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The Church Ethic
Separation: Objections 1-3
Importance of Family Part 1: Marriage
The Importance of Family Part 2: The
Divorce and Remarriage: Introduction
Separation and Divorce in the Law
Marital Separation in the Gospels
Marital Separation after the Gospels
Marital Separation: Objections
Marital Separation: Objections
4-6 and the Early Church
Remarriage Addendum: Exception
New Testament Protocols Regarding Men
and Women (Part 1)
New Testament Protocols Regarding Men
and Women (Part 2)
Comparative Peer Dynamics Chart
1: Moses Forbids Reconciliation
The first text-based objection that might be raised against
the above conclusions concerns our assertion that God desires
persons in second marriages (or third marriages, etc.) to
leave their second marriage and return to their original spouse.
The textual claim behind this objection is that Deuteronomy
specifically prohibits a man from remarrying his original
wife after she marries someone new, even calling it an abomination
to God. Of course, we saw those instructions earlier in our
examination of Deuteronomy 24.
Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and
married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour
in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in
her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement,
and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2
And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and
be another man's wife. 3 And if the latter husband hate
her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in
her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter
husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4 Her former
husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be
his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination
before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to
sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
This passage clearly teaches that it is an abomination for
a man to remarry his original wife AFTER he has given her
a certificate of divorce and she has become the wife of another.
And it is this detail that is the focal point of the objection
to our conclusions. In our conclusions, we argued that God's
will is for the original husband and wife to end their second
marriages and either remain single or to be reconciled to
their original spouse. However, here in Deuteronomy 24, Moses
clearly taught that for a man to remarry his original spouse
after she has married another is an abomination before God.
So, how can our conclusions be true?
Well, this is really quite simple. We must first take note
of the obvious. This statement from Deuteronomy is part of
the Law of Moses, which was in effect up until it was replaced
by the teachings of Jesus Christ, which is the Law of Christ
and the basis of the New Covenant. The fact that Jesus Christ
did fulfill and remove the Law of Moses is sufficiently and
thoroughly established in our articles on the subject of Redemption.
So, we will not rework that issue here. Likewise, our examination
of Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5
demonstrates quite unequivocally that Jesus did, in fact,
take the standards of the Law of Moses and replace them with
requirements that were stricter in some instances.
Therefore, what first needs to be recognized is that the rules
for remarriage under the Law of Moses are not the same as
the rules for remarriage under the teaching of Christ Jesus.
To bring that statement into sharper focus consider the following.
Remarrying your original wife after she'd married another
man was an abomination in the Law of Moses precisely because
the Law of Moses recognized second marriages. Thus, it was
possible under the Law of Moses for a woman to marry someone
new. And if she did marry someone new, then she could not
reconcile with or remarry her original husband. Consequently,
the occurrence of a second marriage forever forbid the original
spouses from reconciling even after the second marriage ended.
But if any link in this chain is removed, then the objection
falls apart. For example, if the Law of Moses had not recognized
second marriages, then it would not be possible for a woman
to marry someone new, in which case there would be no second
marriage to prevent her from returning to her husband.
While it is true that Moses' Law did in fact recognize second
marriages as Deuteronomy 24 plainly states, all that would
be necessary to remove the abomination would be if the New
Covenant declared by Jesus did not recognize second marriages.
If Jesus' Law declared by Jesus did not recognize second marriage
but considered all second marriages to be adultery, then there
could be no such second marriage to prevent a woman from returning
to her original husband.
