Maxey - Broking Discussion
A Critical Review and Defense of
Down, But Not Out

Wednesday, December 20, 2000

A Response to Broking's
Continuing Comments & Criticisms
By Al Maxey

Darrell writes: "Al, it's not a problem to disagree with me. The problem is your rejection of Jesus' doctrine." He then quotes a couple of passages from the writings of the apostle John. "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day" (John 12:48). I have no argument with what Jesus says here. Nor do I have any argument with the teaching which is delivered to us by Jesus Christ via the inspired writings themselves. What I do have a problem with are some of the interpretations of mere men with respect to our Lord's teaching. Darrell suggests that I have rejected the doctrine of Jesus. On the contrary. I reject the deductions of Darrell with regard to the doctrine of Jesus. There is a big difference!!

My critic also alludes to II John 9: "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son." I'm convinced this is one of the most abused passages in the Bible. It has been wrested by virtually every feuding factionist in the church, and is wrongfully applied to condemn everything from multiple cups in the communion tray, eating in the church building, song books & pitch pipes, located preachers, drinking fountains, children's worship, and a zillion and one other "departures from the doctrine of Christ." A careful reading of the context, however, clearly declares (as biblical scholars will overwhelming attest) that the "teaching of/about Christ" from which one must not depart is that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (vs. 7), something which was being denied by many at the time of the writing of this brief epistle.

I continue to contend that I am in no way teaching anything contrary to the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, I do indeed present truths in conflict with the doctrine of Darrell. Since it is the words of my Lord which will judge me one day, however, I choose to remain faithful to them rather than to the assumptions and deductions of a mere fallible disciple. Because I do not agree with his own personal perceptions, Darrell assumes that I am therefore in disagreement with the LORD. No, Darrell, I'm just in disagreement with YOU. Differing with you and differing with the Lord are not one and the same, although you apparently perceive them to be!!

Later in the post Darrell comments: "I wonder why you do not teach that when a person breaks God's law he receives a total release from God's law?" He then points to Matthew 5:19 in which the term luo is used ("Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven" -- NASB). He then declares: "If what you argue about divorce were true, then when one shall violate God's law, he shall be totally free from God's law."

I'm sorry, Darrell, but your "logic" here totally escapes me, as I tried to point out in our recent question and answer exchange. The passage you mention has absolutely nothing to do with a person no longer being subject to God's law. It talks about one who willfully chooses to sever himself from obedience to God's law, but that certainly does not mean that person is now free from God's law in the ultimate sense. God's law applies to that person whether he chooses to obey it or not. If I go 80 mph in a school zone, that does not thereby forever free me from the law which states I must go only 15 mph in a school zone. A violation of law on my part does not void the law itself. I may willfully choose to violate this law for the rest of my life; just completely ignore it. I may willfully refuse to EVER obey the law of 15 mph in a school zone. I do indeed have that option (if I choose to be stubborn and self-willed, and don't care about the consequences), but that does not mean I am suddenly no longer amenable to that law, or the consequences of it, nor does it mean the law itself is somehow made void by my willful severing of myself from any compliance to it. On the contrary. My lawless behavior serves to validate the just nature of that law, even though I may have willfully severed myself from obedience to it.

With regard to marriage and divorce, and God's IDEAL, and the use of the concept of luo in that regard, just because one's covenant of marriage has come to an end, and is fully & finally terminated, does not mean that such a person is now free to live a life of unrestrained wantonness for the remainder of his/her days. God's IDEAL is still very much in place, and that man or woman is still amenable to it in future relationships (although, like any law, they can choose to disobey it, thus cutting themselves off from it). Should they seek a further union at some point in the future they are just as obligated to seek to achieve God's IDEAL as they were the first time. God still desires covenants of marriage to last, and that desire does not change just because one has experienced (either willfully or innocently) a prior failure in this area of life.

