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Divorce and Adultery

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  • Divorce and Adultery

    I've been reading Peterson's The Message and came upon the passage where Jesus teaches that one remarrying after divorce commits adultery. Peterson's paraphrase (I've read that it's a translation but I'm not certain) specifies that it's divorcing so that the leaving spouse can marry another that causes the adultery. That actually makes good sense but is it correct?

    "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


    "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

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  • #2
    The Message is awful.


    Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

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    • #3
      I wasn't asking for a critique of the whole book - and it has some merit as a paraphrase. I wouldn't teach from it but there are a lot of translations that I wouldn't teach from.

      My question is whether or not Peterson is correct here, or if the thing has merit at all.

      "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


      "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

      My Personal Blog

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      • #4
        And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery." -- Mark 10:11-12. NASB
        . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

        . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

        Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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        • #5
          Thanks, Bible.

          "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


          "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

          My Personal Blog

          My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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          • #6
            The Message is a paraphrase, not a translation... and frankly, it is frequently a paraphrase of Peterson's personal views. Notice how he paraphrases 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 to remove any mention of homosexuality. A more productive route would be to see what scholars have written about these verses.
            "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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            • #7
              It would make more sense yes if you left your spouse, divorced, however it leaves several exceptions. And of course Paul elaborates on this. Matthew adds the qualifier except for marital unfaithfulness. Peterson's paraphrase is likely correct, but he left out the scholarship that comes to that conclusion. Obviously have lived through a marriage where my spouse was emotionally abusive and unfaithful and having him demand the divorce, I'm partial to the idea that being remarried after the spouse was already unfaithful is ok.
              A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
              George Bernard Shaw

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              • #8
                I'd agree if it were a matter of study, but I am merely reading. I came across the passage and wondered about it.

                "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                My Personal Blog

                My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                  I've been reading Peterson's The Message


                  That actually makes good sense
                  How so?

                  On a related note just as it is amusing to see Western Christians trying to force Scripture to fit in with progressive ideas of homosexuality (eg. Matthew Vines with his 'truly loving homosexual relationships are okay') it's also quite entertaining to see Western Christians invent justifications for divorce out of thin air (eg. 'emotional abuse') or take advantage of loopholes (some Catholics claim that the sacramental marriage actually never happened).

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                  • #10
                    This is what Malina and Rohrbaugh say in their Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels

                    First some background on the passage:

                    Source: Social-science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels by Bruce J. Malina, Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Fortress Press, pp. 188-189

                    10:4: Wife/Daughter; Divorce. For an understanding of divorce on must understand what marriage meant in ancient Mediterranean culture. Under normal circumstances, individuals really did not get married. Families did. One family offered a male, the other a female. Their wedding stood for the merger of the larger extended families and symbolized the fusion of the honor of both families involved. It would be undertaken with a view to political and/or economic concerns -- even when it might be confined to fellow ethnics as it was in first-century house of Israel. Divorce, then, would entail the dissolution of these extended family-ties. It represented a challenge to the family of the former wife and would likely result in family feuding.

                    © Copyright Original Source



                    And now to the passage in question:

                    Source: Social-science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels by Bruce J. Malina, Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Fortress Press, pp. 188-189

                    10:11 It is important to read this text carefully. In Mark's community, what is prohibited is not divorce, but divorce and remarriage, or divorce in order to marry again. This community likewise knows of women (or a woman's family) who can initiate divorce. It would be such a divorce that would inevitably lead to family feuding, a true negative challenge to the honor of the other family. However, for Mark's community, nothing is actually said about cases of divorce where marrying some other person is not in view.

                    For a married woman to have sexual relations with someone other than her husband is adultery, clearly the implication in v. 12. Given first-century understandings of adultery, that makes sense. Such behavior dishonors the husband. But given those same first-century understandings, for a male to marry another after divorce (v. 11) simply cannot be adultery. Adultery against whom?

