Divorce, Remarriage and Ministry: The OT Foundation – Does God Hate All Divorce?

In part 1 of this study, I proposed attempting to answer three questions.  Is divorce ever permissible for an obedient follower of Christ?  If divorce is permitted, is remarriage also permitted?  Is one who is divorced permitted to hold a position of leadership (pastor, elder, deacon) in a church.  In this post, we will examine the Old Testament foundation for marriage and divorce.  In the next post, we will look at the key OT passage on divorce in Deuteronomy.

As I have examined the biblical evidence on the subject, I have become convinced that while there was a process of development in the biblical teaching on marriage and divorce issues, there are some common themes that run throughout.  God honors marriage, but also, because of the hardness of man’s heart, provides a framework for dealing with those situations in which the ideal cannot be realized.

The Old Testament Evidence

Women did not generally have a place of prominence in Ancient Near Eastern society. Biblical teachings on marriage and divorce must be seen against that background.  Women were essentially glorified slaves, property bought from the father, and replaced at the whim of the husband. Divorce was generally available to men at their whim and pleasure.  A well-known Jewish tradition permitted a man to divorce his wife for burning his food.  The woman had no right to divorce, any more than a slave could sell his master. Men were free to use or abuse their wives in just about any way they desired.  God’s Law gave protection to women and limited a man’s right to treat his wife capriciously or with cruelty.  Most of the OT laws and guidelines about divorce seem designed mostly to limit men’s capricious and cruel treatment of women.

One note on methodology is needed.  We are going to look at the Old Testament evidence on divorce, but not in chronological or biblical order.  We are looking at them in an order that seems logical to me in laying down the fundamental Old Testament teachings on divorce.

God’s Original Intent

A Blessed Partnership – Genesis 2:24 

In Genesis 2:24, we see the clearest revelation of the original intent of God in marriage.  No matter how far mankind has strayed from that intent, it remains God’s perfect design.  A man was to separate from his parents to partner with his wife and they would become one with each other.  In God’s paradise, marriage would have been a satisfying and pleasurable partnership and divorce would have been unthinkable.

Unfortunately, sin entered God’s world and messed up God’s perfect plan. The world became corrupt with sin. There is no record of the first divorce, but it is clear that divorce is a result of the fall of man into sin. Sin cursed the physical world with all sorts of disasters; it cursed men with fruitless toil, women with pain in labor; it cursed the spirit of man with death; and it cursed marriage with the specter of failure and divorce.

Several things are clear in this passage.  First of all, monogamy was the intent of God.  A man was to leave home and marry “his wife.”  There is no hint that polygamy was what God intended.  One of the most common questions I get when I teach from the OT is why God allowed polygamy.  I don’t really have a good answer for that.  Perhaps the answer is in the same neighborhood as Jesus’ teaching that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of sinful hearts.  But it is clear that polygamy was not part of God’s original plan and by the time the full revelation of the NT came, that was made clear.

It should hardly need to be said, but in this sinful culture it must be – marriage is intended to involve a man and a woman.  While this study is not about homosexuality, it cannot be argued that God’s intent in creation was for homosexuality to be an option.  Homosexuality is a result of the fall not of God’s creation.  We should minister to homosexuals with compassion, but we cannot approve a lifestyle contrary to the will of God.

Perhaps the clearest teaching here is that marriage was intended to be a blessed partnership, not open warfare.  God meant for a man and woman to become one – united in body, in soul and in spirit.  I noticed a trend in recent years at weddings.  Now, when people do the unity candle, they often leave the original candles lit.  In days gone by, they were usually extinguished.  The symbolism is clear.  People today want to have independent, separate lives and then come together a share a small part with their husband or wife.  Biblical marriage was a complete joining of the two into one.

