Gamma 15 – Sermon on the Mount (Study 6)

PART 6

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

GAMMA FACILITATORS

John Goh012 207 6125jgoh2004@yahoo.com
Dr Lee Fook Sin019 230 9492lfooksin@gmail.com
Moh Ee Lin019 273 2468moheelin@gmail.com
Kong Yew012-2902389kongyew.my26@gmail.com
Michael Tan017-3770008michaeltanttc@gmail.com
Ng Cho Hoo012 878 2128ch88.ng@gmail.com
Patrick Khoo019-2516889patrick_khoo@yahoo.com
Cathrine Ng012-2128086catherine.ngsk@gmail.com
Susanah Ng012 3088670susanah84@gmail.com

Kindly contact any of these Gamma Facilitators. They will be hosting Zoom meetings for Discussions every Wednesday starting from April 1, 2020.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – STUDY 6

Instructions
Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to
cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions. The answers will be posted on the web the next day

The people were using this (the men) to divorce their wives for any reason whatsoever God hates divorce simply because it is the breaking of covenant and represents the faithlessness that is the antithesis of covenantal love God has for us and for His chosen people. He expects his people to be faithful to Him as He is faithful to them. They are made in His image and faithful love must be part of the glory of that image reflected and divorce is simply detracts from that glory. Out God is a covenant keeping faithful God and nothing upsets Him more than his people who simply do not reflect that in their spiritual lives nor their marital lives.

The original intent was to prevent abuse of the process that the husband could at his whim divorce his wife and then remarry her a second time around later on hence the divorce process would be taken lightly as he could so easily undo the process. That was the original intent of the law. Instead the Jews chose to focus on the first part of the passage and emphasise on the grounds on which they could find to divorce their spouses. “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her”. They concocted all sorts of interpretation of the indecency which could stretch all the way to even trivial matters like messing up his breakfast all in the pursuit of legitimising their actions of divorce.

The term “hardness of heart” refers to the sinful nature of man” where forgiveness and reconciliation is difficult especially within the marriage where two sinners are bound together for life. Notwithstanding the best efforts of of one or both spouses the past hurts and current stubbornness and sin make divorce a reality hence the certificate of divorce was given by Moses and this was not to be interpreted as carte blanch approval for divorce for any reason was the Jews has misinterpreted it.

The answer to this question is very controversial and difficult.
Firstly it is undoubtedly unfair as the passage is focussed on the wrongful action of the person instituting the divorce and using the Deut 24 provision as an excuse for their hardness of hearts. At first glance it would seem that in their rush to divorce their spouse they make the spouse to be an adulterer.

(ESV) 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

The translation assumes the active voice of “mochieoo” in Greek so the instigator of divorce makes her commit divorce , in the active voice she is the one , the innocent party is committing divorce so he is making her sin. Which does not make sense unless one takes the view that because all marriages or of one flesh and hence in dissoluble then it makes sense because marriage cannot be broken for any reason other than death then this interpretation makes sense.

However the verb here is “mochieoo” in Greek and it is in the passive infinitive tense (NA 27 edition UBS) which means it should be read …32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, adulterates her,..

The passive voice means that the action is being done to her as the subject of the verb. The active voice means that she is doing the action. She is the adulterer. The passive voice means she has been the recipient of the action or being made an adulterer.

The idea is that the wrongful action of the instigator of divorce stigmatises the innocent party by putting her away unjustly by implication as society at that time would have assumed she was the guilty party of adultery or something wrong with her. So to divorce the spouse unjustly would be to stigmatise her and her future spouse who marries her making her triply the victim, firstly of the divorce ,secondly of destroying her marriage and thirdly of being stigmatised as well as ruining it for any future marriage . Hence the understanding from the passive voice in the original language suggests that Jesus is focussing on the sin of the instigator of divorce not the victim of the divorce.

This view is reasonable because
1. Of the grace of the gospel , the way Jesus dealt with people was with love and grace and the innocent party would be allowed to start life all over again instead of being the victim
2. 1 Cor 7: 15 and 28 the spouse is free to remarry when freed from former spouse by death or abandonment

The way each spouse interacts with each other is directed towards Christ. She respect and submits to her husband as her commitment to Jesus trusting that God has instituted the marriage and within this marriage he is to be the leader so that the family will live for the glory of God and she will be sanctified in her walk with God and live with godliness. The purpose of the submission is to that end not to entertain the whims and fancies of the husband who will have a tendency to lord it over her given the curse of Genesis 3.

