New Covenant Patriarchy

Monday, April 01, 2013

What is the BIBLICAL definition of Adultery?

What is the BIBLICAL definition of adultery?

As Christians, we believe that the Bible is the inerrant, all-sufficient Word of God. God’s Word is the arbiter of all truth. It is the ultimate DEFINER of all things. We should not be deriving our definitions of biblical subjects from popular dictionaries. I once was discussing this topic (as it relates to polygyny) with a Christian lady who actually pulled out a Webster’s dictionary trying to prove to me that the definition of adultery I was explaining to her from the Bible was erroneous. She actually threw her grandmother’s heirloom Bible at me in frustration because she could not abide hearing the Biblical passages I was quoting to her proving the legitimacy of polygyny and the biblical definition of adultery. Biblical exposition does not begin with Webster’s dictionary--to say nothing of finishing with it. When you throw in Webster’s dictionary as the arbiter of biblical truth, you throw out the Bible—or at least throw it.

The biblical answer to the question is: adultery is the violation of the one flesh bond between a man and his woman. You will not find a more accurate and succinct definition than this. I have enunciated this definition with a view both to the content of Scripture, the context of Scripture, and the specific wording of Scripture in the original languages.

Those of you who have read and absorbed both of my books, Man and Woman in Biblical Law and They Shall Be One Flesh should have no problem here.

A couple basic considerations have gone into this definition. The first is the one flesh teaching of the Bible as constitutive of what we in English call “marriage.” This is our foundation. As many of you on this list are aware, there is no counterpart in the Hebrew of the Old Testament to our English word “marriage.” The act of becoming what we call “married” in English is denoted in Scripture in the Old Testament by the verb “to take.” In Scriptural terminology a man “takes” a woman and she becomes “his woman.” As those of you who have carefully studied your Bibles know, a man “takes” a woman by becoming one flesh with her; he “takes” her by “knowing” her through sexual intercourse. A one flesh relationship is thereby created and this one flesh is constitutive of a Divinely ordained covenant. In other places in the Old Testament the word we translate as “married” or “to marry” is “baal” (lord). A man “baals” a woman; he lords her, clearly denoting a patriarchal understanding of marriage.

In Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments, the words we translate as “husband” and “wife,” are simply the generic words “man” and “woman.” The one flesh relationship constitutive of a covenant before God is denoted by the possessive, i.e., "his woman" and "her man." This is the actual language, the raw data of Scripture.

Christians who want to truly understand their Bibles are urged to meditate upon these facts at length.

A second biblical consideration that defines the boundaries of adultery is that the man-woman relationship is a hierarchical relationship. We Christians, especially in the West, have a profoundly horizontal and egalitarian perspective regarding the man-woman relation. This is culturally induced. This is also alien to Scripture. Scripture views all of life in a profoundly vertical perspective in which there is God at the zenith of the hierarchy who is the head of all things. In the words of I Corinthians 5, “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God…neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

These hierarchical facts have necessary implications concerning what specifically constitutes adultery on the part of the man and on the part of the woman. What specifically violates the one flesh bond between a man and his woman is not necessarily the same for the man as it is for the woman because of this hierarchy. We see this most profoundly regarding polygyny in the Bible where men may have more than one woman but a woman may not have more than one man. This direct connection between hierarchy and polygyny is difficult to perceive if one is mired down in culturally induced horizontal, egalitarian delusions about the nature of reality. I run across this effect of our culturally ingrained horizontal perspective commonly even among those who accept the validity of polygyny. I am told often that there is no necessary connection between the man’s headship over the woman and the lawfulness of polygyny in the Law of God. They are wrong. The connection is direct and immediate.

