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

Monday, May 29, 2000

A Response by Al Maxey
To Broking's Three Questions

Darrell wrote: "Al, while I am working on my next segment in our discussion, will you please submit your answers to these questions?"

Brother, as I mentioned in a couple of "off the record" posts, I believe to respond to these questions would be a violation of the conditions you established, and to which you insisted I agree, before this defense of my work could occur. However, at your insistence and against my own better judgment, I will go ahead and give a brief "on the record" reply to these questions. I believe, however, if you could have been patient, that your questions would have been thoroughly addressed in the course of this discussion at the appropriate time.

Your First Question: "True or false? According to Deuteronomy 24:2 divorced persons were allowed to enter into new marriages, and although God hates divorce and his IDEAL was not upheld he approved of those new marriages."

Darrell, if I were forced to choose *only* between a "true" or "false" answer, I would be forced to choose "false." However, this is not a question that can truly be answered by a simple "true" or "false." At least, not by ME!! There are aspects of it which I believe are true, and there are aspects of it which I believe are false.

Yes, divorced persons were entering into new marriages according to the Deut. 24 passage. The participants were referred to in the text as "husband" and "wife." And, yes, God "allowed" this to happen. And by "allow" I mean that He "permitted" it to occur ..... obviously He could have physically prevented it if He chose to do so. He did not. Thus, by definition, He "allowed" it.

Yes, God hates divorce (as per the Malachi passage). Yes, it is true that His IDEAL was not being upheld (or even sought) in the lives of a great many of His people. All of this is true. Thus, I suppose I could have answered your question with "True!"

However, the word which elicited from me the "false" response was "approved." You wrote the phrase "....he approved of those new marriages." Frankly, I doubt that "approved" really characterizes accurately the feeling of our God with regard to either the divorces or the new marriages. Keeping in mind the context of the Deut. 24 passage (as I have attempted to do in my book), we are reading of a woman who is marked as defiled in some way. Jeremiah 3 perceives a parallel here with faithless Israel (the wayward "bride" of God) in this defiled woman. The first husband divorced her because of this problem (vs. 1), and then a second husband also sends her away (perhaps for the same reason, much is speculative in the text). The advice to the first husband, however, is to stay clear of this woman and not take her back. I go into a great deal more in-depth analysis of this passage in my book, but few would argue with the conclusion that there is little if any of the IDEAL anywhere in this whole scenario. Thus, I doubt seriously that we can assume God's "approval" of these relationships (either in the first OR second unions).

Nor can we draw general "laws" governing *all* first or second unions based solely on this passage in Deuteronomy which has a very specific and narrow focus. Certainly, JESUS did not do so. Rather than basing His teaching on this passage, or any other specific law within the Pentateuch, He directed the hearts and minds of His disciples back to the way it was "from the beginning" (Matthew 19:4,8).

Your Second Question: "True or false. According to Jesus' teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage, like as in the case of Deuteronomy 24:2, divorced persons are allowed to enter into new marriages; and, although God hates divorce and his IDEAL is not upheld he approves of these new marriages." Again, if forced to choose between *only* two possible answers ("true" or "false"), I would be forced to choose "false." However, this also is not a question which lends itself so easily to such a response, and for many of the very same reasons as given above.

Were all the cases dealt with by Jesus during His ministry "like as in the case of" the specific scenario of Deut. 24? Some probably were; many probably were not. Yes, Jesus acknowledged that marriages were ending and that other unions were taking place. Were they "allowed" or "permitted?" Well, obviously they were .... Neither God nor Jesus physically intervened and *stopped* them from occurring. But, did He "approve" of these new marriages?

Our Lord does not "approve" of ANY failure to achieve the IDEAL in our lives, whether it be with regard to MDR or any other area of life. The Lord does not "approve" of ANY divorce or remarriage, if you want to come right down to it, because in EVERY case there has been a failure to achieve the IDEAL by one or both parties. Yes, these situations are "allowed" --- since He obviously doesn't step into history and STOP them from occurring --- but I doubt that any of them overjoy Him. Can one fail to achieve the IDEAL in one's life, however, and be forgiven? Can one have a failed marriage and enter into a new union and still find acceptance before his/her God? That is the real question. And that question is addressed all through my book (and the answers are based on the teaching of Scripture). The grace to heal, and the mercy and compassion of our Lord, shine forth from the teaching of Scripture on this matter, and I have attempted to present this teaching in Down, But Not Out. Yes, one CAN find grace to heal, and acceptance, and forgiveness.

If one will carefully read the entire book, one will detect this teaching OF OUR GOD (*not* of Al Maxey .... it is HIS teaching, not MINE). However, this is a perspective which an appeal early on to a single passage of Scripture will not reveal. One must examine the entirety of God's inspired Word. Darrell, as we progress into the chapters dealing with the teaching of Jesus and Paul (with a solid understanding of the background information presented in the earlier chapters), this truth will become increasingly clear. I ask your patience, and the patience of the readers, lest we give in to the urge to "run ahead" and, in so doing, fail to appreciate the fullness of our Lord's teaching on this matter.

Your Third Question: "Under what circumstances does God not allow divorced persons to remarry?" He spoke clearly to *some* circumstances in the OT law. I think animals are out, for example!! Also, I think Paul voices displeasure over a man who "has his father's wife" (I Cor. 5:1f). I think He has also spoken about incest, homosexual unions, etc. I would think these circumstances would qualify.

But, does the Bible specifically teach that the divorced (whether guilty or innocent) may NOT remarry? That again is a major question which I address in my book, and which will be dealt with extensively when we get to the section on the teaching of Jesus and Paul. Again, we are in danger of running ahead of our discussion here (we're only on chapter one, after all!!!). I am not trying to elude answering this question, by-the-way, because I HAVE answered it (and several times) in my book. But, we are simply not yet at the point in our study of this where we are ready to bring this matter up. It needs to be answered within the context of the teaching of Jesus and Paul, and we are not THERE yet in this discussion. But, to give the short answer at this point: Yes, God does "allow" those who are divorced to remarry, however if the union violates a clear prohibitive command (homosexual unions, for example) then that marriage would NOT be accepted by God. More detail will follow as we reach that point in our discussion.

May I please, please beg the indulgence of the readers here .... and of Darrell .... and ask that we take this critical review of my work in a logical, scholarly progression. Let's not make this a wild hit-or-miss, hodge-podge treatment of an author's attempt at a serious exegetical work. That is neither fair to the author (myself) nor the readers of this discussion. This is a controversial subject, and it is easy for passions to run high. Therefore, as Christian leaders, let's allow this to be a loving, respectful exchange conducted in a scholarly fashion, and not let it deteriorate into a street brawl characterized by name-calling. Only Satan wins if the latter occurs.

May God richly bless you, brother Darrell. I look forward to your next post as you continue to review my exegetical study Down, But Not Out.

With Christian Love,

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