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"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

Nov 11, 2016

What does the Bible say about divorce? What does it say about remarriage? Brother Jonathan answers these questions at-length, and goes over a number of different views on the matter. If you have ever asked this question, then listen to this episode.

Here are the notes for this question:

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What does the Bible say about divorce?

  1. Intro
    1. This is a very divisive and contentious question, and there is a very specific reason for that. A lot of people are not going to like me stating it, either. The reason this is one of the least honestly, or correctly, answered questions in all Christianity is because some people who say that the Lord is indeed the Lord of their life are lying. People have no problem with committing their eternity to God in prospect, but as soon as God tells them how to live their lives, you will see people head to the door. The truth of God’s Word, and the requirements of His commandments, are the true dividing line between the professors of Christ and the children of God.
    2. So before we get into it, understand this: your feelings and thoughts on a subject, even about how to live and direct life-long decisions, are irrelevant to God’s truth. If God is indeed God, and He is, then He doesn’t need your input. What God commands is not contingent on how you feel about something. If you are His, then you already know that. The real issue is whether or not you have submitted yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His righteousness. If you are a Christian, then when we go over the scriptures we’re going to look at, you are going to understand and submit yourself to God. If you are not a Christian, or if you turn from Him because of what He commands, then you are going to get angry and not obey His Word.
    3. I’m telling you beforehand: settle it in your heart and count the cost. Can God Almighty command something unreasonable? If you want to hear truth so that you may obey Him, whatever He commands, then get your bible ready. If there is something God may command that you are unwilling to obey: don’t bother. As the Lord said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father…” (John 14:21)
  2. The Real Issue
    1. As you are getting your bible, if you’re still with me, let’s just be honest. We all know that the main issue around this question, for most people, is whether or not it’s okay to remarry after divorcing. Though, there are some very sincere people that just don’t know what the Bible says about divorce. So please, if that is you, don’t take my tone to be a high minded or condescending holier-than-thou attitude. I’m not angry at people who are asking this question sincerely. I’m frustrated at the “religious” people who profess to know God, but will not do anything that He commands or stand upon it. But there are people in abusive relationships; and some who, due to man’s laws, are in very difficult situations who truly just want to know what their options are in God’s sight.
    2. We’ll first address what God says for us today about divorce, and then we’ll address what God says for us today about remarriage after divorce.
  3. What is “divorce”?
    1. The term “divorce” is referred to also in the Bible as “putting away”. As in someone “puts away” their wife. It’s also referred to when it says someone “departs” from their spouse. All these are used interchangeably in scripture to refer to divorce. You can read Jeremiah chapter 3 to see the way the terms are used interchangeably.
    2. Let’s define “divorce”. To “divorce” is to be separated from a spouse. This is the simple definition.
  4. What does God think about divorce?
    1. Many people will be quick to point out certain passages of scripture regarding what the Lord allowed at certain times, or they will reference the Lord’s prophetic language in dealing with the nation of Israel as a whole. None of that matters with what we’re considering now. The question is not: what did God allow at one time? Or, what did God do with the nation of Israel as a whole? The question is: what does God expect of me? And, what does God think of divorce?
    2. First, what does God THINK of divorce? I mean, if we want to please God this is a very legitimate question to ask. Here’s what we read in Malachi:
      1. “And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast 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. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” (Mal. 2:13-16)
    3. The Lord said that He would not regard their offerings any more. Why? Because they dealt treacherously against their wives. In what manner? He speaks of the covenant of marriage and tells them that “he hateth putting away.” God hates divorce. That’s a strong statement that reveals the heart of God on the matter. God said that He HATES divorce. Notice also that He gives no clause or condition, either. He hates divorce in general.
    4. This is very significant. The New Testament hadn’t yet been given. The children of Israel were still living under the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses allowed for divorce. This is very important for you to understand as we go into the New Testament in a few minutes. Here’s the verses in Deuteronomy:
      1. “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour 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.” (Deu. 24:1-2)
    5. According to the Law of Moses, people were allowed to divorce and remarry, and yet God says to them “I hate divorce” and because they deal treacherously with the wives of their covenant of marriage, He will not regard their offerings. This is at a time when divorce was allowed!
