Divorce, Remarriage, Adultery, and Homosexuality

Many Christians hold that homosexual behavior is sinful and require that LGBT persons be repentant of such behavior in order to be accepted or remain in Christian fellowship. An LGBT person who is unrepentant, who continues in homosexual behavior, is considered to be continuing in sin and is liable to church discipline and/or exclusion from fellowship. These beliefs come directly from scripture. For many Christians, if the Bible says something is sin, then it is sin. Period.

But I would like to point out the hypocrisy of this as it pertains to divorce and remarriage. The dominant view of divorce among Christians today is that it is not preferable, but that it is allowed in certain circumstances, such as infidelity and abandonment by an unbeliever. But what is not discussed as often is the issue of remarriage. Jesus teaches about this in Matthew 5:32 -

"But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."

And again in Matthew 19:9 -

"I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

And Mark 10:11-12 -

He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

And Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 15 -

"To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife... But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace."

And for Old Testament exclamation, Malachi 2:16a -

"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel...

While it can be conceded that marital unfaithfulness and abandonment by an unbeliever are legitimate grounds for divorce, scripture does not allow divorce for any other reason. Therefore, according to the Bible, anyone who divorces for any reason other than infidelity or abandonment by an unbeliever and then later remarries is an adulterer.

So is this adultery sinful? Most Christians do not demand that remarried divorcees repent of their adultery and end their sinful and immoral behavior. Most do not cry out through political punditry that remarried divorcees are a threat to the institution of marriage and the family values of our nation. Christian politicians are not lobbying for legislation or constitutional amendments against divorce and remarriage. Isn't divorce a significantly more direct and damaging threat to marriage than homosexuality? Isn't God's Old Testament hate of divorce equivalent to His calling homosexuality an abomination? Adultery and homosexuality seem to be equivalent in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 -

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

So why do Christians treat the two issues so differently? If there is a hermeneutic that allows for the acceptance of remarriage, why can't we also be accepting of homosexuality?

Pardon me for being cynical, but I think it is easy for Christian leaders to take a hard stance against homosexuality. Leaders cannot speak out so strongly against remarried divorcees because there are too many of them attending their churches. Half of all marriages in America end in divorce, and the number one cause of those divorces is financial stress. To take a solidly conservative Biblical stand against all those who have remarried after such a divorce would clear the pews in a hurry!

But do Christians truly avoid teaching these verses because it would be unpopular? Or is it that we don't believe them? Do we just decide for ourselves what we think is right and trust that God agrees with us, regardless of what the Bible says? Could our interpretation of these passages regarding divorce and adultery really be that dependent on our own ideas of morality?

So I ask again, what is the hermeneutic that allows Christians to accept the adultery inherent in most remarriages? And if such a hermeneutic exists, why is it not applied to other sexual sins, such as homosexuality? And if it does not exist, why do Christians accept unrepentant remarried persons into fellowship but not unrepentant homosexuals?

42 comments:

David Golden said...

Man, this is so right on, and I have thought about these exact points for years, but never put them out there for response like you just have. Why do we see "gay marriage" as a threat to the institution of marriage and family? "Gay marriage" has never been a threat to my marriage or family, but the specter of DIVORCE has, and probably always will be, whatever good times and bad times we go through as a couple. If we are concerned about the moral state of the country, let's start some petitions and demonstrations to outlaw divorce, or at least remarriage for divorcees! And let's remind those divorcees in our churches and Bible studies that God and we expect them to live the rest of their lives celibate. (joking, people... JOKING! I know that we're only supposed to say things like that to gay people, not people "like us")

Lydia said...

One latte coming right up!

Paul said...

Great thoughts, Ken - we will have to discuss them later! :)

I did want to pass along this article about adultery and Tiger Woods and how the sports world gives him a free pass. It is interesting to see those that love Tiger have either backed him or grown strangely silent on the issue. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/25/AR2009122501440.html

Pam Heatley said...

