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What is the right way to interpret Jesus' teachings regarding divorce?

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#1
I was thinking about this recently. if you were to compare a Protestant Bible (i.e. NIV) to a Catholic Bible (New American), there is a difference in how the translations deal with pornea with NIV translating it as adultery and the Catholic Bible translating it as unlawful marriage.

The idea behind the Catholic translation is that Jewish law forbade marriages (i.e. man marrying his aunt) that were common and accepted in the Greco-Roman world. The argument is similarly made when looking at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. There the apostles issue regulations to guide Gentile Christians in not doing things that would especially offend Jewish Christians. They forbid consuming blood, eating meat sacrificed to idols, meat of strangled animals, and pornea. Adultery was looked down in Greco-Roman marriages (maybe not quite as much as Jewish, I don't know) so translating pornea as adultery or general sexual immorality doesn't seem right to me. I think the Catholic unlawful marriage translation is better.

What do others think?
 
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#2
Divorce is an unfortunate result/consequence of marriage, in many cases.
Divorce is usually bitter, regretful, and can in some cases have the same emotional impact as losing a loved one.
"legalist" type Christians, love to use scriptures to try to wound and condemn and harm any who have been divorced and would have them live a life trapped within regretful loneliness and isolation till they are old and dead, vs as "2nd marriage".
Fortunately, we serve a Loving God, who loves us unconditionally, and who absolutely understands all our faults and shortcomings, (and saved you anyway).....and who always gives grace and comfort and of course many 2nd chances, even regarding marriage.
And no, ive never been divorced.
 
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#3
I respectfully disagree with you. Jesus said that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. We should take those words seriously as there are possible eternal consequences at stake.

This has nothing to do with legalism. It has everything to do with Jesus and what he taught. We aren't supposed to give up and say "that's too hard" when Jesus presents us with a tough teaching. We're supposed to rise to the occasion.

having said all that, back to the original question. What do folk think is the right way to interpret Jesus' words in Matthew? And a second question: how do we reconcile Matthew with Mark where the prohibition on divorce is absolute?
 
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#4
I was thinking about this recently. if you were to compare a Protestant Bible (i.e. NIV) to a Catholic Bible (New American), there is a difference in how the translations deal with pornea with NIV translating it as adultery and the Catholic Bible translating it as unlawful marriage.

The idea behind the Catholic translation is that Jewish law forbade marriages (i.e. man marrying his aunt) that were common and accepted in the Greco-Roman world. The argument is similarly made when looking at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. There the apostles issue regulations to guide Gentile Christians in not doing things that would especially offend Jewish Christians. They forbid consuming blood, eating meat sacrificed to idols, meat of strangled animals, and pornea. Adultery was looked down in Greco-Roman marriages (maybe not quite as much as Jewish, I don't know) so translating pornea as adultery or general sexual immorality doesn't seem right to me. I think the Catholic unlawful marriage translation is better.

What do others think?
Greetings gtrudeau, If you are a born again believer, what does the Spirit say to your heart as to what is right? It is not about denominations, it is about (1 Cor. 13:1-13). It is about mercy and grace through love John 8:1-11).
In His Eternal Mercy and Grace,
Douglas Summers
 
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#5
Scripture says the human heart is deceitful, who can trust it? Christians are just as notorious as anyone else for lying to oneself so I do not want to base my understanding of Scripture on what the Spirit says to my heart. I accept the Catholic position because it seems the most reasonable and the only way to reconcile Jesus's divorce teachings in Matthew with Mark.

You mentioned "It is about mercy and grace through love". It's also about taking sin seriously (i.e. "repent or perish" - Luke 13:5) and taking Jesus at his word.

I asked this question not to start some Catholic vs. Protestant debate. I truly don't care about that. I do care about peoples' souls. Accept the Catholic position and quite possibly the souls of many remarried people (Catholic, Protestant, whatever) are in danger. Jesus said in Mark "whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery".

I'm asking a serious question and I'll ask it again. How does a good Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian, trying to be faithful to the Scriptures, handle the passage in Matthew in light of my exegesis above? And how are Matthew and Mark to be reconciled?

Lastly, I'll admit that this thread should have been put in the Bible Study forum and not here. I didn't notice the Bible Study forum when I first joined. Sorry about that.
 
