IN ALL, THERE ARE EIGHT PARTS (DIVISIONS) TO THIS WHOLE MESSAGE.
While spreading the Gospel on the streets, I come across a lot of very sad situations. People are often burdened down with sin, but often their burdens are not due to their own sins, but instead due to living in a fallen, evil world. Many have been neglected, betrayed, or harmed by others. At least 3 people I sometimes see and talk with have burned faces –all the fault of another, one having had someone throw gasoline into his face as a way to rob him. Several others wheel themselves around in wheelchairs, having been in a car wreck, hit by a vehicle while walking, or because of losing a leg through war or even diabetes.
So… there are many sorrowing lives, and yet these which can be seen on the outward appearance are often not even as agonizing as that pain which is held within many hearts due to death, divorce, rejection, abuse, or abandonment. Aware of this, should we not then always extend mercy?
Certainly we are to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, but let’s remember that mercy is more important than sacrifice. (Matt. 12:7) True, Jesus taught us to uphold God’s moral laws, but He also said there are “more important matters of the law –justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Matt. 23:23) This confirms such verses as Micah 6:8 –“He [the LORD] has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
I have found it very sad to listen to so-called Christians condemn the afflicted sheep concerning things they deem unlawful. One is in regards to this issue of divorce and remarriage. The bully sheep want “sacrifice” (adherence / obedience) to God’s laws –with no exceptions– even though Jesus says mercy is what God desires even more! So while trying hard to get everyone to obey God, they get angry, insult others, and bind whole families and churches to things God has already extended His mercy toward.
In Matt. 12:7 where Jesus quotes God saying, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (from Hosea 6:6), Jesus uses examples, including the breaking of the Sabbath (–even though the penalty given in Ex. 31:15 for that was death!), to teach that there are exceptions sometimes in order to uphold the greater law of mercy.
In reading then what Jesus did after teaching this –healing a man’s shriveled hand on the Sabbath– I thought back to a guy I’d met while witnessing on the streets who had two short, shriveled arms! –With only a finger on each so that he could hardly even take my Gospel tract! In remembering this man as I read Matt. 12:9-14, my indignation rose. –To think that those Pharisees, watching Jesus to see if he’d break God’s Sabbath law, could have so much lack of empathy and mercy in their hearts, that when Jesus did heal the guy, verse 14 says, “But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” And –why? Because He did good, yet at the same time desecrated their “god” called “The Sabbath Day.”
This is very similar to what is being done today: People are demanding that their god of “The Marriage Covenant” be upheld –with no exceptions. And even if someone, they decide, absolutely must divorce, there is no exception to allowing them to remarry another. Instead, they put a brand on them –that for the rest of their lives, these divorcees are consigned to live alone and celibate– even if they are repentant or can’t do anything to change what has happened. Yet such unmerciful people should heed Jesus’ words in verses 11 & 12 of Matt. 12: “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep. Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Indeed, is it not lawful to extend mercy? If someone falls into a pit marriage, should we not help the victim out? We should. Yet it is exactly this wretched false teaching that perpetuates abusive marriages! For the righteous spouse, besides having feelings of fear and rejection, has to also endure feeling shamed by other Christians’ teachings that to consider escape from a hurtful marriage, and especially to then remarry another, is such a grievous sin that it likely will lead to damnation.
The wicked spouse often knows that this teaching has been drilled into the godly spouse, and that she does, in fact, greatly fear committing the “unpardonable sin” of remarriage. So since the alternative is living alone –likely lonely and poor– for some 20-40 more years, the cruel spouse realizes soon enough that he can act any way he pleases because she has determined to put up with a bad life rather than risk a bad eternity. So the abusive unfaithful spouse continues to “have his cake and eat it too” –precisely because the godly one has been taught this absolute (no exceptions) loyalty to God’s law of marriage.
