December 18, 2017

Whats Your Question

By James P. Needham

"Matt. 19:9 gives the only scriptural reason for Christians to divorce. I have been told that though a man has that scriptural reason for a divorce, that according to verse 12, he cannot remarry. Would you please explain verse 12 and its relation to verse 9? If the above be true, then how do you explain I Tim. 5:11-14 where Paul tells the women to remarry."--Florida

Reply:

Some understand verse 12 to mean that ALL divorced persons must become spiritual eunuchs, that is, abstain from marriage, or remarriage in this case. Others understand it to mean that ONLY those who are involved in a divorce that deprives them of the scriptural right to remarry should become "eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake." I accept the latter.

I have heard and read lengthy arguments designed to prove that NO divorced person has the right to remarry, but I am unconvinced. To me such a position rests upon flimsy "proof," and does not accord with the teaching of Jesus in Matt. 19:9 or 5: 32. If the exceptive clause does not give the innocent party the right to remarry, language means nothing, and the scriptures can be made to say almost anything.

Furthermore, I cannot accept the unjust consequences of such a position, which are as follows:

(1) It would make the punishment of the innocent party identical with that of the guilty in this life. It says that both must abstain from remarriage.

(2) It would make the innocent party suffer for something with which he or she had nothing to do.

I know that some deny that there is ever an innocent party, and I understand the problems that are sometimes involved, but Jesus envisioned an innocent party. Hence, it is unjust for the innocent party to suffer the pangs of a celibate life as the result of what the guilty party did.

I see no connection between Matt. 19:9, and I Tim. 5:11-14. The KJV says, "I will therefore that the younger women marry..." A better translation would be "widows." It is so rendered in the ASV and NASV. A.T. Robertson says on verse 14, "NEOTERAS is accusative of general reference with GAMEIN (to marry) the object (present infinitive active) of BOULOMAI" (WORD PICTURES IN THE NT, p. 586). This is also obvious from the context in which Paul was discussing the proper disposition of widows. I know of no place in the New Testament where a divorced woman is called a widow, so there would be no connection between 1 Tim. 6, and Matt. 19.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 50, p. 7
October 29, 1970

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