A Look At The Betrothal View

The context and verses in Matthew are speaking to MARRIED COUPLES. I don’t see how you keep throwing Mary/Joseph in the mix…and putting her away-it has no correlation to when he speaks to those that are MARRIED

Yes, I believe Jesus was addressing that group initially. However, because He said that their “putting away” was due to hardheartedness, it doesn’t appear to me that He was uplifting the practice. Marriage He brings back to the creation intent. Once one is “joined” by God, they are one flesh until death. This is exactly what Paul taught, even in the face of adultery (Romans 7:2-3). This allowance I believe is relating to betrothal. However, even if I did view it as allowing ONLY divorce for unrepentant adultery AFTER the marriage begins, one has a very hard time explaining away the last part of Matthew 19:9 if they believe the allowance is for remarriage as well because the previous is dissolved.

The man who marries the put away woman in Matthew 19:9 is charged with adultery by Jesus. If the divorce also allowed for remarriage due to the “bond” being dissolved, why would HE be guilty of adultery? The first husband has remarried (committed adultery) or if one interprets the woman as the guilty one, the divorce has dissolved her marriage right? Personally, I find the allowance to remarry a very contradicting position based upon other passages which show a very different picture of the marriage bond—-which is joined by God into “one flesh”………..

It (scripture) says husband and wife-not betrothed- Also it says porneia (broad meaning) if you CHOOSE to use a narrow meaning that’s up to you…it doesn’t mean you are right or that it means fornication or the people (i’m sorry the jews) He was referring this to were just engaged….

If he meant fornication he would have SAID fornication-he used “porneia” Matthew 1:18-24………Mary and Joseph had not come together yet. They were betrothed. Joseph found Mary pregnant and was thinking of “putting her away”………..BEFORE Joseph had taken Mary to wife………Just something to ponder.

Oh, you reject Matthew too. By the way, I think there is something about “no Jew, no Gentile” somewhere in the New Testament. Nice try. Does not fit here. Legalists arguments love to split hairs.

I don’t reject any book of God’s Word. You just don’t like how I see it. None of us can deny that Joseph COULD put Mary away for “porneia” before the final wedding (during the betrothal). Since we see Jesus using both Porneia (fornication) AND Mocheia(adultery), it should cause us to wonder why He chose to use two different terms. It caused me to seek.

Sorry, but I believe your hard and fast belief that the first covenant remains in spite of adultery and divorce is quite incorrect scripturally, and places a heavy burden on people when they probably already have enough burden, without adding to their burden a further burden of confusion and legalism.

I understand your feelings on this as I know this topic hits close to home for you. However, I do not believe what you wrote in your last post was biblically accurate. I prefer to lay the scriptures out themselves, word for word and really take a look at it.

The thing I am seeing is that what I have asked is being skirted. Instead, a source which is EXTRA biblical is trying to be used to justify the opposite of what our Lord has said. That is what I reject, not learning historical information. I’m very open to that—–as long as what is presented does not contradict the Word of God.

The argument by some is that a divorce dissolves the one flesh. Jesus’ charge of guilt against a “third” party (commits adultery) by marrying a divorced person is very clear to me. It shows that HE did not acknowledge the putting away as dissolving the “one flesh”. The union is still in tact, that’s why a remarriage is adultery. That is why a “third party” is guilty of adultery. They are joining themselves with someone who does not belong to them.

I also find it interesting that someone wants me to consider an extra biblical source of material to justify divorce/remarriage—-saying I should consider the cultural concerns at the time, yet the same people refuse to acknowledge that the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day indeed did “put away” betrothed women(wife) for “fornication/porneia”. Those who say that Jesus DIDN’T mean that, how can you be so sure since we see this exact thing presented in the very same gospel (Mt. 1:18-24)—no extra biblical sources needed to prove that? Just my thoughts.

And it is entirely correct that Jesus was talking to the Jew. The Jews who had been given permission to divorce over every cause according to the understanding of the Pharisees present.