This is the hopeful word in all this.  We will be discussing divorce.  It is a brutal act, severing two people meant to be one as long as they live.  It is depressing to talk about it.  But, when I have counseled couples considering divorce, I have been able to give them this advice.  God is on the side of lifelong, blessed, contented, fulfilling marriage.  If two people will both give themselves to God and to each other, God becomes your ally in making the marriage work.  I have seen God work in marvelous ways when people gave Him the opportunity by looking to Him.  Marriage in this world is not easy.  But we are not alone in the world.  We have the power of Almighty God at work in us to sustain us and help us.

Marriage in a fallen world may not be perfect, but God will work to rebuild what sin has broken.  Marriage is still God’s will and He blesses those who seek Him in it.

God’s Attitude toward Divorce

            What does God think about divorce?  Most would start and finish their study in Malachi 2:10-16, where God says “I hate divorce.”  But there is other Scripture that must be balanced here.  The biblical attitude toward divorce is much more nuanced than many have seen. Those who make dogmatic declarations about divorce and remarriage may be doing so on less than the full biblical evidence.

 God Hates Divorce – Malachi 2:10-16

For many, this verse is formative, a clear denunciation of divorce from the mouth of God.  One major commentator says that this passage is the foundation for a biblical view of divorce.  God states unequivocally, ‘‘I hate divorce’’.  And I am not going to argue differently.  Whenever there is a divorce, it is evidence that sin has taken place and that the gift he gave us – companionship, partnership and pleasure as a man and a woman are united as one – has been rejected.  Someone has violated God’s will and that which God has made as one has been torn apart into two.  It is a psychic amputation. All of this grieves the heart of God.  He hates sin and all its effects.  God hates divorce.

But the problem here is simple.  The statement in this passage, “God hates divorce” is not in the original text.  It is a bad translation and you will not find the phrase in newer translations.

The divorce in this passage was a particularly heinous form of divorce.  Men were leaving their Israelites wives and marrying Canaanite women.  Not only were they leaving the wives of their youth, but they were joining to women who would lead them into idolatry.  It was the pattern Israel had followed in the period of the Judges and Kings and God did not want that to happen again.  Israelite men were not only divorcing their wives, but were flirting again with the idolatry that brought such destruction on the people.

But, as I said, there are some significant problems with the common interpretation of the verse.  First of all, the divorce in question here is a particularly odious form of divorce – Israelite men were divorcing their Hebrew wives to unite to idolatrous women of Canaan, in direct opposition to God’s Word.  If the traditional interpretation was accurate, it might not have been a blanket statement but instead a specific admonition.  It is not a verse on which to hang the whole of a theology of divorce.

Here’s the kicker.  The quote, “I hate divorce” is a bad translation of what the original Hebrew said.  Newer translations have given what is probably a better rendering of the verse.  It seems clear that God is not the subject of the verb “hate.”  It is not God who hates divorce in this passage, but a man who hates and subsequently divorces his wife.  Let us examine this verse in brief detail.

After the opening conjunction, the verse throws three verbs together in a row.  Literally, it says “For he hates to divorce, says the Lord.”  The verbs “hate” and “divorce” mostly likely identify the man who is the subject of the main clause later in the verse, “covers his garment with violence.”  In the context, it probably means, “For he who hates (his wife) to (the point that) he divorces (her), says the Lord, covers his garment with violence…”

The first verb, “hates” is a different verb than was used in Malachi 1:3 (Esau I hated).  This verb is more visceral.  It speaks to someone having an emotional disgust.  In this context, it refers to a man who treats his wife as if she were refuse, throwing her away in divorce to marry a Canaanite woman.

It is a third person verb, “he hates.”  This is key to the understanding of the verse.  If God is the subject of the verb, and God is speaking, why does He not say, “I hate divorce.”  God is not the subject of the verb.  The subject is “he.”  Who is “he?”  The person who despises his wife to whom he committed himself, divorces her and finds a pagan, foreign wife – he is the subject of this verse.

That does not change the fact that God hates the kind of divorce that is going on in this situation, a man leaving his wife for another woman (or vice-versa, I assume).  But there is no blanket statement in this verse that governs all our discussions on divorce.  It seems that what is arousing the ire of God here is the infidelity of Israelite men.  Not only were they leaving their wives, but they would soon be worshiping Canaanite gods.  That is the focus of this passage.