St. Augustine grasped this:

“For by a secret law of nature, things that stand chief love to be singular; but things that are subject are set under, not only one under one, but, if the system of nature or society allow, even several under one, not without becoming beauty. For neither hath one slave so several masters, in the way that several slaves have one master. Thus we read not that any of the holy women served two or more living husbands; but we read that many females served one husband, when the social state of the nation allowed it, and the purpose of the time persuaded it: for neither is it contrary to the nature of marriage. For several females can conceive from one man: but one female cannot from several men (such is the power of things principal) as many souls are rightly made subject to one God.” —from “A Selected Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church,” Ed. by Philip Schaff, Vol. III, pg. 407-408

Patriarchy, the headship of the man, logically infers polygyny. This is why the biblical definition of adultery cannot be simply the act of either spouse having sexual relations with someone else, the man having sexual relations with another woman or the woman having sexual relations with another man. The biblical definition of adultery focuses on the violation of the actual bond between the man and the woman, the one flesh bond. For a woman to have sexual relations with another man violates the hierarchy of the one flesh bond and hence violates the bond itself. The reverse is not true. When a man has sexual relations with another (unmarried) woman, there is no violation of the hierarchy of the one flesh bond, and a second one flesh bond is created.

The passage of Scripture which exemplifies this most clearly is Exodus 21:10-11, “If he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage he shall not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then she shall go out free without money.” That is, adultery is committed IF the husband here ceases cohabitation with the first wife, but there is no adultery if he continues her cohabitation. The first wife, the concubine, may “go out free” from the marriage (divorce him) if he ceases cohabitation, but she does not have this right merely on the basis of the man taking a second wife.

This forces us to refine our definition of adultery more generally to: “Adultery is the violation of the one flesh bond.” It is not precisely having sexual relations with another man’s wife. Having sexual relations with another man’s wife is, indeed, an act of adultery, or an example of adultery, but it does not define adultery. The essence of adultery is the violation of the one flesh bond. Therefore, capricious divorce, by itself, constitutes adultery (e.g., Matthew 19:8-9).Ceasing to have sexual relations with one of multiple wives is adultery (e.g, Exo. 21:10-11). In both of these cases, adultery is not the commission of behavior but the omission of behavior. I would go so far as to say that serious abuse of the wife so that the marital relation becomes untenable also constitutes adultery—because it violates the one flesh bond.

This definition of adultery obviously does not comport well with the common more narrow definition ascribed to it, but it conforms to the biblical text. More precisely this definition is framed by the biblical text and incorporates the relevant biblical passages and also explains passages that otherwise remain inscrutable without resorting to explanations that propose radical contradictions in the biblical text. In most instances, explaining adultery as sexual relations with another man’s wife is sufficient for the immediate cause at hand, but it will not do as a definition that explains ALL the biblical data. I believe ALL the biblical data is best accounted for by defining adultery as “the violation of the one flesh bond between a man and his woman.”--Tom Shipley

Posted by Tom Shipley on 04/01 at 11:18 AM
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Four Major Falsehoods in the Church Regarding Deut. 24:1-4 and Matt. 19:8-9

I have lately been musing over the condition of the Church today as it relates to patriarchy and issues of marriage, and attempting to crystallize in succinct, summary form what, in my view, are the chief falsehoods and misconceptions ensnaring Christians in false doctrine. This list could be very, very long, indeed, but here are what I believe are four of the most critical falsehoods in the Church. These relate mainly to the subject of divorce and what is the proper understanding of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Matthew 19:8-9. Let us first examine the passages in question:

Deuteronomy 24: 1-4
24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness (the literal Hebrew is “nakedness of a thing”) in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, 2 when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, 4 then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Matthew 19: 1-12
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”

Here are four of the most common falsehoods regarding these passages:

  • FALSEHOOD #1: “Deuteronomy 24 permits lenient, morally illegitimate divorce.”
  • FALSEHOOD #2: “Deuteronomy 24 does not permit divorce at all.”
  • FALSEHOOD #3: “The “nakedness of a thing” or “matter of nakedness” (translated “uncleanness” in both the KJV and NKJV I have used above) cannot be inclusive of adultery, but must refer to something other than adultery, because adultery incurs the death penalty, not divorce.”
  • FALSEHOOD #4: “The ‘hardness of heart’ Jesus spoke of in Matthew 19:8 refers to the hard heartedness of men seeking to divorce their wives for illegitimate reasons.”

There are hardly two other passages in the Bible that have been the object of so much disagreement and-let’s face it-shoddy exposition. It is time for a little sanity here.

