I know people have some preconceived ideas about what the Bible says or what I will say, but I ask you to remember this verse: “13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”– Prov 18:13
I have been having this discussion for the past 6 years. The last 3, in particular, I’ve been involved in long discussions that have continued for more than one week on one thread. I don’t mind discussing, but the attacking, insults, and accusations that those of us with a permanence understanding of marriage are “legalistic,” condemning, or have no understanding of grace is just childish and unsupported. I understand this topic is major and is a sensitive area for those involved, but isn’t it that way for every other topic? If you’re involved in it, you’re going to be defensive about why you’re permitted to do what you do, but it doesn’t make what someone is trying to tell you less true because you don’t like it. As always, I am not trying to be cruel and do understand what people are facing, but in order to explain some questions that have been asked, I need to be firm.
Now…to answer some questions…
“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” – Psalm 89:34
Can marital covenants be broken? – No.
– Marriage is a divine institution created by God that is binding until death. It is an unconditional covenant entered voluntarily by two people in which they willingly vow to enter into holy matrimony “for better or for worse” until they are parted by DEATH. The only condition that releases either party from the covenant is the physical death of one party.
“15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.” – Gal 3:15
For those who want other translations make God’s Word clearer,
“15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.” – NIV
“15 Dear brothers and sisters,[i] here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case.” – NLT
“15 Brethren, I speak [x]in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s [y]covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds [z]conditions to it.” – NASB
“15 To give a human example, brothers:[f]even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.” – ESV
This passage (verses 15-22) is used to explain that God did not override His promise with a new promise. Paul states that once a covenant has been made between two parties, you cannot change the terms of the agreement after the fact. The deal has been made, and you are obligated to fulfill your end. Marriage has been around for 6,000 years, so we, full well, understand that marriage is between one man & one woman for life. “For better or for worse” does not mean that you get to change the meaning to “until I get tired of you,” “until you cheat on me,”or any other list of reasons. The divine design of marriage is until death, so if you enter it, you accept those terms and even open your mouth to confirm you understand that “this is not to be entered into lightly” and that you will holdup your end of the covenant “for better or for worse” until death parts you.
The “Exception Clauses”
1. What happens when people get married?
“6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are NO MORE TWAIN, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” – Mark 10:6-9
– Jesus says that GOD is the One that joins people in marriage to become one flesh. You cannot divide “one” any further. “Let no man put asunder” is not a suggestion.
“31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” – Eph 5:31-33
– Paul states that it is a mystery that God spiritually joins a husband and wife to become one flesh, and it is the relationship that directly reflects Christ & the Church. If we are to be a walking, living picture of His relationship to us, which is not dependent on how well we perform since we are imperfect, sinful, & ever in need of His assistance to conform us to the bride He wants, we must behave in the same manner so as not to mar that image.
In Matt 5 (Sermon on the Mount), Matt 19, Mark 10, & Luke 16, Jesus teaches both Believers (disciples) & unbelievers (Pharisees & other listeners). Not once does He state His commands concerning marriage are only to be observed by followers. We see this again in 1 Cor 7:10-11.
“10 And unto the married I COMMAND, yet NOT I, BUT THE LORD, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried OR be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” – 1 Cor 7:10-11
Do you see any indication anywhere that this only applies to certain individuals? (Yes, Paul wrote to Believers, but the entire Bible is written to Believers, so that explanation doesn’t work since God still expects unbelievers to follow His commands.) Paul said that the LORD Jesus Christ COMMANDS that married people are not to separate. However, if it happens, for whatever reason, the married individuals have two (2) choices. They may remain unmarried to other people OR be reconciled to each other. Those are the ONLY two options given. Why? God has joined them into a one-flesh union, so they are no longer free to marry anyone else. They entered into a lifelong covenant that is unable to be changed after it has been ratified.
A. “Abandonment exception/Pauline clause” – Doesn’t God permit someone to divorce if an unbeliever leaves?
“12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou,O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” – 1 Cor 7:12-16
Do you see anything written in the above passage that addresses remarriage in any form or fashion? Does anything in the above passage address any individual other that the husband or wife?
