Divorce & Remarriage: A Permanence View by Daryl Wingerd, Jim Elliff, Jim Chrisman and Steve Burchett (Elders of Christ Fellowship of Kansas City)
I’m not writing this review to condemn my brothers and sisters in Christ who hold a different view than I do. If you agree with my reasoning by the time you finish reading this review, then confess your sins to Christ and move on with your current marriage because there is only one sin in the Bible that He declares to be unforgivable (Matthew 12:31).
I’m contending with the above Elders on a “no-divorce” view. Please refer to Chapter 6: “The Meaning of the Exception Clause: What is Porneia?” and Chapter 8: “The Historical and Biblical Context for the Divorce Debate”. You may need to read these chapters at least two or three times in order to fully understand their (the Elders’) view. (Due to the limitations of books that are out there, I don’t want to spill the beans in this review.)
My reasoning is this: We must look at our marriage as Christ’s marriage to His Church. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
According to Ephesians 5:25-27, as husband and wife, do you give yourself up to each other? Do you make each other holy (of course, by the cleansing and washing with water through the word)? Do you present each other without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish to each other? I’m afraid that in many marriages, we, as men, are just worried about how we PRESENT ourselves to outsiders rather than to our wives.
If you hold to the divorce view on the grounds of the “exception clause”, please allow me to remind you of what you and your spouse promised each other on your wedding day: “Till Death Do Us Part” or “Until Death Do Us Part”. Make sure your minister inserts the “exception clause” if you plan to divorce. Why make a promise or covenant with each other when you know for sure that that will never be the last sin you and your spouse will commit against each other? There are many sins that we commit inside and outside of the marriage context that are worse than the sin mentioned in the “exception clause”.
Here is the most common one, besides the “exception clause”, that comes from women: Her husband is a wife beater (AKA he physically abuses her). Look to your Savior who endured those few hours of pain on the cross for your sins. The Son of God was humiliated and stripped nearly naked before the world. Do you live for His glory or yours?
There are many reasons why women don’t report their abusive husbands to the authorities. One of them is that she is afraid that her husband will be locked up in jail or end up in prison, and the loss of his income would be the end of their family. Sometimes, she wants to save face, not wanting her friends to know that she is married to a husband who physically abuses her, not all, but most of the time. My message to those women: Don’t be intimidated by the financial aspect of the situation; let your local church know about it because most churches set aside a fund that is specifically used to help families that are in financial crises. Don’t be afraid to let others know. Remember, people don’t know how to help you if they don’t know your concerns. We are all sinners and saints, and as sinners, we will continue to sin. Divorcing him is not the answer to helping him; you are only leaving him to hurt the next person he marries. Get help for him by using authority or Matthew 18 or both.
You have heard the phrase “there is no perfect church”, therefore, “there is no perfect family”, but there is nothing wrong with desiring a healthy family, so that’s why you need to read this book with a mind that is set on building a healthy family. One last thing: if you are a wife and your husband’s work schedule prevents him from shepherding his family, step up and be the “shepherdess” (Genesis 29:9). Rachel was the only female in the Bible that was called a “shepherdess”, so I believe it is safe for you to be the shepherdess of your family in the absence of your husband. And don’t forget to keep Christ centered in your family, just as Joshua did: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Thanks to Daisy Yao for editing this book review.