I have been following with intrigue three recent articles on divorce and remarriage. Initially on October 5, 2007, Christianity Today posted an article by David Instone-Brewer, “What God Has Joined.” This CT article is a condensation of two earlier books that Instone-Brewer had written: Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible and Divorce and Remarriage in the Church. To this article, John Piper wrote a strong response in disagreement with Instone-Brewer, “Tragically Widening the Grounds of Legitimate Divorce.” Piper’s disagreement with the position that Instone-Brewer supports is also reflected in three chapters of an earlier book, What Jesus Demands of the World (you should also note Instone-Brewer’s response to Piper’s criticisms, “More from David Instone-Brewer on Divorce“). To thicken the plot, Andreas Köstenberger responded to both articles by challenging both Instone-Brewer’s and Piper’s interpretation of Matthew 19:9, “Clarifying the NT Teaching on Divorce.” Like Instone-Brewer and Piper, Köstenberger also wrote a previous book dealing with this subject, God, Marriage, and Family.
Because this is such a significant issue in our culture, I would suggest that you read these works. And, while you are reading these, you should also add an earlier article by Joe M. Sprinkle, “Old Testament Perspective on Divorce and Remarriage,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40 (December 1997): 529–50. While Sprinkle was doing his research for this article, Gordon P. Hugenberger wrote what is IMNSHO a definitive work on Malachi 2:10-16: Marriage as a Covenant: Biblical Law and Ethics as Developed from Malachi. In many heated debates that I have heard over the years about God’s opposition to all divorce, the use of God’s hatred of divorce in Malachi 2:16 is the coup de grâce in some of these exchanges. Whatever else Hugenberger demonstrates, he cogently argues that Malachi 2:16 ESV cannot be used as the coup de grâce on all divorce. While the point of this post is not to solve all the biblical issues with marriage, divorce and remarriage, the point is to challenge you to study these issues. We are called to preach the gospel of Christ to a fallen world, comprised of all types of sinners many of whom have experienced the negative impact of fractured families, and to edify a church made up of regenerated sinners, with a growing number who have experienced the unfortunate ramifications associated with divorce. We must synthesize what the whole counsel of God has to say on the subjects of marriage, divorce, and remarriage and then be able to biblically proclaim what God has to say on these subjects. May God help us to be biblically informed and effectively teach his biblical truth on these subjects.