DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
The Questions Answered
DANA R. CHANDLER
SECOND AVENUE CHURCH OF CHRIST
Many questions fill the minds of modern men and women today, with the prominent ones dealing with life and religion. It is surprising that many do not realize that we cannot have the one without the other. Religion is not something to talk about, to argue over, to belong to, or to "feel good" about; it is something much more; it is a way of life.
But to many, the religion found in the Bible is outmoded; it just does not fit this modern age. People, today insist that they and only they have the right to make decisions on right and wrong, on righteousness and sin. Their feelings become their life and in effect their religion. The banner of many is "if it feels good, do it"; and this is often the case of many so-called Christians.
This same type of attitude filters over into the world's concept of love. They reason that love, no matter how it is found or with whom it is found, is good. We are plagued with homosexual marriages, living together between unmarried people and other sexual deviances. All of this is but man's attempt to satisfy his or her worldly lusts. Do these means of sexual gratification meet God's definition of love?
To Christians, love and God are inseparable: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (John 5:3)
Love is not only a sweet feeling in one's heart, but is defined by the commandments of the Creator, and is synonymous with keeping them. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the Christian to strive to understand God's word in order to know whether that which he or she is doing is right and true, and to achieve the type of love that we should possess.
It is because of this desire for knowledge that many questions have arisen concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage; because of the current generation's leniency over matters of religion, many are attracted to the possibility that if they cannot live with their spouse then they can dispose of them through secular divorce and remarry whomever they please. Close examination of the scriptures reveal that this is not the case.
It is the intent of this pamphlet to explore God's word and to find those things that are applicable to marriage, and to apply them to the current Christian age. We must recognize that God's word, the Bible, has authority over every aspect of a Christian's life. The Book of James records the following:
"But whosoever looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth in it, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:25)
In examining the question: "What does the Bible say concerning, marriage, divorce and remarriage?” we will examine four topics:
1. God's original intent for marriage.
2. God's intent for marriage under the Mosaical age.
3. God's intent for marriage in the Christian age.
4. Questions concerning particular cases of marriage, divorce and remarriage.
Please consider these thoughts in love and in concern of the dire consequences for not accepting what the Bible has to say on this important subject. May God bless us all in the study of his word.
1. God's Original Intent for Marriage.
In the beginning, we are told that God created man and woman as the climax of His creation (see: Genesis 1:26 & 27), Verse 31 then records Gods response to his creation:
"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." (Gen 1:31)
In other words, His creation was perfect: without spot, blemish or sin to mar it. This is also true of His original purpose for the relationship between man and woman. Moses discusses this in Genesis 2:22-24:
"And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto man. And Adam said, this 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 mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:22-24)
An important word to notice is found in verse 24. The word cleave comes from the Hebrew word 'dabaq' which means: “To cling or keep close. Used in modern Hebrew- "to stick to, adhere to" also this word yields the noun form for glue." (Nelson's Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament). William S. Yarbrough, in his pamphlet entitled: "Enjoy Life with Your Wife...Ecc.
'By using the word 'cleave' we understand that there is a cementing, a joining, a welding of togetherness, that Jesus has confirmed,"
God's intent from the beginning was for a man and a woman to marry for life. This lifelong relationship is plied in the term "one flesh"-meaning they can not be separated while both are living. These two, when united in marriage, shall be one flesh or one body, indissoluble, till one of them dies. This interpretation is accepted universally among scholars and commentators (though this alone does not make it correct). The Prophet Malachi discusses this very subject:
"Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hest dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed, therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” (Malachi 2:14-15)
Notice that Malachi said that a man and a woman are one in marriage. One man for one woman, so that the union is acceptable or "godly." Our Lord confirms this as God's intent (and therefore sets precedence for the proper interpretation of Gen. 2:24) in Mark 10:6-9
"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 10:6-9)
Our Lord adds that this union is created by God and has nothing to do with the ceremonies of man. He also points out that no one can dissolve this union. The word "no" comes from the Greek word 'oudeis' meaning: not everyone, none, not any at all (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, no, 3762). The reasoning is, if God, who is the Supreme Intellect, decides that these two become one, then who is man to think that he can separate them. He can't! Therefore, divorce, which originated with man (see next section), cannot desecrate the marriage bond. This was God's intent from the beginning, but, under the Law of Moses, things changed.
2. Gods Intent for Marriage under the Mosaical Age.
Our Lord was approached by the Pharisees concerning the Mosaical Law and what it had to say about divorce and remarriage. Matthew records their discourse:
"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting (trying. d.r.c.) him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, have ye not read that he who 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? Wherefore, they are no more twain, but
one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:3 6)
Our Lord answers their question by quoting (from Gen 2:23-24) that God's intent from the beginning was quite different from that which was posed. It is quite obvious that the Pharisees understood our Lord's answer, because they did not dispute what he had said. But, they continued to press him about the current law that they were under.