  5. New Testament teaching on Divorce
    1. So the Lord is silent after the prophet Malachi for 400 years. Then, you have the birth of Christ and the beginning of the preaching of John the Baptist. A New Testament, or covenant, has begun being proclaimed.
    2. The Lord Jesus begins His earthly ministry about the age of 30 years old. In His teaching, we have several statements regarding divorce. As we go through these passages, we’re going to focus first on the matter of divorce, and then we’ll come back to them to address the issue of remarriage after divorce.
    3. In Mark 10:2-9 we read:
      1. “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)
    4. Before we consider this passage, we need to also mention the parallel passage to this in the book of Matthew. A parallel passage is when more than one of the gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) record the same event. Think of it like getting 3 or 4 pictures of the same object from different sides. With the multiple pictures you get a more perfect understanding of the whole. So let’s look at Matthew’s parallel account:
      1. “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting 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 which 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. 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 you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” (Mat. 19:3-8)
    5. Okay, now let’s put them together and get a picture of the scene up to this point. There are verses after both these passages that deal with remarriage after divorce, but we’re focusing on divorce first and then coming back to finish these passages later. The scene went as follows:
      1. The Pharisees came to Jesus and asked Him a question. “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”—They wanted to know if a man could divorce his wife for any reason. That was a debate going on in Judaism during that time. One school said they could for any reason, and the other school said only for certain reasons. Both said that you could, though.
      2. Jesus turns their attention to the time before the Law of Moses: back to creation. Man and wife were made one in God’s sight in marriage. God is the creator of marriage and He sets the rules. Jesus says, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
      3. The Pharisees ask, “Why did Moses allow us to divorce then?”
      4. Jesus responds, “He allowed it because your hearts were hard.”
    6. This is very eye-opening. They wanted Him to settle a debate in Judaism on when it was okay to divorce. Jesus startled them by saying it wasn’t right at all. This is in alignment with God’s rebuke through the prophet Malachi that we saw. God said He hates divorce altogether. They said, “Moses said…” and Christ in essence says, “Yeah, But I’m telling you something else.” In so doing: Jesus Christ sets Himself in contrast to the Law of Moses.
    7. So Jesus says don’t divorce at all. He says it was only allowed before because their hearts weren’t right with God. Even still, God Himself said He hated it.
  6. Not under the Law of Moses
    1. One of the most commonly cited reasons people say that divorce is okay is when they look at the scriptures that have to do with the Law of Moses.
    2. Some people look at Deuteronomy 24 and say, “See, God says it’s okay.” Others look at the Gospels and say, “See, it’s only commandments to Jews under the Law of Moses.”
    3. We read in Luke 16:16, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” (Luke 16:16)—The Law was until John the Baptist started preaching, and since then it has been the Gospel.
      1. If the gospels were under the law, then why did Jesus Christ tell His disciples in Matthew 28:20, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” It would be odd for Christ to instruct the disciples to continue to teach Law under a new dispensation. The Gospels weren’t under the Law, but under the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom.
      2. In 1 Timothy 6:3-4a we read, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing…”—Here the apostle Paul was, decades after the fact, telling a young minister that if any man taught contrary to the very words of Christ that that man was proud, knowing nothing. Notice it was not that they didn’t consent to the gospel, but to the very words of Jesus Christ.
      3. If the gospels were under the Law, then why do we take promises from the same context and apply them to today?
      4. If the people receiving these instructions from John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and His disciples were under the Law: then how could they currently be pressing into the Kingdom of God which is set in contrast to the Law?
    4. With this verse, and Christ’s setting His own teachings in contrast to the Law specifically, we know that all these passages are for us today.
  7. The Apostle Paul repeated the command
    1. Later, after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the Apostle Paul would be asked the same question. He stated his answer thus:
      1. “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 Cor. 7:10-11)
    2. The Apostle Paul reiterates the command to married individuals not to divorce, or depart from their spouse. But then Paul goes even further and says, “But and if she depart…” That is, if they divorce anyway, regardless of the desire of God for none to divorce. Paul says, “let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband.” Notice that even though they separated (i.e. departed) they are still referred to as a spouse.
