- OBJECTIONS ANSWERED -
CONCERNING A DAWN LETTER RE DIVORCE & RE-MARRIAGE
(Quotations are from the letter, and afterwards we add some comments)
The writer is contending against both the 'Exceptive Clause' and the
'Pauline Privilege' which we have set forth in page 1. We appeal to
any who have been misled to discuss this important matter with us.
Both the Dawn teaching and Catholic dogma* are based upon the
false premises that (1) "fornication" refers only to pre-marital harlotry
(2) the 'Pauline Privilege' is not allowed. To hold, or to exclude sound
brothers & sisters by the use of, such heresies cannot be according to
the mind of Christ. Link to 'appeal' concerning the balance which we
must seek to uphold in matters of doctrine & fellowship.
*as endorsed during the infamous 'Council of Trent' AD1545-1563
(both for individual Catholic marriages and priestly celibacy)
which a bishops' pastoral letter stated"gave the Church an unsurpassed
monumental synthesis of doctrine that will guide her to the end of time"
- the heresy "forbidding to marry" for her priests (predicted in 2nd
Timothy 4v1-3) is built upon the idea of their life-long "marriage to the
church" - divorce for her spiritual "fornication" being thus forbidden.
'Wikipedia' records - "In the case of a divorce, the right of the innocent
party to marry again was denied so long as the other party was alive,
even if the other party had committed adultery".
Concerning the Roman Catholic apostacy and the 'Council of Trent'
1. "Fornication is a different thing from adultery" and "Fornication is
premarital intercourse". The Greek word 'porneia', used in Matthew
5v32 and 19v9 as the permissible reason for divorce & re-marriage,
is used both in the Scriptures & in documents of that time of a large
variety of sexual sins, including both before and after marriage.
The following include 'porneia' (the noun) and 'porneuo' (the verb).
They are used of marital infidelity - 1st Corinthians 5v1 & of Sodom -
Jude 7.Revelation 2v20-22 though speaking of spiritual harlotry shows
that "fornication" can include "adultery". When Paul wrote of the Is-
raelites who "commit(ted) fornication" in 1st Corinthians 10v8 he was
not referring solely to pre-marital sin. We only have to look at the OT
record also - "the people began to commit whoredom" - was this
only the unmarried? It is unthinkable. And when Paul wrote he would
"bewail many" for their sins including "fornication", he was obviously
not limiting his remarks to pre-marital sinners - 2nd Corinthians 12v21.
Was his prohibition against "fornication" in 1st Corinthians 6v13 only
for the unmarried? It is obvious that it was for the married also.
When Christ refers in Revelation 2v14 to the same OT sin as did Paul in
1st Corinthians 10v8, he calls it "fornication". Married and unmarried
were guilty - to maintain to the contrary is quite obviously incorrect.
Independent scholars and documents endorse the above meanings.
Some independent testimonies to the wide usage of 'porneia' are -
A. Moulton & Milligan's 'The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament'
shows from the papyri and inscriptions of the time how Bible words
were used. It defines 'porneia' as "applied to unlawful sexual inter-
B. Thayer's 'Greek-English Lexicon' - "Porneia..illicit sexual intercourse
in general..all other interpretations..are to be rejected".
C. W.E. Vine 'Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words'- a work
used by many Christadelphians, no doubt including Dawn brothers-
"In Mt 5:32; 19:9, it stands for, or includes adultery".
Some have tried to do away with the 'exceptive clause' in another way,
by issuing a "new translation" that is not supported by any accepted
English renditions. The many reasons for this are examined in
2. "Deuteronomy 24v1..states that if a man finds, after marriage, that his
wife is not a virgin, he can annul the marriage". Whatever "some un-
cleanness" referred to it was certainly not a lack of virginity.If a woman
was found to have committed harlotry before marriage, she was to be
put to death, Deuteronomy 22v13-21.Jesus tells us that the provision of
Deuteronomy 24 allowed for "hardness of heart", which could not have
included the finding that his wife had played the harlot! This is further
endorsed in the following verse in Matthew 19 (cp verses 8 & 9) where
Jesus contrasts the Deut. 24 provision with "fornication". No, the
"uncleanness" may have been originally intended to refer to some
physical blemish which offended hard-hearted men*. It had become
totally misused by the time of Christ to include "every cause".
*Strong's Exhaustive Concordance & Gesenius both record that the
same Hebrew word 'ervah' in Deut. 24v1 also appears in Deut. 23v15,
where the meaning is obvious. This demonstrates the essential meaning
of 'ervah' - i.e. a physical blemish which could cause offence.
