The assertion of this series of articles has been that the Lord’s teaching regarding marriage and divorce is straightforward, and easily understood. Simply stated, it is: One man, One woman, for a lifetime.
Further, it is asserted that the one exception to this rule regarding the lifetime nature of the marriage commitment is found when a spouse is guilty of the treachery of fornication. In this case, Jesus declared the innocent’s right to remarry. Note again the passage from Matthew 19, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (vs. 9).
The right to remarry is extended only to the innocent party, and only in the one case of fornication. Otherwise, Paul indicated that the marriage bond is a lifetime commitment. (cf. Romans 7:2).
Continue reading » An Addendum
When error is taught religiously, history shows people to be divided into one of three groups. First, there are those who advocate the error. Second, there are those who combat the error. And, finally, there are those who seek to minimize the differences, thus compromising with the error. Issues in the past 150 years have shown this to be true with the battles over the instrument in worship, and with the institutional issues that troubled brethren in the middle of the last century.
The same circumstance can be seen in the division of brethren over what the Bible teaches concerning marriage and divorce. There are the false teachers who advocate the error, the faithful brethren who combat the error, and a sizable number of brethren who seek to maintain fellowship with those who teach the error. As is commonly the case, the compromisers have turned to the 14th chapter of Romans, abusing that text in an attempt to justify their compromise with the false teacher.
Continue reading » Fellowship and Controversy
In the January 2001 issue of Watchman Magazine, Terence Sheridan and Harry Osborne debated the following proposition under the heading, “Biblical Putting Away.”
The scriptures teach that biblical putting away is synonymous with the civil procedure for divorce in one’s respective society and that the innocent one must secure that civil divorce in order to have a right to remarry.
Sheridan affirmed the proposition, while Osborne denied it. In defense of his proposition, Sheridan used an example of a woman who was innocent of fornication, and divorced by her adulterous mate. In order for said woman to have complied with God’s law as per Matthew 19:9, Sheridan stated:
“She needed to (1) renounce her bond with Bob; (2) comply with civil law; and (3) obtain civil recognition that the marriage is no longer functioning. She needed to do this before Bob did. She needed to do it for the cause of Bob’s fornication if she wanted to remarry.” (First affirmative).
While we do not deny that the woman is required by God’s law to renounce her bond to the man, and comply with civil law, the claim that she had to initiate the procedure and obtain the civil judgment is a position which cannot be sustained by the scriptures. Osborne did a good job of answering Sheridan’s contentions, and those interested are encouraged to visit the Watchman site, and read the entire debate. Note the following scriptural and logical fallacies to the position:
Continue reading » A Race to the Courthouse
To define the “mental divorce” position, we refer to both formal propositions, and a common scenario. First, the proposition, which some who advocate the position have signed:
The scriptures teach that the innocent person (free of fornication) who has been put away without God’s or his/her approval and against whom adultery has been committed may remarry.
Next, the scenario, which establishes the contention in plain language:
When Jack puts away Jill for a reason other than fornication, though he obtains a civil divorce, they are not really divorced. It is called divorce only “accomodatively”. If Jack then remarries another woman, he is guilty of adultery. So, he can now be mentally put away by Jill. This is the real divorce. Now, Jill is free to remarry.
Both the above proposition and the scenario is used by Donnie Rader in his book, Divorce and Remarriage: What Does the Text Say, page 74. Rader states, “Actually this is an effort by some to justify remarriage following an unlawful divorce.”
Continue reading » Mental Divorce
Sophistry is defined by Webster as “deceptively subtle reasoning or argumentation”. That which is sophistic is “plausible but fallacious”. Another term used for fallacious reasoning or argumentation is specious. Webster defines specious as, “having a false look of truth or genuineness”.
The arguments that false teachers forward in their attempts to skirt the teaching of God on the subject of Divorce and Remarriage can rightfully be described as sophistic or specious. They have a deceptive allure and a surface plausibility, but are not legitimate treatments of God’s word. One of the most obvious examples of such argumentation is the attempt to redefine the term “adultery” as it is used in Matthew 19:9.
Continue reading » Defining and Redefining Adultery
Are Non-Christians Amenable to Jesus’ Teaching
on Divorce and Remarriage?
There are myriad positions taken regarding who has the right to divorce and remarry. Most of these positions do violence to the rule established in this series, one man, one woman, for a lifetime. It may be an attempt to bring in more “exceptions” in addition to the one specified by Jesus in Matthew 19:9, fornication. It may be speculation regarding what happens after the bond is broken. It may be a blatant denial of plain teaching. One of these positions contends that while the rule is valid, it applies only to those who are Christians.
Precisely stated, the contention is that non-Christians are not amenable to the law of Christ. The word amenable simply means “responsible to.” That is, that Jesus teaching on divorce and remarriage simply does not apply to those who are not Christians.
Continue reading » Are Non-Christian’s Amenable?
In establishing the Lord’s law regarding marriage, (one man, one woman, for a lifetime), and noting the one exception to that law (fornication), the question is sometimes asked, “What about what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:15?”
The verse reads, “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.” Some have taken this to be a privilege granted by Paul to the Christian to remarry if she (or he) is deserted by her/his unbelieving mate. The “Pauline Privilege” has been added to the Lord’s “exception” of Matthew 19:9 as another just reason for divorce and remarriage.
Further, some have gone so far as to say that verses 27-28 of the passage, “But even if you do marry, you have not sinned”, allow for anyone who has had a divorce to remarry without guilt. It should be recognized that such manipulations of the text are motivated by a desire to set aside the restrictive teaching of our Lord in his ministry on earth, and are the byproducts of ungodly influences in our day and culture. The text does not justify these conclusions. In fact, not only would these contradict Jesus’ teaching, but they make other statements by Paul in the same context nonsensical.