      1. Some people may try to play with Greek words to get out of this plain statement, but when you look at all the NT verses and underlying Greek words you see that they are all used interchangeably. (see Matthew 19)
    3. Paul ends v.11 by reiterating, “and let not the husband put away his wife.”
  8. What about abusive relationships?
    1. The commandment from God is to not divorce. Are there contingencies, though? God never intended it to be a hard bondage. We have to be careful though, because this is a very abused principle. People will use it oftentimes to ignore scripture and create a loophole in their minds around the commandment. But on the whole: what does a woman do when her husband begins to beat her? What does a mother or father do when there is a legitimate danger to the children? Are they in a bondage to stay with their spouse? Paul the Apostle addressed this issue.
    2. If we pick up in 1 Corinthians 7 where we last stopped, v.11, we’ll see the rest of the passage answers all these questions. Let’s now go through and point out the answers to common questions.
    3. Starting in v.12-16, we read:
      1. “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 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. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Cor. 7:12-16)
    4. Paul begins by addressing the issue, which the Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry did not specifically address: Christians being married to non-Christians. Here, Paul answers the question of what someone who gets saved while already married to someone who isn’t a Christian should do: should they divorce the lost spouse? The answer is clear from the fact that he tells them that they don’t know whether or not that lost spouse would eventually be converted by their efforts and patience. He says don’t divorce just for that reason.
    5. He makes it very clear though, that if a person is saved while already married, and the lost spouse is “pleased to dwell with him/her,” that they were not to divorce them. If they have pleasure in being married to them, notwithstanding their continuing in unbelief, it was good to continue in marriage with them. Paul continues on to say that the marriage bond is sanctified, or “made holy”, before the Lord. It shows something of the person’s heart if they are still desirous to married to a devoted Christian.
      1. Paul later addressed the issue of marrying a lost person if you are already saved and single. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” If someone doesn’t love Jesus Christ first and foremost, why would a Christian want to be married to them? The only reason could then be for unspiritual reasons.
    6. Included is the idea that if they beat their wives, there is a pretty clear indication that they are not pleased to dwell with you. No man could physically abuse and torment a wife that he was pleased with. In such cases though, there is liberty to divorce if they’re not “pleased” to dwell with them. Paul implied in v.11 that there may be a desire to depart from their spouse. If a woman or man does desire, for extreme reasons (such as adultery on the part of the other spouse), to divorce their spouse, let them take Paul’s clear commandment seriously: “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 Cor. 7:11) The reason for divorce, or separation, is not any cause for changing the commandment to not remarry.
      1. Many people have a problem with this fact. They usually appeal to a lack of sympathy for the now divorced person. It’s a logical fallacy to appeal to emotion against a clear commandment. If someone truly knows the Lord Jesus Christ, then they have learned that He is sufficient to fill their heart with joy and love. Jesus Christ and Paul the Apostle did not suffer from loneliness or depression because they never married, because the Lord was their spouse. Some will even appeal to a false sense of “grace”. Apparently they make “grace,” after that definition, to override God’s clear commandments. My question is, why does this mindset not override other commandments? Is incest okay then? Why just this commandment? If you consider it honestly, it is not in alignment with the rest of God’s dealing with mankind.
    7. Paul continues to say, “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart.” If the lost spouse has no desire to be married to you, and divorces you, Paul says, “A brother or sister is not in bondage in such cases.” If they divorce you because they don’t want to be married to you, let them. But Paul reiterates that the believer is not under bondage in such cases. What does that mean, “bondage”?
    8. Believe it or not, this is a very abused and perverted phrase that is often used to cancel out every clear commandment of the Lord on the matter. People will toss out 6 or more clear verses and commandments by twisting a phrase to make an “escape clause.” The “bondage” here spoken of has often been interpreted to say that the person has a legitimate right to remarry now. I’ll clear up the matter very easily, as we have not yet gone over remarriage after divorce yet: What is the difference between you divorcing someone, or them divorcing you, when God discourages either case? In the book of Malachi, the Lord heavily rebuked men for dealing treacherously with their wives, but He didn’t lessen His statement of “I hate putting away”. People want to make a difference if the spouse departs from you, or you depart from them, or the reason for the divorce in general. None of that, nor any supposed testimonies of wonderful remarriage after a bad divorce, nullify God’s clear Word. Pastors, preachers, and teachers have mightily caused many to sin by their vain counsel that directly contradicts 6 clear verses that contradict the “escape clause” argument to allow for divorce and remarriage while the former spouse still lives.