The divorce and remarriage issue has always been one I've wanted to use during heated arguments about Homosexuality but have bit my tongue as not to hurt anyone. Here's the thing, many people feel it is completely justifiable to tell a gay person that they must not act on their sexuality yet they themselves remarry after divorce despite very particular Bible passages that say not too. Something somewhere has to give....

Ken said...

Thanks for the comments. My intention here is not to hurt anyone, remarried or otherwise. I love Lydia's comment! Yes, it is a hard subject. If only finding the answer were as easy as ordering a Latte'! And yes, something does have to give somewhere. But where? Who will take the first step?

Ken said...

And what a great article Paul. That is perhaps the best article on Tiger that I have read. I took it as a call to self examination before judgment of others.

Anna said...

my two cents:
cent one: God says a sin is a sin whether it be pride, gossip, sexual, whatever - it's sin. God is not bound by cultural norms, a societial or moral belief of a people group or a religious group at any particular time period.
cent two: Jesus says your sins (notice the plural) are forgiven. This forgiveness is not bound by cultural norms, a societal or moral belief of a people group or a religious group at any particular time period.

Schwander said...

What a gay topic. That's all for now, late taking my 4th wife to lunch. ;)

Ken said...

Anna, I like your two cents! I agree that God is not bound by us, but our understanding of Him is bound by us. And I wonder if His forgiveness is bound by us too? Some might say that forgiveness is dependent upon our confession and repentance. Others might say that Jesus died once and for all... past, present, and future. Again, it is our understanding of God that is in question, not God himself.

Mark, if I didn't know you better I might take offense at your comment. Instead, I see that you have succinctly encapsulated the hypocrisy of the subject!

Anonymous said...

Thank God for sending Jesus to pay the price for adultry, murder,hate and the list goes on and on. Thank you Jesus for your grace (His favor and mercy we do not deserve) thank you Jesus for your Mercy and tenderness

Trwaldo1 said...

Ken,
That was nicely said...You know my family background and that I struggle with it at times...the idea that you put out there, was very nicely put.

Anonymous said...

We forget the other side of the coin. If unrepentant sin holds us back from God's best, one could argue that the church is doing a disservice to it's members by not speaking out and acting. -- Worse yet, you could really go to the extreme as say that biblical marriage is defined by intercourse so anything after your first encounter would be adulterous. -- I don't think I agree with you and I *know* I don't agree with me! Need to gnaw on this for a while. ~Paul L.

Shrina said...

It's interesting that you wrote on this topic Ken as I've been pondering a question I've had lately regarding biblical justification for divorce. Specifically, I know someone who left their huband of 13yrs on the technicality of him choosing to continue to view pornography which she viewed as adultry. They of course had other issues that they didn't get along in, but pornography was the main reason that was cited by her as the justification for the divorce. In fact, he was going to be disfellowshiped from his church as a result.

So was the wife biblically justified in divorcing her husband? Where should we (the church?) draw the line in interpreting Mathew 5:28 "Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultry with her in his heart"? Because if we the church, were to literally apply this standard then it seems like almost all of the people in the church would be justified in divorcing their spouse because one or the other either had looked at or thought of someone in a lustful way. So, was the wife justified? Or is she going to be considered an adultress if she remarries because pornography doesn't apply as a biblical justification for divorce?

Michelle said...

Corinthians 6:18-20
Avoid immororality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

2 corinthians2:2-9
This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person, so that on the contrary you should forgive and encourage him instead, or else the person may be overwhelmed by excessive pain. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

Ken said...

Hi Michelle, great scripture. Thanks for the comment!

Its interesting that a little earlier in 1 Corinthians 6, verse 16 says:

"Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."

Paul is quoting Genesis 2:24 here, which is a verse often used to build a foundation for Biblical marriage between a man and a woman.

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

But is Paul saying that uniting with a prostitute is equivalent to marriage? Or is "becoming one flesh" in Genesis not about marriage?