So, the question is, did Jesus' Law differ from the Mosaic
Law by no longer recognizing second marriages as the Law of
Moses had done? This we have already thoroughly shown to be
true in our article. Since the New Covenant does not recognize
second marriages but instead considers them adultery, second
marriages do not pose a problem for reconciliation under the
New Covenant. In fact, by classifying second marriages as
adulterous, the New Covenant upholds that the original marital
union remained intact despite second marriages and therefore
reconciliation of the parties in that union was not only permitted
Objection 2: Spousal Abuse
Right at the beginning, we want to say that the spousal abuse
scenario more often than not is not introduced on behalf of
alleviating the suffering of abused spouses. Instead, this
scenario is typically introduced into the debate for the sole
purpose of simply demonstrating that the New Testament teaching
is not complete or exhaustive because it does not list an
exception in the case of spousal abuse. The goal is simply
to reduce the New Testament teaching to inadequacy so that
once the New Testament teaching is shown to be short-sighted
in some scenarios, such as the example of spousal abuse, then
a whole host of alternate scenarios can be introduced as exceptions
In short, if the spousal abuse scenario were introduced only
to create a merciful exception in the unique, extreme case
where a spouse is being abused, then that would be one thing,
but in reality, this extreme case is simply used as leverage
to allow many other spouses who are not being abused to separate
as well. Even if a merciful exception were to be granted for
abused spouses although no such exception is given in scripture,
that should still not in any way open a floodgate through
which other spouses who are not abused are permitted to leave
their husbands or wives.
Nevertheless, it is necessary for us to address this fundamental
question of whether or not the New Testament is indeed exhaustive
in which case the lack of an exception for instances spousal
abuse was intentional or if the New Testament teaching on
this is not intended to be exhaustive, in which case we are
free to create additional exceptions to the rules described
Of course, absolutely nowhere in either the Old Testament
or the New Testament is spousal abuse listed as grounds for
marital separation. Both times in Matthew (chapters 5 and
19) when Jesus gives an exception to his prohibition of marital
separation, he leaves out spousal abuse. Likewise, when Paul
makes statements about the requirements of Christian spouses
to stay with rather than separate from their original spouses
in Romans 7 and 1 Corinthians 7 nowhere does he even comment
on let alone list spousal abuse as an exception.
So, how is it that Jesus and Paul both missed such an exception?
Perhaps a scenario of spousal abuse never occurred to either
of them and so they failed to take it into account in their
instructions on these matters. Perhaps they both just thought
such a scenario was so common sense that it didn't even need
to be mentioned. But in order for it to be common sense, that
would require that spousal abuse was commonly accepted as
being wrong, not just by Jesus and Paul, but to the entire
society for whom Jesus and Paul would have allegedly thought
it this knowledge was common sense. It is more than a little
hard to imagine first century society where women's rights
had evolved so much that physical force from a husband was
shunned to the degree of being called "common sense."
Nevertheless, these things are in the realm of conjecture
and we don't want to build our understanding or application
of the teachings of Christ on conjecture, especially when
the conjecture is about speculation over exceptions to the
known rules given by Christ.
So, we are left with the lingering question of how such wise
men and thoughtful teachers as Jesus and Paul could have overlooked
this necessary exception and failed to ever mention it. Surely,
men as loving as Jesus and Paul would not have wanted or intended
that an abused wife was required to endure such suffering.
Surely, such compassionate men would have wanted to remove
the wife from this most unjust, physical harm.
Or would they? We must ask ourselves if we see in the New
Testament any indication or pattern that would support the
notion that Jesus wanted to remove Christians from unjust
physical harm, even if it meant overturning his stated instructions.
As we consider this question, we in fact find the opposite.
Below are the New Testament passages concerning suffering,
which demonstrate this clearly, followed by closing commentary
regarding how such passages refute the need or basis of an
exception the marital separation in order to alleviate the
suffering of spousal abuse.
Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile
you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil
against you falsely, for my sake.
Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said,
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say
unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite
thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away
thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever
shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow
of thee turn not thou away.
Matthew 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony
places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon
with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself,
but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution
ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Mark 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown
on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately
receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves,
and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction
or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they
Luke 6:29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the
one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh
away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
Luke 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I
will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they
shall slay and persecute: 50 That the blood of all the
prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world,
may be required of this generation;
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you,
The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have
persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have
kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that
in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Acts 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they
had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded
that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them
go. 41 And they departed from the presence of the council,
rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame
for his name.
Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and
exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must
through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations
also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And
patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope
maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad
in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God,
and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with
him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I
reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for
the manifestation of the sons of God.
Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation;
continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity
of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute
you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do
rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind
one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to
men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense
to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight
of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you,
live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge
not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for
it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the
1 Corinthians 4:10 We are fools for Christ's sake,
but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong;
ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even
unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are
naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled,
we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being
defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the
world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this
1 Corinthians 6:6 But brother goeth to law with brother,
and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is
utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another.
Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer
yourselves to be defrauded?
2 Corinthians 1: 3 Blessed be God, even the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God
of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation,
that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble,
by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so
our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6 And whether we
be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation,
which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings
which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is
for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope of you
is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings,
so shall ye be also of the consolation.
2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but
though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is
renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which
is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and
eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for
the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which
are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that
the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving
ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in
afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In
stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in
watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering,
by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the
word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness
on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour,
by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and
yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying,
and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet
making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing
2 Corinthians 7:4 Great is my boldness of speech toward
you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort,
I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.
Galatians 5:11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision,
why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence
of the cross ceased.
Philippians 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your
adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition,
but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29 For unto
you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to
believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30 Having
the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to
be in me.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 And ye became followers of us,
and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction,
with joy of the Holy Ghost:
1 Thessalonians 3:3 That no man should be moved
by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed
thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we
told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as
it came to pass, and ye know. 5 For this cause, when I
could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by
some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour
be in vain.
2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you
in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all
your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which
is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that
ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which
ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with
God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord
Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know
not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from
the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to
be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony
among you was believed) in that day.
2 Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the
testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou
partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to
the power of God;
2 Timothy 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed
of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto
bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I
endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may
also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal
glory. 11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with
him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall
also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny
2 Timothy 3:10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine,
manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity,
patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which
came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions
I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall
suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall
wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned
and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned
2 Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure
afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof
of thy ministry.
Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the
hands of the living God. 32 But call to remembrance the
former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured
a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye
were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions;
and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were
so used. 34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took
joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves
that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who
have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering
affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them
happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job,
and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful,
and of tender mercy.
1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters
with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to
the froward.19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for
conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your
faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well,
and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable
with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called:
because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin,
neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was
reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened
not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
1 Peter 3:13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye
be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer
for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of
their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the
Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer
to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is
in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience;
that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they
may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation
in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so,
that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for
the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put
to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning
the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange
thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as
ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory
shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;
for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their
part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief,
or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be
ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For
the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of
God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of
them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous
scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner
appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to
the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in
well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
2 Peter 5: 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary
the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom
he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing
that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren
that are in the world.
Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother,
and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience
of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos,
for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation,
and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy
of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the
synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which
thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of
you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have
tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and
I will give thee a crown of life.
Instead of a pattern where Jesus instructs or seeks to remove
Christians from unjust suffering, even the most extreme physical
harm, we see that Jesus and Paul both repeatedly instruct
Christians to endure such unjust suffering with patience and
in this age to voluntarily forego appeals to rectify the situation
on the grounds of justice.
No doubt the suggestion of this standard in cases of spousal
abuse will seem monstrous and cruel to the modern Church,
which has largely discarded the types of passages above in
favor of the view that God never wills to see his people in
prolonged suffering but instead it is always wills that they
be removed from such intolerable conditions. However, this
modern notion is not only foreign to scripture, but contrary
to explicit New Testament teaching, which clearly and repeatedly
demonstrates that God does not desire to remove his people
from suffering and rather than granting them permission to
override his rules to avoid suffering or seek a just resolution
in this age, God expects and requires that Christians instead
endure the harm that comes their way with patience and the
simple hope of our future reward in God's kingdom.
In light of the overwhelming New Testament teaching from both
Jesus and Paul instructing Christians to endure unjust suffering
and physical harm, to refrain from resisting in this age on
the grounds of what is just, and to await God to avenge their
injustice when he comes in judgment, we are left without any
basis to assert that cases of spousal abuse are an exception
to these teachings or the teachings concerning marital separation.
Instead, as unpleasant as it does seem, we must understand
that the repeated New Testament theme of enduring unjust suffering
and counting it gain for the glory that lies ahead of us denies
us any grounds for asserting that God would grant an exception
for marital separation because of his desire to see a wife
removed from suffering unjust physical abuse.
