Book Plunge: Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught Chapter 5

Is remarriage adultery? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So in this one, according to Madison, Jesus says all remarriage is adultery. We can be thankful that at least he went through the work of scholars like David Instone-Brewer and Craig Keener and….

If you’re laughing now, you know what’s coming.

Of course, he didn’t. Who needs to waste time with scholars?

This means that, according to Jesus, adultery is rampant among Christians, given the number of good believers who have been divorced and remarried. And one must wonder whether these followers of Jesus are admitting, when they get divorced, that God joining them together was his mistake?

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 40). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

First in response to this, he at first assumes all these divorces are mutual. As someone like myself who is wrongfully divorced, I fought tooth and nail to save my marriage. I also don’t claim all marriages are joined together by God directly, in the sense of God leading people to marry one another, but I do say that even if God does do something, that doesn’t mean we can’t resist His will and go against it. God didn’t make the mistake. We did.

“…except on the ground of unchastity…” Is it possible that even the writer of one of the gospels was embarrassed by something Jesus taught and added a qualifier to tone it down?

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 41). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

No. This either something explanatory put in, or else part of what Jesus said in the sermon. If anyone was divorced in Jewish thought, it would likely be assumed that they could remarry. The problem was that there were two schools of thought. One said you could divorce for any reason such as if she burned toast. Instone-Brewer has a quote from one rabbi who says divorce could take place if a prettier girl was found. (I got the book at the library and so am unable to quote it now.) The liberal side was from the Hillel school. The Shammai school tended to say divorce could only be allowed in the case of adultery.

Jesus steps into this discussion which is not about remarriage, but more about divorce. He sides with Shammai, but His case is strong. It needs to be a case of unfaithfulness to the covenant. I have had to do papers here on both the Gospels on divorce and Paul on divorce and came to the same conclusion. Scripture allows for remarriage in the case of wrongful divorce.

Madison goes on to say about Jesus’s command against lust that

So now Jesus is condemning sexual feelings, a teaching that ignores how we are built and has led to unnecessary shame and guilt for centuries. The Greek word translated “lust” in the passage could also mean “longing for” or “desiring.” Even the most devout Christians can’t help noticing when someone comes across to them as “really sexy” and feeling something that is more than simply appreciation. And anyone—Christian or not—who has ever had a partner understands how important sexual feelings can be in creating a mutual attraction between two individuals.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 41). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

No. Jesus is not condemning sexual feelings and desires. He condemns an action in this case. It is looking at another man’s wife with the intention to lust after her. He is right that the word used does refer to strong desire, but He forgets there is an action involved. Why does He condemn this? Because if you are willing to look, it means you are closer to doing. The same could be said for emotional affairs. Open the door for something that seems innocent and it’s not too long many times before it ends in a hotel room.

So once again, Madison doesn’t really understand the passages.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views

What does Larry Richards have to say? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This was an odd chapter. Pastorally, this was the best chapter in the book. Not even a contest. Richards really takes the time to emphasize the love and concern needed for people walking the path of divorce.

Exegetically though, it’s the worst, easily. There are simply several assumptions thrown out and while they could be right, no reason is given for them. As one respondent says, Richards only has two footnotes. That’s far below anyone else.

 

I have yet to meet a Christian who, when he or she stood before pastor and family and church to say “I do,” planned on divorce. I have yet to meet anyone who enjoyed divorce. For each person involved there is pain: worry about the children, uncertainty, sudden loneliness, financial hardship, the lingering and agonizing death of hoped-for love and belonging.

For most Christians there is also a sense of guilt, the awful realization that somehow they have failed, falling dreadfully short of God’s ideal of a permanent, lifelong relationship. Even the “innocent party” feels guilt. What did he or she do wrong? What might he have done differently? What happened to destroy a relationship she entered with such joyous expectation?

It is true that in our society divorce is all too common. It is also tragically true that the Christian community has proven as susceptible as the general culture. Most churches have men and women attending who have been divorced and, in many cases, have remarried. I have no statistics on the Christian community, but the most recent study I’ve seen suggests that about 51% of Americans who many for the first time will divorce. Many of these divorces will be unnecessary. If both parties were willing to receive counseling, to work at the relationship, most marriages that end in divorce could probably be saved.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 215–216.

Amen and amen. Would that every contributor remembered this. This isn’t just an academic exercise in this case. One could say a debate on eschatology for instance might not have a lot of immediate significance for one’s life, but this one does. A lot of people who pick up this book could be going through the pain of divorce themselves or know someone who is. This isn’t just an academic interest for them. Richards brings that out.

First, we must guard against being so swayed by sympathy for hurting people that we ignore or reject Scripture. As Oswald Chambers once wrote, “It is possible to have such sympathy with our fellow man as to be guilty of red-handed rebellion against God.” Now I confess to a great sympathy for many struggling with the option of divorce. One of our neighbors, whom I’ll call Brenda, has an abusive husband. For some ten years he has belittled and sworn at her, constantly ridiculing her. What troubles Brenda now is that her husband treats their two girls the same way. How can she stay with him and see her daughters emotionally damaged for life by his verbal abuse? Is it right for her to stay in a relationship where not only she but her girls are victimized?

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 216–217.

Indeed. Not only this, but how many marriages could be saved if we called out bad behavior on the part of one spouse (Or both if need be) instead of trying to make sure feelings weren’t being spared. We have an idea that we should try to love people into the Kingdom. We often forget we can love them into Hell as well.

Looking more closely at Malachi, we note that something happening in our society today was also happening then: Men were deserting the “wives of their youth.” This phrase, repeated twice in Malachi 2:13–16, makes it clear that these were older couples and suggests that, then as now, older men were deserting their first wives to marry younger, more sexually attractive women.

Partnerships forged by years of shared struggle and joy were being broken up by men who “failed to guard themselves in their spirits.” This phrase, also repeated twice, reminds us that as men grow older they, like Solomon, become more susceptible to sexual temptation. So it is clear from the context of Malachi that when God said “I hate divorce,” he was speaking of divorces motivated by lust, divorces that involved abandonment of women who had been faithful, loving partners through years of married life. You and I also hate this kind of divorce. We recognize its source in selfishness and sin. We see the anguish it causes a partner who has lavished years of loving care on a person who now pushes her aside. No godly person treats another in this way. And nothing can justify such a divorce.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 218.