Continuing with verse 7
'They say unto him, why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered (permitted d.r.c.) you to put away your wives, but front the beginning it was not so." (Matthew 19: 7)
There are two important points that are worthy of attention. First, notice that Our Lords comments are directed at the Jew's in that he uses ''you" or "your" three times in verse 8. Obviously this passage is in reference to that which is found in the book of Deuteronomy 24:1-4:
"When a man hath taken a wife, and mauled her, and it come to pass that she find no favor 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. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. 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, who took her to be his wife. Her former husband, who 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)
The word "uncleanness", found in verse 1, is defined by Strong's Exhausting Concordance of The Bible as follows: from the Hebrew word " 'ervah" which means "nakedness, shame, impure or unclean." The proper interpretation of this passage has been a source of debate for many years and doubtless will be until the Lord returns.
A brief study of this passage, in conjunction with other Old Testament scriptures, may provide us with a plausible explanation.
It is clear that the sin in question, in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, does not deal with an adulterous affair. If adultery were the case, then the woman and her lover were to be killed. This law is mentioned in Deuteronomy 22:22 and in Leviticus 20:10‑
"If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman. So shalt thou put away evil from Israel,' (Deuteronomy 22:22)
“And the man who committeth adultery with another mans wife, even he who committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10)
The only other alternative to explain Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is that the woman in question was found to have committed an act of sexual immorality before her marriage, the length of time between the marriage ceremony and the detection of the immoral act is not revealed in the passage. What is revealed is the fact that she had not informed her prospective husband of her act, but had deliberately kept it from him. Her sexual impurity, coupled with her deceit, allowed the husband to issue her a writ of divorcement.
The term “Hardness of your hearts”, as used in Matt.19:8 must be in reference to the Jews attempt to evade that which is written in Dent. 24:1-4. The possibility of them using this law improperly is found in this example:
"A certain Jewish man and woman have been married for 10 years. At this point the husband does not wish to remain married to his wife because she has not born him any children. He then carries her to the elders of the town and announces that he has found that she was unchaste before they were married. Because of his hard heart, the divorce is granted even though she may or may not have been guilty of the infraction."
Moses at tempts to restrict divorces for any reason and tries to protect the Innocent individuals if there is a divorce.
The purpose of this law was not only to protect the husband, but also the wife. Women that had been found unclean were often chastised and avoided by their families and their peers. They would then have to endure many hardships and would often die at an early age. The writ divorcement would allow her to marry another man and, therefore, avoid the problems of trying to support herself. But, if she continued on with her sexual impurity and deceit, then she is given a divorce with the stipulation that she cannot marry again because she is 'defiled". She was held defiled by her second marriage.
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 also protects the woman in case she is falsely accused by her husband. It is quite possible that the husband might use this excuse of fornication to relieve himself of a problem marriage. The wife, upon gaining divorce, could marry another and live out her life without fear of retribution from others.
The concept of protecting the honor of the husband the wife, when sexual immorality has been claimed against the wife, is addressed in a passage of scriptures found in Deuteronomy 22:13-21
"If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate. And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid, And yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him, And they shall amerce him in (or fine him d.r.c.) an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel, Then they shall thing out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house; so shalt thou put evil away from among you." (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)
This passage deals with the problem of a woman accused of being unchaste. The man married the woman thinking that she was a virgin and then claims that she was not. The law then gives the requirements needed to prove her innocence or to proclaim her guilt. If proven guilty, the woman is stoned. If she is proven innocent, retribution is made to the family. This particular passage of scriptures is exclusive because it does not deal with the peculiarities surrounding the marriage of a widow and an unmarried man or the marriage of a virgin with a man that has been unchaste.
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 covers all the possibilities of marriage that Deuteronomy 22:13-30 does not. It must be noted that even though the bed clothes were required as evidence before the elders (Deut. 22:15 & 17) to prove or convict the wile, there are cases where the woman could not have physically left any evidence. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 would therefore have provided a law for this case also.
Another important point to notice is our Lord's statement attributing to Moses that wild is found in Deuteronomy 24:1 4. His statement, “Moses because of the hardness of your heads suffered you', must mean that God had not originated this law but allowed Moses to write it. Under the Mosaical period God allowed many things that he does not today. This is attested to in Acts 17:30:
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent." (Acts 17:30)
Returning to our Lord's discourse with the Pharisees found in Matthew 19: 8 & 9, the second point to notice, is that our Lord reiterates that from the beginning it was one man for one woman for life. It is obvious that Jesus was trying to get this point across so as to prepare them for the Christian Age.