The Jews were never given permission to divorce over ANY cause. The ONE reason they were allowed to give a writ of divorcement was for UNCLEANNESS (Deut. 24:1-4). Man perverted that one TOLERANCE, as Jesus called it—-and that was for hardness of heart. Hardness=unforgiveness. If someone is born again……….is hardness of heart EVER acceptable to God? Jesus taught: If we do not forgive, our Father in heaven will not forgive us.

You are right the word “and” should be translated “BUT”………because Jesus was now laying down the law bringing marriage back to creation intent—-one man/one woman for life—-no more polygamy, no more divorce—-except for fornication (unchastity BEFORE the marriage bed) for the Jew whose betrothal was just as binding as the Gentile marriage—though it had not be consummated yet. His teaching was so hard that even His followers couldn’t handle it—-thinking it better to never get married than take a chance and be “stuck”. If you continue to believe that adultery dissolves the marriage bond that God joined, please explain Paul’s teachings in Romans 7:2-3. Thank you.

And the betrothal period was, in every meaning of the word, ”married” You attempt to show that it was not, but then by your OWN admission a formal decree of divorce was needed during this time. So I’m having a terrible time with seeing your point. Well, to be fair to you, I always have a hard time when talking to one who teaches this partial truth doctrine .

The betrothal period was NOT in every meaning of the word “married” as we understand it. They are LEGALLY married (husband and wife), but have not consummated the marriage yet (Joseph and Mary for example). That comes at a later date—–possibly a year or so AFTER the betrothal agreement/ceremony. Once legally betrothed they are considered husband and wife and only a writ of divorcement can get them out of the upcoming “wedding and consummation” of their marriage.

You are ignoring my very valid questions and resting your whole belief on one passage—-Matthew 19:9 hoping that you are understanding “porneia” correctly. You said fornication meant “defiling the marriage bed”…………did Joseph sleep with Mary BEFORE she was pregnant? If not, how could she have “defiled the marriage bed” when Joseph did not “know” her yet? He was going to “put her away”……….

Considering the bulk of scripture which shows marriage to be permanent (even in the face of adultery—-Romans 7:2-3), I think pondering the meaning of Matthew 19:9 is a wise thing to do……..fornication just might not mean what many think it does and the fact that nowhere else in the teachings on marriage will we find adultery dissolving the union God joined, is an important point to consider—especially when counseling others that remarriage is OK with God when one has a living spouse………..

Note exception for sexual immorality. But Jesus was also clearly addressing the putting away of the spouse. Not premarital, because Jesus would have specified clearly and not used complicated language. The divorced woman (and I looked back to later posts on Greek, but I note that I am not a Greek scholar, just a researcher) was apoluo – put away without certificate, not apostasion – divorced with a certificate.

This is clearly a biased comment because we do know in fact that the Jews DID put away (give a certificate of divorcement) to those women who became defiled BEFORE their marriage bed (Matthew 1:18-24).

When a Jewish marriage was to be ended because of immorality (the allowable reason), the spouse pursuing divorce would present evidence to the rabbi and the elders.

Are you Jewish and under Jewish law? Also, since we both acknowledged that biblically a divorce did NOT have to occur, why do you believe it did in SOME cases?

We already know that adultery AFTER a marriage has been consummated resulted in the death penalty, according to the Law of God………….so, what other reasons could it be for SOME divorcing their wives (we know the wives didn’t have that right in Jewish custom)? Could it be that those who did such a thing were being “hardhearted”………….since it is Jesus’ assertion that divorce was created ONLY for that reason?

Jesus said that divorce was created for the hard hearted. Now think about that. Not to support hard hearts in pursuing a divorce, but for the victims who pursue divorce to get away from the hard hearts. You see, you keep putting this backwards.

In the Jewish divorces, WHO were the ones divorcing their spouses? It was the HARDHEARTED doing the divorcing—-in the bible, that is. MEN were hardhearted against their wives and putting them away. It was not the other way around. Divorce (for the intent of dissolving the marriage and moving on) is hardheartedness. Jesus was never giving a means/allowance for hardheartedness.

I’ve been musing on your last question to me, and I’ve come up with one of my own, which may help me to understand something more about the reason you take the stance you do.