So, to summarize, this verse makes it clear that God was angered by Israelite men leaving their wives for pagan, Canaanite women.  This buttresses the original intent of marriage: one man and one woman, sharing a lifetime together.  But, this verse is not the authoritative, blanket condemnation of all divorce that some have made it out to be.

God Commands Divorce – Ezra 9-10

This verse, addressing a situation very similar to the one in Malachi 2:16, is a strange verse and is hard for some people to swallow.  In this passage, God commands Israelite men to divorce their pagan wives and return to their Israelite wives.  Through Ezra, the leader of Israel, God commanded divorce.  If the men were going to be right with God, they would have to divorce the foreign women they had married.

I know this is a special and unique situation.  My only point in bringing this up is that it proves that divorce is not ALWAYS a sin.  Here, to stay married was the sin; the sin was NOT to divorce.  In a sinful world, the ideal of God is not always possible.  In this situation, the will of God was that men divorce their pagan wives.

If all divorce is always wrong in every situation, then why did God command the people to get divorces? Would not that make it necessary to say that God told the people to sin? It is absurd to say that God commanded sin. It is equally absurd then to say that God opposes all divorce. Here, He clearly approved of it.

Why did God authorize divorce here?  Because the marriages were founded on sin and could not be made righteous.  There is no such thing in God’s eyes as a “no-fault divorce.”  But sometimes, man’s sin causes situations in which the best option, perhaps the only option is divorce.  Divorce is never God’s ideal and no man or woman of God should seek a divorce except in the most extreme and impossible of circumstances.  But, at least in one situation in this passage, and I believe in other situations, human sin makes divorce an undesirable but acceptable option.  Jesus mentioned this when he said that Moses made divorce exceptions “because of the hardness of man’s heart.”

On the other hand, if two people will confess their sin and accept God’s forgiveness, no marriage is beyond repair.  Divorce may be an option only when the heart of one or both of the marriage partners is so hardened in sin that no reconciliation is possible.

I would make one other observation here.  The intent of the command was that these men would divorce their foreign wives and return to Israelite women.  When God authorizes divorce, remarriage is also authorized.  It was God’s will that they not only divorce, but remarry as well.

There is no doubt that this is a unique situation and it would be a mistake to make this passage a formative teaching on divorce and remarriage.  However, it does establish some truths beyond contestation.  First, there is at least one time in which divorce was the will of God.  I am going to argue that there are other times when divorce is within God’s will as well.  But this passage is clear that there was at least one time when God commanded divorce.  I would also point out something that will become more significant in later discussions.  A divinely-approved divorce seems to imply the right to remarry.

God Divorced Israel – Jeremiah 3, Isaiah 50:1

In several prophetic passages, God refers to the destruction ofIsraelandJudahas if it were a divorce.  God is the aggrieved husband who has put up with his wife’s infidelity, then finally divorces her.

While this is another anomalous passage, and cannot be used definitively in this debate, it does lead to a poignant question.  Why, if divorce is always a sin, does God describe Himself as divorcingIsrael?  If divorce is a sin 100% of the time, this seems to be a strange choice as a  figure of speech.

Summary

In these verses, we catch a glimpse into God’s heart about divorce.  It is certainly contrary to His intent.  When a divorce takes place, one party or both have committed grievous sin.  Without sin there is no divorce and no Christian should seek the easy way out of a marriage.

But that does not mean that all divorce is sin.  The Ezra verse, and to a lesser extent the prophetic divorce ofIsrael, illustrate the principle that sometimes, in a sinful world, divorce may be an acceptable alternative.

Here are the principles I see here:

1) God’s intent was that marriage be a permanent partnership of joy.  God’s will (to which end God also works by his power) is that marriage be a source of blessing.  God desires marriage to work.

