Concerning Marriage . . . Perspectives in the past

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Reference: Luke 16:18 )

I am going old school this evening, beloved. Our internet has been giving us problems and we have had to stare at inactive screens for too many days. I am consulting the written text for the context of this verse rather than simply looking it up online. I will probably have post this at a later point, during the brief period of time when our internet connection is good.

The sentiment and instructions on marriage for today are also “old school”. The writer of Luke has Jesus teaching some home-truths besides the statement on marriage and divorce. There is the dishonest manager who feathered his own nest when his career was put in jeopardy. He also says no slave can serve two masters, and you cannot serve wealth and God at the same time. That seems incongruous with the teaching on the dishonest manager. Then Jesus scolds the Pharisees, saying they justify themselves in the sight of others, but God knows their heart. Jesus then speaks to the longevity of the law. And we come to this teaching on marriage. Finally the story of the rich man who finds himself in Hades while the poor beggar, upon death, finds himself transported to Heaven. The rich man begs Father Abraham to intercede for him and get him a drink of water. When that is denied, he begs that someone go to tell is brothers to mend their ways. That is refused also. And the chapter ends.

Both the historic Anabaptist and the historical Hutterites felt the sanctity of marriage was unshakable – much the same as the laws are. They also felt that if one spouse in a marriage was a non-believer (this we can safely assume happened because one spouse converted. Current believers were actively encouraged NOT to marry a non-believer.) if that spouse allowed his/her marriage partner to continue in the faith, the marriage need not end. But if the unbelieving spouse (the historic Anabaptists assume it is the wife who believes) hinders the believing spouse, the marriage should be dissolved. However the wife, they say, must remain single so as to not commit adultery.

It is interesting than that the verse about marriage and divorce is followed by a parable of a poor person who receives reward in heaven because of his suffering and a rich person who did not fulfill the duties of compassion who is sent to Hades. Do you see/sense the context that this short verse on marriage and divorce is placed in?

Since I could not access other translations online, I went back to look at what I wrote five years ago. And was pleasantly surprised to see that I had quoted the verse just before verse 18 from The Message. Equally please I saw that The Message links those verses (verses 14 to 17) to verse 18. I was able to do a cut and paste so I can share with you verses 14 to 18.

When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch. So Jesus spoke to them: “You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance. What society sees and calls monumental, God sees through and calls monstrous. God’s Law and the Prophets climaxed in John; Now it’s all kingdom of God—the glad news and compelling invitation to every man and woman. The sky will disintegrate and the earth dissolve before a single letter of God’s Law wears out. Using the legalities of divorce as a cover for lust is adultery; Using the legalities of marriage as a cover for lust is adultery.“

It illuminates a possible reason for the placement of verse 18 and gives rationale for NOT taking verse 18 as a straightforward injunction against divorce and remarriage. Again, I am deferring my opinion on that issue. But if your internet connection is good you can search for that posting from Sept 11, 2009.

May you beloved read scripture with diligence and care, seeking the truth with the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Selah!

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About Carole Boshart

I have two blogs on WordPress. "A Simple Desire" which is based on the daily "Sips of Scripture" published and sent out by Third Way Cafe. "Pondering From the Pacific" is based on my reflections on the world - sometimes religious/spiritual, and sometimes not so much.

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