Monday, October 20, 2014

Divorce Can Cause Heads to Roll

There are no loopholes! They're just not there! Yes, people can divorce for adultery, but even at that, if they remarry, they not only sin, but cause the new spouse to sin also. However, there is grace on God's part. With repentance God "forgets" all our sins of which we sincerely repented.

People need to be really careful! It's not sincere repentance when people say "Lord, forgive me for what I'm about to do!" Planning to engage in sin with the thought "I'll repent of it later!" is hardly a candidate for forgiveness.

I've written before about the sanctity of marriage. It's ordained by God, and incidentally people, same-sex marriage is not! Jesus likened his own relationship to the church as reminiscent of a holy marriage. However, there is more to divorce than breaking a vowel. I always say "When people get married world's collide!" Even worse is "When people divorce consequences are forever!" Marriage is serious business and divorce is the catastrophic business.
Mark 6:17 (ESV) "For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb."

This dancer is Salome. Imagine if you will the sexiest of the "Dancing with the Stars" and think of her. However, I don't believe any of those dancers are as treacherous as Salome, but the biblical Jezebel was just like Salome. No, Salome isn't mentioned in these passages, but she was the step-daughter of Herod, called Herod Antipas (King Herod) whose brother was Philip the Tetrarch . Philip and Herodias were the parents of Salome.

As you can see, the Hebrew law would not allow divorce. Herod stole Philip's wife and even adopted his brother's daughter. John the Baptist chastised King Herod for breaking the law because (Herod) committed adultery. Not only was it "his brother's wife", but it was "his biological brother's wife", a more extreme violation of the law.

In biblical law, a husband has the right to divorce his wife but a wife cannot initiate a divorce. Herodias did just that, apparently at Herod's request. The Sanhedrin was the Jewish Law at the time of Jesus.
 Jewish Oral Law added in Sanhedrin (22a), “Even [G-d] shares tears when anyone divorces his wife.” (Issues in Jewish Ethics: Divorce)
Thus the wrong of divorce was compounded in this situation. (As a side note, Jewish Law did allow divorce, but as a last resort). Hence, Herod and Herodias were living in sin and John the Baptist judged them correctly. (Please think forward to the modern Herodias's who say "don't judge me" as a paraphrase for "judge not lest ye be judged").  Herod took umbrage at the callousness of John rebuking the king, no less! Herod took the blame from John, but the independent minded Herodias, a typical feminist of her day, just could not handle criticism.

Herod enjoyed the heat of the dance performed by his own step-daughter. He was so enthralled with the sexuality of the dance (we learn for other sources) that he promised her whatever she asked, even half his kingdom! Salome,at the advice of her mother, elected revenge over riches. It was John's head on a platter that she wanted because that is what pleased her mother! It would appear that Herod had a problem with incestuous lust and Herodias had a problem with anger, hate and revenge.

Because of Herod's sin and Herodias's divorce, John the Baptist was beheaded. Yes, there are consequences to divorce. A righteous man died that others could have immediate gratification! Is it no wonder that Jesus closed all loop holes on divorce except for infidelity? His cousin and disciple was martyred because of a divorce and a sensual performance.

Let's look at further consequences of divorce:
  • Salome died when falling in an ice filled pool or river in route to exile in Spain. The crust of ice decapitated her just as John was beheaded!
  • Emperor Caligula had King Herod killed in exile because of political intrigue. (Historian  Cassius Dio)
  • Herodias was exiled with Herod and Salome and died likely in Spain.
There are consequences to divorce. Herod, Herodias and Salome faced total isolation from what they had been accustomed. Herod and Salome died awful deaths, and according to Josephus, Salome died the same way that John did. We are revisited by our sins:
Galatians 6:7 (ESV) "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap."
Who would have ever thought that the most powerful man in all Judea would be cast aside and killed? Who would have thought a beautiful lascivious dancer would suffer an icy bloody death? Who would have thought that a conniving queen would pay dearly with an austere life thereafter? Surely none of them!

Likewise, who would think that divorce can lead  to dysfunctional children, bankruptcy, depression, broken families, a lifetime of resentment, a division in the grandchildren, spiritual guilt, and if not repented; isolation from God and for those who are not forgiven, eternal death? Herod never looked at the consequences. Maybe he should have! Let's not make the same mistakes.

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