Jesus loves you, but he hates your new wife – Atheist Bible Study

It's odd. As an Atheist I seem to spend a lot more time reading the Bible now than I did when I was a Christian. I also read the Quran, and even have a copy of the Book of Mormon that I glance at from time to time; but it is the Bible that keeps pulling me back in for more study, probably because I read it so seriously as a Christian. It's a lot more FUN to read now that I realize that its just another book of mythology, as relevant as Greek and Roman mythology.

What isn't so fun is when I see Biblical mythology being applied toward the real world. Like when religious-based legislation is created in order to force me to fund, with my tax dollars, religious programs that I find immoral, like forcing me to subsidize private clubs that practice discrimination.

It is almost worthwhile when I hear elaborate explanations of why some Biblical rules must be applied to certain groups of people, while other Biblical rules should not be applied to Christians.

For example, my reading list includes Christian groups like the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the ACLJ, and others. I often get alerts from these groups saying that Gay Marriage will destroy traditional marriages and increase the rate of divorce.

Ah, divorce. Even though all these groups condemn divorce, few of them mention the biblical consequences of marrying a divorced person. But before I get into the details of divorce, let me speak briefly on the consequences of sin.

The consequences of sin, according to the Bible, are death – death in the spirit, eternal damnation, or whatever your particular denomination believes about Hell. In order to receive salvation a person must repent of his or her sin. This means they must confess their sins to God, ask forgiveness for them, turn away from them and turn towards God. For their sincere, imperfect effort, God rewards them with salvation through Christ.

Repentance is key here. In order to receive eternal life Christians must turn away from their sins. If a Christian does not turn away from sin then he or she has not truly repented and will not be saved.

So what does this have to do with divorce?

Jesus had some very specific things to say about divorce.
Matthew
5:31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’
5:32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

19:8 Jesus said to them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way.
19:9 Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.”
19:10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the case of a husband with a wife, it is better not to marry!”
19:11 He said to them, “Not everyone can accept this statement, except those to whom it has been given.
19:12 For there are some eunuchs who were that way from birth, and some who were made eunuchs by others, and some who became eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who is able to accept this should accept it.”

Mark
10:11 So he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 10:12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Luke:
16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
Mark and Luke are pretty harsh about divorce, but Matthew offers a bit of an out. If a woman is immoral (which implies she's an adulteress) then it is legal for a man to divorce her and marry another woman. His ex-wife remains an adulteress. If his wife is NOT immoral, then divorcing her to marry another results in the husband being an adulterer. (The wife seems fine in this case, as long as she remains faithful to her ex-husband. It seems to me that if she were to remarry she would then become an adulteress.)

This also seems to be weighted pretty heavily against the woman here, but I would guess that most Christian denominations would say that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander – in other words the rules would still apply if the genders were reversed.

There is another part of the Bible that speaks about divorce. From Saint Paul the Apostle:
1 Corinthians:
7:10 To the married I give this command – not I, but the Lord – a wife should not divorce a husband
7:11 (but if she does, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband), and a husband should not divorce his wife.
7:12 To the rest I say – I, not the Lord – if a brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is happy to live with him, he should not divorce her.
7:13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is happy to live with her, she should not divorce him.
7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified because of the wife, and the unbelieving wife because of her husband. Otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.
7:15 But if the unbeliever wants a divorce, let it take place. In these circumstances the brother or sister is not bound. God has called you in peace.
7:16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will bring your husband to salvation? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will bring your wife to salvation?
Paul is saying that Jesus taught that a husband or wife should not divorce each other. And going with my thought that the gender roles should be reversible, Jesus wants the divorced couple to remain faithful to their ex-spouses. Paul then goes on a bit about how it's okay to divorce a non-believer, and why you really shouldn't. But this is Paul's words, not Jesus' teaching.

It is interesting to see that Paul doesn't mention adultery in 7:10-11, but according to my Amplified Bible:
7:10But to the married people I give charge--not I but the Lord--that the wife is not to separate from her husband.
7:11But if she does [separate from and divorce him], let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband. And [I charge] the husband [also] that he should not put away or divorce his wife.
This is easier to understand. Jesus, through John, isn't saying that a women can divorce if she must. No he is saying that a women shouldn't divorce, but if her husband divorces her anyway she is to continue to act as if they were still married. The idea that divorce is adultery isn't overturned.


So, here's the problem. Adultery is a big sin, one of the Ten Commandments. If you marry a divorced person, except under very narrow circumstances, you not only commit a sin, but you continue in your act of sinning. How can you repent if you will not give up your sin?

