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So, I want to ask a question like this:

Q: Was Hosea's wife Gomer faithful after she was redeemed?

The impetus for this question is advice oriented in nature (believe it or not.) My counselor and I wrestling with a serious issue in my life - whether or not I really can go through with my divorce.

The counselor's contention is that Hosea was trapped in a bad marriage, but that God had called him to this. The counselor goes on to suggest that this is a pattern to follow - namely that if God is God, He has the right even to overrule one's "happiness" in marriage, no matter how abusive the marriage or how unfaithful the spouse. The obvious implication, of course, is that if Hosea could stay in a marriage that was horrible - even for the rest of his life, knowing that it wouldn't get better, I should too.

My contention is the opposite - namely that to force a person to remain in a situation is inconsistent with God's character in so many other ways. that said, I want to give the hypothesis the maxim benefit of the doubt, and build the case as strongly as possible before discarding it or accepting it.

What I would be seeking to do in asking the question is evaluating an argument that would be made in counseling.

Put another way, I want to know if it is both biblical and relevant to the situation at hand.

If accurate, it would be helpful to others. If not, I suppose even its existence shows that it was considered.

What bothers me, of course, is that the motivation really is pastoral advice in nature - but it doesn't run afoul of the worst parts of pastoral advice.

  1. It isn't too localized, because it answers something that others could consider.

  2. It isn't replacing the advice of a counselor or pastor - indeed, it is actually supplementing it.

  3. It is biblical in nature. It is asking a real question about the text and looking for material to evaluate the case.

So, is this on topic?


Notes:

  1. I realize that the question could be framed in ways that make the actual situation irrelevant - which is why this is sort of testing the bounds of pastoral advice. I've always used the question, "If the "I" is removed, does the question still make sense?" to judge. I can clearly remove the "I" - but I want to be up front with my motives if I do.

  2. Trust me, I hate divorce. I can't believe I'm in that place. In chat, I think I've mentioned the circumstances - and sure I bear responsibility. I'm aware, and I hate what I'm doing. I also don't know how to live in that marriage any longer. I am sorry.

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    I'm sorry you are going through this. – 3961 Feb 10 '14 at 15:34
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    I also am sorry...I am a minister and my childhood bride as scripture calls us to love (we started dating at 13 and were married 25 yrs b4 she left me for her best friends husband shocking all) and I struggled to come to terms with many things in my life....not to menten my faith in God...I want to send you this link as a way to look at the Bible for yourself and it may help you figgure things out or least ways help you get a grasp on things...then you can deside for yourself...it helped me I hope it helps you. gospelway.com/family/divorce_remarriage.php its a great study. – rob Feb 23 '14 at 23:48
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    Try and be blessed...I know its a hard time...its been 2½ yrs for me and I still stay up at night and cry.... – rob Feb 23 '14 at 23:49
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I am very sorry for the situation you are going through right now.

I would like to share some thoughts inspired by James Whyte. Jim Whyte was a professor of pastoral theology at St Andrews University and a moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Less significantly, he baptized me. Among his many contributions to Christian life and discourse, he always insisted on the importance of practical theology - based in the everyday experience of life - as a first-class citizen alongside the more "top-down" philosophical approaches that have tended to dominate the discipline. Pastoral theology was not just about applying insights from dogmatic theology into a human context, but also provided the opportunity for theology to be developed and tested in the first place.1 And so I too would resist any attempt to define the scope of theology away from the actual lived experience of human beings.

Pastoral advice ("What should I do in my life?") is best not received via this site, even though many good questions may be prompted by situations we encounter in our lives. I think the crux of the question here is not whether the Hosea issue itself is on-topic, but the extent to which you would like to be "open" about the personal motivation. On the one hand it might feel dishonest to try to disguise or abstract the circumstances, or it might be difficult to do that without distorting the question. On the other, giving too much information about the personal motivation might invite a painful derail into unsolicited advice or judgements.

If you are able to ask the question in a way which doesn't invite people to weigh in on the actual pastoral issue, but still has an answerable on-topic core (history of pastoral exegesis of Hosea as a moral exemplar?) then I'd think it would be fine. I also hope that the answers would be helpful for you as you struggle with a very difficult problem.

1. History shows several occasions on which James Whyte was able to bear witness to this intensely practical perspective on the Gospel, in difficult circumstances. He advocated for the ordination of a repentant murderer; spoke against retaliation following the Lockerbie bombing; comforted the grieving after the massacre at Dunblane; and chastised the Thatcher government over poverty and social exclusion. I encourage everyone to read his Lockerbie sermon, and other writings collected in his books Laughter and Tears and The Dream and the Grace.

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Evaluating anything is primarily opinion based. Pastoral advice is just a subset of opinion based. We don't allow book reviews, or any kind of review, for the same reason (though I actually wish we did).

The issue with allowing advice on someone else's advice is that it is too personal. The reason we have not allowed pastoral advice in the first place is not because we are unwilling to offer it. It's because it is too personal. It is because the people asking those questions deserve better than what we can give them. We are strangers and know nothing about your life. Only what you share. For any kind of personal advice, everyone deserves a person close enough to them to see the real issues, which sometimes contrast what the affected person thinks it is.

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I think evaluation of pastoral advice would be off-topic here, because it might be too opinion-based. Denominations usually focus on the big things, like theology and religious practice, not small things. Your question, "Was Hosea's wife Gomer faithful after she was redeemed?" may be best suited for the biblical hermeneutics stack exchange, because it is more concerned with the interpretation of scripture than with Christian theology and practice.

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Sorry. I work with foster kids myself.

About Hosea and Israel, well I think the new Jerusalem means they got a happy ending. But Hosea waited a long time to get his wife back. It's really a love story but a tough one.

That is it. To say this story applies to me or anyone is a misunderstanding. People say face your fears. But we don't really learn that way. We learn by example. That is why this site is not fit to give practical advise. You can't see me and I can't see you. This site should help explain the stories of the Bible theologically.

Theology helps you prove God is right. Faith comes from doing what God commands.

Someone can get hurt giving practical advise. When I read the parent's stack exchange site and read the advise on how to discipline kids. I cringe and think, really, tell me where you live, let me see how? Is it okay if I bring company (the police).

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