Before I get started I would like to make it clear that I am not speaking for any group nor anyone else for that matter but am simply attempting to put forth what I believe the Lord has revealed to me and hopefully continuing to reveal to me. Please do as scripture exhorts and prove (test) all things but I implore you that your test be kept strictly with what scripture says and not according to what other men say or have said or what any tradition says. Please see Acts 17:10-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and 1 John 4:1. – Tom
TABLE OF CONTENTSPREFACE
MEAT AND POTATOES
MATTHEW 19:3-8RECAP AND WRAP UP
I CORINTHIANS 7:10-11
THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER
I realize that the topic of “Divorce & Remarriage” brings out strong emotions in many people. But I also believe that the neglect of this truth or the downplaying of it is like a cancer and is spreading. In fact, off the top of my head I can personally think of at least twenty-five couples who have been divorced and remarried or married to a divorced spouse who “claim” to be followers of Christ. And I fully believe that is a “low” number. I personally have also contacted two local churches that I have attended at some point and wanted to see where they stand on this issue. Just as a clarification, my intent was not to argue or attempt to push my views on anyone and by God’s grace I did neither. I simply wanted to know where they stood before investing any more of our time. Both claim to preach the “doctrines of grace” and stand on the truth of God’s word. One was a community church governed by a plurality of “Elders”. I spoke with one of the elders on the phone and asked him his thoughts on divorce & remarriage. I explained my thoughts, in a nut shell, and he professed to me that he was in agreement with what I had shared but sadly he was the only elder on the board that felt the same way and that we wouldn’t be content there. I fear for that “church” for the elders/leaders are not all in accord and speaking the same thing especially with such an important topic. The other church I contacted was also governed by a plurality of “Elders” and I believe that all of the elders attended “Master’s Seminary”. With this church though there was at least one accord amongst the elders. On their web-site they proclaim that they are against divorce & remarriage. Unfortunately with a little more specific inquiring I found out that they give their members liberty to remarry after a divorce when the spouse leaves. They also give liberty to divorce in the case of adultery but they didn’t mention if there is liberty to remarry after that and I didn’t delve into it further. I also know of a host of others who blatantly give their approval of such things. All of these groups include preachers/elders and those that are not in leadership positions and they come from multiple different sects including Old School Baptist, Charismatic (Arminian), Baptist (Arminian), etc., etc. I don’t know what you, the reader, think of this but to me it shows extreme ecumenicism which is wrong to the core. Of all the sects, the Old School Baptists should have NONE in their midst! And yet sadly they do.
How does God view marriage? This is a VERY important topic and one that deserves a lot more space than I am going to give it here. As you read the rest of this study, please keep in the forefront of your thoughts this verse.
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)
Marriage is the lawful union of two separate people (a man and a woman). It is honourable, esteemed and precious in all and the act of intimacy in that marriage is pure. But those that go about performing that intimate act outside of marriage, both those that are not married (whoremongers, fornicators) and those that are married (adulterers), can be assured that God will judge them even if the world (fleshly man) has no problem with it. The world sees absolutely nothing wrong with violating the sanctity of marriage. It sees nothing wrong with doing its best to attempt to make the marriage dishonourable nor does it have an issue with discarding the commitment made between the two original people and starting fresh or new with someone else. That is definitely the world’s way of looking at it, BUT believers are not to follow the world as these next verses clearly proclaim.
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:15-16) (emphasis added – TA)
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2) (emphasis added – TA)
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” (I Corinthians 2:12) (emphasis added – TA)
Secondly I feel it is as important to focus on how God views divorce. Please keep this in mind also as you read the rest of this study. These two IMPORTANT truths are at the foundation of this study.
“For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. (Malachi 2:16)”
The Hebrew word for “For the LORD” is “Yhovah” and it means “self-existent or eternal”. The Hebrew word for “the God” is “Elohiym” and it is referring to the “Godhead”. Elohiym is the plural version of the word “Eloahh” which is “deity”. The Hebrew word for “of Israel” is “Yisrael”. It comes from two root words which are “saw-raw” which means “to prevail” and “ale” which is referring to “the Almighty God”. So, it has the meaning of “he who prevailed with the Almighty God”. The Hebrew word for “that He hateth” is “sane (saw-nay)” and it means “to hate (personally)” or “a personal hatred”. It is not just a dislike but a hatred.