2) There is at least one situation in which God commands divorce.  Divorce is not necessary to those who seek God, nor is it the desired course.  But in a sinful world, there are times when it is permitted by God.  There exists no universal biblical prohibition against divorce.

3) In the Ezra passage, God not only commanded divorce but also remarriage.  Those who say that remarriage is never permitted are making prohibitions beyond what the scripture makes – at least in one situation.

Permanent intent of marriage. Permissive exceptions because of sin.  Remarriage permitted.  Those are the theme revealed in these passages which wind through the OT revelation, the words of Jesus and the teachings of the apostles.

Comments

  1. Bruce H says

    Even though divorce is permitted by some it never severs the oneness produced by God in a marriage. That person will always be there. If we spent as much time proving the will of God for our partner we may never have a divorce. Once we know our partner is from God we would better understand the purpose of marriage in the first place. Where else can we be conformed to the image of Christ through the height of joys and the humility of sufferings than within the origional marriage. Quitting only starts the process over again.

  2. cb scott says

    “Even though divorce is permitted by some…”

    Bruce H. By your use of the word “some” are you of the position that the Scripture (or God Himself might be a better way to state the question) never gives circumstances wherein divorce is sanctioned or permissible?

    • Bruce H says

      I believe divorce is sanctioned or permissible either by infidelity or the nonbeliever leaving. I used the word “some” for the sake of those who believe for or against divorce. My personal belief is that God has joined two to make one for His glory and that affect on the human conscience, spirit and soul is inseparable until death. It doesn’t matter what God “permits”, there is a continued after effect of divorce that does not go away. I think that is why Jesus said, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” God created the physical and also the metaphysical. The use of marriage is really beyond our true comprehension because it deals with things our hands cannot handle nor be placed in test tubes.

      I happen to be divorced. My wife became mentally ill at age 35 and it grew worse; Major Depressive and Schizophrenia (Watch “A Beautiful Mind”). The only legal control to get her evaluated was in divorce court. The judge had us psychologically evaluated. She was given medication to control the anxiety and thoughts but it was not enough. She chose to proceed with the divorce. She felt that I was part of a conspiracy against her and she needed to get away from me and her family. She has now stabilized a little after 12 years but not enough. I have since remarried. There are only a few places in the church we will serve due to divorce. I strongly believe in the commitment to marriage and do not use this as an excuse. It just happened that way and cannot be reversed.

      • cb scott says

        Bruce H.,

        This comment is really rather strange to me coming from you. Recently you made a lot of comments on another post about you believing God led you to marry only some one of your specific race? Maybe my memory is wrong here, if so correct me.

        Was the first or the second wife the one of which you were in reference in your past comments, or both?

        But lay that aside for a moment? I have a problem with what you stated here as to the reasons you divorced your wife. I have a problem with divorce due to sickness of any kind. Maybe that’s just me.

        • Bruce H says

          Your memory is correct. Both. The first had more Irish and the present has a little more Indian.

          I do not disagree with the sickness issue. Mental illness is listed as a sickness and is lumped into the whole of all sickness, however, mental illness should be in a class of its own. There is physical sickness that affects one’s health and there is a mental sickness that affects one’s moral ability to place things in the right order. After the divorce, my wife went to live in East Texas in her mother’s single wide trailer at a lakeside camp. She had no access to her medication and became violent. She had visiting rights of our 7 year old daughter. During one of the visits she was having an episode and threatened to kill her. We had to stop the visits. About two years later she had to be taken to the emergency room and restrained. They began to medicate her again and she began to calm down a little. This mental illness is the one that causes the person to kill people or themselves. Believe me, if I thought there was another way around it I would have done it.

          The law only provides a 3 day evaluation if you have them committed. Her older brother had something similar. His wife committed him for the 3 day observation and he passed with flying colors. They let him go. That was after he sold everything they had, house and all, and went to the Holy Land thinking he was a prophet of God sent there to collect the tithe. Go figure. Upon their return (after they ran out of money and his brother had to pay $4,000 for air fare to return the whole family) his wife divorced him. About 2 years later he ended up at the same camp and committed suicide. There is something about this type of mental illness that places everyone in contact with the individual at risk. I still agree with you about the “illness” issue though.

          cb, I just don’t have an answer that fits. I do know that we need to take a long look at mental illness because what I have experienced since 1998 cannot be put in words and, at the same time, cannot be justified biblically.

