Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sinful Sex with your Spouse

Yes, I know a great deal about the above-mentioned Incubi and Succubi... about Spirit Husbands and Spirit Wives.
I have studied this concept extensively in serious witchcraft and apologetics books. Pardon the pun, but I am quite familiar- I don't need to read the above book.
And I have never seen this concept endorsed by Scripture.  A strange concept in that respect.

Also saw some strange stuff at Randall Rauser's blog the other day.  A well educated Canuck with lots of strange ideas.  One of them being that Spirit Spouse idea. 
Steve Hays took him to task on some of that stuff the other day.  This Canuck followed up with one of his followers.

I followed up at Steve's blog. Interacted with another Van man. 
Interacted because Steve doesn't always interact.  Doesn't always interact with fluff.  Steve knows how to prioritize.
But my priorities are skewed... so I interacted.  And so did Steve.  Guess it wasn't fluff.

Steve had a good response.  But I think the Van man wanted more from me.  So I gave it to him.

It is in regard to having 'sinful sex with your spouse'.  Allegedly, your sex being sinful because you are still 'spiritually married' to your former spouse. Still 'spiritually married' because your spouse is still alive. Still 'spiritually married' because you were not 'legitimately divorced'.
Not actually divorced 'due to adultery' and still have a 'spiritual thing for your old fling'.  Yet, even legitimately divorced folks often have a 'spiritual thing for their old fling'- so this is a non-starter.

Now, we've covered this legitimacy aspect elsewhere- but let's deal with the concept of 'perpetual sin with your new spouse'.  A concept which seems to need explaining.  An unbiblical concept of "spiritual spouses" which seems to plaguing many people.  And as Conrad Mbewe recently observes is, 'plaguing women in particular' (cf. 2Tim. 3:6).  And plaguing other 'rabble-rousers' (cf. Numbers 11:4) that are weak in hermeneutics.

In that respect, Rauser claims that re-married folks who were not "divorced for adultery" are currently in an "adulterous relationship".  My response to his supporter was that 'their first ONE FLESH moment may indeed be adultery, may be a one-time sin'- but that subsequent ONE FLESH moments are 'moments of faithfulness' to their current spouse.  Your relationship is no longer adulterous. It is now a 'faithful relationship'.  This was my response:

  Regarding your question to me Cletus,

"I don't see how it follows it is a one-time sin. If one is committing adultery by remarrying via an illegitimate divorce, it seems that the state would be ongoing in that marriage."

Let's take a closer look at what Jesus actually said-

But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
(Mat 5:32 ESV)

[FULL DISCLOSURE- I married a woman who was divorced on grounds other than sexual immorality...]

So, let's look at the verbal aspect of that particular verse here (prominent-Greek-guy Constantine Campbell is very helpful here in his book Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek). Let's examine the translation.

Now, I think you would agree with me that this committing of adultery is rather punctiliar, Cletus. As punctiliar as the moment of becoming ONE FLESH would be. What you seem to be insisting though, is that this is a repeated punctiliar. Repeated to the extent of being iterative- and this is true to some extent. The iterative ONE FLESH moments do indeed naturally and repeatedly follow from marriage.
But the extent that Jesus was insisting on seems to be to the punctiliar extent (as the disciples understood it at any rate) of actually getting re-married. A rather punctiliar one-time event. And the adultery in question appears to be just as punctiliar in extent (a "one-time" event)

Now, we can quibble about how punctiliar "divorce" actually is. Or quibble about how punctiliar "makes" her commit adultery actually is- but that doesn't change the context all that much. I don't think the context will allow us to insist on punctiliar and iterative lexume (presumably "marries" and "commits" respectively) conflation in the very same verse. I don't think that is a valid hermeneutic.

Allow me to give you a less incendiary example-
Jack threw (punctiliar) a ball and Jill caught (punctiliar) it.
It would not be proper to say that Jack threw (punctiliar) a ball and Jill continued (iterative) to catch it.

Similarly, to understand this verse the way that you seem to understand it- it would have to add, "And whoever continues (iterative) to be married to a illegitimately divorced woman will be ongoing (iterative) in adultery. Yet, I don't see any periphrastic construction suggesting that concept there. And a concerned Jesus would certainly have added that if such was the case... but faithfulness is a greater concern.