Continue reading » Paul’s Instructions Regarding Marriage: (1 Corinthians 7)
The Bible clearly states that marriage is a lifetime commitment. When a man marries a woman, they “become one flesh”, and Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6). Further, Paul wrote, “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband” (Romans 7:2). Obviously, God considers marriage to be a lifetime commitment, the contract of marriage ending only at the death of a spouse.
Just as clearly as God revealed his law concerning marriage (one man, one woman, for a lifetime), he also revealed an exception to that law. In other words, there is one scriptural reason for an individual to divorce his or her mate. The rule and exception are clearly stated by Jesus in Matthew 19:9, “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” (KJV). (exception in bold face). God clearly states that the sole grounds for divorce that will allow for a new marriage is fornication. There are many false doctrines that have been advocated in opposition to this truth. There are some difficult questions that arise due to individual circumstances that arise from time to time in marriages. However, the teaching of Jesus is so clear as to be self-evident. Individuals who divorce for any cause other than fornication have no right to remarry. To so do results in adultery.
Continue reading » The Exception to the Rule: Fornication
Article Series: Let None Deal Treacherously
(An Examination of God’s Law, and the error of men, on the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage)
Even a casual observer can see that the society in which we live has a cavalier attitude toward the marriage bond. Marriages are entered into, and dissolved, with alarming frequency. Recently, the National Center for Health released a report which found that 43% of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years. (“First marriage dissolution, divorce, and remarriage: United States,” Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics; No. 323. Hyattsville MD: National Center for Health Statistics: 2 1). The study was based upon a nationally representative sample of women between the ages of 15 and 44. The Census Bureau has a higher number, 50%, based upon numbers from the 2000 census.
At present, every state in the union has some form of “no-fault” divorce. In other words, there is no need for any party to prove fault in the breakdown of the marriage relationship. All that is needed is a willingness to cite irreconcilable differences, and the divorce is granted.
Continue reading » The Rule: One Man, One Woman, For A Lifetime
To be “bound” is to be restricted or tied up. Herod physically “bound” John and put him in prison (Matthew 14:3). Figuratively, Paul was “bound in the spirit”, in the sense that apprehension of the unknown had him tied up (Acts 20:22). By contrast, to be “loosed” is to be set free from that which restricts us. The disciples were to “loose” the ass which had been tied up (Mark 11:2,4). In raising Jesus from the dead, God “loosed the pains of death”, for He was not to be “holden of it” (Acts 2:24).
The Scriptures speak of husbands and wives being “bound” and “loosed”. By whom or what is a husband and wife bound? How long are they bound? If two people are not married any longer, are they no longer bound? Can one mate be “loosed” while the other mate “bound”? Continue reading » Marriage Divorce & Remarriage: “Bound” and “Loosed”
There are few families today that have not been touched by divorce. As society continuously degrades into worldliness and rebellion towards God, there is a reciprocal effect upon God’s people. Many of the current issues concerning this doctrine have risen due to complex situations in the lives of all people. There was not as much controversy in times past, because the problem was not so prevalent. If you will examine an almanac, you will notice that divorce rates started to skyrocket in the sixties and have only recently slowed down it’s pace. Much of the reason for the current slowing in the divorce rate is the current trend among couples to live together without benefit of marriage.
Most Christians have come across these doctrines and have studied the Bible to determine what the scriptures actually teach. How do we know what is right and wrong regarding these issues? Can we allow anyone to teach any doctrine they want, regardless of the effect it will have on others? Continue reading » Marriage Divorce & Remarriage: Divorce & Remarriage Doctrines
In recent years, more and more brethren (mostly well-known “gospel” preachers) have taken up the position that adultery is a non-sexual covenant breaking. This is a theory that many Christians have never entertained, and, at one time, they would have laughed at a person for even mentioning such. However, it is catching on as more and more people find themselves in a second or third marriage. Let us first notice what the Word of God says about adultery, then compare it to what men are saying about adultery.
What The Holy Ghost Says
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman TAKEN IN
Now, what does that convey to you? Do you get the idea that the woman was found in the “gate of the city” filing divorce papers on her husband, or filing for a second marriage license, or taking vows to contract a second marriage? Rather, doesn’t the term “taken in adultery” describe the fact that the woman was found having sexual relations with a man? Continue reading » Marriage Divorce & Remarriage: Adultery – What Is It? … And then Some
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness….Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and You shall be my sons and daughters’ saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
Please notice in particular that part of this scripture which raises the question, “What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” and “What communion has light with darkness?”
Does this scripture teach that we must not have fellowship with all unrighteousness or may we have fellowship with some unrighteousness?
Does this scripture teach that we must not have communion with all darkness or that we may have communion with some darkness?
Is it right to pick and choose which unrighteousness and which darkness we may retain in our fellowship? Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Marriage Divorce & Remarriage – Fellowship and the Divorce Controversy
Harry Osborne tells the story of being asked by a young man in Lithuania, I believe, concerning what the Bible says on the subject of second marriages. Harry did what any sound gospel preacher would do in that situation — he turned to the passages that tell us what the Lord says on that subject, and simply read what they say. The young man politely listened to what Harry read and seemed satisfied with the simple truth. Harry, anticipating, as most of us would, some question about the matter, if not some controversy, asked if the man understood the answer to his question. The man responded affirmatively. Harry was persistent, believing surely that the man would raise some objection to the Lord’s simple teaching. Instead, the young man became a bit perturbed at Harry for the interaction. The fact is, the man understood what the Lord said, on his first hearing of it. Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Marriage Divorce & Remarriage – An Introduction