Have you heard the one about Adam and his rib? Well, as you probably know, in the beginning God created Adam and put him in Paradise. Adam was allowed to take part in all the joys and wonders that were in the Garden of Eden, and he was given a job to naming all the animals. But after he had named the animals – ever so long and big task – he went tired and wanted some company. Someone who he could talk with and impress. God understood his situation very well and said: “I can see you’re lonely. Let me create a woman for you.”
“What is a woman?” Adam asked hopeful.
“A woman will love you and admire you. She will make perfect food for you and she will always look pretty. She will laugh at all your jokes and she will never complain.”
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Adam said enthusiastically. “But … she seems awfully expensive. What will she cost me?”
“Ah,” replied God. “This is a woman who will cost you an arm and a leg.”
Adam considered this carefully for a moment, then he turned to his Creator. “What will I get for a rib?”
It’s great that this is just a joke, or I may have all the female screaming at me in the comments section 🙂 No, absolutely not, we men are not perfect and quite certainly, none of us live in paradise – portrayed as a physical place without mental and/or physical difficulties. Could it be that we’re asking the impossible of a marriage? Can we really live happily with each other’s mistakes, with our strange and annoying habits – and even less, our tendency to selfishness? I do not think we get away from it, marriage is hard work and some marriages are often far from a success.
The question of divorce and remarriage is big, difficult, and not least a sore subject. The questions recur in many church offices and church corridors almost like a ghost. It is painful and it’s sore because it plays in all feelings a person has, and for us believers because we have a strong respect for God. We do not want to hurt God, neither those in a marriage, those who want to remarry or spiritual advisors. Interpretations are many and it can be very confusing.
In the Biblical narrative it seems that marriage began to fail with Adam and Eve after they were evicted from the Garden of Eden because of disobedience. But it should prove that the circumstances outside the Garden of Eden was not their biggest problem, but themselves. They now had discover the difference between good and evil and it is precisely here in these discoveries where the strong desire to do what you want (selfish) is and still resides.
I myself have a broken marriage, happened for many years ago. I am now married again so you can say I’ve gone all the steps from unmarried, married, divorced and remarried. My divorce happened before I was saved, or born again as we say, and it is on this basis some Christians have exempted me from sinning by remarry again. Thus, not committed any sin either by the actual divorce (for I didn’t know any better as a non-Christian, some says??) or by marrying again (I’m a new person now, who know better … ??).
Well, I also was going around and believed this, and much else that was said and taught. This may took away the feeling that said one had sinned – though one had not sinned. But this is not the source that made sure I had the courage to marry me again. It took years of investigation, prayer and reading before I was at a rock solid faith, an inner peace, in a tranquility and found freedom, to find me a wife again.
But there is something askew with this belief, who says that one is exempt from sin if one is divorced before becoming a Christian. This suggests that God looks away from, and not taking into account the promises that is made by non-Christians. And that marriage to non-Christians have a smaller value in the God’s eyes. This position also suggests something other horrible thought, that a promise given by a non-Christian is legal to break, or worse, a promise given before you become Christian is legal to break while promises given by a Christian can not be broken.
The people at Corinth presumably thought the same when they were converted into Christianity, and believed that they could distinguish themselves from their non-christian partner, and in that way become a better Christian. But as we will see later, Paul desired to correct this and said that they was not allowed to do this. (1 Cor. 7: 12-14).
Although many thought I was “exempted” from sin, it has not personally exempted me for the many questions and the great desire to get answers to the many questions. Not only for myself, but also for the many in the same situation who have personal confidence in me and sought guidance. When we become Christians we become, as said a new creation and we start again, but we will not restart our marriage and other commitments. Imagine loans and/or business contracts.
We see things differently, so there are some who believe i.e. that I had no opportunity to remarry without sinning and therefore had to remain single. Some believe my current wife, who had not been married before, also sinned because she married a divorced man. Others have also said to me when I still was single, that we should pray that my former wife should come back to me.
There is a big problem with so many voices, and it is precisely where things start to twist, especially when you find them contradictory to what Scripture says. Take for example praying for my former wife, who was now married, to come back to me because she “still” was my wife in the eyes of God. This is actually praying against what the scripture says. This was for me completely unthinkable. You can’t ask to dissolve another marriage to get back the former wife. This is quite logically, but logic doesn’t help if you believes the Bible says otherwise.