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#6
I think you've made an interesting point. I read something...I think by Pope John Paul II...on what he termed the "culture of death." Its been a while since I read over it, but...his point was that Protestants have let death seep into their churches thru contraception, divorce, abortion, etc., and the culture as a whole has pretty much been taken over.

So...your point, about an "unlawful marriage," is an interesting one. Is that part of the basis for the RCC annulment process? I never did really understand it, honestly.
 
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#7
I was thinking about this recently. if you were to compare a Protestant Bible (i.e. NIV) to a Catholic Bible (New American), there is a difference in how the translations deal with pornea with NIV translating it as adultery and the Catholic Bible translating it as unlawful marriage.

The idea behind the Catholic translation is that Jewish law forbade marriages (i.e. man marrying his aunt) that were common and accepted in the Greco-Roman world. The argument is similarly made when looking at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. There the apostles issue regulations to guide Gentile Christians in not doing things that would especially offend Jewish Christians. They forbid consuming blood, eating meat sacrificed to idols, meat of strangled animals, and pornea. Adultery was looked down in Greco-Roman marriages (maybe not quite as much as Jewish, I don't know) so translating pornea as adultery or general sexual immorality doesn't seem right to me. I think the Catholic unlawful marriage translation is better.

What do others think?
I came here GT.
Your question is not specifically about divorce.
Pornea, of course, is where we get the word pornography from.
I believe you're referring to Acts 15:20
NASB
20but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.

As you see, the NASB says fornication. The YLT says Whoredom and my Italian Catholic Bible says fornication.

I fail to see what marriage has to do with this??
My NIV says Sexual Immorality.
 
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#8
I think you've made an interesting point. I read something...I think by Pope John Paul II...on what he termed the "culture of death." Its been a while since I read over it, but...his point was that Protestants have let death seep into their churches thru contraception, divorce, abortion, etc., and the culture as a whole has pretty much been taken over.

So...your point, about an "unlawful marriage," is an interesting one. Is that part of the basis for the RCC annulment process? I never did really understand it, honestly.
CE
The culture of death has also seeped into the Protestant churches. It seems to be all over.

Re the annulment process. Without getting too much into it, let me just say that it is not to annul a valid marriage, it is to annul a marriage that really never took place because there was something amiss in the promises of the ceremony.

For instance, a woman might have told a man that she wished to have children, but then AFTER the marriage she told him she did NOT want children. This is a good reason for an annulment to be issued because the marriage happened under false premises.

I'll let GT take over since your question was specifically to him.
 
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#9
I respectfully disagree with you. Jesus said that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. We should take those words seriously as there are possible eternal consequences at stake.

This has nothing to do with legalism. It has everything to do with Jesus and what he taught. We aren't supposed to give up and say "that's too hard" when Jesus presents us with a tough teaching. We're supposed to rise to the occasion.

having said all that, back to the original question. What do folk think is the right way to interpret Jesus' words in Matthew? And a second question: how do we reconcile Matthew with Mark where the prohibition on divorce is absolute?
If you bring up Mathew and Mark this is how it is in protestantism...
In Mathew Jesus says EXCEPT for sexual immorality, or adultery since there is marriage involved. In Mark there is no exception.

Protestantism believes the POSITIVE in Mathew is more forceful than the NEGATIVE in Mark (or is it the other way around?)...

We believe that if there is adultery, the husband or the wife CAN ask for a divorce.
This is because they've defiled the marriage bed and have broken the marriage covenant. The Covenant must be upheld by both parties, if it is broken, it no longer exists.

I'd also like to hear others. But this is the Protestant belief.

I also know the Catholic doctrine on this.
 
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#10
I was thinking about this recently. if you were to compare a Protestant Bible (i.e. NIV) to a Catholic Bible (New American), there is a difference in how the translations deal with pornea with NIV translating it as adultery and the Catholic Bible translating it as unlawful marriage.

The idea behind the Catholic translation is that Jewish law forbade marriages (i.e. man marrying his aunt) that were common and accepted in the Greco-Roman world. The argument is similarly made when looking at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. There the apostles issue regulations to guide Gentile Christians in not doing things that would especially offend Jewish Christians. They forbid consuming blood, eating meat sacrificed to idols, meat of strangled animals, and pornea. Adultery was looked down in Greco-Roman marriages (maybe not quite as much as Jewish, I don't know) so translating pornea as adultery or general sexual immorality doesn't seem right to me. I think the Catholic unlawful marriage translation is better.

