Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Carl Trueman Plays the Sanctimonious Fool

I’m sorry if this sounds uncharitable, I really am. However, it’s so sad to me when a seminary professor at a leading Reformed seminary – and one who’s a celebrity to boot – gets things wrong like this. He says in a recent First Things blog article:

I am not a Roman Catholic and not a huge fan of much Roman Catholic theology. But I had long thought that, when it came to social teaching and hard-headed moral thinking, the Roman Catholic Church was light years ahead of most Protestants in both sophistication and precision. That no longer seems to be the case.

I wonder if he has really been following along, or if he just picked the thing up in a vacuum and responded sanctimoniously. The problem is, Trueman in this very article demonstrates that he hasn’t got a good grasp on what Roman Catholicism really teaches in this case, about marriage, nor has he identified what they’re talking about when they talk about “adultery”. In most cases, “Roman Catholic moral thinking” is far more sanctimony than it is “sophisticated” or “precise”.

Earlier in the article, he writes:

Last week I stumbled across the document issued recently by the Roman Catholic bishops of Malta. It is an attempt to establish “criteria” for “applying” the now-infamous Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia

Paragraph 9 of the Maltese bishops’ document is one for the ages: We are told of “complex situations” that might make it “humanly impossible” to avoid illicit sex. I wonder what those situations might be?

“Illicit sex” in this case, in the real world (not a conservative Roman Catholic view) is simply sex between a legally married couple. Traditional, conservative Roman Catholics view these documents as discussing the fate of a Roman Catholic couple, married according to Rome’s “sacramental marriage”, who hasn’t gone through their Annulment process, who gets divorced and civilly re-married.

Getting so hammered in a bar late at night that you have no idea to whom you are or are not married? This doesn’t seem a particularly complex scenario, and yet I am hard-pressed to imagine any more likely candidates for these nebulously complicated contexts to which the bishops wish to point. The cynic in me simply says this is one almighty “get out of jail free” card—not only for the adulterers, but for the bishops.

Not paying attention to the context.

As inadequate as Paragraph 9 is, Paragraph 10 is worse. Here we are told that, as long as adulterers have concluded that their situation is fine, then there is no problem. Step out of the confessional, Psychological Man, for your sins have been shriven. No—let me rephrase that: Your sins have ceased to be sins at all. The triumph of the therapeutic and the aesthetic is complete. Move over Thomas Aquinas, there is a new guide to morals on Malta: Oprah Winfrey. “I just know in my heart that it is OK.”

The problem here is that Trueman has ignored (or has simply missed) what is the real issue here. He has not really clarified what is being called “adultery”. He has failed to explain that this “adultery” only exists within the arcane world of the Roman Catholic “sacramental” economy. In that economy, a validly-performed Roman Catholic marriage never ends. They do not permit divorce (even though Jesus permitted divorce and remarriage in cases of “sexual immorality”, Matt 19:9).

Rome has got to out-do God in its moral sanctimony. That has always been its problem, and it is where the wedge is in this intra-Roman dispute. That is what makes it so divisive for them. This business about “living as brother and sister”, this “duty to live in complete continence” [married according to everyone but Roman Catholicism] is one of those instance of moral sanctimony given by “Pope John Paul the Great” in his now-famous (or infamous) “Paragraph 84” of Familiaris Consortio, in the discussion of those “Divorced Persons Who Have Remarried” and who have children in that second marriage:

However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples."

So what Trueman calls and defends as “adultery”, the rest of the world would call “a married couple raising their children in a second marriage”.


  1. Just by way of clarification, the Roman church has actually side-stepped “civil marriage” since ancient Roman times. That’s what makes this so difficult for them. “Pope Francis” is actually attempting to roll back an early “papal” practice (which was later wrapped into Rome’s “doctrine” of marriage, specifically, and more broadly, “the sacraments”).

