“Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts,
For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.”
-Hosea 2:2, 5a, NRSV
Join me in a thought experiment.
Let’s consider that Hosea is no longer an Old Testament prophet but a pastor in the modern day evangelical church movement. He is giving spiritual guidance to a flock of Christians. The call comes for him to marry Gomer…and the rest of the story ensues as enumerated in the book of Hosea.
How would the elders treat Gomer?
I suspect that they would force him out of the pulpit and remove him from ministry.
Speaking from typical evangelical leadership perspective:
He called his wife a “whore.” This he did from the “pulpit” (in the Bible) no less!
That sounds like he is angry and unstable. He needs help.
It does not matter that Gomer actually did play the whore. Yawn.
It does not matter that such adulterous behavior should incite anger in a spouse. The problem is Hosea’s anger and not Gomer’s adultery. A good Christian pastor ought to be above having such feelings.
Further, I think we need to convene an ecclesiastical trial for Hosea. I am not sure if he is fit to be a pastor or prophet anymore. He may need to look for another line of secular work…call it “a break” from ministry.
Clearly, Hosea was not leading Gomer like God did Israel. This is a failure in leadership.
Now, we don’t blame Hosea for Gomer’s adultery.
We are just concerned that he “heals” and learns his “lessons” from this. He needs to prove to us that he is ready to minister again after this. Writing the way he is says to us that he is too emotional and unstable to be of any use in the church right now. He would just cause problems because he has clearly not dealt with his own “issues.”
In fact, we want to see him demonstrate proper humility in accepting “his part” in all of this.
I could go on from that perspective, but you get the idea. The sort of condemnation leveled at faithful spouses–who are far less passionate and vocal than Hosea was over Gomer’s adulteries–is almost comical when expressed about this important Biblical figure. Sadly, evangelical pastors do actually experience such treatment following the adulterous betrayals of their spouses.
+I would note that no where do I see Hosea’s character (or performance as a husband) put on trial in the book of Hosea. That is not the issue when adultery has taken against a faithful spouse place according to God. Sadly, that is often missed by evangelical leaders who go there first and then abuse this book to mean that the faithful spouse owes the cheater full marriage restoration (see post here about its abuse).