It would appear that God is condoning family abandonment. Since we know that this is not so, and that God has ordained the family first in the Garden of Eden, please help me understand. Thanks!
For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
Jonathan, I've often wondered how the family lives of the disciples went on. Are you speaking of Jesus' disciples during his ministry? My personal and totally un-backed by research theory is that some of the 12 were quite young, and possibly maybe some were old enough to be widowers? And/or their families came with them sometimes? And those who weren't the inner circle maybe came and went as they needed to?
I seem to remember reading somewhere that itinerant rabbis gathered disciples frequently during those times. Wish I could remember where I read that.
Thank you for the thoughts. I hope that someone can provide me with a definitive.
The only disciple that I know of that was married was Peter because Jesus healed his mother-in-law in Matthew 8:14. I don't know of which disciple you are thinking of leaving a wife. Obviously Peter did not leave his wife to follow Christ and Jesus was involved with his family.
Paul was never married and said that it was better to remain chaste and single. Then he gave instructions from the Lord and his own advice for believers married to unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 7
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you[b] to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Matthew 19:29 would indicate that at least one disciple had to "leave" his wife....what that "leave" means may be up for debate.
It appears there is a variance of reading on Matt 19:29, most translations omitting 'wives'. I will see what I can hunt up on the wording in the underlying greek manuscripts to see which is the stronger variant.
We do know that Peter's wife could accompany him
"Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas(Peter)?" (I Cor 1:5)
And as Jonathan mentioned, what is meant by 'left' is debatable. Is it used to the severe degree of a husband and wife separating as in 1 Corinthians 7:11-13, or is it a more temporary separation that is meant? Does it mean divorce (unlikely)? Is it used in the sense that a man going off to war or out to sea might separate from his home and wife and children for a time? Etc.
When I have looked at that verse, I have seen in my life since I was born again that my parents, "cultural Christians", disowned me. Extended family that are in the church, but don't do what Jesus says, have also disowned me and my children who are also born of the Spirit.
I believe in the permanence of marriage view that Mark and Luke state what Jesus had to say. Also Romans 7 says that marriage is permanent, unless the spouse has died, so I don't believe that at our Judgment Day we will be given a free pass on knowingly deserting our spouse. The Bema seat of Judgment.
I agree - this verse is not advocating divorce or abandonment of one's spouse. If wife really is in the greek text, then there are a lot more probably renderings one could take that don't conflict with God's hatred of divorce. For example, it could mean a separation for a time (such as if a man is going on a missionary trip and must temporarily leave his wife because the children are too young to come with). Or, because the Greek word for 'wife' is the same as for 'women', it could be referring to men having to leave their betrothed before marriage - though perhaps not, since that was treated similar to divorce in Jewish culture. For the modern era, though, I do know of men and women who have had to pass on getting engaged because the other person would not go with them in missions work.
I agree with you totally. There is a difference between God's Word for Gentiles and Jews.
Thank you for all the posts and information! I appreciate it! Apologetically, I think we can all agree that these answers are probably fine, but would not stand up to the speculation of non-Christians. I feel that most of these answers are speculations. We all agree that scripture is not in conflict with God, but to can appear that we are simply making it fit at this time. Does anyone have anything that would be much more concrete evidence that would stand up against scrutiny? Once again, thank you to everyone that has already responded!
This has been such an interesting question, and today, as I was doing my quiet time, I ran into the same story with Luke 18:28-30. I have spent a lot of time in commentaries, and yes, I agree that there is no conflict in scripture.
I am now coming to the conclusion that Jesus is talking about the heart of a man. We know that God looks at the heart. We know lots of Scriptures that point to obedience from the heart and doing everything to bring glory to God. Most of the commentaries say that Peter was speaking for all the disciples and was wanting reassurance that they would go to heaven. I think that this particular Scripture ties in with the difficult teaching of Jesus with Matthew 10--especially that we must love Jesus more than we love any family member and must be willing to lose our lives. America is just now experiencing martyrdom and the rest of the Christians around the world have been separated from family by imprisonment and even death because they refuse to deny Christ. The disciples generally left their Dad's business to "work" for Christ and eventually all but John were killed for loving Christ and sharing the Good News.
Today, when a person's heart is born again, unbelieving family including wives and husbands may leave the person because the darkness hates being around the light, and the light is evident in the newly created life. (John 3:18-20) We enter a spiritual war that is not against other people. If we are His sheep, we will listen to His voice.