    9. If Paul was allowing, in such cases, for remarriage after divorce, then why does Paul spend the latter half of the same chapter to speak of the benefits of not being married? Then, Paul says these sobering words, “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.” (1 Cor. 7:39) Paul says that the bond of marriage in ALL cases is only dissolved by death. There is no “escape clause.” The “bondage” spoken of is not the bond of the covenant of marriage, as some have supposed.
    10. Paul reiterates the same statement in Romans 7, saying, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 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.” (Rom. 7:1-3)
      1. Notice Paul’s present tense use throughout the passage. A woman is bound (the same exact underlying Greek word as in 1 Corinthians 7:39, “deo”) by the law as long as her husband lives.
      2. If, as some teach, the woman would be allowed to remarry if her spouse simply left her but was still alive, then the illustration Paul uses immediately after becomes faulty.
      3. “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.” (Rom. 7:4)
      4. It was necessary for Christ to die, and for us to be placed into that same death, for men to be made free from their bondage to the Law. Paul uses the illustration of marriage. The Law had to be dead in order for us to be remarried to someone else: Jesus Christ. The entire reason for Christ needing to die becomes unnecessary if what these teachers assert is true. If it wasn’t necessary for the previous spouse to die to dissolve the marriage covenant, then Paul asserted something untrue. Indeed, it is not distance or displeasure that dissolves the marriage covenant: only physical death. Otherwise, as Paul stated, you become an adulterer. We’ll see that more clearly in a minute.
    11. Some assert that Paul, in Romans 7, is only speaking of the Law of Moses relationship to the New Testament. Simply being that we’re no longer under the Law of Moses. What they fail to remember, is that the Law of Moses allowed for divorce and remarriage, and Christ set Himself in contrast to that very aspect of the Law.
    12. The New Testament Christian commandment is to not divorce, but if someone does divorce then they are to remain unmarried.
  9. Remarriage after divorce
    1. Let’s now turn back to the gospels and finish going through the passages on divorce.
    2. In Mark 10 we’ll finish the rest of the passage we looked at already. Picking up at v.10 we read:
      1. “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 10:10-12)
    3. Now let’s finish the parallel passage in Matthew 19, starting at v.9 we read:
      1. “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Mat. 19:9-12)
    4. So, this is after the Pharisees had come to Christ and asked Him about whether or not they can put away their wives for every reason. Christ tells them not to put them away at all, and refers to God’s law in the covenant of marriage as making them both one in His sight. This is where these two passages pick up. We put them together and see the following:
      1. Christ tells the Pharisees, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
      2. Jesus tells them even further, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Mat. 19:9)
      3. He then goes into a house with his disciples and they ask him the same question privately.
      4. Jesus answers 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 10:10-12)
      5. The disciples then respond, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.”
      6. Jesus responds to the disciples statement and says, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it given. For there are eunuchs, which were born so from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
    5. Before we examine what is said here, let’s look at a couple other verses from the gospels that deal with this issue:
      1. “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 for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Mat. 5:31-32)
      2. “Whosoever 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)
    6. Let’s look at the obvious first:
      1. If a person divorces their spouse and marries another they become an adulterer. (Mark 10:10-12; Luke 16:18)
      2. If a person marries someone who is divorced themselves, then they become an adulterer. (Mat. 5:32; Luke 16:18)
  10. The Escape Clause Excuse
    1. Now we’re going to look at some hotly contested verses. These are the most commonly cited verses to teach that it is okay to remarry after divorce. They are usually held up as an “escape clause” of sorts. We’ll see, that’s just not the case.
    2. Here are the two passages:
      1. “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Mat. 5:32)
      2. “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Mat. 19:9)
    3. Let’s begin by considering Matthew 5:31-32. The language is very specific in both verses, and if you just gloss over them, it is likely that people will think that both verses say the same thing. They don’t.