3. Dawn brothers love to quote Mark,who does not record the"exceptive
clause". But Mark does not record the "sign of the prophet Jonas",
which does appear in Matthew. Do they suggest therefore this "sign"
is not to be accepted? No. It is only where it suits them that they take
this attitude. The undeniable fact is that Mark is the briefest of the
Gospel writers, & does not record many things. Many Bible scholars
have suggested that the 4 Gospels show the 4 aspects of the Lord.
These are the King (Matthew) the Servant (Mark) the Man (Luke) and
the Son of God (John). Because he shows the Servant, Mark there-
fore does not record any "exceptions" to the ideal of marriage. In a
similar way, Matthew wrote primarily for Jews, Mark for Romans,
Luke for Greeks, and John for believers-& they are complementary.
It is easy to see how the above two suggestions fit in with each other.
The Gospels are meant to be taken as a whole,in the same way that in
any incident different observers will describe things in different ways.
By adding all of the testimonies we can see the whole picture.
Although time does not permit our going into all of the surrounding
circumstances, the following added comments may be helpful:
Matthew 19v1-12 and Mark 10v1-12 record events in"the coasts of
Judaea beyond(by the farther side)of Jordan".This was the territory
of Herod Antipas, who had divorced his wife, as also Herodias had
divorced her husband. Herod and Herodias had then "married".
We cannot here go into the incestuous relationships of the Herods,
which were well known and documented, & this is another example.
Their unlawful "marriage" had been denounced by John the Baptist,
for which he had paid with his life-Matthew 14v1-12,Mark 6v14-30.
And according to Josephus the historian, John had been imprisoned
in Machaerus, a combined fortress, palace and prison north-east of
the Dead Sea. This was also where he was killed, and so the history
of this foul deed is clearly linked with the territory of Herod Antipas
(see map below,with the location of Machaerus)."When Jesus heard
of it, he departed thence..into a desert place apart" - Matthew 14v13.
Concerning the two divorces & unlawful union, also see Antiquities,
Book xviii, ch.v, p.382/3-William Whiston's translation of Josephus-
Complete Works, 1964 Edition.
In Luke 11v53,54 we read that "the scribes and the Pharisees began
..to provoke him..laying wait for him,and seeking to catch something
out of his mouth, that they might accuse him",& plotted accordingly.
The Pharisees thought they saw a special opportunity to snare Jesus
by asking Him about divorce in the territory of Herod Antipas. Both
Matthew 19v3 and Mark 10v2 record that they "came..tempting him"
-the physical danger was obvious,and some had even come to Jesus,
warning Him to leave the area,"for Herod will kill thee"-Luke 13v31-
(cp Matthew 14v1,2 - "At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the
fame of Jesus.And said unto his servants,This is John the Baptist; he
is risen from the dead". Jesus referred to Herod as "that fox" and his
inability to affect the future betrayal at Jerusalem - Luke 13v32,33).
They reasoned that if He endorsed divorce for "every cause" they
could accuse Him of breaking the law.And if He denounced it, they
could accuse Him to Herod. Jesus set out His teaching regarding
marriage and divorce, taking them back "to the beginning" - page 1.
This confounded His enemies. They were no doubt still considering
His reply when "in the house the disciples asked him again of the
same matter" - Mark 10v10.This "matter" concerned the unlawful
"marriage" of Herod and Herodias,& so it is fitting that Jesus,in His
reply,stated clearly that such divorces by male and female were not
according to the will of God, & any subsequent "marriage" by the
individuals was adulterous. Neither divorce cited unfaithfulness
by the other party. With this in mind the Lord did not mention the
'Exceptive Clause' (which He had done earlier in Matthew 19v9 to
the Pharisees - and earlier still to His disciples* where the special
circumstances of the two divorces & "marriage" were not in view).
Because of the above background, it makes sense that the disciples
would question Jesus "in the house" to be safe from the Pharisees.
Compare a later occasion similar to the above - John 20v19.
And the Lord did not contradict His earlier words, but underlined
the situation of Herod and similar adulterous "marriages".
The other occasion where Jesus used similar words is recorded in
Luke 16v18, and this was in the context of the parable of the unjust
steward in the earlier verses.The Jewish leaders were "writing down"
their obligations to God,including allowing divorce for"every cause".
It is no wonder, therefore, that Jesus denounced their unfaithfulness,
and in such cases divorce & "re-marriage" involved adultery. And it
appears that this occasion was also in the territory of Herod Antipas.
Their "writing down" of the law allowed for Herod's disobedience!
Consider John 10v40, which records that Jesus"went away again be-
yond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he
abode". Luke 16v18 followed in this area - the connection with John
the Baptist is significant. By carefully reading the Gospel accounts,
with reference also to such aids as 'Guide Book to the Gospels' by
H.P. Mansfield, our suggested outline of events will become clearer.
At the bottom of this page we have included a map of the various
territories, with special reference to that of Herod Antipas.