I too hate this kind of divorce as well. It’s one we should never encourage in the church. It is sad that some of the rabbis did say a man could divorce if someone prettier came along.

It seems to me that there is only one way to avoid the two dangers I have identified above. On the one hand, we must avoid arguing from human experience. It would be easy to list case after tragic case and to so play on emotions that any sensitive reader would cry out, “No! Let him or her go!”

It would be almost as easy to list case after case of selfish and unnecessary divorce and to trace their tragic consequences. But we Christians do not find moral guidance in human experience. We find moral guidance in Scripture, and we then apply Scripture to help us evaluate experience. Thus any valid discussion of divorce and remarriage must begin with a study of the Word of God, not with appeals to have compassion on hurting people.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 219.

And I agree again. Many of these stories can have appeal to emotions. I have made it a point to not often share my story and even when I do, I leave some details out, mainly out of a way of still not wanting to speak ill of my ex-wife.

So far, so good, but now we get into the argumentation.

Jesus then goes on to sketch three useless routes people sometimes take in a search for spiritual greatness. The Pharisees, who raise a legal question about divorce, represent the way of Law (19:1–15). A rich young man, who takes pride in his humanitarianism, represents those who seek greatness by doing good works (19:16–30). Workers in a vineyard represent those who seek greatness by working harder than others in God’s service (20:1–16). In each case Jesus shows why the route chosen is useless as a way to spiritual achievement.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 220–221.

This could be, but I’m skeptical. I found it intriguing, but I think a stronger case needs to be made. I don’t think the Pharisees were trying to use the law to find greatness. If they were, divorce seems like an odd place to start.

If God, sensitive to the fact that human hardness of heart would turn some marriages into destructive caricatures, announced through Moses that marriages could be ended, how can we deny divorce to those few whose suffering cries out that their marriages, too, should end? If Jesus recognized hardness of heart as the rationale for permitting divorce in Old Testament times, how can we insist that there is no rationale for divorce today, even when one spouse persistently sins against his or her partner?

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 223.

This point I do think is valid. What happens today if one spouse hardens their heart and refuses to honor the covenant? Tough luck for the other person?

Jesus’ words warn us that pastors and other Christian leaders have no more right to stand in judgment over the dissolution of a marriage than did the Pharisees. His words tells us that theologians have no right to decree, “People in this situation can divorce and remarry, but people in that situation cannot.” Jesus’ words to the Pharisees confront us if we, like those jealous men of long ago, take it upon ourselves to convene our ecclesiastical courts to make pronouncements on an issue which must in the last analysis be a personal decision—a personal decision that Christians will consider only as a last resort, and then prayerfully and purely, with a heartfelt desire to know and to do God’s will for them.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 226.

While Richards thinks this is a powerful argument, I really do not see this in the text. I see nothing about ecclesiastical courts or anything like that. I don’t see Jesus at all saying we have no place to judge someone else in the case of a divorce. This is especially so since Richards earlier in this chapter described one scenario and said we hate this kind of divorce.

On the other hand, the way to treat a wayward spouse, as illustrated by God’s treatment of adulterous Israel and Hosea’s treatment of his adulterous wife, Gomer, is to seek reconciliation and renewal (see Hos 1:11). Adultery may be grounds for forgiveness, but it is not grounds for divorce!

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 229.

This statement puzzles me since it looks like Jesus does explicitly say that, yes, this is grounds for divorce. I am all for trying to seek reconciliation and renewal first, but if that is resisted, what then? You can’t reconcile with someone who doesn’t want that.

First, he means that the Law, which says “give her a certificate of divorce,” does not express God’s highest standard or ideal. The Pharisees thought that it was righteous to divorce one’s spouse as long as the legalities were observed. Jesus makes it clear that, while it is permissible to divorce, it is not righteous. Divorce falls short of God’s will for us and reveals human failure. In view of God’s ultimate standard for us, divorce, while permissible, is still sin. And remarriage, while permissible, involves an act which measured against the ideal must be acknowledged as adultery.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 233.

This really strikes me as dangerous. Divorce is sin? It can be, but are we to say that a wife who divorces her husband who is a cheater and who beats her and the children is sinning? Also, if remarriage is adultery, is Richards seriously telling us then to go on and sin in divorce and go on and sin in remarriage committing adultery and God will forgive you? Dangerous indeed!

When Richards goes pastoral, it is much better, as he does here:

Too many pastors and teachers insist that there is no forgiveness for the divorced, no fresh start. In many Christian communities, if your marriage fails, you are marked forever and dismissed to a lifetime of loneliness—unless, of course, by some legalistic twist or turn you can be pronounced the “innocent party.”

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 236–237.

Thankfully, this is not my experience, but i know it is the experience of some men.

How strange! We would invite a converted murderer to give testimony from our pulpits. Yet we will not permit a person who has been divorced and has remarried to praise God in our choir.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 237.

This is indeed strange. I have had a Baptist minister tell me this same concern. I am not at all say a converted murderer should not give a testimony, but one can be redeemed of murder but not divorce?

We can draw a number of important principles concerning divorce and remarriage from Paul’s discussion of the issues that troubled the Corinthian church. First, a single, permanent marriage relationship is unquestionably God’s will for his people (7:10). There can be no debate over this question. Marriage is intended to be a lifetime commitment, in which couples share not only their bodies but all of life, and especially their spiritual life.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 239.

This is something we should all agree with. Yes. Marriage was meant to be forever.

As ministers of God’s good news, we will affirm the forgiveness that the divorced can claim. We will show by our own warmth and caring that Jesus values them, despite the worthlessness they now frequently feel.

In our churches we will try to provide social groupings where the divorced can feel they belong. We may sponsor seminars to help them deal with unexpected feelings and tasks for which they are not equipped. If we are uncertain how to minister to the needs of the divorced, we will take the initiative and purchase a helpful book, such as the 1987 Zondervan release Effective Divorce Ministry by Sue Richards and Stan Haggameyer.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 244.

Yes, churches. Please do this. A Babylon Bee article a couple of months ago said a new Christian dating app had come out that said “Just go to church,” Many, myself included, said in the comments that that does not work at all for a lot of us. If anything, it’s easy to feel lonely in the church. You go in and see married couples and couples talking about their children and there you sit by your lonesome. Churches. Please remember this!

