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Divorce and Remarriage: A Response to the JRG

Divorce and Remarriage: A Response to the JRG

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This is not a JRG paper or study. This is a critical response to their position about the subject.
This is not a JRG paper or study. This is a critical response to their position about the subject.

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Published by: Jim Roberts Group Official Fan and Glee Club on Jun 10, 2011
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02/13/2013

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Divorce and Remarriage in the Christian Scriptures…
XXXX,Thanks again for asking me about this topic. My overall impression with your friend’s treatment of divorce and remarriage is that it’s alittle sloppy. There are some verses he includes that I don’t see the relevance of, and he does not really get too far into the nuances thatlife presents when we’re dealing with real-life scenarios that involve failed or failing marriages. I’ll leave it to you to discuss with himhow his views differ from my views or not.Also, I know you didn’t ask for this, but I have been subject to a lot of judgment within our little circle of friends, and I have never reallygiven account of my marriage to Carmen clearly and publicly, so I have to use the opportunity to do that. Many of our friends have beeninfluenced by the lines that have been laid down by the Jim Roberts group (JRG). While I generally agree with the direction of the boundaries they advocate
vis a vis
the recklessness of the mainstream church, I feel like there are certain mistakes in their teaching thatwould tend to implicate some who I feel are innocent, and clear others who should be guilty.On the other hand, I am a remarried man, and one has to be vigilant against teaching coming from me that would tend to bias toward justification of re-marriage, or otherwise simply justifying myself without doing any real justice to the issue. I have to be careful aboutthis, too. How can I be sure that bias of this sort has not clouded my judgment? So search the Scriptures independently and diligently before you receive any of this. If you find error, please let me know about it.I was committed, while with my first wife, to no put her away “
except it be for fornication
” (Mt. 19:9), and I feel like, despite great personal suffering for the duration of that commitment, that it was a commitment that I fulfilled. Divorce was entirely a unilateral decisionon her part, (I was not consulted and did not have opportunity to raise so much as an objection) and I did not remarry until I was certainshe had lived in fornication and had refused outright my request to return.Although reared in the doctrine of the JRG, and going into my first marriage with that doctrine at the front of my mind, I soon learnedfrom experience that there was a fatal flaw wrapped up in it. I’m trying to show exactly what that flaw is in the following paper.I’m going to use their teaching as kind of a point of reference, because it’s pretty clear and there are a lot of people are familiar with it. Italso falls roughly into the ultra-conservative or reactionary camp, and I tend to identify roughly as a reactionary when it comes to issueslike this. Here is an example of the brothers’ teachings that sums up their position pretty succinctly:
 
The general purpose of the Christian Scripture’s teaching on the subject of divorce and remarriage is to revise the Torah’s teaching in thedirection of greater stringency. Yeshua shows that the reason for this has to do with original intent. Divorce, or “putting away” which wasallowed under Moses, is all but banned in the Christian Scriptures. Remarriage, especially marrying a previously married woman, becomes the focus of several restrictions introduced by the Christian Scriptures.The general practice of the church-world has followed the direction of “advancing” civilization, which has become more and moreromantically loose and liberal. The Christian Scriptures are very strict; the Torah is not quite as strict, the church-world is as strict as it isfiscally comfortable for an institution to be that is totally dependent on pan-handling its membership. There, just “find your fit” andalmost anything goes. Teachings vary between rural and urban churches, between educated and unlettered churches, and reflect moreaccurately the cultures and attitudes of the people making offerings than righteous men taking a stand.
GOD HATES DIVORCE
Divorce is a popular thing these days. Who will speak against something popular?The Christian Scriptures place the most emphasis on this aspect of the Marriage relationship: it is a lifelong covenant, and God hatesdivorce:
"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for everycause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and  female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." 
(Mat19:3-6)
"...whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:" 
(Mat 5:32)
"He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another,committeth adultery:" 
(Mat 19:8 -9)
"And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." 
(Mar 10:8,9)
"And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her." 
(Mar 10:11) 
"And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
(Mar 10:12) 
"Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery:" 
(Luk 16:18)
"And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband: But and if she depart,let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife." 
(1 Cor 7:10,11)
"But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let himnot put her away." 
(1Cr 7:12)If it seems rhetorical to say that God hates divorce, it is only fair to point out that it says that he hates it in just so many words:
"For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away." 
(Mal 2:16)It seems that the focal point of Christian Scriptures’ teaching on the subject is that once people get married, they need to stay married, or they will be in danger of serious iniquity.Dealing with groups of people, however, we find that often it so happens that marriages do fail.The JRG belongs to a school of thought that is unwilling to take many of the liberties with scripture that the church world uses in serviceof its pecuniary avarice and its goal of growth. HalleluYah. They and some others within this school, with an eye towards the severelanguage and prohibitions attached to remarriage, argue that a marriage between two people is not valid while the original estranged partner is physically alive. This is a simple approach. It’s pretty straightforward.
 