“The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. (Malachi 1:1-3) [bold emphasis added]”
It is the same Hebrew word used in both verses. Malachi 2:16 says “he hateth putting away” and Malachi 1:3 says “I hated Esau”. Both are very strong in their verbiage and meaning and in both of them it is God making the statement! Let me say it again, it is NOT just a dislike or “love less” but a flat out personal hatred!
The Hebrew word for “putting away” is “shalach” and has several different meanings. It means to “send away”, “put away”, “cast out”, “forsake”, “leave”, “let depart”.
So, Malachi is saying “The self-existent or eternal God-head, to those who have prevailed with Him, says that He has a personal hatred to the act of them sending away their wives.”
When we go back to the beginning, here is what God said about the marriage bond between husband and wife:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)”
“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. (Matthew 19:8)”
Don’t be mislead by others. Scripture is not silent nor is it confusing on the matter of divorce and remarriage. In fact it is quite the opposite. IT IS VERY VOCAL AND CLEAR! Yet many say today as the disciples said to Jesus, “...This is an hard saying; who can hear it? (John 6:60b)” And since it is a hard saying many tend to overlook it or set it aside as not important. BUT THAT SHOULD NOT BE SO!
Let’s look at the verses that deal with this important subject matter.
“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 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.”
“And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
I am quoting these two sections of verses together because they both basically say the same thing.
In Matthew’s account. The Pharisees approached Jesus and sought to tempt him with what they figured was a hard question. The question was “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Jesus immediately answered them with a question. The question was: “Have ye not read…” He then went on to proclaim TRUTH to them. They didn’t acknowledge any of it but after He was finished they asked Him another question. They asked: “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?”
In Mark’s account. The Pharisees came and sought to tempt Jesus with the same question which was: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?” However, this time He redirected and put it back on them to answer their own question. They answered with “Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.”
In both accounts Jesus didn’t correct them in the fact that their statement was incorrect, but He did make it clear that the ONLY reason this was so was because of the “hardness of your heart”. In the Matthew account, Jesus ended this conversation with “from the beginning it was not so.” With Jesus saying this, He was stating that what Moses said was simply appeasing the flesh and it was not a mandate from the Lord. So, with this single statement He put an end to Moses’ mandate and made it null and void.
In both accounts He declared the truth to them about what a marriage really is. He said that “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife...” The word “cleave” means to “adhere like glue”. So the man is supposed to be glued to his wife. He then went on to say that “they twain shall be one flesh; so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” Yes, I believe that this is talking about the physical intimate bond that a husband and wife have but I don’t believe that is all this is referring to. There is also a spiritual bond or oneness that a husband and wife have. Jesus then ended His conversation with the Pharisees with a rebuke in His statement: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
The verse “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” is a vital point in regards to the topic of which we are looking into. In the Greek the wording of this verse is: “What therefore God yoked together man not separate.” If we take into consideration that absolutely nothing happens outside of God’s will then we can’t help but come to the conclusion that when two people get married it is solely because God has joined them together. Is man strong enough to separate that bond which God brought together? Absolutely not! Man cannot separate that which was brought together by God! Because of that, Mark ends his declaration with this absolute truth: if one (male or female) marries someone who has been divorced then both parties are committing adultery! The truth is that even though those that may “think” they are separated from their spouse when they divorce, in God’s eyes they are still one.
Looking back at the beginning of these two section of verses, please notice something with me. The Pharisees asked Jesus a one-step process question. They answered His question with a two-step process. Then Jesus goes back to it just being a one-step process with the rest of these verses. What do I mean?
