Christian Divorce And Remarriage.

     Jesus warned His disciples that the Last days would be just like the days of Noah,
“Far as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving into marriage, until the day that No’e entered into the ark” Matthew 24:38. Please notice the emphasis Christ puts on marriage, in fact Genesis describes it this way. “The sons (the people) of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose, and the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man” Genesis 6:2-3. So we see the people before the flood had multiple wives and spouses; but you wonder how can it be like that in these last days? Seeing that the vast majority believes in only having ONE wife or husband? Well, Do they really believe in having one wife? Not according to the teachings of Jesus Christ they don’t. In the following minutes I would like to look at the biblical teaching of Marriage and Divorce, it will be a straight testimony, and I know many will not be willing to bear it.

     According to the law of Moses if a person was not pleased with their spouse for many reasons, they could write them a bill of divorcement and both would be free to marry another, but this is not so for us under the law of the New Covenant.

“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 commiteth adultery” -- Matthew 5:32

“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 adulteress” -- Romans 7:2-3

Here we see that under the law of Christ that once two are joined together they are considered one flesh (Mathew 19:5), and if they was to divorce and marry again while their first spouse lives, they commit adultery. In all reality they would be joined to two wives, or to two husbands. Now some may look at the words of Christ and say, “He made a clause, if he or she commits adultery then I am free to marry again”. Oh, how many times have I heard this? Did Christ say “Saving for the cause of adultery”? NO, that would have destroyed His entire teaching of “Two becoming one flesh”. Jesus said “Saving for the cause of fornication”; In the New Testament adultery and fornication are not one, but they are mentioned separately over and over. For example Jesus shows they are separate in Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21, and we see the same truth in 1st Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:19, and Hebrews 13:4. So what did Jesus mean by “except for fornication”, if he didn’t mean adultery? In bible times when a man and woman were engaged, they were legally bound one to another, but the marriage was not consummated until the wedding night. If on or before the wedding night one of the ‘engaged’ were to be found not to be a virgin, then because of FORINCATION (pre-marital sex), the marriage could be legally ended (See Deuteronomy 22:20-21 and Matthew 1:18-19) and because they did not become one flesh (consummate the marriage) the freedom remains to remarry.

You do not think that Jesus was being this strict? Look at the response of his disciples,
“His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” Matthew 19:10. Did Christ try to correct their understanding? No! He told them basically “Some have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” Matthew 19:11. Was he serious folks? Of course, this teaching is not new to Christ. “IF they right hand tempts you to sin cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” Matthew 5:30.

Now let’s turn to 1st Corinthians chapter seven and look at the teachings of Paul concerning this subject. Right off the bat, we see that fornication is NOT adultery, but pre-marital sex.
“Nevertheless to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” 1st Corinthians 7:2. Verses three, four and five Paul tells the married couple not to deprive one of another, unless they should come into temptation.  Verses six through nine Paul gives his opinion that it is better for a virgin to remain unmarried, but if you cannot contain then marry, because it is better to marry than to burn.

hen in verses ten and eleven he gives us the commandments of Jesus,

“And unto the married I command, yet not I but the Lord, Let NOT the wife depart from her husband: but if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away the wife”.

What is the Lord saying through Paul? Do not divorce! But if one does divorce, then they should remain unmarried or be reconciled to their husband. Why shouldn’t the divorced remarry? “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). The teaching is so far consistent.

Now Paul begins to give HIS opinion again in verses twelve through sixteen concerning the Christian converts whose spouses are unbelievers. He tells the believer not to divorce their unbelieving spouse, because they can win them to Christ,
“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace” 1st Corinthians 7:15. Those who cannot stand the true teaching on this subject will think this verse gives them away to divorce and remarry; sad how people will grasp at straws. Is Paul contradicting the teachings of Christ here? Is Paul’s Opinion over ruling the words of Christ? If this were the true meaning of the verse then all the other words of Christ and Paul on the subject would be made naught. False interpretations of Scripture lead to confusion, which God is not the author. No friends, Paul didn’t even mention being remarried, he had just told the believing spouse “Don’t depart” and “Don’t divorce”! He had to further explain that if the unbeliever wants to depart, you have the freedom to grant the divorce. So please don’t add to his word.

From verses seventeen through thirty-eight, Paul covers a several subjects. Including virgins, which he gives his opinion that a virgin is better off remaining a virgin, because she can concentrate on the Lord. But if she is old enough (pass the flower of her age), and need so require she/he can marry, it is no sin.

NOW Some will take
verses 25 through 29 and attempt to teach that the divorced can marry and it not be a sin, by quoting it this way: "Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned". But I feel it a dangerous thing to attempt to render those verses in a manner that contradicts Christ, yet those who are unlearned and unstable often do this to the words of Paul. Let's read these verses in context from clearer translations.