Others have taken the impulse for purity a bit further, arguing that a marriage is only valid between two people that are each virgins.Although that would be the closest thing to original intent, it would tend to significantly reduce the number of people eligible for marriage, especially among a group of people that have “repented” from a previous life-without-God.The positive intent of seeking in these ways to err on the side of caution cannot be discounted. The motivation is clearly to avoid“unlawful marriages”—marriages that are regarded as iniquitous relationships by God, not true marriages at all—that would condemnsouls in the end, and leave knowing-but-silent observers with blood guiltiness on their hands. Yet sometimes, in trying too hard not to falloff of the starboard side of a boat, we can tumble right over the port-side railing and into Davie Jones’ Locker.I think the Jim Roberts group interpretation of the divorce and remarriage scriptures are a lot better than what we see in the church-world, but there are a few problems. If you will notice in their paper above, instead of relying on the scriptures to support their teaching, as istheir usual practice, they are forced to go out on a limb, talking about nuances of Greek usage, as well as the traditions of the Hebrews andOrientals. This seems to me to be a rather shaky basis for a doctrine that they take so seriously in their practices: They will not accepthospitality from or enter into business relationships with people, believers or not, who are involved in second marriages. At times theyseem to treat second marriages as if they were at least as serious as fornication.The errors I believe to be inherent in their teaching revolve around these questions:
1)
Does their handling of what they call the “Matthew exception” reflect an insufficient severity against the act of fornication?Does a believer need to passively tolerate their life-partner being sexually unfaithful? What is the appropriate level of toleration for fornication within a body of believers?2)Do prohibitions against remarriage apply in an identical way to males and females? How does this affect the authoritystructure of the home?As touching the first question, we should begin with an overview of other places in the scriptures that treat fornication, rather than in thetraditions of men or elsewhere. In the Scriptures, we find that fornication is much, much more serious than “adultery by re-marriage”.Fornication was prohibited in Torah, while divorce and remarriage was clearly allowed, even if it was simply “
because of the hardness of  your hearts
” (Mt. 19:8). Another thing is that this type of adultery, in some places, is listed with a group of commandments labeled byYeshua as “
these least commandments
” (Mt 5:19), and a straight reading of the AV’s rendering of that verse almost opens the questionwhether breaking one of those commandments—which include looking lustfully upon a woman and being angry with your brother causelessly—would indeed bar one from the Kingdom of heaven, or just reduce one’s stature in it. Must we excommunicate every timesomeone loses control of the carnal eye? Every time one is angered?Of the four aspects of the Torah that gentile converts were required to keep (Acts 15:20, 28-29/ 20:25), one of them was certainlyfornication, perhaps in the sense of all sexual immorality, perhaps the act of coitus specifically.Paul speaks of the unique character of fornication among sins (1 Cor 6:18), showing that it is a sin that will defile the body, but also if itcomes into the camp will defile the body of believers. [Notice also, that the way the JRG paper above distinguishes between “fornication”and “adultery” is immediately falsified. There is no place in the Christian Scriptures that fornication is talked about as extensively as inPaul’s first letter to the Corinthians (other than in Revelations—but the fornication discussed in that book is mostly allegorical and notliteral). What Paul refers to as “fornication” in 1 Corinthians revolves around a certain case, between a man and someone’s “wife”]
“It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among theGentiles, that one should have his father's wife.’ And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done thisdeed might be taken away from among you.’ For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, [concerning] him that hath so done this deed,’ In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.’ Your glorying [is] not good. Know ye not that a little leavenleaveneth the whole lump?’ Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For evenChrist our passover is sacrificed for us:’ Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of maliceand wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth.’ I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:’ Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.’ But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.’ For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?’ But them that are without God  judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”
(1 Cor 5)

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