By Timothy Sparks
1. Is wearing an earring likely to offend and draw negative attention to me rather than draw positive attention to Christ?
2. What message am I sending by wearing an earring?
3. What message may others receive?
4. If wearing an earring draws unnecessary attention to myself or distracts others that it becomes the focus for other people rather than my words or even my claim to be a Christian, will I do what I want or am I willing to forego wearing an earring (Phil. 2:3-5)?
5. Rather than asking “What’s wrong with it?” am I willing to consider “What’s right with it?”?
[Note: While I have addressed the Greek text and English translation in far greater detail among articles posted here: https://timothysparks.com/marriage, this article serves as a shorter explanation of the topic.]
Addressing the text of Matthew 19:9–To dismiss not over fornication is to dismiss not for fornication; thus, a non-fornication cause. The English translation should not be “except for fornication.” The actual phrase, which is accurately translated “not over fornication,” makes Jesus’ address specific to nonsexual dismissal. Jesus does not address divorce for fornication (Mt. 19:9). It was the death penalty for such (Deut. 22:13-22; Lev. 20:10), not the divorce penalty.
By Timothy Sparks
You cannot divorce without dismissing/sending away. So any discussion that okays sending away/dismissing a God-joined wife with a divorce certificate is okaying dismissing/sending away. God and Jesus condemn the sending away of a God-joined wife. How then could dismissing a wife with a divorce certificate somehow make sending her away right in Yahweh’s sight?!
Women could not divorce their husbands during the Old Covenant days among the Hebrew nation. It was only the men who were sending their wives away, some of them by divorce among the Hebrew nation. Notice in Mark’s account, written to the Romans, when Jesus later addresses the disciples in the house concerning the same thing (Mk. 10:10), Jesus also refutes the concept of a woman sending away her husband (Mk. 10:12). No discussion is necessary about whether or not she sends away her husband with a certificate of divorce, since God forbids sending away a God-joined spouse. It does not matter whether a spouse kicks the other one out and says, “Get out and don’t come back” or if he/she does the same thing with a divorce certificate. It is all the same. God and Jesus forbid dismissing/sending away a God-joined spouse.
“‘For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,’”
Says the Lord of hosts.
‘Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously’” (Mal. 2:16, NKJV).
“For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously” (Mal. 2:16, KJV).
By Timothy Sparks
(This brief study addresses the texts of Deut. 24:1ff, Mt. 19:6-8 and Mk. 10:5-9.)
I have seen no evidence from Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek Scripture that God anywhere grants favorable permission regarding divorce of a one flesh union. Some, however, believe that God granted favorable approval for a man to divorce his one flesh wife in the text of Deut. 24:1ff. However, when Scripture says “Moses” (Mt. 19:8) we should not automatically read “God” into the text.
God wrote the text of Deut. 24:1ff through Moses. However, what Jesus refers to in Matthew 19 and Mark 10 concerning what Moses wrote is not a reference to the text of Deut. 24:1ff. In Deut. 24:1ff there is no permission to divorce. What Moses wrote, which Jesus refers to as a permission to divorce, Jesus clearly refutes (Mt. 19:8). Moses’ written permission is not recorded in Deut. 24:1ff. We do not have Moses’ written permission to divorce within God’s Law.
Unless one is willing to pit Jesus against God’s Law (the very law Jesus upheld to the smallest part of a letter, Mt. 5:17-19), the correct answer is that Jesus refutes the command Moses wrote concerning permission to divorce. Moses’ written permission did not have God favorably authorizing it and God did not include it in the Old Covenant.
Please see the following for closer examination of the issues:
By Timothy Sparks
(Adapted from McFall:
https://lmf12.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/divorce_aug_2014.pdf, pages 143-145)
The “divorce” metaphor (Jer. 3:8) is very appropriate under the circumstances. God can break his covenant relationship with Israel on the strength of its conditionality which he made very clear to them. God is not breaking any “marriage” vow which he gave them. God did not promise to stay in a permanent “one flesh” relationship with Israel. Such a relationship never existed. The covenant was broken by Israel. So God drew upon their own evil practice of divorcing their wives, in essence, to say, “This is how I am now going to break my covenant relationship with you.” It is a valid use of the divorce terminology with which that they could identify, without validating the human practice of divorce.
The reality was a conditional covenant which was entered into between God and his people. There were only covenant vows to be broken. There were no marriage vows to be broken. The relationship was conditional on Israel keeping the terms of that covenant. A marriage is not conditional. A marriage is established with a vow for life and “bound” for life by God as he established in the beginning (Mt. 19:4, 6, 8; Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:39). The Old Covenant envisioned the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). Israel did not keep the terms of the Covenant, therefore, to use a metaphor they could understand, God “divorced” them. But the use of “divorce” does not mean there was a literal “marriage.” A person might say “I am divorcing my family” but it does not imply that person went through a literal marriage ceremony. It is using “divorce” as a metaphor. The metaphor increases and deepens our understanding. We should not get confused and take the metaphor literally. God’s situation with Israel was a covenant relationship, not a literal marriage relationship.