What continues to astound me is how blind some pastors are/were to using the example of Hosea in dealing with adultery. Application moves that they would never do in other places of Scripture, they do in applying this book to every Christian marriage ravaged by adultery. It is sickening.
An example of this short-sighted and destructive application is found in a book entitled The Divorce Myth: A Biblical Examination of Divorce and Remarriage by J. Carl Laney with a forward from Dr. Charles C. Ryrie*:
The key principle we may glean from the Lord’s dealings with Hosea is that God’s will for divorced or separated couples is always reconciliation. Under no circumstances–no matter how gross–would it be God’s will for divorce to take place (134).
He draws this conclusion following citing Hosea chapter 3 where God instructs Hosea to take back Gomer. I find this application ridiculous and sinful (against brother/sisters who have already been sinned against by adultery).
Laney does not come out and say it in this quote. However, he implies that anyone who has divorced has sinned irregardless of circumstances. I say such as painting such actions as out of “God’s will” is shorthand for calling it sin.
This is unbiblical.
And it is absolutely crazy to use the example of Hosea to proof-text this position. You might as well have used the book of Hosea as a pre-marital guide to choosing your mate–i.e. go and find a mate who lives as a prostitute. It is the same idea.
Hosea had a special call upon his life. The fact that God had to tell him to take Gomer back suggests that was not the norm for a prophet of God. And while God is in the business of reconciliation, He requires repentance as well. That is clear in the book of Hosea and even in chapter three when Hosea tells Gomer that she must not be with other men after buying her back (Hosea 3:3).
I call Laney’s interpretation sinful as it makes divorce a sin where God has not called it a sin. If God permits people to divorce, then it cannot be a sin. And Laney’s interpretation fosters an unbiblical divorce prejudice in the evangelical world that I still hear and encounter to this day (thirty some years later).
And it assumes everyone has a choice in the matter of divorce. The reality is that we do not. Many a spouse–myself included–found ourselves served with divorce papers and presented with a reality that I would be divorced whether or not I wanted it. I know I am not alone in such circumstances.
Laney’s interpretation condemns people like myself plus others who have Biblically chosen divorce when faced with their spouses’ contemptuous adultery (see Deut 22:22, Jer 3:8, Mt 5:32, and Mt 19:9).
God’s will is to seek holiness and wholeness. Sometimes people choose sin over God. We do not control the choices of others–and that includes the choices of our spouses. It is unjust and ungodly to blame a faithful spouse for a divorce forced upon him/her or to censure the faithful spouse for choosing a divorce in light of adultery.
It was God’s will explicitly in the Old Testament for the adulterous spouse to die (e.g. Deut. 22:22). Thankfully, God is more merciful in this day where divorce is the alternative.
Too bad folks like Laney missed this piece when teaching on the matters of divorce and remarriage. It might have helped them avoid such blanket statements as the one I quoted above as well as mishandling the example of Hosea.
Such madness must stop!
*Laney, J. Carl. The Divorce Myth: A Biblical Examination of Divorce and Remarriage. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1981.