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Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage (MDR)

March 25 2014 at 11:57 AM
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I'm new to this forum and a Church of Christ member. And I'm not suggesting the use of instrumental music in worship is something we do not need to be concerned about. However, I believe we have a much bigger and more important issue within the church that has eternal consequences depending on what one believes or has been taught to believe by the church leadership. That issue is Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage (MDR). It seems more and more churches are accepting people into membership in their individual congregations who are in unscriptural marriages. My research has led me to the knowledge that the Church of Christ is in no way united on the doctrine and application of MDR. Most of the controversy revolves around the Matthew 19:9 exception clause, "except for fornication". There are very conservative churches that are teaching, and I'm leaning toward this belief myself, that there is no exception which would allow anyone in a valid God approved to divorce their spouse and remarry another under any circumstances while their ex-spouse is still living. The early church of the first few centuries after Christ held to the belief that no divorced woman could remarry and for the divorced man there appears to be an allowance for him to divorce an adulterous wife, but even then remarriage was discouraged by most early church leaders. Now I understand these early church leaders were not infallible and could have been in error on certain doctrine. However, they lived much closer to the time of the Apostles than we do, they were fluent in the Greek language from which the New Testament was translated and they tried to interpret scripture as literal and accurate as possible. Therefore, I do not believe we should totally discount their Biblical interpretation. In fact, I have seen the early church leaders' forbidding of instrumental music used to support the current Church of Christ view of prohibiting its use in worship by a least one Church of Christ preacher. So, why not do the same for MDR?

The current "traditional MDR doctrine", as I will refer to it, is relatively recent in history, beginning during the Protestant Reformation of the 1500's. A Catholic priest named Erasmus in an effort to distance himself from the Catholic Church, which to this day, believes marriage is permanent and undissolvable, decided to give a more liberal interpretation to the Matthew 19:9 exception clause, which would allow the "innocent" party in a divorce to put way the "guilty" adulterer and remarry another. Martin Luther came to accept this view and eventually the Westminster Confession of Faith was developed and became the creed for most Protestant churches to the present day. Please note the terms "innocent party" and "guilty party" are terms that are not used in Scripture when referring to divorce and remarriage. However, it seems the church uses them as if they are from Scripture.

I'm afraid when the Church of Christ, during the Restoration Movement of the 1800's, attempted to restore itself to the original first century church, they may not have gone far enough in that restoration in the area of divorce and remarriage.

Do we need to learn something from the teachings of the early church on divorce and remarriage?

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Ken Sublett

Re: Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage (MDR)

April 24 2014, 5:23 PM 

I'm not sure that we can resolve the way people read the Bible on family relationships: Only in Deuteronony is there a code of conduct for a man who simply dismisses his wife, puts her out of HIS tent to starve because she will be IMPLICATED or branded as an adulteresses.

If she was an adulteress he has not obligation to her. Otherwise, he is to give here "a clean bill of health."

She is free to be married to ANOTHER husband.
However, if her new husband dies, the FIRST wicked husband can never USE her as a wife again. This was to make MEN think about it before they did it.

Jesus did not lay down a CODE but responded to the tempting Jews who believed that--even a priest--could divorce his wife and go to serve in another area and marry again. There is no CASE LAW showing that the Ekklesia as a SCHOOL OF CHRIST with Elders and Deacons commanded to teach that which has been taught considered it their jobs. If we saw this as a law then we could be offended by our eyes twice.

So, I don't believe that this forum can resolve the issue when MOST refuse to hold ekklesia-synagogue to "use one mind and one mouth to teach that which is written." Paul specificially in Romans 14 outlawed DOUBTFUL DISPUTATION not connected to edifying meaning EDUCATING.

The moral status is not an issue in A School of anything: the point is that all attend, all learn and there are no ROLES for those beyond PREACHING the Word by READING the Word.

Others would like to make this a big issue but discussions can take place by e-mail as suggested.

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Re: Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage (MDR)

April 26 2014, 9:29 AM 

Some seem to dance around the scripture on "divorce". However, I agree it probably should be left to the individual to discern the meaning of the scriptures on this subject. The church busy bodies need to stay out of it and leave it alone. JMHO


Matthew 5:31-32

"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

Mark 10:2-12

Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" "What did Moses command you?" he replied. They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' '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." When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

Luke 16:18

"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

1 Corinthians 7:39

A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:33

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Matthew 19:6-7

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?"

Romans 7:2-3

For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

Deuteronomy 22:19

They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl's father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

Jeremiah 3:1

"If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers-- would you now return to me?" declares the LORD.

Malachi 2:16

"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

Matthew 1:19

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

1 Corinthians 7:11-13

But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.

Jeremiah 3:8

I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.

Isaiah 50:1

This is what the LORD says: "Where is your mother's certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4

If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Matthew 19:8-9

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."

Hebrews 13:4

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Read Hebrews 13 | View in parallel | Compare Translations

Romans 7:3

So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

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