This is not an obscure Old Testament doctrine. It comes straight from the mouth of Jesus and the writings of Paul.
In Matthew 19:9, Jesus says directly: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
He doesn’t add any qualifiers or allow for any exceptions anywhere else in the New Testament. Paul, in I Corinthians, adds “adulterers” to his list of those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Yet the interesting thing is that I am completely accepted in any church I choose to go to. Nobody expects me to “come out of” my “divorced and remarried lifestyle” to be a part of their church.
This command is largely ignored in the Christian church today, even in evangelical circles. It makes one wonder why.
Considering all the furor over homosexuality, one would be led to assume that Jesus had much more to say about homosexuality than about divorce. But of course most of us realize that Jesus never addressed homosexuality at all, not a word.
He was very clear about remarrying after divorce, and he put some pretty strict guidelines on divorce itself. But not a word on the sin of being gay.
Yes, Paul did on several occasions discuss homosexuality, lumping homosexuals in with us adulterers on his list of people who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I bring this up in light of the ongoing argument that homosexual marriage is a threat to the family. We have to ask ourselves: Did Jesus see it that way?
It would appear the real threat that he saw to the family was divorce (and remarriage), and we see the wreckage that is doing to families and children all around us.
Want to protect marriage? How about enacting laws that make it tougher to get a divorce?
How about, if you do get divorced, we put in a law making it illegal to get married again? Then at least each partner would be focused on the kids who exist now and on what’s best for them, even if their parents don’t get along.
How about a law prohibiting anyone under the age of 21 from having a baby without being married? We have laws banning smoking until age 18 and drinking until 21.
Yes, kids still smoke and drink, but there is a stigma attached about breaking the law that does prevent it from being worse than it is.
Do these laws sound absurd? Well, all of them could be supported from a Biblical perspective more readily than a ban on gay marriage.
So why all the blood, sweat and tears on the gay-marriage issue and not on the things that are truly a threat to families? Sadly, that’s easy enough to figure out.
Within our churches, and even the evangelical community, we want the freedom to do what we want.
We want to divorce when we want to and to remarry when we are ready, and we don’t worry too much about those troublesome words Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago. Christians divorce and remarry at a very similar rate to that of everyone else in our society.
However, most of us are not homosexuals; we may not even know any. And really, we have to draw the line somewhere, don’t we?
It’s often said God would never create someone homosexual. But how do we know that?
Even if we agree that being homosexual is less than the ideal, look around — every one of us is created less than the ideal in some way.
God created us all, and since the Fall (in Christian doctrine), we’re all in the same boat, with varieties of personality defects and physical flaws that God has allowed. Why is homosexuality any different?
Writing this certainly isn’t going to endear me to my evangelical friends, whom I love and cherish.
However, it seems that despite their zeal to hold to a “literal” reading of the Bible, the ability to pick and choose what one reads literally remains alive and well.
Tim Turner, of Coon Rapids, is a former pastor who works in the juvenile-justice system.