I don’t think I’ve discussed divorce on this blog, and it is a topic I believe is important for a blog like this, and I was just waiting for something to spark interest … and it arrived in the mail the other day: William F. Luck’s Divorce and Re-Marriage: Recovering the Biblical View
I’d like to do a series on this topic, and the series is shaped for churches and pastors who are forming “statements” and “policies” for their churches. (At least that is the group I have in mind.)
What kind of “union” is marriage? Would you say it is “permanent” and “indissoluble” or would you say it is “covenanted” and “promissory” and “intentional” but that, due to sin in this world, can be broken (therefore not permanent)?
Luck begins his book by examining Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family.”
One can say that the “standard” view — or the “default” view — of this “unites” or “union” is that it is a permanent, ontological union. Luck contends this default view, and the use of words like ontological union, deserve more careful thinking to see what the Bible really does teach.
In chp 1 of Luck’s book — and I want to say that Luck is not not trying to minimize marriage but is instead trying to frame a biblical understanding of both marriage and divorce — an argument is given that the the union is not ontological or permanent.
In other words, the word “unites” (“cleaves”) does not describe a permanent union or an ontological union but an intended union. He has extensive study of this term in the Bible. Marriage is a profound union of individual persons. It is an organic union (“one flesh” is not a third thing but the organic union) that stresses bonding and intimacy and consummates a social-legal contract. Divorce, he argues, is a tragedy and another tragedy is that humans have so been preoccupied with the “legalities” of marriage and divorce that they have focused on the wrong thing.
Marriage is intended to last until death; but that is God’s intent and it is the intent of the married couple, but intention and fact must be distinguished. Luck does not think that the Bible teaches the union is “permanent” or “ontological.” Again, it is intended to last but that intention is not equivalent to an ontological permanence.
The emphasis then for Luck is intentionality instead of ontoloy.