          • Christiane says

            “After the divorce, my wife went to live in East Texas in her mother’s single wide trailer at a lakeside camp. She had no access to her medication and became violent.”

            that is sad . . .
            and a further testament that marriage is ‘for better for worse, in sickness and in health’ . . . I do not ‘judge’ anyone who is divorced, we cannot know their pain, but if people stay with someone who is ill, they can at least supervise their medications, and protect them from their own inability to care properly for the themselves . . .

            ‘mental illness’ is much misunderstood, especially by people who ‘blame’ the one who is unwell, and so much of the ‘presenting problems’ are ‘judged’ as the cause of those problems is unknown to the judges . . .

            thank God that we have new knowledge of chemical imbalances in the brain that bring on the presenting symptoms of some mental illnesses . . . there is definitely a connection between brain chemistry imbalance and mental difficulties . . . people can be treated and helped.

            I am sad for the daughter, perhaps someday she will come to understand about her mother’s illness. Very sad story, Bruce H.

          • Bruce H says

            Thanks, Christine.

            I faced the vow of, “in sickness and health”, and was torn between it. However, it was never my intent to divorce. I used it as a legal means of forcing her to go the psychiatrist for evaluation and proper medication that she had refused for over 5 years. It worked; however, she was the one who pursued continuing the divorce. The medication only calmed the anxiety, not the thoughts. Her medication ran out at the end of the year because of the divorce and she could not remain on my insurance any longer. Her mother didn’t think anything was wrong and thought it was me all along. I could write a book on this because there is so much that occurred.

            Certain mental illness is extremely unpredictable and should be viewed with the most discriminate eye. A lady here in Texas drowned all 5 of her children in the bathtub many years ago and she was medicated. I recommend getting to a professional as early as possible for a diagnosis and take everything said by the person seriously. We really do not understand the seriousness we face in our churches from these types of mental illness. Pastors should take it very serious.

            One instance in scripture of how people dealt with mental illness was Daniel 4:31-33 when Nebuchadnezzar was driven from men due to his loss of moral alignment. Something happened that made him live with the animals and look like one too. This short story has similarities I am familiar with.

          • cb scott says

            Bruce H.

            You are right. You do not have an answer that “fits.” And your false piety and convenient remorse does not “fit” either.

        • Bruce H says

          One clarification cb, it was my intent from 15 years old to marry someone of like heritage both spiritual and physical. God answered my conviction in that area.

          • cb scott says

            Bruce H.,

            God did not answer your convictions in that area. That’s just a barefaced lie, and obviously you did not answer God’s.

            Your specific brand of hypocrisy, Bruce H., knows no bounds.

          • Bruce H says

            Sorry, cb. Thought you had a little better discernment from your lifetime of experience and knowledge. No one has to believe me but no one can read into my comments to accuse me of what you have. You have read into my written words without knowing the full and complete truth and said it is false and that cannot be said without prejudice. As I understand it that is what prejudice is all about.

            Maybe you should write the next post on Mental Illness since you have accumulated all the truth, knowledge and experience on it. I certainly haven’t even though it cost me a wonderful marriage. I will be glad to hear from the expert. :-)

          • cb scott says

            Bruce H.,

            It is by my discernment that I see through your game. Some of these people will believe you, but I don’t. It is not real hard to read you Bruce H. It is pretty easy. You are a self-absorbed phony trying to garner sympathy on a blog thread for your lack of moral integrity.

            You say mental illness cost you a wonderful marriage. That is not the case at all. What really happened is that your self-centered and hard heart ended the marriage when the “wonderful” ended and the real commitment need to take over.