25 ¶ And concerning the virgins, a command of the Lord I have not; and I give judgment as having obtained kindness from the Lord to be faithful: (YLT)
26 I think then that, taking into consideration the distress which is now upon us, it is well for a man to remain as he is.
27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to get free. Are you free from the marriage bond? Do not seek for a wife.
28 Yet if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a maiden marries, she has not sinned. Such people, however, will have outward trouble. But I am for sparing you. (Weymouth)

Art thou loosed from a wife? Art thou unmarried? It should have been rendered, free from a wife; or, art thou single? It does not imply of necessity that the person had been married, though it may have that meaning, and signify those who had been separated from a wife by her death. There is no necessity of supposing that Paul refers to persons who had divorced their wives.... In which case remarriage is is strictly forbidden by Christ.

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

Finally in
verse thirty-nine Paul sums up the teaching, “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”.

Here he adds one extra command; marry ONLY in the Lord. Yes friends it is also sin to marry a non-believer.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness” 2nd Corinthians 6:14.

Do you see that the bible is consistent on the subject? Both Jesus and Paul teach that it is the same as adultery to remarry while your spouse lives; that your x-wife/husband is considered your spouse in the eyes of God as long as they live. Yet, you have so called Pastors, who are double married and so called deacons who are double married after Paul has said that BOTH must be the husband of one wife (I Timothy 3:2-12). You have Pastors and teachers who have not enough backbone to stand and teach the pure word of God. They preach smooth messages to those who have itching ears, but they will give account to God one day. He has given his spokesmen a message to call the sinner to repentance and to warn the unruly. He has called us to teach his people his word, not to make void his law. Society may change and it may grow darker, but God will not Change, and His Word will not change, nor pass away. Adultery is rampant in the professed church; people who are already married are being given into marriage again and again, just as in the days of Noah. The majority of ALL marriages end in divorce, because the truth about the sanctity of the marriage institution is not taught in our churches. Your blood will not be on my hands.

Now to conclude our study on this subject we will refer to the Historic teaching of the Christian Church on this topic:

Justin Martyr [150 AD] Justin Martyr though born in Samaria, lived for a considerable amount of his life in Rome. His writings are among the most important that have come down to us from the second century. He was not the first that wrote an Apology in behalf of the Christians, but his Apologies are the earliest extant. Though his love for Plato and other Philosophers taints many of his doctrinal views, his brief explanation of divorce show us quite clearly the Church’s view upon this topic.

“So that all who, by human law, are twice married, are in the eye of our Master sinners, and those who look upon a woman to lust after her. For not only he who in act commits adultery is rejected by Him, but also he who desires to commit adultery: since not only our works, but also our thoughts, are open before God. And many, both men and women, who have been Christ’s disciples from childhood, remain pure at the age of sixty or seventy years; and I boast that I could produce such from every race of men.” Justin Martyr First Apology, Chapter 15

Pastor Hermas [160 AD] The Pastor of Hermas was one of the most popular books, if not the most popular book, in the Christian Church during the second, third, and fourth centuries. It occupied a position much like that of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in modern times; and critics have frequently compared the two works.  Many of the early Church held to the full inspiration of this writing, but others acknowledged it as “deutero-canonical”, or  like the Apocrypha, a book for instruction and edification, but not cited to establish any doctrine of the faith. One thing is certain, from it we can know how the Church of the Second, Third and Fourth Centuries believed about the doctrine in question seeing an entire chapter is given to the topic of divorce.

“And I said to him, “Sir, if any one has a wife who trusts in the Lord, and if he detect her in adultery, does the man sin if he continue to live with her?” And he said to me, “As long as he remains ignorant of her sin, the husband commits no transgression in living with her. But if the husband know that his wife has gone astray, and if the woman does not repent, but persists in her fornication, and yet the husband continues to live with her, he also is guilty of her crime, and a sharer in her adultery.” And I said to him, “What then, sir, is the husband to do, if his wife continue in her vicious practices?” And he said, “The husband should put her away, and remain by himself. But if he put his wife away and marry another, he also commits adultery.” And I said to him, “What if the woman put away should repent, and wish to return to her husband: shall she not be taken back by her husband?” And he said to me, “Assuredly. If the husband do not take her back, he sins, and brings a great sin upon himself; for he ought to take back the sinner who has repented. But not frequently. For there is but one repentance to the servants of God. In case, therefore, that the divorced wife may repent, the husband ought not to marry another, when his wife has been put away. In this matter man and woman are to be treated exactly in the same way.” Pastor Hermas, Book 2, Chapter 2

Tertullian [200 AD] Tertullian was the first important Christian ecclesiastical writer in Latin, whose work is remarkable for its blunt sarcasm, wittiness and skillful reasoning. In 197 AD Tertullian was married and became a presbyter of the church in Carthage. We quote him only to gain a glimpse of the teaching of the Church in Africa on this question.

