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A Pastoral look at Divorce and Remarriage

I've not had the pleasure of meeting Chuck aka XtnYoda in person.  It's a meet-up I hope one day will happen so that I can shake the hand of a man I've come to look up to.  In Chuck, we meet a guy who's served his country and who's serving his Lord.  He's a man to emulate and admire, a man worthy of respect.

I bring you all of this as introduction to something Chuck has written I believe deserves wider play.  It's a book he's titled Biblical Misconceptions about Divorce and Remarriage, a book I'm excerpting in part here:

It is with a broken heart that I present this study.

There are few issues that have more deeply damaged the lives of God‟s people than the often-misinterpreted issue of divorce and remarriage. Bible translations have added to the confusion as they have translated key words differently related to this issue.

Added to that confusion we have often fallen into the grievous translation/interpretation error called eisegesis. Eisegesis is when a pastor, translator or teacher of the Bible reads into the scriptural text a contemporary understanding of a topic instead of understanding the topic at the time the scripture was being written. The result is that we have many good intentioned pastors and teachers upholding and teaching that which in reality is a practice that God actually hates.

In this study I will demonstrate how we often fail to recognize the dramatic difference in the cultural practices of the Hebrew people regarding marriage and our contemporary practices. Their customs were totally alien to our western world‟s way of thinking. I will demonstrate how the Hebrew practice of putting away a wife without a divorcement was a common custom that God hated in both the Old Testament and the New Testament texts.

Just one illustration of this is in the Hebrew text of Malachi 2:16, for the Hebrew does not say that God hates divorce but rather says that God hates putting away. Do we know the difference? If we wish to understand God‟s heart we must understand the difference or we will be guilty of attributing to God something that God does not say.

By failing to recognize this distinction throughout the scriptural texts many teach that it is wrong for a divorced person to remarry, or if they do remarry they are committing adultery. This is in fact teaching a modern form of the hurtful custom of putting away and making the divorced person enslaved to the offender...which is what God hates.
Ultimately, the two issues at stake in this discussion are the very nature and character of God‟s Justice and the Veracity of God‟s Word.

If you know of someone who's been divorced or who's going through a divorce, Chuck's thoughts may very well be the balm needed to bring peace of mind.

Consider downloading the PDF and passing it on.   It's a studious reflection on the subject matter with lots of footnotes and references but more importantly, it's written from the heart of a man who's love for God is beyond reproach and who's intentions in restoring hope to the wounded comes through loudly and clearly.

Hats off to you Pastor Chuck for pouring yourself into this work.  I'm honored to bring it to the public on your hehalf and am hoping that this will lead to it being published and disseminated.


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Comments (10)

I disagree a bit, Rick. I ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

I disagree a bit, Rick. I think divorce is definitely what Jesus was talking about, although not in the harsh way some ministers use the verses.

Consider the context. Jesus speaks harshly about a man choosing to divorce his wife because he wants to replace her with someone younger or more desirable. We certainly see that enough in the modern world, and to my mind that's clearly sinful. I agree that divorce in and of itself is not the sin, but the spirit of the divorce. A wife whose husband beats her is, to my mind, blameless, and Jesus definitely said that infidelity is a valid reason for divorce (If having an affair is infidelity, then beating your spouse is certainly infidelity), but a couple who get divorced because they want to chase more exciting opportunities is out of bounds. It's far too easy, in my opinion, for a couple to get divorced, especially in this age where the obvious winners are the lawyers.

Did DJ actually read the bo... (Below threshold)
Dodo David:

Did DJ actually read the book that Rick is talking about?

The book's author explains that English versions of the Bible mistranslate a word that does not mean "divorce".

The issue is what the Bible says in its original languages, and English isn't one of them.

Dodo David, did you even re... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Dodo David, did you even read the article? The problem is not the semantics of ancient texts, but the modern consequences of divorce and broken homes, the false and cruel interpretation by some ministers of Scripture in order to coerce congregations according to dogma rather than the Holy Spirit, and how Christians today should honor their marriage vows completely, rather than just on the surface and in some legalist compliance rather than in love and trust.