What do others think?
The concept of an "unlawful marriage" would include marrying someone who was already married. (bigamy)

Matthew reports Jesus' words at two places.
Mat 5:32 (NKJV) “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality (or "fornication") causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
Mat 19:9 (NKJV) “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality(or "fornication"), and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

In Koine Greek, the word translated "sexual immorality" or "fornication" is "πορνείας" (porneias). Vine's Expository Dictionary of the New Testament gives the word the meaning of "illicit sexual intercourse."

iakov the fool
 
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#11
I think it also depends upon the Protestant church. I grew up liberal Presbyterian. Marriage is not a sacarament, but rather a contract with spiritual significance. Divorce was to be avoided, but was OK if the situation was unbearable. One sees the move away from marriage as a sacrament with the rise of Protestantism. Many of the early colonies made divorce possible, although it was often too expensive for most people.

Divorce is a major problem, and the "no fault" way of going about divorce has helped contribute to the "feminization of poverty" (women and kids often slide into poverty after a divorce).
 
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#12
I think it also depends upon the Protestant church. I grew up liberal Presbyterian. Marriage is not a sacarament, but rather a contract with spiritual significance. Divorce was to be avoided, but was OK if the situation was unbearable. One sees the move away from marriage as a sacrament with the rise of Protestantism. Many of the early colonies made divorce possible, although it was often too expensive for most people.

Divorce is a major problem, and the "no fault" way of going about divorce has helped contribute to the "feminization of poverty" (women and kids often slide into poverty after a divorce).
Well sure. A contract could be broken.
But if the marriage is in a church and God, necessarily, is present, then it becomes a covenant and not a contract. A covenant with God cannot be broken...

The CC , BTW, does allow divorce in some cases. Maybe the O.P. would like to get into this later.
 
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#13
[QUOTE="
We believe that if there is adultery, the husband or the wife CAN ask for a divorce.
This is because they've defiled the marriage bed and have broken the marriage covenant. The Covenant must be upheld by both parties, if it is broken, it no longer exists."

[/QUOTE]

Your postings are very thoughful. Thank you.

I think you make the mistake of thinking about marriage in contractual terms instead of as a true covenant. A contract is an exchange of goods or services. If one party fails to keep their part of the contract the contract is breached and the other party is not bound to keep the terms of the contract. A covenant is an exchange of persons, a complete giving of oneself to another. This is exampled in the OT by God giving of himself to his people and expecting complete fidelity to him in return. See Ezekial 16 (the whole chapter). Even when Israel violated the covenant the covenant wasn't terminated. In fact it was renewed (verses 59-63). That is why the RCC considers a marriage covenant permanent.

By the way I should mention that divorce isn't really the main point of my question. It is the validity of remarriage after a divorce. The RCC would never say that a wife getting whomped on by her husband can't leave him, saving her own life. Sometimes a civil divorce is absolutely necessary. The question is whether or not a Christian can remarry without committing adultery.

GT
 
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#14
The concept of an "unlawful marriage" would include marrying someone who was already married. (bigamy)

Matthew reports Jesus' words at two places.
Mat 5:32 (NKJV) “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality (or "fornication") causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
Mat 19:9 (NKJV) “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality(or "fornication"), and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

In Koine Greek, the word translated "sexual immorality" or "fornication" is "πορνείας" (porneias). Vine's Expository Dictionary of the New Testament gives the word the meaning of "illicit sexual intercourse."

iakov the fool
Thanks for the Greek lesson.
 