In this pericope Jesus could have very easily insisted that improperly married folks do another Ezra 10:3. But Jesus didn't defer to that scripture there and I suggest that you don't either, Cletus. Those were different times and circumstances (cf. Ezra 9:11).


Times of abominations introduced by foreign wives.  Abominations promoted by a foreign culture.  Abominations that were destroying the culture of Israel- Ezra 10:2So Ezra judged rightly (contra Jonathan) in causing these improperly married Jews to divorce.  Jews whose marriage had not been endorsed by God- Joshua 23:13.

Yet, I would not want to be responsible for causing those in our current times and circumstances to divorce, dear reader.  There is great judgement in doing so.  We are not that culture of Israel.  We are not living in that Promised Land.  And, "What God has joined together let man not separate"- Matthew 19:6.

Now there does appear to be some periphrastic construction going in our text, however.  Where the man divorcing his wife "makes her commit adultery".  But let's not be dull here, that physical reality is only if she has another ONE FLESH moment.

And as I understand it, then it is his sin and not hers. He is the primary cause.  He "made her" be unfaithful by causing her to re-marry. This sin is added unto him and not unto her.  He precipitated her actual "adultery"... a very serious offense.
This freaked out Jesus disciples.  This caused them to reconsider divorce for "any reason"- Matthew 19:3.  This caused them to reconsider entering into marriage lightly- with very few ways out.

And this is not just my understanding, folks.  This is not a novel understanding.
This strict understanding is also shared by Calvin in his Commentary on Matthew, Mark and Luke
A strict understanding which permitted divorce for various reasons, yet would not permit divorce for frivolous reasons.  Not even "due to incontinence" with a leper.

And "whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery"?

Now, Calvin has some good stuff on that aspect too.  Yet, he thinks that this sin of adultery applies only to "unlawful and frivolous" divorces [Ezra's divorces were neither 'unlawful nor frivolous' so they were actually free to re-marry].  That this sin only applies to frivolous divorces since no physical adultery actually occurred.   And  since there is still a reasonable hope of reconciliation there (Calvin appeals to Corinthians 7:11 for this). 

However, I think that this sin may also apply to non-frivolous divorces as well.  Apply to those that have committed adultery already.  The guilty party may be committing adultery yet once again with another party when they re-marry. They may then be unfaithful to the party that they previously committed adultery with.  Once again, marriage is a ONE FLESH commitment, the paperwork is pretty much irrelevant. 

And Calvin believes that such folks actually granted divorces for frivolous reasons are to be continuously incontinent...  at least until the old spouse dies.  Presumably, 'distance will make their hearts grow fonder' for each other.  And time will resolve their frivolity. Yet, from my personal divorce experience 'distance only made the heart more distant'. And time only re-enforced foolishness.    

But will an unmarried person also sin in marrying an 'illegitimately divorced' person?  I think so.  I don't see any loopholes in that aspect.

And I suspect that it is because, 'such a man will share in the unfaithfulness of his new bride when they become ONE FLESH'.  Since she was unfaithful in her efforts of reconciliation.  Unfaithful to her previous pledge/vow (cf. 1 Timothy 5:12). He will share in her measure of unfaithfulness on their 'wedding night' (punctiliar).  He will be an accomplice.  And he will be held responsible (though not culpable) of her actual unfaithfulness. There will be repercussions... however virtual.
Yet, to say that he will 'constantly (iteratively) share in her unfaithfulness every time they become ONE FLESH' is bad hermeneutics. Adding more than a little to the words of Scripture.

Not only that, but after re-marriage- we are told that marriage to a former spouse is no longer an option.  That would be an even greater minimizing of the marriage vow. That too would be an abomination- Deut. 24:4.  Let's not add to those abominations, shall we?

To summarize-

Faithfulness to your current spouse is your only current option.  A Spirit Spouse is an illusion.
Faithfulness to your present fleshly vow is now valid.  Your past virtual vow is invalid.

And let's not be rabble-rousers, shall we?

Let's not be iterative where punctiliar will suffice.
Let's not call profane what is now holy.