|Corruption in the Philippines|
A REVIEW OF "DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE"
The positions advanced herein are mine alone. They reflect what I am fully convinced of in my own mind (Rom. 14:5). Although I admit to the possibility that I might be wrong on one or more points, I will make all my arguments as strongly as possible. I ask all children of God who receive this review to seriously study the points advanced in the accompanying article and in this review and compare them with the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15). Remember the truth is found only in God's word (John 17:17), and that both of these articles are simply the reasoned opinions of two of God's children.
For the sake of clarity, I will organize my presentation by topics. These topics will not necessarily follow the order of resentation in the accompanying article. I also regret that I will not be able to refer to specific pages of the article since I am working from an advance copy and do not have the final copy as it will be distributed. Although this means more work for those studying, the fruits of the study will be their own reward.
THE LAW BEFORE MOSES
Furthermore, the laws which God gave to Abraham were to be passed on to his children. Consider that God said, "For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice . . ." (Gen. 18:19). So before Moses, God spoke to Abraham and explained His laws for Abraham and His descendants. Abraham was not responsible to a vague concept called "moral laws", rather he had direct commands to be obeyed.
However, one may ask if that would also apply to the people before Abraham and the people who were not descendants of Abraham. From the very creation, God gave man positive commands to be obeyed. "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it . . ." (Gen. 1:28). "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die"(Gen. 2:16-17). God Himself taught man God's laws. The Hebrew writer summed it up thus, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world" (Heb. 1:1-2). One of the ways in which God spoke was through Moses and the latter prophets, but God also spoke earlier to men like Adam, Noah, Abraham, and others revealing His laws for man through them.
One might wonder why, if God gave exact laws to the patriarchs, don't
we have a record of what those laws were. The answer is simple. Genesis,
as well as the rest of the first five books of the Old Testament were
written by Moses after God had revealed His laws for the children of Israel.
What point would have been served by stating laws that did not bind the
hearers? Should Moses have said "Now these are the laws God gave to Adam
and his children ... and these to Noah … and these to Abraham …, but now
that I've told you them, please disregard them and obey only those that
also appear in our new law which God gave us at Mt. Sinai"? No, that would
have only confused the Israelites. Instead, Moses only mentions laws that
were essential to the history or that would clearly illustrate laws that
the children of Israel had received at Mt. Sinai. Therefore, the similarities
In summary, there was indeed law before Moses, but that law came directly from God to the patriarchs to be taught to others. Similarities between the law given at Sinai and the laws we have recorded in Genesis, do not prove the existence of a universal moral law since other explanations are possible.
Now the reason that it is crucial to understand that there is no adequate definition for "moral law" is so that you realize that you cannot try to subdivide laws. If you accept the article's definition of "moral law", then every single law ever devised by God or man is "moral law". Even if you limit the category to "God's moral law", you still have every single law that God gave, because every law controlled some aspect of conduct.
Furthermore, you may be curious as to why I keep placing "moral law"
between quotation marks. The simple answer is that God never used that
expression to refer to any part of any of His laws. Nor did God use any
other expression to refer to one part of His law as opposed to the other
parts of His law. If there were such an expression, certainly the article
would have chosen one that could be found in God's word. Now up to this
point I have only discussed "moral law", but the phrase that is generally
used is "universal moral law". The universality is explained by the article
as, "If a practice was moral on one side of Mount Sinai, it had to be
moral on the other; if it was moral on one side of the cross, it has to
be moral on the other." But is that true? Plug in the article's definition
for "moral", that is, controlling conduct. Was every law controlling conduct
the same before and after Mt. Sinai? What about marrying a sister? Before
Mt. Sinai such marriages were not immoral. Abraham was married to his
half-sister. Cain, Abel, Seth and the other sons of Adam married their
sisters. But after the Law was given at Mt. Sinai
In addition, since the definition the article provides for moral law would also include all the worship laws (since they too control conduct), then all of the laws of patriarchal worship and Israelite worship would be binding today under the principle of "universal moral law". I do not believe the writers of the article hold such a view. I merely point it out to further illustrate the inadequacies of the definitions presented in the article.
In summary, the article fails to distinguish "moral law" from law in general. God never used the expression "moral law" or any equivalent expression. And the universality of such a "moral law" is easily shown to be false.