The Pharisees asked Jesus if it was “lawful to put away a wife?” That is only one step of the process of “putting away”. They answered His question with “Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.” That is a two-step process: 1. write a bill of divorcement, 2. put her away. Jesus then continued with the one-step process with the rest of these verses. What does that mean? It means that the two go hand-in-hand and they are equal with each other. When it is mentioned that someone is “put away” it equals them being given a bill of divorcement. I only bring this up so that as you read the rest of the verse references below I hope you will keep in mind that Jesus combined the two into one. Also another thought to ponder is that in order to be married legally, according to the court system, you have to be either single, divorced or widowed. But, just because it is “legal” for someone who is divorced to be remarried, it doesn’t make it right according to God’s standard.
What the Pharisees were referring to in both Matthew and Mark is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 24. What I find extremely interesting is that it appears that the Pharisees stopped at verse 2. Verses 1 and 2 say this:
“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. (Deuteronomy 24:1-2)”
Jesus makes it abundantly clear that this was written and given solely because of the hardness of man’s heart. In that aspect we don’t really need to go over these verses. But, I want to touch on a couple of important points in them that are very easy to overlook. So, let’s take a little time to look at these two verses and the two that follow them.
Basically verse one says: After they are married the man finds some uncleanness in his wife he is then able to write her a bill of divorcement, give it to her and send her on her way. Scripture is silent here on what this uncleanness was but it is obvious that it was something of a big deal because due to the man finding it out it caused him to find no favor in his eyes for her. This is NOT speaking of if the woman can’t cook or is a bad kisser or trivial things like that. And it is NOT speaking of the woman committing adultery because that was worthy of death and not just divorce. The word for uncleanness means “disgrace or blemish” and is translated in other verses as “nakedness and shame”.
Verse two continues with “when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s.” The word “wife” is italicized which means that it is not part of the original language and was added by the translators. She has the written bill of divorcement in her possession and therefore she has permission to get remarried without the fear of being accused of committing adultery according to the written law. But, remember that when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees he made it clear that “from the beginning it was no so”. Which means that according to God’s law that if she goes and gets remarried that she in fact is committing adultery. Why or How can I say that? Let’s look at the next two verses.
“And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)”
After she marries another, her new husband comes to hate her and writes her yet another bill of divorcement or he dies, she is UNABLE to go back to her former husband because he is not permitted to take her back. Why? Because the moment she got remarried she was defiled. Verse 4 says “after that she is defiled”. Her defilement does not come from the second husband dying. It does not come from the second husband writing her another bill of divorcement. NO, it comes from her getting married again period. So, she “may” have permission to get married again after being divorced but it is at a cost. And this is the aspect the Pharisees, not so surprisingly, left out when they attempted to tempt Jesus with their question.p>
“And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”
This account is directly after the verses as quoted above when the Pharisees sought to tempt Jesus. Jesus is speaking to His disciples who inquire of Him after the matter of divorce, marriage and adultery. His answer to them was very straight forward and to the point. He said, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” When a man puts away or divorces his wife and marries another he is committing adultery. When a woman puts away her husband and marries another she is committing adultery.
Please take a little time to think about this. After Jesus answered the Pharisees the disciples were still a little confused. So, in private, they asked Him to further explain it to them. The disciples have done this before as well. In Mark chapter 4 verses 3 through 20 Jesus spoke the parable of the sower to the crowd and when Him and His disciples were alone they came to him to ask him to further explain it to them just like here. If you are given to look at that passage of Scripture you will notice that Jesus did in fact explain it further to His disciples. He made it very clear what He was speaking about to the initial group in parables. So, if Jesus did that there then we can fully expect that He would do the exact same here. IF there was any clause that legitimized someone getting a divorce and marrying someone else this would be the perfect time and place to proclaim that. Did He? No He did not! At least I sure don’t see it here in these verses. In fact Jesus very boldly proclaims that whoever puts away their spouse and marries another IS COMMITTING ADULTERY! There are no clauses here and it includes everybody and for any reason!
“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”
When I read this passage my first thought is that this is simply the facts and nothing else. I don’t know about you but I love the simplicity and and straight forwardness of it. Luke stated it so that no one should be able to misconstrue or misunderstand what he was saying. To put it in modern vernacular he said: “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery: and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WIGGLE ROOM HERE!