When I was a Christian I received very wishy-washy answers to this question. And even now when I read about divorce from the web sites of different churches I get answers about divorce that are all over the map. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16 ), and remarriage seems to make adulterers out of the divorced, but even so - many denominations assert that even this ongoing sin is forgivable, even if it seems (to me) that this is not true repentance.

Worse, where do the remarried go to get married anyway? Often they go to a church, of course, with a Pastor bestowing God's blessing upon them! This leads to another question – if I help someone sin, aren't I also a sinner? If I assist someone in committing murder, I'm an accomplice and no better than the murderer. If the church blesses a second marriage, then the church is an accomplice in adultery. The Church is no better than an adulterer.

Can a whole Church sin? I'm not talking about the congregation melting down their Zales jewelery to make a Golden Calf – this sin is much more insidious because it seems like the Church is unaware that it is assisting in the breaking of a commandment. Every approving voice in the congregation becomes an accomplice to the newlywed's sin. The only “out” to this that I can see is if the “once saved / always saved” doctrine is true (I'll talk about that another time) in which case most of the congregation is out of danger. Even so, should they be so approving of other people's sins?

And if a church does approve of the sin of remarriage, then isn't it hypocritical of them to disapprove of same-sex marriage? The circumstances here seem to be identical – for if a remarried couple can be forgiven for living in a state of sin, then so can a same-sex couple. If a same-sex couple can not be forgiven, then neither can a remarried couple. If a church can bestow its approval on a second marriage, then why should it refuse to bestow its approval for a same-sex marriage?

This isn't even a matter of judging between the lesser of two evils. There are a heck of a lot more religious couples who have divorced and remarried than there are same-sex couples, so it stands to reason that the damage to the Christian institution of marriage is due mostly to the Christian acceptance of remarriage, and not to the Secular acceptance of same-sex marriage. But Christians don't seem to think so since the amount of religion – originated legislation against same-sex marriage is far greater than the amount of legislation against divorce or remarriage.

But then I'm not claiming that the Christian religion is very logical. Like I said at the beginning, the Bible makes a lot more sense if you read it as mere mythology.

19 comments:

MICHAEL said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Micky

Calladus said...

Hi Michael, sorry to hear about the problems you've had in your life.

Oddly enough, I have an Islamic friend who says that he was saved from a life of pain through Islam and the teachings of Muhammad. He feels truly blessed now, and knows he's going to Heaven. He's also absolutely certain that Christians are destined for (Islamic) Hell due to their sins of Heresy and Blasphemy.

I've a question. You would admit, I'm sure, that at least some of your friends or loved ones won't make it to Heaven. When you arrive in Heaven without them, how will you deal with the knowledge that they're being tortured in Hell while you're having fun in Heaven? Won't you feel pain and anguish over their suffering?

Hope you stick around and read more of my blog. Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

I think your understanding of these passages is abit how shall I say it'muddled'.

The adultery is only in the divorce not in the marriage after. The tense is present and past tense. Paul also says' If you are bound to a wife seek not to be loosed, if you are loosed from a wife seek not to be bound but if you do marry you have not sinned'.

The adultery is a breaking of a covenant not a sexual act. This word is used throughout the bible in places like 'They commited adultery with sticks and stone' and idols.

Obviously they didn't ahve sex with sticks and stones.

Likewise what is repentance? It's not doing an action again. According to Deut, a divorce clearly ends a marriage. One cannot sin against a marriage that doesn't exist. One cannot get a divorce to fix a divorce. That isn't logical. Your breaking yet another covenant. The RCC screwed this up about 450 years ago. Up to this time they went with the above but wanted to 'return marriage to it's origin.'

Just some commentary.

Calladus said...

But this is merely your interpretation. Other Christian denominations interpret this differently. The Catholics, for example.

So, first I want to know WHICH Christian denomination has the correct interpretation.

You all argue it out amongst yourselves, and when you come to a consensus, let me know.

Anonymous said...

'But this is merely your interpretation. Other Christian denominations interpret this differently. The Catholics, for example.'

actually many if not most denominations are starting to accept this view simply because inthe last ten years or so several historical and lanquage scholars have shed alot of light on this. Google Al Maxey, a NT lanquage scholar, he has some interesting debates on this topic that pits the views head to head, it also exposes the weakness of the catholic position.

'So, first I want to know WHICH Christian denomination has the correct interpretation.'

All and none. It may vary between churches but Protestantism is reliant primarily on faith. Any matter of doctrine is secondary to this idea. So while it may seem big to you, faith plows the field of many disagreements.

'You all argue it out amongst yourselves, and when you come to a consensus, let me know.'

Again the original position is what I stated previously. The catholics had the view as well until about 4-500 years ago at the council of Trent. Then it all changed.