            I realize you will gather the sympathizers here. But I don’t care. You know and I know I am right.

          • Bruce H says

            cb,

            I have only been this transparent about this situation to my best friend and family. They saw what was going on and approved of my decision. A pastor would never have approved of using divorce to force the evaluation and I never asked. The end results were unexpected. This was a post on divorce and I provided what happened to me as it relates to mental illness. I do not need anyone’s sympathy and hope you aren’t offended by anyone sympathizing my plight in life or others with similar experiences. No one knows the details and I do not offer any excuses to my church family, because there aren’t any. I certainly will not waste the time to convince you otherwise. You did ask for an explanation and I gave it to you sincerely. Maybe only one of us was really sincere. So be it.

          • cb scott says

            “No one knows the details and I do not offer any excuses to my church family, because there aren’t any.”

            Bruce H. You are right. The one thing you have stated here today that is true. You have no excuse. There is none.

  3. David T says

    An added note on your mention of polygamy: occasionally someone will bring up the matter of polygamy among God’s people in the OT. My standard response is to refer back to the original plan for marriage, as you do. I also defy them to find me a single example where the practice of polygamy in the OT had a positive outcome. From the Abraham/Sarah/Hagar triangle to the folly of Solomon, the result was always bad. To me, that is argument for its sinfulness and wrongness.

    • Dave Miller says

      Yes, I think you are right. While there is no explicit condemnation of polygamy in the OT, there is a consistently negative connotation to its effects.

    • Bruce H says

      Maybe Dave, or someone, can get that topic up and running in a different post next week. That will be the proof we need to confirm your thinking. I happen to agree.

    • Christiane says

      might be a good topic to focus on, because of the suffering mental and emotional illness brings to individuals, and to their loved ones who try to help them . . .

      if people have ‘family values’, confronting issues that affect the family is something that is important and,
      if people can put beds on the roofs of churches, and write and publish accounts about the details of their own marriage intimacy,
      then ‘discomfort’ over mental and emotional difficulties may also soon fade, as people ‘deal’ more directly with what troubles many, many Christian people,
      who do look to the Church for support, compassion, and direction to proper help.

  4. says

    Bruce H – the only reason I brought it up at this time was reading your experiences and connecting them to the divorce issue . It would be an interesting and informative discussion particularly among those that are caught up in it and don’t know which way to turn . Some won’t take meds. I’ve got to run but I’ll read any response later and surely watch for this subject later on.

    • Bruce H says

      Thanks, Jack.

      I was counseled by a couple of pastors. One was a professional counselor. He met with my wife and I several times. He offered a few suggestions to her and she never did any of them. He wanted to meet with her alone to discuss other issues (I was in the adjacent room). When I contacted him about the results he basically told me it was all my fault and it was childish of me to take away her mouse and hide it. I asked him if it is normal for a person to go to “chat rooms” and stay on the computer 8 to 10 hours a day thinking they were preventing those that were after them from getting to them? He told me that she needed professional help after that comment. It only gets worse from there.

      Our pastors need to be able to determine when it is good to have someone committed, and recommend it, too. Even that will bring out the fickleness of people. Our churches need to provide our pastors the time and courses necessary to educate themselves properly in this area. Mental illness is on the rise and if we are not ready we can do more damage than good. Should we divorce for mental illness? No, but it happened to me. Was using divorce to force my wife to get evaluated right? If there is a better way, I’m open to it.

      • says

        Bruce H – Doctors , Attorneys and Judges commit people – pastors don’t. Most aren’t qualified to Analise what illness is present – only that there is one , and one could be present in both people and then the pastor is operating at “full” capacity. I see help being provided in both realms – Spiritual & Medical – and each should be honest in their observations in as far as the Law allows.

        • cb scott says

          You are right Jack Wolford. Most pastors (and I hope all) are not qualified to “analise” an illness.

