[From Noel] O.K., after playing nice for a couple of weeks we are about to tread out on the thin ice now and talk about something that has some significant potential for hurt. Divorce is a topic that is deep enough (and dark enough) that it will take us a little while to unpack it. Rather than just dump 3 000 words on the topic, Julie and I are going to address it once a week, over a few weeks, a little bit at a time and hopefully open the floor for some questions and conversation. Feel free to respond in the comments below and we will try to address each in turn, either privately or in the format of the blog.
Divorce and Marriage Are Not Opposites!
It is important to establish first off that avoiding divorce is not the primary definition of success in marriage. I’ll say it again: Avoiding divorce is not the win you are looking for. You can manage to be married the rest of your life and be a failure at marriage. The goal of a healthy marriage is not just to not divorce. It is to grow in love, and in service and in submission to each other and to God. Julie and I both have friends who are not legally divorced, but divorced in every other definition of the word. They are bitter and wounded and divided against each other in every way except under the law. God is not glorified by bitter and angry people who fail to file the papers. God is glorified when imperfect people can still forgive each other and change for the better.
Marriage was invented by God and its very beginnings are described in the first book of the Bible. Over the next few weeks we will first look at what Jesus said about marriage and divorce, and then look at his cultural context. Next we’ll look at the Bible Jesus used (The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament) when he said what he said. Before we get started I wanted to share the two best books I’ve read on this topic:
Divorce and Remarriage: A Redemptive Theology by Rubel Shelly
This is an excellent introductory book on the Bible’s teachings on divorce. It doesn’t require a graduate degree to read and is well reasoned. You may not agree with everything that Shelly writes but it is an excellent place to start if you want to explore what the Bible teaches.
Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context by David Instone-Brewer
Dr. Shelly bases a lot of the scholarly support for his book from this extensive work by Dr. Instone-Brewer. This is tough sledding. If you are comfortable with original languages and extensive footnotes this is the book for you. It is a rich and thorough account of the issue of Divorce in the Old and New Testaments and provides an excellent background. Portions of it however do work as a cure for insomnia 🙂 Be warned.
This post is continued here.