      1. Christ says, “But I say unto,” and begins to set himself in contrast to the Law of Moses which He quoted in v.31 just before.
      2. “…that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication,” Jesus says whosoever will divorce his wife, unless she has committed adultery already against him.
      3. “…causeth her to commit adultery.” So the plain statement here is that if a man divorces his wife, when she hasn’t committed adultery against him, then he puts her into the position to commit adultery.
    4. The verse emphasizes that if the woman has committed adultery already, then the man has not done any evil in desiring to put her away. But if the man puts her away when she hasn’t committed adultery, then he puts her in the position to commit adultery if she should she marry again—which was almost guaranteed. This is understood when it states the man then “causeth her to commit adultery.” Whereas if she committed adultery of her own volition, then the guilt is on her.
    5. “…and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” With this ending to the verse it makes some things clear. Jesus Christ said that to marry someone who is divorced makes you an adulterer. To deny this fact is to teach false doctrine. You also would have to throw out Luke 16:18, which repeats this same statement with no supposed “escape clause” in sight. This verse needs to be interpreted in light of the entire counsel of God’s Word. To teach from Matthew 5:32 that someone can remarry after divorce is to completely throw out other clear verses which say the exact opposite.
      1. Consider this, if it was okay in God’s sight to remarry after divorce, in any circumstance, then why does Jesus Christ say ever so clearly that it is adultery to marry someone that is divorced? It states it here in Matthew 5:32 and again in Luke 16:18. If there was any case where it was allowable to remarry them that are divorced, then Jesus Christ has contradicted Himself. Certainly, that is not the case or His opponents who were intentionally trying to “catch him in his words” would’ve pointed it out. This scriptural point really answers the whole matter. If it is adultery to marry them that are divorced, then it includes the one who marries someone divorced, though they were never married before, and the one who marries again after being divorced. No one is excluded from this simple statement.
    6. Now let’s consider the other verse in Matthew which is commonly cited to excuse remarriage after divorce. We read in Matthew 19:9:
      1. “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Mat. 19:9)
    7. At first glance this verse does seem to teach that there is an acceptable circumstance for remarriage after divorce—that reason being adultery on the part of the spouse. Now I don’t like it when people take verses out of context, and they ignore the other clear passages. I have heard people teach that lying is okay for Christians in certain circumstances. I have heard people teach that fornication is okay for Christians. I have even heard people teach that you can deny Jesus Christ and go to heaven in certain circumstances. You do not EVER set aside clear commandments in scripture when they are clearly stated. God only has to say something clearly ONCE for it to be taken seriously. Yet, how many pastors, preachers, and teachers will toss out 4 clear commandments to teach remarriage after divorce, or marriage to those divorced. Such teachers will be ashamed, if not condemned, on the Day of Judgment. I tell you that as someone who used to teach it. Let’s now go over why it is scripturally impossible to interpret this verse to teach remarriage after divorce.
    8. First of all, we must remember the context and take into account the parallel passage in Mark 10:1-12, as we quoted just a few minutes ago. Let’s put the two whole passages together again just so that you get the clear picture. Here’s what happened according to the scriptures:
      1. The Pharisees came to Jesus and asked Him a question. “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”
      2. Jesus turns their attention to the time before the Law of Moses: back to creation. Man and wife were made one in God’s sight in marriage. Jesus says, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
      3. The Pharisees ask, “Why did Moses allow us to divorce then?”
      4. Jesus responds, “He allowed it because your hearts were hard: but from the beginning it was not so.”
      5. Jesus tells them even further, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Mat. 19:9)
      6. He then goes into a house with his disciples and they ask him the same question privately.
      7. Jesus answers 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 10:10-12)
      8. The disciples then respond, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.”
      9. Jesus responds to the disciples statement and says, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it given. For there are eunuchs, which were born so from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
    9. So that’s the entire context. Let’s go through it.
      1. Christ begins by answering their question, and He disallows divorce altogether as being, in essence, impossible. The reason being that the two persons were made one. This is in alignment with the rest of scripture which states, “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.” (1 Cor. 7:39) And in another place, “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.” (Rom. 7:2-3)—As both these passages were spoken by the Apostle Paul under the dispensation of the gospel, and spoken in the present tense anyways, we see that it is only physical death which separates the union of two persons in the bond of marriage.