I never claimed it was about language. I said it was about what Christ said.

DJ... of course there shoul... (Below threshold)

DJ... of course there should not be divorce for just any and every reason. The point of the study is that we have missed far too often the point that biblical divorcement was in fact a function of God's justice on behalf of an offended spouse... and a provision.

Our interpretations are horrendous, the result of centuries of not only mistranslation, but even more dreadful applications of what God has said.

God Bless!

Chuck (the author)

Also, I would like to share... (Below threshold)

Also, I would like to share an e-mail that I received from a dear lady a couple of days ago that I have no idea who she is, nor do I know who her friend is that shared the work with her... makes this all worthwhile!

Dear Pastor,

One of my Christian friends gave me a copy of your paper entitled "Biblical Misconceptions About Divorce And Remarriage." Let me just say that even as I write this email to you, my vision is still blurry from all the tears of relief and gratitude I have shed.

I have been living under the cloud of "Second Class Christian" at best and "Adulteress Who Will Burn In Hell" at worst for a very long time now. I have always felt that I was still accepted by the Lord because of what I know of His character. But, I have been periodically assaulted by this condemnation for a long time. At times, I didn't even want to go to church any more because of all the condemnation I felt, even though in my heart, I still knew that the Lord loved me.

Your paper was a Gift from God. I really don't have the words sufficient enough to tell you how much this teaching has meant to me. I was married to an abusive man, and because I left him and remarried, I am considered the "bad guy." During this marriage, I had a very loving friend call me up weekly - if not more often - to make sure I was even still alive. It was, needless to say, a very stressful time in my life.

And then, to be rejected by some Christians because of my remarriage, to be called an adulteress, to be called an unrepentant sinner - was another arrow shot at my already broken heart.

I wish I could give you a present that compares to the gift you have given me. All I can offer you is a "thank you" from a formerly broken hearted Christian who has now come to realize, more than I have ever realized before, how much the Lord loves and accepts me.

Blessings.


The ultimate issue is an attempt to restore God's reputation on this issue as a God that cares for and provides for the hurt and wounded.

God Bless,

Chuck

Chuck, in response to post ... (Below threshold)
RKemp:

Chuck, in response to post 4: You pegged it; many modern translations of the Bible are perfect examples of the child's game Telephone, only across multiple languages, millennia, and customs.

I hate divorce, because it ... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

I hate divorce, because it tore apart my family when I was 12 years old. I believe that God hated it too. He loved the people who did it, and still does, but the act itself was wrong, as it was the breaking of a solemn vow before Him. I am 44 now and happily married, but I will always hate divorce. And Chuck, I admire what you did, because so many Pharisaical people like to hold judgments on others.

Thanks RKemp.And J... (Below threshold)

Thanks RKemp.

And John, my parents divorced when I was 16... so I understand fully.

There shouldn't be murder, hatred, stealing, etc... but there is... and God doesn't ignore it but rather moves to bring about justice. That is the purpose of divorcement.

I am delighted to hear of your successful marriage! My wife and I have been hitched for over 34 years now... and counting. (She is a very patient lady.)

God Bless,

chuck

How does Jesus' words -what... (Below threshold)
Greit:

How does Jesus' words -what God has joined let no man put asunder- fit in with this interpretation? And why do his disciples say, in response to the Lord's declaration on marriage and divorce (or putting away) say that it would be be better not to get married, if Jesus was merely affirming the justice of divorcement as opposed to putting away?

Hello Greit,Jesus ... (Below threshold)

Hello Greit,

Jesus is of course speaking of the original creation order... as was intended.

There should be no immorality, abuse, desertion, etc. of course... just like there should be no murder, etc.

God does not ignore the failures and sin of man.

The Jewish attitudes toward women were pretty horrendous. A woman still cannot divorce a husband for any reason in Israel to this day... she can only be divorced by her husband.

If a man was to divorce his wife he was also going to be required to restore her dowry... and now you have money involved. It was much easier to just... put them away... much more convenient for the men.




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