There is no permission given at all to remarry if the Believer is abandoned for the case of Christ (the unbeliever is leaving due to the Believer’s faith). Should we really say, “Well, let me go find someone else”? Your spouse just left your marriage and rejected Christ. That’s the time your prayers should go into overdrive! What affects your spouse affects you. No one can pray for your spouse better than you can. At no point do you see Paul addressing a one-flesh union dissolving. The reason is simple: “39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”– 1 Cor 7:39
Paul is not going to tell us that Jesus COMMANDS us not to separate and then only gives us the option to remain unmarried to others or reconcile and, with the same breath, say that we can remarry if an unbeliever leaves. That would make him schizophrenic and double-minded because, in the same chapter, he says wives are bound to their husbands until death.
1. 1 Cor 7:15 – I’m not under bondage, so I must be free, right?
– bondage, in verse 15, is douloo meaning you are not bound to the duties that you would have while the husband is present
– bound, in verse 39, is deo meaning bound/fastened as with chains. Think of it as being supernaturally welded to your spouse.
Bible Example: The Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32
The younger son (prodigal) went to the father and asked for everything that would be his upon his father’s death. In essence, he took everything he could, said good-bye, and departed – no visits, no messengers to check on the family he left behind, no letters – just absence as if the family no longer existed. Did the father cease being his father just because the son basically wrote him off, took what he could take, and abandoned the family & his responsibilities? No. The father did not fight the prodigal and allowed him to leave in peace (1 Cor 7:15); however, when the son returned, the father dropped everything and ran to his son (much like the Father does for us when we return from our time in the world). The father wanted his son home and was on the lookout for his son even though he had no idea if, or when, he would return. Abandoned spouses have already come out of the world, so they should be interceding on behalf of the unbelieving spouse headed for hell. Abandonment is devastating, but it does not dissolve a marital bond and is not permission to remarry.
Called to “peace”
There are notations in some Bibles that say that “some” scholars believe that this passage means that a person is free to remarry because they are called to “peace.” That is a gross assumption, especially in light of the prior verses that give the command to only do one of two things – remain unmarried OR be reconciled. Let’s look at this “peace.”
Peace – eirēnē (εἰρήνη) – http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1515&t=KJV
1) a state of national tranquility
a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war
2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
4) of the Messiah’s peace
a) the way that leads to peace (salvation)
5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death
This peace is the peace of Christ, which is the assurance that comes from salvation. It is the exact same peace listed in John 14:27, John 16:33, Luke 10:5-6, Mark 5:34, Matt 10:13, and many other verses that deal with rest from turmoil or Messianic rest.
a) “33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Let’s rephrase this with the assumption given for 1 Cor 7:15 inserted here:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might get remarried so that you’re happy. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
– Hmmmm, doesn’t quite work here.
b)“27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27
Permission to remarry I leave with you, my permission to remarry I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
– Hmmmm, so according to the reinterpreted definitions, Jesus leaves us permission to remarry when we’re fearful for our lives? Yeah, doesn’t work here, either. In fact, there is not one reference to peace written that remotely indicates remarriage is meant.
2. “God divorced Israel, and Deut 24 says you shouldn’t return to your first spouse.”
“8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also…12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever. 13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. 14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU:and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:” – Jer 3:8, 12-14
– God didn’t divorce Israel and go find another wife. He put her away for her to repent and return to Him. God said He “is married” to her – not that he would “remarry” her. God didn’t abandon & find someone else, and we are to follow His example.
“44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.” – 1 Sam 25:44
“13 And he said, Well; I will make a league with thee: but one thing I require of thee, that is, Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal Saul’s daughter, when thou comest to see my face. 14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul’s son,saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. 15 And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish. 16 And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned.”– 2 Sam 3:13-16
– Deut 24 was written centuries before David, yet it was not sin to get Michal because she was his covenant wife even though she had been given in marriage to another man. Was the second man upset? Yes, but David was in the right to get his covenant wife. The land was not defiled for her return.
B. “Adultery exception” – Didn’t Jesus say we could divorce for adultery? If we can divorce, then we can remarry, right? – No.
Before I address these passages, I want to point out to other passages spoken by Jesus.
a. “18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” – Luke 16:18
b. “11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” – Mark 10:11-12
1) The Bible does not contradict itself. If you find a contradiction, you misunderstood something.
2) Jesus is not going to tell one group they must do something and tell another group they have to do something else. God is no respecter of persons and expects everyone to obey His commands.
These passages are addressed to Gentiles. There was no completed Bible at this time, so they only had what was written to them. Jesus is NOT going to tell His Gentile followers they are be bound to their spouses for life while telling His Jewish followers that they aren’t. Notice that in both Mark & Luke that there is no exception whatsoever permitting divorce and allowing remarriage. Jesus says it is adultery.