      2. Christ then states to the Pharisees also, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Mat. 19:9)—This is the verse where the alleged “escape clause” is. Many say that the clause, “except it be for fornication,” is to be interpreted as, “you can remarry if your spouse commits adultery on you.” Here are some reasons why that’s an impossible interpretation:
        1. Immediately after saying this to the Pharisees, Jesus goes into the house where it says that his disciples “asked him again of the same matter.” (Mark 10:10) There it is recorded that Christ told His disciples, “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.” (Mar. 10:11-12) This is very clear. If we are to interpret what Christ said to the Pharisees outside the house differently, then we end up making Christ teach two separate standards.
        2. It would also contradict what is recorded by Luke in Luke 16:18 where it says that Christ taught, “Whosoever 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) This is also another instance where we must contradict scripture to defend remarriage after divorce.
        3. It would also contradict the scriptural principle alluded to by Christ that God makes the two people one in marriage. Christ said, “What God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” He doesn’t give an escape clause, or a condition. The Apostle repeats also that the only thing that separates the marriage bond is physical death. Two individual items may be separated, but one item cannot be separated from itself. They two are now one flesh. If Christ taught remarriage after divorce was allowable here, then the Apostle Paul also contradicted Christ in stating that only physical death separated the bond of marriage and set the person at liberty to remarry.
        4. It would also contradict the principle that Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:11 where Paul tells the married believers that if they were to separate from their spouses that they should remain unmarried. If Christ teaches that it is allowable to remarry after divorcing a spouse, then Paul has asserted a limitation contrary to liberty allowed by Christ. Such is not the case of course. We cannot confuse a reasonable cause for divorce with permission to remarry. The one does not necessitate the other.
        5. Finally, it must be pointed out that Christ states immediately after the supposed “escape clause” to the Pharisees that it is adultery to marry those put away in divorce. If the sin of adultery breaks the bond of marriage, then how can Christ assert that it is adultery to marry those put away in divorce? It can only be adultery if they are still united to their divorced spouse. This agrees with Paul’s asserting that only physical death breaks the marriage bond.
      3. People will then ask, “what does the phrase, ‘except it be for fornication’ mean then?” Well, we know that it’s not an escape clause to allow remarriage after divorce; because that is plainly prohibited as we just saw. Let’s consider the things that are clearly banned first:
        1. A person marrying someone who is divorced is banned (Mat. 5:32; 19:9; Luke 16:18)
        2. A person divorcing their spouse and marrying another, while their former spouse still lives is banned. (Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18)
        3. A believer marrying a lost person is banned. (2 Cor. 6:14)
        4. A believer divorcing a lost person simply because they’re not a believer is banned. (1 Cor. 7:13)
        5. If both parties are believers and one divorces the other, then remarriage at all is banned unless they remarry their spouse. (1 Cor. 7:11)
      4. If you really consider those 5 situations that are clearly banned in scripture, then you’ll admit it pretty much covers everything. We must interpret less clear passages with clear ones, and here, the deck is stacked quite heavily against remarriage after divorce in any case.
      5. I’ll be honest. This is a hard verse to clearly interpret. I will tell you one thing though. God doesn’t contradict Himself. He bans remarriage after divorce emphatically, and clearly, in other passages. My personal belief is that this verse here in Matthew 19:9 has to do with Christ pointing out that the intention of the Pharisees was to remarry someone else whom they already had in mind. According to the Jews interpretation of the matter at that time, someone could simply commit adultery and then marry the person they wanted after their spouse divorced them. This interpretation fits the passage’s context and doesn’t contradict any other scriptures.