                    Adultery means to dishonor a male by having sexual relations with his wife. Take this definition quite literally. Since it is males who embody gender honor, and since only male equals can challenge for honor, a female cannot and does not dishonor a wife by having sexual relations with the wife's husband. Nor can a married man dishonor his wife by having sexual relations with some other female. A husband's relations with a prostitute do not dishonor the honorable wife.

                    Now, if a husband divorced his wife in order to remarry, which male would be dishonored? On any obvious reading, it would have to be the father (or other males) of the family of the divorced wife. In other words, it is the family of the divorced woman who is dishonored by her husband divorcing and marrying another, precisely the behavior that led to family feuding. That is what is prohibited here.

                    © Copyright Original Source



                    So...that's one take on the passage that sounds like it lines up with Peterson's paraphrase.

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                    • #11
                      Haven't read the book, but it sounds rather forced, as if Malina and Rohrbaugh are eisegeting in a 'standard Mediterranean view', which is problematic not least because contextually Jesus is trying to overturn standard and social norms:

                      Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                      Given first-century understandings of adultery, that makes sense. Such behavior dishonors the husband...Adultery means to dishonor a male by having sexual relations with his wife. Take this definition quite literally.
                      According to this, adultery cannot be committed against women which runs against "whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her".

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                        This is what Malina and Rohrbaugh say in their Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels

                        First some background on the passage:

                        Source: Social-science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels by Bruce J. Malina, Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Fortress Press, pp. 188-189

                        10:4: Wife/Daughter; Divorce. For an understanding of divorce on must understand what marriage meant in ancient Mediterranean culture. Under normal circumstances, individuals really did not get married. Families did. One family offered a male, the other a female. Their wedding stood for the merger of the larger extended families and symbolized the fusion of the honor of both families involved. It would be undertaken with a view to political and/or economic concerns -- even when it might be confined to fellow ethnics as it was in first-century house of Israel. Divorce, then, would entail the dissolution of these extended family-ties. It represented a challenge to the family of the former wife and would likely result in family feuding.

                        © Copyright Original Source



                        And now to the passage in question:

                        Source: Social-science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels by Bruce J. Malina, Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Fortress Press, pp. 188-189

                        10:11 It is important to read this text carefully. In Mark's community, what is prohibited is not divorce, but divorce and remarriage, or divorce in order to marry again. This community likewise knows of women (or a woman's family) who can initiate divorce. It would be such a divorce that would inevitably lead to family feuding, a true negative challenge to the honor of the other family. However, for Mark's community, nothing is actually said about cases of divorce where marrying some other person is not in view.

                        For a married woman to have sexual relations with someone other than her husband is adultery, clearly the implication in v. 12. Given first-century understandings of adultery, that makes sense. Such behavior dishonors the husband. But given those same first-century understandings, for a male to marry another after divorce (v. 11) simply cannot be adultery. Adultery against whom?

                        Adultery means to dishonor a male by having sexual relations with his wife. Take this definition quite literally. Since it is males who embody gender honor, and since only male equals can challenge for honor, a female cannot and does not dishonor a wife by having sexual relations with the wife's husband. Nor can a married man dishonor his wife by having sexual relations with some other female. A husband's relations with a prostitute do not dishonor the honorable wife.

                        Now, if a husband divorced his wife in order to remarry, which male would be dishonored? On any obvious reading, it would have to be the father (or other males) of the family of the divorced wife. In other words, it is the family of the divorced woman who is dishonored by her husband divorcing and marrying another, precisely the behavior that led to family feuding. That is what is prohibited here.

                        © Copyright Original Source



                        So...that's one take on the passage that sounds like it lines up with Peterson's paraphrase.
                        It does but I think he takes it too far. Or rather, doesn't note that Jesus puts a different spin on it.

                        And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery." -- Mark 10:11-12. NASB
                        *emphasis mine

                        Jesus is saying the opposite of what the culture said (and hardly for the first time). A man can commit adultery against his wife. It's the adulterous intent that seems to be in focus in Peterson's paraphrase as well as to an extent in the cultural review you provided.