I. Let us begin with the easiest point to refute (#2) and the one which is clear and unambiguous in Matthew 19, namely,--Deuteronomy 24 does permit divorce. How do we know this is the proper interpretation of Deuteronomy 24? Because Jesus said so explicitly! No honest exposition of Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 can lead to any other conclusion. Those who deny that Deuteronomy 24 permits divorce rely very heavily upon linguistic analysis of the Hebrew language there—which is why I, for the sake of argument, have adopted the NKJV translation above which is favorable to their position. Read Deuteronomy 24:1-4 above again and note that verses 1-3 are stated as factual circumstances with the commandment coming in verse 4 prohibiting remarriage to the wife if there has been an intervening marriage on her part with another man.

Even if we accept the rendering of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as translated above in the NKJV, we nevertheless have it on the highest authority possible, on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, that Deuteronomy 24 permits divorce. It cannot be overemphasized that this is plainly stated. In other words, the scenario in Deuteronomy 24:1-3 is not to be construed as mere description. Mere description is a very different thing than permission. Permission goes way beyond mere description. The situation described in verses 1-3 is enumerated because it is understood to be normative. If Moses is merely describing a divorce scenario (presumably morally unlawful divorce if we are to believe some commentators) then Moses cannot possibly be permitting anything in verse 1. But Jesus says precisely that Moses is permitting divorce there. There is no rational denial of this point. I think we can take this point as established beyond any doubt or question whatsoever.

It remains to be shown whether that permission is universal in all cases (the Pharisees position, it would seem) or whether this permission is conditional, or whether it involves a "concession to sin," as so many expositors claim. But let us here bow first to the declaration of Scripture that divorce is permitted, and establish the rest below.

II. Let us proceed now to the next easiest falsehood to refute, #3 above, namely that the “uncleanness” mentioned in Deuteronomy 24:1 as the occasion and the offense to the husband motivating his divorce action, “cannot include adultery because the Law of Moses specifies the death penalty for adultery.” It is sufficient to refute this claim by examining Jeremiah 3:8, Isaiah 50:1 and Matthew 1:18-19.

Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. –Jeremiah 3:8, NKJV

Thus says the LORD:
“Where is the certificate of your mother’s divorce,
Whom I have put away?
Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you?
For your iniquities you have sold yourselves,
And for your transgressions your mother has been put away.—Isaiah 50:1, NKJV

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.—Matthew 1:18-19

In Jeremiah 3:8 and Isaiah 50:1, we have Yahweh, metaphorically as husband, divorcing his wife Israel for adultery, and in Matthew 1:18-19 we have Joseph intending to put away (divorce) Mary for presumably playing the whore during her betrothal period, which situation is addressed under the Law of Moses calling for the death penalty. The Holy Spirit tells us in this passage that Joseph was a “just man” in this intent, something which could not be said of him if he was intending to circumvent an absolute requirement of the Law requiring him to hand Mary over to the death penalty. Compassionate and loving, maybe, but not “just,” if the death penalty were an absolute requirement of the law.

These passages, especially considered in the aggregate, prove that the death penalty was not the only specified penalty for adultery under the Law of Moses but rather the maximum penalty. It will not suffice to resort to the subversive argument that the Jeremiah and Isaiah passages are “only” allegorical. The allegories of adultery and divorce are meant to allegorize the respective character of sin and holiness which they exemplify and apply to the situation of Israel’s idolatry and God’s punishment of exiling Israel to Assyria which is metaphorically characterized as a divorce. (We may want to consult the book of Hosea on this point also, and Yahweh’s passing over of the death penalty for David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah.)

It is also relevant that the list of prohibited sexual relations in Leviticus 18, commonly called the incest chapter, uses the phrase, “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of…” and then lists numerous prohibited sexual relations as abominations. It is the same Hebrew word for nakedness that appears in Deuteronomy 24:1. There is clearly an affinity of verbal expression here in characterizing the prohibitions in the two passages as dealing with “nakedness.” The use of the word “nakedness” in Leviticus 18 to denominate sexual misconduct certainly creates a strong presumption that it is referring to sexual misconduct in Deuteronomy 24.

