Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible

13 Apr

 

     I’ve tried to be diligent about not being “religious” in my posts on this blog. And I’m not going to get religious now. Whatever tradition you might hold as sacred or true or helpful in making you a kind, generous, loving person, I support you.

     What I want to do in this post is to try to right a wrong that has been perpetuated in my own faith tradition. The wrong is the unjust treatment of divorced persons, especially women, by an ancient patriarchal culture. If that interests you, read on. I am releasing a short book on Tuesday that tries to identify and correct a mistranslation of the Bible about divorce and remarriage.

     The bottom line is that Jesus was compassionate and peaceable. Just as important, he was an opponent of injustice and fake religion. Fake religion places rules and rituals above the care for people. Translators in the sixteenth century, as godly as they might have believed themselves to be, were still part of a patriarchal culture. Unfortunately, that caused them to see things through a male-dominating lens.

     The Bible was written in two languages. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. We had to translate each into English. Translation from one language to another is not an objective undertaking. It always depends upon the background and beliefs of the person(s) doing the translating. Clearly, my beliefs are different from translators in the sixteenth century.

     What scares me is that biblical scholars today haven’t challenged more of the teachings in the Bible that don’t sound like they come from a God who is supposed to be “love.” But that’s what I’m doing in this book. Maybe some will listen. Maybe we’ll make a crack in the (until now) impenetrable wall of trust in King James translators.

     Jewish law permitted a man to divorce his wife for ANY reason, including if he was tired of her or if she cooked a bad meal for him. The fact is, women had little means to support themselves in that culture. Why would Jesus be so cold as to declare a divorced woman off-limits to other Jewish men?

     I believe the translation from Greek to English (by King James’s translators) of comments made by Jesus are highly questionable. I think my translations make more sense than the ones that have been repeated in all versions of the Bible.

     I also think Jesus’s statements are being taken totally out of context. I am not suggesting what Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote are wrong. I think the Greek text makes perfect sense when translated according to a non-patriarchal nature of Jesus. I believe the problem is the translation into English. It’s an interpretation perpetuated by a male-controlled religious tradition.  I believe that instead of endorsing unjust laws, Jesus was defending women who were being treated unfairly.

     I’m not divorced. I’m Protestant and I don’t know of any Protestant denomination that denies communion to divorced people. The Catholics are starting to loosen up. But they are not completely there. Too many people are still suffering emotional pain in the breakup of a marriage. Then they are refused participation in Christianity’s holy meal. That’s highly un-Christlike.

     I believe compassion trumps law. But that’s not needed in this case. In fifty-three pages, I explain this in my book. Women were in the chokehold of a male-dominated culture that cared more about rules than about compassion and justice.

    

     Until the Christian church examines the teachings of Jesus about divorce and remarriage and corrects the translations to help them make sense, it will continue an outrage perpetuated by the Christian church for sixteen centuries. Help me get the word out. Since you can order it through Amazon, if you don’t agree, you can always return it and get your $2.99 back. And if you think it might make sense, pass it along to your friends.

 

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