“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”
Here again we have Paul making it crystal clear. The ultimate goal is that the wife does not depart from her husband. But sometimes the wife will depart (one example might be abuse). If that happens she is not free to remarry but must remain unmarried (living as without a husband – and he is not talking the modern single lifestyle of dating and going out with other men) or she is to be reconciled to her husband. Even though she departed they are still husband and wife and Paul finishes his command to say that the husband must not “put away” or divorce his wife.
“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 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.”
“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.”
I hope that I have been given to clearly show, thus far, that there is no freedom or justification of a believer to get a divorce and marry someone else while the one they divorced is still living or for a believer to marry someone who has been divorced. I am quoting these two sections of Scripture together because they basically are saying the same thing and to go over both of them together seemed to make the most sense.
Matthew chapter 5 was recorded during the time when Jesus went up on a mountain and taught his disciples. “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, (Matthew 5:1-2)” In this chapter of Scripture Jesus touched on the ‘nine “blessed” statements’. He told his disciples that they are “the salt of the earth”, “the light of the world” and to let that “light shine before men”. He then confirmed that He came to “fulfill” the “law” and the “prophets”. He then corrected some misinterpretation of some commands. He said: “Ye heave heard that it was said by them of old time…” (5:21, 27) and then He said: “But I say unto you…” (22, 28). Verse 27 is the context of our first section of verses. Jesus started it off with “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery”. Then he said, “But I say unto you…” and explains further what “adultery” truly is.
Then we get to our verses and again He said, “It hath been said…”
The first thing I want to touch on is that even though these two sections of verses were directed at different groups, they both basically say the same thing. Also please notice that both of these sections of Scripture deal with the aspect of “fornication” and in both sections the mention of this topic is inside a parenthetical expression. A parenthetical expression is there to help clarify the overall sentence but is not necessary for understanding the sentence and it will not change the overall meaning of the sentence. In Matthew chapter five, if we take out the parenthetical expression it says this: “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife causeth her to commit adultery:…” In Matthew chapter 19, if we take out the parenthetical expression it says this: “Whosoever shall put away his wife and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
So, when we look at the base of these verses here again we can’t escape the fact that there is no wiggle room to attempt in justifying getting married again after a divorce. And if or when a remarriage happens then both parties are presently and actively committing adultery. If we look back to the time period when this letter was written we see that women “needed” a husband to provide for them in order to live. When a man put away his wife for any reason (saving for the cause of fornication) he was the causing force behind her having to go out and commit adultery in order to live. Otherwise she would have no means of support. So, looking at this verse do you not see the clear statement that the man is “guilty” of causing his wife to commit adultery if he puts her away?
So, what’s up with the parenthetical expression then? One says “saving for the cause of fornication” and the other says “except it be for fornication”. Why would “fornication” be an exemption to the causing of committing adultery if one gets married afterwards?
The Greek word for “fornication” is a completely different word then the Greek word for “adultery” and they both mean something different. The Greek word for “fornication” (in the verses quoted above) is: “porneia” and it means “harlotry” or in other words to “indulge unlawful lusts”. In the 1806 Webster’s Dictionary it says this about “fornication”: “incontinence of unmarried persons”. The Greek word for “adultery” is: “moicheia” and it means “adultery”. The 1806 Webster’s Dictionary says this about “adultery”: “a defilement of the marriage bed”. And we see this confirmed from Ezekiel 16:32 which says “But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband.”
The word “fornication” is found 30 times in the KJV New Testament with 24 of those times being the same Greek word “porneia*”. There is 5 times when “porneuo*” is used and it is translated “commit fornication” so it is the act of fornicating. The one other time is the word “ekporneuo*” and it means “to be utterly unchaste – to give ones self over to fornication”. The word “adultery” is found 18 times in the KJV New Testament and not once is it the Greek word “porneia” or taken from that word. These words are not interchangeable but are distinct in and of themselves. We also see Scripture very clearly proclaiming that they are distinct in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 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. (Galatians 5:19-21)”
Getting back to our verses in Matthew, what I see is that the act of fornication is committed by someone who is technically not married yet. Contrary to that we see that the act of adultery is committed by someone who is married. So, how does this fit in? It is mentioned here because of the tradition of betrothal. In the Jewish tradition men and women were betrothed to each other for a time period before they were legally married. But, in that betrothal period it was like they were married only without the intimacy. They were committed wholly to one another and only to one another but there was to be no sexual intimacy until they were married.