Verse 9 continues with our Lord's statements:
"And I say unto you. Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another. committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her who is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:9)
The conjunction 'and’ is used to designate a continuation of the thought made in verse 8. Our Lord clarifies what the Law of Moses said in order to dispel any other "causes" for divorce and remarriage. He is not adding a new law here as some may like to believe; this would be a direct violation of His own words.
Think not that l am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of the least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall he called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19)
One other important point to discuss deals with the Pharisees' answer to what our Lord had to say. The fact is, though, that there is nothing else said by them. If our Lord had said something contrary to or in addition to the Law, then they would have entrapped him and would have had a reason to have him arrested. As we have seen, Jesus would not have done anything to jeopardize his position with God or those that followed him. His reasons for discussing any subject at all with the religious leaders of that day were to properly show what God had intended in His word. (See- Luke 2:46&47, Luke 4:22 and Matthew 7:28&29 for examples).
Another interesting passage of scripture dealing with our Lord's comments on the subject of marriage and divorce is found in Matthew 5:31-32:
"It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement. But I say unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving (except d.r.c.) for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall many her that is divorced committeth adultery.' (Matthew 5:31-32)
Although Jesus is not tempted by any of his enemies here, He is still dealing with Jewish people living under the Law of Moses during a time of great ignorance of the word of God, His statement, "It hath been said..." shows that His intent was to dispel any beliefs that were contrary to the word of God. He then proceeds to explain that there is only one cause for divorce and that is fornication.
Our Lord uses the term ‘fornication' here in chapter 5 as well as in chapter 19. The word in question comes from the Greek word 'porneia' which is defined as: "a.) of illicit sexual intercourse and/or includes adultery." (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Since the ‘word 'porneia' can mean either - a.) The act of sexual Intercourse between two that are unmarried or b.) The act of sexual intercourse between two people where at least one is married, we therefore must define the word in its proper context. As previously noted, our Lord is referring to that which is found in Deut, 24:1-4 and that is in reference to an act which was performed when the two were previously unmarried. It is through this that we can clearly determine our Lord's intent; 'porneia.' is in reference to sexual intercourse between two unmarrieds. It is obvious that sometimes a definite distinction is made between the words fornication and adultery. The Apostle Paul separates the two in the book of Hebrews:
"Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. But whoremongers (fornicators- 'porneia' d.r.c.) and adulterers God will judge," (Hebrews 13:4) *Note: The Greek word for adultery is 'Moichao', and is defined as "unlawful" intercourse with the spouse of another. (Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
Mark 10:2-12 poses another point which is worthy of discussion. Mark records Jesus' discourse with the Pharisees in parallel with Matthew chapter 19:3-9, but, with an interesting deletion.
"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 a man 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. 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 10:2-12)
Mark does not record our Lord mentioning an exception to the Pharisees. Likewise, after the discussion, his disciples asked him the same question to which he again avoids mentioning an exception. Verses 11 and 12 illustrate our Lords desire to prepare the disciples for a future time when there would be no acceptable reason for divorce.
Luke records only one place where the subject of marriage and divorce is discussed:
"Whososever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery. (Luke 16:18)
It almost stems as though Luke inserts this verse as an afterthought; but this is not the case. He is providing an overview of our Lord's topics of discussion with the Pharisees. It is at this point that he brings out this important point concerning divorce and remarriage. The implication here is that the kingdom of Christ would restore the same principles as found in the Garden of Eden. Note also that Luke points out that the error conies when the divorcee remarries, not when they separate (this point will be discussed later).
It is, therefore, plain to see that when our Lord discussed the subject of marriage and divorce it was always with an eye on Gods word and law. He emphasized that religion was a way of life that required deliberate actions and reactions. Marriage was intended to be a lifelong commitment that could not be taken lightly. Men and women should approach marriage in a logical and sincere manner, always considering the possible consequences that might arise because of their union. That old adage: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies here. If men and women would take the same time and considerations for marriage that they take in choosing a house or a car, it is quite possible that the divorce rate in this land would drastically drop.
3. God's Intent under the Christian Age.
When considering the Christian Age and its laws for marriage and divorce, we have but two important places to turn. The first is found in the Apostle Paul's letter to the church at Rome.
