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Help! Reconnecting With A Friend Who Is "Separated"

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Help! Reconnecting With A Friend Who Is "Separated"

Postby jpat1975 » Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:59 am

I have a friend RW. He is not Christian. For many years we have not really hung out but we might in the future.

RW was never married before...
...later he married MC who was, I presumed divorced from her former partner MH who lived with a new partner for years by the time RW and MC got married.

RW and MC had an "open marriage". At that point I was still a fairly new Christian and jumped on an opportunity to move out of their place where I was rooming at the time. From that point I distanced myself further and eventually lost touch for the most part.

2016: Later on 10+ years RW and MC got separated.

RW met a new person a coworker SS but did not have a relationship until both of them separated from their former partners.

MC to my knowledge initated the separation although RW had already been researching how to separate unbeknownst to her.

MC in my view I could not see attracting new men so I presume based on her facebook profile she is still alone.

Provided RW and SS both legally divorced are they free to remarry? If not, then at what point? In God sight it might require having MC and SS's former partner to themselves be in a new relationship before RW and SS could marry.

I am hesitant about offering any congratulations to either RW or SS for their new relationship.

The question may come up about what God might think. To the best of my knowledge I would say:
- God's ideal is for no marriage to end
- In the OT He did make provision for it under specific conditions which Jesus later limited to marital unfaithfulness (adultery) which itself would break the bond
- even so there is an ideal for spouses to reconcile but otherwise they are free to remarry another who is likewise able to remarry on the same grounds

How do I treat this subject with them? I do not plan on confronting them. Neither are Christians but I could see my friend RW bringing it up. Until then I would greet both friendly. How have others handled this situation with a friend in a similar situation? How did it go? How awkward was it for you? Did you overstep your bounds and create any unnecessary friction by broaching the subject? etc.

I do not really have any friends and regret losing the few I had because I felt I was supposed to isolate myself from them. In hindsight I could have remained more in touch in their orbit as a friend busy with his new found faith but not excluding them. I see myself as someone who could be a trusted adviser in moral issues presented to me while not partaking in any immorality.

Any how my main question is to know about how to advise/handle RW's potential questions about this new relationship. He felt a need to tell me that his new relationship did not begin until both he and his new partner separated from their older ones. That hints to me that he might want to say more later. I would like to know how to handle this wisely.
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Re: Help! Reconnecting With A Friend Who Is "Separated"

Postby steve » Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:08 pm

The matter is very convoluted. However, if your friends had been in what they termed an "open marriage" (i.e., free to date and sleep with other people), then what they agreed to was not a marriage at all, but an economic partnership. People who enter into marriage agree to lifelong monogamy. Those who retain the freedom to play the field are not agreeing to marriage. They may have a marriage license, but what they have agreed to is not marriage at all. Therefore, I do not believe that God viewed them as a married couple. Their break-up, though needing to go through divorce courts, is not the break-up of a marriage. If either of them ever learn what a marriage is, they might legitimately enter into a valid marriage with each other, or with someone else. My two cents.
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Re: Help! Reconnecting With A Friend Who Is "Separated"

Postby Paidion » Tue Dec 06, 2016 8:59 pm

I appreciate Steve's view. I think understanding comes from learning what a true marriage actually is. Jesus teachings help us to understand:

The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?"

And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."

They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?"

He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:3-8 NKJV)

Jesus' words tell us that a true marriage is one in which God Himself joins together the couple. It seems to me that if God joins them together, then on their part, they must commit themselves to each other for life. His teaching seems to go beyond what was considered marriage among the ancient Hebrews. In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve and Eve, or Adam and Madam and Eve. But even as early as five generations from Cain, Lamech had two wives as recorded in Genesis 4:19. Many others later on, such as David, had two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail. We all know that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Many of the ancient Israelite men also copulated with their wives' maids, and were even encouraged to do so by their wives if their wives were unable to bear children. Many of those men also copulated with prostitutes. There is no OT record that Moses (or God either) opposed any of these practices. The only way a man could commit adultery was to copulate with another man's wife. In such a case, both the adulterer and the woman with whom he committed adultery were put to death. But Jesus revealed the Father's heart concerning true marriage being that of God joining together permanently a man and a woman who have committed to each other for life.

But today, the word "marriage" has a much lesser meaning. All you have to do is sign the legal papers and you are married. I remember one of my students who was planning to get legally married. I congratulated him, and wished him much happiness. Then he said, "Oh well, if it doesn't work out, we can always get divorced." I was taken aback! Even before the legal union, he was considering the possibility or even the likelihood of divorce.

In the early centuries after Christ (and I think even in Jesus day) the word "marry" also simply mean to have sexual intercourse. Here is an example from the writing of Clement of Alexandria. The Nicolaitans, were supposedly followers of Nicolaus, one of the seven deacons that were first appointed by the apostolic church. Here is the claim that was made concerning Nicolaus. It is important to note that the author of these words, Clement of Alexandria, didn't himself believe the following report, but he recorded it in the Stromata:

Clement of Alexandria wrote:Nicolaus, they say, had a lovely wife. When after the Saviour's ascension he was accused before the apostles of jealousy, he brought his wife into the concourse and allowed anyone who so desired to marry her. (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book III, Sec 25)

However, in a true marriage, one in which God has joined the couple together, I sometimes wonder if such a marriage is possible apart from Christian people. I also wonder about a case in which one of the couple has committed himself/herself to the other for life, whereas the other has not. I knew a woman who was raised an atheist, and who lived a promiscuous life in her youth. Then she met a more stable man, loved him deeply and lived with him. During that time, she became a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. She came to believe that she should be legally married to the man. So they signed the papers. On her part, she committed to him for life, but not so on his part. I think he continued to copulate with other woman, and with one of them, he even had children. So were he and the woman he legally married actually married in God's eyes? Had God joined them together? On the other hand, I know many non-Christian couples who got legally married, and who stayed together for life, and as far as I know they didn't copulate with anyone other than the one they married. So did God join them together, even though they were not Christians?

I don't have the answers, but I have thought about these things for years, and haven't arrived at many definite conclusions. I would be happy to consider any thoughts that you have on the matter.

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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