Awhile ago I was on a discussion site which was discussion the issue of divorce. It always amazes me how this subject gets so "heated". Suddenly there are those who are supposed to be apostles of grace get right into rule keeping, guilt and condemnation and I find it truly sad.
That said, I am a lot more interested in the big picture of the significance of Jesus than I am the details of any controversial passage. Let me give you an example:
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (John 4:15-18)
I am not quoting all of this story, because the majority of the people here know it well. It’s one of the great chapters of the Bible, and it is a great “big picture” passage. The woman’s sexual past, marital history, Samaritan ethnicity and gender were of no particular interest to Jesus. What was important? This woman was filling up her life with substitutes for the significance and love of her true husband, Yahweh. She needed living water, and she needed the one who gives water without cost and without deserving it. She needed to believe in God’s messiah, and come to receive from him, eternal life in all its dimensions.
That’s how I understand Jesus. The primary thing is not that I have screwed up my life, and may continue to do so. That’s a given. The primary thing is Jesus himself, and the Gospel that comes to me in him alone.
I used to work at a store where several Christians worked. One of the guys we Christian folk witnessed to was a young man who was divorced and remarried. One evening, another Christian- a Church of Christ guy- and I were talking religion with this fellow, and the Church of Christ guy said that if Harold became a Christian, he would need to go back to his first wife and remarry her!
Yes, you read that right. Now, what was this person thinking of? He was thinking of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 and 19. There had been no adultery. The guys marriage broke up, and he tried again. That did not matter to the Church of Christ guy. The marriage was illegitimate and needed to be abandoned, and the first marriage restored. Then God would be happy, of course, because that’s what God is all about: people repenting correctly.
I think that if the Church of Christ guy had been at the well with this woman and Jesus, he would have listened, and when Jesus left, he would have said, “Lady….let me add a few things to what Jesus said here. Your various arrangements have all been sinful, and if you become a believer in the messiah, you will need to go back to husband #1, if you can find him, and make that marriage work again, no matter what. Repentance is very important to real faith, and we cannot overlook these illegitimate sinful relationships. That would be a bad witness.”
Of course, that would be really stupid, but it would be taking the verses seriously. Not the Gospel, but the verses. The problem with divorce and remarriage is that there is no comprehensive writing on the subject in the bible. What I'm saying is that no writer sat down and wrote an entire discourse on the whole subject of marriage. What you get is bits and pieces in response to particular questions. We are left to put the whole together.
I not against people being convicted against remarriage for sure. I am convicted against drinking for example in my case, but I don't attempt to make it a law for others. But this is the conclusion I've come up with under guidance of the Holy Spirit ...
God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16
If you seek answers to divorce according to the law, then you will be condemned by the law.
If you confess your sin…and seek His forgiveness, you will be forgiven by His Eternal Grace.
Your choice: Guilt or Grace!?
Christ died as our punishment. He who knew no sin, became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
How cool is that?!