Sunday, October 23, 2016

FacePalm of the Day Debunking Christianity - Jesus Got It Wrong, Really Wrong

The thing that amazes me is that some men and women really think that they have not just the right to critique God but also that they have the ability to accurately critique God. This particular post from Debunking Christianity really highlights the problems that arises when people attack Jesus' teachings without so much of a clue of what they are talking about. The "Facepalm" is caused by this post due to the assumption of Jesus being wrong not because the author misunderstood the teaching.

Jesus gets major demerits for hardening the Old Testament teaching about divorce, thereby bringing incalculable anguish during the ensuing centuries.

Unfortunately, many Christians have the wrong understanding about what Jesus taught about divorce. They just don't go as far as adding blasphemy to their error as David Madison does in his post.  Jesus teaching does not being anguish. If there is anguish it comes from disobeying Jesus. All one has to do is look at how divorce devastates lives and families.

Many billions of people have gone into marriages for a wide variety of reasons, e.g., convenience, lust, desperation, family obligations and alliances, pregnancy—sometimes even love. It dawns on a lot of people, months or years into a marriage: “Well, this was a mistake.”

The issue is that people get married for the wrong reasons. Marriage does not fix problems or heal wounds. And if you get a divorce at the first feeling of having made a mistake you have definitely missed the point. What I like about Jesus' teachings on marriage is that He makes it clear what the point of marriage is and what it is not. When Madison points out that people sometime marry for "love" what kind of  "love" does he refer to. Bet it isn't the kind of love the Bible says married people should have for each other.

Jesus is guilty of a grievous logical fallacy in his pronouncement on divorce. Why do men and women get married? Jesus sees the “natural order” as God’s idea, and said this to the Pharisees:

“Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them
male and female,’ 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’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God
has joined together, let no one separate." (Matt. 19:4-6)

 Jesus was not responding to the question "Why do men and women get married?" The question that the Pharisees asked was “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (vs 3) Therefore Jesus' answer was that it's not lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason because divorce is not part of God's perfect plan.

If you operate within a theological context, there’s nothing wrong with the idea that God arranged for men and women to hook up, but it doesn’t follow at all that God has actually arranged all marriages, picking each woman for each man, ever since humans began cohabitating.

 I think this point brought up by Madison is very important. Why is this conclusion untenable?  The Bible teaches that God has put each and everyone of us in the circumstances we find ourselves in so that we can best Find him (Acts 17:24). This would have to include our births and assigning who are parents are,

It is shortsighted, destructive and dangerous to argue that God’s law and intent are violated when couples don’t get along after all. Yet Jesus does just that in Mark 10. He condemns divorce, culminating in the famous verse 9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one
separate.” Did Jesus really think that it is God who makes all the matches, so many of which are disastrous?

Interesting how Madison asks the next logical question as if the Pharisees did not also ask it. Look at Matthew 19:7

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

The Pharisees did not like Jesus' answer and sought to justify the view that they could divorce their wives with impunity, Jesus explains why the Torah makes provision for divorce.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:8-9

God permitted divorce to keep society intact because people are not able to live the right way.

To Mark 10, we can add Matthew 5:31-32: “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

In Mark and Luke we do not find the words “except on the ground of unchastity.” Somehow, in a small mercy, Matthew saw fit to add that modification.

It is not a modification. Mark 10 and  Matthew 19 are parallel passages and answering a specific question. Matthew 5:31-32 is in another context. He gives these commands in Matt 5:31-32 right after Jesus taught about adultery. Not a modification but a clarification.

Let it be noted, by the way, Christians have shown far more common sense than Jesus on this matter: They do get divorced as much as their non-Christian neighbors. They’ve figured out that the layer of theology imposed on marriage (“what God has joined together”), is irrelevant and impossible to sustain in reality. They know that Jesus was wrong. This is one of his failures as a moral teacher.

No Way. Jesus words about why why people, even Christians, get divorced is still true today: we are sinners who are unable to perfectly follow God's laws. However with the power of God that saves us from sin and death we can keep our marriage vows.  My parents have been married for 58 years. It's possible. Divorce is not a sign of God's failure but of human sin and depravity. A failed marriage has many different causes but the bottom line is one or both spouses decide not live according to God's way. 

The Catholic Church has maintained a level of rigidity on divorce that defies all logic and compassion—based on Jesus’ bad counsel on the matter. Yet the church has, for money, figured out ways to help couples escape matrimonial bonds. Don’t we all have our favorite stories of
shrewd Catholic maneuvering? Mine is about the man who, for enough cash, after more than 20 years of marriage and three children, was able to buy an annulment. The church, it would seem, is not opposed to laying up treasure on earth.

I don't see how any church's twisting of Jesus' commands nullify what Jesus said. Buying an annulment is an example of ignoring Jesus' teaching not upholding it. As for the opposite extreme  of counseling a person to stay in an abusive marriage, this is also not what Jesus was saying. If you can read what Jesus said and think that Madison is right about what he thinks Jesus said about divorce, you should re-read it.

DavidMadison has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. He has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University, and was a pastor in the
United Methodist Church for nine years. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was published by Tellectual Press in August.

Debunking Christianity