The culmination of these scriptures is that when we suffer
unjust harm, we should endure it and make sure not to let
even that unjust suffering be a cause for us to disobey or
throw off the clear teachings of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus
Christ gave no exception for marital separation, except in
cases of adultery, even the unjust abuse suffered by a wife
should not be cause for her to throw off Christ's prohibitions
against marital separation.
Instead of thinking that her unjust suffering is sufficient
cause to throw off the prohibitions given by Christ, such
a woman should receive our prayer and emotional support while
knowing in herself that it is good and acceptable to God that
we "endure grief, suffering wrongfully," (1 Peter 2:19) and
that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to
be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us"
(Romans 8:18). And she should know this also, that this unjust
suffering is not some strange thing that has come upon her
(1 Peter 4:12), but that many Christians have suffered as
much (2 Peter 5:8) and even worse while living righteously
and enduring imprisonment, beatings, whips, stoning, torture,
being burnt alive, and being devoured by wild animals.
Objection 3: The Woman at the Well
One other scriptural objection that might be raised against
our conclusions involves the example of the woman at the well
in John 4.
John 4:5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which
is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob
gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus
therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the
well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman
of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to
drink...13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh
of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh
of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but
the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of
water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith
unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither
come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy
husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said,
I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast
well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had
five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband:
in that saidst thou truly. 19 The woman saith unto him,
Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped
in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place
where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman,
believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this
mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
While this is only a portion of this passage, it makes the
necessary point. In verses 17-18, Jesus confronts this woman
about the fact that she has been married five times and is
currently living with a man she is not even married to. Yet
at no point in this discussion do we find Jesus making any
statements that she needs to change her lifestyle or go back
to her original husband. Nor do we find any indication that
she does these things. The argument from the opposition is
that since we have no record of Jesus telling her to give
up her current lifestyle and go back to her original husband,
Jesus therefore must have found secondary marriage acceptable.
But this is quite a ridiculous argument. First of all, there
is nothing in the text one way or the other that explicitly
deals with whether or not divorce and remarriage is acceptable.
In fact, the oppositions' whole argument depends on that fact.
The argument is that because nothing is said, it must be acceptable
for this woman to remain in her current situation and her
adultery is forgiven even though she does not change her lifestyle,
which was adulterous. This is nothing more than an argument
from silence. Nothing is said, so it must be OK.
However, the problem is that we have this passage in which
there is no explicit statement one way or the other about
remarriage and then we have four clear passages in Matthew
4:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11, and Luke 16:18 in which Jesus
very explicitly condemns second marriages as adulterous. While
this passage may be silent on the matter, these other passages
are not. So, we are deprived of any argument from silence
given the fact that the New Testament as a whole does not
remain silent on this issue even if John 4 does.
Furthermore, in John 8:4-11, Jesus is confronted with the
issue of a woman caught in the very act of adultery. And in
that passage, Jesus' response to that woman is to "go and
sin no more," which is another clear indication that Jesus
did not permit adultery. It is also a further indication that
Jesus' remedy for adultery was repentance that involved no
longer committing the behavior that is adulterous.
It would be one thing if we had a passage in which Jesus explicitly
says second marriages are acceptable and another in which
he explicitly says that second marriages are adultery. If
that were the case, we'd have to reconcile the two statements.
But, in the current scenario, we have one account where there
is no statement made compared to four other places where a
direct statement is made. You cannot override four direct
statements simply because another passage doesn't comment
at all either for or against an idea. In light of the explicitly
clear quality of Matthew 4:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11, Luke
16:18, and John 8:4-11 the absence of any such assertion in
John 4 is meaningless.
And there is another problem with appealing to John 4. The
woman at the well is not currently married. She is living
with a man she is not married to. So, if Jesus' lack of comments
telling her to change are meant to indicate his acceptance
of her current lifestyle situation, we'd be forced to conclude
that Jesus accepted intercourse with those we aren't married
to. Therefore, we can't use John 4 as support for the notion
that Jesus accepted secondary marriages. Instead, we must
simply conclude that John 4 does not provide for us any explicit
teaching whatsoever regarding the issue of divorce and remarriage,
in which case we must return to relying upon other passages
such as Matthew 4:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11, and Luke 16:18.