June 23rd, 2007

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Divorce Matt. 5:31-32

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Jesus also condemns divorce. It appears that generally divorce reflects a failure of one or two persons to be beatitude persons. That is, they fail to show mercy, live out of a pure heart, and/or be a peacemaker. Can you think of a divorce where the couple had actively lived the beatitude life. Perhaps, one partner did, but not two. Right?

Jesus continues that in his day a divorced woman was stigmatized and was likely to have a bad future. Most of the time students of the Bible have treated this statement by Jesus as those it was a new law of the kind given by Moses. A new legalist phariseeism has been the result.

One element in this has been a discussion about whether a new couple where one or both have been divorced commits adultery anytime that they have intercourse, or if this is a sin only on the initial occasion.

I fear that this one of the many times when we have stressed the letter and missed the spirit. I hear Jesus saying that divorce is not good. Does the spirit of the law have anything to say to us here. I

First, among some Christians there has been a tendency to treat divorce as an “unpardonable sin”. Yet, most of us know divorced persons who are living godly lives and making good contributions to the churches and to the kingdom of God. We also know couples where one or both of the persons in a new marriage have been divorced who are wonderful Christians.

So, rather than looking at this passage and trying to figure out how to make some divorces and some divorced persons OK, or acceptable, perhaps we need to just declare it to be a sin, but see that like almost any other sin, God will forgive. Then work redemptively with those who have been divorced to help them become effective kingdom people.

What I am attempting to say is that I fear that often Christians become “neo-pharisees” in that we treat the teachings of Jesus as law, and we as lawyers, need to apply it to a given situation, perhaps finding a way to forgive the divorce because of other circumstances. Is it not better to say boldly that it is sin; to ask God for forgiveness; learn from it; and then get back into the task of becoming a good disciple of Jesus?