    Rome’s view of marriage was developed in the second century, when “Pope Callistus” enabled wealthy Roman women, who supported and gave status to the church, to bypass civil marriages and to “marry in the church” with men individuals of lesser status, so that these women of status wouldn’t lose their actual civil status.

    They bypassed the civil marriage, in order to allow the church to continue to benefit from the status and patronage of these wealthy Christian women.

    When women from the noble class were unmarried and in the heat of their youthful passion desired to marry and yet were unwilling to give up their class through a legal marriage, he [Callistus] allowed them to choose a partner, whether slave or free, and to consider him to be their husband without a legal marriage. -- (citing Hippolytus (Ref.9.12.24, in Peter Lampe, “From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries” ©2003, pg 119)

    1. John--

      You need to read paragraph 10 of the Maltese bishops' document more closely. It refers to those who are SEPARATED and in a "new relationship" who feel "at peace" with their actions. If a separated person contracts a new marriage, that person is called a bigamist. The document is referring to out-and-out, unadulterated, old-fashioned Adultery with a capital "A."

      Perhaps you owe Dr. Trueman an apology.

    2. Zigger, that's not a distinction that he made in his article. It's unfortunate that some Roman Catholic bishops conflate "separated" and "divorced", but the mere fact that earlier (John Paul II) Roman Catholicism considers civilly divorced and remarried Roman Catholics to be "in adultery" shows off the sanctimony that Trueman is reflecting.

    3. John--

      He spoke in his article of the Catholic tolerance of plain old adultery in these newly minted pastoral guidelines. If you truly are not being uncharitable...if you are truly giving Dr. Trueman the benefit of the doubt, then you cannot accuse him of blatant ignorance of a basic tenet of the Roman view of marriage.

      Though we Protestants correctly take into account Christ's stated exceptions, Matthew 19:9 makes it clear that we also must see generic divorce and remarriage as constituting adultery. But Trueman never addresses divorce and remarriage. Furthermore, the guidelines in question DO NOT solely address these issues. They include separation as regards adultery and probably divorce as regards adultery BEFORE any subsequent remarriage.

      (For what it's worth, Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, has rebuked the Maltese bishops for being in error in their interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.)

    4. But what's really at question in the Amoris Laetitia issue is *re-married* people. Everybody knows adultery is bad. It's how Rome defines it -- in a sanctimonious way that nobody else uses it -- "re-married civilly" -- that is the heart of the issue. Trueman should have known that and should have pointed it out. Instead he waxes on about the glories of Roman Catholic "social teaching and hard-headed moral thinking". He should know how doctrine and "social teaching" tie together, and not give Protestants the notion that somehow they are separate from "Roman Catholic theology", which he clearly admits is bad.

    5. John--

      I grant your point. He should have made it clear that he was not discussing remarriage and eligibility for communion, probably the most salient motivation for the composition of AL...though not the only one by a long shot.

      I am surprised by how often doctrine and "social ethics" remain completely distinct. Evangelicals often derive theirs from the pages of the Republican election platform rather than from the pages of Scripture. To my mind, much of Catholic "social teaching" is far, far more biblically minded than their soteriological and sacramental theology. Their ethics regarding marriage appear to be skewed partly due to their view of its sacramental nature.

    6. The thing about "Catholic social teaching" is that it did not exist prior to about 1896. It's not like "the Church" had some official "Traditional" memory to guide it. And in fact, its "official memory" shows a pope exercising clear disregard for civil laws and customs in order to keep wealthy women of status to continue to be benefactors of the Roman church prior to Constantine. That's an ugly decision that they couch in their own dogmas, dogmas which refer, in a clear effort at misdirection, to the words of Jesus. But they never point this out.

  2. Mr. Bugay,
    Hope you are doing well!
    This got me thinking back to the whole Stellman issue and his marriage. Is it true that those who are not married in the church are not seen as married? Therefore, they can abandon them?

    1. Hi Trent, I'm doing well. I would hate to speculate, especially on what drives Stellman, but yes, there is a difference between a "sacramental" marriage and every other kind of marriage. I don't think Rome would advocate a break-up, but as you can see, they do take non-"sacramental marriage" somewhat less seriously.