"For the woman who hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband as 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." (Romans 7:2-3)
No discussion is offered concerning a possible cause for separation other than death. This parallels God's plan. A marriage lasts till death parts the two. The Apostle reasons that the relationship between husband and wife and Christ and Christians is the same.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." (Romans 7:4)
When we obey the Gospel and take on the name of Christian, we remain a part of God's family until we die. If we should sin and remain in sin for awhile, then we are considered to be an 'erring' Christian (see I Corinthians 5:5 & 11). If we remain in sin until we die, then we separate ourselves from God's family and we can no longer wear the name. Physical death is the one thing that can separate us from God: if we die in our sins. There can be no reconciliation in death (see Matthew 7.21-23). This same concept is true concerning the marriage relationship. Physical death is the one thing that can separate a marriage.
The Apostle Paul clarifies the Christian's position on this subject.
"Now concerning the things about which ye wrote unto me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." (1 Corinthians 7:1-2)
The Apostle contends that every man should have his own wife and every woman her own husband. The word 'own' comes from the Greek word 'gnesios' which means-"primary, genuine or lawfully begotten" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). This denotes a singular relationship, such as that which was intended in God's original plan. The Apostle also defines the word 'fornication' as the act of sexual intercourse between two unmarrieds. See vs 2. This is God's plan for a man and woman to control their sexual urges.
Verses six (6) through nine (9) reveal further insight into the Apostle's discussion:
"But I speak this by permission, and not by commandment. For I would that all men were even as myself. But even, man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say, therefore, to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I, But if they cannot contain (have self-control, d.r.c) let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn." (I Corinthians 7:6-9)
Some have supposedly found a controversy with what the Apostle Paul says in verse 6. They propose that he is taking liberty with the scriptures by instituting his own opinion over that of God, but this is not the case. A close examination of this verse reveals that he was instituting a new command which was not previously revealed. In other words he was saying: "I am revealing something new to you which our Lord, Jesus Christ, had not previous covered." What he says in these verses certainly compliments what our Lord said during His earthly ministry.
His statement in verse 7 is in reference to his present state of singleness. He realizes, though, that most cannot remain single and he reasons that they might have a gift or talent to use in either the married or unmarried state (this might be a possible reference to those that are called to be elders or evangelists).
Probably the most important verses in this chapter and all of the New Testament concerning this subject are verses eight (8) and nine (9). He reasons that only two types of people may marry and they are the unmarried (those that have never been married-from the Greek word 'agamos' which means the opposite of married, (V.E.D.N.T.W) and widows. He gives no exceptions and does not include divorcees in this verse. His statement that they should remain single to more properly serve the Lord expresses his desire for them to devote their lives fully to God. However, they could marry to fulfill their sexual desires.
This in itself should be enough to convince any staunch supporter of divorce and remarriage that they are in error. But, alas, the world is just not interested in what the Bible has to say about the matter. They see something that they want and they take it without consulting God. This same type of attitude was prevalent during the time of the flood.
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark. Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:36-38 & 42)
It is quite evident that our world is on the brink of judgment and we should be striving to put our lives in order rather than contaminating ourselves with a multiplicity of wives or husbands.
4. Questions Concerning Particular Cases of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage:
The following are frequent questions asked concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage. An attempt is made to cover only those questions which are scripturally pertinent. Note: The answers provided can refer to men or women.
Question 1.) If two have married and divorced before they learn and obey the gospel, can they not marry again when they have become Christians?
This question suggests that God does not recognize the marriage between two that are outside of Christ. This is shown to be positively false again and again in the New Testament, both by precept and by example. The Apostle Paul settles this matter in the book of 1 Corinthians:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (I Corinthians 6:9)
God recognizes the sins associated with marriage and therefore recognizes the marriage itself.
This question also requires us to believe that we can obey the gospel without repentance, because it proposes that we can actually continue to violate God's law against adultery. This of course is absurd when considered in the clear light of the word of God. Repentance is the changing of one's heart or the absolute turning away from sin. How can one intend to continue in his or her present sinful state and yet claim that he or she has repented? They can't!
"I tell you, nay. But, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3)
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, so that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer in it? (Romans 6:1&2)
Question 2.) When a divorce has been obtained and one of the two marries another, if after a while they repent of their adulteress affair, can they go back, remarry and reestablish the union which was originally approved of by God?
Certainly they can and should because God did not recognize them as ever having been divorced in the first place. Here we see people confused by the mixture of civil and scriptural terms. The Apostle Paul alludes to this particular instance in the book of I Corinthians.
"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)
A spouse that leaves has only two options: 1. to remain unmarried (because they cannot be joined to another) or 2. to be reconciled (that is to say, return to their spouse). No other options are given or alluded to.
Yet, there are some that turn to the Old Testament for precedents in such cases. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is used as a proof text. The laws put forth in this set of scriptures were designed for the preservation of the marriage state under the law of Moses. The Christian Age does not recognize the Law of Moses as binding (see Hebrews 8:6-13). If it did, then where would be the argument against the use of music instruments in the worship service?