So, to enumerate, what have we seen so far? We have established conclusively that 1) divorce is allowed or permitted under the Law of God (to some extent not established yet in this exposition) and 2) that the “nakedness of a thing” in Deuteronomy 24:1 is inclusive of at least adultery, and maybe covers broader ground than adultery.

III. Let us now turn to the next falsehood, #1 above, the claim that the Law of God in Deuteronomy 24 permits lenient and, indeed, morally unjustifiable divorce as a matter of civil polity, and that this provision in Deuteronomy 24:1 is a “concession to sin.” This is how the contenders for this position interpret Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:8, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives.”

This is where context is important. Remember: the precise question the Pharisees are putting to Jesus is, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any reason?” The Pharisees assume (correctly) that some divorce is permitted under the Law of Moses (which is to say, the Law of God) in Deuteronomy 24:1. They want to know Jesus’ view of the extent of this permission. Let us read Jesus’ words again:

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”—Matthew 19:4-9

So, Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees specific question is clearly, no. It is not lawful for a man to put away his wife for any reason whatsoever. The lawfulness of divorce under the Law of God (and the Law of God includes both Genesis 1 and Deuteronomy 24) is conditional. The antecedent condition must be fornication. The Greek word in the biblical text is porneia, properly translated as fornication or sexual immorality. Note well, that this concept also is inclusive of adultery, but is not limited to adultery, though adultery would certainly be in real-world circumstances the most common occurrence of fornication. So Jesus is here interpreting the meaning of “nakedness of a thing” in Deuteronomy 24:1 as fornication.

So to enumerate and summarize what we have learned thus far: We have established conclusively that 1) divorce is allowed or permitted under the Law of God and 2) that the “nakedness of a thing” in Deuteronomy 24:1 is inclusive of adultery and 3) that the valid lawful ground for a man to divorce his wife is restricted to fornication on the part of the wife, which usually occurs in the form of adultery; 4) The meaning of the Hebrew phrase “nakedness of a thing” in Deuteronomy 24:1 is, therefore, co-extensive with the Greek porneia, and the English word, fornication.

IV. Finally we come to our fourth falsehood, namely: “The ‘hardness of heart’ Jesus spoke of in Matthew 19:8 refers to the hard heartedness of men seeking to divorce their wives for illegitimate reasons, and God made a concession to sin by allowing this sin in the precepts of His law.”

The ground that we have covered thus far is sufficient to undo this erroneous and fallacious interpretation of Jesus’ words. Jesus must be saying, in effect, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts (manifested in fornication) permitted you to put away your wives.” Hard hearted men commit adultery with other men’s wives, and hard hearted women commit fornication, usually adultery, against their husbands. Jesus is interpreting the Law of God here, and the precise passage the Pharisees question Jesus about is Deuteronomy 24. When Jesus says "except for fornication," he is establishing the definition of “nakedness of a thing” in Deuteronomy 24:1, and declaring that divorce is allowed as a punitive measure against this hardness of heart manifested through fornication.--Tom Shipley

Posted by Tom Shipley on 04/01 at 11:10 AM
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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Link to Vol I AND Vol II of Man & Woman in Biblical Law

Hello, members:

This is a friendly reminder that this link; connects you with the site where BOTH Volumes of Man and Woman in Biblical Law, including the new They Shall Be One Flesh, may be purchased. Both volumes in downloadable PDF format may be purchased for $20. The second Volume is not available in printed from.

The second volume, They Shall Be One Flesh, is relatively new and has not had the time or opportunity for circulation as the first volume. In Volume II, I go into depth on the doctrines of marriage and divorce.

Please, spread the word.