I do think in looking at the responses, something Laney says definitely needs to be commented on.

While I would agree that divorce and remarriage should not disqualify one from all service in a church, the office of elder and deacon have a specific marital requirement, “husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2, 12; Tit 1:6). While divorce and remarriage is a forgivable sin, it would be disqualifying in terms of church office.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 253.

I really am stunned to see this kind of thing. If followed consistently, Jesus and Paul could not speak at a church. They are not the husband of one wife. Also, if we went this route, anyone to speak must have at least two children. After all, the man must see that his children obey him. Gotta have two. This kind of thinking has done a lot of harm to a good number of divorced men.

I think Edgar also has a powerful reply to Richards:

Richards claims that he originally held the no-divorce and no-remarriage view, but has changed due to a restudy of the passages. How can this be? It does not take a restudy of the passages to change from the view that the Bible teaches that divorce is always sin and remarriage is always adultery to his present view that the Bible teaches that divorce is always sin and remarriage is always adultery but go ahead since God will forgive it Did he need to restudy the Bible to be aware that God is merciful and gracious and will forgive sin? This is the only real difference in his position. All of the writers in this book would agree that God will forgive the sin of improper divorce; we would not all agree that this makes it a valid option.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 266–267.

In conclusion, overall, I side with Edgar’s view the most. Pastorally, I appreciate Richards the most, and the one I disagree with not only in his chapter but in several responses is Laney.

We’ll see what comes next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: Divorce and Remarriage — Four Christian Views Part 3

What do I think of Thomas R. Edgar’s chapter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Edgar holds to a view of divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery and desertion. To clarify on this, I would include in my own view a couple of other possibilities as legitimate divorces such as a spouse who is being abusive to a member of the family. I don’t know if Edgar holds that position, though it wouldn’t surprise me, but I am stating it here.

So what do we have in Edgar’s chapter?

The opinion that marriage is indissoluble may be held dogmatically, as in the Roman Catholic tradition, or may be derived from an alleged teaching of Scripture regarding the nature of marriage. No verse in Scripture explicitly teaches that marriage is indissoluble. However, those who are convinced of this tend to interpret every passage on divorce and remarriage with this assumption rather than following normal procedures for interpretation and the most natural meaning of the biblical passages involved.

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 152.

This is certainly true. Nothing in Scripture does say that marriage cannot be undone in any way. If there is divorce in even the Old Testament and remarriage there, it would seem that the answer is indeed that marriage can be undone. Whether it should be undone is a different question.

The view which allows for no divorce, even because of adultery, may seem to be more ethical. However, it could also be considered quite the opposite—as a more tolerant view of adultery—in that it treats adultery no differently than numerous other marriage problems.

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 152.

This is an interesting point. As it stands, with someone who is an adulterer, or even in our day and age, a porn addict, such a stance could be enabling. I am sure Laney and Heth would agree that adultery is bigger than many other marriage problems, but does Laney’s view in particular lead to this conclusion? Heth at least does allow for divorce so he doesn’t have as much of a problem.

Edgar’s main exegesis in his chapter is on Matthew 19’s section on divorce. I am not at all condemning exegeting that, but as one responder points out, there are other passages. There is little if no interaction with the Old Testament on this matter. That should at least be consulted.

That being said, Edgar’s exegesis of the passage is intense, if not at times seemingly tedious. I do think he spent too much time on weaker objections. I also agree with one responder who said that he spends a lot of time telling us what the passage is not saying and too little saying what it is saying.

While I agree with Edgar’s position, I do get concerned when he says this, and one of his responders will as well.

Many conservatives, perhaps unaware, seem to hold a similar position. For example, those who insist that the exception is not “understood” in Mark 10:2–12 or that Mark 10:2–12 disallows any exception since it is determinative of Jesus’ teaching on divorce have implicitly surrendered the inerrancy of Scripture. It must be kept in mind that both Matthew 19:3–12 and Mark 10:2–12 are recording the same historical incident and the same statements of Jesus. Neither is attempting to give his own view, nor the church’s view on divorce; rather, both are reporting the very same conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees. Matthew explicitly states that, not only on a previous occasion (Mt 5:31–32), but in this very conversation, which is also described in Mark 10:2–12, Jesus specifically stated the exception. Unless Matthew 19:9 is inaccurate, in the conversation recorded in Mark 10:2–12 Jesus did state the exception. Therefore, it must be understood in Mark’s account even though he does not record it Mark, as often happens in other passages, merely omitted a detail which Matthew included.

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 166.

I would say instead that they are having an inconsistent hermeneutic. If Mark has no exceptions and Matthew does, and you don’t want to throw out inerrancy, then to be consistent, you have to say that Mark most likely took the adultery one as a given. This is what I find consistent with other writers on the topic. Saying that there is a denial of inerrancy leads to outcomes I have seen before, namely in the inerrancy wars starting in around 2010.

Overall, Edgar’s argument in Matthew 19 is highly complex and I don’t think I can summarize it here. I do think it is the way most Protestants do understand the passage, however. For now, let’s also look at 1 Cor. 7.

The crux of the issue is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:15. The arguments against interpreting this verse as referring to a divorce and allowing remarriage are few. It is argued that the verse only refers to allowing the partner to leave and says nothing about remarriage. If such an approach were followed elsewhere, many doctrines, including the doctrine of the Trinity, would be lost. The situation Paul refers to either allows remarriage or it does not This is what needs to be determined.

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 189.

I look at this claim repeatedly and while Edgar could be right, he doesn’t explain it at all which leaves me wondering just how it could be that this leads to a denial of a doctrine of the Trinity. This is a serious danger. Edgar needs to do more than just throw it out there.

Some argue that the deserted believer is not permitted to remarry, because the entire context of 1 Corinthians 7:17–24 urges the believer to remain as he or she is and not to change his or her status. This opinion ignores the details of the context The preference for remaining as is refers also to those never married and to widows and widowers. If this aspect of the context prohibits remarriage, it prohibits all marriage. The passage actually teaches the preference of staying single, but if you desire to marry it is not sin. Although this statement may not specifically allow remarriage of divorced persons, on the other hand, the context does not specifically deny it unless it denies all marriage. Paul implies in 1 Corinthians 7:10–12 that he has something to say that was not specifically covered by the Lord. Since Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:9 is true for all, including believers and unbelievers, Paul must be doing more than repeating the same teaching for application to a mixed marriage. If he merely repeats in verse 15 what he said in verses 10–11, that divorce and remarriage are prohibited (except for adultery) and that separated people should remain unmarried, then he has stated nothing that the Lord did not already say. If verse 15 is mere repetition, why then would Paul state that the Lord did not speak regarding this matter?