Here is an excellent example from Scripture of what I am talking about.
“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. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. (Matthew 1:18-19)”
Mary was “espoused” which is the same as “betrothed” to Joseph. They were not “married” yet, thus they had not been intimate and Mary was still a virgin, yet “she was found with child”. It says that “Joseph...was minded to put her away privily.” As far as Joseph knew, Mary had fornicated and thus she was going to be “put away” by him. That is until the Lord intervened!
So, this is where the parenthetical expressions come in to play. When a couple is “espoused” or “betrothed” together and the woman goes out whoring or playing the harlot, the man can put her away and marry another without committing the sin of adultery. The same goes for the woman, she is also free to marry another without committing the sin of adultery.
We have looked at these verses in light of the aspect of the parenthetical expressions. Let’s take another look at them in a little different light. The verses say “whoseover shall put away his wife causeth her to commit adultery:…” and “Whosoever shall put away his wife and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” As we saw above the word “adultery” means “a defilement of the marriage bed (1806 Websters Dictionary)”. But, look at the timing of it all. The man puts away his wife and because of that he causes her to commit adultery. Please stop and ponder this for a little bit. The wife has been put away. How then can it be adultery if she is no longer in that marriage? It is called adultery because God says it is and the only explanation is that even though man thinks he can “put away” a spouse, in God’s eyes they are still married and therefore any other attachment is considered adultery (if the spouse is still living).
With the single act of putting away his wife, not only is the husband causing her to commit adultery but he is also causing him who marries her to commit adultery. We see this very clearly in His next statement: “whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” The words “committeth adultery” is one word in the Greek and is in the present tense. In other words it is not something that happened in the past only but is an on-going or present situation. Therefore if a woman has been divorced and she gets married again, the man who marries her is presently and continually committing adultery along with her.
So, where does that leave us nowadays? During the time of “engagement” if one of the parties break their commitment to the other and sleeps around, then the “innocent” party can break off the engagement without worrying about committing any sin, especially the sin of adultery. But, when we look at the whole of Scripture, and we see when two people who are officially married and there is a divorce or “putting away” and that spouse is still alive, there is absolutely NO freedom to remarry anyone without committing adultery with the new spouse.
Let me end this section with quoting two important verses:
“It is also written in your in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.” (John 8:17)
“In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (II Cor. 13:1b)
These two verses have nothing specifically to do with divorce and remarriage. I am simply quoting them as a reminder to what they are proclaiming. These two verses boldly state that we are to adhere to what is proclaimed in the Scriptures when it comes from two or three witnesses as TRUTH. We should not set a standard on something that is only mentioned once in the Scriptures.
I hope that with what the Lord has granted me above to write, you have been given to see that it is TRUTH and it is a STANDARD to be adhered to. It is not just from one witness but a multitude of witnesses. We see this same truth repeated over and over again throughout the Scriptures by many different men inspired by the Holy Spirit. This truth is not something to wink at or look half-heartedly at. It is something to take a serious look at and beg the Lord to open your eyes so that you might be given to embrace His truth. “If you are divorced and marry another person or if you marry someone who has been divorced you and that other person are actively committing adultery.”
Let’s look at three more sections of Scripture to emphasize this truth even more.
“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 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. 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.”
I Corinthians 7:39-40
“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. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.” [bold emphasis added]
I Corinthians 7:8
“I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.”
The top two sections of scripture clearly proclaim that the ONLY way a wife can be remarried is IF her husband is dead. If her husband is still alive and she marries another she is committing adultery. If there was an option for divorce and remarriage, that option should have been stated here in the midst of his letter to the Roman brethren. If divorce and remarriage is an option why wasn’t Paul instructed to state that here? For example it could have said: “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; unless they are divorced, but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if while her husband liveth, unless they are divorced, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress:…” (underlined words added – TA) It would have fit perfectly, but NOTHINGwhatsoever is mentioned. Paul clearly was not given those words to write because it is not an option.