“31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” – Matt 5:31-32
“7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” – Matt 19:7-12
Jesus uses two words – fornication (porneia) & adultery (moichao). Some versions replace fornication with “sexual immorality.” English Bibles written between 1380 & early 1900 used the word “fornication.” Changing the word to“sexual immorality” allows people to insert whatever they want to make the verse fit their needs.
For instance, define “immorality.” The world now considers homosexuality, premarital sex, marital swinging/open relationships, changing genders, and a host of other things perfectly acceptable. Many don’t even believe it’s wrong to have sex with someone else as long as you’re legally separated from your spouse. Do we really believe Jesus is going to let sinful man define what is“moral”? Morality changes with the times, but God doesn’t change.
Most people assume this means adultery; however, Matt 5:28 shows us that lust is adultery. By the information presented just 4 verse prior to verse 32, this logic allows people to divorce if they’ve had an emotional affair, flirted, or verbalized wishing they were married to someone else. It’s a time bomb interpretation. Many people state that it only means physical adultery. Question: What part of that verse indicates that Jesus means the affair must be consummated, especially since He just said adultery isn’t just physical? It doesn’t. You have to assume Jesus means something He didn’t say. The biggest problem with that is that Jesus already said “adultery” four (4) times inverses 27, 28, & 32, so if He meant adultery permitted divorce, then He would clearly say it. He spent almost half a chapter teaching on marriage, divorce, & remarriage in Matt 19 & Mark 10, so He’s not going to leave the most important reason people use to replace their spouses up for interpretation. You CANNOT inject words into the mouth of Jesus to fit your theology.
Fornication refers to what is outside the one-flesh union – particularly premarital sex. Jesus stated divorce was permitted because He referred to the betrothal period of Jewish culture. When a young man and woman were betrothed, they were in a legally binding agreement to get married (about a year later, which would allow any pregnancy she might be concealing to show). The only way one could get out of the betrothal (what we call an engagement that we just break off if we choose not to marry) was to get a divorce. The Bible refers to wives and espoused/betrothed women as married/wives.
“18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was ESPOUSED to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph HER HUSBAND, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy WIFE: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” – Matt 1:18-20
– Joseph was called Mary’s “husband” while they were engaged/espoused for marriage. He was going to put her away/divorce her because he thought she committed fornication. The fornication exception is written in the Book of Matthew to explain why Joseph started to divorce his fiancée and that he would have been justified had she committed fornication (PREmarital sex). Jews would understand betrothal.
“8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have NOT KNOWN MAN; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof…14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his SONS IN LAW, which MARRIED his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his SONS IN LAW.”– Gen 19:8, 14
– In verse 14, we see Lot trying to convince his sons-in-law to flee the wrath to come; however, we see in verse 8 that his daughters are BOTH virgins. They are actually betrothed to be married but have not gotten married & consummated the relationships.
“Except for fornication” is ONLY written in the Book of Matthew because the Jews had a betrothal practice that required a divorce to get out of their engagement. The practice is foreign to Gentiles, so it is not mentioned. Jesus stated the you can divorce is before the actual marriage to break off the engagement. Once the marriage is completed & the spouses have been made one flesh, they cannot be separated until death (Mark 10:6-8; Matt 19:4-6; 1 Cor 7:39; Eph 5:31-33)
I no longer watch Perry Stone; however, this is an interpretive picture of the betrothal process in a spiritual context.
3. “Well, God told me I could remarry” – Remarriage is adultery if there is a living previous spouse.
Divorce is due to hard-heartedness on the part of one or both spouses. IF it occurs, the spouses are to remain unmarried to others or be reconciled to each other (1 Cor 7:10-11). Remarriage is not permitted as long as the spouse is alive. Paul reiterates what Christ taught.
“2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” – Rom 7:2-3
American culture is much like that of Roman & Greek history (see D.C.for proof). Women divorced & remarried just as men did. This passage deals directly with those who have gotten a legal divorce, have legally remarried,and have a living first spouse. Paul says that even though the law says the woman is married, she is an adulteress as long as her husband is alive. Note that she calls the first man her “husband” and the second man “another man.” God does not recognize the second man as her husband even though she is remarried. The one-flesh union to the first husband still exists.
