As I’ve mentioned previously, most modern Christians simply can’t be bothered to pay any attention to the clear commands of scripture. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), has been re-interpreted to mean “if you love me, there’s no point in keeping my commandments, because I’m God and I love you, so do whatever the hell you want.” This anti-biblical attitude is pervasive in modern Christianity.
Today I present two examples of just how prevalent this total disdain for the Bible is in the church. The first example is a blog post I stumbled upon, and the second is an article in Christianity Today that was quoted in the blog post. The blog post is from a woman celebrating her recent frivolous divorce, and encouraging other women to frivolously divorce. The article is an example of Scripture-twisting that attempts to provide Biblical cover for women who pursue frivolous divorce in blatant disregard to the clear and repeated instruction of Jesus Christ himself in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.
First, the blog.
It took years. No, not the actual divorce, but the decision to follow through. 10 Years. Nothing Changing. Working. Trying. Nose to the Grindstone. Blood, Sweat and Tears. What About the Kids? Toiling. Advice. Pleading. Counseling. Stuffing. Crying. Failing. Grieving. Giving Up. The Separation. The Separation the 2nd time. The Go-ahead. Serving the papers. The Resignation. The Explaining. The Wondering. The Confirmations. Signing. Done and Done.
Just from this paragraph, we learn quite a bit about the author, Ms. Carlise. (Note, this is not meant to be a personal attack on Ms. Carlise, but rather an attack on the anti-biblical attitude that she and many others hold. Ms. Carlise is simply the face of this group for the purpose of this post.) First, we note that she initiated the divorce, and yet she makes it look as if she tried to save the marriage with words like “working,” “trying,” “and “toiling.” Yet objectively, the one most important thing she could have done to save her marriage, would have been to reject outright even the thought of divorce. Yet instead of building, she tore down with her own hands (Proverbs 14:1). Secondly, we see that prior to nuking her marriage with the divorce atom bomb, she bombarded it with the mortars of separation on not just one, but two occasions. It can be debated whether this bombardment was in itself a violation of 1 Corinthians 7:10, but even if you hold that it wasn’t, clearly her divorce was.
It gets worse.
One of the most telling responses to my divorce was how EV-RY-ONE said, “Wow you look SO happy!”, everyone. My closest and dearest friends who NEVER encouraged divorce while I was married, and tried for YEARS with me to come up with solutions, troubleshooting, reaching for ways to make it work, praying for me–in fact, for a whole YEAR I had a group of about 8 women who committed to pray for my marriage to be saved. BUT solutions in a marriage take two. One partner can’t save a marriage.
Here we see that her justification for divorce is that it made her happy. I guess Jesus just forgot to mention that justification when he repeatedly stated the only justification for divorce was sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Also, she presciently notes that one partner cannot save a marriage, and states that she had 8 women praying for a year that her marriage would be saved. Unfortunately, even the prayers of 8 women was not enough to stop her from pursuing her quest to singlehandedly sabotage her marriage through separation and destroy then destroy it with a frivolous divorce.
The most difficult thing for me to reconcile was that I had been taught that you just don’t get a divorce. God hates divorce. And I believed it. It took years of counseling, studying and finally God’s intervention, for me to decide.
She probably got the idea that God hates divorce from Malachi 2:16, which says that God hates divorce. I can see why it took her a while to decide that God doesn’t hate divorce, in light of that verse. But with the help of years of counseling, studying, and “God’s intervention” (read: thoughts and emotions, which she ascribed to God), she was finally able to come to the conclusion that when the Bible says “God hates divorce,” it doesn’t really mean “God hates divorce,” but rather “divorce is OK if it makes you happy.”
The ultimate question: Was it the right thing to do, and would I recommend other women take the huge risk of divorce after decades with the same husband. Everyone’s story is unique. Circumstances are myriad. But at the end of the day if you no longer know who you are and you are only existing, that is no life for anyone. If you have done your best, you know it. If you have fought the fight and lost, it’s time to bandage the wounds and end the war.
Ms. Carlise’s answer to “the ultimate question” noticeably is devoid of any appeal to scripture. She informs women that if they have given up some part of their individualism and individual personality to meld in marriage as Jesus described, then they ought to put asunder what God has joined. Of course, it’s obvious even from these few paragraphs of her blog post that Ms. Carlise could care less about the clear commands of God. If it was just a no-name divorcee blogger peddling this blatant inversion of God’s Word, it wouldn’t be a big deal. However, what really got my attention was that Ms. Carlise quoted from an article published by Christianity Today that attempted to twist the Bible and give cover to frivolous divorcees.
The fact that a publication like Christianity Today would publish something so blatantly anti-biblical shows just how pervasive the anti-biblical attitude is. While the author of the article, David Instone-Brewer, goes on for 4 pages, his central argument is found in one paragraph:
Although the church forgot the other cause for divorce, every Jew in Jesus’ day knew about Exodus 21:10-11, which allowed divorce for neglect. Before rabbis introduced the “any cause” divorce, this was probably the most common type. Exodus says that everyone, even a slave wife, had three rights within marriage—the rights to food, clothing, and love. If these were neglected, the wronged spouse had the right to seek freedom from that marriage.
Unfortunately, Mr. Instone-Brewer is not at all honest about what Exodus 21 says. Starting from verse 7:
“If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
Firstly, we see that in this context, the phrase “she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money,” refers to freedom from slavery, not divorce. This is apparent in the context of verse 7, which states that the female slave is not to be set free in the year of Jubilee as the male slaves are, and verse 8 which states that if she is displeasing to him, he must allow her to be bought back by her family. The entire passage, beginning in verse 2 and continuing through verse 11, deals specifically with slavery. Thus verse 11 says that if her master does not provide three things for her, she is released from slavery without her family having to buy her back.
However, Mr. Instone-Brewer lied about what those three things are. He characterizes them as “the rights to food, clothing, and love.” What is instead established is the right to food, clothing, and sex. This is a pivotal difference. A woman may say, “my divorce is justified, because my husband does not love me.” However, that husband may insist that he indeed does love his wife, to which she responds that she does not feel sufficiently loved. Thus, when love is made a condition of marriage there is no objective way to measure if that condition has been met, and divorce is justified by something as flimsy and variable as a woman’s feelings. With sex, however, there is something easily quantifiable, i.e. “how many times have you had sex in the past week?”
Thirdly, Mr. Instone-Brewer fails to mention that these rights are established only if the master/husband of the slave wife “takes to himself another woman.” In other words, if you marry a second wife, you still have to feed, clothe, and copulate with your first wife, even if she is a slave wife. Since polygamy is illegal in the US (as is slavery), such instruction is simply not applicable, since no one is taking a second wife, and it therefore does not apply to anyone.
Finally, Jesus would have been very familiar with this passage, as He was with the entire Law. Therefore, even if this passage did contradict what Jesus said about fornication being the only acceptable reason for divorce, (it doesn’t) the later words of Jesus would still be the guide for His followers. Thus, it is clear that the only Biblical justification a Christian can claim for divorce is extra-marital sexual intercourse by the spouse.
Much of Christianity has rejected the Bible, and divorce is only one of the topics where this becomes apparent. There are plenty of other topics on which the church will preach an anti-biblical message. The point is, that for the true believer, the church cannot be trusted, and one must always take the Berean attitude of comparing these teachings with the Word of God.