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Thread: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

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    Default Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    From TIME magazine:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/2007110...thinkondivorce

    By DAVID VAN BIEMA
    Tue Nov 6, 12:30 AM ET



    On questions relating to the Bible's treatment of family and morals, one might expect assurance, if not rigidity, from Evangelical Christianity. So, it may surprise many to learn how "live" the topic of divorce remains in Evangelical circles. Last month, the cover story of the monthly Christianity Today was titled "When to Separate What God has Joined: A Closer Reading on the Bible on Divorce." The heated controversy provoked by the story showed how Biblically flexible some Evangelicals can be - especially when God's word seems at odds not just with modern American behavior, but also with simple human kindness.

    As the article's author, the British Evangelical scholar David Instone-Brewer, points out, for most of 2,000 years Christians have viewed divorce through two scriptural citations. In Matthew, the pharisees ask Christ, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?" Jesus refers to the Old Testament and then replies, "Whoever divorces a wife, except for sexual indecency, commits adultery." The apostle Paul adds in the book First Corinthians that a Christian is "not bound" to a non-Christian spouse who abandons him. Simple, right?

    Instone-Brewer radically reinterprets the first passage using, of all things, quotation marks. The Greek of the New Testament didn't always contain them, and scholars agree that sometimes they must be added in to make sense of it. Instone-Brewer, an expert in Jewish thought during Jesus's era, writes that Christ's interlocutors were not asking him whether there was any cause at all for divorce, but whether he supported something called "any-cause" divorce, a term a little bit like "no-fault" that allowed husbands to divorce wives for any reason at all. Instone-Brewer claims Jesus's "no" was a response to this idea, and that his "except for sexual indecency" condition was not a statement of the sole exemption from God's blanket prohibition, but merely Christ's reiteration of one of several divorce permissions in the Old Testament - one he felt the "any-time" advocates had exaggerated. Finally, Instone-Brewer tallies four grounds for divorce he finds affirmed in both Old and New Testaments: adultery, emotional and sexual neglect, abandonment (by anyone) and abuse.

    there's more - see the link
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    Default Re: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    Some members of my family attend evangelical churches, and their divorces have been a big issue. I guess the churches are figuring they have to change if they want to remain relevant with their congregations. Meanwhile, last I checked, sex and adultery was still the #1 theme on American television and the consumption of consumer goods #2. But none of us are ever influenced by that I'm sure.

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    Default Re: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    Quote Originally Posted by matclone View Post
    Meanwhile, last I checked, sex [but not adultery] was still the #1 theme on American television and the consumption of consumer goods #2.
    That pretty much describes my life.
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    Default Re: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    Quote Originally Posted by matclone View Post
    Some members of my family attend evangelical churches, and their divorces have been a big issue. I guess the churches are figuring they have to change if they want to remain relevant with their congregations. Meanwhile, last I checked, sex and adultery was still the #1 theme on American television and the consumption of consumer goods #2. But none of us are ever influenced by that I'm sure.
    But seriously . . .

    . . . do you think this is an attempt of the church to bend to the will of the people in order to keep its numbers up, or just (as it appears to me) a scholarly reinterpretation of the Bible?
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    Default Re: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    The Time article, which is a little hard to follow, doesn't give a very convincing rationale but then I'm really in no position to gauge the scholarship on this. The term "evangelical scholar" seems like a contradiction in terms, no? And I don't know if that's the writer, or if that's what Mr. Instone-Blackstone calls himself (if he does, I say hooey).

    In any case, I'd guess it is likely the church (via the author of the book) is trying to be more flexible rather than engage in groundbreaking scholarship. And that's not necessarily wrong. The Christian church (and probably other faiths) have always done this to some extent (the early 60s "Vatican II" is another example). It doesn't necessarily mean they've compromised principles. It's just part of their on-going efforts to adapt to secular society. The logical alternative, it seems, is to advocate an ascetic lifestyle, and of course that would only go so far.

    No matter what you think of it, organized religion has to perpetuate itself somehow (except for that one sect, forget the name, who decided they weren't going to have any children and predictably faded away).
    Last edited by matclone; 11-06-2007 at 03:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    While I see what both of you are saying I have to say that the Church or Christianity in general should not try to adapt. If Christianity or any religion picks and chooses what they believe in then they have no foundation and the belief will fall. This is not to say that things change as we find diffrent interpretations of the Bible that fall more in line of what Jesus meant when put in the context of the time and situation the words or phrases were used.

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    Default Re: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    Differing views on divorce are as old as the hills. There is no concrete uniformity of opinion. I wouldn't say that the 4 reasons are incorrect. Hopefully amnoungst Bible based/believing churches, divorce is rare. (I don't know)

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    Default Re: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    CTC I hate to say it but when it comes to divorce Christians are just as likely to do it as non-Christians.

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    Default Re: Divorce-An Evangelical Rethink

    Quote Originally Posted by ctc View Post
    Differing views on divorce are as old as the hills. There is no concrete uniformity of opinion. I wouldn't say that the 4 reasons are incorrect. Hopefully amnoungst Bible based/believing churches, divorce is rare. (I don't know)
    It is nice to know that Time quotes Christianity Today as I am a regular contributor to that magazine.

    Now to the question here, the divorce rate among 'Evangelical' Christians is actually in a statistical tie with the divorce rate among non Christians, in fact, it is a little higher but the plus minus side of the research keeps it at a tie.
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