It is true that the hard teachings of the New Testament will not be popular with the masses. And you can see from contemporary Christian churches today that they have given in to the world’s idea of divorce and remarriage. Standing faithful is no longer necessary.
But it does not have to stay that way in our churches. This topic is one that is best taught before the situation arises, rather than trying to repair homes when divorce and remarriage hit them. We need to teach them now to prevent homes from falling apart later.
With this post, I know I’m going to step on somebody’s toes somewhere. Divorce and remarriage has probably touched all of us today. I even have it in my own family and amongst my friends. This is not meant to point a finger, but to do what I mentioned a while back — to explain why I believe what I do. And if God can use it to speak to someone’s heart, then may He be glorified in it.
Is Divorce and Remarriage Biblical?
1. God’s design in marriage was for one man and one woman to remain married until death should separate them. Jesus even acknowledged this when the Pharisees came to Him and asked if it was lawful for a man to put away his wife.
“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.” Mark 10:3-8
This was the plan from the beginning and God’s ultimate design in marriage.
2. Jesus puts it pretty plain about how God considers divorce and remarriage.
“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 10:11-12
3. Some will use the clause “except for fornication” as their loophole in allowing divorce and remarriage. “…Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery….” Matthew 19:9 But is it really what God meant?
I believe this clause means just what it says — fornication (which is immoral sexual union before marriage). Most scholars will say this was for the Jewish betrothal period and if one or the other was found unfaithful in that time, they were allowed to let them go. The Jewish betrothal was different than ours is today — it had a much stronger bond. See Matthew 1:19 where Joseph considered putting Mary away privately when she was found with child in their betrothal period.
Another thing to remember is that this word “fornication” is a different word than “adultery” — although used in the same sentence. It is the same word that is used in I Corinthians 7:2 where Paul is instructing that to avoid fornication, each man should have his own wife. Fornication was used in reference to a person who was presently unmarried.
4. What if they have an unbelieving partner? And we will include in this someone who is not faithful to their marriage vows.
“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.” I Corinthians 7:10-11
I have seen firsthand where there are times couples need to separate in order to resolve sin issues. Sometimes this is needful and helps to restore them together, when done in the right way. I believe a couple who is separating needs to do so only with the intention of restoration in mind.
Paul also says in I Corinthians 7:15 “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save they wife?”
I believe there is a certain level of responsibility (or “bondage”) that a person is released from when the unbelieving departs. Once they have done all they can to apply what Paul spoke of in the verses prior to this one about sanctifying their spouse and that spouse still leaves, then it might be time to let them go in peace. Sometimes letting them go is what may bring them back.
Notice that I did not say they are released from their marriage vows to “be faithful until death”. I also don’t believe that is what Paul meant here. For if he did, he would be going strictly against what Jesus Himself said in the verses above.
Simply put, there is a certain level of responsibility that the faithful partner is released from concerning the path their departed partner has taken.
5. What if one partner demands divorce?
There are cases where a spouse does not have the choice of whether or not they accept the divorce, but they do have the choice on whether or not they will remain single and faithful to their departed partner.
Read these verses again: “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 10:11-12
The act of adultery is not in the divorce or separation itself, but in the remarrying after.
I am a firsthand witness to people who have remained faithful to their spouse, in spite of divorce. They’ve done all they can and yet the partner still leaves, demanding divorce in the process.
I know it takes a great deal of solid faith to remain faithful to their spouse, but these people don’t realize how much of a testimony their commitment is to those of us looking on.
The world is all about how we can satisfy our own selves and assert our own rights. But if you want to see true love, you will find it in these people.
May we all be able to say before God on Judgement Day that we did our best to be faithful.