Calladus said...

Really? I hadn't realized that the Catholics stopped the practice of Annulment.

Anonymous said...

'If a Christian does not turn away from sin then he or she has not truly repented and will not be saved.'

You seem to have an ackward view here as well. Repentence is a change of heart. Not all sins get a do over. If you murder someone you can repent but it doesn't bring the person back but you can realize the wrongness of your actions and not murder again.

Likewise causing divorce kills a marriage. You can't bring it back in the same form. You can marry again but it will be an entirely different entity. Liekwise causing another divorce creates the same sin again. Repentence from convenantbreaking is not more covenant breaking.

This is at least logically consistent and doesn't require people being magically married when they clearly are not.

'How can you repent if you will not give up your sin?'

The sin is on the divorce-covenant breaking- not in the marriage that follows. That doens't even make sense. The 'sin' is not ongoing at all. Jesus said the people are married. It's impossible for married people to commit adultery with each other. It's like being a married bachelor.

' it seems like the Church is unaware that it is assisting in the breaking of a commandment. Every approving voice in the congregation becomes an accomplice to the newlywed's sin. The only “out” to this that I can see is if the “once saved / always saved” doctrine is true (I'll talk about that another time) in which case most of the congregation is out of danger. Even so, should they be so approving of other people's sins?'

No because they recognize that the sin lies at the divorce not the later action. You are using a very narrow definition that rational people don't use. Your then inflicting violence and a strawman on the entire thing. There are many other ways than what you have presented here.

With same sex couples(and I do not necessarily disagree with you here) there is a clear line. Not the case with your prior comparison. It's not really a particuarlly good analogy.

Anonymous said...

'Really? I hadn't realized that the Catholics stopped the practice of Annulment.'

Thats the point, the practice hadn't started yet. They even gave divorces to several kings. One in particular became upset that they wouldn't give him more and started his own church.

Calladus said...

So when Jesus says that, "whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matt 5:31), you contradict him? Jesus is wrong?

Okay, maybe the new marriage is only a brief sin, and once it is done it can be forgiven.

Can I just tell Jesus that I'm going to kill someone tomorrow, and then the next day we'll get together at the church and make it all better?

Anonymous said...

'So when Jesus says that, "whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matt 5:31), you contradict him? Jesus is wrong?'


No, thats the entire point. The sentence in greek actually reads he who marries a 'put away' woman. This was not the same as a divorce. Moses instructed husbands to write a bill of divorcement. Minus this the covenent would be broken by a woman marrying another if she was still married to her previous husband.

BTW this practice still occurs in the middle east. It is now as then considered as a wayfor a man to practise control over a woman. He prevents her from marrying another and essentially places her in a hard to survive position.

'Okay, maybe the new marriage is only a brief sin, and once it is done it can be forgiven.'

The new marriage may not be a sin at all. It's hard to see how when you understand the tense. The sin is in the covenant breaking not in anything that comes later.

'Can I just tell Jesus that I'm going to kill someone tomorrow, and then the next day we'll get together at the church and make it all better? '

In Christian theology - yes.

Calladus said...

Two words here - Apostaseeon - which is a legal document of divorcement, and apoluo - which is ambiguous, but it can mean either "divorce" or "set free" (Put aside has the wrong connotation. Sent away might be better.)

Jesus is saying here that in Moses' time the man was urged to give a legal document of divorce to his wife - in order to allow her to marry again. By refusing that document, as you've pointed out, the woman was "stuck" - unable to marry again.

Jesus takes it further, in effect saying "screw that document - I don't care how you guys separate. But if divorce her for any other reason than her screwing around then you are causing her to commit adultery - and anyone who marries her also commits adultery."

The lady is out of luck here. No matter if she is guilty or not, she's guilty.

Calladus said...

"Can I just tell Jesus that I'm going to kill someone tomorrow, and then the next day we'll get together at the church and make it all better? "

In Christian theology - yes.


I hope you're not Christian, because this doesn't really help the case for Christian morality here.

Anonymous said...

'Jesus takes it further, in effect saying "screw that document - I don't care how you guys separate. But if divorce her for any other reason than her screwing around then you are causing her to commit adultery - and anyone who marries her also commits adultery."'

No he isn't saying that at all. You are causing her to commit adultery - that is correct. She has to break her covenant. Like I said previously that is what the words means. I think the work for adultery is used in at least 7-10 different ways in the bible. Only one is a sexual act. That is where part of the confusion comes into play. You simply cannot read it as a sexual act. It makes the entire pasage counter intuitive.