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 191.

I do agree with this. If the argument is that this is why these people shouldn’t remarry, then it proves too much. It is an argument why no one should marry, even the man who is engaged to the virgin he wishes to marry. I also think it is concerning a famine that was going on in Corinth at the time and that needs to be considered in the context.

Many approach the subject of divorce and remarriage as a policeman would who is not primarily interested in stopping robberies, but more interested that the criminals not enjoy the benefits of their crime. They seem less interested in avoiding marriage failures and more interested in keeping the divorced from remarriage

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 192.

Thankfully, I have not encountered this in my path through divorce, but I do understand the legalism. The pastoral side must be remembered. In a book like this, there are real people and I would that every contributor had remembered this more. We’ll see that more in part 4.

Laney’s response comes first where he says this at the start:

Edgar writes, “The Bible specifically states that God intended for marriage to be maintained” (p. 191). He also states, “We should not sever that which God has joined” (p. 191). It is surprising that Edgar can make such strong statements regarding God’s design for marriage and then take the entirety of his article to argue the legitimacy of divorce and remarriage.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 197.

But what is surprising about this? I agree with this as a divorced man. Marriage should be maintained. We should not sever what God has joined. The problem is, if one person doesn’t want to maintain a marriage, they won’t. What God joins does get severed. I hold that divorce can be a necessity sometimes, but in all cases, it is a tragedy. Someone broke their promise on the wedding day, a tragedy.

A major difficulty with Edgar’s viewpoint is the absence of an exception in Mark 10:1–12 and Luke 16:18. According to Edgar, Mark “merely omitted a detail which Matthew included” (p. 166). I would have to say that Mark’s omission of an exception to the permanence of marriage is more than a detail! Eusebius records that Mark carefully recorded the teaching of Peter for the church at Rome after Peter’s death. The church at Rome was apparently not taught by Peter that there was an exception to the permanence of marriage. Peter’s preaching contained no exception. Neither did Mark’s Gospel. Neither were the gentile readers of the Gospel of Luke informed as to an exception. This is not a minor historical detail. This omission would have a significant impact on the lives and marriages of Mark’s readers.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 199.

Yet this assumes that everything Peter was teaching is found in Mark. If Edgar’s case is correct, the exception is understood. It is a problem to say Mark’s Jesus said no exceptions and Matthew says an exception and both are true. The most likely scenario is Mark’s is understood.

Laney also says that Edgar’s view seems to have no place for forgiveness or promise-keeping. In response, I can say I have always held the door open for the forgiveness of my ex-wife. It doesn’t mean I will trust her again, but I can forgive her.  You can forgive someone for doing something, but you don’t have to trust them again. If the babysitter you hire abuses your children, you can forgive them, but it doesn’t mean you let them sit your kids again.

As for promise-keeping, you can hold Edgar’s position and still believe in promise-keeping. I do. If she did not want to keep her promise, how is that being unfaithful to mine? People around me can tell you I still don’t speak ill of her.

I really had a problem when Laney said this:

Instead of presenting a thorough biblical study of the subject, Edgar continually appeals to logic and states that the arguments of the opposing viewpoint are illogical (compare, pp. 173, 179, 180, 186, 192). I would hasten to point out that many biblical doctrines—such as election and free will—do not fit our categories of logic. How is the doctrine of the Trinity—three equal persons in one godhead-logical? Frankly, I would rather be biblical than logical if a choice is demanded.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 201.

If the Trinity is illogical, then that means it is impossible and should not be believed. I do not for a moment think the Trinity contradicts logic. Does the doctrine go beyond our understanding? Absolutely, but to say it is illogical is a dangerous path. I suspect Laney doesn’t really understand what is meant by logical, but I wish he would for he has opened a dangerous door with this statement.

There is nothing in Heth that I didn’t find in Laney worth commenting on, but in Richard’s response we read:

It may be correct for us to advise the injured party that he or she “can” divorce. But it is not for us to advise that he or she should. Instead we need to work toward the healing first of the persons involved, and then of the marriage.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 211.

This is a great point. We often forget that when the bride and groom come together on a wedding day, it’s not just them making a promise. The congregation is also to promise to support and help the couple. We don’t spend enough time doing this. We should all be working to help marriages in our community. I have told couples where I am that if they have a marriage problem and want to talk, my door is open.

Next time, we will look at Larry Richards’s position.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Divorce and Remarriage Four Views — Part 2

What do I think of William Heth’s view? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this volume, Heth defends the position that divorce is allowed, but not remarriage. This is an older work as since then, Heth has changed his position to allow for remarriage after adultery and desertion. Therefore, we can say that eventually he came to abandon his arguments here, but he still has his arguments and we need to address them.

To begin with, I do agree with parts where Heth speaks highly of marriage. I also think ideally that marriage should be permanent, but the problem is that it is too often not. This is even the case with God essentially sending a divorce certificate to Israel and Judah when He allows them to go into exile. There have been some who have said the same thing happens again in Revelation. Hosea 2 has God explicitly saying to Israel “I am not your husband.”

Heth says marriage happens when a man and a woman announce their covenant love for one another and consummate that love together. He says one is not sufficient in itself, pointing to 1 Cor. 6:16. The problem is, as was said yesterday, that 1 Cor. 6:16, quotes Genesis 2:24, which is said to be the foundational passage on marriage. Nothing in Genesis 2:24 speaks about announcing covenant love, for instance.

I do agree with Heth in that the purpose of marriage is not companionship. That is a purpose, but it is not the purpose. After all, men and women have plenty of sources for companionship. They’re called friends. We even consider our pets our companions. That being said, being divorced and single is quite lonely and so yes, that companionship is definitely missed.

I am unconvinced by his point on Deuteronomy 24 considering it does not allow for remarriage of the first husband. The purpose is that it still allows for remarriage. My thinking on this is that a back and forth exchange gives the impression that this is a case of men working together to have the same woman and claim to do so legally. It creates a love triangle scenario.