                        In answer to Pep's question, that was the part that makes more sense to me than merely marriage/remarriage. I never 'got' why an innocent spouse should have to remain single after a spouse refused to stay.

                        "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                        "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                        My Personal Blog

                        My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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                        • #13
                          In the same book, in their commentary on the mirror passage in Matthew 19:9, Rohrbaugh and Malina repeat their previous statements, and add:

                          If the accusation of adultery relates back to the divorcing husband or the the divorced wife, then the sentence would be a parable -- something more or other than the obvious meaning is meant by the scenario of divorce in order to remarry.

                          Perhaps closer to your own view is Ben Witherington III's, in his commentary on Mark:

                          Source: The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary by Ben Witherington, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp.277-278

                          Mark 10:11 is a teaching apparently independently attested in Luke 16:18a. Mark seems to have added to the original form of the teaching the phrase ἐπ’ αὐτήν, which could either be translated "against her" or "with her." Early Jews apparently never spoke of a man committing adultery against his own wife, and thus N. Turner and B. Schaller have suggested that the phrase be translated "with her" (i.e., with the second woman). Thus v. 11 could mean "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery with the other." This makes good sense, for adultery is by definition an act committed by a married person with a third party. But there are good reasons to favor the translation "against her." Certainly the verse reflects the spirit of Jesus' views, for only Jesus, or someone just as radical, was likely to go against the grain of patriarchy to the degree of redefining adultery not as an act committed against another man who has a wife, but in terms of infidelity either against one's own wife or with another's wife. What is interesting about this whole verse is not just the strictness of it, for Jesus seems to assume that the first one-flesh union is still in force even after the divorce, hence the second marriage is seen as an act of adultery, but that, against the normal use of the term in antiquity, it is the man who is called an adulterer.

                          One could argue that Mark 10:12 is Mark's adaptation of Jesus' radical teaching on divorce to a Greco-Roman setting, since Jewish women basically did not have the power or legal permission to divorce their husbands in Jesus' locale and era. Josephus says, "For it is (only) the man who is permitted by us to do this, and not even a divorced woman may marry again on her own initiative unless her former husband consent" (Ant. 15.259). Yet as E. Bammel has shown, there is some evidence that even some Jewish women in Palestine could both write out the bill of divorce and even pronounce the divorce formula. Some Jewish women of high rank such as Herodias did divorce their husbands, but this could be seen as the exception which proves the general rule (for the social elite often did not play by the normal rules). This raises the possibility that 10:12 is Jesus' own comment on the famous case of Herodias (see also Luke 13:31-32). The conclusion of D. Juel about this whole passage is apt: "[Jesus'] forbidding of divorce is clearly a statement about the status of women in society. They are to be safeguarded as vulnerable members of society. . . . Crucial to their survival has always been economic support. Easy divorce of women with young children means abrogating responsibility for caring for the most important members of society at a time of maximum vulnerability. The community that forms around Jesus will be an alternative community."

                          © Copyright Original Source

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                            In the same book, in their commentary on the mirror passage in Matthew 19:9, Rohrbaugh and Malina repeat their previous statements, and add:

                            If the accusation of adultery relates back to the divorcing husband or the the divorced wife, then the sentence would be a parable -- something more or other than the obvious meaning is meant by the scenario of divorce in order to remarry.
                            They may be experts on social science by their logic sucks: Jesus couldn't have been redefining adultery such that adultery could be committed against women because general Mediterranean culture, so ignore the clear sense of the text, as well as the fact that Jesus had been transgressing and redefining social norms left, right, and center, with marriage being precisely the one immediately prior.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                              In answer to Pep's question, that was the part that makes more sense to me than merely marriage/remarriage. I never 'got' why an innocent spouse should have to remain single after a spouse refused to stay.
                              As per Witherington:

                              Jesus seems to assume that the first one-flesh union is still in force even after the divorce, hence the second marriage is seen as an act of adultery

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