*Back to Matthew & the fornication exception…
Even if you want to say this is permitted because adultery is included in porneia, look at the definition provided for adultery by Strong’s – “c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12” http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4202&t=KJV Adultery is listed, but the explanation given is associated with Mark 10:11-12, which has no exception written. If the person is divorced with a living spouse, you cannot be with him because your involvement is fornication on your part. You cannot be joined to someone who is already bonded to someone else.
Let’s pretend Jesus does allow divorce for the case adultery, what does He say about remarriage?
– “18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” – Luke 16:18
– “11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” – Mark 10:11-12
– “9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” – Matt19:9
– “32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”– Matt 5:32
WHOEVER MARRIES THE DIVORCED PERSON COMMITS ADULTERY.
If adultery is cause for divorce, and people are allowed to remarry as so many are teaching, then why does Jesus state the people that get remarried are adulterers?
The exception would sound like this:
1) If a man finds out his wife has physically cheated on him and engaged in an affair, he may divorce her. (The covenant bond is supposedly destroyed because she had sex.) The man that marries the cheating spouse commits adultery with the divorced spouse.
2) If a man decides to divorce his wife and marries someone else, he is an adulterer. Not only has he committed adultery by remarrying, but he has abandoned her. He had sex and divorced her, so she is innocent and has no more covenant bond with him. Therefore, the man that marries this innocent woman commits adultery with her.
Do you see how the argument that adultery dissolves a marriage doesn’t make sense?
1) If adultery dissolves the bond, then that reasoning means that the spouse that forgives the cheater is living in fornication because they didn’t get married again when he returned home. Are people supposed to get remarried each time someone cheats?
2) When is the covenant bond destroyed? As soon as the person has sex or when the ink dries on the divorce decree?
3) Which couple is doing what God desires: the one that forgives the cheater and goes on in marriage without renewing vows or the one that decides the covenant is destroyed and pursues divorce?
The argument is that adultery destroys the covenant bond and permits remarriage. However, Jesus says the exact opposite. If the covenant is destroyed, and the spouses are “single” again, how does the person that marries the divorced person commit adultery with her? Mark 10:11-12 shows us that if the man initiates or if the woman initiates the divorce & remarries, it is adultery. Luke 16:18, Matt 19:9, & Matt 5:32 show us that WHOEVER marries the divorced person – guilty or innocent – committeth adultery. It doesn’t matter that your spouse has already remarried because Jesus said that person commits adultery. If you messed up royally or your spouse messed up royally, even if they remarried FIRST, Jesus said “YOU” will be in adultery if you remarry. The adultery is committed against the living spouse. If divorce made you single, you could not commit adultery because adultery is committed when a married person has sexual relations outside the one-flesh union. Jesus said you don’t get a pass to remarry after divorce once you have been joined as one-flesh in marriage. Note the reaction of the disciples in Matt 19:10. They completely understood that adultery was not grounds for dismissing a spouse. “10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” Jesus didn’t pat them on the back or give them other reasons they could use. He told them that if they didn’t think they could be obedient to the terms of lifelong marriage, then it is better that they not get married than to get married and fall into adultery later. He said not everyone would get married, but those that get married should understand there are no exceptions once that covenant is finalized (Gal 3:15).
4. “What about the woman at the well? She was married 5 times.”
I don’t really understand this argument. People assume she had been divorced & remarried 5 times, but the Bible doesn’t say that, and it doesn’t call her an adulteress. Personally, I think she might have been a widow 5 times and decided it wasn’t worth the heartache to bury another husband. Tamar buried two husbands during her child-bearing years, so it’s not an impossibility. Whatever the case, we can’t assume she was a 5-time adulteress when the Bible doesn’t say it. She knew He spoke truth and dropped everything to tell everyone about Jesus.
5. “Well, my covenant husband remarried, and God blessed me in my remarriage.”
Again, if your covenant husband remarried, he is committing adultery against you. You don’t get to make it even by doing the same. You still have to give an account for yourself. God is merciful & long-suffering, but He does not change. He keeps His covenant and expects the same of us. The bond does not magically dissolve because of a legal divorce or because your spouse already got remarried. Jesus stated that if a man divorces his wife and remarries, he commits adultery. Remarriage #1 has already occurred. If the divorced woman remarries, she commits adultery by being remarried. Now four people are involved in sexual sin. The one-flesh couple commit adultery against each other, and the two new spouses are committing fornication because they are sexually involved with divorced persons (see G4202 porneia – adultery is related to Mark 10:11-12).