He speaks on Ezra with the marriages to other tribes at the end and says

As early as 1890, George Rawlinson observed:

It is quite clear that [Ezra] read the Law as absolutely prohibitive of mixed marriages (Ezra 9:10–14)—i.e., as not only forbidding their inception, but their continuance. Strictly speaking, he probably looked upon them as unreal marriages, and so as no better than ordinary illicit connections. For the evils which flow from such unions, those who make them, and not those who break them, are responsible.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 89.

I find this extremely flimsy. Are we to say that pagan nations had no “real marriages” since evils could flow from such unions? If all that is required for a real marriage is a public testimony and a consummation, then these were real marriages. If these were real marriages, then these were real divorces.

Heth goes on to say that

Yet the most serious cases of unlawful unions could be punished by the death of both parties, just like adulterers (Lev 20:10). Numbers 25:6–15 records the case of an Israelite who took a foreign wife and was summarily executed. It could be a significant act of kindness that Ezra only demanded the “divorce” of the foreigners, not their execution.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 90.

This also strikes me as problematic. In this case, we have no indication that the two were husband and wife. What is going on is a judgment has come to Israel and right after a public statement denouncing this, a man and a woman brazenly go in public so everyone can see them and then go into a tent and start doing the deed together. Phinehas says that that is enough and takes a spear and runs through both of them in one blow.

Thus, I hardly see this as a parallel. Add in also that Deuteronomy had standards for marrying a woman who was a captive and Rahab and Ruth were foreign women who we see in the genealogy of Jesus. Are we to think that those were illicit marriages?

As we move on, we see a quotation from Tony Lane, a lecturer on Christian doctrine at London Bible College.

If Jesus did allow remarriage, presumably it happened. How did it then cease to happen, despite the fact that his teaching was known, leaving no trace either of a period when it happened or of any controversy.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 97.

However, what I want to know is how is this known? For instance, let’s go with the early church having a problem with sex for pleasure. Are we to assume then that nowhere in the early church could we find couples having sex for pleasure? The reality is we just don’t have the marriage statistics on the early church so this is really an argument from silence.

Later when talking about Jesus and divorce, Heth says:

Divorce for marital unfaithfulness may be conceded in view of the prevailing social mores, but there must be no remarriage lest adultery be committed. The disciples then react in unbelief at the thought of a life of singleness apart from marital relations: if a man cannot get out of a marriage so as to marry another, it is probably better not to marry at all (v. 10). Jesus then responds by saying that his standards on divorce and remarriage are indeed difficult to understand and to live by. Nevertheless, God gives true disciples the ability to understand and live by Christ’s teaching. Furthermore, God will give faithful disciples the grace they need if they should face a divorce they cannot prevent (v. 11).

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 106.

First, we don’t know why exactly the disciples reacted the way they did. We just know that they did. However, if someone was stunned at the prospect of a life of singleness without sex, there’s a sure way to get that. Never get married. At least if you get married, you could say you can have sex for some time.

I also don’t deny that God can give grace to those of us who have gone through divorce, but at the same time, He can also give us new spouses who will love us faithfully. There is no doubt God can provide for me regardless. My hope is still that that will be through another companion.

As for Paul, Heth says

Paul’s statement that the believer is “not bound” in such cases has the same function that the exception clause does in Matthew 19:9: it relieves the innocent party of the guilt of violating Christ’s command not to divorce. In the case of Matthew 19:9 the woman who commits adultery is held responsible for the breakup of the marriage, while in 1 Corinthians 7:15 Paul exempts the Christian from the responsibility for the divorce which an unbelieving mate brings about. Nothing is said one way or the other about the possibility of remarriage for the believer.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 112.

This seems like a strange interpretation. Not bound means that the person is not guilty? That doesn’t seem to be the main issue at play here. No one seems to be asking “Who is guilty of the divorce?”

Finally, in looking at the responses, I want to only look at one comment from Thomas Edgar.

Heth’s argument that unless divorce is required it cannot be argued that the one-flesh relationship has been broken due to sexual sin, fails to take into account that although relationship with a prostitute is “one flesh” it is not marriage unless a certain legal ceremony is carried out. In the same way sexual sin breaks the marriage bond, but the marriage is not actually dissolved until a certain legal procedure (divorce) is carried out Does anyone argue that the marriage itself is actually dissolved the instant one enters into sexual unfaithfulness? I think that my discussion of the syntax shows that Heth’s view of Matthew 19:9 is incorrect. It is grammatically impossible to claim that Matthew 19:9 does not allow remarriage in the case of the exception.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 142.

This is an excellent case. Adultery does not ipso facto destroy the marriage as there can be repentance and it’s not as if the moment a spouse commits adultery, they are a divorced couple and then if the cheater comes home and resumes normal sex with the spouse, that the unaware party is having an affair? Just as the ceremony is part of the marriage, so it is part of the divorce. Adultery doesn’t necessitate divorce, but it is sufficient for it.

Next time, we will look at Thomas Edgar’s essay.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Divorce and Remarriage Part 1

What do I think of J. Carl Laney’s approach? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In looking at the views in this book, I plan on addressing in each part the opinion of the writer as well as the rebuttals by the opposing sides. The first one is going to be Laney. His approach is that the Bible doesn’t allow at all for divorce or remarriage. I should point out that I had a hand copy that I was highlighting, but I seem to have accidentally left it somewhere so I will not be making as many quotations. I am instead using my version Logos. Also, for new readers, I am sadly divorced and seeking remarriage.

So for Laney’s view, I definitely agree with matters upfront that marriage is an institution created by God. We should be doing all that we can to uphold and help marriages. I also do agree that divorce is a great evil in our world. There are times I sadly think it can be necessary, but that is still a tragedy even then. It means somewhere along the way, someone violated the covenant to such a great extent it has to be abandoned. I realize Laney disagrees with me on that last point, but that is fine. I often say if you want to meet someone who hates divorce, look for someone who has been wrongfully divorced.

I also agree that the Bible tells a man to cleave to his new wife, something that can include love but in a sense goes beyond it for something new. A man can love many people in his life, but the only one he should cleave to is his wife. I definitely also agree that sexual faithfulness should be part of the marriage covenant.

