Divorce and Remarriage Essay

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1.0. Introduction

The difficulties of marriage and the pain of divorce have led some Christians to re interpret or deemphasize biblical teachings in an effective way to divorce and remarriage seem easier and more acceptable theologically. Ignoring or deemphasizing biblical teaching, however, is neither compassionate nor helpful. If we are to be effective teacher of marriage, we must have a clear understanding of the scriptural statements about divorce and remarriage. Marriage is more than a marriage certificate from the civil government. In marriage, God makes the man and the woman one. God says about the being made one aspect in Malachi 2:15: “Did not one God make her? Both flesh and spirit are his.

And what does the one God desire? Godly offspring. So, look to yourselves, and do not let any one faithless to have wife of his youth. Jesus also stated that it is God who joins a man and woman together as one flesh in marriage: ” he answered, Have you not read, that the one who made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this reason a man shall leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two ,but one flesh. Therefore what has joined together , let no one separate.” Matt. 19:4-6 Divorce is a legal action that the civil government (not God) has established. A couple may go to the church to get married, but they have to go to the civil government to get a divorce.

The Church cannot grant a legal divorce. Although divorce can end the legal aspect of a marriage, it cannot end the “one” aspect of the marriage which God has joined together. Once divorce occurs, a person is not single again in God’s judgment, and therefore not free to marry another person even if their first spouse has remarried.

The “one” union with their spouse can only be ended by the death of one of the marriage partners. According to Jesus, a marriage cannot be ended by the legal proceedings of the court. Matt. 5:32 states: “But I say to you that any one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastely, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matt. 19:9. Here Jesus says: “And I say to you, whoever divorces wife, except for unchastely, and marries commits adultery. The texts: Mathew 19:9 and Matt.5:32 are the focus texts of this paper in dealing with the divorce and remarriage issues in the New Testament perspectives.

1.1. Back ground of the Study

The issue of divorce and remarriage is a historical problem in the Ambo Birhana Kristos church. Since the Jesus time the issue of divorce and remarriage has been remain a controversy. Even in the early churches, it was a debatable issues and church fathers like Augustine, Tertullian and Clement dealt with the problem seriously. The writings of the early Christians are significant to help us to understand what God says in the Bible about divorce and remarriage for several reasons: these men lived very shortly after the writing of the New Testament. The apostles had only passed away a short while before their time.

They were not separated from the writing of the New Testament by almost two thousand years like we are. They also understood the cultural setting in which the New Testament was written. What the early Christians wrote is also significant because the society in which they lived was so similar to ours today in that divorce and remarriage was very common. Many of these writings were widely circulated among the churches, which add to the credibility of what they say. Clement of Alexandria writing around AD 194 on the “exception clause” states that the only exception for divorce is for remarried couples to end their sinful marriage: “Now that the Scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, ‘You shall not put away your wife, except for the cause of fornication;’ and it regards as fornication, the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.”

We see from the above statements of the early church leaders that the early church took a clear stand that remarriage was sin and was not permitted by Christians even though society around them believed and practiced otherwise. This clear stand against divorce and remarriage by the early church removes yet another prop from those who would like to interpret the teachings of Jesus as allowing/permitting remarriage. It appears that it has only been in recent years that the church has reversed its beliefs and has permitted remarriage. But still today the issue of divorce and remarriage is debatable.

1.2. Statement of the problem

As far as the on going Christian traditions and transformation principles concerned with, the ethical issue of divorce and remarriage is one of the main entangling problem in the church today. What does the Bible teach about divorce and remarriage? On what ground can a married person divorce his /her marriage partner? What are the consequences of divorce? Is there scriptural precedence for a divorced person to ever remarry? Can a divorced person fill a place in ministry? How are we to deal with those who have suffered in this area? Divorce and remarriage is a significant subject which many people, as well as the church, face. Many marriages are being severed by divorce.

Today, the divorce rate is no different in the church than among the ungodly. Everyone has an opinion about it, and everyone is entitled to hold an opinion about divorce and remarriage. With so many extremes being taught on this subject, it is difficult to have the proper perspective of this problem in the church. In this research paper we will examine how to deal with these complicated issues, in a spirit of New Testament perspectives.

1.3. Purpose of the Study

To assess the ethical issues of divorce and remarriage in the light of biblical ethics in order to address and recommend optional solutions for marriage problems in the Ambo Birhana Kristos church.

1.4. The Importance of the study

The reason why divorce and remarriage chosen is due to the researchers’ believe that this problem is now a days threatening our society, especially in church community. So, the more one gets aware about the problem, the better he or she will take care of it. This study focuses only in dealing with causes that are directly related to the issue of divorce and remarriage in biblical perspectives to come up with workable principles in dealing with the issue of divorce and remarriage in the church. This is because dealing with the biblical texts in aspect of moral issues should be the first task of the researchers rather than finding data in the societal frame work.

1.5. Delimitation of the Study

This study focuses only in dealing with causes that are directly related to the issue of divorce and remarriage in biblical perspectives to come up with workable principles in dealing with the issue of divorce and remarriage in the church. This is because dealing with the biblical texts in aspect of moral issues should be the first task of the researchers rather than finding data in the societal frame work.

1.6. Limitation of the Study

This study is expected to generate a base line data on ethical issue of divorce and remarriage in Ambo Birhana Kristos church of Ethiopia. The study is also expected to provide data on ethical issue divorce and remarriage in terms of the texts focused on. The data generated by this study might also be used by church leaders, pastors, scholars and students to take positive actions towards improving ethical problems in the churches and beyond that in the society.

It also encourages churches and organizations working on social ethics to identify and revise their performance regarding their methods to teach and aware the society to bring behavioral changes about the problem. So, the main purpose of this study is to find out biblical evidences so as to lay a solid and workable ethical frame work that includes alternatives, handing over a new light so that the church can handle the issue of divorce and remarriage differently.

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