He is to love the wife and sacrifice for her to present his wife walking in godliness and holiness in the Lord. The sacrifice is not to pander to the whims and fancies of the wife to be enable her to grow in God. For the family to thrive in the Lord.

Their responses are because they both love Jesus and do it for Him and not contingent on how each of them are reciprocating hence their individual sinfulness is taken out of the equation. Hence marriage becomes a tool of sanctification.

Once in the new heavens and new earth the focus of our love will be Jesus. In Rev 22 there is even no longer any Sun to shed light and keep warm, the Center of our attention and worship and joy will be God and we will bask in the light of His unshielded glory. The rigours of marriage would have produced the change in our lives in our journey of life that has culminated in salvation.

The cross represents grace and forgiveness which is the bed rock on which the marriage will be built on. It is built on UNCONDITIONAL love. How Christ forgives us and forgets our sins is the way we should forgive each other. This takes the hurts and past scores away as they are all laid at the feet of the cross where all payment for sin has been made.

Daniel was having difficulties with his marriage with Dianne. He had an anxiety disorder and was constantly nit picking on his wife for not being careful enough with their finances, hygiene, house keeping and care of the children. Diane was a free spirited woman used to outdoor activities like hiking and white river rafting and taking risks which were all the activities he was adverse to. They nevertheless got married despite their polar differences and now cannot reconcile their differences. After 5 years of marriage they decided to divorce amicably despite their church elders objections. They had admitted with sinfulness and repented of it but the elders despite the divorce having occurred 1 year ago still barred them from teaching Sunday school.
1. Why do you think they were barred?
2. Was it right or wrong of the elders to do so?

Briana was in a tumultous marriage with her husband Rob who was volatile and prone to lashing out. He was physically abusive on multiple occasions. He was a smoker and heavy drinker ever since he was laid off his job for fighting with his boss. Briana was the only bread winner but Rob used to take their money and still go out every night drinking and gambling in Genting Highlands. Although they were both Christians when they got married, it because apparent that Rob was not really into the spiritual scene. He only joined the Alpha group and converted just prior to the marriage and the counsellor and church elders took him at his word in good faith.

One evening, Rob just took off and was no where to be found and for the next 12 months Briana was alone with the two kids. Some friends of theirs informed her that he had migrated to Japan of all places as he was a fluent Japanese speaker and got a high paying job there. It is now 5 years down the line and finances are tight, Briana’s attempts to contact Rob have been rebuffed and he refuses to pick up the phone or write back. Briana’s kids need funds for their school and she has met another man whom she had fallen in love with who is a believer in their church for a long time. She is contemplating divorce and remarriage and came to the life group members for advice.
1. What should she do?

Francesca is an immigrant from Spain and re-settled in KL for the past 8 years. She had been active in church for the last 5 years helping out in any way she could. She was a greatly loved Sunday school teacher and had the love and admiration of all her kids. There was a recent series of departure of teacher and they were very short and she was asked to take up the position of the Director of Sunday school. While the elders were considering the appointment, one of the parents pointed out that she was a divorcee when she was in Spain. It turned out that she had a turbulent past history of drug abuse and prison for theft. She was married to a gentleman in Spain but ran off with another man who later dumped her. Her husband had divorced her for abandonment and to start a new life she came to Kuala Lumpur. She came from a nominal Christian family and cannot even tell you when she accepted Christ. She was baptised in the Baptist church in Barcelona at 15 years of age and married her childhood sweet heart in the same church at the age of 18 years. Since the divorce he has since remarried . In the last 8 years in KL she had gradually come to grips with the gospel and the Lord had apparently changed her life around. She had fully repented of her past.

Some of the parents do not think that she would be a good example as a Sunday school head given her past. Others are supportive as she is a picture of the Lord’s grace how it can turn person around.
1. Some of the parents have suggested to the elders not to allow her to even take theLord’s Supper given her status as an adulterer. What do you think?
2. Others in church want her membership to be withdrawn as she did not disclose her past when she applied to be a member hence this was a breach of trust and required church discipline. How would you handle that?
3. Should she be allowed to serve as Sunday school head? How would you prepare the public for this if you are going ahead with the appointment?

Answers are available.

Please feel free to post your comments in the comments section.

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