I also liked that he said parents should give children roots and wings. Give them roots in the sense that they always have a home that they are welcome at, but also give them wings. They need to leave that home sometime.

I disagree when he says that the marriage bond is indissoluble. For one thing, he points to Genesis 2:24 as the one-flesh union, but just before this has quoted that same verse from 1 Cor. 6:16 where Paul says if a man unites himself with a prostitute he becomes one flesh with her, quoting Genesis 2:24. Are we to think Paul thought a man had entered an indissoluble union with a prostitute? There are plenty of teenagers who are having sex in high school. Are we to think that the moment that they do, that they are automatically married and thus any further marriage is adultery? If so, there are a lot of adulterous people out there, including people who did stay faithful and married someone who wasn’t a virgin on their wedding night.

Laney also says that Deuteronomy 24 doesn’t institute or approve divorce, which is true, but it does treat it as a reality. However, if divorce is a reality, then yes, divorce is possible. If divorce is possible, then it means that it is possible to break apart a marriage covenant.

I also do not see how his claim works when Jesus says that if anyone divorces his wife and marries another, except for porneia, they commit adultery. To me, that is quite clear that in the case of porneia, whatever it is, that divorce and remarriage is allowed. Laney falls back on saying marriage cannot be undone, but that has not been demonstrated and it looks more like saying “Jesus could not mean X because it disagrees with the prior position here.”

Laney says that if porneia just means adultery, then Jesus would just have been siding with the school of Shammai. And the problem? It’s not unthinkable that the Jews actually got some things right in interpreting the Old Testament, including marriage laws. While it is true there is another word that can mean explicit adultery, the word Jesus used is just fine still for conveying the ideas, much like today we can say terms like having sex, making love, intercourse, coitus, hooking up, doing it, etc.

I also think too much is made of Mark and Luke not mentioning the exception in Matthew. It’s more likely that as someone like Instone-Brewer would point out, everyone would know that divorce was allowable for adultery. Matthew made it explicit for his own reasons, but unless the synoptics contradict each other, then they must all agree that adultery is an acceptable reason for divorce.

I will pass over Paul for now and save that for Heth’s position in this book which I highlighted more of and is closely akin to Laney. I also want to say that he and Heth both appeal to the early church and say that the early church did not allow for divorce and remarriage. Not having seen all they said, I will grant that for the sake of argument.

However, many of them also said that sex should be used only for the purpose of procreation. Tertullian referred to it as that dreadful thing. Would Laney and Heth want to embrace that view? I daresay many of your most staunch Catholics and Orthodox would not even take such a position.

They would also likely if they want to be consistent then hold to many of the Marian doctrines. For someone in the RCC or the Orthodox camp, this would not be a problem. For those wanting to be Protestants, it could be. (There are Protestants who do hold to perpetual virginity.) Thus, it’s not sufficient to say the early church believed X. I want to know why they believed it.

I also think that Laney’s position could lead to license of sin. It could mean that if a spouse is committing adultery, well, you can’t divorce so what are you going to do? Well, a spouse is being abusive and/or putting children at risk. Can’t divorce. What are you going to do? I’m sure Laney would have solutions in each of these cases, but I also think that even separation alone would have little effect on someone like that.

Also, when I read cases like this, it seems as if Laney is unaware of those of us who are divorced against our desires. Many of us wanted to celebrate marriage the way that Laney does, and many of us do, but our own experiences of it fell short and it is devastating. I know this is not the intent, but when one reads this, you can come away with the position of “Sucks to be you. Your spouse wronged you and now you have to suffer.”

So in the end, I am not convinced of Laney’s position. Next time, we will explore Heth who allows for divorce, but not remarriage. I will also have more quotations from that one due to highlighting online so expect more interaction.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

How Do Miserable Christians Worship?

Is the average worship service the balm of Gilead?

I’m reading through Carl Trueman’s Minority Report which is a series of essays he has written. If you have not read Trueman, you need to read Trueman. He is one of the most brilliant writers of our age I have read. Anyway, today’s essay was about authenticity and he talked about it being based on one he wrote called “What Do Miserable Christians Sing?” and it has been his most appreciated piece ever judging by the replies he has got.

After all, if you go to your modern worship service, the majority of worship songs are happy songs. They’re meant to invite you into the joy of the Lord. I’m not saying that’s always wrong, but let’s remember some people are coming to church and they’re not happy. They’re actually miserable.

For me, being a divorced Christian in the modern church setting is hard. It’s hard to be in the community of believers when your personal community was torn to shreds. It’s hard when you hear people who are supposed to be in your age group or even younger talking about everything going on with their children and their spouses and you think about what you have lost.

Then you go into a worship service and the songs are all about how thankful you are and the joy you have in Jesus. It’s really hard to sing those songs and be authentic. You would really like to experience that, but you can’t. Not right now at least.

Are there songs for miserable Christians?

Yes. They’re called the Psalms.

By all means, not all of them are, but a number of them are lament Psalms and they were just as much part of worship as praise ones. They are no less part of Scripture than worship Psalms. God wanted them to be in the Bible just like He wanted joyous Psalms to be in there.

God wants us to have hymns of misery.

The Bible assumes sometimes we will be miserable. This isn’t just in the Old Testament. It’s in the New. Jesus is the man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. Paul says about death that we mourn, but not like those who have no hope. He also says to mourn with those who mourn.

By the way, sometimes, that is extremely helpful.

We can fault Job’s friends for what they did, and we should, but they did one thing right definitely. What was that? For the first part of their visit with him, they sat with him. They were silent. They were just there.

Sometimes, you may think you need to cheer up someone who is miserable, but sometimes, what they really want is not so much to be cheered up. They just want to be heard. They want to be understood. They don’t want a solution. They just want a friend.

I still remember one of the best sayings I got in my divorce. I was told, “Today sucks. Tomorrow will also suck, but it will suck a little bit less.” Of course, that moves in fluctuations. Sometimes, it hurts more than it did yesterday, but the general principle is sound.

Sometimes you will come to church miserable, and that is fine. Sometimes you will leave that way, and that is fine. If anything, we need to give a place for people to express misery at church. Those who are miserable can push the community away while at the same time wanting the community.

God gave Scripture to express negative emotions just as much as happy ones, and there’s a place for both in worship. Let us remember that God’s goal is not to give us temporary happiness. His ultimate goal is our holiness, and we will pass through some unhappiness in that.