4. Jesus spoke only of divorce "by the husband" in Matthew 5 because
the law of Moses was still at that time in operation. Compare the
earlier reference to John the Baptist's condemnation of the unlawful
"marriage" of Herod Antipas and Herodias. This was a transitional
time, when the Lord observed all of the law of Moses in its true spirit,
while preparing His disciples for the new dispensation. This occurred
when Jesus "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" - Hebrews 9v26
and also "the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the
bottom" - Matthew 27v51. Paul explains the significance in this way:
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the
blood of Jesus. By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated
for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" - Hebrews 10v19,20.
Since that time, believers must obey the commandments of Christ, as
an integral part of the "new" covenant - link here to 'law and grace'.
Today the "exceptive clause" may be used by both husband and wife,
for "there is neither male nor female:for ye are all one in Christ Jesus"-
5. Although the words of Paul in 1st Corinthians 7v12-16 may have been
in answer to those"already married"to aliens when they were baptised,
the principle is no doubt applicable to those who have unscripturally
married aliens afterwards. Paul makes no stipulation that it can only
apply to the former, & therefore we have no authority to so restrict it.
He specifically states "If any brother hath a wife that believeth not .
and the woman which hath an husband that believeth not" v12,13.
If we were to take the Dawn viewpoint, to be consistent "the married"
(i.e. both in the Truth) would only apply to those already married to
another before they accept the Truth. By this reasoning Paul's pro-
hibition of divorce would not apply to those marrying after accepting
the Truth - see v10,11.("Fornication" is not in view here-but see ch.5).
This clearly demonstrates the fallacy of the Dawn argument, which is
simply an attempt to evade the fact that in both instances they oppose
any scriptural divorce after acceptance of the Truth - see No.6 below.
6. "he says nothing about divorce". In v12,13 Paul commands that if the
unbelieving alien wishes to "dwell" with the believer, they should not
be "put away". If the unbeliever should "depart" v15 this prohibition
no longer applies. Also we are told that "a brother or sister is not
under bondage in such cases". The Greek word 'douloo' translated as
"under bondage" clearly refers to release from the marriage-bond,a term
used in English. In fact the root verb 'deo' is used of the marriage-
bond in this very chapter v27,39. Note the contrast v27 between being
"bound" and being "loosed". 'Douloo' is used of freedom from the
"bondage" of the law in Galatians 4v3. 'Deo' is used in Romans 7v2 -
again of the marriage-bond. A related word 'douleuo' is used in Romans
6v6 "that henceforth we should not serve sin" and 1st Thessalonians
1v9 "to serve the living and true God".
Another related word 'doulos' signifying "a slave" is used by Paul of
Onesimus when writing to Philemon (v16) where he asked that such
bondage be dissolved for the "brother beloved". From the above tes-
timonies and many others it is evident that to be "not under bondage"
signifies a total release from the marriage-bond. This was almost
instantaneous in Paul's day when one married partner "depart"(ed).
The legal ratification and freedom takes a little longer in our day.
7. The Greek word 'chorizo' translated "depart" in v10, 11, 15(2) signifies
'divorce', and was used by the Greeks of the time with this meaning.
Cp Moulton & Milligan's'The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament'
and other authorities.It is also translated "put asunder" in Matthew 19v6
and Mark 10v9. After leaving the marital home the wife simply needed
to have the divorce ratified by the authorities. The husband only had to
send the wife back to her parents with the dowry. After either of the
above procedures the marriage was dissolved.
It is significant that whereas Paul commanded "the married" (i.e. both in
the Truth) not to re-marry(he is not dealing with "fornication")he did not
repeat this command when dealing with a dissolved mixed marriage.
The reason is obvious. In this case the believer may re-marry.
But of course it must be "only in the Lord", 1st Corinthians 7v39.
8. It is important to factor in the Divine estimation of marriage with aliens.
In page 3 we consider the divinely-sanctioned divorce of the unbeliever
Hagar by Abraham at the behest of Sarah, Abraham's godly wife.
In page 1 we have listed several occasions when such liaisons resulted
in disasters for the Truth. And after the return from Babylon, Ezra found
it necessary(with obvious sanction by God)to enforce divorce from alien
wives - Ezra 9 & 10 cp Nehemiah 13v23-31. It should not therefore be
any surprise that although under the law of Christ, an opportunity would
be given for an alien marital partner to live peacefully with a believer,
when that arrangement is broken by the alien, then divorce is permissible.
So although Deity sometimes changes His laws and ways of operation,
He is always consistent with His own character & principles-cp Exodus
34v4-7; Malachi 3v6 etc. And this is also applicable to the 'Exceptive
Clause'. Under Moses, "fornication" resulted in death. Under Christ, a
more merciful result is the provision of divorce. But both show the mind
of God, i.e. that the practice of such evil cannot be tolerated. And both
also demonstrate God's merciful provision in freeing the innocent from
bondage to sinners, so that (if desired) they can move on with their own
lives by re-marrying "only in the Lord".
