This was not a fun read. Reading about divorce is quite depressing to tell the truth. It is always a tragedy and God hates it. My heart breaks over it. It isn’t something we celebrate, but grieve over. Divorce is usually the result of many tears, sleepless nights, betrayal, abuse, and such. It is not the result of happiness, peace, and joy.
John Murray (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Murray_(theologian) spends time in the major passages of Scripture regarding divorce and basically concludes that divorce is allowable in the case of sexual sin and the abandonment of an unbeliever. In both cases, remarriage is allowed.
I will continue to do some more research, but I think that allowances would be made for other situations as well. One such example may be a physically and/or verbally abusive spouse. I would say that it would be right for the victimized spouse to leave (live apart from) the abuser with the hope of reconciliation. The offending party should then be approached lovingly by the church elders with the intent to restore. So long as the offending party repents and abides by stipulations in the desire to rejoin the other spouse, the offended spouse must remain married (legal binding). If the offending party should reject the counsel of the elders, then such would be excommunicated from the church body and basically deemed an “unbeliever”. In such a case, would this example constitute the departure of an unbeliever, in which the believer is no longer “bound”? Resulting in the offended party rightly freed from the marital bond?
Murray also deals with the awkward situation where individuals who were wrongly divorced commit adultery by “remarrying” someone else. This is no easy task to deal with pastorally. Murray essentially states that the “act” of adultery in consummating a new relationship breaks the previous bond. The newly consummated marriage isn’t to be broken. Instead, such individuals should acknowledge that they sinned in their actions and then proceed with their new partner with an understanding that their marriage is “valid”. Murray struggles with what words to use in reference to such remarriages for fear of either condoning it on one hand or outright condemning it on another hand. Murray sees such situations as the “exception”…even though it is increasingly more commonplace.
At the very core of this issue is that God wants marriage to last a lifetime, and any marriage that fails is a tragedy. Adultery is a tragedy, abuse is a tragedy, neglect is a tragedy, lack of intimacy is a tragedy, and on and on with the multitude of reasons why marriages fail. It is all sad.
I hope to research some more into this issue…but realize that the best research is to learn how to love my wife more and more everyday. By God’s grace, divorce will never be an issue for us. The whole issue of divorce and remarriage has been a hot issue in the church, I admit, and should be discussed…however, it is my prayer that I spend more time pastorally building marriages up rather than understanding all of the nuances for Scriptural allowances on divorce and remarriage. I will do both, but I will exert all that I am in the domain of my own marriage, seeking to love my wife more and more everyday.
© 2008, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.