Marriage, divorce and the law


This is a part of a series about Godly divorce and marriage…

I am still on the topic of divorce. This post deals with the law… but not laws relating specifically to marriage and divorce…

When a beliver contemplates divorce or remarriage that person rightly looks up the laws in scripture that relate to the topic.

Its very good to be informed, because “scripture is useful for teaching”. But scripture is clear about trying to keep the law… if you keep one you must keep them all…

For whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For the one who said, “Never commit adultery,” also said, “Never murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you become a violator of the Law. You must make it your habit to speak and act like people who are going to be judged by the law of liberty. – James 2:10-12

And what is more… Jesus Christ did many things that seemingly contradicted “the law’.

For example… He wrote (on the ground) on a sabbath, He healed on a sabbath

(Mat 12:10) And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

His disciples plucked corn to eat on the sabbath

(Mar 2:23) And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?

and He touched many many unclean people (like the leper) in contravention of Lev 5:3

Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled with, and it be hid from him; when he knows of it, then he shall be guilty. – Lev 5:3

Jesus Christ allowed a woman caught in adultery to live, where the law required that she be stoned. He SEEMS (on the surface) to break the law.

Despite these things, He remained perfect in Gods eyes. He remained sinless under the law.

He was touched by a woman who had a “flow of blood” for many years… but it didnt make Him unclean… despite the law saying you may not even COME NEAR a woman who is menstruating.

None of these things made Jesus Christ unclean… despite the law saying if you do these things you have trespassed against God. We need to come to terms with these issues. What does it say about the law?

WHY could Jesus touch a leper and not be unclean?

He interacted with sinners, women and tax collectors.

He stood in houses in which there were sinful objects… under the law those objects made everything in the house unclean. But it didnt make Jesus unclean. Why?

The law said you cannot eat certain things but Jesus Christ taught that it is not what goes into the mouth tht makes you unclean, it is what comes out of the heart that makes you unclean (see Matt 15:11 and v18-21).

Did He say the law is wrong, or was He saying that our UNDERSTANDING OF THE LAW was wrong?

And perhaps the most un-religious thing God did was asking Hosea to marry a prostitute who had already had children from the men who had been using her…

And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms – Hos 1:2

There are laws against this for a high priest in Lev 21:14 and it says for all of Israel in Deut 23:17-18 you cannot make “any vow” with a prostitute… any vow like marriage.

But God told Hosea to do it… and it was not sin.

Why could Jesus Christ do these things and still be considered holy, pure and blameless? God (through Paul) affirms in Romans that the law is right and good. So then… if the problem is not with the law, not with Jesus Christ seemingly breaking the law repeatedly… then the problem must be our understanding of the law.

If Jesus Christ’s behaviour contradicts our understanding of the law, His behaviour must force us to correct our understanding of the law.

In essence, the foundation of our faith must rest on Jesus Christ, not on scripture. Scripture INFORMS us about Jesus Christ, all scripture is USEFUL for teaching, but the rock that we build our house on must be Jesus Christ, not scripture and not a faulty understanding of the law.

How do we resolve this? What should our new understanding of the law be?

I have found four reasons why Jesus Christ could do these things

1. The sabbath (representing the law) was made for the benefit of man… not to entrap people into slave-like lives (see Mark 22:27). Its here to guide, not to control and enslave.

2. Jesus Christ is greater than the temple (and greater than the law) and He supersedes the law… He is Lord of the law (see Mark 2:28, Mat 12:8, Luke 6:5)

3. Jesus Christ had the authority to forgive sin

4. All sin was about to be paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore the death of the woman caught in adultery was no longer necessary under the law, because Jesus Christ died in her place

I think all these reasons are good, but reason 4 should be the one that sets off revelation in your thinking, as it did in mine about 5 years ago.

That is, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them – 2Cor 5:19

Let me clarify this…

Jesus Christ literally died on the cross that had been prepared for Barabbas.

Did Barabbas ask to be set free? No. Did he say thank you? No. Did he turn and repent? No. Was an unrepentant Barabbas free because Jesus Christ took his place? Yes.

The freedom is global and it is for everyone, whether they ask for it or not.

BUT. (The fine print)

Was Barabbas saved and going to Heaven? No.

He was set free, but there is no indication that he was grateful or repentant or that he asked forgiveness and received the miracle of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death.

Was Barabbas set free in this life? Yes. Because he was set free, does it mean he is going to Heaven? No. You can only receive eternal life ACCEPTING the atoning sacrifice Jesus Christ made for you.

Sorry if Im getting off the topic. The point is that the law must not be used to enslave. It is for our benefit and it is superceded by Jesus Christ.

We humans are highly prone to religion and making law out of things.

If we knew what Jeus Christ wrote on the ground I bet religious believers would make a rule saying that is the ONLY thing we are allowed to write on the ground.

Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the desert and then later God sent someone to destroy it because people were making pilgrimmages to it.

While Moses was up the mountain with God people began to make idols.

The law, like scripture is USEFUL for teaching… but thats all it is. Useful. Dont try to keep the law. If you try to keep even one law you must keep them all.

Instead, try to understand what God’s heart is on the matter… a matter such as divorce.

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