Among the many comments on my post about Todd Bentley’s remarriage there have been several questioning whether Todd had proper biblical grounds for divorcing his first wife Shonnah and contracting a new marriage with Jessa. I don’t want to defend Todd’s actions here, especially as he himself has admitted that what he did was wrong. But I do want to say that it is by no means as clear as some suggest that Todd’s new marriage should be called adultery. This is because the biblical teaching on divorce and remarriage is not as simple and clear-cut as some people seem to think.
I wanted to point my readers to the teaching on this matter of David Instone-Brewer, who is a research fellow at Tyndale House, the evangelical research centre in Cambridge. Unfortunately Instone-Brewer’s main website about divorce and remarriage is out of action at the moment, possibly only a temporary glitch. But I did find a link to a summary of his teaching, at a site called Playmobible which, amazingly enough, uses cartoons in Facebook photo albums to summarise Instone-Brewer’s teaching! I’m not sure if this is an example of Facebook being smart for once or of Facebook dumbing down even Bible teaching.
Anyway, I would recommend those of my readers who think they can easily condemn Todd Bentley for his remarriage to look at the album of teaching on The Four Biblical Causes of Divorce and the one on Roman Divorce. Don’t miss the notes underneath many of the images. These albums are not produced by Instone-Brewer but are endorsed by him. It would of course be better still to look at Instone-Brewer’s main site, but sadly that is currently not possible.
So, according to Instone-Brewer’s teaching, is Todd Bentley’s divorce and remarriage permissible? I would claim that it is on the grounds that he was apparently deserted by his first wife; he has been deprived of his marital rights and so can go free, according to the teaching of Exodus 21:10-11 at least if allowed to apply to men as well as women. Of course if Shonnah left Todd because of his adultery, that would be a different matter. But I have never seen any convincing evidence that Todd ever had sexual intercourse with a woman he was not married to. So, while Todd has admitted to mistakes in how he handled the matter, I cannot agree with many of my commenters that he has actually committed adultery or should be treated as if he has.
In the circumstances Todd should be allowed to start his new married life in peace, and to go through the proper restoration process which has already started before returning to public Christian ministry.
By the way, don’t treat too seriously this comment I made on the Lingamish blog.