Divorce & Remarriage in the 1st & 21st Century
© Rev Dr David Instone-Brewer (Grove Books, 2001)
from Grove Books, firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Testament teaching on divorce and remarriage appears to be impractical and unfair at first sight. The 'plain' meaning of the texts seems to allow divorce only for adultery or for desertion by an unbeliever, and does not allow remarriage until the death of one's former spouse. This means that someone suffering abuse cannot get divorced, and someone who is divorced from an adulterous partner cannot remarry unless that partner dies.
There are many different ways of understanding the text, whereby divorce is allowed for a wider range of grounds, which include physical and emotional abuse. These do not always take the text and the historical context seriously. By contrast, a few interpreters have argued that a believer is never allowed to divorce.
New insights into the Jewish and Graeco-Roman world of the 1st century now enable us to understand how the original recipients understood this New Testament teaching, and suggest the following conclusions:
Ch.1 How the Church Interpreted the Divorce Texts
Ch.2 How 1st Century Jews Would Have Understood Jesus
1st Century Interpretation
Jesus on Marriage
Jesus on Divorce
The Shorter Accounts
Other Grounds for Divorce in 1st Century Judaism
God as a divorcee
Jesus' Silence on other Grounds for Divorce
Ch.3 How 1st Century Converts Would Have Understood Paul
1st Century Graeco-Roman Culture
Paul on Marriage
Paul on Divorce
Paul on Remarriage
No remarriage till death occurs?
Husband of one wife?
Ch.4 Summary Of the 1st Century Interpretation
Summary of Jesus' Teaching
Summary of Paul's Teaching
After Jesus and Paul
Ch.5 Applying the 1st Century to the 21st Century Church
Marriage vows in Christian weddings
Should the church teach against no-fault divorce, which is now the main type of divorce in the UK, USA, and other countries, and teach specific grounds for divorce?
Should the church teach the Old Testament grounds for divorce - unfaithfulness, material neglect or abuse and emotional neglect or abuse, which were affirmed by Jesus and Paul (according to this study)?
Should those who remarried after an invalid divorce get divorced again and remarry their original spouse?
Should the church allow remarriage of 'innocent' divorcees after divorce on a biblical ground?
Should the church allow remarriage of 'guilty' divorcees and those who used 'no-fault' divorces?
Conclusions & Further Reading
Index: A B C D E F G H I-K L M N O P Q-R S T U-Z