Some have pointed to Malachi 2v16 - "For Yahweh, the God of Israel,
saith that he hateth putting away". We have quoted the Scriptures in
page 1, proving that marriage is meant for life. And that only for valid
scriptural reasons should divorce be sought. Context is vital to correctly
understand any meaning, and here is no different. The "putting away"
that Yahweh hates is when (as here) the man "deal(s) treacherously
against the wife of his youth" (v15). The background is the example of
Judah - "Judah hath dealt treacherously...for Judah hath profaned
the holiness of Yahweh which he loved, and hath married the daughter
of a strange god" - v11. It is no wonder that in v14 Yahweh says -
"thou hast dealt treacherously" against "the wife of thy covenant", the
one who would produce "a godly seed" - which was the original purpose
of the Divine institution of marriage - v14. Read the whole chapter.
9. An attempt is made by some to deny the 'Pauline Privilege' on the basis
that Jesus had not earlier stated it as a legitimate reason for divorce.
This must be rejected for similar reasons to those given in No. 3 above.
The silence of one Divine spokesperson on any particular subject cannot
be used to deny the witness of another, because all is revealed in the way
and the time consistent with the Divine purpose - consider Eccles. 3v1-8.
It must be obvious to readers of the Scriptures that God's purpose has
always been progressive, and that He has altered His laws according to
His pre-determined purpose. The time came when the salvation which
had been offered only to Israel - Matthew 10v5-7; 15v24 - was also
extended to the Gentiles-Acts 13v44-49-also cp Acts 1v6,7 & Rev.1v1.
Paul was "a chosen vessel" & "the apostle of the Gentiles" - Acts 9v15
& Romans 11v13. He dealt with questions which would naturally arise.
At that time there was the necessity of a determination concerning the
break-down of mixed marriages between believers and non-believers.
In fact in 1st Corinthians 7 Paul is answering specific questions put to
him by believers in Corinth - cp v1 - "now concerning the things
whereof ye wrote unto me". These included break-downs of marriage.
Concerning the break-down of a marriage between two believers Paul
is able to quote the words of the Lord -
"I command, yet not I, but the Lord" - v10.
However,concerning the break-down of a marriage between a believer
and a non-believer, Paul is unable to quote the words of the Lord
because he had not previously ruled on the subject.
This inescapable fact destroys the case put forward by some,
i.e. that the Lord's command denied the 'Pauline Privilege'.
And so it became necessary for Paul to give judgment on the matter:
"But to the rest speak I, not the Lord" - v12. This section in v12-15
deals with mixed marriages, as will be plain to anyone reading it.
The scriptural facts have been set out above in Nos. 5 to 7.
Special directions during the time when the Gospel went out to all of the
then-known world were not new.A conference had earlier been called to
combat the Judaizers - Acts 15 - at which time commands were Divinely
given to deal with the changed circumstances. Why then should we find
it strange that Paul needed to advise those who were troubled by certain
new difficulties which arose, among them being mixed marriages?
The Lord had previously stated to the Apostles (to which number Paul
had been added by Christ Himself) that "the holy spirit..shall teach you
all things" - John 14v26. And Paul claimed in 1st Corinthians 14v37 -
"the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord".
This is in harmony with what the Lord stated in Luke 10v16 to the
seventy - "He that heareth you heareth me". Also see Matthew 28v18,
Acts 1v1,8. The complementary work of the Lord and His Apostles
was prophesied in Daniel 9v24-27 - explained in 'Bible' - page 2.
Some have used an objection - "what of those who would be affected
by the 'Pauline Privilege' between the time of the Gospels and Paul's
epistle to the Corinthians?" As noted above, the work was ongoing, &
we can be certain that any needed advice would have been given.To
use any such unfounded objections to deny the command of Christ
through Paul surely cannot be according to the will of God.
Yes, "all that Jesus began both to do and teach" - Acts 1v1 - was
completed by His Apostles. If we accept these inspired teachings, and
so order our lives in accordance with the will of God in Christ,we may
hope to be part of the great throng of the redeemed-Revelation 5v9,10.
For quotations re divorce from our Pioneer brothers see page 4
TERRITORIES OF THE HERODS IN THE TIME OF CHRIST
(note 'Archaelaus' = 'Archelaus' - Image Credit = www.livius.org)
In conjunction with No.3 above, consider this map of the territories of
the Herods in the time of Christ. Archaelaus had been banished before
the ministry of Christ & his territory had been made part of the Roman
province of Syria. Note especially the territory of Herod Antipas, the
southern portion - "the coasts of Judaea beyond(by the farther side)of
Jordan" i.e. east of the river, where the above events took place.