What the Bible Says about Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
This is the beginning of my personal position statement on the issues of . . .
My interest is not in promoting my view. My interest is finding God's will. The only way I know to do that is consulting the written expression of His will and ways: the Bible, God's inspired Word.
So this first part consists of an overview of the Scriptures that pertain most directly to these subjects and to us in the New Testament era of grace and holiness.
The second part will speak to what constitutes marriage and to whom do God's marriage laws apply.
Now, on to the Word!
- A universal law, applicable to all humans, not just Jews and not just Christians:
- "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).
- Jesus takes us back to the beginning:
- "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" (Matthew 19:4,5)?
- Jesus makes it clear:
- "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6).
- But what about Moses? Well, is your heart soft or hard? And, go back to the beginning!
- "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).
- An exception?
- "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" (Matthew 19:9).
- Another writer, another audience, same Author, no exception:
- "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. 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" (Mark 10:6-12).
- Back again to the law of the beginning; the duration of the marriage bond and the circumstance that breaks it:
- "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" (Romans 7:2).
- Marriage while the first spouse still lives is . . .
- "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" (Romans 7:3).
- An interesting side issue -- do sexual relations constitute marriage?
- "What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh" (1 Corinthians 6:16).
- A pertinent command of God to spouses:
- "Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The 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" (1 Corinthians 7:3,4).
- Should a spouse need to separate, then what?
- "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" (1 Corinthians 7:10,11).
- Another circumstance that breaks the marriage bond?
- "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" (1 Corinthians 7:15).
- Another interesting distraction:
- "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God" (1 Corinthians 7:20,24).
- A beautiful analogy, an enlightening parallel:
- "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Ephesians 5:28-30).
- The previous helps us understand a bit the universal law of marriage:
- "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" (Ephesians 5:31).
- Whose wife?! Not lawful by what law? (Would you part company with your head, literally, over this issue?)
- "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. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6:17,18).
- Does this pertain at all?
- "Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly" (John 4:16-18).
There. That's it for now.
However, let me try to summarize where the above Scriptures lead me to stand:
- Marriage is a universal law.
- Marriage is a duly-recognized covenant relationship entered into by a single man and a single woman.
- Marriage lasts until one spouse dies.
- Even after a divorce is forgiven the original marriage exists before God.
- To remarry while the first spouse is still living is contrary to the will of God.
- Remarriage is an act which God forgives upon repentance.
- Remarriage is a state which must be abandoned. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, continue any longer therein?" (Romans 6:2).
- Being divorced is not necessarily sin. (If I divorce my wife, I sin but she doesn't, unless she agrees to the divorce. If my wife divorces me, she sins but I don't, unless I agree to the divorce.)
by Mark Roth
-- June 11, 1999
On to Part 2 -- What constitutes marriage, and to whom do God's marriage laws apply?
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