Marriage and Divorce: part ii)

Essay: With reference to the topic you have investigated, examine and comment on the view that NT ethical teaching has no relevance today.

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  • If NT teaching only allowd divoce for adultery and desertation this would mean that divorce for any other reason, such as domestic violence would be immoral.
  • JAT Robinson, writing in 1963, proped that to follow the teaching of the NT in a legalistic way mwas not relevant to the latter hald of the 20th century.
  • He wrote that the moral teachings of Jesus were not intended to be "understood legalistically, as prescribing what all Christians must do, whatever the circumstances...they are illustrations of what love may at any moment require of anyone."
  • He argued that divorce was not inherently wronf, only lack of love.
  • In these circumstances divorce may, at times, be the morally right thing to do
  • "If the emotional and spiritual welfare of both parents and children in a particular family can be served best by divorce...then love requires it." Fletcher.
  • Situation Ethics did not seek to ignore Jesus' and Pauls teaching on divorce in the NT they interpreted it situationally through the Christian teaching of agape, to make it relevant to modern people.
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  • The increase in the divorce rathe in the UK, is almost 1 in 2 marriages, suggests that many people do not consider the teaching of the NT on divorce to be relevant to their lives.
  • Many people dont not regard the bible as an authoritative guide as how they should live their lives.
  • Even withing Christianity, there are a wide spectrum of views on how the bible should be interpreted.
  • At one end of the spectrum are Christians who believe that the NT teaching on divorce should be takenliterally, they are moral absolutes that never change.
  • "What is right is not so because God commands it; he commands it because it is right, and it is right because it is good for man." Millar Burrows.
  • People should therefore not divorce for any other reasons than adultery of desertion by a non-Christian spouse because God knows what is best for humans because he created them.
  • "God's commands are not arbitrary but are true and righteous, since what God wishes man to do is that which is right in itself, even if human beings cannot perceive the reason for it." Tyler and Reid.
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  • On the other end of the spectrum are those Christians that believe that the teachings of the NT are relelvant to the people and culture they were written in.
  • Yet there are general principles that can be taken from them
  • They understand the teachings on divorce to be relativistic, such as Fletcher and Robinson, and therefore these teachings cannot be understood literally but need to be understood and interpreted for today.
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