Now you're in trouble! - see the Time Magazine piece on you.

Someone emailed:
Now you're in trouble! - see the Time Magazine piece on you. It makes you look "flexible" and trying to find what you want in the Bible.

Reply: The Time Magazine correspondant, David Van Biema, interviewed me for the piece, and did a fairly good job of summarising my already summarised article, but unless you have read my book I doubt you'll get a balanced view of what I'm saying.

The main problem with the article is 'linkage'. I'm linked with people who want to find loop-holes for divorce rather than find out what the Bible actually says, and the article hints that the same methods can be used to eventually allow homosexual practice, whereas the opposite is true (as Gagnon has convincingly shown).

As I'm sure you know, my book shows that Jesus emphasised forgiveness for broken marriage vows rather than divorce, though he allowed divorce when marriage vows are repeatedly and hardheartedly broken.

They say that no publicity is bad publicity, but only if people take the time to get behind the headlines and investigate further for themselves. Still, I can't complain, because abbreviation by the Gospels is what made Jesus' teaching on divorce so difficult!


Frank said...

Two things I noticed in the comments on your thesis in the C-T articles. (i) You relied on extra-biblical accounts for the 'Any Cause' divorce (Mt 19:3) (ii) Exodus 21:10-11 doesn't offer any teachings for Christian couples. I got into a bit of a debate on those in the C-T comments forum.

As for (i) the use of Philo, Josephus and the Talmud makes clearer to me the accounts and meaning of the debate in Mt 19. Number (ii) puzzled me, why wouldn't scripture offer teachings to any believer? I got some grudging affirmation that perhaps Ex 21:10-11 along with 1 Co 7 offers Christians insights as to how to handle marriages. But I think that many of the negative respondents were from particular teacher that seems to discount this notion.

Anonymous said...

Dear CT Readers
Re: “What God Has Joined…”

Being divorced 4 years ago by my wife I have had ample time to research this volatile subject. May I respond to this unfortunate article. It seems Mr. Brewer and many others have done a terrible disservice to the church…especially the children of those who choose these questionable “abuse/neglect” divorces. Given the controversy over the subject and the far-reaching negative effects of divorce on the spouses, children, the church and society… more responsible editing might have also included the article by John Piper “Divorce and Remarriage… A Position Paper.” (please read it) The exception clause of “porneia” so liberally applied today is therein contextually clarified.

Since Brewer wants to hear the Scripture from the ears of the hearers… the immediate shock the disciples had over Christ’s view of the permanence of marriage should validate a position quite different from his. Jesus also said divorce was allowed by MOSES (not Him) because of the hardness of hearts. Let’s remember that according to Jesus, hardness of heart (unforgiveness) might lead to Him rejecting them in the end. Our divorce epidemic may be just a symptom of the ‘cheap grace, no repentance required’ gospel. Compassion for hurting spouses should never be elevated above the mandates of Scripture.

Nonetheless, Brewer’s reasonings in arriving at his published doctrines are flawed. Those in his camp view marriage as a contract to be performed on... not a covenant. He leaps from then Jewish culture into allowing similar license for today. We do not interpret Scripture in light of Jewish divorce documents or then cultural norms. Christ’s statements are absolute in Mark and Luke and sobering in Matthew. Paul affirms the most powerful witness of marriage as being a picture of Christ and the church. If a divorced Hosea husband remains faithful to his wayward Gomer bride, that indeed is a ‘picture’ of our situation today, isn’t it? An unfaithful “bride”to Christ. Paul affirms remaining single as best. It is quite a leap to say that “you are not bound” to an abandoned spouse to then giving the green light to remarry. Brewer avoids much other context as well as common sense. eg. Adultery was grounds for execution in the day he researched. Should we permit that today? Also, young children don’t need to see their mother going to bed with a man when their Daddy is just across town. Blended families might appear better than a previous one, but they may be a form of serial polygamy. Reason has been eclipsed, by deception.

The God-honoring mandates of Jesus regarding faithfulness to, service of and forgiveness toward others are ignored when a person chooses divorce and then elects to remarry. I have yet to hear a pastor come at it from this angle, let alone suggest forgoing remarriage that causes children to “stumble” just a bit. As followers of Christ true forgiveness is not optional. Divorce is. Yes, in abusive situations, legal separation is an option. Still the vows and union should remain intact by the violated spouse. Sadly, those who errantly initiate divorce most often are selfishly serving themselves, and hurting their own children, not mention our witness. The manifold rationalizations for divorce/remarriage do our enemy’s bidding…fostering destruction and corruption of the family/marriage God ordained. One thing’s for sure…no marriages in heaven and we will all stand accountable for our lives… divorce-suggesting pastors and counselors especially.

Justin Traver Gresham Oregon

David IB said...

Dear Justin

I'm sorry to hear about your sad situation. As a result of the hurt you have suffered, you know how important it is to preserve marriages whenever possible, and to discourage people from divorcing for minor matters. Jesus too had this emphasis, as I point out in my books. John Piper, who knows my work well, pointed out that those who criticised me for advocating divorce for minor matters had misinterpreted the article.

I encourage you to read my work for yourself (click on 'Pastoral book' at - you may find that you agree with more than you think.

David Instone-Brewer

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In what circumstances do you believe a Christian may divorce their partner? (tick one or more)