The reason I find this interesting is because a strict view of Biblical marriage might suggest that sex = marriage. When a couple choose to be together physically, are they choosing to enter into marriage in God's eyes? In this sense, is anyone who has sex entering into Biblical marriage (one flesh) even if they have not yet agreed to a civil marriage contract? If so, this would mean that anyone who had sex with a different partner before a current civil marriage is actually now in an adulterous "remarriage"!

Whoa, I'm glad you quoted the verse on love and forgiveness too! :-)

Roger said...

So my problem is that I find it repulsive that so many Christians appear to accept infidelity not just this remarriage adultry. At least two church going women have winked at another church going woman's infidelity in our cicle of acquaintances. I was and am shocked that they would do this and they never have that I'm aware of given such implicit approval to any man who they knew was doing the same thing. Are we as a people just not really understanding the love that God's moral laws show to us in helping us become what He wants of us?

BTW, to me it never is an issue if a Christian sins that God's forgiveness is in question, but God's forgiveness does not abrogate the consequences of the sins we commit. We think that God will still love us and so we sin, but we seem to be blind to the fact that God's love for us is why He gave us those moral laws in the first place. Do we not trust that God really loves us and believe that these laws are just an attempt on His part to keep us from being "happy"?

Confused on how Christians can be so accepting of all of this behavior.

Michelle said...

I think that if someone unites themselves with a prostitute that they are being unfaithful both to their future spouse and to the Lord. God made this union to be an emotionally bonding experience between both the man and the woman. It is so meaningful that the act itself can bring new life into the world. When we distort it for our own selfish desires whether it be with the same sex, a stranger, pornagraphy or even ourselves we are treating this wonderful gift from God as casual as a handshake and are committing sin against our own bodies which belong to Jesus and is to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. The woman at the well had five husbands and Jesus reached out to her right where she was. He did call her out on it though. I think that we are to do the same

Ken said...

Shrina, sorry I missed your comment earlier!

You raise an interesting point. I think the basic question is whether adultery and adultery in the heart are to be equivalent with regard to consequences. Jesus seems to be raising the bar for our thought life here. But perhaps it doesn't necessarily follow that the consequences are also raised?

For example, on the one hand, Jesus is teaching us in Matthew 5 that our personal behavior regarding adultery must be held to a higher standard, extending beyond our physical actions to our thought life as well. But in John 8 we see Jesus actually lowering the "consequences" of adultery by sparing the adulterous woman from a stoning, which was by law her deserved punishment.

So in a sense, perhaps Matthew 5 is more about how we are to judge ourselves, and John 8 is more about how we are to judge others? I think this is a very important distinction, in that it may not be that Jesus intended us to judge and apply consequences toward others based on his teaching in Matt 5. I don't think he intended Matt 5 to result in more people being stoned for adultery, even though he is implying there that many more people are guilty of adultery in God's eyes due to their thought lives. I think John 8 is more instructive for us as to how we should relate to someone who has committed adultery, whether in thought or in deed.

Regarding your friend, I'm sure there are many more details to the situation that we do not know, and it is difficult to say anything definitive without knowing a lot more. What I do know is that sexual addiction issues take many, many years to fully deal with, and require a great deal of hard work, love, grace, and repeated forgiveness on the part of both spouses to successfully overcome. Your friend is certainly not alone in her decision, as many spouses ultimately take the same course in such situations.

But back to Jesus raising the bar, he also raises it with regard to forgiveness. Not seven times, but seventy times seven. Again, I doubt that Jesus intended for Matt 5 to result in more divorces any more than he intended it to result in more stonings.

Ken said...

Roger,

Thanks for the comment. I am somewhat sympathetic to your thoughts here. What you describe as a winking approval certainly doesn't seem as good a response to adultery as Jesus' words in John 8 ("neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more"). But I am not at all repulsed by Jesus' failure to condemn her. I am repulsed by Christians who are quick to condemn, quick to cast the first stone, quick to point out the speck in someone's eye... Rather than focusing on the sins of others and calling that love, let us instead be patient and kind, let us be slow to anger, let us keep no record of wrong, and call THAT love.

