Divorce and Remarriage: the remix

I've done some pretty extensive studies on divorce and remarriage - at my age, there are not that many widowed guys and most (MOST) of the never married men are never married for a reason. Knowing where I stand on this issue was very important for me to figure out.

This particular post was prompted by a commenter on Challies who said, "The Levitical priests were not to marry a divorced woman because of defilement. Is that defilement not tied to sin?"

The actual quote from Leviticus 21 is:-15 " 'The woman he marries must be a virgin. He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people, so he will not defile his offspring among his people. I am the LORD, who makes him holy. ' "

Read this again. A priest had special prohibitions on who he could marry. Not only could he not marry a divorced woman, he could not marry a widow or a prostitute.

He had to marry a virgin. Period. It didn't matter what the reason for the woman's "non-virginity", a priest had to marry a virgin.

Next: the woman described as "defiled" was defiled by prostitution, not divorce. So, if a person wishes to import the "defilement" to divorced women as well, that person needs to import the "defilement" to widows as well.

So, I would ask, what sin in tied to being a widow, other than the sin of being married to a man who gets cancer and dies?

Another point is the status of divorced women.

Lev. 22: 12-13 If a priest's daughter marries anyone other than a priest, she may not eat any of the sacred contributions. But if a priest's daughter becomes a widow or is divorced, yet has no children, and she returns to live in her father's house as in her youth, she may eat of her father's food.

This is important to the "defiled by divorce" - in this passage, there is no difference in the "holiness" of a priests daughter, divorced or widowed, as it pertains to living in the priest's home or eating the sacred contributions.

There is no difference in status between a divorced woman or a widow.

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3 thoughts on “Divorce and Remarriage: the remix

  1. Milly

    I was raised with open minded parents. I dated divorced men, my parents never tried to stop me. The way I have always seen it is that people are divorced for different reasons. I'd never stay with a man that hurt us or stepped out. It would be sad to think that someone is to be alone because of death or a bad marriage. I don't feel in my heart that God wants that. Divorce or death we should be with someone who loves us.

  2. I'm not sure why you would read all the ritual cleanness issues of the old covenant into the new covenant. The priest had special restrictions, some of them clearly unimportant today. Someone with only one testicle couldn't be a priest, for instance. Does that mean the priesthood of all believers doesn't apply to people who have only one testicle? There's surely something that God was illustrating in having further restrictions on who priests could marry that didn't apply to others, but one thing we can't infer from it is that it's immoral for widows to remarry. Paul explicitly says the opposite. So it's not analogous to being divorced, which depends entirely on the reasons for divorce. Someone who is divorced and abandoned (especially if the spouse married someone else) is not in the same category as someone who initiated the divorce themselves. Someone who divorced for reasons of unfaithfulness isn't in the same category of someone who simply didn't want to be with the person anymore. It isn't as clear in scripture, but I would go so far as to say that someone who divorced before becoming a believer is in a very different category from someone who divorced while a believer. It's also relevant whether sufficient attempts have been made to reconcile if that's possible (it isn't with remarriage). None of these issues arise with widows, so it seems to me that you can't really hold them up as analogous in every respect.

  3. Jeremy, I'm not - it was the commenter that tried to connect the Sabbath Law with the marriage of priests to divorced women.

    Personally, I've made the argument that none of the Old Covenant applies to us.

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