Divorce, Remarriage and a Redemptive Hermeneutic

What are your thoughts on divorce and remarriage? What do you think the bible teaches on these issues? I recently scanned William J. Webb’s book Slaves, Women & Homosexuals in which he discusses a redemptive hermeneutic. In short, he points out that the revelation of God in the Scripture was progressive when it comes to dealing with the abuses of slaves and women in comparison to the then current societies and cultures. He handles homosexuality differently. Briefly, he seems to suggest that Scripture is timelessly consistent in its condemnation of homosexuality. The conclusion begs the question, “Do we continue this progressive, redemptive hermeneutic, or did the Scripture take it as far as it needed to go?” I would like ask whether we could place divorce and remarriage in such a discussion?

Is the Scripture progressive or timelessly consistent?

Is the Scripture progressive or timelessly consistent?

Divorce and remarriage are commonplace in the Church today. Does such a redemptive hermeneutic apply to these marital issues or is the Scripture timelessly consistent in its stance on divorce and remarriage? These are not easy issues to wrestle with…while you may find that you are skilled at throwing intellectual punches in the blogosphere; one only needs to sit across a family member or friend who has been divorced and remarried – and is a believer mind you – in order to hesitate in your position.

This post came to my mind while I was doing some work in the Apostolic Fathers. Read what is written here in The Shepherd of Hermas, and happy blogging! I look forward to our discussion:

Shep. 29:1 ¶ {Mandate 4.1.1} “I command you,” he said, “to guard purity, and let no thought enter your heart about another man’s wife or about fornication, or about some such similar evil thing, for in doing this you commit a major sin. But always keep your mind on your own wife and you will never go wrong.
Shep. 29:2 For if this desire enters your heart, you will go wrong, and if others things as evil as this enter, you commit sin. For this desire in a servant of God is a major sin, and if anyone does this evil deed, he brings death on himself.
Shep. 29:3 So beware; have nothing to do with this desire; for where holiness lives, there lawlessness ought not to enter the heart of a righteous man.”
Shep. 29:4 I said to him, “Sir, allow me to ask you a few more questions.” “Speak,” he replied. “Sir,” I said, “if a man has a wife who believes in the Lord, and he finds her in some adulterous situation, does the man sin if he continues to live with her?”
Shep. 29:5 “As long as he is unaware of it,” he said, “he does not sin. But if the husband knows about her sin and the wife does not repent, but persists in her immorality, and the husband continues to live with her, he becomes responsible for her sin and an accomplice in her adultery.”
Shep. 29:6 “So what, sir,” I said, “should the husband do, if the wife persists in this passion?” “Let him divorce her,” he said, “and let the husband live by himself. But if after divorcing his wife he should marry another, then he too commits adultery.”
Shep. 29:7 “So then, sir,” I said, “if, after the wife is divorced, she repents and wants to return to her own husband, she will be taken back, won’t she?”
Shep. 29:8 “Certainly,” he said. “If the husband does not take her back, he sins, and brings a major sin upon himself. In fact, the one who has sinned and repented must be taken back. But not repeatedly: for there is only one repentance for God’s servants. So, because of the possibility of her repentance, the husband ought not to marry. This procedure applies to wife and husband.

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  1. #1 by John on December 31, 2009 - 12:32 am

    Hi, I am from Australia.

    Please check out this reference on this vexed question. It was written as a positive response to the book Dirt Sex and Greed by William Countryman who is a committed Anglican.

    Countryman really did his homework by thoroughly examining the Bible AND the social contexts of the time of the Bible too.


    Plus I Am The Body Is Love


  2. #2 by rexhowe on January 15, 2010 - 2:38 pm


    Thanks for stopping by the blog. In order to clarify, are you in agreement with Countryman? Also, how would you describe the nature of Avatar Adi Da Samraj’s response to Countryman (eg, opposing, supporting, questioning)? Lastly, how would you tie these things into the primary topic of divorce and remarriage?


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