    2. One problem may be that Trueman spreads himself way too thin. Too many speaking engagements. Writing on too many subjects in too many venues. He's trying to wing it.

    3. I got that impression. But he's put his foot in it over Roman Catholicism in the past.

      Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism; in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic; not being a Catholic should, in others words, be a positive act of will and commitment, something we need to get out of bed determined to do each and every day.

      This is just wrong-headed for a Protestant. "Catholicism" was so corrupt at the time of the Reformation, it was a scandal to stay.

    4. John--

      Trueman would wholeheartedly agree with you that "at the time of the Reformation" it would have been "a scandal to stay." But only because there were a boatload of valid reasons to leave. All of us must take schism as seriously as is humanly possible, should we not? It is unconscionable to split off from the church except as a last resort. Trueman has that right!

      (He can be seen as a bit soft on Rome, but not in any of the ways you have been suggesting.)

    5. Trueman would wholeheartedly agree with you that "at the time of the Reformation" it would have been "a scandal to stay."

      Not true. Did you see the quote I provided just above, about Rome being the "default position" and that we Protestants must daily have "good, solid reasons for not being Catholic"?

    6. @zigger: would you be so kind as to tell me which of those "valid reasons" to leave 16th c RCC are not valid today? ISTM a well-grounded Proddie needs no act of the will to eschew the Babylonish Whore.

    7. If we were to look merely at the "broad brush strokes" of history, Rome would have to be considered the default position of orthodoxy. Only after study of the intricate details of doctrinal continuity can we as Protestants hope to carry the day. They have an undisputed hierarchical continuity stretcbing from approximately the end of the fourth century till the present. (And they claim the entire two millenia of church history. Unfortunately for them, there are few if any Catholic doctrinal distinctives documented during the first three or four centuries.)

      Be that as it may, surely you agree that WE have the burden of proof. That's all that Trueman is saying. I sometimes use the history of Princeton Theological Seminary as a model. The present seminary in New Jersey has all the hierarchical continuity. But Westminster-Philadelphia (where Trueman teaches) has the doctrinal continuity. Were Archibald Alexander, the founder of the seminary, still alive, he would almost certainly disavow Princeton and embrace Westminster. Nonetheless, the current brick-and-mortar Princeton would hold the "default position" in most people's minds. Or at least that's how it seems to me.

    8. Kirk--

      Most of the reasoning of the sixteenth century is still valid. The Catholic Reformation cleaned up some of Rome's most visible offenses: simony, the sale of indulgences, clerical promiscuity, and so forth. So those things no longer stand in the way of reunion.

      Trueman is not saying we need a daily "act of the will." He is saying that if Rome were to up and repent of all its idolatry, its ecclesiastical extravagance, its usurpation of authority (rightfully belonging to the Holy Spirit), its denigration of Scripture, and its skewing of the apostolic deposit of faith...we should be willing to consider entering into unity with it.

    9. John--

      Just in case it's not clear, my comment posted at 11:29 pm should have been addressed to you....

    10. "surely you agree that WE have the burden of proof."

      I, for one, do not agree.

    11. "They have an undisputed hierarchical continuity stretcbing from approximately the end of the fourth century till the present."

      i) For starters, their hierarchy is, in itself, a doctrinal degeneration. That has no justification in NT ecclesiology.

      ii) But consider the Jewish priesthood. Unlike Catholicism, that had genuine divine authorization as well as historical continuity. Yet the Jewish hierarchy was guilty of rejecting the promised messiah. Can't get more misguided than that.

    12. Steve--

      Most would see Rome as the established party and us as the upstarts. In general, the philosophical "burden of proof" is placed on the side challenging the status quo. That's us.

      But even if, on some technicality, you could demonstrate that Catholicism should shoulder that burden, Trueman is well within his rights, pedagogically, to declare Rome as the default position. Young seminary students must be taught not only what they ought to believe, but why they ought to believe it.

