Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cost of Following Jesus: Angela and Andy

Today I want to pick up our periodic series on "The Cost of Following Jesus." This is a series where we present a case study usually involving new converts to Christ who will face significant "costs" for following the Lord.

In our opening posts (here, here, and here), we considered the case of "Brad" and his long-time live-in girlfriend and three children. We considered the cost of Brad following Jesus and how the church should help him to pay that cost.

We've been thinking of Luke 14 as one foundation text for this series. There, the Lord says:
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

31"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

So, we're left to understand that those who turn from the broad path of the world to the narrow path of the Kingdom will need to count and pay the cost of following Jesus.

Scenario 2: Angela and Andy, Divorcees Wishing to Remarry

Today, I want to introduce a different scenario. Meet "Angela" and "Andy." They've been dating for about a year now. Both are professing Christians; they understand the gospel and give evidence of loving the Lord. They're in their early thirties and are active parts of two different local churches.

"Andy" is a member of your church. They've decided to marry and have come to you/your church seeking marriage counseling and to have the wedding there. As you speak with Andy you learn that both have been divorced. This will be their second marriage.

In Andy's case, his first wife had been unfaithful and they eventually divorced over the adultery. Andy and his first wife were professing Christians. In Angela's case, she had been unfaithful to her husband, leading to a divorce. At the time, neither Angela nor her husband were believers.

Andy's first wife has gone on to remarry and now lives with her second husband and four children across town. Angela's first husband has not remarried.

The Questions:

Can Angela and Andy remarry? If so, both of them, or one of them? Why or why not?

In your opinion, what are those costs in this situation? And how can you and your church help them bear those costs?

You don't have to be a pastor to answer these questions. I welcome your thoughts as a church member who might be called upon to help in a situation like this. The more the merrier!


Chris Hubbs said...

Andy's case seems the more straightforward of the two - the adultery being a legitimate cause for divorce, and his first wife's remarriage practically shutting the door to reconciliation.

In Angela's case, I tend to give more leeway to events that happened before salvation, which would initially lead me to want to give her permission as well. Given, though, that her first husband has not remarried, I would encourage her to explore the possibility of reconciliation with him before permitting her marriage to Andy.

As with all of these situations, the "rules" only get you so far - much prayer and wisdom needs to be applied specifically to Andy and Angela (and their ex's) and their situation.

KG said...

Great scenerio and questions. Unfortunately, all to common. I guess this is really about what do we think the Bible says and then applying it to the situation.

I personally don't see the Bible ever encouraging remarriage unless a spouse has died. Because of that, I would say that we should encourage them to remain single or reconcile their previous marriage.

That being said, these are tough issues and real life. I would like to hear from others who see the Bible saying something different.

FreedbyJC said...

Chris is right on in both cases.

If Angela's first husband was/is still a non-believer [or even a believer unwilling to reconsiliate] then this too leads to shutting the door on her first marriage.

The marriage covenant is the same as salvation ... closing the door on the past and walking into the future as a solid strand of three, you [and your solid relationship with God], your spouse [and their solid relationship with God] and God, the same now and always.

Recommended Reading. For the questions surrounding the practical theological and ethical issues, I would recommend Rubel Shelly’s Divorce & Remarriage: A Redemptive Theology or Marriage, Divorce and remarriage by Jay Adams and

For practical spiritual, emotional and redemptive perspectives on divorce and life after divorce, I would recommend Dana Hood’s recent I Will Change Your Name: Messages From the Father to a Heart Broken by Divorce.

FreedbyJC said...

KG -Interesting thought ... because the Bible was written in a time where remarriage was expected for pecisely the reasons given: for females survival, no other lifestyle was available. And for men [and women] to remain sexually pure unless they were able to remain chaste.

It too, is written for us in a age where mores and customs are vastly different than the past but the human heart is still seeking God's will, love and grace.

As a widower I made a careful study to determine God's will for me and my gifts after my marrage ended after 29 years.

Again, take time to SPECIFICALLY study Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in one of the studies listed or another of your chosing.

Lionel Woods said...

Brother T,

I struggle with the Marriage/Remarriage. As I do respect those who hold the no marriage clause perspective, I have to respectively disagree with it for two reasons.

1. In the no-clause view, it specifically says unless death the two are still married in God's eye so remarriage would be adultrey. However, if one of the two remarries and repents after coming to an understanding they were wrongfully divorced the same people teach that God accepts this repentance and will not allow a divorce because this would be doubly wrong. However, the same group says the other party is still married to this repentive spouse so he/she is bound to a wife who God has now forgiven and allowed remarriage. That makes no sense at all.

That is saying God recognizes the second marriage of the remarried spouse yet holds the divorced spouse in bondage to a woman who is married to someone else. Either one of two things can make any sense. 1. Once God forgives the remarried spouse, the other spouse is free to remarry, or 2. The spouse who is remarried is under obligation to go back to their first spouse because the second marriage can never be sactioned by God because He holds the other party bound to this spouse. Either or Brother T, it can't be both.

2. Historically there are two opinions both have very valid historical evidence and the scripture is to vague to make it a Gospel issue.

Now on to your question. I believe Andy is free. I believe Angela has an obligation under the Gospel to attempt a reconciliation to be a picture of God's grace and a repentive Spirit. If he refuses I believe it qualifies for Paul's response that "let the unbelieving spouse leave" then I think she is free to remarry. However, I think she is obligated to repent to her husband and to seek restoration for her sin (much like Zacheeus).

Thoughts Sir?