What legalists (those who excessively adhere to a law or formula) don’t understand is that though God does give us commands, we are to incorporate them all into the whole counsel of His Word. For example, a few verses past His teaching on divorce and remarriage, Jesus teaches, “If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” (Matt. 5:40) Yet we don’t hear much from legalists on that. For truly, if they were sued, we can doubt they would give double to the one suing them. Yet is this not what Jesus is commanding? I’m sure we can see that other Scripture would help us interpret this.
Let’s take this example: Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure, all things are pure.” Yet could that not also be taken to an extreme and used inappropriately? It certainly could. Someone could say that because he is born again and has had Christ’s purity imputed to him, his “oh-so-sweet affair” that “feels so right” IS then pure and right. But we know this man would not be “correctly handling the Word of Truth.” (See 2 Tim. 2:15) Therefore, Scripture, not man’s tradition or doctrine, must always interpret other Scripture.
How about the issue of lying? Rev. 21:8 says that “all liars” will be assigned “the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” Yet we know that Rahab lied to save the spies lives (Josh. 2:4-6) and was commended for it in the famous faith chapter of Heb. 11. Jael also lied and then killed a king who was on friendly terms with her clan. (Judges 4:17,18, 21) Yet God’s true prophetess, Deborah, sang, “Most blessed of women be Jael… [for] she crushed his head… there he fell –dead.” (5:24-27) If we see that there can be an appropriate situation in which to lie or kill, then there can be an appropriate situation to divorce!
So, although God’s Word gives us instructions about divorce and remarriage, it also gives us instructions about having nothing to do with a divisive person (Titus 3:10), not being “yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14), but to instead “come out from them and be separate” (v. 17), because a “household divided against itself will not stand” (Matt. 12:25) –for “the LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked” (Prov. 3:33), as well as on those who love or align themselves with the wicked. (2 Chron. 19:2)
For these very reasons, and as unfortunate and distressing as it was, Ezra and Nehemiah had to purify God’s people by sending away the heathen –even though those heathen were married to them! (Neh. 13:23-31) So before the Lord, they covenanted to God to send away the heathen women and their children by the counsel of those who feared God (Ezra 10:3) –that “the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.” (v. 14) However, in all this, there is not one mention about the prohibition that these men not be allowed to then find godly wives. If to do so would incur God’s wrath, would this warning not also have definitely been given to those who were already taking action to avoid that wrath?
So, back to the teachings of the New Testament: We can certainly see that Jesus upholds what God commanded from the start –marriage between a male and female (Matt. 19:4), the man leaving his family and uniting to his wife, becoming one flesh with her. (v. 5) But what does He mention in verse 6? He says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” He does not say man “can’t” separate, because man can. And man does. He separates (–“breaks faith” –Mal. 2:14) by various means. By adultery (Matt. 5:32), by abandonment (either physically from the house –1 Cor. 7:15, or physically from love-making –v. 3-5), or through abuse. (Mal. 2:16)
Many quote Mal. 2:10-16 and say that “breaking faith with one another” speaks of adultery. Yet the context leans much more toward it being either general ungodliness / wickedness / a turning from God (–something deemed “detestable”) –v. 11, OR abuse –“violence” –v. 16. But either way, God’s solution is to “cut him off from the tents” of His people. (v.12) For, under God, faith has been broken. Therefore, whether the civil law is enacted or not, the godly spouse should do what the Lord would do –cut the ungodly one off from living with her. This is then a full division –a cut –no longer one flesh. –Thus, a divorce.
So besides adultery, abuse and not upholding God’s Word in being considerate or respectful (1 Peter 3:7 & Col. 3:18,19,12-14), submitting to one another (Eph. 5:21), and tenderly caring for and loving each other (v. 28,29) “as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (v. 25) –loving each other as one loves himself (v. 33 & Lev. 19:18 / Matt. 19:19)… –it all is a breaking of faith.
Eph. 5:31 repeats God’s original command, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” But it also includes some other marriage commands that must be in operation. If the ingredients spelled out there (in verses 21-33) are not being consistently mixed into the marriage, then someone has, by constant sawing away, separated the “two being one flesh”. It is no longer a reality, and if repentance does not occur, the separation will become fixed –and final. A divorce (under God) has occurred because one of the spouses has created a division, thus a violation of the covenant agreement.