Then please notice with me verse 40 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian brethren along with verse 8 of chapter 7. Paul is speaking specifically to and about the unmarried (single – not divorced) and widows and dogmatically states that “it is good for them if they abide even as I.” What does this mean? Paul was not married and thus he is stating that both should remain unmarried. He then re-iterates that same truth later in verse 40. He states in verse 39 that if a wife’s husband died then she is at liberty to be married again. Then we have the word “But…” which is a contrast to what was previously stated. Paul was given to state that the widow would be happier if she didn’t get married again.
Why is this study on DIVORCE & REMARRIAGE so crucial and so important? First and foremost it is Scriptural, which was the bulk of this study, and SHOULD NOT be simply winked at and ignored. Secondly the man and woman who get married make a “vow” and “commitment” before each other, before their loved ones and friends but most importantly they do this before and unto the Lord almighty. That is what I want to touch on now.
There are not a lot of examples of wedding ceremonies in the Old Testament. But there were ceremonies that occurred. If there were no ceremonies whatsoever how else could Jacob have been duped by Laban when Laban promised him Rachel but put Leah in her place. There is no way that if Jacob had known it was Leah that he would have consummated the marriage with her by going in unto her on their wedding night. And in the New Testament we have the example of Jesus and His disciples going to a wedding ceremony (John 2:1-11). It was here that was the start of His earthly ministry and when He turned water into “fine” wine.
Below is an example of a ceremony in the Old Testament that was done before witnesses:
“And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.
So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son. (Ruth 4:9-13)”
These days we tend to make it a lot more personal but there is still a “vow”, “promises” and “commitment” made unto one another in front of other people whether they are family and/or friends.
Here is an example of a traditional wedding vow: “I, ________, take thee, __________, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”(1)
Even those that skip the traditional church setting and simply go to a Justice of the Peace there is still some sort of a “vow” or “promise” that takes place. Many times the couples will write their own “vows” that may be similar to this:
“I, ________ __________, in the presence of these witnesses, do take you, __________, to be my lawful wedded wife/husband to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”(2)
And most of the time the Justice of the Peace will end with something similar to this:
“By joining hands, you are consenting to be bound together as husband and wife. You are promising to honor, love and support each other for the rest of your lives. By the authority vested in me by the laws of the state of ____________, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”(2)
When a “vow” is made it is extremely important that it is kept. These examples above are just that, examples, but please take note that both of them deal with the commitment each has for the other and BOTH mention “till death do us part”. That is a promise EACH of them make to each other and before the Lord. And as the Justice of the Peace proclaims “You are promising to honor, love and support each other for the rest of your lives.”
What does Scripture have to say about “vows”? Just like the topic of divorce & remarriage Scripture is also NOT quiet about “vows”! Look at these two snippets of Scripture from two different books in the Old Testament.
“And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded. If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.
But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her. (Numbers 30:1-2, 9)”
Notice that Moses makes it abundantly clear that “This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded”. What he puts forth is not an option or multiple choice. This is a “command” and if it is not followed there will be repercussions. And this command is: “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” Or in other words, keep your word! If you say you are going to do something then follow through and complete what you said you were going to do. The first two verses dealt with men but women are not off the hook either. For our study let me just focus on one part of this verse: “But every vow … of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her”. Putting this in light of more modern times the man and woman takes a vow at the wedding and states “till death do us part”. There is no justifiable reason to disavow their “vow” that was made before men and unto the Lord!
“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-5)”
Here we see Solomon warning people against making a vow unto the Lord. He says “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God”. He also says “a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words”. We, in our haughtiness and grandioseness (flesh) think that we can impress God or bargain with Him by our words of promise and yet Solomon calls us a “fool” for that. Again, just like in Numbers it says here: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
“But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen. (Malachi 1:14)”
Here we see someone who is a “deceiver” and he is “cursed”. The Hebrew word for “the deceiver” means “defraud; i.e., act treacherously” and is translated in Scripture as “beguile, conspire, deceiver, deal subtilly”. He is a deceiver because he made a vow or promise to sacrifice a male that was in his flock and then turned around and sacrificed that which was a corrupt male.
