Sunday, November 13, 2011 am
GODLY HOMES IN AN
UNGODLY WORLD (5)
Divorce and Remarriage 3
Thus far we have examined the act of marriage, what the Bible says about divorce and last week we examined who has a right to marry a 2nd time. We determined that the Bible gives provisions for remarriage when a spouse dies (Rom. 7:2-3, 1 Cor. 7:39) and in Matthew 19:9 Jesus said, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” The context indicates that the innocent party whose spouse has violated the marriage covenant through fornication (which is any unlawful sexual relations outside of the marriage bed – Heb. 13:4) has the right to divorce (Matt. 5:31-32) and remarry (Matt. 19:9). Other than that, God will not recognize a marriage and therefore, those who are in an unscriptural marriage are living in adultery (Matt. 5:32, 14:4, Ezra 10:1-4, 1 Cor. 5:1-2).
HOWEVER, because of the emotional nature of the consequences of divorce and remarriage, which might include children, many have “reexamined” Matt. 19:9 and other texts to allow for some, if not all marriages which take place after a divorce to be spiritually legalized. While the intent is good (and it makes our jobs of seeking the lost easier if we don’t have to address this subject) it perverts the word of God. In our lesson today, we want to examine some of the ways this subject has been interpreted, almost always permitting divorce where God has not allowed it. We will also address what God expects for a couple who discovers that they are in an unscriptural marriage.
What Jesus taught is NOT universally accepted today. In fact, because this is an unpopular saying of Jesus, it has been manipulated to allow divorces and remarriage for reasons other than the exception Jesus permitted. Some add a single circumstance while others will go as far as universal permission (i.e. you can remarry for any reason). Among the arguments that are made:
This law only applies to believers. Some advocate
that divorces which occurred before one obeys the gospel, do not apply
to the law of Matt. 19:9.
They contend that since one repents before obeying the gospel the
consequences of this sin are washed away in baptism.
Therefore, once on becomes a Christian they are obligated to stay
with their current spouse applying the laws of God.
Homer Hailey advocated this position openly toward the end of his life. But Jesus said, “From the beginning it was not so.” Jesus indicated in our text (Matt. 19:8).
Also, such an argument disregards what the Bible teaches about repentance which we will discuss in a few moments.
It was a part of the Old
Some argue that what Jesus taught was under the Old Law and
therefore doesn’t apply today.
(NOTE: This is sometimes used to argue that divorce is not
permitted under ANY circumstance, including the exception of Matt.
But as it reads, Jesus is teaching more than the Old Law. The Old Law permitted divorce for reasons other than fornication. What Jesus says doesn’t! Matt. 19:9 begins, “And I say to you” in contrast to the Law.
Also, the gospels were written AFTER the church was established to establish that Jesus IS the founder of the New Law. It explains what Jesus intended to bring in. Also, this ignores other passages we have noted in Romans and 1 Corinthians. If anything, it would remove the exception for fornication.
c. Distinguishing between putting away and divorce. IT is argued that what Jesus was condemning was the neglect of a wife that was put away but not divorced (and therefore she could not remarry). But Jesus is answering a question about the certificate of DIVORCE which did permit remarriage (cf. Deut. 24:1-4, etc.). Jesus restricts BEYOND the law dealing with divorce.
It is argued that if one divorces a spouse for reasons other than
fornication, he/she can wait until their mate commits adultery and then
mentally divorce them (Since marriage takes place before God and can
only be scripturally dissolved by God).
This is NOT supported by any text and is gross perversion of God’s laws. In fact, when you consider Matt. 5:32 when it talks about “causes her to commit adultery” it would address this very thing and place GUILT on the one divorcing for a reason other than fornication. You are NOT innocent. Consider one’s neglect of their obligations as recorded in 1 Cor. 7:1-5.
IF the innocent party
can remarry, then so can the guilty party because God recognizes the
But that provision is NOT stated in the text.
Again read Matt. 5:32 and if the final phrase of Matt. 19:9
belongs, it qualifies that the one who is divorced if they remarry are
guilty of adultery – PERIOD! (Except the death of the spouse)
ONE of the consequences of this is that if a couple wants to divorce, they can agree for one to deliberately go out and commit fornication so that they can divorce and remarry. In other words, they are complicit in sinful conduct so that they can get out of their marriage. How pathetic, but why is that not possible if the guilty party can also remarry? Isn’t this saying there is no real and lasting consequence to breaking your marriage vows? NOTE: After last week’s lesson I was informed of a congregation in the northwest where a couple that wanted to divorce went to the elders. The elders counseled them by saying something to this effect, “If one of you goes out and commits adultery, you can divorce and both remarry.”
Friends, I ask, WHERE in scripture does God approve of an ESCAPE from consequences of one’s actions by committing sin????????
Repent of past divorce(s). Some will say if
you repent of your divorce, you can remain with your current spouse and
resolve to not divorce again.
This misunderstands repentance which involves making wrongs right to the best of your ability (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10-11).
g. Matt. 5:27-28 – Lust is cause for adultery. Some argue that if one is guilty of viewing pornography that is grounds (or could lead to grounds) for divorce.
i. In this age of instant lustful gratification, there are many who get caught up in the game of lust. Pornography is readily available in our homes and in numerous other venues. While pornography is sinful, based upon Matt. 5:28 and other texts (Gal. 5:19 – lewdness, 2 Pet. 2:14, Prov. 6:25, etc.) and calls for repentance as any other sin.
ii. if you examine the message of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is using extreme examples to drive home the point of the terribleness of sin. In the same context, Jesus says to cut off your right hand or pluck out your right eye if they offend you (cause you to sin) – Matt. 5:29-30. He also said that “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause is in danger of the judgment.” (Matt. 5:21-22), a description that under the Old Law was used for the murderer.
iii. The point Jesus was making is that you need to address the underlying attitudes and motives to prevent the actual crimes (i.e. murder and adultery). He also notes that SIN occurs well before the extreme acts and it needs to be repented of.
iv. BUT, fornication is a physical act in which the marriage bed is defiled by engaging in unlawful sexual relations. Pornography does not meet that standard.