Ken said...

Michelle,

I agree with you about prostitution. I was just pondering the idea that perhaps our first sexual experience is actually a marital joining in God's eyes, where two become one flesh? Paul suggested this possibility too in his comment above.

I think we agree that God would prefer that we not have sex before marriage. But its harder to contemplate that the consequence of doing so might be that we become married to that first sexual partner in God's eyes and should thereafter be denied a legitimate marriage to anyone else. It's hard for us to see that possibility given the great deal of premarital sex that happens today. But perhaps it was not so in days of yore? Again, could this be another example of our morals shifting away from God's word and toward what seems right to us instead?

But I am not so sure that we are to act the same way toward all of our relationships and acquaintances as Jesus did toward the woman at the well. Jesus had the privilege of knowing that woman more deeply than anyone in the world, just as deeply as He knows you and I. Jesus was far more qualified and justified to speak to her that way than we are with most of the people we know. I think the passage has very little to do with how we are supposed to relate to other people and everything to do with how Jesus relates to us.

D. L. Webster said...

At the core of this is the tension between the truths that everyone sins, even those who are a part of Christ, yet God loves us and has forgiven us, yet still there is a standard he has called us to live by. What does that mean for us in how we react to people when they sin? I wish I had a comprehensive, definitive answer, but I don't right now.

It's interesting that, with one exception (Matt. 5:32), remarriage is always mentioned along with divorce as being what causes adultery. It's almost like God doesn't recognize the divorce, so remarriage is adultery. It is also quite interesting that Jesus seems to support the idea (Matt. 19), as does Paul (1 Cor. 7), of it being better to not get married.

So is it sin to divorce, remarry, or both? If yes, are they "one time sins" or is living in that state "living in continuous sin". If it is "living in sin", then what, if any, is the correct course of action?

Like it or not, it's difficult to get by the fact that the bible has a pretty strict view on sexual relations and on marriage. While I don't know that you can quite say God equates sexual relations with marriage, they are certainly very closely related (see Exodus 22:16 for example). This coincides with the idea that the marriage covenant is broken when one of the partners has sex outside of that marriage. Taken this way, I think it could be said that remaining remarried is not a continual sin, because the initial act of remarrying breaks the original marriage, and therefore the second marriage is not continuously in violation of the first. It then follows that a correct course of action is not to end a second marriage by divorce.

I agree that this is not talked about as much because it is much more prevalent of an issue than homosexuality. I also think that is why the bible talks much more about marriage, divorce and adultery than it does about homosexuality. I know a number of people who are divorced for one reason or another, but who would like to get married again someday. I don't want to tell them that I think they shouldn't get married--despite their wishes--especially when I don't feel like I have a better answer as to why apart from a legalistic, "the bible says so".

So how do we respond? With many sins, we should encourage each other not to commit them before hand. I don't believe we're called to heap guilt on people for what they've done in the past. The problem with remarriage is that it is (generally) planned so far in advance. Most sins aren't publicly planned like this. While I don't think we should give grief to those who are remarried, what do you do beforehand? What if the person is a close friend or family member, and wants you to support their planned wedding?

Anonymous said...

The Bible was written by people who still thought the Earth was flat and that the Earth's orbit was heliocentric. Why do we follow a book that is so clearly outdated that it can't possible guide you on topics of online porn and gay marriage.

God isn't tied to a bible. Open your hearts and you will understand that your faith in God comes from within. Walk through life with love , kindness, and forgiveness, and you can never disappoint God.

Ken said...

Great comment anonymous! I agree that our focus should be love, kindness, and forgiveness. But I continue to find the Bible very inspiring and useful in my life, even though I don't approach it as a history or science book. Check out my post on Biblical truth.