Sing a song of misery if you need to.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Bible and Science on Gender, Sex, and Marriage

What do I think of Lindsay Harold and Daniel Biddle’s book published by Genesis Apologetics? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t know anything about Daniel Biddle aside from this book, but Lindsay is one of my favorite posters to read on Facebook as her insights on marriage and family are excellent. Thus, when I heard she had a book out on the topic of gender, sex, and marriage, I wanted to get in on helping out with it. I thank her for sending me a copy of it. As I normally do then, I am going to list the positives and then the things I would like to change.

First, a lot of the information in this book is excellent. The authors put in a lot of work to demonstrate that from the womb to the tomb, men and women are different. They point out the ways that men excel in areas women normally don’t and then vice-versa. They do point out that these are generalities. For example, while it is common that men are taller than women, that does not mean that every man is taller than every woman.

Second, they do put a lot of work into demonstrating a biblical foundation for sex and marriage and family. This is important especially for a lot of layman Christians today who are buying into the LGBTQ agenda and haven’t really thought about these issues much. Too many people buy into the idea of just saying “Love is love” as if every kind of love is automatically good.

Third, from a Christian viewpoint, the gospel is clearly here. The writers give the bad news about the wrongs done in our society too, but they also give the good news. They do talk about compassion for those who have made mistakes in their lives in these areas. For instance, when talking about abortion, they do list a number of pro-life ministries to help a woman who is pregnant and doesn’t know what to do.

So now the things I would like to change.

First, I do understand this is Genesis Apologetics and they are YEC, but I think this could be a distraction. For instance, at the start, a biblical worldview is talked about, which includes man created out of clay instantly thousands of years ago. I understand a lot of Christians believe this wholeheartedly, but a lot of them do not. I know plenty of people in all walks of creation beliefs that love Jesus. I also know that if you want to reach non-believers, that they will tend to discount this position quite quickly. People like myself can be told we have a secular worldview, even though I would just as ardently say my view is in line with Scripture.

Second, I am not against using Scripture, but I think the book could be more effective had it stuck to general revelation topics and then at the end perhaps had a postscript covering the gospel for all interested. If I was wanting to convince someone on a Christian worldview of sex and marriage who was an atheist, I would start with what we all know already in general revelation. I would be glad to ground that later on in theism if need be, but I want to go one step at a time.

Third, the authors at the end did list a lot of sexual practices and beliefs about marriage that have caused great harm in society, including divorce. The effects of everything else were covered, but I don’t remember divorce, which is a shame since this is also one of the most abundant and easy ones to cover. I am grateful that many of the others were covered.

Overall though, this is an excellent book and it’s a short one. I read it in a day and you can too and it’s not really a strain to do so. We need more information out there on the differences between men and women and the role sex and marriage should play in our society.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Playing To Win

How do you approach a challenge? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I know someone here at the seminary who was sexually abused as a child and now has a blog helping others to overcome this. You can see her work here. I read a new post she had yesterday and I started thinking about my attitude as I went through my own divorce.

Something I like about her blog is the idea of describing herself as a brave girl and to let the voice of a warrior be heard. That is a definitive choice on how to describe oneself. She had to make a deliberate choice at one point that she would face what she went through, be brave, and be a warrior and fight back.

I wrote about this before in how I had to make a choice. It would be foolish to deny that the impact of the divorce when it hit me hurt me greatly. I would also be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt me still every day, but I had to make a choice and I still have to make the choice. Will I be defeated by it or will I overcome it?

In looking at Life Is A Game, this book has resonated with me because I had that attitude. Some might think it to be frivolous, but the reality is, it works. We are often told that attitude is a big factor in how one overcomes. If two people of relatively equal health get a cancer diagnosis and one is positive about overcoming and one isn’t, all things being equal, the positive one is more likely to overcome it.

If you’re a gamer like me, you know the idea of what it is like to fight a boss. You enter an arena and all of a sudden this huge hulking monster that practically dwarfs you in ever way looms over you. In reality if this happened to us, most of us would probably be in a total panic. If you’re a gamer though, you can get nervous but you also think, “All right. Let’s do this.” That just ups the challenge level. It actually makes it more fun.

Why not live this way in reality more often? When a huge problem comes our way, why not see it as another challenge to overcome and we’ll be the better for it? Add in also that in the real world, we have the promise of a God in our lives that if we love Him, all things will work for our good. I have referred to this in gamer terms as the ultimate cheat code.

My friend had to make a deliberate choice that she would not be a victim all her life of abuse but would not only be an overcomer, but also help others to overcome. I had to make a decision that I would not be the victim of divorce. It’s why I made it a motto of mine to “play to win” and why I am here at seminary working on a Master’s and talking to a therapist here in person to help me with learning social skills. When I have friends here who help me with various things, these aren’t just friends. These are teammates on the journey. These are party members who are coming alongside and helping me fight my battles. Of course, I help them when I can in return, but I can only speak of what it is like from my own perspective.

To my friends who have helped me on the journey, thank you. I still have friends back in Tennessee and other parts of the world and I consider them helpers as well, and this includes my folks who I talk to every night on my Echo. To all of you out there also facing your own trial, play to win and while there’s no guarantee with someone like cancer or anything else, you can still fight with all your might. We are meant to be warriors.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Divorce And Rejection

On what level is divorce experienced as rejection? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was talking with a good friend of mine over the weekend about divorce and rejection and I figured this would be something good to write about. Divorce is a form of rejection indeed, but there is a deeper sense of it than any other kind that I know of. Divorce is a rejection that stings every day.

I understand being rejected by the opposite sex. That happens, and it stings, but the worst part of this rejection is that in this case, you have given everything you have to a member of the opposite sex and made a promise to honor them and have been living it out and you still get told it’s not enough. This is not to say there are not times where divorce can be a sad necessity, but this is talking about people like myself who strived every day to honor our vows.

I remember being in DivorceCare and hearing a girl say “Well, when the person who made a promise to you to honor and cherish you always breaks that promise, other rejections really don’t bother you.” Good for her, but I was on the opposite end. For me, every rejection reminds me of that one.

It is something that remains with you every day. I had an interview for a scholarship opportunity here over the weekend and in talking about it since the man wanted my story, and he told me if I wanted to know who all tends to hate divorce the most, the answer is simple. Divorced people. He’s absolutely right. We hate it.

