Tuesday, May 30, 2017

More Divorce Eisegesis Refuted

"[Jesus] then ruled in favor of the view that only the sexual violation of the marriage can justify a man divorcing his wife (Matt. 19:9). Such a divorce gives the innocent party the right to remarry. For a man to divorce his wife while the marriage is sexually pure makes any subsequent marriage an act of adultery, for which he is responsible. Even Jesus' own disciples were shocked by this statement (v. 10).
It is significant that under biblical law, the innocent party in the event of adultery, whether husband or wife, was free to remarry."
The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 448.
Do these people not know how to read? Do they not know how to exegete and compare Scripture with Scripture? That is not what Jesus ruled! "What do the Scriptures teach?" That is and must be our only concern! Our personal feelings and opinions have no weight in the matter. Context and exegesis do not support the false interpretation of allowance for divorce that most Christians argue for. It perplexes me how so many Christians, past and present, could err on these passages. They need to check their emotions and opinions at the door and pay attention to the context and exegesis of the passages, comparing Scripture with Scripture.

Since people seem to have a difficult time grasping the words that were spoken by Jesus, and understanding them correctly, let us look at what the Apostle Paul had to say. Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 7:10 where God stands regarding divorce and remarriage. For Paul to go against God would be disobedience and rebellion. "But to the married I give instructions, yet not I, but the Lord..." Who are these instructions coming from? Oh, that is right... God! What was it that God said? "The wife should not divorce her husband (but if she does divorce, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife" (vv. 10-11). Why? Jesus answered this already. Because "from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate" (Mark 10:6-9).

Christians need to stop performing eisegesis by trying to force their modern understanding upon the text. Christians need to study the cultural context of the biblical times. In those days, it was common for arranged marriages. Prior to actually getting married, there was a period of betrothal, much like our modern engagement period. According to the context and exegesis of every passage in Scripture (Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Deuteronomy 22:13-21, and Matthew 1:18-25 [Joseph and Mary]), Jesus' "exception clause" only applied during the period of betrothal—not once the vows were taken and the marriage was consummated! This should be fairly obviously by Jesus' use of the word "fornication," which means "premarital sex." In accordance with Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and 22:13-21, Jesus was saying that had Joseph divorced His mother, Mary, even though they were not yet married (Matt. 1:18), he would have been justified in so doing (because he thought she had had premarital sex). But once those vows are exchanged, there is only one way out of the marriage union: death (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39)!

Does any Christian remember Jephthah? "Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering" (Judges 11:30-31). What was the result of Jephthah's vow? "When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot take it back." So she said to him, "My father, you have given your word to the LORD; do to me as you have said, since the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon." She said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions." Then he said, "Go." So he sent her away for two months; and she left with her companions, and wept on the mountains because of her virginity. At the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her according to the vow which he had made; and she had no relations with a man. Thus it became a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year" (Judges 11:34-40).

Vows are sacred! What is it that most Christians fail to grasp about that concept? "I, _____, take you, _____, to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death us do part." That means, until death separates us. Even if you think you are clever (which you are not) and remove that clause from your wedding vows, you are fooling no one except yourselves. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked" (Gal. 6:7a). God instituted marriage and He intended it to be for life, so whether you include that clause in your vows or not, it is still a binding constitution.

Christians! Stop perverting the Word of God by forcing your feelings and opinions and eisegetical understanding upon the text. Our day and age is not the biblical day and age. Pay attention to the words that are used, the various contexts, and compare Scripture with Scripture. Understand their culture. Do not attempt to force modern culture and understanding upon the text. We know nothing about arranged marriages. We know nothing about the period of betrothal. These were normal during their times. Once you understand these things, and stop trying to impose your living conditions upon the text, the passages become clear. Do not read or interpret the Bible with your experiences in mind! Get to know the biblical eras.

Concerning Deuteronomy 24:1-4, R. L. Dabney writes:
Christ does not concede that [the Pharisees] interpreted Moses rightly; but indignantly clears the legislation of that holy man from their licentious perversions, and then, because of their abuse of it, repeals it by His plenary authority. He refers to that constitution of the marriage tie which was original, which preceded Moses, and was therefore binding when Moses wrote, to show that it  was impossible he could have enacted what they claimed. What, then, did Moses enact? Let us explain it. In the ancient society of the East, females being reared in comparative seclusion, and marriage negotiated by intermediaries, the bridegroom had little opportunity for a familiar acquaintance even with the person of the bride. When she was brought to him at the nuptials, if he found her disfigured with some personal deformity or disease (the undoubted meaning of the phrase "some uncleanness"), which effectually changed desire into disgust, he was likely to regard himself as swindled in the treaty, and to send the rejected bride back with indignity to her father's house. There she was reluctantly received, and in the anomalous position of one in name a wife, yet without a husband, she dragged out a wretched existence, incapable of marriage, and regarded by her parents and brothers as a disgraceful [e]ncumbrance. It was to relieve the wretched fate of such a woman that Moses' law was framed. She was empowered to exact of her proposed husband a formal annulment of the unconsummated contract, and to resume the status of a single woman, eligible for another marriage. It is plain that Moses' law contemplates the case, only, in which no consummation of marriage takes place. She finds no favour in the eyes "of the bridegroom." He is so indignant and disgusted that desire is put to flight by repugnance. The same fact appears from the condition of the law, that she shall in no case return to this man, "after she is defiled," i.e., after actual cohabitation with another man had made her unapproachable (without moral defilement) by the first). Such was the narrow extent of this law. The act for which it provided was divorce only in name, where that consensus, qui matrimonium facit, in the words of the law maxim, had never been perfected.
Compare that with what is said in Deuteronomy 22:13-21. Regarding arranged marriages and the betrothal period, Mr. Dabney shows us that if a wife was maimed or disfigured or whatever, that the husband could break that agreement or pact by issuing her a statement of divorce. The act itself was "divorce" in name only as the act of marriage had not yet taken place. Once consummation takes place, you are one flesh for life.

Now, this should go without saying, but apparently it requires being repeated over and over again because some people appear to be too thick to grasp it. Many Christians like to claim that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, is giving permission for Christians to re-marry in certain circumstances. Let us put our thinking caps on and apply some electrical current to our brain cells, shall we? In verses 10-11, Paul just finished telling us what God's instructions are. Do we honestly think that, after that, Paul is going to give us instructions that contradict what God has just said? That would make Paul disobedient and rebellious. God "hate[s] divorce" (Malachi 2:16). Do we honestly think that Jesus, who is God, who hates divorce, would contradict Himself and provide a means for divorce once vows have been sworn and the marriage bed has been consummated? Think again!

Stop being a stubborn, rebellious, and disobedient people!