Yes, we are to forgive over and over, but even God only forgives one who is truly repentant, not one who merely pretends to repent. And if there is danger (physical, psychological, or spiritual), and the unfaithful one does not change, then wisdom (which comes from God) must be used and the enabling of sin ended by “expelling the wicked man from among you.” (See 1 Cor. 5:13)
So in summary: We all know that marriage is a covenant, and that a covenant is an agreement between two or more parties. Truly, it is an agreement that is binding –but only provided that the ones involved uphold their end of the agreement! Forgiveness can and should be applied, but if one side deliberately (and especially repeatedly) reneges on his vows, then the reality of the break must be accepted and dealt with.
This is the case when two people get married as they make certain vows to each other –which in one word could be summarized as agreeing to be “faithful” to each other until death. Faithful means faithful in all areas –as is reasonable, and both in what the Bible in its entirety teaches, as well as what it specifically spells out: Faithful to protect, provide for, honor, respect, produce children with, give sexual pleasure and attention to the other (and that one alone), and to consider one’s body the other’s property (1 Cor. 7:4) as under the Lordship of Christ. (Eph. 5:22-33)
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ABOUT THE DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE ISSUE:
Friends, [Also posted here on my blog on: 3/3/10]
At another blog-site I have joined a discussion about divorce and remarriage. There is a belief that people should never divorce, except for in cases of adultery, and even then, remarriage is not allowed by God; and that to violate this, condemns one to Hell.
Here is my based-on-the-Bible belief concerning this issue:
This conversation is indeed painful… extremely painful. I hear pain throughout… and I am so, so sad for all.
I do very much sympathize and understand the desire to uphold God’s Word and His holiness –as well as absolute obedience to Him. I preach holiness and perfection consistently. Jesus meant what He said in Matt. 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
I have cried with many an anguished person whose spouse, once kind and good, turned cruel, leaving one to cry alone many a night not knowing where the other was.
Or, take another: The man stays up late night after night on the computer, sometimes viewing porn, only to leave his wife alone in bed.
Or, take another: The man stays out late with his drinking buddies at the pub and no, isn’t committing adultery, but is leaving the wife home alone. Plus, he comes home drunk.
Or: A woman, time and again (though several months apart, and promising to not do it again), allows men to text her and call her when her husband is at work.
Or: A woman keeps spending money foolishly so that the family doesn’t have any money for bills, their electricity, etc. often getting turned off, all the while, the husband working hard.
Or: A wife subjects the two children to utter poverty because her husband takes drugs. (And these were people we met at church.)
Or: The husband goes to prison for molesting a girl, but the girl is known to be a liar. The wife acknowledges that her husband was abusive to their family, but since the court evidence was very minimal, she does not feel cleared to divorce him.
Or: The husband no longer makes love with his wife, does not even hold her, and never compliments her. Often he sleeps in another room. This goes on year after year. These are not isolated cases, nor are they reserved for the elderly. I’m thinking of three couples in their 20s –went 7-8 years without the “cuddling” –until the divorces finally occurred. And none were involved in affairs. Another couple in their 40s went over 3 years, and another in their 50s went 4 years.
Anyway, I could go on and on with these true, actual examples… unfortunately… Oh, yea, how about this one: The husband has something like extreme bipolar; so he’s wonderfully sweet at times, reads his Bible, etc., but at other times he flies into rages where he kicks his wife, spits on her, slings her around, threatens to kill her, slugs her, chokes her…. but then later says he’s very sorry and buys her gifts… the cycle repeating for almost two decades…
Folks, this is the reality of many a marriage. Jesus does not condone this or tell us to tolerate such. Many of us will not tolerate false preachers in the pulpit. Then we are not to tolerate severe abuse, lies, neglect, lust, or anything else a spouse dishes out that is highly (and consistently) contrary to Christ-likeness.