Tom Shipley

Posted by Tom Shipley on 04/27 at 01:51 PM
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Friday, April 05, 2013

John 4 the Samaritan Woman and the One flesh Thesis


The following is a sample from my book, They Shall Be One Flesh, along with a comment from one of the members of our Yahoo group,

The Commentators: #3, Paul E. Steele and Charles C. Ryrie + Yahoo NCP post

Copyright 2010 by Tom Shipley

All Rights Reserved

3 He (Jesus) left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria. 5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink . 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink ; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst ; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw . 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go , call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said , I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said , I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

Another Dispensationalist treatment of the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage, is Meant to Last, by Paul E. Steele and Charles C. Ryrie. This work may be considered in many ways the epitome of what I am critical of among Evangelical commentators and what I am arguing against in my thesis. Theirs is more of a popular treatment of the subject than a systematic inquiry. However, they are articulate writers and it is presented in a very organized and succinct manner. Steele and Ryrie do manage to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short thesis. They begin, reasonably enough, by asking the most fundamental question, “What is Marriage?” and by denying the fundamental proposition of this present work:

Living together or consummating the physical relationship does not in itself constitute marriage.

When Christ encountered the woman of Samaria, He asked her to go and call her husband. She denied that she had a husband and Christ countered with these words: “You have well said, ‘I have no husband’: for you have had five husbands; and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:17-18). In other words, though she was living with a man and having sexual relations with him, this did not constitute a marriage.

There are those today who purport the idea that when two people have a sexual relationship they become one flesh and that this is recognized by God as constituting marriage. Such an idea cannot be supported from Scripture.—pg. 8

Needless to say, I have shown in this present volume that this idea unquestionably is supported by Scripture—and with a great wealth of many passages to validate the thesis. I have already dealt with this objection earlier, but for the sake of responding specifically to Steele/Ryrie, let us reiterate what we can and cannot validly infer from the John 4 passage.

As I pointed out earlier, bringing the full weight of Scripture to bear upon the question avails us of only one possible conclusion: the woman at the well in John 4, though not with a husband, was still lawfully bound to her fifth husband. Jesus’ focus with the woman is on her factual living arrangement. When he tells her, “You have no husband,” he is not expounding a point of law to her, but demonstrating his knowledge to her of her actual circumstances, of her physical separation from her fifth husband. She does not have a husband as a matter of practical reality and living arrangement. She is not physically with her lawful husband. We see the thrust of Jesus’ interactions with her in her reaction:

<28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

We have seen both in the Law of Moses (Exo. 22:16-17, Deut. 21:13, Deut. 25:5, etc), and in the numerous examples examined of marriages commencing in the Scriptures, that the one flesh principle is unquestionably at the very heart of the marriage covenant. We saw this in regard to Abraham and Hagar, Jacob and Bilhah, Jacob and Zilpah, Onan and Tamar, etc. Unless we wish to propose a radical contradiction in the Bible’s teachings, Jesus must be referring to the woman’s physical separation from her lawful husband when he says she has no husband. Jesus is not speaking de jure, of law, but of situation and circumstance. Apparently she had left or put away her husband for the man she was then living with. In other words, this woman was an adulteress. So, we see that Steele’s and Ryrie’s objection and proposed meaning of the passage is simple to refute and requires no long, encyclopedic rationalization. The correct proposition here is very easy to understand and has a common sense rendering immediately relevant to the situation at hand.

This passage is routinely used by commentators with the end in view of exhorting young "unmarried" Christians to "get married" rather than to "live together," "cohabitate," or "shack up." It is routinely presupposed that the Samaritan woman to whom Christ spoke was either a widow or legitimately divorced from her fifth husband. The truth is, however, neither of these inferences can be logically deduced from the passage. Indeed, the weight of Scripture impels us to an entirely different conclusion: namely, that she was not legitimately divorced from her fifth husband. In other words, the Samaritan woman was an adulteress.

The Samaritan woman was still lawfully married to her fifth husband. Any other conclusion concerning her marital status sets this passage in contradiction to the entire corpus of biblical revelation on the topic of marriage. That the woman was still lawfully bound to her fifth husband is the only logical inference which can be drawn. To assert that this passage disapprobates cohabitation as marriage posits it to be in direct contradiction to Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 2:23-24, Matthew 19:4-6, I Corinthians. 6:16, Ruth 3, Ezekiel 16:8, Exodus. 22:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 21:10-13, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Genesis 16:1-4, Genesis 24: 67, Genesis 29:15-26, Genesis 29: 29-30, Genesis 30: 1-6, etc. All of these passages teach that cohabitation, that is, the one flesh union, constitutes marriage. It is simply irrational to deny this.