Why I take the stance I do is because of what I see in God’s Word. NONE of my beliefs are based upon emotional reasonings or indoctrinations of man—–or over spiritualizing some passage taken completely out of context. I DID believe one could remarry once upon a time—-BEFORE I studied this out for myself. As for betrothal being what Jesus speaks of, as I said, I don’t grab hold of that view 100% as truth. However, it is something that cannot be discounted as we have a SCRIPTURAL precedent of this occurring (Matthew 1:18-24). It’s not something I made up to boost my point of view. It is there for all to see and weigh it’s meaning in the larger scope of this issue. Personally, I don’t know how anyone who truly desires to seek the truth on this matter can discount, without even a second thought, that this very well could be what Jesus was speaking about, since we find this “exception” ONLY in the Gospel of Matthew—a gospel aimed at JEWS who practiced the betrothal custom. I also don’t know how anyone in good conscience can discard the possibility that “porneia” can very well be speaking of UNLAWFUL unions—-unions that God DID NOT join together. That, in my opinion, is the only type of marital union that truly can be put away and there be NO hardheartedness, as it is an act of obedience to the Lord and the forsaking of a sinful relationship NOT joined by God (adulterous, homosexual, incestual). In any case, getting back to the betrothal custom, in the other two gospels, aimed at Gentile audiences, they had no such betrothal custom, only marriage. There we find NO exception made. The sin of adultery is charged to ANYONE who joins himself/herself with another unlawfully or takes another’s spouse after a divorce has occurred. This teaching is NOT found in the Mosaic law. A divorce gave permission for the parties to marry another(Deut.24:1-4). Jesus changed that to say that now a divorce did not give right to marry again, but whosoever did so would be committing adultery in His sight. The other thing which SHOULD make one pause and consider is what I speak of all the time—WHY, if adultery gave means to a dissolvement of marriage as some suppose the Matthew 19:9 passage means—-WHY did Paul use the example of an adulterous woman (remarried) in regards to the permanency of the marriage bond (death is what severs the bond and frees one to remarry). No mention of divorce on the part of the innocent party. If, as some contend, Paul is speaking of OT Mosaic law, why use the same wording when speaking to ANOTHER Christian group (I Corinthians 7:39). If Paul is speaking of Mosaic law, it was NOT adultery to remarry after a divorce. I believe it is because the “law” Paul is speaking of is NOT the Mosaic law, it is God’s law of marriage, which Jesus speaks of in His discourse—bringing marriage back to the created intent for marriage. THAT is the standard the Lord holds us to. That is why He speaks of joining oneself with another as adultery—because that person does not belong to the one who took them—until their rightful spouse dies as Paul teaches. No hardheartedness is permitted—at all, that is why for a Christian, there is NO option to forgive. We MUST forgive or we will not be forgiven. When I hear a Christian say that we have an option in this regard, I cannot understand that mindset. What they are saying is that there IS a difference between the one who DOES forgive and either is reconciled or “stands” for the wayward spouse and the person who will NOT accept back a wayward spouse. Does the Lord look on each in an equal manner? For me, it always comes back to “how would Jesus handle such a situation?”…….and there, I find my answer to what is right in His sight.

Your false doctrine ALLOWS this supposed hardheartedness (divorce for whoredom ?) to be given to a betrothed WIFE, then rejects it only because she is consummated.

I make no such distinction Scripture appears to have allowed Jewish men to put away their espoused wives for premarital infidelity (see Matthew 1:18-24). Joseph was said to be “just”, so it appears for him it would not have been hardheartedness, or do you disagree? As to clinging to the “exception clause” meaning betrothal infidelity, I don’t know if I can do that. I now lean much more heavily in the belief that porneia relates to UNLAWFUL (illicit sexual) marriages contracted (homosexual, adulterous, and incestual). THOSE types of marriages are the only ones that can be put away because God never joined them to begin with. It would NOT be hardhearted to put such away, it would be walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands/laws. It was my dialogue with you on Family Life concerning Herod and Herodias which really brought me further down the road in this belief. For me, if Jesus was saying, in fact, that ONLY UNLAWFUL marriages(homosexual, incestual, adulterous) contracted could be put away and the parties be blameless in His sight, it would then fit perfectly with Rom. 7:2-3 which shows that neither adultery nor a remarriage will dissolve a LAWFUL union joined by God Himself.

