Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Doctrine or Opinion? Divorce and Remarriage

Past Posts:

This is a touchy subject but one that is in dire need to be confronted. The Light of Truth should be shown over every area of our lives and although sometimes we would rather run from the Light, let us choose, instead, to walk in it, shall we?

We all know that marriage was the first institution established by God in Genesis, chapter 2. Samuele Bacchiocchi wrote, "No one knows how divorce began. The Biblical record shows that, unlike marriage, divorce was not instituted by God. There is no indication in the Bible suggesting that God introduced and institutionalized divorce after the Fall as part of His order for human society. Divorce is "man-made," not divinely ordained. It represents human rejection of God’s original plan for the indissolubility of the marriage bond." Agreed. It is a holy and sacred covenant that symbolizes the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Body of Christ. Honoring and upholding the marriage vows brings honor and glory to the Lord and also produces many blessings upon our lives. Marriage is not only a covenant between the man and woman but a covenant with God.

Maybe you got married too young or before you knew Christ, and maybe God had nothing to do with your selection of the person. But let me repeat doctrine and make it clear: It makes no difference. Once you make that commitment in marriage, God recognizes it as a covenant no matter who you married (1 Corinthians 7:10-17). In today's society, a fad that is in the church as much as it is in the world is to not take the marriage covenant as seriously as we once did. The recent "no fault" divorce law makes the dissolution of marriage so easy that some lawyers advertise divorce services for less than $100.00! Today, if a Christian wants a divorce, they twist the scriptures to fit their desire, they refuse to be soft and reconciling, and they heed the voices that say, "There, there...it's okay. You deserve better anyway. You have to think about yourself, you know." They then try to justify their decision, coming up with all sorts of wild ideas why it's okay to divorce. But hear me out....that is not what Jesus, our God, taught.

Jesus taught that marriage was intended to be permanent. And, to get into the subject today, He taught that remarriage after divorce is adultery. We are all familiar with the scene in Matthew 19 and also in Mark 10 when the Pharisees come to Jesus and asked Him about this very thing. It says:

"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." - Mark 10:2-9

Samuele Bacchiocchi wrote: "Christ’s answer is characteristic. He immediately calls attention to God’s original plan for marriage, almost chiding them for failing to realize that divorce is totally alien to such a plan. God’s original plan consists of a man and a woman being united in a marriage bond so strong that the two actually become one flesh (Gen 2:26; Matt 19:6; Mark 10:8). The "one flesh" unity of the couple is reflected especially in their offspring who partake of the genetic characteristics of father and mother, and the two are absolutely inseparable. Jesus affirms that it is God Himself who actually joins together a couple in marriage and what God has joined together no human being has the right to separate."

As John Murray puts it, "Divorce is the breaking of a seal which has been engraven by the hand of God."

So we can see that Jesus took marriage quite seriously. In fact, in Matthew's account, Jesus corrected the Pharisees with their verb usage. In chapter 19 of Matthew, verse 7, the Pharisees say that Moses commanded them to give a bill of divorcement. Jesus, then, corrected them by reminding the Pharisees that Moses suffered (i.e. allowed) a bill of divorcement to be written. Jesus goes on to say some pretty strong things about divorce and remarriage....

Mark 10:11-12
"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."
Notice that there is no "if's" or "but's" or "unless" used here. It's plain and simple. You divorce and remarry, no matter what the situation is, it is still adultery. And for heaven's sake, let us please begin to call sin, sin.
Romans 7:2-3
"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.”

1 Corinthians 7:10-11
"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 7:27
Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

1 Corinthians 7:39
"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."

Luke 16:18
"Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."

Obviously, Jesus does not recognize divorce as terminating a marriage. The reason a second marriage is called adultery is because the first one is considered to still be valid. So Jesus is taking a stand against the culture in which all divorce was considered to carry with it the right of remarriage. And I stand with Him. Pretty simple, hm? That shouldn't be too difficult to interpret. But man still often has problems with it. Big problems, in fact. Throughout time, man has attempted to make God's law say what he wants at the time. But try as we might, the truth still stands and endures forever.

Now on to some big questions....

Q) What if I am divorced and remarried already?

A) To that, I say this: There is grace and forgiveness. However, just as Jesus said, "Go and sin no more," we should do the same. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins. I know plenty of couples who divorced and remarried before becoming believers in Christ. Is is still a sin? Yes. Is there forgiveness? Yes, when we call upon the Lord and confess and repent. But let it be noted that though our God offers grace to us, that NEVER means we are to justify sin under any circumstance. If it's in the past, then call it what it is and cry out to God for forgiveness. Then move on and allow Him to teach you more. There will be limitations as to what you will be allowed to do (i.e. be a Pastor, serve as a deacon, etc.) but God can still use you, just as He used the murderer, David; the prostitute, Rahab; the adulteress, Mary of Magdala; and the self-proclaimed chief of sinners, Paul.

Q) I divorced and am now remarried. Can I be clean again?

A) Of course. David not only committed fornication and adultery, he also murdered and deliberately disobeyed God. And in Psalm 51, he goes before God, confessing his sins, crying for mercy, and longing to be clean again. Over and over in that chapter, he expressed his desire to have "a clean heart," to be purged, to be made "whiter than snow." We serve a God who said that He can (and will if we repent) make our sin white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). After all, ALL sin is black. And ALL sin can be forgiven. And, praise God, when HE forgives, He forgets.
Q) What if I am remarried but decide to go back to my first spouse?

A) This is considered an abomination according to the Word (Deuteronomy 24:2-4; Jeremiah 3:1). To go back and forth is only polluting and defiling the land and the people of God more and more. Obviously, it is best to never divorce in the first place. Uphold your marriage vows. Remain true to your covenant. By doing so, you will reap good things. If you break them and remarry, you have committed adultery. But to leave and remarry yet again is only vomiting out more filth.