Let me illustrate the problems the definitions in the article present to us. First, of course, is that all laws, even those which functioned as a picture of Christ, also governed behavior. The Sabbath may have been a picture of the rest we find in Christ, but it also prevented the Israelites from working one day each week; thereby, controlling their behavior on that day. The same can be said of any and every other law that pictured Christ.
Second, if there is such a clear distinction between "moral law" and "ceremonial law", then there could never be an example where something was admittedly both moral and ceremonial. Now remember the article's definition of ceremonial, a "picture of things to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ", and let's find something the article calls "moral law". Earlier I quoted the following sentence from the article, "God's behavior laws, which governs [sic] marriage, have always been the same." By the definitions given in the article, "behavior laws" is the same as "moral law". So the article places marriage into the category of "moral law". Yet the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers tell us on many occasions that marriage is a picture of the relationship fulfilled by Christ and His church (e.g., Eph. 5:22-33; 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7-9; Rev. 21:2). Now, if marriage is a picture of Christ and His church, then the article says it cannot be "moral law". But the article also says that marriage is "moral law" and the New Testament writers say it is a picture of Christ and His church. Therefore, since everyone agrees that the New Testament (as well as the Old Testament) is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17), the only choices are that the article's definition of "moral law" is wrong, or the article's definition of "ceremonial law" is wrong, or that both are wrong. In any event the article's statement that, "Those arguing there is no distinction between ceremonial and moral law are wrong" is clearly mistaken.
Third, as in the case with "moral law", "ceremonial law" is not an expression found in God's word. God never divides His law into parts. If He had wanted the law divided into parts, He is certainly adequate to the task.
In summary, the article's definitions of both "moral law" and "ceremonial law" fail to make clear distinctions. The term "ceremonial law" is not given by God to any part of His law, nor is there an equivalent expression that is used. If God had wanted to divide His law into parts, He would have done so. Since He did not, neither should we.
ROMANS 1 & 2
Did God give a special revelation to the Gentiles before Moses that would let them know His laws? Yes. We discussed the nature of those laws earlier. God told the patriarchs beginning with Adam what His laws were for mankind. Romans 1 merely states that man did not obey those laws that were given by God to the fathers (and which were attested to by the creation itself).
The article further states, "Rom 2:11-14 affirms God [sic] gave the Jews the same laws He gave the Gentiles." But Romans 2 only affirms that proposition if you have already agreed to a "universal moral law" understanding of Romans 1:18-32. Since Romans 1:32 makes it clear that Paul is discussing revelation from God (through the patriarchs), then Romans 2 can be understood to refer to that law which God gave to the patriarchs as opposed to the law given at Sinai. The Israelites would be judged by the law they had (the law given at Sinai), but Gentiles, who did not have that law would be judged by the law they did have (called the law "written in their hearts" -- Rom. 2:15). What law was that which was written in their hearts? The law which God had revealed to the patriarchs and which they knew required death as the penalty.
However, the article asserts about Romans 2, "Verse 14 reads, 'For when Gentiles who do not have the law,' means when the Gentiles who don't have the law of Moses 'instinctively do the things of the law of Moses,' that is, according to the Law as Jews ought to behave '...not having a law, are a law to themselves.'" Yet in all of modern history there has NEVER been a case of a person who "instinctively" did the things of any law. If man were capable of "instinctive" obedience to law, then there would never be a need for law. Again this verse is not referring to either a "natural law" or "universal moral law". Rather it is making reference to the law to which the Gentiles were accountable. That is, they were accountable to the law under which they lived, the law given to the patriarchs.
In summary, Romans 1 & 2 are a statement that the Gentiles before Moses and during the times of Moses did have a law which God had given them through the patriarchs. The fact that the Gentiles chose not to live by that law would condemn them on the judgment day exactly in the same way as the law given at Sinai would condemn the Israelite who chose not to live by that law. "Natural law" and "universal moral law" are as completely foreign to this passage as they are to the rest of Scripture.
PHARISEES & JUDAISM
In fact Paul himself while discussing his life before he came to Christ says, "circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless" (Phil. 3:5-6). Paul said he was both a Pharisee and found blameless by the Law (although still a sinner). He did NOT say he was a Pharisee and therefore apostate from the Law.
