Misapplied Passages – Does Hosea teach what men should do in marriage?

I have decided to write about this topic as misapplying Hosea has been causing harm to many Christian men. I will not give an exposition on the passage, it is quite simple. Read it for yourselves.

Many churches and bible colleges teach that once a wife cheats and leaves the husband the man shall never remarry but wait for his wife to return to him. Even if she marries another man, this poor guy must wait with the hope that she divorces him, or perhaps one day her husband dies, and she might return to her rightful husband.

I am aware of a man who was indoctrinated with this doctrine, after divorce lived alone all his life and on his deathbed regretted it. There are many others who are in the same position, so please take note and help them if you meet them.

So what is the truth about Hosea? To draw the correct conclusion we need to keep in mind what the Law says:

Deut 24:1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter husband dislikes her and writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring guilt upon the land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance.”

Let me note that the term “indecency” was the cause of many debates in ancient times with Hillel allowing divorce for any reason (even for burning the toast), while Shammai only permitting it in case of marital unfaithfulness. Jesus took the side of Shammai in this respect (however, he sided with Hillel in many other areas).

So according to the Law it is forbidden to remarry your former wife if in the meantime she married another man. Then what does Hosea teach about marriage? Absolutely nothing in my opinion. The prophet Hosea is asked by God to marry a prostitute because He wanted to illustrate His own relationship with Israel through his marriage. It was not meant to be a model for marriage. The prostitute leaves Hosea and becomes impoverished and being sold on a slave market Hosea purchases her. While she was earlier his wife by choice, now he owned her, she was the property of her husband.

Yet, many Christians love to apply this book to marriage. They claim that this is the model Christian men shall follow.

Well, if it was so, let’s consider what Christians need to do to fulfill the teaching of the book in their marriage.

1. They must marry a prostitute. Too bad you married guys, every one of you shall divorce and marry a sex worker. No exception. 😉

2. Don’t expect her to remain faithful to you. She will leave you sooner or later. That is OK.

3. If she does and marries another you must wait until she is dumped, becomes impoverished and is sold as a slave. Then you somehow must make the purchase, but since I am not aware of any operational slave market in the West I don’t know how you will accomplish this. Once you purchase her she will be your property.

Sounds silly? It is. Because the story of Hosea was never meant to be a model about marriage, but an illustration of God’s relationship with His unfaithful people, the Jewish nation.


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