      As for your second comment, I wasn't arguing for Catholicism in any way, shape, or form. I believe we do indeed carry the day. WE, not they, are the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, a church which they left long, long ago.

    13. "Most would see Rome as the established party and us as the upstarts."

      Who are the "most"? Roman Catholics? If so, that's a circular appeal.

      Surely most evangelicals don't see Rome as the default option.

      Do you men Ango-Catholics? But they're fence-straddlers who lean towards Rome anyway.

      "In general, the philosophical 'burden of proof' is placed on the side challenging the status quo. That's us."

      No. Both sides are making truth-claims. Therefore, both sides have a burden of proof.

      There's also the question of when you date the status quo. If you wish to put it that way, then evangelicals date the status quo to the NT. On our interpretation, Catholic developments are challenging the status quo. The NT is our standard of comparison.

      "But even if, on some technicality, you could demonstrate that Catholicism should shoulder that burden"

      That's a false dichotomy, as if the onus must always fall on one side or another.

      "Trueman is well within his rights, pedagogically, to declare Rome as the default position. Young seminary students must be taught not only what they ought to believe, but why they ought to believe it."

      That's a non sequitur. It's proper and necessary to use Rome as a foil, but that's not the same as treating Rome as the default position.

      For instance, the Christian defense of miracles typically uses Hume as a foil or frame of reference, but that doesn't mean they take Hume to be the default position, or that there's a presumption against the occurrence of miracles, which Christian philosophers must overcome.

    14. @Zigger: Rome's having changed the window dressing was less a reformation than whitewashing a sepulcher; eg Tridentine anathematizing fo the solas, canonizing pseudepigraphical and apocryphal picaresques, &c. Also, what would an RCC worth rejoining look like? IMNSHO it would be the LCRS (ie Lutheran Church Rome Synod) complete with quia subscription to the Formula of Concord; anything less would be unionism. I'm not holding my breath.

      Besides, the history given by the papists is all bunk: read some of the great posts on the history of the papacy in this blog, consider that the Churches of Jerusalem and Rome have been around longer than Rome, and how Rome's apostasy means that it has cut itself off from the tree. That makes the Protestant churches the heirs of western Christendom with Rome but a synagogue of Satan. IOW we are the "default position" of which you wrote.

    15. Erratum: ...the Churches of Jerusalem and Antiochhave been around longer than Rome...

    16. Steve--

      You don't have to like Trueman's terminology. Both "default position" and "burden of proof" have more or less outlived their usefulness and are seldom employed nowadays. Default position doesn't mean much more than "the side in a debate which would garner the most votes from neutral observers (relying on general knowledge) before any evidence is presented." So if you prefer the concept of "foil," I'll not put up much of a tussle.

      My point, however, was merely that Trueman's pedagogical choices were reasonable. I still maintain that they were.

      Here is Trueman's own explanation of the use of "default position" in his review of Noll's book, "Is the Reformation Over?"

  3. John, please help me out here. Are you saying that any couple (same-sex nonsense excluded) married in the eyes of the state is married in the eyes of the church? Zum Beispiel: A professfing Christian man impregnates his and his wife's mutual friend, ditches faithful wife for the hoochie mama, and then marries her. Faithful erstwhile wife later marries in the Lord. The adulterous couple join a liberal church which asks no questions. This is not hypothetical, because I'm describing three people I personally thought I knew well. Now let's get hypothetical: the adulterous couple repents, leaves the libtard church, and wishes to join a conservative evangelical church. Given that the coulle has a biblically illicit marriage, does that not put them in a state of unrepented-of sin and hence should be barred from church membership and the altar? If I were your church's treasurer, robbed the church blind, absconded with the money, but later came under conviction and repented before the session, would not my willingness to return the stolen money be considered a sine qua non of repentance? If so, how does a church admit the abovementioned adulterer and his hoochie mama to altar fellowship? Wouldn't a sine qua non of repentance involve divorce (in reality an annulment?). Why do I have to give back the money but he gets to keep his hoochie mama?