Keeping the vow you make at your wedding may not always be “easy” but it is imperative that you do! This vow or promise was made to your spouse and most importantly made unto the Lord. If you break this vow you are no better than the “deceiver” from Malachi. Not to mention that you are also causing your spouse to commit adultery if they were to get remarried or you will be committing adultery if you get remarried.
(1) Taken from www.weddingwire.com – “Traditional Wedding Vows 101: The History, What They Mean, & Examples”
(2) Taken from https://oureverydaylife.com – “What is Said During a Justice of the Peace Wedding Vows” (I removed the names and state in the examples and put in a line in their place.)
Please bear with me as I end this study with another little side note. This “side note” does not specifically have to do with the topic of “Divorce & Remarriage” but it does affect it and I believe it is too important of a topic to not be included. Please read with me this section of Scripture below.
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? (I Corinthians 6:1-7)”
When a believer gets a divorce from their spouse, where do they go? Do, they take it before their brethren at the local church? No, they usually go to the world’s court system. This should not be so! Paul starts it off with saying, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another,”. Wanting to file for a divorce constitutes a “matter against another”. He then continues with “go to law before the unjust and not before the saints?” It is obvious that Paul was very frustrated with the Corinthian brethren for he says, “I speak to your shame.” Can we not say the same to the brethren who take their “matters” of divorce before the worldly court system instead of keeping it in-house? We are not to take brethren to court but we are to settle our differences before other brethren. To go to the worldly unbelieving courts is wrong and goes against the truth of the Scriptures.
I realize that this is not a fun topic to think about. Let alone have to deal with it in one’s own personal life. But, you must ask yourself, “Is it ever wrong to stand on what Scripture clearly states?” The obvious answer is “No it is not!” This is not an easy thing to take a stand on either because the “cancer” of error is spreading and has been spreading for years through many churches. When someone takes a stand in one of these churches they are castigated and accused of being a “conditionalist” among many other things. But stand we must!
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Ephesians 6:11-18)”
Updated: October 2020; January & April 2021; March, August & October 2023
P.S., It seems that I have been labeled a legalist (among a host of other names) for what I believe and have attempted to write upon above concerning this subject. If you have made it this far in reading this writing I hope that you see the outlandishness of such a statement. Since when is it wrong to stand on Biblical principles? – Tom
* As a little side-note here: Please notice that we get the word “pornography” from the base of these three Greek words.
** All scripture references are from the KJV.
October 2020: It has been a year since I first attempted to write on this subject and I felt the need to update this writing. With the update I attempted to go a little deeper into each of the scriptures that I have quoted. I rearranged the order of a couple of the verse references because I thought it flowed better with the new arrangement. I also completely revamped the section entitled “What About Before Conversion?” With re-reading that section I came to realize that what I had written wasn’t as consistent with the rest of the Scriptures as I had initially thought. Another change is that I removed the section entitled “Difference Between Those In Leadership and Those Not”.
January 2021: I updated the section where it refers to the woman caught in adultery. I added some thoughts that have recently been shown to me. I also updated some verbiage and sentence order throughout.
April 2021: A reader started corresponding with me. He kindly pointed out something that I had overlooked. I have attempted to correct that with this update and a few more things including making the tense of the words more consistent throughout.
August 2023: I removed the sections “What about Before Conversion?” and when I answered the comments from the beginning of the writing and placed them in the “Divorce & Remarriage: Supplement” study. I felt they fit better there. I also revamped my “Preface” to include the verses from Malachi 2:16. I added to the section on “Matthew 19:3-8 and Mark 10:2-9”.
October 2023: I added in the section “KEEPING YOUR VOW” in the “RECAP AND WRAP UP” section. I felt it was important to add this in after the Lord brought it to my attention.