      6. Let’s finish looking at the rest of the passage before finishing.
      7. After rebuking the Pharisees for their hard hearts in desiring divorce, the disciples ask Him the same question privately. He answers them clearly, “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)
      8. Because the disciples understood the seriousness of the matter they answered, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” (Mat. 19:10)
        1. It’s a wonder how so many teachers get around this question to teach what they do. If in any case it was okay to remarry after divorce, how could this question be posed by the disciples? If a man could simply remarry when his spouse cheated on him how could it be considered not good to marry? The disciples’ question does not make sense if you were allowed to remarry after divorce.
      9. “But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.”(Mat. 19:11)—Some have falsely tied this to their imagined “escape clause” of remarriage. When looked at in Mark you see that it’s Christ’s response to what the disciples said, and not what He said. The disciples said that it was better to not marry at all. Christ says that it’s not commanded that men should never marry, though it is a good thing. We’ll see as He finishes His statement.
      10. “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Mat. 19:12)—Christ here gives three classes of men who can receive the notion of never being married. (1) Those born without the proper physical requirements to consummate a marriage; (2) those who had such physical states forced upon them by men (i.e. castration); and (3) those who take such things upon themselves. This doesn’t mean that a man should go and castrate themselves to be single. Paul the apostle said he stayed unmarried and never implied such a thing in 1 Corinthians 7:7. Christ states clearly though that those who can do so should be encouraged to remain unmarried. Paul emphasizes the benefits of remaining unmarried in order to serve the Lord without distraction in 1 Corinthians 7.
  11. A Few more Excuses
    1. This should all be enough to show someone the nature of the unbiblical notion that divorce is hated by God. If someone should divorce for reasons such as physical abuse or adultery, then they have no permission to remarry unless their spouse dies. That’s not license to kill them either. Rather, they ought to pray to the Lord for their heart, or their spouse’s heart, to be healed in the sight of God, and desire to be reconciled to them.
    2. Sadly this isn’t the case in many people though. Instead of people coming to have a higher view of the seriousness of the sanctity of marriage in God’s sight, there are those who will come up with excuses to justify divorce and remarriage. As C.S. Lewis rightly said, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and explain his error, and the world will be at your feet.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, p.223)—Simply put: if you just simply want something to be incorrect you will find innumerable reasons why it is. Many people just want to be able to marry after divorce: it’s much easier.
    3. We’ll quickly look at a few more reasons people give to justify themselves:
    4. “God wasn’t in my first marriage arrangement, therefore it’s okay to remarry now in God’s sight.”
      1. This reason assumes that God has nothing to do with every marriage. God created marriage, and he has the patent on it. The same thing could be said of government. God created human government in Genesis 9, and He has set rules for it, and He truly governs it all by allowing or disallowing as He sees fit. Every marriage is in God’s sight. We’re told that “Marriage is honourable in ALL, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Heb. 13:4) We’re also told in Proverbs, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” (Pro. 18:22) Every man who has found a wife has entered into something good of the Lord. The burden is on men to not abuse that gift.
    5. “I wasn’t supposed to marry this person.”
      1. This is kind of another version of the previous excuse. God is in ALL marriages. We’re told in scripture, “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.” (1 Cor. 7:39) It says clearly that a woman, when she is at liberty to marry, has the ability to marry who she wants. That shows that people have choice in the matter. People choose to marry who they want. God is not pulling puppets on strings. While the Lord certainly will certainly guide and lead in the choosing of a wife when He is sought on the matter, people do not have the freedom to divorce and remarry when they don’t seek Him about the matter initially. In essence, you made a choice. What you ought to do is set your heart to seek God to heal your marriage. I have heard wonderful testimonies of people refusing to divorce their spouses and committing themselves to seeking the face of God. The Lord responded by doing exceeding abundantly above all they could ask or think. If you desire to divorce though, heed the warning to remain unmarried. (1 Cor. 7:11)
    6. “The Spirit of God doesn’t always lead in accordance to the Letter of His Word.”
      1. This shows an underlying spiritual deception in the heart of the person. Anyone who has come to the belief that God contradicts Himself has given heed to a seducing spirit. All the New Testament was not written at the time during the events of the Apostles. It was all written during that time by the same Apostles and prophets by the Spirit of God’s leading. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:20-21) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Jesus Christ said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) God has given His Word to give us a witness, and an objective truth to weigh subjective spiritual leadings. If we cast away the authority of scripture and replace it with subjective spiritual leadings, then we cast away our plumbline and objective truth. We then descend to the level of the pagan who has no spiritual light at all. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psa. 119:105)
    7. “1 Corinthians 7:2 says to let every man have his own wife.”