Isaac & Ishmael: What’s the difference between the two?
– One was a son of the covenant. While both were made into great nations with many descendants, only the one of the covenant received the blessings, were considered God’s people, and brought us the Messiah.
You may experience some grace of God while with the new spouse, but if God does not consider him your covenant spouse, there will be problems later because God calls it adultery.
6. Why are you so stubborn/vocal about this topic?
“9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” – 1 Cor 6:9-10
“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest,which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Gal 5:19-21
“4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Heb 13:4
“3 But fornication,and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” – Eph 5:3-7
– Note that the Holy Spirit made it a point to state adultery as a sexual sin but not the exact same as fornication/whoremongering.
7. “We repented of the divorce and remarriage, so we’re fine, right?”
Sadly, no. You can’t repent of something and continue in it any more than unmarried people living together can continue shacking up after repenting of fornicating. To repent means that you agree with God and abandon that which God calls sin. If God says you are one flesh with your first spouse, then you “are in” adultery.
If we look at Matt 5, it seems clear that Jesus is using two different verb tenses to distinguish when one commits an “act of adultery”and perpetual adultery.
“27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her HATH COMMITTED adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matt 5:27-28
– Verse 27 shows us we are not to engage in adultery. Verse 28 shows us that adultery is not only physical but starts in the mind by entertaining the thought of being with someone other than our spouses. In verse 28, Jesus said the person who lusted “hath committED”adultery. He did it at that instance, and it already happened. It is the aorist past tense of the verb. This act of adultery is in the past.
“32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced COMMITTETH adultery.” – Matt 5:32
– Here, Jesus says whoever marries the divorced person (and He doesn’t say if she’s innocent or guilty for the marital breakup) “committETH adultery.” We actually have to make it say something different in order to get the ideas that most churches are teaching such as “He will have committed an act of adultery.” This is the present indicative verb tense that indicates it is a continuous action. This verse shows that it is a recurring act of adultery making it a current state of being.
There has to be a reason that Jesus chose the words He chose to teach us, and it’s to teach us how we are supposed to live as members of His Kingdom. We are not asked to obey if we think He way is fair or pleasant. We are instructed to follow no matter the cost because He loves us enough to look out for us and warn us how to keep from doing harm to ourselves.
Example: Let me try this way to see if it makes sense.
Mom said, “We are not to leave the house.” [“Thou shalt not commit adultery. – Matt 5:27b]
– Mom: Charlie, where’s Pete? Did you do what I asked?
– Charlie: He was outside in the backyard, but he’s in the living room now.
—> Charlie “was” out of the house. He did it once and came back. He can repent/apologize for disobeying and has shown that he wants to do right by returning to the house. It was a one-time occurrence. [Matt 5:28 is a one-time occurrence of adultery.]
– Mom: Charlie, where’s Pete? Did you do what I asked?
– Charlie: He’s been out since two. He called to say he is at Johnny’s house playing games.
—> He “went” out but “has not returned,” so he is still out of the house. It doesn’t matter if he left one house to go into another house to avoid any outside dangers. Pete doesn’t get to call mom and say, “Yes, I disobeyed by leaving, but I’m in someone else’s house, so it’s all good.” As long as Pete is in Johnny’s house, he is not at home and is disobeying. It is a continuous state of disobedience until he returns. [Matt 5:32 is a continuous state of adultery.]
8. “I got saved while remarried, and it’s under the Blood.”
Jesus redeemed your soul – not your marriage. Your relationship to your husband doesn’t change just because you were spiritually reborn. If you don’t get a new set of children after being saved, you don’t get a new husband either.
9. “I don’t believe God would ever expect anyone to get divorced a second time and breakup a ‘happy’ home, especially since we have children.”
What about those first households that were broken up with children? It’s okay to leave them because the spouse was unhappy while the kids wanted their parents together, but now we can use the excuse not to hurt the kids behind a remarriage?
“10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. 11 Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and DO HIS PLEASURE: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. 12 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do. 13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing. 14 Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.” – Ezra 10:10-14
There were children involved: “3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law…44 All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.” – Ezra 10:3, 44
Yes, they put away wives that were not of the covenant AND left behind the children with them because the Lord desired that they only marry and have children with those of covenant. I’m not saying you will not be responsible for making children outside of your covenant, but I am saying that you can’t use it as an excuse to stay outside the covenant you made.