We all fail in various areas of our life, areas in which God has called us to succeed and not fail. However, our failures do not thereby void the force of His law in our lives. We don't whittle away His actual law with each successive sin, rather our failings just serve to spotlight the just nature of His law, and the need for it. Yes, Darrell, some do indeed "loose, unbind, break, nullify, sever" (luo) the force of law in their own lives, and indeed teach others to do so. Are these people thereby no longer subject to God's law, simply because they have chosen to sever themselves from it? Of course not. The law stands; it is not one bit diminished by our willful dismissal of it and disobedience to it. But, Darrell, the force of luo is also very evident here, and I think you need to acknowledge this reality. From a practical, personal obedience point of view, continual, willful transgressors have indeed completely severed (luo) themselves from law (in the practical sense that they have chosen no longer to obey it). This is the significance, by the way, of the term "lawless" -- "without law, or apart from law."

Do you see the distinction, Darrell? The word luo does indeed denote a complete severing. The severing is NOT of the universal force of God's law over mankind; only God can sever that, and I doubt that He intends to do so. The law stands, whether men heed it or not. Violating law doesn't void law. But for the lawbreaker, who has made the willful determination to personally sever himself from obedience to law, a genuine break or severing has been made (in the practical sense of obedience). A pathological liar, for example, has severed himself from the law forbidding lying; indeed, he's severed himself from truth! That law still stands, and it is still in force over mankind, but in a practical sense it is "loosed, severed" (luo) with regard to THIS man because he has willfully chosen to cut himself off from it.

I am merely trying to point out the force of the word luo here, Darrell. The word does indeed denote a complete severing, loosing, unbinding, setting free. That is the force of meaning of this word. In the above illustrations it applies to one who has chosen to set aside and separate himself from obedience to God's law in his own life, and it also applies to one who has chosen to set aside or sever a covenant with a spouse. A complete severing and disuniting has occurred. Both the law and the IDEAL are still very much in place, of course, and a violation of either is still a sin.

People CAN, however, later repent, and people CAN once again seek to embrace the law of God in their lives, or His IDEAL for marital covenants. A liar who repents is not forever forbidden from telling the truth in the future, is he? Indeed, we would agree he is still obligated to do so (even though he may have personally chosen to cut himself off from that obligation for a time), and one who has forsaken worship is not forever forbidden from seeking out worshipful expression in the future, is he? Indeed, he would be well advised to do so. And one who has failed in a covenant of marriage is not forever forbidden from seeking to embrace the IDEAL in whatever future relationships or unions which may come his/her way, is he/she? Indeed, they may well be more likely (due to their previous failure) to do so in light of their heightened appreciation for God's IDEAL with regard to the covenant of marriage.

Your argument with regard to luo, Darrell, is illogical, and it has no validity in the area of MDR. Just because a marriage covenant has completely ended, does not mean the sinful parties involved are forever freed from the force of God's IDEAL, or of His law. You pick yourself up and you get back in the race, and you learn and grow from your mistakes. And the grace of God is there to aid you. If anything, those who fail (and who learn thereby) know even more fully the value of God's law and IDEAL with respect to the covenant of marriage. And, hopefully, they will be all the more devoted to that law and IDEAL in the future.

With regard to the statement of Jesus concerning eunuchs (Matthew 19:12), Darrell continues to promote a form of religious self-abuse and mutilation in promotion of his false theory. It brings to mind what Paul had to say in Col. 2:23 --- "These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." Since Darrell regards remarriage for most divorced persons as a "continuation in adultery" or a "living in sin" (a false view I have already exposed in this discussion), he therefore writes, "this is why some who have divorced for reasons other than fornication 'have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake.' This is Bible, not a man's mere opinion!"

On the contrary, Darrell. It is your interpretation of a passage, and nothing more. We have discussed this in some depth in this exchange already, and I refer the readers to those posts. I think you will discover, Darrell, that almost NO reputable biblical scholars embrace your view on this. It is an extreme, and in my view completely indefensible, and frankly ludicrous, theory which would lead people to actually mutilate themselves in order to appease a handful of rigid religionists. Such is unconscionable!!

