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Permanency of Marriage


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Questions and Answers on marriage

I know the scripture says, "What God has joined together, let man not separate," but I believe I was not married to my first husband. God did not join us, I was deceived into marrying him. I did it before I was a Christian. We are now divorced. Wouldn't I be free to remarry?

No. Marriage is marriage whether you are a Christian or not. The problem is that some people do not recognize their first marriage as a real marriage because they married before they knew Christ. If the only marriages God recognized were between Christians, then the whole world would be full of bastards. Children born out of the marriage of Hindus, Moslems and Humanists would all be bastards. This is preposterous. Look in the Bible. Many heathen marriages are mentioned. Jesus gave us no indication that these marriages were not recognized by God. When we get married, God considers us one flesh, regardless of our religious persuasions.

If my spouse quits walking with God, why am I obligated to stay married?

Marriage is for better or worse. Maybe the "worse" part is when your spouse falls away from God, but you are still married. Marriage does not end because times are rough.

God instituted marriage as a lifetime commitment. And it has been that way from the beginning. We become one flesh when we enter into the sacred institution of marriage. We are joined into wedlock until one partner dies. Only God can end marriages through death (Romans 7:2). Man cannot separate what God has joined (Matthew 19:6).

This is a hard word. When the apostles heard Christ's word on marriage, they said, "then it is better not to marry" (Matthew 19:10). I don't think the apostles would have said that, if Jesus' teaching had all the modern-day escape clauses. In reality, there is no escape from marriage, just as there is no escape from Christ.

If we will seek the Kingdom first, we will be more willing to accept this hard word on marriage. When we are seeking our own will, we try to interpret God's word to justify what we desire. If the marriage goes through bad times and the couple separates, they are not free to remarry. Very few want to believe that they are joined to one spouse for life.

Jesus admits that "all cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given" (Matthew 19:11). Nevertheless, this is the doctrine that our Lord preached.

Is man like a dog or is man like a dove? Dogs have no loyalty, but doves mate for life.

I admit that I committed adultery by marrying a divorced woman, but we have repented of that sin. Aren't all things new in Christ and the old things have passed away? (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Yes, all things are new in Christ. But unless you depart from iniquity, you will die in your sins. To repent means to quit doing the sin. Scripture says that if you marry a divorced woman, you are living in a state of adultery. The only way out of that state is to separate from the adulterous relationship. 2 Corinthians 5:17 talks about the fruit of someone who is truly in Christ:

  1. "He is a new creation." He will not be what he once was. He will be producing the fruit of the Spirit.
  2. "Old things have passed away." If anyone is in Christ, he will have put aside the old ways and the sin that bound him.
  3. "Behold all things are become new." New creatures in Christ would not remain in adulterous relationships. They would go and sin no more. If you haven't done that, you are not a New Creature. Remember the woman caught in adultery? Jesus forgave her, but He also said, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11).

Since God is merciful, can't He just forgive my first marriage and allow me to remarry?

God can't forgive your first marriage because your first marriage wasn't a sin. God can't forgive something that isn't a sin. It doesn't matter what the courts say about having a "legal divorce." According to God's Word, remarriage constitutes adultery:

Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Luke 16:18

When two previously unmarried persons make their vows, they are supernaturally bonded as one flesh until parted by death. God's Word is clear - marriage is a "ONE FLESH" relationship for life. If the wife departs, she has two choices: "let her REMAIN UNMARRIED or be RECONCILED to her husband." As for the man, "a husband is not to divorce his wife" (1 Corinthians 7:11).

Isn't fornication an exception?

No. Some try to justify divorce and remarriage using the so-called exception clause in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of FORNICATION." To understand these passages, remember that Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience. The Jews had a custom of betrothal or engagement prior to being married. A betrothed couple in Jewish society could obtain a legal divorce if one of the parties proved to be unfaithful during the engagement period.

An example in scripture is Matthew 1:18-20 where Mary is espoused to Joseph. Joseph is called HER HUSBAND (verse 19), even though they had not yet come together as man and wife. Jesus, being raised in Jewish society, made provision for this Jewish custom of allowing divorce during the engagement period. Notice the exception is for FORNICATION, not adultery. Fornication, in this instance, means illicit sexual intercourse between UNMARRIED people. Jesus did not sanction divorce once the marriage had been consummated. (Check out the parallel passages - Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 where the fornication clause is not mentioned.)

My husband broke the marriage vows by committing adultery and we were subsequently divorced. Haven't I been set free to marry again?

No, you are not free to marry. Jesus sanctified marriage by affirming that it cannot be dissolved by the acts of men. The innocent party commits adultery if he or she remarries after the guilty party has broken the marriage by committing adultery (Mark 10:11-12).

What God has joined together, let man not separate.

Matthew 19:6

Doesn't 1 Corinthians 7:20 say that if I am divorced and remarried, and then become a Christian, that I am to "abide in the same calling wherein I was called," and remain married.

No, I believe you are misinterpreting the scripture. Why would Apostle Paul encourage us to remain in sin after we are called to follow Christ? Using that logic, if I am an alcoholic when I am called, I should remain an alcoholic. Or if I am a homosexual, I am to remain a homosexual. If that is what Paul preached, he would not be preaching the Word of God. You might say those situations are different. But they are not. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 names drunkards and homosexuals, along with adulterers, as those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God - unless they repent.

I was married for 25 years. Then my wife took off with another man. We were divorced and she married her lover. My family advised me to wait for her to come back, but I chose to marry another woman. Now, five years later, my first wife has divorced her new husband and wants me to come back to her. I still love my first wife, but if I go back to her, it will devastate my present wife. I have asked the advice of numerous pastors, and they have advised me to stay with my present wife because Deuteronomy 24:4 says that it is an abomination before the LORD to go back to my first wife. Do you agree?

No. Moses gave the advice in Deuteronomy 24 because of Israel's hardheartedness. It is not consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the new and better covenant which stresses that we are to forgive and be reconciled. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus acknowledged what had been taught in the past, but introduced a new principle with the words: "BUT I SAY TO YOU." Moses allowed a man to give his wife a certificate of divorce. But Jesus set a new standard (See Luke 16:18).

Jesus doesn't recognize your second marriage as lawful, even though the state claims you were legally divorced from the wife of your youth. Jesus calls your present living arrangement adultery because you have divorced and married another. If you return to the wife of your youth, you will no longer be in an adulterous relationship.

The pastors you talked with can't tell you about Christ's teaching on marriage and divorce because they are beholden to the state. They marry by the authority of a state marriage license. These pastors are working in partnership with the state. For them to deny that you were legally divorced, would go against the state decrees. And if these pastors go against state decrees, they may lose their license to marry. Therefore, they rely on a superseded passage in Deuteronomy, instead of on the clear words of Jesus.

If we make Jesus Christ Lord of our lives, then his Word must rule over every area. Our faithfulness to one spouse in our human relations is a prototype of our faithfulness to one God in our spiritual relations.

My marriage partner committed adultery and I am having a hard time forgiving. I have been faithful, but my partner has not. How can I continue to have a loving relationship?

Jesus says to love others, even those who have wronged you. If you truly love Jesus Christ, you will love others. Christ says that if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15).

If your husband or wife is unfaithful to you and you do not forgive, but instead nurse feelings of bitterness, hatred and retaliation, you also sin. If you harbor feelings of unforgiveness, you will begin to deteriorate from within and lose the peace of mind that comes from knowing your sins are forgiven.

When you forgive completely, the past offense is forgotten. You show love and affection to your partner the way you did before the offense. When you repent, Christ forgives completely and restores completely. We are to do likewise.

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