    1. Hi Kirk -- keep in mind that I'm neither a theologian nor a pastor.

      Are you saying that any couple (same-sex nonsense excluded) married in the eyes of the state is married in the eyes of the church?

      Quite the opposite. Only "sacramental" marriages are genuine marriages. Civil marriages are something less.

      Now let's get hypothetical: the adulterous couple repents, leaves the libtard church, and wishes to join a conservative evangelical church. Given that the coulle has a biblically illicit marriage, does that not put them in a state of unrepented-of sin and hence should be barred from church membership and the altar?

      That depends upon if they actually repent or not. Church membership (at least at my church) is a serious thing. That's something they would need to talk about with pastor and/or elders. But still, I don't see how they are not married.

      If I were your church's treasurer, robbed the church blind, absconded with the money, but later came under conviction and repented before the session, would not my willingness to return the stolen money be considered a sine qua non of repentance?


      If so, how does a church admit the abovementioned adulterer and his hoochie mama to altar fellowship? Wouldn't a sine qua non of repentance involve divorce (in reality an annulment?). Why do I have to give back the money but he gets to keep his hoochie mama?

      Because a married couple taking care of a child, in the present, is where the current reality of the situation lies. If I had to describe it, in Roman terms, it seems to me that a "sacramental marriage" is a kind of ontological reality that exists beyond a divorce, whereas if marriage is not a sacrament (as Protestants hold), a marriage ends when it ends.

      "Sacramental theology" is all tied up with this kind of ontological, rather than a legal and moral view of grace. I hope this helps to explain my thinking in this.

    2. I'm still confused: The Law speaks of forbidden unions, and Christ condemned improper dovorce and called remarriage after such a divorce adultery. Certainly a true church would bar a flagrant adulterer from altar fellowship? If my erstwhile acquaintances are indeed in a marriage validated by the state but called adulterous by Scripture, how then should they be admitted to the sacrament? We can forget the distinction between faux sacramental and non-sacramental marriages, but ISTM that you are suggesting that marriage is marriage is marriage; I'm seeing otherwise in Scripture. Rome's chief errors are sacramental marriage and an unbiblical view of divorce, while it seems we're winking at it. Please clarify; thanks.

    3. Granted, I'm no theologian but I would make this distinction. The remarriage was sinful for the offending party. However, sometimes you can't unscramble the egg. Is the second marriage not a marriage? Would divorcing that woman cause that person to be in a state of adultery as well? I'm not sure.

    4. The general evangelical position is that adultery in principle, or remarriage in fact, dissolves the former marriage. It isn't divorce that terminates the marriage. Rather, divorce formally recognizes the rupture.

      We might say that's a de jury dissolution rather than de facto dissolution, because the offended party has the option of forgiving the offending party. But absent that, adultery ended the marriage. Likewise, remarriage terminates the former marriage for the equivalent reason–sex with someone other than your (former) spouse.

      The point is that even if a couple were unjustifiably divorced and remarried, although consummating the new marriage is adulterous, the new marriage isn't continuously adulterous, because adultery or adulterous consummation terminates the former marriage.

      In addition, the Christian faith extends forgiveness to penitent sinners. So, once again, even if remarriage had a sinful point of origin, that's not a permanent bar to Christian fellowship assuming the couple is contrite.

      Of course, that's subject to abuse, but ultimately it's up to God to hold people accountable. Church officers can't read hearts.

      One can dispute the standard evangelical position, but it's certainly defensible.

    5. @Steve: thanks for the clarification, but I'm not seeing a slam-dunk here; I'm still grappling with what repentance would look like in the scenario I wrote above.

    6. Kirk--

      There are a lot of sins where the sinner cannot go back and make things right in any appreciable sense. This couple you alluded to should be sorry for the damage done by there actions: offense done to God himself; psychological trauma to children, friends, relatives; injury to the testimony of the church; addition to the malaise of society, etc. Plus, they should express remorse in the to!lowing manner: that if they had it to do over again, they wouldn't repeat the sin.