        • Bruce H says

          Jack,

          There is not a lot of space for me to detail my thoughts sometimes. You are correct about who does the committing, maybe not an Attorney though, but I know what you mean. Sometimes your pastor needs to be able to say that commitment is ok to do in cases like the extreme mental illness. It comes on so gradual that you question all of your actions and decisions when they need to be made. You certainly don’t want to make these decisions by yourself or allowing an unbelieving Judge or Doctor to decide, if you know what I mean. Your pastor is your visual anchor when these kinds of times arise. I was trusting Jesus but I didn’t have the confident grasp that was necessary when deciding these issues because they were so unfamiliar to my thinking.

      • cb scott says

        “Our pastors need to be able to determine when it is good to have someone committed, and recommend it, too.”

        Maybe so Bruce H. Maybe so.

        I’ll tell you something else some pastors “need to be able to determine.” They need to be able to determine when to reach across the desk and grab a guy like you by your shirt collar and slap you naked. It may have healed what ails you.

      • Bill Mac says

        Our pastors need to be able to determine when it is good to have someone committed, and recommend it, too.

        It would be great if pastors could do appendectomies and rebuild transmissions, but those aren’t really their calling. In my opinion, pastors are all too often giving their opinion on things they are not qualified or called to. What our pastors need to be able to do, is recognize when a problem is beyond their expertise, and have a list of qualified professionals to recommend.

        • Bruce H says

          Bill,

          You are accurate in your examples. Would you think a pastor, or even a layperson, should be able to determine if a person is demon possessed? demon oppressed? mentally ill?

          Matthew 17:15-21 tells the story about the disciples not being able to cure an epileptic that was actually demon possessed. There are similar instances throughout Jesus ministry and in Acts. I’m not Charasmatic, but this is not a Charasmatic issue. Sometimes pastors need to be able to discern more than they are called to do, laymen too.

          That brings up another thought. Should a pastor be able to determine when a divorce is necessary?

        • cb scott says

          “What our pastors need to be able to do, is recognize when a problem is beyond their expertise, and have a list of qualified professionals to recommend.”

          And know when to slap guys like Burce H. naked.

        • says

          What our pastors need to be able to do, is recognize when a problem is beyond their expertise, and have a list of qualified professionals to recommend.

          True dat!!!

  5. says

    cb scott – Bruce H admits he doesn’t have the solution and you attempt to burn what might be his only crutch by accusing him of ” false piety ” . Is that your profssional opinion ? Or just your personal idea . What does work in your estimation ?

    • cb scott says

      Jack Wolford,

      What works in my estimation is not to be a hypocrite and a liar trying to justify sin by saying God sanctioned and blessed my bigotry.

      What works in my estimation is to not divorce your sick wife and then come on a blog and seek to garner sympathy from people who do not know better than to give it.

      Bruce H. does not need a “crutch.” He has built many of them in his own self-serving mind. What he needs is for somebody to tell him the truth. What he does not need is for guys like you to energize his self-absorbed pandering for pats on the back and consoling him with things like: “We understand Bruce H. You have had a hard experience. Life has really been mean to you. I pray God gives your sweet little self a break real soon.”

      Does that answer your question Jack Wolford? If not, we’ll work on it some more.

      • says

        cb scott – First of all he said that his wife divorced him. If he asked God to steer him towards a mate of his own lineage and he believes that is what happened – so what ? I don’t connect Irish or Indian with something of which we all have a lot. God answers prayer and that one would not be a “sinful” request in my humble opinion. What I really question is your insight into mental illness – including the effects it has on those not afflicted by it but have to live beside it and how it effects their well-being and outlook. You may have judged without having all the facts- sir .

        • cb scott says

          Jack Wolford,

          His prayer was sinful. How can a prayer that is basically constituted by “Dear God, I am a bigot. Bless my bigotry” not be sinful?

          Also, Jack Wolford, why does a guy get to divorce his wife because she is sick. He stated, she pursued the divorce and at the same time he says she is suffering from mental illness. Jack Wolford, Bruce H. is a guy who wants his cake and to eat it to. And guys like you let him do so and give him a silver to eat it with.