      1. Yes it does. Paul then makes clear in v.10 that he was speaking about unmarried believers by switching to addressing the married ones. For someone to think that this verse allows what God disallows elsewhere shows a disregard for true biblical authority. If God says no in one place, then He is not going to say yes in another. When God says “thou shalt not lie,” don’t think that God has allowed conditions where it’s okay to lie. Especially when He says all liars shall be cast into the lake of fire. Likewise, Christ refers to remarriage after divorce, while your spouse still lives, adultery. No adulterers will enter in the Kingdom of Heaven we’re told. People need to take the matter seriously.
    8. “1 Corinthians 7:28 says, “But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned.””
      1. This is another instance of people taking verses out of context, or just wholly misinterpreting them. When you follow from the beginning of the chapter you see Paul’s reasoning goes as follows: Paul begins to address a question that was asked him by the Corinthians in (v.1); (v.2) indicates that he was asked about whether or not they were allowed to marry; (v.3-5) are general commandments regarding behavior in marriage; (v.6-9) Paul states that he is speaking about things that Christ had not specifically addressed in His earthly ministry and specifies that, while it is better to remain unmarried, there is allowance to marry; (v.10-11) Paul specifically speaks to the married and them not to divorce, but if they divorce they are to remain unmarried; (v.12-17) Paul tells those already married to unbelievers not to divorce simply because they are unbelievers because they may lead to their spouse’s conversion—if their unbelieving spouse leaves them, then they are not bound like a slave to run after them, though the general commandment to married persons still stands that they cannot remarry unless their spouse dies; (v.18-24) Paul speaks of staying in the state you were first called to salvation, unless you can be freed from an earthly bondage that hinders your laboring for the Lord; (v.25) Paul now addresses virgins specifically, and the word is used to indicate both men and women (as in Rev.14:4)—it is used also in v.36 of 1 Corinthians 7 to mean the state of celibacy, but Paul is speaking on a topic not yet addressed in scripture; (v.26-27) Paul says that he believes it is good for the present distress, or the current persecution of believers in the area, that they should remain unmarried. And now that we have looked at the entire context of the chapter until this point, let’s consider what it says in v.28: “But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.” (1 Cor. 7:28) It is clear beyond all doubt that Paul is not giving license for people to either marry those that are divorced or remarry after they themselves are divorced. To say so would create a mountain of problems scripturally. All that Paul says here is that those virgin believers, who were currently under persecution, would be better off not marrying because it would just make things a lot harder (i.e. “trouble in the flesh”). But if they wanted to get married, regardless of the present distress, they certainly were allowed just as any other virgin was. Paul was simply trying to spare them the trouble that would certainly follow.
  12. Closing Remarks
    1. I have done a lot of reasoning in this episode, and I know that at times I’ve been quite blunt. My frustration probably comes out quite clearly. But what you must understand is that the Lord has said that no adulterer shall inherit the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ Himself said that those who divorce and remarry, while their spouse still lives, commit adultery; and those that marry those that are divorced commit adultery.
    2. I want you to honestly consider what is at stake here. If I’m wrong, and it’s okay to remarry after divorcing, it doesn’t hurt me spiritually at all. If the great host of popular preachers, teachers, and book writers is wrong: it can deny you entrance into the Kingdom of God. It is the difference between Heaven and Hell for some people.
    3. People will read the scriptures and see it said clearly and then they’ll go ask a pastor, a teacher, or a commentary. They’ll ask as many people as possible to verify want they want to hear. I don’t care what testimonies you’ve heard, or who you know that’s guilty of it. All your feelings and stories are irrelevant when they contradict a single verse of scripture. Let’s quote it again, “Whosoever 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)
    4. I know I sound angry, but I’m just burdened that people should come to the truth. I sincerely ask you to repent if you’re guilty of this. Let the Lord be your spouse if you’re lonely. He has said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Mat. 7:14) But He also said, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)