      I've heard of women going in for an abortion, saying they can just ask for forgiveness afterwards. They're plotting, as it were, to gain advantage from their sin, without having to pay the consequences. This is sinning with a "high hand," and the OT says there is no forgiveness available for such actions.

      (Of course, to some extent, we are all guilty of highhanded sin, so it must be forgiveable, given the proper regret.)

      My guess is that your couple will not express remorse for their highhandedness or will not wish the sin could be undone. They are happy with their ill-gotten gain and would never even contemplate going back. Happy sinners should not be offered forgiveness.

    7. Kirk, I wanted to respond here. I don't know that anyone is saying it's a "slam-dunk", that your friends should automatically be admitted to communion in a new church that they may have joined. However, that is a separate issue, from the way that Rome defines "sacramental marriage". It is this concept of "sacramental marriage", with its ontological underpinnings, by which Rome traditionally lumps in the repentant with the unrepentant. It is this "sacramental" "ontological" character, it seems, that Bergoglio is trying to undo at this point. We will see how that turns out. But the broader point, the one that I wrote about, is that Trueman didn't even take that whole component of this issue into consideration ... he "played the fool" by siding with JPII Roman Catholicism and not even countenancing actual repentance. It's as if, for Trueman, "Roman Social Teaching" is just de facto correct out of the box.

    8. True enough, John, but I'm not sure that even a sacramental understanding of marriage requires a no divorce clause; indeed, it seems that the profaning of the sacrament by infidelity woukd require the profaner to be disciplined and thenon-profaning partner be cleared. That a professor at at a conservative seminary should comment so glibly about Roman thought is indeed troubling, to say the least.

      As for Jorge, is he conscious trying to redefine the sacrament (and hence once again blow up notion fo the unchanging RCC), or do you see his actions as merely trying to plug the dyke?

    9. John--

      My guess is that your inference--that Dr. Trueman knows nothing about Rome's view on the inviolability of marriage--is patent nonsense. Or that his admiration for the social teaching of the Catholic Church extends to every jot and tittle. They are our cobelligerents in many aspects of the culture war, so I'm surmising that even you have admiration for portions of it!

  4. @zigger: I'm not saying that there can be no forgiveness without some sort of restitution, or that some sins require permanrt barring from the altar. My problem - and I admit it's my problem - is that the marriage example of two people in an illicit union suddenly becoming licit via what sounds to me like lawyering. If I embezzle the church and later repent, I should be restored, return the money, and be kept from a positon of fiduciary trust lest I be tempted; ie no status quo ante despite forgiveness and restoration; ie continuing consequences. With this as my paradigm, I can't see how continuing in an illicit relationship - whatever you wish to call it - even remotely resembles real repentance. What am I missing?

  5. Kirk--

    I assume you believe that an illicit relationship can be made licit (such as when a couple shacking up together decide to tie the knot). Your scenario adds the injury of adultery against the first wife. This last must be repented of, but like murder and rape and treason, it cannot be least not in this lifetime. All that can be measured is the sincerity of their contrition.

    Now, this is often not done. No one grills the couple on their feelings of regret. They are simply accepted based on the legality, and thus the (supposed) ethical validity, of their second marriage.

    1. Zigger, it is the sincerity of the contrition that is in question; ie just as the test of the thief's sincerity is his willingness to restore the money, I'm suggesting that the sincerity of the adulterers' contrition is seen in their willingness to part company and theeby cease their adultery.

      What else is in question is the standard by which we judge the licitness (?) of a relationship. You are suggesting that what the state calls licit is what the church must, while I'm thinking in terms of OT teachings on forbidden relationships. Did this go out with the ashes of the red heifer in the new dispensation fo the covenant of grace, or is it (at leat in part) still binding upon us? I also think of NT teaching about a man who ditches his wife and marrying another is committing adultery. If I'm missing something, I'm getting no help.

