How can you accept marriages that Jesus specifically condemned, and then turn around and oppose marriages Jesus never mentioned?
That’s Tony Campolo, one of the leaders of the “Red-Letter Christians” movement, which takes its name from the red letters in which the words of Christ are printed in many Bibles. (Hat tip: The Romantic) And he’s right: the fact that conservative evangelicals vilify homosexuals and oppose gay marriage while sporting divorce rates pretty much identical to the general public is the height of hypocrisy. I know—hell, I’m related to—conservative, “Bible-believing” Christians who are on their third marriage.
For the record, Jesus’ words about divorce are as follows.
From the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:31-32. Note the exception in the case of adultery:
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
The issue comes up with the Pharisees in Matthew 9:3-11:
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Think that’s harsh? Here’s the parallel passage in Mark 10. Note that there’s no exception for adultery in Mark, who probably has the earliest traditions (Mark is commonly thought to be the first gospel):
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
“What did Moses command you?” he replied.
They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
Finally, in Luke 16:18:
Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Paul, by the way, makes no compromises either. Here’s 1 Corinthians 7:10-11:
To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
Sigh . . . the Religious Right. Inerrantists when it’s convenient. Like shooting fish in a barrel.