– “3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother PHILIP’S WIFE.4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.” – Matt 14:3-4
– “17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother PHILIP’S WIFE: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:” – Mark 6:17-19
– “19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother PHILIP’S WIFE, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.” Luke 3:19
We know that John the Baptist was full of the Holy Ghost from birth and spoke the words of God as he preached against sin. NOT ONCE is Herodias ever called the wife of Herod. According to Josephus, she was legally divorced and legally remarried, yet God still expected these nonbelievers to follow His laws concerning marriage. For Herodias to return to Philip properly, she would need to legally divorce Herod, which would be permitted under grounds of fornication because she is, in God’s eyes, not married to Herod but to Philip. She is the adulteress, and Herod is the fornicator. If God expected unbelievers to divorce so Herodias could return to her covenant spouse, why would God tell Believers they have a different standard?
10. “God would not want me unhappy and would rather I remarry than remain celibate.”
Where is the passage of Scripture that says “Be ye happy for I am happy”? God wants you holy before anything. Why would God give you permission to do something He forbid to many billions of other people? What about:
– Jephthah’s daughter? He vowed to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house, which happened to be her. She spent her entire life unmarried and celibate in order to fulfill the vow to the Lord made by her father because vows, especially to the Lord, are not to be broken.
– Daniel & his friends? Why didn’t they get wives & children? Why did Daniel die in captivity when returning to Jerusalem would have made him “happy,” especially since he prayed for it based on the Scripture that said captivity would have a time limit? They were most likely made eunuchs since they served so close to the king and were captives. I’m sure they didn’t have big dreams of being castrated!
– Paul? He was not married.
– Jeremiah? God told him not to take a wife (Jer 16:2). He had to remain celibate, childless, and endure persecutions from his people as he spent years warning them of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. He is known as “the weeping prophet.”
– Hosea? He was a sign prophet showing how God accepts us and cares for us after we commit adultery. His wife gave birth to other men’s children – plural. She repeated her adulteries while Hosea repeatedly loved his wife to the point he had to purchase her from the city block. Does that sound like the ideal, “happy” marriage?
– Leah? Jacob didn’t even want her! She had to make deals with her sister in order to get some time with her husband. She bore him 7 children of which one would carry the lineage of priests and another the lineage of Jesus. She is repeatedly shown as desperate for her husband’s love and approval.
– Dinah? She was raped, married to the man who took her virginity, and then widowed shortly afterwards. We don’t know that she ever got remarried.
– Tamar? She had ONE sexual experience, and it was being raped by her brother who hated her after he raped her and she suggested they marry if he wanted her so badly. Absalom took her into his house to care for her.
– Abigail? She was married to a man who proudly rejected God’s anointed, David. The only way she got out of her marriage to her unbelieving husband was through Nabol’s death. Only then did God lead her to another man for marriage.
11. “Well, I believe my first marriage didn’t count./That covenant is broken because I’m remarried.”
Do you have anything Biblical that supports the idea that when you don’t think it counts God agrees and doesn’t count it as a marriage? New vows don’t override old vows if the first spouse still lives because the covenant is still in effect. You can’t change the circumstances to which you’ll be a spouse once you’re married.
1) You don’t belong to yourself to even give yourself away.
2) God joined you and expects you to fulfill your vows since He was a witness.
Say I owned a piece of land and sold it to you for $10,000. You have the deed and start building a home. Another investor comes along and offers me $41,000. That deal sounds better to me, so I sell him the land, give him a receipt and he starts demolishing everything you have to build a supermarket. Who owns the land? You do. Who’s affected or injured by the transaction? All of us. The courts will require me to honor the first sale because we voluntarily entered into the agreement, and there were no reasons to nullify it (such as you not being old enough to enter into a contract). The fact that I like the second deal more doesn’t matter because the land is no longer mine to sell! When you get married, you are no longer your own. You belong to your husband, and he belongs to you. You don’t have permission to give yourself to another man because your body is not your own.(1 Cor 7:4 “4The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.)
12. “Well, I’ve grown in my walk, so God must be blessing me and pleased.”
You can assume that, but the wrath of God always follows broken covenants. It may take a long while, but it always follows.
– 2 Sam 21 – God had sent a famine to Israel (His people) for three years as punishment for breaking the covenant with the Gibeonites. That covenant had been made (in error, but still an obligation) by Joshua, and King Saul broke it. King David, and those during that time, had to suffer for something Saul did, yet David was expected to rectify it.