      As for my former acqaintance - I still keep contact with his biblicallly-divorced wife - I can only view him and his "wife" as adulterer and adulteress, wiht neither time nor seal of the civil magistrate of any meaning. The first wife, having a biblical divorce, was free and clear; her remarriage in the Lord has been truly blessed.

  6. Kirk--

    What is the test for the sincerity of the contrition of a rapist? Chemical castration? What you're suggesting is some sort of church standard governing RETRIBUTION for sin. Should we bring back the stocks...or lashes?

    You're taking on the Catholic stance that divorce and remarriage results in an ongoing, neverending sinfulness, which cannot be repented of except perhaps through abstinence. I am unaware of any OT command outlawing remarriage. In fact, Deuteronomy 24 states that anyone who remarries MAY NOT return to his first wife.

    King David married his "hoochie mama," and she became the mother of King Solomon.

    1. @zigger: for the rapist who impregnates his victim, contrition would look like supporting mother and child. Should no pregnancy follow, damages awarded by the civil magistrate will be paid without delay. No retribution here, but rather the need to make a victim as whole as possible. As one who has spent many years woking in jails and prisons I am all too familiar with deadbeats who,had money for drugs, alcohol, &c, but never seemed able to make their child support payments. i guess I'm just a cynic who wants to see some hard action backing up God-talk.

      As for my holding to a papish position on divorce and remarriage, that's nonsense. I do believe in Scriptural divorce, but I have a hard time with the idea of remarriage of one without one. The David and Bathsheba example is irrelevant as there was no divorce. Again, I'm getting no help.

  7. Kirk--

    No divorce, just murder. So you're saying you should be able to keep ill-gotten gain for murder, but heaven forbid you divorce to achieve the same thing.

    I told you that in the case you mentioned, the guy is probably NOT particularly repentant. Focus on that. Quit trying to further punish the genuinely penitent. What's the point when the victimized party has moved on to another marriage, as well?

    Due to fertility cycles and the stress involved, rape, if committed only once, almost never impregnates. Damages are increasingly sought, but are meaningless unless the perpetrator has the money to pay.

    You differ from Rome in that they don't differentiate between ethical and unethical divorces, but between validly and invalidly constituted marriages. In practice, I don't think it makes much of a difference. When infidelity is involved, they will often trace it to a lax attitude already extant at the time of the wedding. Of course, their process leaves the unfaithful spouse off the hook, whereas yours does not. But neither has any biblical backing.

    Evangelicalism would not let the unfaithful spouse off the hook in terms of child support for any reason. And would only show grace to him or her in return for real repentance. Abstinence is not restitution. It is retribution.

  8. Kirk--

    Just a few clarifying questions:

    1. Help ME out! Exactly where in Scripture do you find a ban on remarriage after an unbiblical divorce?

    2. Would you exhort a thief who steals a piano to never, ever purchase a piano again, especially the specific piano he stole, should it ever be put up for sale? Does that make any sense whatsoever?

    3. What exactly can make an injured party whole again? If a wife is abandoned by her cheating husband, does getting the house, the kids, and the condo on the coast somehow make her whole again? Would his inability to commune in church unless he remain celibate really comfort her all that much? If it happened to me, the only things which would hold much potential for comfort would be the wayfarer's slow death by torture or the hottest spot in Hades being reserved for the faithless scumbag. Now, I guess her happily moving on with her life with her exciting new love (while I languished in misery) would add insult to injury. But it would be a small insult added to a huge injury!

    Besides,the only thing one could perhaps nix is remarriage IN THE CHURCH, and only in (a few) Evangelical ones at that. There would be countless churches right down the block or just around the corner who would welcome them in with open arms. In my experience, a person initiating an unbiblical divorce never shows their face again in the original Bible-believing church. The only time I've seen that NOT happen was in an extraordinarily dysfunctional church that didn't last much longer.