The article further says that, "Judaism was false religion-an apostasy from the law of Moses-based, false teaching, [sic] the traditions the Pharisees bound on people." Again it is an assertion without evidence. Current Biblical scholarship has rejected the idea that Judaism at the time of Christ was a "degeneration of earlier prophetic religion"
The article makes one attempt to justify its opinion about Judaism. It
says, in reference to some of the statements in Matthew 5, "That was Judaism,
from a book called the Mishnah." The article fails to point out that Mishnah
did not come into written existence until almost 200 years after Christ.
Furthermore, the belief structure that gave rise to the Mishnah did not
begin to develop until after the destruction of the temple in AD 70. To
make arguments that are anachronistic (i.e., out of their
In summary, the article makes accusations against the Pharisees and Judaism which it cannot support from the word of God. The attempt to find support in the Mishnah is without basis since the Mishnah was not in existence at the time of Christ and did not begin development until more than forty years after Christ's death.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
After quoting Matthew 5:17-20, the article states, "Thus Jesus didn't come to destroy the O.T.-the law and the prophets." While that is true, the article fails to give consideration to the "but" part of the statement. Jesus actually said He came not to destroy, but to fulfill. Jesus did not destroy the Law (a violent end), rather He brought it to its conclusion (a peaceful end). But He did bring it to an end. Jesus further stated (verse 18) that the Law could not pass away until all was accomplished. Some may read Jesus statement that heaven and earth would pass away before the Law until it is accomplished to mean that the Law would exist until the second coming; but that is NOT what the text says. Jesus said the Law would pass away when it was accomplished (verse 18), fulfilled (verse 17). When Jesus rose from the dead, He explained to the disciples, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." So Jesus said after His resurrection that the Law, Prophets, and Psalms had been fulfilled (as He had predicted back in Matthew 5:17-18). Since they were fulfilled, they passed away.
Next the article says, "Then He said, 'Whoever teaches others not to
keep the commandments, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.'" I assume
for the sake of fairness that this is simply a mistake rather than a willful
misrepresentation of God's word. The text says, "Whoever then annuls one
of the least of these commandments and so teaches others shall be called
Again, Jesus is telling His audience that He was not destroying the Law with His teaching, rather with His death He would bring it to its end. Until that end of the Law, they were obligated to continue living according to Moses' Law, which He then sets out to explain more clearly to them. The article's assertion that in the Sermon on the Mount "there are no references to ceremony" is an exaggeration. Verses 23 -24 refer to gifts brought to the altar (by the article's definition of ceremony, these gifts are clearly "ceremonial law"). Although the one example is enough, other possible references to ceremonial law would include vows (5:33-37), prayer (6:6-15), and fasting (6:16-18).
In summary, although Jesus was correcting some problems with the people's
understanding of Moses' law, He was not saying that those of us in the
kingdom had to teach the Law of Moses. Jesus said that Law would pass
away when it was fulfilled, and after His resurrection He told His disciples
that it had been fulfilled; therefore, it had passed away. The continued
If that is confusing, consider Deuteronomy 22:28-29, which is another conditional statute. God is not authorizing or approving of the actions in verse 28 (the protasis). Those actions (rape or fornication are sinful). The statute merely explains what to do once the sin has occurred.
In Deuteronomy 24, God does NOT approve of the divorces and remarriages
in verses 1-3. They form the protasis and are as sinful in God's eye as
the rape in Deuteronomy 22:28. All God is doing is explaining what will
be the result of the sin(s) involved in divorce and remarriage. The article
fails to distinguish between the sinful acts of verses 1-3 and the actual
command of verse 4. This failure results in attempts to justify actions
that were sinful. For example, the article says, "The bill of
Similarly, the article states, "Obviously God recognized the second marriage as real." But this conclusion is only obvious if one fails to realize that the second marriage is also in the protasis and, therefore, is at least suspect as also being a sinful action. Certainly it would be a stretch of logic to find approval in the midst of an action that is being condemned.
In summary, Deuteronomy 24 contains NO approval of divorce, NO approval of a bill of divorcement, and NO approval or remarriage. Deuteronomy 24 only provides a command regarding the consequence of the sinful actions of divorce and remarriage.