Jesus said as you quote: He whoputs away a wife and MARRIES another.' He viewed them as married. The sentence is passive similiar in structure to:

He who swings at a pitch, and hits a ball, expends energy. The sentence is passive. The swing expends energy. Likewise in the passive verse above the sin is in causing a divorce. Do you honestly think a man as schooled and deep as Jesus would have thought people married when they where not?

Of course not. It's silly.

'I hope you're not Christian, because this doesn't really help the case for Christian morality here'

I'm not trying to make a case one way or the other to the validity of the moral system just that Christian understanding of divorce and it's meaning is not as you presented it. At least not in the vast majority of churches.

Anthony Flew's rotting corpse said...

"NO Scotsman would ever divorce his wife without an Annullment."
"But, my Uncle Angus divorced his second wife last year."
"Well, No TRUE Scotsman would ever do such a thing. The VAST Majority of Scots are clear in this regard."

Calladus said...

Christian understanding of divorce and it's meaning is not as you presented it. At least not in the vast majority of churches.

Yes, the "hardcore" churches who interpret this the way that I show certainly can't be "real" Christian churches - that wouldn't be... ah... convenient would it?

Or as Susan B. Anthony said, "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

Anonymous said...

God Bless you
The fact that you believe that the Bible is just a Myth is very sad and hurtful. Lets say you theory is correct, you and I die on the same day. The worst that can happen if you are right is we will be just six feet under, there is no heaven nor hell and it will be eternal sleep. But lets say that the WORD OF GOD is 100% true, then on the day we die I will be in heaven and you my friend will be in HELL. Consider this by law if you are caught in the act of commiting a crime here on earth you are punished. Well the same goes for GOD (who is Judge of all things) and in lying, using the lords name in vain, in hating someone you have commited murder in your heart, by GODS LAW you must be punished we all deserve to be punished however Jesus paid our fine so on Judgement Day all of our sins will be dismissed .

Well God Bless you again
And I hope God blesses you with the knowledge that he has blessed me with.

Calladus said...

Well Mister or Miss Anonymous, if you're not even going to try to come up with an original, irrefutable argument for God's existence, then you shouldn't even bother stopping by. It just makes Christians look bad.

You gave me Pascal's Wager as your “proof” of God? Oh C'mon. You're going to have to do better than that to meet your burden of proof.

Your hypocrisy would be astonishing if I had not already experienced it from other Christians. You call me hateful while you are the one attempting to take the moral high ground of “hurt victim” – while at the same time you are following the rules of a hateful book in order to condemn me (in your God's name) to a place of eternal torture.


As for Jesus paying your “fine”, how is that just, or even kind? If a murderer raped and killed one of your children, would you allow another person to be executed for the murderer's crime? On the flip side, if some scientist came up with a way to inflict torture on a human, eternally – would it be right to use it against shoplifters? Nether position is morally right, either is a hateful travesty of justice. But this is what you seem to be advocating.


Your lame argument just ticks me off – not due to its (lack of) effectiveness or logic – but because I admire some Christians for their honesty, intelligence, and hard work in apologetics, and I can't stand to see them placed in the same category as you.

If you're “sad and hurt” by what I've said on my blog, then I offer you the freedom to click somewhere else. I'm not forcing you to read anything here. The only reason why you are here is because your religion has commanded you to proselytize.

However, if you wish to refute what I've written and practice Christian apologetics, then I expect you to do your homework before coming in here and making yourself, and other Christians, look bad.

Sam said...

I feel like I need to mention something you wrote concerning the divorce passages in Mark and Luke. Regardless if one believes that Mark and Luke actually wrote these passages the social setting cannot and should not be ignored. The intended readers of Mark and Luke would have mentally inserted what some have termed the "exception clause" found in Matt. 5:32 and 19:9. Given the fact that ancient writers tried to be as concise as possible, whoever wrote Mark and Luke would not have been predisposed to list every exception. Paul also was dealing with some really extreme situations in 1 Cor. Some people were denying themselves sex to be more holy while others were believed that if the body was "bad" you might as well indulge because it did not matter. Also, the context of Matt. 19:9 was not teaching, but a rebuttal to the religious leaders who were trying to get Jesus to say something to increminate himself. A scholar named Bruce Malina at Creighton Univerisity has written on the issue of the social setting of the NT. Regardles if one believes in God, these passages (and Paul's writings in 1 Corinthians regarding same gender sexual activity) cannot be interpreted apart from the social setting. Here is a link to the WiKi. article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Context_Group.

Also, many of the context group people do not profess Christian faith.

Sammy Sabine

Calladus said...

Thanks Sam. I think that the Susan B. Anthony quote still applies.