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#15
Scripture says the human heart is deceitful, who can trust it? Christians are just as notorious as anyone else for lying to oneself so I do not want to base my understanding of Scripture on what the Spirit says to my heart.
Hi gtrudeau, This is foreign to the born again believer. This is the human heart that is discerning and lying...I'm talking about the Spirit you received when you accepted Christ and that heart, this has nothing to do with what church you joined...there are no denominations in heaven. I'm speaking of Spiritual matters...not carnal. (1 Cor. 2:14-16). So if a person has a deceitful heart and is lying to himself (and God), the rest of the Scripture says "The heart is deceitful above all things, and , desperately wicked; who can know it. I the Lord, search the heart, I test the conscience, even to give every man according to His ways, and according to the fruit of his doing (Jer. 17:9-10). All who are of the flesh fit under this., But the born again believer does not! (The Epistle of 1 John) for Scripture reference and I, Douglas Summers as a witness of the Holy Spirit (not I but Christ in me)....You must be born again.
In Christ, who alone gave His life for us....and was resurrected to be the first fruits of us who are called. Our wisdom, knowledge and righteousness are not ours, it is Christ's (1 Cor. 1:29-31). Please study the Scriptures, they are living words...living in us, though we may hinder or grieve it, nevertheless, it is always there, either condemning us or excusing us of our walk in Christ.
Douglas Summers
 
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#16
Well sure. A contract could be broken.
But if the marriage is in a church and God, necessarily, is present, then it becomes a covenant and not a contract. A covenant with God cannot be broken...

The CC , BTW, does allow divorce in some cases. Maybe the O.P. would like to get into this later.
Saw this after I replied to an earlier posting of yours. Yes the church allows civil divorce at times. The CC does not expect a woman to get beaten up by her husband and just stay with him and take it. The question to be answered though is whether remarriage after a divorce is acceptable or does it create an adulterous situation.
 
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#17
Saw this after I replied to an earlier posting of yours. Yes the church allows civil divorce at times. The CC does not expect a woman to get beaten up by her husband and just stay with him and take it. The question to be answered though is whether remarriage after a divorce is acceptable or does it create an adulterous situation.
It creates an adulterous situation.
 
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#18
I agree. What brought this on my mind, apart from the Matthew passage, was reading about the Christian divorce rate in the United States. It ranges from like 21% for Lutherans, to 24% for Catholics, to 29% for Baptists, to 33% for non-denominational Christians. I was reading an article which basically said that rather than screaming about gay marriage bringing on the end of the family, Christians should work on getting their own house in order regarding divorce. It's hard to argue with the author of that.

GT
 
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#19
I agree. What brought this on my mind, apart from the Matthew passage, was reading about the Christian divorce rate in the United States. It ranges from like 21% for Lutherans, to 24% for Catholics, to 29% for Baptists, to 33% for non-denominational Christians. I was reading an article which basically said that rather than screaming about gay marriage bringing on the end of the family, Christians should work on getting their own house in order regarding divorce. It's hard to argue with the author of that.

GT
Actually, I've been hearing the same argument.
And it makes sense.
In a way I believe that we entered into "politics" too late.
Way back in the 60's and 70's we never thought it would come to this...
but here we are. Our morals were not enough to hold back divorce, SS marriage, etc.
Because we went from a society that believed in absolute morals to subjective morals, and so Christianity was hit head on with two big forces which have created many evils.

So now how do we go back? How do we get our house in order?
Young people talk about living together as if it were the most natural thing to do.
The CC is making changes regarding giving communion to remarrieds, thus changing an important doctrine. I know some say no doctrine has been changed, but I believe it certainly has.

And how do we deal with a young woman with two children -- her husband leaves her. Is she to be alone forever? Should the non-responsible party get a break?
Francis seems to think so.

I'm becoming a bit confused myself.
What do YOU think?
You sure have studied enough...!
 
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#20
not to sound snobby, but I think social class issues probably explain alot of the divorce rate variation. that and some other key factors--age at first marriage, education level--are good predictors of marital (in)stability, at the macro-level.

i do sometimes wonder if the RCC way of -doing- Christianity might help marital stability. Community is key. A focus on family and a good support system can help buffer stress that might otherwise lead to divorce. along the same lines, it seems the catholics have lower suicide rates than Protestants...that's an observation first noted way back in the late 19th century, with Emile Durkheim. Community integration, family bonds, being involved in something bigger than Self...key to reducing crime, divorce, deviance, suicide, etc.

From a theological standpoint, I think the RCC approach has much to recommend it. I look at where PCUSA has gone, where some other mainline denominations have gone, and how the RCC may not be perfect, but they're something of a light in the darkness. "You shall know a tree by the fruit it bears." something like that.