John 4 does not explicitly inform us of the marital status of the Samaritan woman at the time she spoke to Christ. Her marital status must be inferred from other passages relevant to the topic of marriage. Those passages are listed in the above paragraph and were exegeted in particular in the previous exposition (or will be later). That the woman was still married/bound to her fifth husband is consistent with those passages. We will now proceed to show how it is consistent with John 4 itself.

The objector will say, "But did not Jesus explicitly say that the woman had 'no husband'? And that she had 'had' five past husbands. How can you say that she had a husband when Jesus said that she had none?" The answer to this question is sufficiently and convincingly supplied by Romans 7:1-3:

1 Know ye not , brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth ? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth ; but if the husband be dead , she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead , she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

The woman in Romans 7 is spoken of as being "married" to another man and yet an "adulteress" at the same time. Well, if the woman of Romans 7 is truly married to another man, then how can she be said to be in adultery? How can a woman be in adultery with her own husband?

Note well: the logical dilemma here is identical to that created by the proposition that the woman in John 4 is still married to her fifth husband!! The only difference is that the apparent "contradiction" is explicit and on its face in Romans 7.

The solution to this dilemma lies in observing the distinction of language between that which is spoken of in a de facto (of fact) sense and that which is spoken of in a de jure (of law) sense. In Romans 7 Paul speaks of the woman who is married to another man (i.e., de facto) and yet still an adulteress (i.e., de jure). Legally, lawfully, the woman is still bound in marriage to her first husband; her marriage to another man is not a lawful marriage but adultery. Yet Paul speaks de facto of her being “married” to another man. An illegitimate divorce or mere factual separation does not constitute a lawful divorce. Thus, the verbal distinction between law and fact is a distinction of language used elsewhere in the New Testament, and, indeed, in regard to the exact same issue and circumstance addressed by Christ in John 4. Therefore, it is in vain to argue that this distinction of language could not have been employed by Christ himself in John. 4

When Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that she had had five husbands, past tense, he is speaking of the factual circumstances of her life. She was no longer living with them, or, more to the point here, with the fifth husband. When Jesus said that she had no husband, present tense, he again speaks to her factual circumstances. She was not living with a husband. She was without a husband, though still lawfully bound to one. She was living in an adulterous relationship with the man she was with, who could not lawfully have her. She was, in the words of Romans 7, an adulteress because she was married to another man while her husband yet lived. I conclude, therefore, based upon the scriptural testimony as a whole, that the Samaritan woman was either illegitimately divorced or simply separated from her fifth husband. In either case, she could legitimately be spoken of as "having no husband" (de facto), that is, of not living in marital union with her lawful husband.

John 4 is, therefore, no valid objection to the thesis of one-flesh as marriage.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> the following is a post from our Yahoo NCP discussion group on this issue in response to my post:

“We were doing an overview of 2 Samuel in Sunday School today and I noticed that when David retrieves his wife Michal from her husband Paltiel in 2 Samuel 3:14 & 15, the same language and terminology is employed as in John 4 and Romans 7. Here look:

"2 Samuel 3; 14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul's son, saying , Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.15 And Ishbosheth sent , and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish 16 And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return And he returned

"This scripture above recognizes David's lawful marriage to Michal and at the same time recognizes her factual circumstances in the adulterous marriage to Paltiel. I see Saul and Paltiel as being the guilty parties, not Michal. Lest anyone suggest that David had not yet entered into sexual relations with Michal, this says otherwise. Here:

"2 Samuel 19 10 And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.11 Saul also sent messengers unto David's house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David's wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life tonight, tomorrow thou shalt be slain. 12 So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.13 And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.

Saul gave Michal to Paltiel after this escape.Here:

"1 Samuel 25 44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.

Going back a bit farther in Ch 18

"2 Samuel 18: 27 Wherefore David arose and went , he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law . And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. 28 And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him."

Posted by Tom Shipley on 04/05 at 02:05 PM
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