Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jesus and Divorce

Every Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., you can find me down at the CrossWord Cafe with a group of men. We talk theology and true manhood, study the Bible, challenge one another to more closely follow Jesus, and then have breakfast and Sumatran coffee together next door at the Happy Thoughts. On a typical morning, we have a fair bit of discussion over several questions, but this morning we got stuck on one: What does Jesus think about divorce?

Based on Matthew 19, I argued that while divorce might be permitted for other reasons beyond marital unfaithfulness (Greek, porneia), it is the only reason that Jesus allows for a divorced person to remarry. I was a bit surprised that this would be so controversial or hard to swallow for our group. Perhaps I'm reading Jesus wrong? What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Hey Joe,

I don't think divorce period is Biblical :-) weren't expecting that were you. I know I am in a very small camp. But the more I study the scriptures concerning this topic the more convinced I am.

Piper has a good starter on this view from his book, "What Jesus Demands of the World"

There is also a fantastic sermon on this topic and presenting the view I would hold. If you want to know where, let me know!


The Bullhorn said...


I'm familiar with the no divorce position, since one of the leading proponents of it was once my Greek prof. I agree that divorce is never God's best and may be sin in every case in which it occurs. Nevertheless, I think it's hard to argue that Jesus or Paul forbid it in absolute terms, only in severely restricted ones.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I’ve done a lot of study of this subject over the past year because I know a Christian woman that was virtually forced into divorce because of an abusive husband. At first I went with the old idea that I was taught years ago that there is only one reason for divorce and that is sexual immorality. And if one did get a divorce for any other reason they were not permitted to remarry.

Well, I have learned much since then and am convinced that there is more than one reason for divorce. Abandonment is a justified reason by Paul. Abuse was considered by the Jews as a type of abandonment.

Divorce always allowed remarriage. The discussion of Jesus was actually addressing specific questions, and his statement about remarriage being adultery has to be seen in that context. But there is too much to explain in a comment!

So for some interesting reading on the subject, I suggest “Divorce and Remarriage in the Church,” by David Instone-Brewer to start with. Then there is “Divorce” by John Murray; “May I Divorce & Remarry?” by Spiros Zodhiates; “Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible,” by Jay Adams and finally, “Divorce & Remarriage,” by Guy Duty. The first book is the most interesting!

The Bullhorn said...


Interesting thoughts. Your view used to be my view on it. I have changed to a more conservative position. I agree that abuse is a valid reason for divorce. What I'm not sure about is whether remarriage is permitted. After all, Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthians regarding the abandoned spouse to to either reconcile or remain unmarried. He does not say the abandoned spouse may remarry without sinning. I think too that what makes this so hard to discuss is that divorce is common enough in our culture that we all have a specific situation, a specific set of faces we see when we think about it and discuss it. All of the books sound good. Thanks for the sharpening influence.