Ezra Chapters 9 & 10 Putting Away Unlawful Marriages

Your quote “As for leaving unlawful marriages, that too is found in scripture: Ezra 9-10”

This is about being married to “unbelievers” and scripture tells us in Corinthians that if the unbeliever is pleased to dwell, the spouse should not divorce him or her but if they leave, let them go. The believer is no longer bound.

The argument keeps coming up that God would NEVER expect a person to depart from an unlawful marriage. There IS scripture to the contrary. God expect His people to obey. When they enter into relationships HE calls sin, it is not unbiblical to expect such peoples to depart from such relationships. I agree that God speaks to believer/unbeliever marriages in the NT and that they are binding when each party is free to marry. However, He also speaks to marriages in which the parties are NOT free to be joined to others—-He says such are committing adultery.

It is a very dangerous thing to try and cite this passage as proof that God accepts divorces in cases of illicit marriages. You define illicit very differently than what is going on in this passage. There were no 2nd marriages, no familial marriages, nor homosexual marriages being dealt with here.

It is not a dangerous thing to cite such a passage—-as well as the many passages in the NT in which Jesus speaks of illicit marriages. Never do we see Him say that these illicit marriages somehow turn into lawful ones joined by Him. His final word on remarriage while one has a living spouse is—-adultery. To me, it is quite a dangerous thing to then speak when God has not spoken and change what He has judged to be sin.

I took a admittedly quick look at Ezra 9-10, it appears that through the prophet the Lord is telling His people that they must divorce foreign wives, some of them I’m sure were “first” wives. I do not see a prohibition to “remarry” in the future. So, this is an example that shows it is ok to divorce and remarry… and for a reason other than adultery??

Herod/Herodias- Could it be that the reason for the divorce was not “valid”- no adultery on the other spouses part, or a writ was not given, or just that the Lord knew their hearts and knew the divorce was not sought for legitimate reasons?

The point is that these men entered into forbidden marriages. Because they did so, God’s judgment came upon the nation. His favor did not return until they repented of their rebellion. They did not get on their knees and ask forgiveness and then go back to those relationships that were forbidden, they abandoned them. As for the remarriage issue, we do not know if many of these men already had wives (Israeli). We are shown that repentance in these marriages entailed forsaking the unions.

As for divorce/remarriage being ok, I DO believe it is ok. Just as the situation with the men of Ezra 9-10—–if someone is in an illicit/forbidden marriage, God does not join that. If God does not join that union, then a divorce (civil) can be the right thing to do. Since one is merely forsaking a NON covenant marriage, they would be free then to enter into a COVENANT marriage in which God DOES join the two into One.

As for Herod/Herodias, they were “legally”, according to the law of the land, divorced from their spouses. Even so, John said that Herod has his brother Philip’s wife. Again, my point is that repentance in the form of getting on one’s knees, confessing the sin of adultery (the marriage) is NOT enough to satisfy the Lord. Confession does not change an adulterous union into a lawful union joined by God. In the case of Herod/Herodias, their adultery(remarriage) did not dissolve their previous marriages.

Because I view all divorce as wrong, when someone does choose to divorce (from a remarriage) based on the idea that they are honoring God, I see that as a huge tragedy!

What DO you do with Ezra then? Do you think these men were wrong?

According the the guidelines in the New Testament they would be; they were married to women who were not of their faith, and in 1 Cor. 7 Paul tells us that believers in this situation must not initiate a divorce.

I agree with that. Where the NT speaks and it appears to supersede OT practice, we follow the New.

However, under the Old Testament Ezra seems to make an appeal to the Law (V. 10:3), It is likely that the Law he was referencing is the one in Duet. 24:1.because it is the only such Law known to us. So, apparently Ezra condoned these divorces because of “some indecency” found in these women, in this that indecency was their idolatry and abominations (V. 9:1).

You don’t know that. It is merely speculation on your part. What we do know is that the marriages in Ezra were prohibited from the start. They should have never even taken place. God was not in them. There is no evidence in Deut. 24 that the men spoken of were entering into prohibited marriages. As a matter of fact, it sure appears that they were marrying women of Israel, NOT heathen women.

It is not merely speculation. Again I cited the verse (v.10.3) where it says that they decided to put their wives out according to the Law (Torah in Hebrew). Note, several commentators made note of this. I will agree that the Law could possibly be something else, but clearly the Duet. 24:1 passage is the best explanation, and so far I have not seen an alternate one.

Ok, let me understand you then………..you believe Deut. 24:1-4 has to do with men marrying pagan women–that this is the “uncleanness”? I think the “putting away” of Deut. 24 was a choice on the part of the husband. It was not COMMANDED that he put away such a wife. In the case of Ezra, the putting away was an act of repentance (turning away from sin and making restitution).

Under the Old Testament you may be able to make the case that divorcing a pagan wife (as in this passage) was not sinful, but you are correct that sin was involved in choosing the wife in contradiction to God’s commandment was sinful. So even if the divorce in this case could be called “not sinful”, the divorce itself was clearly a result of sin.

Yes, but that is not what you have been stating. You have been stating that the divorce itself is sinful. Scripture does not support your belief in this as evidenced by Ezra 9-10. Putting away adulterous partners and putting away other forbidden marriage partners (as in Ezra 9-10) is only due to the sin that occurred BEFORE the putting away. The putting away is not the sin, it that people got themselves involved in forbidden relationships to begin with.

If you are asking if I believe that the sinful actions of someone becomes honored by God simple because they marry? The answer is absolutely no! However, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t honor the covenant that a couple makes just because it began in Sin. Even in the Ezra passage you cited, they clearly understood that a covenant had been made, but under the OT Law they believed that it could be broken.

Yes, and there is no evidence that the original covenant in which God was witness and joined the two into one can be annulled prior to the death of one of those. If divorce truly did dissolve what God joined together, then Jesus wouldn’t call the second union, adultery. And if adultery dissolved the first union, Paul would not have used that example (of an adulterous wife) when stating that marriage is lifelong and that freedom is gained ONLY through the death of a spouse.

On a different note, I don’t know why you would believe this supports your view of divorce and remarriage because these all appear to have been first marriages that were dissolved.

The reason I bring it up is because you say ALL divorce is sin. There is very clear scripture to show that you are wrong in this assertion—-especially when it comes to those relationships the Lord has forbidden. To be honest, you don’t really believe ALL divorce is sin, do you? Do you believe that ALL types of illicit relationships that end in marriage are honored by God, therefore the parties involved should never divorce—–even in repentance, as we see being done in Ezra?