Divorce and Remarriage
As we approach the thorny divorce issue, let’s consider:
1. God’s plan for marriage from the creation of the earth.
2. God’s laws concerning divorce.
3. God’s hatred of adultery and divorce.
4. Then why does God permit divorce?
5. Divorce and remarriage questions
6. Standards for Christian leadership.
7. Some practical conclusions
GOD’S PLAN FOR MARRIAGE FROM CREATION
God’s plan for marriage is given in Genesis 2:19-25 It involves one man married to one woman for as long as they live. According to Matthew 22:23-30 Jesus teaches that there will be no marriage relationships in Heaven. Marriage is only for life on this earth.
When my wife and I started courting some 54 years ago, we settled this matter of divorce. We knew we would have differences and even be angry with each other at times; but we promised each other that divorce would never be a consideration. It never has. True, our marriage has not always been a “bed of roses”, but both of us love each other far more deeply than we did on our wedding day.
In Ephesians 5:21-33 Paul likens marriage to the Christian’s relationship with Christ as His bride. As a husband and wife are mysteriously one flesh; so Christians are mysteriously one with Christ. As wives are to submit themselves to their own husbands, so we Christians are to submit ourselves to Christ who died and rose again to save us. Husbands are to love their wives with a totally unselfish love as Christ loves us with His agape, unselfish, self-giving love.
According to II Corinthians 6:14-18 Christians are to marry only Christians. To break that command is to invite a lifetime of sorrow and a lack of true oneness in Christ. However, if you as a Christian find yourself married to an unbeliever, you are taught in I Corinthians 7:10-16 to stay with your unbelieving spouse. As long as they live with you, there is a chance they may be saved. If the unbelieving spouse chooses to leave you, let him or her go. Though you sinned in marrying him, it is not a sin to let him go if he insists.
GOD’S LAWS CONCERNING DIVORCE
God’s plan for divorce is laid out in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Jesus explained in Matthew 19:7-8 that His plan of divorce was given for one reason only; because of their hardened. sinful hearts.
From the Deuteronomy passage we learn the following facts about divorce.
1. It is a PERMANENT severing of the marriage bond.
2. One may divorce for any reason, but it must be recorded legally.
3. Once remarriage has taken place, one can never again return to the divorced spouse.
Jesus explained in Matthew 19:7-9 that since execution of adulterers is no longer carried out, that one is permitted to divorce a spouse who is guilty of adultery or any other sexual perversion. The word fornication in the Greek applies to all forms of sexual perversion.
GOD’S HATRED OF ADULTERY AND DIVORCE
From Malachi 2:11-16 we learn that God hates divorce. So should we as Christian hate this commonly accepted sin, even among Christians. Look how it tears the heart out of families. It has to be one of the cruelest, most selfish, most thoughtless, most childish decisions a parent ever makes. .
God also hates adultery, a common reason for divorce and the only Biblical grounds for divorce. God hates adultery so much that in Deuteronomy 22:22-27 adultery was not a ground for divorce. It was a capital offense. Adulterers and fornicators were executed by stoning along with murderers and other heinous criminals.
IF GOD HATES DIVORCE, WHY DOES HE ALLOW IT?
When the Pharisees tried to entrap Jesus by asking Him why divorce was permitted under the Old Testament Law, He explained in Matthew 19:3-9 that God permitted it because of the hardness of their hearts. But He reminded them that this was not God’s original intent for marriage. God’s plan from the beginning was for one man to be married to one woman for life.
WHAT ABOUT REMARRIAGE AFTER DIVORCE?
In Deuteronomy 24:2 it is clearly stated that remarriage is permitted.
In Mark 10:11-12 Jesus gives a general ruling that remarriage is not permitted after divorce. Those who do are guilty of adultery. For example, if one divorces his wife on the ground of incompatibility and remarries, he is an adulterer.
In Matthew 19:7-9 Jesus clarifies this issue further. He adds the exception clause. He says, ” whosoever shall put away his wife, EXCEPT IT BE FOR FORNICATION, and shall marry another, commits adultery.” Then he talks about the adulteress spouse who has been divorced. “Whosoever marries this adulteress commits adultery.”
WHAT ABOUT PASTORS, ELDERS AND DEACONS?
Should one who has been divorced hold these offices? For a complete answer go to my link CHURCH and read “Standards for Church Leadership”.
SOME PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS
The purpose of this study is not to help us find loopholes for divorce and remarriage, but to guard against divorce. Marriage is for life. Incompatibility and other lesser reasons are no Biblical grounds for divorce. In fact incompatibility as a ground for divorce would be laughable if it were not so disgusting. Incompatibility with others is a part of life! Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Learn to live with it and grow up! Incompatibility is just selfishness.
Quit thinking that marriage is a 50/50 proposition. It is not. If you adopt that false philosophy, you could spend your life arguing with your spouse whether he or she has given their 50%. No, marriage is not a 50/50 proposition. Marriage is a 100% proposition. I give 100% and my wife give 100% and I give it regardless of whether I think my wife is giving her 100%.
You can get lots more information on this topic by going to MARRIAGE on this web site.
VIRTUOUS WOMAN also has further information concerning marriage.
Christian couples must never consider divorce for any other reason but adultery. Even in the case of adultery, the innocent partner has the right to forgive her adulterous spouse and take him or her back. But the innocent partner should never be pressured by her judgmental family or church to take him back. Rather we should be there for the one whose heart has been shattered.
Though one has the right to remarry in such a situation, I would join the Apostle Paul in encouraging that he or she remains single. See I Corinthians 7:27-28. Though the unrepentant adulterer should be removed from church membership and from church fellowship according to I Corinthians 5, the innocent partner should experience the love and encouragement and fellowship of his or her church family.
We are living in the midst of heathenism in America today just as the early Christians in Paul’s day came out of a heathen culture. With heathenism comes the baggage of all sorts of complicated marital issues, including polygamy. Paul in I Corinthians 7 sorts through many of those issues and questionable matters. Where the Bible speaks clearly and decisively, let us be clear and decisive. But like Paul in I Corinthians 7 let us speak with grace, humility and gentleness; without dogmatism and judgmentalism with those who are sorting out their confused lives.
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