Contra Mundum: “Till Death do us Part” Christ’s Teachings on Abuse, Divorce and Remarriage


This was one very good article that was also published in the Investigate Magazine. I suggest that if you’d like some fresh insights on this for New Zealand so relevant subject: divorce and the Bible.

“Till Death Do Us Part”

Christ’s response, in this context, is a rejection of the liberal reading in favour of the conservative one. In fact, Brewer notes the very phraseology and wording Christ used was the same as that used by the Shammaites; however, his claim “whoever divorces his wife, except for adultery, and marries another woman commits adultery” took the conservative reading one step further. Not only are liberal “any reason” divorces wrong but they are invalid. People who have divorced on the “any reason” ground did not gain a legitimate divorce.

Brewer’s analysis is the best I have come across to date; it makes sense of the text without requiring the reader to turn a blind eye to the bits that don’t seem to sit right. His argument further explains the apparent differences between Mark, Matthew and Paul. Mark’s gospel is significantly more summarised than Matthew’s, hence his unqualified claim that divorce is forbidden is simply a summary without qualification. Similarly, Paul’s application in 1 Corinthians is not in any real conflict with Jesus’. Taken in its context, Jesus was not condemning a person who, after being abandoned, walked away from the marriage and remarried. Material and physical neglect as a ground of divorce was not in question. In Jesus’ teaching he was simply rejecting the “any reason” approach of the liberal school.

This background to Paul’s writing is strongly suggested by the fact that in the same passage he refers to sexual activity between spouses as a ‘debt’ mutually owed to each other. Brewer notes that Paul’s language and teaching here reflects rabbinical understandings of Exodus 21, which allowed divorce for failure to provide “conjugal rights”. Paul is therefore not adding to Christ’s teaching, he is simply applying it to a different situation.”

Read the complete article at Contra Mundum: “Till Death do us Part” Christ’s Teachings on Abuse, Divorce and Remarriage.

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