And not to quibble, but the earth's orbit IS heliocentric (sun centered). Biblical writers believed that the earth was stationary. But I understand the point you were trying to make.

Ken said...

Great comment Doug! But part of me just wishes that we could get to a place where we were all a bit less focused on the sins of others. We seem to believe that it is every Christian's duty to identify and "call out" people's sinfulness. Jesus called the religious leaders of his time hypocrites for doing that. And that is an accusation commonly leveled against Christians even today.

Shrina said...

I agree Ken that there should be more grace/forgiveness being shown in the example that I gave; both on the part of the church who were going to disfellowship the husband for his addiction & his wife who left him because of that addiction.

I must say that I don't see Christians calling out people's sins when there is less than a biblical justification for divorce as much. I think it's much more accepted when "thing didn't work out between" so and so and their spouse. How do you say, sorry, you should only get a legal separation and never remarry uniess you have met these strict guidelines in this day and age when divorces for whatever reasons are soooo common? Like Doug said, you would come across as a bible thumping legalist and I'm not sure that the person getting the divorce (if it's not biblically justified) would not shut you out. Touchy subject to be telling someone for sure. How strict should we be? If we just encourage forgiveness & grace, where is the necessary pruning/growing/shaping discipline from the church body? I heard of one case where a guy followed his church's guidelines for him to never marry unless his wife comes back to him. And thankfully for him, she did come back to him after he waited 7yrs for her (she left him for his adultry). But how do you tell someone, sorry you can't ever remarry? Ahhh...tough call!

Anonymous said...

Regarding: "The Bible was written by people who still thought the Earth was flat"

Do you really believe that? I've regarded that to be a myth for quite some time. Here's a couple references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth
http://europeanhistory.about.com/od/historicalmyths/a/histmyths7.htm
http://www.hpcisp.com/~kls/flatearth.html
http://creation.com/the-flat-earth-myth-and-creationism

Ken said...

Not to range too far off topic, but the articles you mention seem to have nothing to do with what Biblical writers believed?

Leslie Jebaraj said...

Ken, because the Bible is explicit that adultery or abandonment are the grounds for divorce, do we believe that a spouse should put up for life with an abusive partner? What is your take? Thanks!

Ken said...

My take? No I don't think a spouse should have to put up with an abusive partner for life. Nor do I believe that they must be celibate for life if separated. I think that's a ridiculous teaching and a ridiculous way to live.

BUT, apparently this IS what the Bible says. So wrestle with that! :-)

Anonymity said...

Regardless of our views on whether or not being gay is the unforgivable sin (see matt 12:31 and just a hint, its not)we are doing so much damage to our ability to reach the gay community through all this ridiculous name calling, finger pointing, and speaking for God shit.

Think back, back to when you were a sinner. What is the difference between then and now? Jesus. Nothing more nothing less.

No one has been made perfect, yet. We all stumble and fall, yet we tell this entire segment of the population that although every other follower of Christ stumbles, they just can't.

Not only that, let us define sin. Sin is really something that separates us from God, and guess what, the church loves some sin. They love work-a-holics who spend their time running around for God, but really they just want everyone to see how much they do (we use them for setting and tearing down events, right?). They love worshipers of money because it makes it to the offering plate. They love pastors with pride because it makes the church look good.

The church is full of sinners, we just like to point out that "those" sinners are worse. Thank God I am not like that lying cheating tax collector (oops I slipped up, I meant fag, but those darn scriptures just keep popping out).

Thanks for having the courage to speak up about this.

Shrina said...

Regarding spouses having to put up with an abusive spouse or not, I've heard Christian counselors say that they could get a legal separation and give God an opportunity to change their spouse with help/counseling, etc. This would allow them to separate w/out getting an unbiblical divorce and still allow for an opportunity for change & healing. That could take a very long time though if it ever comes. No easy solution here.

Ken said...

