Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The grounds of legitimate divorce

John Piper disagrees thoroughly with the views expressed by David Instone-Brewer in Christianity Today and in other writings [previously referenced on this blog here and here]. Piper:
To put it bluntly, the implication of this article is that every marriage I am aware of could already have legitimately ended in divorce.
Piper explains at some length why he disagrees with Instone-Brewer about the interpretation of the relevant Biblical passages. Piper also links to additional material from one of his books, What Jesus Demands from the World.

Update [10/19]: David Neff at Christianity Today responds to some of the criticism of Instone-Brewer.

Tragically Widening the Grounds of Legitimate Divorce :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library


  1. I think you have misrepresented what John Piper was saying about my article in Christianity Today. He knows my books well, and he points out that those who haven't read them might conclude from my article that I was allowing divorce for any minor emotional or physical neglect. In that case, every marriage he knows would be liable to divorce, which is plainly absurd.

    When I wrote the Christianity Today article, I struggled greatly with the word limit for such an important subject. There wasn't room to define neglect, so I referred readers to my Divorce & Remarriage in the Church (the full text is at

    The book points out that 'neglect' is an inadequate modern-day way of summarising the stipulations of 'food, clothing and love' in Ex.21.10f (as repeated in marriage contracts in Jesus' day). It also details the way in which Jesus emphasises that a wronged partner should forgive and forgive and forgive and that turning to divorce as a remedy for persistant and unrepentant serious neglect is a last resort.

    I'm sorry that I have caused confusion by not making this clear in the article itself. See my response to this and other issues here.

    David Instone-Brewer

  2. Thanks for the clarification.


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