultery, both by the man divorcing his wife, and by the man that marries a divorced wife.

1 Corinthians 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.”

1 Corinthians 7:12-15 - “[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. [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. [17] For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? [17] But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

Now we have Paul’s teaching on divorce and remarriage regarding an unbelieving spouse. Note that Paul does not approve of divorce in this case, rather he is teaching that it is better to let the unbelieving spouse leave than to have strife in the home from the fight to keep an unbelieving spouse. In any event, Paul still upholds the Lord’s teaching that remarriage after this kind of divorce is wrong and adulterous: Paul does not take this opportunity to allow remarriage after an unbelieving spouse leaves.

So here are my thoughts from the above:
1. Divorce is not allowed for any reason, not even fornication or adultery.
2. A man who divorces his wife is guilty of her adultery
3. A man who divorces his wife and remarries is guilty of adultery
4. A woman who divorce her husband and remarries is guilty of adultery
5. A man who marries a divorced woman is guilty of adultery
6. If an unbelieving spouse wants to leave, after all else has been done, let them.
7. A person divorced by an unbelieving spouse is not permitted to remarry, it is adultery.

Of course, these are my understandings from the scripter, and being my opinion, does not make them correct, even though I believe they are.

Blessings in Christ,
Matthew


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Who do Business on great Waters;
They have seen the Works of the LORD,
And His Wonders in the Deep."
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john #38091 Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:08 PM
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John,

I'm glad you made this post... I just registered on the forum in order to ask the exact same question.

I have been studying it and my views are the same as Matthew's. I encourage you to read the link he provided for Piper's views because Piper does a very good job of laying out the differing views and addressing them point by point.

Engelsma's interpretation of Matt 19:9 is wrong. But I think that Murray's is as well. Engelsma does a better job of comparing Scripture with Scripture. Because of his overall view of marriage, informed by the whole counsel of God, he forced himself into a poor exegesis of 19:9 to make it fit.

Murray does a good job of showing why this exegesis is wrong, but he doesn't do justice to the rest of Scripture.

Neither of these men address the interpretation offered by Piper (as well as by Boice, check his commentary on 19:9).

This issue is of utmost importance and relevance to me. If anyone has thoughts on Piper's exegesis, I'd love to hear it (Boice as well, but I can't find that online)


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-Brandon
brandon #38092 Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:13 PM
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Matthew (or any other),

Perhaps you could offer me some clarity. I understand the Scritpures to teach that divorce is not allowed because marriage is an unbreakable bond created by God. Thus any legal contract cannot actually break the bond that was created.

My question then is in trying to understand how to view the issue of a wife (or husband) separating from an abusive spouse. I don't think Jesus is teaching that someone in that situation should stay, but I'm trying to clarify the distinction.


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-Brandon
brandon #38093 Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:59 AM
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Brandon,

You are correct in asserting that marriage isn an unbreakable bond in the eyes of God. This is why is it adultery for anyone that is divorced to get remarried, because what God has joined no one else can break apart (my personal interpretive paraphrase). No legal writ of divorce can break the bond that was formed before God.

As to a spouse who is in an abusive relationship, I can only say that if they do divorce, then they must not remarry. This is our churches stand. While we would put a member under discipline for abandonment (divorcing their spouse for other than biblical reasons) I would have a hard time agreeing with the other elders in putting someone under discipline for leaving an abusive relationship, but I would council that they not remarry, based on my understanding of the scriptures.

As far as Jesus' teaching, his only 'concession' was for fornication {sexual impurity that is not adultery). Paul's teaching is probably the closest to this situation, regarding an unbelieving spouse leaving. But note that a believer abandoned or divorced by an unbelieving spouse is still commanded to not remarry. His instruction does not cover an abused believer leaving his/her abusive spouse. I would not put such a person under church discipline, but I could not condone remarriage either.

In Christ,
Matthew


"Those who go down to the Sea in Ships
Who do Business on great Waters;
They have seen the Works of the LORD,
And His Wonders in the Deep."
-Ps. 107:23-24
Pilgrim #38094 Tue Nov 06, 2007 6:12 PM
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I have to be honest.. I have never looked into the Bible for what it says about Marriage, Divorce, or Remarriage in the context that you guys are speaking of... But I have a question that I would like to ask..