Agreed. Forgiveness and reconciliation is always the first and best option. But at some point, a spouse must be free to move on when all else fails.

Anonymous said...

So if I'm understanding you correctly, since I am a re-married, born again Christian (the first marriage ended with my unbelieving and abusive spouse leaving and filing for divorce)and I'm committing adultery, that I should not be allowed to be a member of a church? Or to be held accountable/disciplined? Feeling QUITE condemned considering I've been married 10 years and have 5 children. Now I have adultery on my head.

Anonymous said...

2nd post. I walked away bawling after your article. My precious husband, whom I adore, was single and married me, a divorced woman and I see God's Word is true and I'm crumbling over it. I know Jesus forgives, but what does this mean for our integrity as a married couple? A beautifully, happily married couple with 5 of our own children. Moving in what I believe was Christ's will. Were we wrong? I want to please Jesus. Where do we go from here? Repent yet. Ask for forgiveness, yes. But in a way, it makes our testimony (our courtship, our "story", our testimony, all the fasting, prayin etc.) worthless. And I dare not share it. I feel guilty. I know that's not of God, but I feel guilt and sorrow. Any thoughts.

Ken said...

Hi Anonymous. I feel terrible that you have felt condemned by this discussion. That was not my intent at all.

One thing I'm wondering though... after ten years of marriage with your new spouse, is this the first time you have read these scriptures on divorce and remarriage?

The reason I'm asking is that if you have been involved in fellowship with other Christians during this time, I think it would be amazing that other Christians never mentioned these verses to you. And I mean amazing in a good way.

You see, the whole point of this blog post is to encourage Christians to be more loving and gracious toward homosexuals.

It seems, at least from my assumptions here, that the Christians in your life have been very loving and gracious toward you with regard to your divorce. It seems that they have not even brought it up? That is a beautiful thing to me. There are so many more important things for us to focus on together than that.

So when I read the heart broken sorrow in your words, I am reminded of how hurtful our words and actions can be to each other, even if we don't intend them to. And my heart breaks as well. I am so grateful that you have been spared that hurt for so long, and deeply sorry that this discussion has caused that for you now.

But I also think of the hurt and sorrow that our unnecessary judgment and condemnation of homosexuals has brought into their lives. And I wish that Christians could find it within themselves to treat homosexuals with the same love and grace that you and so many other divorcees have been blessed to receive.

If any good can come from this, I hope that perhaps the recent condemnation and sorrow you have felt from this discussion might help you empathize with those in the LGBT community who have been feeling that way for a long time.

And I would encourage you to evaluate your personal interpretation of scripture with regard to divorce AND homosexuality. Most things are not as simple or black and white as we tend to make them.

And finally, I would encourage you to focus on the important things in your life. Focus on the marriage you have, your kids, your friends and family, those less fortunate than you... be loving and kind and gracious and generous toward all you encounter. My opinion is that this is far more important to God than anything else we believers might rather worry about.

groansfromwithin said...

Hey Ken! I appreciate your comments on this issue. I have to say that I am not quite where you are at, but I think it is completely appropriate to point out the hypocrisy that often floods the conversations on sexuality. I have tension on this issue though, because I am not quite ready to concede on the Romans 1 issue which clearly is a reflection on Genesis 1. So, I find myself some what of a moderate on this issue. I have gay christian friends who I believe are sincerely Christians. but, not sure my theology is quite ready to completely affirm this lifestyle on all levels within the church...

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced that divorced people cannot remarry, if they were truly divorced in God's eyes (i.e. either their spouse committed adultery or was an unbeliever who left them). Comments? Here's a little reading for further thought.

http://www.cai.org/bible-studies/marriage-divorce-and-remarriage

If we agreed on most of the points in the link above then the anonymous poster 3-4 posts up is not an adulterer, and was free to remarry.

It wouldn't seem unreasonable to hold divorced brothers and sisters accountable if they left their spouses under other conditions than what God recognizes as allowing divorce (even though he'd rather you didn't), especially if they claimed to be a believer at the time they got divorced. If at all possible, should they not go and be reconciled with their spouse?