This is NOT to trivialize the sin of pornography.
It can destroy trust and intimacy in a marriage relationship,
damage one’s moral constitution, it can distort one’s mind as to what
the marriage bed consists of, and it often LEADS TO fornication
(consider WHY Jesus gave this warning in the first place).
And it can lead to a multitude of sins.
The Bible says that we should flee these desires (1 Cor. 6:18, 2 Tim. 2:22 – youthful lusts, Rom. 6:12, 1 Pet. 2:11 – abstain from fleshly lusts, etc.).
Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman.” (Job 31:1). What wonderful advice for all of us to consider!
h. Others could be added to these. But in each case, it requires a manipulation or complex interpretation of a PLAIN passage of scripture. How would a 6th grader interpret Matt. 19:9? As with so many doctrines today, it takes help (i.e. man’s wisdom) to misunderstand it!
NOTE: One final
observation I want to make about these arguments.
Do you firmly believe what God says about this subject? (I didn’t
ask if you like it) IF so,
STAND UP AND DEFEND THE TRUTH and condemn that which is error!
Souls are at stake!
Churches have divided over this issue. Some churches have chosen to IGNORE the issue or avoid dealing with it. Others have advocated outright error and are in effect fellowshipping adulterers. That is a pathetic way to deal with souls that are in danger of being lost. IF you know of a brother in sin you are OBLIGATED to go to him and warn him and give him an opportunity to repent (Jas. 5:19-20, Gal. 6:1, etc.) This subject is a matter of moral conduct which IS important to God (cf. 1 Cor. 5:1-7) and addresses the deeper issue of RESPECT for the authority of the word of God.
IF A CONGREGATION WILL NOT STAND FOR THE TRUTH ON THIS SUBJECT or any other it is UNSOUND (cf. Rev. 2:12-17, 18-29)! If WE KNOW THAT A CONGREGATION IS UNSOUND, WE SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY FELLOWSHIP WITH THEM or leave the impression that they are fine when we know better! Ephesians 5:11 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”
2 John 9-11 deals with one who comes to you with something other than the truth (i.e. the doctrine of Christ). John says that if you receive him you share in his evil deeds. Brethren, it’s time to take a stand!
a. Understand that God does NOT recognize the marriage. Therefore, as long as you remain in that relationship you are guilty of adultery (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:8-9, etc.). You tell me what he should do!
b. He/she has to repent. That means dissolving the unscriptural relationship.
i. Repentance means “to change one’s mind”. It does NOT simply mean to say, “I’m sorry and won’t do that again.” (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10). It is a change of mind that leads to a change of conduct. It is best described in 2 Cor. 7:11. In essence you do what you have to do to prove yourself “clear in this matter”.
ii. We understand that when one repents it might involve the need to make right that which you have wronged. For example, if you stole something and then obeyed the gospel, you know that you cannot keep that which you stole. IT is still NOT YOURS! You have to return it and face the consequences. Recall what Zacchaeus said in Luke 19:8, “Look, Lord, I give half my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” That is repentance!
iii. A homosexual who obeys the gospel must QUIT engaging in homosexual activity (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11, “and such were some of you…”). A drunkard must quit drinking. A gambler must quit gambling. A sexually promiscuous single must quit fornicating. We know this.
What makes an
unscriptural marriage any different than these things?
You can argue the emotions of the sin and how God desires that
one marry rather than burn (1 Cor. 7:8), but that doesn’t change the
consequences of your actions.
Repentance means making right what you can make right.
v. Simply stated, if you are in an adulterous marriage, you have to dissolve it and live as a “eunuch for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” Matthew 19:10-12
c. The Bible DOES give an example of unscriptural marriages being dissolved. Ezra 10:1-4, 44. The people had married foreign wives which God forbade. They were to put them away. NOTE: Some of these marriages involved children.
d. One might argue that you are dissolving a loving relationship, when the previous relationship “was a mistake”. Some argue that you are breaking up families. Some argue that you are putting one in circumstance that they cannot fulfill – (i.e. 1 Cor. 7:9 – better to marry than to burn – NOTE: read the context. It doesn’t justify unscriptural marriages.).
i. All such arguments are SUBJECTIVE. They are based upon emotions! Don’t base your salvation on “I think”! “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12, 16:25) Paul “thought” he was doing the right thing while persecuting Christians (Ac. 26:9).
ii. Such does not change what the Bible says. Are we to infer that we must only change those things which are easy to change when we learn the truth? WHO determines what is too hard to change?
iii. Do you want to risk your soul on what you THINK God will accept? Also realize that you are gambling with your soul and you place your brethren in a dilemma that could engager their souls as well (be fellowshipping error).
And thus we can see what the Bible teaches about who can marry, divorce and remarry. This is a difficult subject and it is not pleasant. But, as with all that God says, we must respect His boundaries. I have spent considerable time discussing this BECAUSE we MUST take our marriages seriously. And the time to realize that is BEFORE you say, “I do.” In our next lesson we will examine some things we ought to do to prepare for marriage.