– Ezra 10 – The men divorced wives that were not of the covenant in order to please God and avoid His wrath.
– Mal 2:13-17 – God said it is treachery for those men (leaders that practiced this) to put away their covenant wives.He called it treachery three (3) times and gave a warning to take heed to their spirits twice.
– Rom 1:28-32 – God said covenantbreakers(v 31) fall into the same category as murderers and those who hate God as having a reprobate mind because they willingly do what is against God and live to please themselves.
Why is it considered treachery?
God HATES divorce from covenant spouses! When God says the man dealt treacherously, He says the man has been deceitful in his dealings with her. He convinced her that he would care for and cover her until death, and then he decided he no longer wanted to deal with her. It is an act of treason in which trust has been betrayed by faithlessness. Divorcement/bill of divorce comes from the word apostasion (ἀποστάσιον), which is where we get the word “apostate” or “apostasy.” An apostate has departed from the faith and what is true to pursue a lie. God commands men to cleave (as in “hold on for dear life”) to their wives and not to leave the wives of their youth (Prov 5, particularly verses 15-18; Mal 2:14-15).
In the OT and NT:
– Marriage is for life. (Gen 2, Matt 19, Mark 10, Eph 5) Adam didn’t get a second wife when Eve ate the fruit, and Eve didn’t get a second spouse when Adam didn’t cover her properly.
– Covenants can only be violated but never broken. God expects us to hold up our end of the covenant even when the other does not. (2Sam 21, Ezra 10, Mal 2, Rom 1, Gal 3)
– God wants covenant spouses together. (2 Sam 3, Jer 3,Rom 7, 1 Cor 7, Eph 5).
Regardless of how you look at it, God’s design hasn’t changed. It does not matter what the law says, the state has no power to override God’s laws that apply to both the saved and unsaved. Anyone that marries a divorced person commits adultery (Matt 5:32, Matt 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18). The woman that is divorced and remarries while her husband lives is called an adulteress (Rom 7:2-3). A wife is spiritually bound to her husband until one of them physically dies (1 Cor 7:39). If a divorce takes place, married people only have two options: to remain unmarried or reconcile to each other. That is a command from the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 7:10-11).
Over the past three years, I have seen (and am witnessing even at this moment) people scramble for explanations to permit divorce & remarriage. There are a couple reasons for this. One is that their Bible edits pertinent information and has rearranged words to make it look as if God permits remarriage. For instance, the NIV ’84 edition states that God hates divorce. The NIV 2011 edition says “the man that hates and divorces his wife” in Mal 2. Did the text change? Nope. The committee decided to change God’s Words to benefit their desires. So people who study from texts that have been altered mean well, but their foundation is altered from the start, so they’re going to have an altered answer. Another is because some people so hate the idea that they have to change to meet God’s standards, they lash out and try to discredit or explain away what is plain because they want what they want. Another is that people defend from the position they learned and are reluctant to see how it is permanent but are interested in learning even if it is painful.
Almost every day, I read that God accepts divorce and remarriage. Here are some problems I have with that:
– Is God supposed to join, unjoin, join, unjoin, & join you with a new spouse until you find “the one”? If you can divorce for infidelity, and lust is adultery, how many times can you get remarried? Is there a limit? Are we really supposed to believe that God makes us one flesh with each person?
– If your husband cheats and then repents to God, apologizes to you, and spends his time trying to reconcile while you seek a divorce, which prayer is God supposed to honor? He can only grant one prayer. Either He will grant the prayer of the man that repents and wants to repair his marriage, or He will grant the prayer of the woman who wants to dump him and find someone new. Which prayer honors God? Which one most reflects how he wants us to interact with each other?
I get criticism for not going along with the crowd in support of remarriage. My reasons are listed above. If anyone believes God permits it and has granted peace because they prayed about it, I have questions. The Bible does not contradict itself, and God is not going to go against His Word, so where does the Bible allow you to remarry after divorce? Do you have any verse or example of:
– God bringing a divorced woman to someone to be married?
– God using a divorced person to lead (like qualifications of a pastor is to be the husband of one wife)?
– God telling someone He doesn’t recognize their marriage and taking them to someone else to marry?
– God telling someone they are no longer obligated to fulfill their vows to Him?
– God permitting people to break covenants?
– God allowing divorce and remarriage based on being “unhappy”?
