|Tree, German Countryside - Photo by J.Stahl|
“How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?” -Oscar Wilde
"...The Bible isn't an American book. To be honest, the American culture is as far removed from the ancient culture of the Bible as you can get. The message loses its potency and sometimes completely escapes us when read solely through an American lens instead of through the eyes of those who understand the ancient biblical culture..."
Carolyn Custis James, Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women, page 32
To be perfectly honest, I believe that many of the issues that come down to interpretation issues and faulty doctrinal issues come down to the fact that many theologians do not want to consider the very Jewish background of Scripture, and its interpretation. Somehow, because Y'shua came, died and rose again, and we have Saul who became "very Christian" Paul, we suddenly just throw away the rule book and come up with our own.
This is where we end up with errors such as "It is never acceptable to remarry while your ex is still alive, because the Bible says so!"
The Scripture at hand that typically is used in this case is the passage where Y'shua is asked about marriage and heaven. Y'shua references the very real situation of an agunah, or chained wife, and how it is wrong for a man to remarry prior to settling the issue with the wife he put away without giving her a certificate of divorce.
Let's look at the passages traditionally discussed about divorce and remarriage issues:
When a man has taken a wife and married her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found a thing of uncleanness in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house; and if she goes out from his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, and the latter husband hates her, and writes her a bill of divorce, and puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house or if the latter husband who took her to be his wife dies; her former husband who sent her away is not to take her again to be his wife, after she is defiled. . .
And this is a second thing you have done: covering the altar of Jehovah with tears, with weeping and groaning; yet not facing toward the grain offering, and taking it with delight from your hand. Yet you say, On what cause? Because Jehovah has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously; and she is your companion and your covenant wife. And has He not made you one? Yet the vestige of the Spirit is in him. And what of the one? He was seeking a seed of God. Then guard your spirit, and do not deal treacherously with the wife of your youth. Jehovah, the God of Israel, says, He hates sending away, and to cover with violence on his garment, says Jehovah of Hosts. Then guard your spirit and do not act treacherously.
They said to Him, Why then did Moses command to "give a bill of divorce," "and to put her away"? He said to them, In view of your hardheartedness, Moses allowed you to put away your wives. But from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, if not for fornication, and shall marry another, that one commits adultery. And the one who marries her who was put away commits adultery. His disciples said to Him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But He said to them, Not all make room for this Word, but those to whom it is given.Circumstances leading to a woman being declared an agunah are:
- The disappearance of the husband without any witnesses declaring that he is dead;
- The husband succumbing to a physical or mental disease that leaves him in a coma or insane and unable to actively grant a divorce;
- The husband refusing to grant his wife a get when she is deemed entitled to one under Jewish law. A woman denied a get by her husband is technically called a mesorevet get, although the term agunah is more commonly used.
The situation discussed here, in the latter two passages, are of the third and fourth reason that a woman may be declared agunah.
There were times in which a wife would request from the leaders of the [Beit Din] to approach the man about a 'get'. Women were not allowed to issue 'gets', but religious leaders did approach the husband at times on her behalf. The Law of Moses mentioned three main reasons that women applied for a 'get'. 1) Husband following a disgraceful vocation. 2) cruelty to the wife 3) refusing to provide. The courts would 'compel' the husband to agree to the 'get' by threatening him with excommunication. If that didn't work they would go non Jewish courts to take care of it.
...So NO you can't just 'put away' your wife for any reason... In the light of the law of Judism 'adultery' isn't the only way OUT of the marriage as it has been taught for centuries in the church. These verses were speaking of 'putting away' your wife without the divorce papers or 'get'..
Hannah, Emotional Abuse and Your Faith, "Agunah Is To Stay Chained" Brackets added by me.
In order to understand that there IS marriage after divorce, we will examine the Scriptures in Matthew 19:3-12 focusing on the usage of the Greek word, apoluo. The Greek word apoluo that’s translated “divorce” or “to put away” is a general word. Its primary usage is: to “send” (apoluo) someone home when it’s getting late.11 When two people are leaving each other there is a “separation.” Apoluo is a separation in general, which does not involve the “legal” aspect of a permanent separation like a divorce.
Divorce Hope: Can Divorced Christians Remarry? Absolutely!
For many Church pastors and boards of elders, divorce is the one sin that they feel is incapable of being wiped off the slate by the blood of Jesus. This becomes transparent when otherwise qualified men in the congregation are passed over for speaking and leadership roles, ordination and such, simply because they have not been, during the term of their lives, the husband of absolutely one woman.In case you were curious, this is something like what a Get would look like.
... men were putting away their wives ... simply out of the hardness of their hearts, i.e. for largely carnal reasons. But in order to cover up their carnality and hard-to-please attitude, they were also neglecting to issue the bill of divorce, causing the woman and her new husband to commit adultery. The woman would be merely “put away” (Gr. =apoluo), not legally divorced...
Todd Derstine, Divorce and Remarraige: What Is the “Law of the Husband”? (Romans 7:2)
The Church as, for thousands of years taught that a wife can only be divorced due to adultery. Many patriarchal churches take this a step further, and say that women are not allowed to divorce their husbands
This legalism of blaming the victim, or refusing divorce / remarriage to a woman who has been so mistreated.. I have no words.
What this does? It traps a woman when she has a biblical, legal out, that has been affirmed for thousands of years. If her husband has a disgraceful vocation (think robber, pimp, thug...); if he is cruel to his wife (think: abuse dynamic), or if he refuses to provide for her needs and that of her children. If you think about it, all of these are reasons of abandonment in some way, shape, or form,
Remember the images I had before I started this series of blog posts? Just in case you don't...
Y'shua and Paul saw this restrictive, "chaining" of women to the whims of the hardness of hearts of men, and they came out swinging for the underdog. They saw that the religious leaders, fathers and husbands were not allowing women to be the image bearers and gospel sharers that G-d truly intended for us to be.
Both Y'shua and Paul were very learned in the rabbinic processes, and it only makes sense that they would call unrighteous leaders on their BS. (It is B.S., admit it.)
The passages frequently discussed as "office" passages do not prohibit a man or woman to a leadership office in their faith community if divorce is in the equation. "The husband of one wife" (1 Tim 3:2; 3:12; Tit 1:6) is a saying that meant a faithful man or woman. We call it being a "one woman man" back home in the Southern United States.
There is so much injustice, it's hard to tackle it all at once. I can only recommend that you read about it, research it, dig into the bible and immerse yourself in it. Only then can you find truth.
This summer, I read "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers: Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America?" In the book and in the DVD with the same title, Dan Merchant discusses starting and carrying out the idea of a confession booth for anyone who wants to - to come in and confess whatever, and him confess issues to them as well - at Gay Pride Week. Well, I'll let him speak for himself. Start at about the 2 Minute mark, and on the second, stop at around 2:20:
These people were shocked, simply shocked because a straight, white, Christian male apologized and dialogued with them. And they all had a great talk.
I wonder, what would happen if we had such confessional booths? What kind of radical healing could we encourage both in the church, but in society as a whole?
Would anything change?
What if we took the mentality of Yom Kippur, and like some ultra Orthodox, have a mini yom kippur just before the new moon?
What if, like Jordana Horn at Kveller suggests in her article, "A Collective Apology for Parents on Yom Kippur", we actually confessed our failings to our children?
What if we said the Al Chet once a month? Would we be a changed people? Would we be living a life that needed no apologies?