Where do I begin? I might as well start where it all started twenty-six years ago. The subject of divorce and remarriage. I want to remind you that none of these posts on various theological subjects will be a definitive statement of research, but rather, a narrative of my journey.
When I first began pastoring at age seventeen I had no idea of biblical Truth and Authority. That is particularly true of the subject of marriage. I thought I was suppose to marry anyone with a valid license. That may be an overwhelming reason to believe what scripture says about not "suffering a novice to teach" Of course I didn't know that reference either. It didn't take long for that to be corrected. I then went to the opposite extreme and came to believe no Christian should be divorced and, were they to be, there was no possibility of remarriage without living in adultery and grieving the Spirit for the rest of their life. The exception clause pertained to the engagement period in my newfound theology.
Enter 1980. I began to see the scripture as my sole authority and here is what I now know for sure about divorce and remarriage. I know no one should approach marriage casually. "What God has joined...no one puts asunder" is serious stuff in scripture. I also know that many opt out too quickly when trouble comes. Mary and I have discovered the forty-seven years we've stuck it out, and some of those years were unbelievablly difficult times, are now paying dividends. But it is often true that comes later not early on.
Having said that, I know it is true in scripture that divorce does not turn a person into a leper. In fact, in scripture, those hurting the most, and divorce hurts, are the ones Jesus gave the greatest attention to in expressing love and compassion. To see any action as invalidating the worth of an individual is certainly contrary to everything biblical.
So, while those things I know for sure here are some things I'm not so sure about yet I now hold to because of my understanding of the text of scripture. The Bible gives three reasons for a marriage to end. Death, divorce because of "porneia", [Matt.] and desertion. [1 Corth.] As I see it, the right to remarry is given because of the ending of the marriage covenant in each case. The marriage covenant is for life with these exceptions, but is not eternal as there is no marriage in heaven. I do not see in the text mentioned here a command to end the marriage covenant but the right to do so. I know God hates divorce but He did divorce Israel and established a New Covenant relationship. That choice may be made in these three cases it seems to me. I also believe that "porneia" is broader than adultery and really covers a host of sexual sins as a pattern. So, marriage is God's best, but divorce is permitted on certain grounds with remarriage is a viable option for the innocent party. Discernment and insight must be used to weigh what constitutes desertion obviously.
It is also obvious that each case must be examined individually, but always in a biblical fashion. Someone told me right after coming to this in the eighties that I was "cutting a hole in the fence of the marriage covenant and whose to say other chickens who shouldn't will go through." [Actual words.] My response was and is...we only teach what God says/allows as we see it and the guarding of the hole [so to speak] is in His capable hands.
The reason I say..."I'm not sure" on this is for two reasons. One is, I've held other views that I later had greater light on as I examined the text. While Revelation doesn't continue in my opinion, my enlightenment does. Also, good men stand on both sides of this issue so I always want to be careful of dogmatism when that's true. More light does come and I want to be teachable. But this is what I teach without rancor toward those who disagree or hold a different view.
Next time...divorced Deacons/Elders and Women in ministry. [It was my second call to reconsider my held views in those turbulent eighties.]