          Lastly, Jack Wolford, I judged by the facts he gave me. I did not tell his story, he did. What I did was simply to tell him his story stinks and so does he.

  6. says

    cb scott – Again , he said his wife divorced him. She can do that without his permission. You don’t answer that. Why did he say he was a bigot in his prayer to God ? If in his mind he was then it O.K. to talk to Him about it. Do you know that the Rules a real Physician operates by permit them to with -hold their judgements and observations if it is in best interest of who they are counciling ? Is that not good enough for you ?

    • cb scott says

      Jack Wolford,

      I don’t really understand your comment here in #31.

      But I do understand your question at the end. You asked me, “Is that not good enough for you?” My answer is, No. No, it is not. And frankly, I don’t understand why it is for you.

  7. Christiane says

    I think people value ‘authentic’ judgment.
    For Christian people, ‘authentic’ judgment is defined as
    a ‘truth-telling’ that is honest, clear and direct,
    that SHEDS LIGHT on things in such a way
    that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ appear as what they REALLY are.

    I’m sure Christian people often look at the behaviors of others while reflecting on their own personal pain and difficulties’
    and on how they themselves would have handled the situation, or are handling their own similar situation, in a way very different from the behavior of the person that they want to judge.
    That is a very human reaction to the behaviors of others which triggers within us a conflict or difficulty of our own that is painful.

    But there is something often missing in that ‘very human reaction’ and that is the ‘shedding of light in such a way
    that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ appear as what they REALLY are’

    we can ‘judge’ and distance ourselves not only from the offending person, but also from our OWN pain . . .

    I’m going to ask this:
    are we are called, in Christian charity, to examine the behaviors of others recognition that there is human weakness in us that makes us ‘feel better’ to distance ourselves from that someone ?

    What makes Christian people a source of ‘light’?
    What gives Christian people the patience to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ when those burdens are painful to ourselves?

    The next time I go to judge someone, I’m going to ask myself what it is in my own life that I need to deal with instead.

  8. says

    cb scott – You still don’t answer about his wife being the one to get the divorce. Do you think Bruce is after ” absolution” from you ? or Us ? to feel better himself ? – The “conieving liar” ? Is he cheating someone ? the Courts , his church in a way that brings disgrace to those that hold their hands out ? Regardless of whether you have “judged” on the info ” he has given ” – you still may not have ALL the facts ; and in their absence you could cause more harm than good in my humble opinion .

  9. says

    Bruce H – One time a long time ago I had an Indian Princess in my pick-up parked in a remote area of St. Petersburg Int’l Airport , with the doors open because it allowed a breeze ( southern). A buul alligator made a loud bellow and this Indian let out a war-hoop and I had to get that truck fumigated . From an average smuck I can only ask you not to leave God’s side . He knows the questions before you ask and hopefully will provide you with answers. Good Luck.

    • Bruce H says

      Thanks, Jack.

      When I talk to people about why they don’t go to church and they tell me that some Christian offended them I have 100’s of stories that will one-up anything they can tell me. Sometimes I think that is God’s plan for my life. I have faced this all of my life. It seems it is one big misunderstanding and I’m sure it is me. When I am wrong I apologize, when someone apologizes to me I forgive and when we all get to heaven, what a day, wonderful day, that will be.

      Thanks for your kind words of encouragement.

  10. says

    Dave, thanks for this article and I appreciate how you have handled your position.

    I was wondering about the Ezra passage. I could be missing something, but I don’t see the command to “remarry” there. Where do you see it?

    Also, the Hebrew words used for “marriage” and “put away” in Ezra, particularly 10:3,4 are not the ones normally used. I’m not a Hebrew scholar, so I’m going off other people’s scholarship on this where it is suggested that the different words possibly indicate that the marriages to the foreign women were not proper marriages. I have to take that observation with a grain of salt (even though it would support my position) since it could just be a usage issue given author and time period. What are your thoughts on those not being the words used elsewhere in the OT?

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