Rejection is painful because you are being told you are not up to quality in some way. It hurts to the degree that the person has a place in your life. If it’s someone you have a crush on and ask out and they say no, it will hurt to the degree that you put a certain amount of hope in that person. If it’s a parent or family member, it will hurt to the degree that you wanted to have a good relationship with that person.

A divorce hurts you to the degree that that relationship meant to you. Considering it’s someone that you, if you’re in a Christian marriage, made a promise to God and man to honor forever, it can hurt all the more since this is the last relationship that should have ended. It was entered in freely with a promise and it has become shattered.

Peter Kreeft has said divorce is like a suicide and a murder at the same time. You take the one-flesh union that has been built and you kill it. It is destroying another person, the other one in the covenant, and yourself as well. Of course, it’s up to the parties involved how they choose to live from that point on.

For all concerned about me, as I said in the interview, I am still playing to win. It’s why I’m still looking to remarry again someday. It hurts every day, but it’s up to me if I am going to have the hurt conquer me or if I am going to conquer it. I have deliberately chosen to do the latter. My writings on this are mainly to let others know what it’s like and to encourage those in this situation.

When you talk to people who are divorced or going through it, remember what you say. The only people who really understand it are the ones who have gone through it. Others can have compassion, but it will be one that doesn’t see what it’s fully like through no fault of their own, and hopefully, they never will see it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Thankfulness And Silence

Are we to have a Happy Thanksgiving? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been writing this week in response to the news of Tyler Vela about divorce and silence. Today, being Thanksgiving, I don’t have to work and there are no classes. Naturally, I turn off the alarm and choose to sleep in as long as I can.

Yet early in the morning when I start to wake up, who is right there waiting for me but Shiro. So what do I do? Stay in bed for just a little bit to hold him and pet him and get some kitty kisses from him. Starting Thanksgiving with my little kitty is certainly a great way to begin the day with thankfulness.

Honestly, Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday of all. I’m not one for meal situations and I don’t like a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods. The only exception for me is pumpkin pie. I am fine with not going to Thanksgiving meals at all. (Although I’m sure Shiro would be thrilled if anyone wanted to bring by a bite of turkey for him.)

Today, I was intending to just write about Thanksgiving, but as I thought about it, I realized this has relevance to the silence of God. Years ago, I read something from Tim Keller about thankfulness. It was a portion of Scripture that I had read several times and yet, a few key words in that Scripture I had never taken the time to consider.

Let’s look at Romans 1.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

We can get caught up in so many debates about this passage. It can be classical apologetics vs. presuppositionalism. It can be about the nature of design arguments. It can be questions of if someone can truly be an atheist or not.

Fine questions and worth discussion, but did you notice that part at the end? This is about people who the text says know God and they didn’t glorify Him, but also, they didn’t give thanks. They were not appreciative of God. They didn’t show gratitude.

If you don’t appreciate something and you’re not thankful for it, it can lead to a resentment or it can lead to an entitlement attitude. Here in America, if you live here, you are generally a rich person. You might think you’re poor, but compared to the majority of the world, you are rich. What do we want? More. We mourn about how little we have so often.

I also think this does contribute to divorce. Where does this idea come from that the grass is greener on the other side? As a nerd, I was amazed most every day that I was actually married and I do long for that again. If you think something is owed to you, you will not be grateful for it. There’s a reason the entitlement mindset is causing so much damage in our country.

So what about the silence of God?

Too often, it’s likely that God has already spoken and we have not appreciated what has been said. Skepticism is one thing and if it’s purely intellectual, that can be worked on, but if emotion is driving it, the most powerful intellectual arguments won’t do a thing. Why do you think I get concerned with so many of our younger generation demanding more and more and more?

However, what if we are really saying to God, “What you have done is not good enough?” If we do not appreciate the ways God has spoken, should He really say anymore? If we do not appreciate whatever God has given us, why would He bother giving us more?

The Jews have a Passover song called Dayenu. The lyrics are much longer and interspersed with a chorus, but they go as follows talking about the Passover.

Had we been taken out of Egypt and not had judgment executed upon the Egyptians, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon the Egyptians and not upon their idols, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their idols, and not their firstborn, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their firstborn, and we had not received their wealth, it would’ve been enough. Had we received their wealth, and not had the sea split for us, it would’ve been enough. Had the sea been split the sea for us, and we had not been led through it to dry land, it would’ve been enough. Had we been led to dry land, and our enemies not drowned in the sea behind us, it would’ve been enough for us. Had our enemies drowned, and our needs not have been provided for in the desert for 40 years, it would’ve been enough. Had we been supported in the desert and not been given bread, it would have been enough. Had we been given bread and not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough. Had we been given the Sabbath and not been brought to Mount Sinai, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Mount Sinai and not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough. Had we been sent the Torah and not been brought to Israel, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Israel and not been built the Holy Temple, it would have been enough.

What this is saying is that every step would have been enough. God owed nothing more. God owes us nothing more. The only thing He has to give is what He promised. It’s often asked about the problem of evil, “Why did God kill so many?” It’s never considered how many He let live. He had no obligation. It’s as if we are saying “God owes us life.” No. He doesn’t.

If you are owed nothing, and you are given everything, what is that? It’s not payment for something. It’s not God is in debt to you. It is all a gift. All is grace.

I am thankful for many things today. My family and my friends are high up there. I am thankful to be in the city of New Orleans, a city I have come to love, and working on my education at a school I love with a job that I thoroughly enjoy and meeting new people. I am thankful I can rebuild my life and remarry someday. I am thankful that I have got to be a person of influence somehow through the internet. I am thankful I am making it through my divorce bit by bit. I am thankful for the people who have donated to me through Patreon or Risen Jesus to show their support for me. I am thankful for a cute little kitty currently sleeping on my bed. I am thankful I have so many books and games here to keep my mind active. All is grace.

And I’m definitely thankful for grace. It would have been enough, but the one who said it wasn’t enough was God Himself. He looked at all the ways He had loved us so far and said “It’s not enough.” Ephesians 2 even says it’s still not enough. He will spend all of eternity showing us how much He loves us.

I don’t deserve it. Neither do you. It’s all a gift. It’s all grace.

Happy Thanksgiving.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)