The Bible specifically calls Joseph an (honorable, just, kind-hearted, upright, perfect) righteous man and he had in mind to put Mary away (divorce her) secretly because he thought she had been with another man during their betrothal. He did not want to expose her to public disgrace. There was no question that divorce was in order under these circumstances.

It’s very funny to me that you reject the betrothal customs of divorce (in regards to Matthew 19:9), yet you want to bring this passage up. Yes, Joseph WAS a just man/honorable man. Divorce WAS available for betrothal fornication because betrothal was BINDING (papers drawn up/signatures/dowry, etc). Before/when they came together, the marriage could be ANNULLED due to pre-marital fornication. Joseph was just in that he did not want to humiliate Mary or have her stoned. He wanted to put her away quietly. The Lord showed him that Mary was not unfaithful. Joseph was then told to take Mary as his wife (complete the marriage). Can you explain how YOUR version of permissible divorce coincides with the betrothal custom of unfaithfulness BEFORE the marriage bed?

Joseph’s betrothal to Mary was considered a covenant that could not be broken without cause in the same we as our culture views a marriage covenant, this is why he was required to divorce in order to break that covenant, and from the account we have in the bible Mary conceived after that covenant had already been entered. Even here is no evidence to suggest that Joseph understood that divorce was only permitted during the betrothal period, something that would be required to show a Joseph understood Duet. 24 differently then his contemporaries.

You said, “The point is that we have no early record of anyone who understood this verse to define an immoral act before the marriage began.” Mt. 1:18-24 clearly shows that Joseph DID understand that he could put away Mary for immorality BEFORE the marriage began. What other biblical passage could be shown to explain what Joseph thought to do?

This is really the classic “strawman” argument. It was originally stated that the passage in Deut. 24 was understood to exclude all infidelity except that which happened pre-maritally as grounds for divorce. My original objection was to that assertion, and this passage (Matthew 1:18-24) does not support that original assertion.

You said, “The point is that we have no early record of anyone who understood this verse to define an immoral act before the marriage began.”

I merely was questioning what you said, not what was originally being stated about the exact meaning of Deut. 24. You said what I quoted above. What you said was incorrect, unless Joseph was applying some other Mosiac law to what he was thinking to do. That’s why I asked you to provide such a law, if you don’t believe Deut. 24 pertains to the time prior to the marriage (unchastity during the betrothal period).

Additionally, I really don’t believe that this passage clearly shows that Joseph put away Mary before the marriage began because it is clear from scripture that Joseph was already obligated to the marriage covenant when he put her away; this is why he had to divorce her.

I disagree that Joseph had taken her to wife yet………they were still betrothed when he found her with child (in other words, she still abided in her father’s home—neither had “left and cleaved” and they had not yet consummated their marriage. Verse 18 says she was with child before they came together. Later, an angel told Joseph not to be afraid to take to himself Mary, his wife………so previous to that, Joseph had not yet taken Mary as wife—they were merely betrothed. So in that passage, we can see that divorce COULD occur during the betrothal period BEFORE a man came to take his wife to himself. For that reason, no one can rightly say that divorce cannot pertain to fornication BEFORE a couple comes together in marriage—because scripture gives that exact example in the very gospel the “exception” clause is found in………and such an example is NOT found in any other gospel where the exception clause is also NOT found. I don’t know about you, but that is an interesting fact to me.

Even if we choose to disagree here about when the marriage actually began, the point is that there is nothing in this passage that indicates Joseph believed that his right to a divorce ended when the marriage covenant was consummated, so the heart of the issue remains unchanged despite how one chooses to define the betrothal.

But see, we don’t have to prove anything one way or the other……the scripture speaks loud and clear that divorce WAS a practice during the betrothal period—-because Joseph thought to do it. So, fornication (porneia), can be limited to pre-marital unfaithfulness, and it could NOT be speaking about post-marital unfaithfulness, as others say it just has to mean.