If though, the arrangement found in Deuteronomy can be used, then precedents can also be found for the proper arrangement in other Old Testament scriptures. Again and again the prophets point to Israel as God's adulterous wife, which has gone off with heathen lovers, for which he subsequently "puts her away."
"And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had her put away, and given her a bill of divorce, ..." (Jeremiah 3:8)
Under the circumstances outlined in Deuteronomy, the children of Israel would not have been allowed to return unto God. And yet, He asked them to return and they did.
"Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord, our God." (Jeremiah 3:22)
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 must be taken into context under the Law of Moses, while the eternal law of God is revealed In Jeremiah 3:22 (see explanation given in sect II).
Question 3.) What does it mean in 1 Corinthians 7:15 when it says that Christians are not bound to stay with an unbeliever? Can a Christian divorce the unbeliever and marry another?
The scripture in question says:
"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)
The word 'bondage' comes from the Greek word 'douleia', which means to bind, primarily the condition of being a slave (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words) The Apostle Paul is saying in effect that if the unbeliever chooses to violate God's law concerning marriage, then the Christian, as an innocent party, is released from his or her obligation to maintain the marriage. This does not allow the Christian to remarry but it does allow them to quit trying to make the marriage work if the unbeliever decides to depart. Christians have a divine obligation to keep the marriage intact (see verse 10), and if it is broken to restore it or to remain unmarried if reconciliation is unobtainable (see verse 11).
When the unbeliever departs from the believer, the believer is released from that obligation or 'bondage'. The believer is not to try to force the unbeliever to stay, "but God hath called us to peace." Also notice that in no way does the Apostle Paul allow either to marry another. This would again be in direct contradiction to what he had said in verses 6-9.
Census figures from 1980 reveal that 50 percent of all marriages in this country will end in divorce. Of that 50 percent, 20.5 percent of all males and females between the ages of 15 and 25 had been divorced at least once. This shows a drastic increase over the past 25 years.
What these figures don't show are the countless young lives that are ruined because of divorce. We often concern ourselves with the married couple and fail to see that the real losers are their children. If we were to look at how many prostitutes, drug addicts, thieves, murderers, child abusers and alcoholics came from, broken homes, we would surely be amazed. Some of the reasons they are so confused and distraught are as follows:
A.) They feel that they are to blame for their parents' desire to divorce.
B.) They feel unwanted and unloved.
C.) Their trust in one...or both parents is diminished or completely destroyed.
D.) If the parent remarries then the child will often feel resentment toward the step-parent.
If parents would remain married, these problems would be avoided. But pride and lust rule our society, while love and devotion have become things of the past. The Bible gives us many commands as to how we are to raise children:
1.) 'He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (early d.r.c.)." (Proverbs 13:24) Parents should provide the necessary instruction needed to mold their children into Christians. A divorced couple is often unable to provide proper instruction and punishment. This lack of discipline still sometimes causes children to become problems to society. They will have no regard for authority because they were not properly taught. Proverbs 22:6 plainly teaches; "Train up a child in the way he should go and, when he is old, he will not depart from it."
2.) "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse then an infidel." (I Timothy 5:8) The Laws of our nation often provide for a certain percentage of the wages, made by the parent that does not have custody of the children, to be given weekly as 'child support', But this is often not enough. The parent that retains custody of the children is often inundated with more financial problems than they can handle. This problem could have been avoided if the parents had remained married. The final line is that it is the children that will do without.
3.) "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4). Proper religious instruction cannot come from those that continued to do those things that are sinful. As was pointed out, remarriage after one has already been married is a sin. There are no exceptions.
But, as is often the case, if the parents do it then why can't the children? Religious instruction would have prepared them for marriage and its responsibilities. Even with these problems, the most important responsibility lies with the teaching of the Gospel to our children. The Apostle Paul deals with this in one of his epistles to Timothy:
"When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother, Lois, and thy mother Eunice: and I am persuaded that in thee also, Be not thou, therefore, ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God, Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," (II Timothy 1:5, 8-10)
If Timothy had not received good religious instruction from his family, then he might not have obeyed the Gospel.
The Word of God is a great storehouse of instruction that, if heeded, can save marriages threatened with breakup and can put the family back on a sound footing, May our prayer always be: “Our Heavenly Father, loosen the scales off of our eyes that we may clearly see and understand Your Word, in Jesus Christ name, Amen.”
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thessalonians 5:21-23)
Dana R. Chandler
RT. 2 Box 29
Wedowee, AL 36278