Q) Does God hate me? Does the Church hate me because of what I've done?

A) It is important to remember that God hates divorce....not the divorcèe. God hates sin...not the sinner. Yes, He will judge and chasten those who go against Him, but His ears are always listening and His arms are always open to those who will come to Him for mercy. As Christians, we need to remember to speak the truth, but also to show love. We should reflect Christ’s compassionate attitude toward those who have experienced the trauma of divorce, just as we should show grace to those who have murdered, lied, fornicated, etc. Christ dealt graciously with the Samaritan woman who had been married five times (John 4:6-26). We ought to do the same. And let us also remember that divorce and remarriage is not the unpardonable sin. Though it is a grave and serious sin that should be called what it is, it is no more of a sin than ours.

The simple appeal I would like to make is this: Can we please stop justifying sin? Do we really and truly believe that we grow closer to the Lord God by deliberately disobeying God, then justifying our sin and making our blackness "no big deal"? Don't you think that we will be more blessed and have a better understanding of truth and grace if we chose to agree with Jesus Christ and what HE has said, and then humbly come to Him for forgiveness? I think so....


Joe said...

AMEN! I know I have made my feelings be known about this subject and it was quite controversial, but I want to see those who have remarried telling those young people who are considering divorce or remarriage to NOT do it. I see far too many encouraging it. Its not being a good christian example when you are encouraging sin!

Jennifer said...


You know my part on this subject, as we have shared some things. The blood of Jesus is an amazing cleanser... but this does not justify that proclaimed Christians continue to make excuses for self-gratification. The toughest to swallow for me is the once in grace, always in grace. The world has made it too easy to look for loop holes in God's word... but they're non-existent! Marriages ending hastily to satisfy self rather than seeking God for restoration is unacceptable. God's word is not full of if's, and's or but's... it is clear cut scripture we should take seriously and adhere to fearfully.

It's wonderful to see the Lord using you, Kristen, to boldly bring His word forth without hesitation or sugar coating. God bless you my friend.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with you that divorce was not created by God and is all too often sought because things get a little bit hard, I have to ask what would your position be in the case of an abusive marriage? And what of those who are abandoned when they did not want a divorce from their spouse - in no fault states, divorce does not have to be by mutual consent?

Kristen Elizabeth Lee said...

In the case of abuse, LEAVE. If you or your children are in danger, get out. But there is a big difference than getting out of the house and away from the abuser and divorcing him/her. The Bible says divorce is allowed de to adultery. There is no other reason, so we must stick by that and obey.

I understand that there are many cases where divorces can be made final without mutual consent. If it was me and my husband decided to up and divorce me, and me being powerless to stop it, then all I could do it fight and TRY to stop it. But if I couldn't, and the law goes on, then I would still live my life as though I were married...because in God's eyes, I am. If you are in that situation, coninue on if there is nothing you can do. BUT until your spouse dies, you are bound to him/her. That is Bible doctrine.

Hope that helps! :)

Anonymous said...

Wondering what you would say to this author (it is quite lengthy, I am specifically referring to the paragraph where she discusses God making the reference to Him divorcing Israel)


Anon said...

What if the person who left remarries? Would the wife then be free to remarry? Would that fall under adultry and the wife then be freed?

Kristen Elizabeth Lee said...

Anonymous -
I think many people twist parable verses (and verses in general) and ignore the verses which are plain, blunt, English. I believe the verse she is talking about is spiritual. Yes, God "divorced" them. Meaning He left them - spiritually. He will not always strive with man. One day, He will get fed up with your (or my) disobedience or with one who continues to refuse Him. So He removes Himself and cannot be found. I will continue to read nd re-read the article and study.

Yet on the other hand we have Jesus who promises to never forsake or "divorce" His bride, the Church, no matter what (John 10:28-29). If love covers a multitude of sins and we should emulate Christ, then should we not love our spouses unconditionally as well? If Christ promises to never leave us or forsake us - His bride - should we not also do the same?

Anon -
The answer is found in Luke 16:18 which says, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering my question. I may not agree with all of your opinions, but I definitely can and do appreciate your honesty and thoughtful responses. It is not easy to be a light in this world; I think that it is wonderful that you are using your blog to do that.

Elsie said...

I stumbled upon this blog while searching the topic. I hope you can get this even though it's an old post. Do you believe that the people who are remarried are living in sin? Even if they repent of the original divorce and realize remarriage goes against God. Should they end the marriage because wouldn't it be a state of adultery. Under God isn't the first marriage still valid and the new one isn't?

Kristen Elizabeth said...

Hi Elsie,

Question #1 - I believe that, yes, it is a sin. Sin is sin and it will always be sin, regardless of what WE think about. However, if you repent then you can be made clean and the Lord forgives you. Psalm 51 is a good passage for this as David wrote it after he sinned with Bathsheba. That is the beautiful thing about the blood of Christ. Once a sin is confessed AND repented of - whether that sin be adultery, murder, homosexuality, or lying! - the blood of Jesus wipes our slate clean. That is no excuse to not call sin what it is, but it shows us how longsuffering the Lord is.

Question #2 - Should they end the second marriage and go back to their first? I don't believe so. This is considered an abomination according to Deuteronomy 24:2-4 and Jeremiah 3:1. To go back and forth is only polluting and defiling the land and the people of God more and more. Obviously, it is best to NEVER divorce in the first place. If you break God's commands and remarry, you have committed adultery. But to leave and remarry yet again is only vomiting out more filth.

I hope that answers your questions. :)


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