If a person gets married, and for what ever reason; abuse, abandonment, adultery, ect were to divorce, they are asked not to remarry.. But what of their physical needs/desires? It seems as if by the standards the Bible has set, (my view here based ONLY ON what you guys have posted) the person would almost have to live a Monks life.. They would not be allowed sexual contact again, (this is really hard if that person were to want kids of their own, not adopted), or if they already have kids because they would not have a single solid mother or father figure. Sure if a mother or father were to date again, they might have that figure filled, but what of the opposite parent, they too would begin to date and now they have 2 moms and 2 dads so to speak. (I say 2 moms and dads even though they should not be married only to make a point of the divided roles)

How would you guys counsel a couple in this scenario? I ask because my wifes mom and dad just got divorced a few months ago, and they both want custody and so they have joint. And both of them are dating again seriously and exclusively and so my wifes younger brother and sister are stuck trying to hold to 4 different sets of rules and behaviors which creates confusion and anger..

I hope my question makes sense.. If not, let me know and I will try to reword it.

Thx.
Clint

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Matthew 19:10-11
"The disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given."


It is a hard, and difficult teaching. First, I believe that God would grant them the grace to live the life of an eunuch. Second, yes, it would be difficult if they wanted something that is only available in a marriage, that doesn't mean they should remarry. Jesus never claimed it was easy, He simply said it was God's will.

I see the life of those who have divorced as relying on the church to be their family and to help meet their needs.


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-Brandon
brandon #38096 Mon Nov 12, 2007 12:50 AM
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I have yet one more question.. I would assume that back in the Biblical times that they did not have a court house they could go to for a "marriage certificate" so to speak.. It would require them to have a marriage in front of God by using the church and its counsel? So what of marriages today that are done inside of the courts? These people did not want God "in" the marriage for 1 reason or another.. Is that marriage still under God and therefore the same as a marriage done inside of God's house?

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<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/yep.gif" alt="" /> The marriage is legitimate. And for the record, I am in total disagreement with the "conclusion" posted by the above gentlemen re: marriage, divorce and remarriage. It is an extreme position held by a small minority of people over the centuries, particularly Baptists. Murray's exegesis of the passage is, IMHO from my knowledge of the Greek, impeccable and that held by the Church historically throughout the centuries. In the end, if carried through, it makes divorce/remarriage the unpardonable sin. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rolleyes2.gif" alt="" />

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Pilgrim #38098 Mon Nov 12, 2007 11:12 PM
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Murray's exposition does adequately refute Engelsma's exegesis, but it doesn't even address the exegesis of Piper and Boice (and others I am sure).

I would really love to hear a good refutation of their understanding of Matthew 19:9, because their conclusion is very difficult to accept. However, until I find such a refutation, or develop one myself, I must accept it.

Let's not resort to which one is more traditional, that answer shouldn't hold much weight amongst Reformed folk. And Engelsma would disagree that your position has been held historically throughout the ages. He says his view was held amongst early Christians. Piper also references historians who agree with him in his position paper. The LBC removed the section about the remarriage of the innocent party found in the WC in 1689, meaning that they either disagreed with WC on the issue, or that they did not reach a conclusion amongst themselves. Either way it proves the position has not been unanimously held by the Church throughout the centuries.

I don't understand what you mean when you claim it becomes an unpardonable sin. Roll your eyes and blow it off if you want, but I don't think you're doing justice to the exegesis offered.

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibra...Position_Paper/


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-Brandon
brandon #38099 Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:00 AM
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brandon said:
Murray's exposition does adequately refute Engelsma's exegesis, but it doesn't even address the exegesis of Piper and Boice (and others I am sure).

<cut>

I don't understand what you mean when you claim it becomes an unpardonable sin. Roll your eyes and blow it off if you want, but I don't think you're doing justice to the exegesis offered.
Brandon,

Let me first say that I have dealt with such arguments as offered by Piper on many occasions over the years. At this point in my life, with some regret, I will admit I am disinterested in entering into such debates again; perhaps I'm too old to take any further interest in never-ending disputes?

Secondly, Piper is not one I would have confidence in to exegete Scripture given his dubious conclusions reached on such matters as justification by faith alone, women in office (deacons) and the non-cessation of the ecstatic gifts. My objection to the article referenced to is his faulty hermeneutic, i.e., pitting particular passages against others rather than seeing them as complementary. Many an error has been held by men in regard to other issues/doctrines for the same reason.

Thirdly, re: "unpardonable sin" - Should a person who has been divorced on biblical grounds, e.g., adultery and/or desertion remarry, then according to your position, this person AND the partner are guilty of adultery. Being that this adultery is not a one-time affair but rather a life-long condition, they would be subject to excommunication and deemed "outside the camp" lest they repent. To repent of the remarriage would demand a divorce on non-biblical grounds (some of course claim there is absolutely no biblical grounds), which puts them both into the same irreversible situation from which there is no possibility of repentance . . . thus: Unpardonable Sin. Thankfully, such views are NOT of the truth but rather ALL sin is pardonable and restoration an unassailable blessing. (cf. King David, et al).

I bid you peace and growth in grace according to the truth that is in Christ Jesus.

In His grace,


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