Home > Brandenburg, Divorce/Remarriage > What God Hath Put Together: The Bible on Divorce and Remarriage (part four)

What God Hath Put Together: The Bible on Divorce and Remarriage (part four)

May 30, 2007

I thank Pastor Mallinak and appreciate his willingness and spirit to engage in public debate on divorce and remarriage. It was my month to choose topic and I knew we differed. In my opinion, he makes the best arguments for his side. He generally opposes divorce, which is my bottom line for separation. I would be happy to persuade anyone of what I believe on this and at least to influence toward a similar practice.

Hermeneutics and the Passages on Divorce and Remarriage

To advocate the position that Scripture teaches divorce and/or remarriage on occasion requires, I believe, a faulty hermeneutic beset by numerous contradictions. The flaws are exposed by an examination using basic laws of interpretation.

  • Scripture interprets Scripture (the analogy of faith)—No part of Scripture is to be interpreted in such a way as to render it in conflict with what is already taught elsewhere in Scripture. For example, if there are two interpretations of a passage and one of them goes against the rest of Scripture, then the harmonious interpretation should be chosen.

The Campbellites (COC) regularly violate this law. Instead of interpreting in light of one homogenous whole, they pull separate teachings from various related passages. As a result, they get a hodgepodge of points tossed into an incongruous mix. God’s nature is such that we should get one coherent teaching in Scripture. Contradictions come only with clear Divine directive and normally match a new dispensation, such as the ending of the Old Testament dietary restrictions in Acts 10.   Pastor Mallinak presents a position wrought with incompatibility, forcing contrasting snippets from various times and texts into one eclectic quilt.  This results in a mixed message about divorce and remarriage.

The Lord Jesus Christ in Mark 10 (Scripture) interprets Deuteronomy 24 (Scripture) by using Genesis 1 and 2 (Scripture). The Lord’s interpretation of the Old Testament stands authoritative. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 (Scripture) agrees with the Lord’s teaching in Mark 10 (Scripture). This brings the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Epistles into one message. To break through this chain, there should be something very conclusive. Pastor Mallinak doesn’t provide anything close to something conclusive.

  • Interpret the obscure (the unclear) in light of the clear.—Scripture sets precedents which should be followed.

Consider these clear statements of Scripture.

Malachi 2:16, “For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away.”

Matthew 19:6, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Mark 10:9, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Mark 10:11, 12, “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”

Luke 16:18, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”

1 Corinthians 7:39, “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”

Romans 7:2, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.”

If there is no clear reason to deviate from those clear statements, those plain passages, then they should stand as the Scriptural teaching. We have good explanations of other more obscure passages that harmonize with these verses.

Pastor Mallinak, on the other hand, that I know of, gives zero response to what I wrote on Mark 10 and the companion 1 Corinthians 7. He did deal with Mark 10 in his first post. He attempts to debunk the Mark 10 position by writing this: “We can conclude from this that Mark is saying if a man puts away his wife in order to marry another, even if his cause for divorce was fornication, he has committed adultery” (EMPHASIS HIS). He explains this edition of Mark 10:11 by saying, “Mark emphasizes the importance of a pure heart in approaching this subject. Mark reminds us to look at divorce as something we should never seek or want.” His explanation might be true if Mark had actually said what Pastor Mallinak first wrote, the PMV (Pastor Mallinak Version). Look above at Mark 10:11, 12 in the quote box. Does Mark write, “…put away his wife in order to marry another”?   No.  Pastor Mallinak supplied a whole lot of words not in the Greek text or in the KJV to find his position there.  In other words, he put it in to get it out.  I have no idea where he gets this novel interpretation of Mark 10. I can assure you it isn’t in the Greek. I also have no clue where he gets his position that someone who commits adultery is at that moment divorcing his spouse. You have to believe that to take his position, and it isn’t something anywhere in Scripture.

  • Interpret in the light of the context of the passage.—A verse out of context can often be taken to mean something completely different from the intention. This method focuses on the importance of looking at the context of a verse in its chapter, book, and even biblical context.

We have looked at the context of the Matthew 5 and 19 passages. We looked back at Matthew 1 as an explanation for the exception clause. Joseph was going to divorce Mary justly during the betrothal period because of perceived porneia. We understand Matthew itself to be a Jewish book in fitting with a betrothal view, which explains the absence of the exception clause in Mark and Luke. These are all true about the Matthew text. I’m not reading those into Matthew. Those are there unlike the invented adultery-equals-divorce position. On the other hand, Mark and Luke are not Jewish books and so do not have the exception clause. That is tell-tale.

The reaction of the disciples is in the post-context of the Matthew 19 text. They reacted like Jesus was forbidding divorce and remarriage.

  • Determine carefully the meaning of words.—The better we understand the individual words used in a Biblical passage, the better we will understand the total message of scripture. Proper interpretation looks at the words used and the way the words are used. We determine what the original readers understood it to mean.

Pastor Mallinak accuses me of redefining words to make my position, especially in the Ezra passage and in the meaning of porneia in Matthew. It is a baseless accusation. I lay out the study for all to see in a blatantly transparent manner. The truth is that he gives a whole new meaning to the word yashub in Ezra 10 in order to come to his position. The original readers would not have believed that yashub means marriage. When it comes to porneia, I show a word study, and he shows name-calling, that is, “my” definition is “wooden.” We could just reduce it to name-calling, and what would that accomplish? It would sound like this: “Wooden–elastic—wooden—elastic—wooden—elastic.” We could be debating paper or plastic.