If a person struggle with same-sex attraction, I don't see that as much different than any other struggle against sin, but if they don't admit it as sin and work to rid their life of it, then that would be hard to acknowledge as "ok."

Ken said...

Thanks for the comments. I previously noted that the number one cause of divorce in America is financial stress. There are other less common yet more extreme causes of divorce, such as physical abuse of a spouse or child. As the Bible only allows for two possible exemptions in its ban of divorce, and since half of all marriages in this country ultimately end in divorce, it seems reasonable to assume that there may be millions of remarried couples currently living in adultery. And that is probably a low estimate.

So lets ask a really hard question. Isn't it time to start changing how we interpret these scriptures on divorce? In reality, haven't we already done that? Our actions certainly indicate that we have. We are not outraged and incensed by the terrible sin of adulterous remarriage that fills our church membership rolls. It is not a case of "hate the sin, love the sinner". We simply don't care about the sin of adulterous remarriage anymore.

For goodness sake, we understand that people have a right to move on, to continue with their lives, to make a new start, or a new family. We see it all around us all the time. And it is usually a good thing. Certainly we owe them the opportunity to at least give it a try? We all know couples who have found new spouses and have lived wonderfully loving christian lives together, blessing their children, their families, their churches, and their communities. There are many I know that I would unhesitatingly hold up as examples to others!

It is ridiculous to believe that all divorcees who don't have a Biblical exemption for their divorce must be celibate for the rest of their lives, never marrying again. And yes it IS unreasonable to suggest that we should start holding them accountable to such a dogmatic view.

So lets be honest with ourselves and admit that we are more than capable of interpreting scripture in ways that allow us to redefine sin for newer generations. We do not tell slaves that they must obey their masters. We do not tell citizens that they must submit to dictators. We do not tell women that they must wear head coverings and be silent in church. And we do not tell nonexempt divorcees that they must never remarry. We decide for ourselves what parts of the Bible we think apply to us today and what parts don't. Or we let others decide for us and we follow what they say. Either way, we still claim that we are Christians. We still claim that the Bible is true and that we try our best to follow its teachings. Its time for us to be a little more honest with ourselves about how we do it.

ddonecker said...

Ken,this may be to simple but I am divorced and remarried, my wife and I have been married 10 years now, I have repented my divorce and will not continue in a cycle of divorce as it should be with any sin.
I know several "gay Christians" who by their testimomies are now celebate, there for repented, and if not it is not my place to judge but to but to counsel.

Ken said...

I appreciate your declaration of non-judgment. But at the heart of this conversation is the way we interpret scripture. A literal interpreter would likely tell you that repenting of your divorce is not enough, but that you must also repent of your current adulterous relationship (which I assume is adulterous because you indicated that your divorce was sinful). That would require ending your current marriage, just as you suggest that gay christians must be celibate in order to be repentant.

On the other hand, if you have found a way to interpret these scriptures which allows you to remarry after a sinful divorce (even though the texts explicitly say that you can't), then I would encourage you to apply the same interpretive graciousness toward homosexuality.

Bryan said...

That is a great argument! To be honest, I've never considered it, but it makes a nice parallel.

I've always wondered why the church has such trouble when dealing with the issue of homosexuality.

Thanks for the perspective.

hildafunk said...

I know this is an old post...but I have come to the conclusion that remarriage is continuous ongoing.adultery, so much so that I broke up with my fiancé last year ( we are both innocent party divorcées). I was divorced twenty years ago by my adulterous wife. Her ex was gay. Its very painful, I am very bitter at God for showing me this truth after bringing this great girl in my life.
That being said, I do know the.burden a homosexual would have to carry if he was to forsake his or her loving relationship. I am forced into a celibate life and I have to tell people what I think is Gods will concerning remarriage, which is another burden to bare.