Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Evangelistic Bible Study Alumni and Newbies

Strange confluence of evangelistic bible study newbies and alumni in a day.

Something Old
Had lunch with alumni from one of my first few evangelistic bible studies. Was told of impending divorce of an alumnus who said then, years ago, that she did want to believe in Jesus but subsequently declined to do anything about that resolution. Her reported reasons for asking for a divorce were the neglect of her husband and that the consequence of remaining with him rendered her unable to be open to opportunities for better partners. Her husband has been neither verbally nor physically abusive. He hasn't committed adultery and isn't dependent on her financially. He just hasn't been around most of the time. They have 2 young children. He doesn't want her to leave.

I was distressed.

Someone tried to comfort me saying that it was alright because:
  1. of the commonality of divorce in modern times;
  2. Jesus' teaching forbidding divorce has no relevance in this day and age when women can look after themselves;
  3. the impending divorce wife ("IDW") in question may not be Christian so we shouldn't impose our "Christian laws" on her;
  4. I am single and cannot understand what marrieds go through; and
  5. divorce is no worse sin than any other sin.
In fact, she had encouraged IDW to go ahead and end the marriage, agreeing that strong, financially-independent women of today should move on in life if the relationship doesn't turn out as was expected at the wedding.

It was getting a bit heated and I had to admit that as a single, I wouldn't know what marrieds go through. But neither would one married couple know what another goes through because every marriage is unique. What I do know is what God tells me in the Bible and I trust that his version of reality is true because he's the one that made the everything.

I wasn't judging IDW. I just very strongly feared that she and her children would be even worse off after the divorce because this decision would take them in the exact opposite of God's directions in his instruction manual, the Bible.

As far as I know in my limited knowledge, the prohibition on divorce (Matthew 19, Mark 10) is not an arbitrary moral law designed to hold the community together, for the social good. Instead, it explains how God designed the universe, specifically, marriage. And the specifications are that when a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). God has designed it such that husband and wife are bonded together irrevocably on all levels (physically, mentally, spiritually etc) so that divorce is just like attempting to tear off part of yourself and is sure to deeply hurt both parties.

It's not some strict archaic law that is no longer relevant or that is only relevant to some cult groups. It's the very fabric of the way men and women are made and so applies regardless of generation or beliefs.

In my misspent days as a human rights activist (pro-choice, pro-divorce), I had great arguments in class with Jewish professors on divorce. They showed me good evidence that people and children who remain in "bad marriages" (which are not physically violent) are less psychologically traumatised and suffer from less major health problems than those in divorced families. I could never find credible statistics to the contrary.

God should know.

Something New
Then had dinner with someone who was keen on investigating Christianity. We started the series of studies with John 1 to introduce Jesus. Using John 1 is really not as silly an idea as it may first appear. Really quite clear and understandable if you take little nibbles at a time. Thank God it went quite well and newbie was still cheerful and eager for more. Couldn't help but marvel at the profound simplicity of God's word and its universal perspicuity. Good stuff.

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