The usage of porneia is only pre-marital, and the passages Matthew 15:19 and John 8:41 both come into play. We have an exception clause. We have an important word in the study. I do the heavy lifting of studying the usage. What does he do? He thinks you should just believe him because he says it is “general sexual uncleanness.” We actually have a word for general sexual uncleanness, and it is the word “uncleanness” (akatharsia, Colossians 3:5). If you take his definition (which he includes in his part 4), all you have to do to divorce your wife is to look at pornography. I don’t endorse porno, but be careful glancing at the J. C. Penney mailer, as that could constitute divorce in the court of Pastor Mallinak.

Pastor Mallinak didn’t say much, if any, about the douloo and deo debate.  Mainly Brother Art carried that water in the comment section.  Pastor Art made the point that they were the same essential meaning.  I hesitate somewhat to report that this really does look facetious to someone who studies the original language of the New Testament.  They do not have a related root.  They relate in root only in that they start with the same letter.  The comparisons end there and that one commonality means nothing.  One must notice that douloo (“is under bondage”) is used in 1 Corinthians 7:15 to describe something that is entirely different than the passages where deo (“is bound”) is used, like in 1 Corinthians 7:39 and Romans 7:2.

  • The Bible does not contradict itself.—This rule accompanies a high view of inspiration. The truthfulness and faithfulness of God become the guarantee that he will not set forth any passage in his word that contradicts any other passage.

This is the most obvious problem for Pastor Mallinak’s divorce and remarriage viewpoint. He allows for glaring and unexplainable contradictions in Scripture. Let me list the ones that I notice.

  1. Jesus never in one instance sides with the Pharisees.—With Pastor Mallinak’s position, Jesus sides with the Shammai school over the Hillel school.
  2. On every single occasion that Jesus says, “Have ye not read?” He contradicts the religious leaders to whom He speaks.—In Pastor Mallinak’s position, Jesus agrees this one time with the religious leaders and takes one of their positions.
  3. Pastor Mallinak says that Ezra wants divorces for the reason that these were idolatrous pagans.—He contradicts his own divorce position that says the only exception is sexual immorality (no problem with him as long as divorce is allowed).
  4. Porneia is used only pre-marital in every usage and only pre-marital in Matthew—In this one place, in Pastor Mallinak’s view, it is post-marital.
  5. God hates divorce and nothing is ever lawful in Scripture that God hates—Now, according to Pastor Mallinak, God says go ahead and do what I hate.
  6. Jesus says let no man put asunder—Later, in Pastor Mallinak’s view, He says, “Well, go ahead and put asunder, certain men, in certain instances.”
  7. Paul says “until death”—In Pastor Mallinak’s view, not until death but until sexual uncleanness of any kind.
  8. Paul writes, “Love endureth all things”—In Pastor Mallinak’s view, love doesn’t endure adultery.
  9. Paul writes, “Love never faileth”—In Pastor Mallinak’s view, it does fail if adultery occurs, which is too much for love.
  10. God will never divorce His church despite spiritual adultery and the marriage relationship love is like God’s relationship with the church (Eph. 5)—God doesn’t divorce for adultery but we can, even though our love is supposed to be like His.
  11. The Matthew account says divorce permissible—The Mark and Luke account say that divorce is not permissible.
  12. The Deuteronomy account says divorce permissible—The Mark and Luke account say that divorce is not permissible.
  13. The Ezra account says that divorce is permissible—The Mark and Luke account say that divorce is not permissible.

I do not take any doctrinal position that contradicts itself and other plain teachings of Scripture. No one should.  Pastor Mallinak’s view dies the death of over a dozen contradictions.

In light of proper hermeneutics, the right interpretation of Scripture, with full consideration of the principles mentioned above, I must reject Pastor Mallinak’s divorce and remarriage for the tenable and orthodox no divorce-no remarriage position.

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  1. May 30, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Man-O-man, when people google “Pastor Mallinak,” now look what they are going to find! He’s got my name in here over a dozen times! And alas! The PMV! And I just got finished clearing my name on the Version Issue! Woe is me!!!

    But it was a beautiful display of rhetoric! Nice job, Pastor Brandenburg.

  2. Kirk Brandenburg
    June 1, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    “Rhetoric” from/seen in the Bible.

  3. June 4, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Wow, my son! Smiles. I’m in Covington, IN, my wife for the first time. I preached at my original home church. It went Covington-Watertown-SFBay Area. I’m coming back to California on Tuesday.

  4. Cathy McNabb
    June 4, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Pastor B,
    Kewl, I was in Terre Haute just last week.

  5. Rene
    June 7, 2007 at 5:15 am

    I agree with the no divorce/no remarriage stance, but I’m still looking for an answer to my question regarding Deuteronomy 24 and Jeremiah 3. I do not think the Bible contradicts itself; I believe it is inspired and any seeming contradiction has a very good explanation.

    The problem I’m having is in reconciling the fact that God hates putting away/divorce, and yet, Jeremiah 3:8 says that the LORD did so with the nation of Israel because of its “adultery”. I understand that He is calling for repentance, a return. Did He put away the Northern Kingdom but not His children? Please help me to understand. Thanks.

  6. June 7, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Look at Jeremiah 3:14 and harmonize it with v. 8. He is not done with His people. He is done with the ten northern tribes. I don’t remember your question about Deut. 24, but if you read my comments on Deut. 24, I think I answered about any question someone might have.

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