With regard to the so-called "exception clause," Darrell states: "The fact that the clause only appears in Matthew makes absolutely no difference to its validity." I agree with you here, brother. All the Lord has to do is say something ONCE for it to be in full force over our lives!! You will get no argument from me on that. Our Lord's statement, as recorded by Matthew, "except for fornication," obviously has some valid meaning for His disciples then and now (and indeed for all men). The challenge, of course, is to determine that meaning. The fact that the other gospel writers omit this phrase when quoting our Lord's statement on MDR must be factored in when formulating an interpretation. This is, as you would undoubtedly agree, in keeping with the principles of sound hermeneutics. I do not discount the validity of this particular phrase, Darrell, I merely discount the validity of your interpretation of this phrase. The clause itself, obviously, has tremendous validity, as I point out in my book. Again, I believe we have both stated our positions on the meaning of this phrase, and we differ in our interpretations. I suppose we are going to have to leave it at that and allow the reader to decide between our views.

Darrell wrote: "If there is no exception to Jesus' law on divorce and remarriage, then whosoever divorces and remarries commits adultery." He goes on: "As I point out above, if your position on the exceptive clause were true, then your doctrine makes all divorced and remarried persons adulterers. I know, as well as the readership of this discussion, that you don't believe this conclusion. But consistency with the Bible demands it."

In order to clarify what Darrell paints as a picture of utter confusion and inconsistency in my theology, I need to refer the readers to the meaning of the term moicheia (which we typically translate as "adultery"). I have presented an extensive study of this word in my book (Chapter Six), but will only quote the following from the end of that word study:

Yes, Darrell, ALL persons who have experienced a broken covenant of marriage are affected by moicheia! Either they are the spouse who broke covenant with their mate (the active voice), or they are the spouse who was victimized by this faithless spouse (the passive voice). In every divorce there is a broken covenant (moicheia). What Jesus has done in His teaching is not only condemn the breaking of covenant, but He has also assigned responsibility for the breakdown. A person who casts off the other spouse is the one guilty of breaking covenant, EXCEPT in a case where the casting off was due to the other mate's unfaithfulness, in which case the cast off partner was the one responsible for the breakdown of the covenant of marriage. THIS is the significance of the so-called "exception clause."

There are NO exceptions to God's IDEAL for marriage, Darrell, but there are distinctions drawn with regard to responsibility for the failure to achieve the IDEAL. God's intent was that marriage would be a permanent covenant; one never to be broken, regardless of the challenges a couple faced in their life together. No exceptions!! However, when such a covenant fails, then someone is responsible; someone is at fault. Jesus declares who that someone is. The people of Jesus' day (and ours) were looking for legal loopholes to God's IDEAL for marriage. Some schools of thought offered numerous loopholes, others offered only a few to the people. Jesus offered them NONE! But He did tell them that with every broken covenant someone would be held accountable.

The disciples knew this was a major departure from the frivolous view of marriage held by many of their day, and thus they declared, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry" (Matthew 19:10). "You mean, Lord, it really IS one man for one woman FOR LIFE?!!!" "These covenants are PERMANENT?!!!" "We are to honor our covenants? No exceptions?!" "Are You SERIOUS?!!" "Forget it!! It's impossible! It's better not even to get married!!!"

Yes, men have been called to behold anew the IDEAL of their Creator, and to embrace it!! What a concept!!

Darrell's opinion seems to be that "adultery" is not just the breaking of a covenant with a spouse ("divorce"), but "adultery" must also involve a subsequent remarriage. I guess he views it as some kind of "package deal." A "two for one special." Darrell wrote: "Al, there is a huge hole in your position and most people can see it. You are forcing all of your thrust here to the divorce itself. But our Lord is not. He is stating a condition which results from divorce AND REMARRIAGE, not divorce alone. This the Lord teaches, the Bible teaches, and every faithful Christian teaches."

First of all, there are MANY "faithful Christians" who do NOT teach this. I also contend that neither the Lord nor the Bible promotes the view Darrell has adopted. My critic firmly believes that "adultery" occurs (and indeed continuously occurs) when one who is "unscripturally divorced" marries again. "It is that simple," he states. Darrell believes it is the addition of the remarriage (a "package deal") which truly constitutes adultery.

