I recently went to visit my old friend Shawn at Royce City’s CoC website. And I pulled from it why the radical CoC conservatives try and force people to leave their second marriage and childern of that marriage and return to the first.
What I read shocked and surprised me but then again it should not have, lets take a look at the scriptures and how they put them together and see it from another view that is not driven by being the toughest pharisee on the block mindset:
Here is the link to the full text so that I can’t be accused of altering the text: http://roysecitycoc.org/divorce_remarriage.htm
First I agree marriage should only end of the other has committed adultery, however I also know that Jesus said if you think it, you have already done it so keep that in mind when you read conditions for something!
Mathew 5:28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
While the greek word for adultery and fornication are different words, they mean the same basic thing, violation of the sexual side of the marriage. So does the partner have grounds for divorce in the case of a porn addiction? I would answer yes they do since God’s standard is the mind itself per Jesus comments.
Now to the crux of the issue, the CoC hypercons believe you must leave your current spouse and return to a prievious partner based on Ezra 10, here is Ezra 10 in total:
Ezra 10:1 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. 2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. 3 Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. 4 Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”
5 So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath. 6 Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.
7 A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem. 8 Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.
9 Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain. 10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11 Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”
12 The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say. 13 But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing. 14 Let our officials act for the whole assembly. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.” 15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, opposed this.
16 So the exiles did as was proposed. Ezra the priest selected men who were family heads, one from each family division, and all of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to investigate the cases, 17 and by the first day of the first month they finished dealing with all the men who had married foreign women.
The bottom part of Chapter ten simply lists the guilty of the acts above, now does this apply to New Testament scripture? Frankly it absolutely does not! First let us consider the issues they were dealing with, purity of the race and religion:
Ezra 9:1 After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”
In the above the issues they were dealing with are purity of race and religion, note that it speaks of detestable practices when talking about the foreigners , thus we see they are in violation of the Jewish law, if not those people would not have been spoken of in that manner, thus we can conclude they are not praticing Jews! We have a situation where the purity of the Jewish faith and the race itself are in danger. God told them not to do this and they have done it and decide they should return the foreign people to their former lands.
Ah you say see, there ya go, the hypercon CoC are right on the mark, but wait, if that is true then why are not all interracial marriages dissolved since the race of each would be polluted would it not? Acts 10 clearly shows that race is no longer a factor in God’s eyes since he accepts believers who are gentiles. So race is no longer an issue to us as believers. How about religious purity? Do CoC preachers tell their people to leave others who are not CoC? The Jews sent non-jews away, since the hypercon CoC see themselves as the only Christians should they not also do the same just as the Jews did? Well no scripture says we are to stay with people who are non-believers if they will stay, we do so in the hope of winning them to Christ according to 1 Cor .
So to restate, Ezra 10 is a result of racial and religious purity, it is shown in Ezra 10. Clearly God accepts gentiles ie. non-Jews into the family per Acts 10, clearly we are told to stay with non-believers so that religous purity is no longer valid per 1 Cor 7:10-16, thus both reasons for sending away a spouse are gone!
Ah but what do we do about those second marriages? The answer is nothing, God does not say anything about a second marriage in scripture except in death, but Jesus clearly forgave an adulteress woman, so do we raise remarriage to the level of blasphemy against the Spirit and make it an unforgiveable sin when God does not? After all in the hypercon world you go to hell for staying with that second spouse because you are an adulterer. So in Hypercon CoC if you go and kill your spouse you can still go to Heaven if you don’t and die first you go to hell if the marriage disolved for non-adultry reasons!
I hope you see the two real reasons that the Jews sent their wives and offspring away, racial purity and religious purity, are canceled out in the New Testament. Thus to force people to return to former spouses are contradicting scripture in the new testament and applying Old Testament out of context, there is nothing about any of those people being a second marriage, so first marriages were also returned to their former lands!. But this shows perfectly the pharisee mindset of the hypercon, what do we do about this second marriage it is not really covered in the New Testament to give a clear answer, wait lets take this example about race and religious purity and apply it to nulify the marriages and return to the original covenant. That will get us out of the bind we have and allow us to give an answer and continues our pharisical walk in front of others!
Jesus said that if you commit adultery you have given grounds for divorce, if one or both people have remarried they have had sexual relations with another person and thus have given the grounds for divorce. So how did they get here and connect these disconnected dots? My guess is the need to give an answer drove them to this, thus if I have built a doctrine that is focused on giving an answer to prove I am right then to not have a clear answer to something like divorce and a second marriage is clearly not going to cut it when you have a theology that is based in having all the answers directly from the original church. To simply say I do not know makes this theology nul and void, thus that is not an option, it is better to crush others then to admit you do not know for sure!
Mathew 11:29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Luke 11:46Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
Now go tell the wife of a man who just left because of hypercon coc teaching and explain to her children that light burden again! I am beginning to understand why Jesus cleared the temple with a whip!