Jesus and Paul On Divorce and Remarriage

Marriages that honor God are those that have the glue to keep the bond of matrimony firmly intact. Such marriages keep the lock in wedlock by conforming it to God’s plan for the couple. That is, there is a model that works universally for all marriages described as holy in the Bible. We take a look at the first union of marriage between Adam and Eve.

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:21-25; KJV)

Woman gets her femininity from having been taken from Adam’s rib cage. This first man declares her bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This is so important to understanding the biological aspects of the marriage relationship. They were male and female and the biology of such would be passed on from generation to generation right down to the present day. Man and woman were unified from common flesh and would be united as such in matrimony. I may have a preconception about this couple, due to other studies in the Scripture. But, do you see in this beginning that Adam and Eve would have any inclination at all towards divorce? I don’t. He cleaved to his wife.

Eve bore children for Adam and that’s why she is considered the mother of all living people (Genesis 3:20). Marriages are God’s design for human reproduction. It is His design that a man and a woman engage in sex for this very purpose, but only in wedlock. When people fornicate and commit adultery against the marriage right, they engage in procreative activity that is intended to be enjoyed between husband and wife. Jesus took this so seriously that it is His one and only exception clause for divorce and remarriage. Read His words in Matthew 19:9.

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. (Matthew 19:9)

Jesus set the record straight. God does not intend for anyone to divorce. However, just as when a Christian separates himself from God’s plan of salvation, he commits spiritual adultery – God may divorce him. So too, a guilty party in a divorce may be put away by the innocent party in a divorce, in accordance with the law of Christ. It was never designed that remarriage take place in any other scenario. All people are amenable to the law of Christ.

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)

When Jesus said “whoever” in Matthew 19:9 he said it all-inclusively then and now. Will all of Jesus’ words judge us or does that not include His law of marriage, divorce and remarriage? According to Jesus, the words given to Him were given from the Father.

“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28)

The point made thus far is that God designed the biology of marriage and intended it to last from the legal binding contract between man and his wife for their entire life. Now, divorce is a reality in the Bible. In Matthew 19:8, Jesus spoke of Moses permitting divorce for the hardness of heart. The passage to get an understanding of this is Deuteronomy chapter twenty-four.

(1)  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. (2)  And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. (3)  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; (4)  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)

Moses said “if he hath found some uncleanness in her” write up those divorce papers. Now, he went on to say that if she remarries and her husband dies she may not return to her first husband if the subsequent husband dies, because, she is defiled. Hard hearts end a lot of marriages even today. In the event of adultery, a sexual defilement, divorce is authorized by Jesus. It’s educational that the divorced woman in Deuteronomy is defiled by her marital activities in her second marriage and she may not return nor be accepted back into her first husband’s arms. Jesus legislates that being sexually unchaste on the part of one, is the only permissive cause for the innocent party in a divorce to remarry. According to the King James Version, the person who marries the guilty party engages in a status of adultery so long as their marriage stands. Read it carefully.

“…whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)

Living in adultery is a sad condition. Many times it ends in broken homes when correction takes place. Even Joseph was going to put away Mary for a premarital affair (Matthew 1:19). If he had not been told by the angel of the Lord that her pregnancy was of God’s Spirit, Mary would have been like so many single mothers. Adultery causes shame and broken hearts. It is very emotional. Sometimes so emotional that we tend to look the other way when couples living in it attend faithfully to every church assembly. There is more to say from 1 Corinthians 7.

The first thing addressed by the apostle Paul is marriage fidelity as we have been discussing. He writes in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 the following.

(1)  Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. (2)  Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. (3)  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. (4)  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. (5)  Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

There is only one thing that takes precedence over husband and wife private relations and that is spirituality. Specifically, mentioned here is giving yourselves to fasting and prayer. Fasting is probably one of the single most neglected commands in the law of Christ. It is meant to be an exercise over mind and body. While the world pollutes the mind with its seductions, prayer and fasting motivates us to focus on our God. He is most important above all else, even our spouse. Satan tempts husbands and wives with sex day and night if the husband and wife are not strong enough in their relationship to endure. They must therefore be giving of themselves.

God intends for marriages to work and last. Consider the following words from 1 Corinthians chapter seven.

(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 Corinthians 7:10-11)

Paul here references Jesus on marriage and divorce. In this passage no authority for divorce and remarriage is given. We infer the exception clause of fornication because we read about it being spoken directly from such passages as Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 to be understood in 1 Corinthians 7. Neither Paul nor Jesus excluded non-Christians from this mandate. Divorce and remarriage on any ground in respect to any authorized marriage is forbidden any person, except in the case where fornication was the final factor, causing the putting away. I say again, and I have the Bible to say so, no married person whether prior to baptism or thereafter has the permission to divorce and remarry except where sexual immorality was the catalyst of the divorce. It is God’s designated will for man to cleave to his wife for life.

Now concerning those couples who have divorced, it is written, “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 7:11). The point to be stressed here is that God wills for divorced couples to remain single or be reconciled to their spouse. Restoration of the sanctified marriage is very important. If because of hard hearts a couple divorces, the two are to remain unmarried. Granted there is a divorce – an unauthorized divorce. There are two options. Namely, each is to remain unmarried or else be reconciled. These are the only two authorized conditions in the Bible for those who have divorced for a reason other than for the cause of sexual immorality.

In regards to the scenario involving a Christian married to a non-Christian Paul writes the following.

 (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 Corinthians 7:12-16)

The point Paul is making is that mixed marriages are as solid and sanctified as that which is between two Christians. It could be that one party in the marriage has become a Christian while the other rejected the law of the Gospel. There are some who marry unbelievers. The children are holy because the marriage is holy. The big issue many people want to understand is whether the Christian has the right to remarry if the unbelieving spouse divorces and leaves the marriage. Go back to 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. The Lord’s command for the mixed marriage is the same for the marriage between two Christians. While divorce has occurred it is not the Christian’s fault. Paul does not contradict the law of Christ. It is one and the same. The Christian and the nonbeliever must remain unmarried or be reconciled to their spouse. God is not the author of confusion and His laws do not authorize remarriage in either case unless sexual immorality was the cause for the divorce. God’s will is that we convert an unbelieving spouse. Energy in any other direction is pointless (1 Peter 3:1).

Let me say something about strong marriages. Divorce is never considered by the couple who sacrificially submit in everything to one another, with the love God teaches in the Bible (Ephesians 5:21). Whether the world accepts it or not, Christians humbly comply with the New Testament teachings regarding husband and wife roles in the home. Ephesians 5:22 says of wives, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Women who love their husbands do so God’s way. They feel spiritually satisfied when they do. Men are told “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Sacrificially love like Christ has for the church is the bedrock foundation in the Christian home. Never embittered with his first love the husband answers his call from the New Testament. “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Colossians 3:19). He seeks to understand his bride “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).  The man’s head is Christ and the woman’s head is the man. 1 Corinthians 11:3. Combine these aspects with all the law of Christ and the couple will have a happy, healthy, long marriage.

-Donny Weimar, TBC Online Instructor

 

 

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