Darrell, it seems to me that this would make Jesus far more concerned with remarriage than divorce. I find that rather irrational. Let me ask you a question. What if a person divorces his/her spouse and then NEVER gets remarried? Has that person committed adultery according to your theory? What if the divorce had nothing to do with infidelity? Maybe a husband just didn't want to be married, not to anybody, and so he booted the wife out. Was "adultery" committed in this case according to your theory? Or does he become "adulterous" ONLY when he remarries ten years down the road?!

Unlike Darrell, I firmly believe it is the breaking of covenant that Jesus condemns with the term moicheia. Whether or not a person ever remarries really has very little to do with the matter of divorce (unless the person they marry was party to the breakdown of the marriage). Most divorced people eventually do remarry, and Jesus was aware of that. Many of His day were also "relationship hopping," going from one marital partner to another (it was almost a sport to them), so it was only natural that He would speak of one casting off a mate and latching on to another. That was the norm at that time (and in our time as well, sadly). Such behavior is certainly not condoned by our Lord; it does not even come close to the IDEAL of God for marriage. However, it was not really the remarriage that Jesus had in view here as much as it was the willful breaking of covenant with one's spouse. It was this He was condemning. And this would be true regardless of the cause of a divorce, and regardless of whether a person ever remarried or not.

Based upon your theory, brother, I have actually heard people say that it is OK to divorce a wife, just make sure you don't ever get married again. Because if you remarry THEN you have "committed adultery." However, if you remain single then you're OK with the Lord. You would even have them mutilate themselves physically, Darrell, so they can remain single and celibate and thus not be guilty of "adultery." Doesn't it occur to you that they were guilty of moicheia when they broke covenant with their spouse?!!! Whether or not they ever remarry is not even the issue. Indeed, Paul declares, "But if you should marry, YOU HAVE NOT SINNED" (I Cor. 7:28). Not only did the apostle Paul not call a remarriage "adultery," he didn't even call it "sin."

Darrell wrote: "Unlike you Al, I choose to follow the Bible regardless of what everyone else wants to do." Then I guess we have something in common after all, brother, because I too choose to follow the Bible regardless of what everyone else wants to do!! If my goal was to "follow the crowd" theologically, I would embrace any number of popular doctrines in the religious world (infant baptism, sprinkling rather than immersion, etc.). It would certainly be "easier" on me if I just embraced the traditional teaching on MDR; I would definitely be more popular with people like you, Darrell. However, I'm not interested in huddling with the herd, going with the flow, or parroting the party line. I'm interested in Truth. I have spent years searching the Scriptures, examining every passage in the Bible in great depth, to determine God's will in this matter. I couldn't care less what other people say or think; I want to know what God has to say. After one of the most thorough investigations I have ever conducted into a subject in the Word, I have come to a conviction as to what I believe God's will to be with regard to MDR. It may not be popular (Truth often isn't), but, like you, "I choose to follow the Bible regardless of what everyone else wants to do."

Darrell, I realize that you and I differ drastically on this matter (and on several others, as well), but I honestly believe that you, like I, genuinely seek only a better understanding of Truth. I have no doubt but what you are a faithful and devoted disciple of Christ, and a dedicated minister of the Gospel. I am trying to be the same. Yes, emotions sometimes run high when disciples differ --- even Paul & Barnabas "had great dissension and debate" with a band of legalists from Judea (Acts 15:2) --- however, I pray that we can exemplify the spirit of Christ in our discussions.

I believe open and honest communication between differing disciples is vital. That is why I welcome all open-minded disciples to my BereanSpirit list where we are willing to discuss ANY issue of concern within the Body of Christ. We have about 340 active members on this list from all over the world, and we are genuinely seeking to build bridges between believers, rather than erecting barriers. Although I know I have been banned forever from YOUR list, Darrell (only those who agree with YOU on various issues are allowed on, after they pass a written test), yet I want you to know that you are welcome to post freely and unrestricted upon MY list. We are not afraid of those who have differing opinions, and we welcome the opportunity to study God's Word with any seeker or saint!! I believe Truth has nothing to fear from honest investigation, Darrell, and we do not ban those who differ with our opinions or who challenge our views. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Prov. 27:17). I pray that through our discussion we will "sharpen" our knowledge of God's will, and although a few sparks may fly in the process I hope the end result will be better equipped servants of the Lord.

May God richly bless you, brother!

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