I don’t plan to run behind every remarried person and holler at them or point because they don’t agree. I just can’t co-sign with your actions. The primary explanations I hear people tell folks to encourage them to remarry or stay in a remarriage is that God “understands,” don’t let people judge them (I didn’t judge. I quoted Scripture.), the Bible says they can divorce (you can interpret it like that, but it never gives permission for a divorced person to marry someone else), and that they should stay where they are because [insert emotional reason]. Although it sounds nice to tell people to just go be happy,it is reckless to tell someone to do something that has no Scriptural support and then claim God said, “It’s okay!” If you don’t have a Bible example to support your interpretation and no verses that clearly indicate what you are saying, then you place yourself in a dangerous position. God said that adulterers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If you encourage someone to get involved in a relationship God calls adulterous, you have to answer for whatever happens to the person that followed your advice and received God’s punishment. I have seen instances in which necessity dictated someone separate, and I will not tell someone they must risk a life to stay in a dangerous situation. I just don’t have the liberty to advise someone to “move on.”
Again, I have family in friends in all kinds of situations, so I’m not hereto try to bring people down. This is a compilation of answers and explanations that have been given over the past couple years I’ve been extremely active in conversations almost every week for the past 2 years. Most times, I will encounter people on boards that are adamant about doing what is right. I meet people who regret what has happened and don’t know how to repair damage, people looking for clarification, those that want to take their time to do an in-depth study. I have no issues with any of them. It’s when I come across those that ask questions and ignore the answers while trying to insult people standing (praying & believing for reconciliation with their spouses) for the permanence of marriage with no concern for how our testimonies reflect God that bother me. It’s an arrogance displayed and a totally self-centered explanation behind each response that brings this verse to mind:
“20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.”– Prov 30:20
13. “Well, I believe it’s okay, so I’m not going to listen because God is my judge. We’ll just see when I get to Heaven.”
Yes, God is your Judge. He’s also a holy and righteous Judge Who is going to issue a permanent decision that is without appeal. Do you really want to wait until you die to find out if you should have followed your deceitful heart (Jer 17:9)? I get on things like this because of the seriousness of the issue and the harshness of punishment from God. I find people tell me I’m legalistic because I take Jesus’s commands seriously (1 Cor 7:10-11 is a command). It’s funny that no one ever tells me speaking kindly or forgiving is an option, but I’m supposed to believe covenants can be thrown away because of unhappiness or upsetting situations.
I am concerned about our church leaders haphazardly advising people to walkaway from unbreakable covenants (Gal 3:15), vows (Ecc 5:4-6, Matt 5:37), and commands (1 Cor 7:10-11) so that they can justify divorce & remarriage in order to move into adultery & cause their new spouses to commit fornication (Matt5:32, Matt 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:2-3) knowing that a one-flesh union is lifelong (1 Cor 7:39, Romans 7:2-3, Eph 5:22-33). It brings these verses to mind:
“20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold,I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”
Fornication is both spiritual and physical. If we look back to Acts15:28-29, we are to avoid spiritual and physical defilement. God will cast her into a bed for her fornication and those “that commit adultery with her” for tribulation. Both fornication & adultery are mentioned.
“6 For I am the Lord, I change not;” – Mal 3:6a
“8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”– Heb 13:8
God hated divorce in the Old Testament and commanded men to stay with or return to their covenant spouses/the wives of their youth. He demonstrates this by calling Israel back to Him after her bill of divorcement (Jer 3:12-14) stating they ARE married and commanding Hosea to continue pursuing Gomer. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ commands men to stay with or return to their covenant spouses. He states how we are to interact and demonstrates the faithfulness to be shown in His covenant with us and the fact that He will NEVER leave us.
“7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”– Mark 10:7-9
“10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried OR be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” – 1 Cor 7:10-11
“3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1John 5:3
“21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”– John 14:21
FAQ about Divorce & Remarriage – http://www.cadz.net/faq.html
“Why Didn’t We See This Before?” – http://www.biblicalresearchreports.com/divorceandremarriage.php
Except for Fornication – http://www.danielrjennings.org/except_for_fornication_version_1.pdf
Changing Translations on Divorce and Remarriage – http://www.danielrjennings.org/arebibletranslationsprogressivelysoftening.pdf
Pictorial Look at the Exception Clause – dropbox
Divorce & Remarriage
A Restored Marriage
“Getting Divorced Was the Biggest Mistake of Our Lives (So We All Got Remarried) – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1258503/Getting-divorced-biggest-mistake-lives-got-married.html