Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Covenants, Catholics, & Concubines?

Wonderful picture sent to me from a friend (JV) and should send fear into the hearts of any parent!

Funny stuff aside, let's talk about marriage and divorce. Second thought, it's too big a subject for a blog, but I have a more specific question about why churches keep feeling like they have to sit in judgment on people's marital history. I hear horror stories all the time of elders forbidding membership, and worse, baptism to people who don't agree to correct their "unscriptural marital situations." That is sooo wrong and so un-Christ-like, that I have to fight the anger I feel burning inside just thinking about it!

Frankly, there is nothing that we've adopted from Catholicism that drives our thinking, interpreting, and our traditions, like the sacramental elevation of marriage to a church approved, sponsored, and policed activity (except maybe the Lord's Supper, but that's another subject for another time). Sure, the Bible clearly teaches that God's plan was one man and one woman for life, but where's the wedding and the legal agreements? Where's the description of why divorce so much more a "biggy sin" than any other transgression of God's will. Yes, He hates divorce, but He hates pride, greed, and coveting. Where's the historical inquisition about these sins? If God's plan is so immutable, who gave Moses the right to change it - yet Jesus said he did it because of the "hardness of your heart." Since when does that change God's commands? Someone explain why there is no condemnation for the multiple wives that nearly every patriarch and king in the Old Testament had? And what's with the handmaids and concubines thing? Remember what it took to get the twelve tribes started? Why wasn't David condemned for being unfaithful to his wife - I mean wives - and not just for taking another man's possession? If in the Gospels, Jesus was spelling out the guidelines for marriage and divorce, rather than pointing the Jewish people back to God's original laws, why is it never restated by the rest of the New Testament writers, who had rampant divorce in every congregation that was established?

So what am I saying? Nothing new. God still hates divorce, but not because it's some sacred institution, but because it's violating a promise - a covenant, and that's always sinful. There is no such thing as a scriptural divorce in the Post-resurrection biblical teaching. There is also no exception to the call to forgive. Marriage was probably always more of a social contract than we want to believe - especially since we are so far removed from arranged/transaction oriented marriages than they were in Bible times. There is too much of marriage and divorce that is heart-to-God stuff for anyone or group to sit in judgment or try to apply some legalistic requirements. Churches (congregations of Christians) need to be in the marriage strengthening business not the condemnation business. "Love covers a multitude of sin" - some would say, even murder and fornication, but for some reason, not divorce? That's ludicrous, and no more encourages people to get a divorce than forgiveness for murder encourages more murders. How many times would Jesus say, "Go your way and sin no more"? Yes, it's time to drop the stones and get on with helping other have a deeper relationship with Him.


Scott & Ashley said...

Thanks so much for your thoughts on this "controversial" issue. And amen. Divorce shatters hopes, homes, and hearts. It's time that Churches and Christians stop making it worse and start helping people to heal! By the way, we're loving your pillars of parenting class!

Melanie said...

Missed Wed's class. Can I get the notes?