MARK 10 & MATTHEW 19
Jesus, however, did not miss the meaning and says that the statute was because of the hardness of their hearts (that is, a response to their sinful actions, not an approval of those sinful actions). The article is correct in stating that divorce is sinful (although the article fails to mention the exception Jesus gave to that rule in Matt. 5 and 19 for fornication). However, the article tries to find some kind of approval for a second marriage when no such approval is found in the text. The article makes the following appeal as the basis of recognizing the second marriage:
The second marriage is a marriage. Marriage is right-God authorized it. In Mal 2, God didn't say, "I hate marriage," or "I hate second marriages." He hated the sending out. THAT is what needs to be forgiven, the sin of breaking the first marriage. One must repent of breaking the covenant, not of being married.
The article seems to be saying that all marriages are acceptable to God.
There are three serious problems with this view of marriage. First, a
view that all marriages are acceptable would mean that there are no consequences
to sin. The article attempts to cloud the distinction between consequences
for sin and paying for sin, by calling any restriction on remarriage
Second, God clearly teaches that some marriages are NOT acceptable. In Leviticus 18 & 20 and Mark 6:18, incestuous marriages are prohibited. In Deuteronomy 24:4, the return to marriage with the first husband is prohibited. Therefore, it is clear that although marriage (as an abstract concept) is approved by God, it does not follow that every case of marriage is also approved.
Third, the argument advanced by the article, and quoted above, is an argument from silence. Simply stated, the article is trying to say, "But God didn't say not to." (Actually God did say not to remarry, but that will be covered below.) This review is too short to allow a complete discussion about authority and the silence of Scripture, but if you need some passages to show that God's silence is prohibitive when there is a direct command then consider Lev. 10:1-3; 1 Samuel 15; and Heb. 7:11-15 (esp. verse 14).
In summary, Jesus states that divorce is sin and that Moses was not allowing divorce, but rather was giving a command regarding the consequences of the sinful acts of divorce and remarriage.
1 CORINTHIANS 7
The article spends much time discussing verses 1-6 where Paul discusses that sex in marriage is good and important for the spiritual well being of both partners. From this set of verses, the article tries to conclude that everyone (even the divorced) have a right to be married to whomever he (or she) chooses. But the article glosses over verses 10-11 (probably because of the aforementioned problem with the tape). But Paul clearly states that those who are married are to remain married. If a divorce happens (a sin, another example of a protasis), then the consequence is that they must remain unmarried or be reconciled. God has herein given a direct command.
To say that the divorced party can now go on and get remarried without sin is wrong! God said to remain unmarried or be reconciled. No other options are available. You can not argue that God did not say "and don't get remarried to someone else." He already gave positive commands as to what is acceptable.
The article attempts to lump verses 10-11 in with verses 12-16. The article
states, " In 1 Cor 7:10-16, Paul deals with the problem of marriages broken
because the unbeliever refuses to live in the husband-wife relationship
with the Christian." Paul clearly distinguishes the topic of a religiously
mixed marriage in verse 12 by saying, "But to the rest …." Verses 10-11
are not connected to the topic of verses 12-16. In verses 10-11, Paul
addresses the Corinthian saints who are married and gives
Due to the brevity of the article's discussion of 1 Cor. 7, allow me to make one other observation from this chapter to head off an error that is commonly made. Some people try to argue from verses 27-28, that all divorced people have a right to remarry without sin. Such attempts fail to consider the context of those verses. The topic under consideration in verses 27-28 actually begins in verse 25 and continues until verse 38. The section begins, "Now concerning virgins, …" (7:25). This section deals only with virgins. Someone might say, "But how can a virgin be bound to a wife or be loosed from a wife?" The answer is simple. Recall the story of Joseph and Mary. They were still virgins, but they were bound as husband and wife (Matt. 1:18-19). And when Joseph thought Mary had been unfaithful he was going to divorce her even though they were both virgins (Matt. 1:19).
Therefore, the only authorization in 1 Cor. 7:27-28 is for a virgin who
is 'divorced' to get married. In our society (since betrothal is not practiced
as it was then), the statement would be equivalent to saying that someone
whose engagement is broken off still has the right to get married to someone
else if he or she so chooses. To make any other application is to ignore
In summary, although Paul does say that sex in marriage is good, he does
specifically command that married saints must remain married. If the sin
of divorce happens, then they must remain single or be reconciled. Paul
does not give saints the right to marry another. Paul does exclude the
case of virgin marriages, "betrothals", which are broken from this prohibition
Glenn E. Hamilton