“Now, women have every member of the body heavy laden with gold; wine-bibbing is so common among them, that the kiss is never offered with their will; and as for divorce, they long for it as though it were the natural consequence of marriage.... But Christ prohibits divorce, saying, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, also committeth adultery.” In order to forbid divorce, He makes it unlawful to marry a woman that has been put away.... “

When is divorce lawful?

“Divorce, therefore, when justly deserved, has even in Christ a defender.... For in the Gospel of Matthew he says, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery.” Thus you have Christ following spontaneously the tracks of the Creator everywhere... He permits divorce when the marriage is spotted with unfaithfulness...

Is Remarriage ever lawful?

“ (he) who shall have dismissed his wife, except on the ground of adultery, makes her commit adultery; and (he) who shall have married a (woman) dismissed by her husband, of course commits adultery... He also is deemed equally guilty of adultery, who marries a woman put away by her husband....  A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commit any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage? Such is God’s verdict, within straiter limits than men’s, that universally, whether through marriage or promiscuously, the admission of a second man (to intercourse) is pronounced adultery by Him.”

The Didache or the Constitution of the Holy Apostles [250 - 325 AD].
This ancient work was not written by the Apostles, but is a compilation of teachings considered orthodox. The first six volumes being written around 250 AD. The seventh and eighth sometime after 325 AD. Though they are spurious they are useful to some extent. As the Historian Mosheim says of them:

  "The matter of this work is unquestionably ancient; since the manners and discipline of which it exhibits a view are those which prevailed amongst the Christians of the second and third centuries, especially those resident in Greece and the oriental regions."
– Historical Commentaries, cent. 1. sect. 51

During the late third and the fourth centuries, they were generally believed to be of Apostolic origin, and do therefore furnish important historical testimony to the practice and belief of the church at that time. And that is why we quote them on this topic.

“We have already said, that a bishop, a presbyter, and a deacon, when they are constituted, must be but once married, whether their wives be alive or whether they be dead...  We also appoint that the ministers, and singers, and readers, and porters, shall be only once married. But if they entered into the clergy before they were married, we permit them to marry, if they have an inclination thereto, lest they sin and incur punishment. But we do not permit any one of the clergy to take to wife...(her) that is divorced, as also the law says.” – Constitution of the Holy Apostles Book 6, Chapter 3.

“Let not a bishop, a priest, or a deacon cast off his own wife under pretense of piety; but if he does cast her off, let him be suspended.... He who has taken ...  a divorced woman... cannot be either a bishop, priest, or deacon, or indeed any one of the sacerdotal catalogue.... If a layman divorces his own wife, and takes another, or one divorced by another, let him be suspended.” – Constitution of the Holy Apostles, Vol. 7. Ecc. Cannon 6, 48

*Note: These quotes prove that the early Church accepted in membership by baptism men and women who had been divorced and remarried before their baptism, though these could not hold offices in the Church. Yet it remains clear that remarriage after divorce was forbidden for the Christian. And those who did such were dismissed from fellowship.

Saint Augustine [400 AD]. Though we feel that the golden age of the Church ended around 300 AD, where doctrinal purity gave way to an age of compromise [compromise with the Roman Emperor, compromise with heathen philosophy, and compromise with pagan customs] it would seem strange not to quote Augustine in our study of the Church Fathers. Seeing that Augustin is considered the greatest and most influential of all the Christian Fathers. He was the intellectual head of the North African and the entire Western church of his time and is still highly regarded by Protestants and Catholics alike. Thus we offer his view of divorce, which was also the view of that Western Church of his time.

“But I marvel, if [a man] put away a wife who is an adulteress... be allowed... to marry another? For holy Scripture causes a hard knot in this matter, in that the Apostle says, that, by commandment of the Lord, the wife ought not to depart from her husband, but, in case she shall have departed, to remain unmarried, or to be reconciled to her husband...  I see not how the man can have permission to marry another, in case he have left an adulteress, when a woman has not [permission] to be married to another, in case she have left an adulterer.... Seeing that the compact of marriage is not done away by divorce intervening; so that they continue wedded persons one to another, even after separation; and commit adultery with those, with whom they shall be joined, even after their own divorce, either the woman with a man, or the man with a woman”. Augustine – On the Good marriage.

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