The Latest Cry:
By David McKee
One of the latest attempts to get around the plain teaching of our Lord on marriage, divorce, and remarriage is to claim that Jesus did not address the specific scenario being discussed. “Jesus didn’t address the scenario where the spouse being put away was unwilling and attempted to remain true to her marriage vows.” “Jesus didn’t address the scenario where the fellow doing the putting away was fooling around with his secretary.” “Jesus didn’t address the scenario where…”
Dear reader, Jesus was asked (Matthew 19:3), if a man could divorce his wife for any reason. When Jesus replies (Matthew 19:9) by stating that, “whoever divorces his wife except for fornication,” which scenario was He not addressing? Which divorce scenario is left out of our Lord’s statement? A man takes the action against his wife, either because of her unfaithfulness to him, or for some other reason. Again, which scenario does not fit into the all-encompassing statement of our Lord?
Yet brethren are creating scenario’s that would allow a woman who has been put away to remarry. When pointing out that such would violate the teaching of our Lord, the reply now heard is, “Jesus didn’t address the scenario I’m talking about.” Somehow the circumstances of the divorce in their scenario do not fall under our Lord’s statement of, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality.” The fellow in their scenario is divorcing his wife for some reason other than her sexual immorality, yet they will claim that such was not the scenario Jesus was addressing.
We’ve seen such attempts before from our brethren when an effort is being made to include something that Scripture forbids. Some would claim that the only reasons a church can withdraw from someone is if he will not work or if he is living with his father’s wife, as these are the two scenarios being addressed in I Corinthians 5 and II Thessalonians 3:6. Common sense and the application of other passages would make clear that the teaching would apply to all public unrepented of sin. But brethren who do not want to address the sins of others, or would prefer the guilty remain in fellowship with God’s people, will cry out, “The passage doesn’t address that scenario.”
We’ve seen the attempt when addressing how to deal with a false teacher from what is said in Second John. The failure to abide in the doctrine of Christ would include all that is taught in the doctrine of Christ. But those who do not want to recognize one as a false teacher, and deal with him accordingly, will attempt to claim that the only scenario being addressed is the teacher who will not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. State that one is a false teacher because his teaching would permit adulterous marriages and we see the same cry of, “The passage doesn’t address that scenario.”
In the two examples cited, we are able to take the principle involved and apply it to whatever scenario arises that would involve public sin or false teaching; and we do so with little difficulty. Imagine how much easier it would be for those who oppose if, contained in I Corinthians 5 and II Thessalonians 3, there was a general all-encompassing statement such as, “Withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly in regards to all unrepented of public sin.” Imagine how the opposition’s discomfort would be eased if in II John we found a general, all-encompassing statement such as, “If anyone teaches any position contrary to the doctrine of Christ, do not receive him into your house.” The Spirit knew we did not need such statements, but those who oppose would have to admit that such statements would address every scenario of unrepented of public sin and false teaching.
Why is it then, when Jesus makes such an all-encompassing statement as, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication,” brethren want to claim that certain divorce scenarios were left out of that statement? Because these brethren still refuse to acknowledge that when the man our Lord referred to took that action against his wife, it resulted in her being put away, divorced, whether it was for her unfaithfulness or not. If this action takes place today and involves the civil court, some attempt to claim that such action is not in keeping with the word apoluo, which means “to loose, to leave, to repudiate, to dismiss or depart.” Are we to believe that a fellow who takes the action against his wife in an effort to end all legal, personal, and emotional ties with his wife, is not repudiating her, dismissing her or sending her out of the house?
But, these would claim, because our Lord did not specify exactly what the fellow was up to who was doing the divorcing, then we can’t be certain that our Lord was addressing his scenario. Brethren, where else are we to go and find the missing scenario? Did our Lord do us a great disservice resulting in confusion among His people by omitting certain divorce scenarios? Or did the One who created us not know that when He used the word, whoever, we could understand exactly what He was saying?
Perhaps it is that brethren are realizing that their teaching does not fit in with what our Lord taught. Such a realization ought to stop any in their tracks, to proceed no further and undo whatever damage has been done. But to try and rationalize why their teaching does not fit in with what our Lord taught by claiming, “Jesus did not address that scenario,” is a weak attempt to insert the wisdom of men into our Lord’s simple statements.