Maybe if I restate this as “The point is that we have no early record of anyone who understood this verse to define only an immoral act before the marriage began.”, we can move to the heart of the issue which is that the common understanding of the Duet. 24 passage in the first century accepted that the infidelity (or shameful thing) happened after the marriage began.

I don’t think there is any question as to what the different groups thought “unclean” meant………hence the battle between Hillel and Shammai. I merely was showing an example of divorce as relating to the betrothal period. For me, I’m in agreement with the early church teachings on divorce/remarriage. Obviously they believed and taught that to be married while one had a living spouse was to be living in a state of adultery—hence the prohibition to partake of communion—until their covenant spouse died. Says much to me concerning how they viewed the ongoing second marriage………..a very different picture from how second/third/forth marriages are viewed in today’s church and the counsel given to people in such marriages.

Even if we are to accept at face value your definition of betrothal as not being married, nothing in your example demonstrates that anyone in the first century understood the passage in Deut. 24 as being limited to only the betrothal period; however, we have a great deal of literature in the Talmud describing the debates between Shamai and Hillel that clearly indicate a common understanding of this passage that included infidelity after the marriage was consummated. Even the gospel accounts themselves reflect what we know of this debate from extra biblical sources i.e. the question “Can a man divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

It’s not my definition of betrothal, all we have to do is acknowledge what the scriptures say about betrothal…….betrothal is a time when 2 have made a promise to be together in marriage, even call each other husband/wife, yet they do not yet “leave and cleave” to each other—-they still remain in their father’s house—-until the betrothed husband takes his betrothed wife from her home. We can go to all the “extra” biblical “evidence” to say otherwise about WHEN a divorce WAS granted in those time, but we have evidence in the Word that PRE-MARITAL divorce must have been a practice, if Joseph thought to do it. We can’t discount that is what Jesus meant by “porneia” or what is being spoken of in Deut. 24 by Moses.

But the early church fathers also clearly accepted that the exception given in Mt. 19 (and by inference that of Duet 24) was describing an infidelity that happened post-marriage, not pre-marriage, and some of the church fathers even required a divorce in the case of adultery. Yes, it is true that they didn’t accept remarriage, but they were not in agreement with you in regards to the “infidelity” exception being limited to betrothal. Additionally, the exception that you gave i.e. “until their covenant spouse died” was not one which was universally accepted by the early church. When the early church fathers, who shared your doctrinal view on remarriage, did not find the need to require the Mt. 19 “exception” to be limited only to premarital infidelity, I am left wondering why you feel this is such an important doctrinal point that we should ignore the historical evidence that contradicts it.

Hermas did not “require” a divorce for adultery………….what he said was a man should divorce his UNREPENTANT adulterous wife, lest he be partaker of her sin (if I have it down correctly). Also, I’m not real clear on what you mean by “until their covenant spouse dies”. If you are speaking about partaking in communion, you are right. Some would not even let them in the congregation as they were looked upon as unrepentant adulterers. Some did allow them into the assembly, but they could not partake of communion? Why do you suppose that is if the 2nd marriage was viewed as ok in the sight of the Lord and in the sight of the brothers/sisters in the Lord? The facts are that the ECF OVERWHELMINGLY taught that the INNOCENT would be guilty of adultery, if they remarried. Why? Because the “divorce” was/is nothing more than separation of bed and board. It does NOT dissolve what God joined together………which is exactly what Paul taught in Romans 7:2-3 in the face of adultery. This is also why Jesus taught after a divorce those who remarry commit adultery—-because the divorce does NOT dissolve the marriage bond. That is also why the “innocent” woman in Matthew 19:9 is NOT free to marry again and anyone who would marry her would be committing adultery—-per the very words of Jesus. As for the betrothal issue, I truly do not stand on that as 100% truth. However, when someone says it CAN’T be this, I say, why not? We have a precedent in scripture which shows the possibility of a divorce BEFORE 2 come together in marriage. In all honesty and integrity to the scriptures, we cannot discount that Matthew 19:9 and Deut. 24 is speaking about the same thing……..and that same thing “could” be what is going on in Mt. 1:18-24.