To continue with the example. If my former wife divorced her second man of her own, and of entirely different reasons than a result of prayers, it would still have been an abomination to the Lord to take her back. In Gen. 24: 1-4 it says specifically, if you divorce from your wife you can not take her back if she had been married in the meantime. (Here are some nuances, which will appear later in this series). It’s possible they mean everything good by wishing my former wife back, but I really hope their “good” thoughts is due to lack of knowledge.
After many hours, yes, I can for sure say many months and years of reading and study, tangles and issues have resolved themselves. I’ll try to give an explanation on some of this gradually, to the misunderstood passages in the scriptures, and for many seemingly hidden history and culture who may have bring us a bit on the sidelines regarding these questions.
Let me first seriously point out that divorce is not an light and easy solution to a marriage problem, and I encourage nor to it in this series. Anyone with problems in their marriage seriously need to step in to resolving the conflict and bring it to a reconciliation.
Bible passages which are mostly used in discussion of divorce and remarriage are mostly extracted from Mal. 2: 10-16, Mat. 5: 31-32, Mat. 19: 3-12, Luke. 16:18, Mark 10: 2-12, 1Cor. 7, and others. These are often referred to when discussions come up and the arguments shoots: – “God hates divorce” – “Those who remarries commits adultery” – “Those who marries someone who is divorced commits adultery.” – “Do not separate yourself! Although the spouse have commit adultery, the suffer is nothing for the honor that comes later” – “There is only death that can brake the marriage,” and last, but not least – “What God has brought together, no man can put asunder/separate.”
We will take a look at these scriptures, and some other, to see that they do not support many of the views we face, so let’s end this blogpost with the last argument I mention above, – “What God has brought together, no man can separate.”
One of the problem we face when we have a strong desire to express what the Bible says, is that we tend to express what we ourselves believe the Bible says, as we meet here too. Jesus never said – “What God has brought together, no man can separate”. – A brave assertion you might say, and true enough, Jesus said something similar in Mat. 19: 6. But His real words were:
What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. (Mat. 19:6 NASB)
We have some other translations so let us look at them as well:
“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (ASV) – What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (ESV) – “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (KJV) – “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (NIV) – “What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart” (WEB)
What ??? Isn’t this the same? … You might ask. Yes, I’ll agree that all of them sounds very similar, but wait. None of these translations says – “… no one can separate”. Although the phrase – “can no man separate” – not sounds so very different from – “let no man separate” – it’s still words with different meanings.
If it was to mean literally that – “… no one can separate” – well, it would actually meant that divorce is totally impossible, so in one sense, why then bring up the discussion (in Mat.19) at all if it is impossible? The idea that it is impossible usually lie with those who believe; – ‘Since a couple first are married, they will forever be married in the eyes of God.’ – This thoughts have also caught my interest and it seems that there are passages in the Bible who support it. But we will later see that this does not reach up under closer inspection.
Nor did Jesus said that you can divorce either, but He didn’t need to say it. There is already a divorce procedure in the law of Moses. So when Jesus says – ‘let no man separate’ (the meaning is divorce) – he did not mean you can not separate (in this is that you can), but you should not, or it is not recommended. I think it is to stretch it too far to says it is impossible for one to be separated or divorced. I’m sure Jesus meant to place a strict order or to use his index finger is the case, i.e “must not” or “do not …!” This is the same way that I would say to my children, “you must not throw stones” or “do not throw stones.” I could also used the phrase “to throw stones should no man do.” This will still never mean that it is impossible to throw stones, and maybe necessary in some situations, but it may be wrong and not at least undesirable.
Here follows some other examples from the Bible itself.
16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. (Mat. 24:16-18 NASB).
I can’t see any of these text imply that it is impossible to violate the decree or prayer He says, but I can see that you should not violate it. So this biblical text (Matt. 19: 6) cannot be interpreted the way that it is impossible for you to be separated, or divorced.
Sometimes we come to our Bible really sure what it mean, in which can blind us to read the Bible with Spiritual guidance. I think it is a great advantage for us to forget what we think we know and read it again.
Yes I admit it, it can be difficult, especially for us who have no background in either history, Greek or Hebrew, nor knowledge in the tradition of the time of OT or the time of Jesus, and the stories that lies behind i.e. a statement. But then we must not dismiss the scholars who spend years, and their life to studying these historical times, and topics just because we believe the Bible says that God has made these foolish (1 Cor. 1:20, 1 Cor. 3:19). This is taken completely out of its context. So let us in those next blogpost see if we can connect this, and see what has happened through the history, in the tradition, in cultural context, and i.e a meaning behind a statement by the pharisees and Jesus… and more.