I do believe in throwing our lives away for the sake of the Gospel. But we are to be led by the Spirit and He calls for wisdom. We are not called to throw our lives away to swine. (See Matt. 7:6) Even if that “swine” is someone we love. For if we do, they may “then turn and tear you to pieces.” (same verse)
“Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.” (Prov. 25:26) We are to forgive. But we are not to repeatedly tolerate wickedness –especially in our own homes. (Ps. 101:7,4 & Prov. 21:19 & 22:10,24,25)
God gives us commands in His Word like honoring our parents and obeying the government. However, there are higher laws we are to apply when either of those cause more sin by obeying them. For example, if a father tells his daughter that she must let him commit incest with her because she is, in God’s Word, commanded to obey one’s parents. If we agree with this father, then we are downright foolish and causing a greater evil than the breaking of the 5th commandment. How about if a government commands that we kill innocent people? Are we to say, “Okay. I must obey because of Rom. 13:1 which says, ‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities…'”? No. The higher law of righteousness and wisdom is to be applied –by breaking the otherwise good laws.
So, here is my conclusion:
When a person resorts to divorce so that a greater evil does not continue, then I believe the Lord vindicates that person from the otherwise sin of breaking a covenant. Even God broke His covenant with Israel. “…certificate of divorce… because of your transgressions your mother was sent away…” (Isa. 50:1) “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce…” (Jer. 3:8) God then used that necessary divorce so that He could “remarry” Himself to whosoever believes / obeys / follows Him –including Gentiles. (Rom. 11:11,19-22)
Indeed, this is an issue we need to grapple with. For many live in acute anguish because of it.
I wish ______ the best in his new marriage. After 26+ years, people that are servants of Christ, don’t normally throw that away –unless they fall into willful sin. But if one doesn’t, and they have tried and tried, then the rest of us need to back away, knowing we don’t know all the dynamics of a tumultuous marriage.
I have listened to countless people tell me their marriage woes and they certainly are not wishing for divorce. They wish and pray for reconciliation, and when it just torturously eludes them, they feel it best for both (and for the others affected) to divorce. Otherwise, children have to watch the constant fighting –and yes, abuse –some horrific. And I mean from Christians who live upper-class lifestyles… It’s not just what some think as being only a low-class problem. Also, friends and relatives are inconvenienced constantly, by worrying for them, as well as being stood up because the jerk spouse was out drinking or just being mean –saying he or she was suddenly sick, or didn’t feel like going, etc.
How about when one spouse gets the whole family in debt and just keeps making foolish (or even unethical) choices with money? How about when one spouse takes drugs? How about when one spouse won’t cooperate with the discipline of a teen who allows his drinking buddies over to the home, or allows the daughter to spend the night at her boyfriend’s house? All this, from spouses who have themselves slipped away from obedience to God’s Word after having been closely following Him before! And some from preachers still in the pulpit!
The reasons are endless for why someone feels they cannot sanely live with another. Divorce was granted by Moses because of the hardness of hearts. Sometimes one heart just grows increasingly hard or rebellious, and if even God can’t stop people from turning from Him, then we are not to expect that a frail human man can stop his spouse’s heart from turning from him –even if she hasn’t turned to another in adultery, but has turned to the world, sin, or another idol of the heart.
Divorce is horrible, but so are some marriages. “…a man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” (1 Cor. 7:15) Yes, the remarriage thing is the issue, but we also know that in the perfect Garden, before sin had even come in, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18) Are we going to say that these divorced people (who tried exceedingly hard to make it work), are destined to live alone –because WE have deemed that it IS good for man (or woman) to be alone? Thankfully, we serve a God who’s Word says, “Mercy triumphs over judgement!” (James 2:13) And those who judge harshly about things they know nothing about might want to heed the warning in the first part of that verse: “…because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.”
Most of us know that marriage is hard. But just because some of us have never divorced, it does not give us the right to judge someone else’s non-deliberate misfortune.
Friends, [Also posted here on my blog on: 3/4/10]
The divorce/remarriage discussion is still going on. One man, who believes grace covers his divorce (from a wife who left him after 26 years), just got married to his second wife this last weekend. Another man has been separated from his wife for some years now, but refuses to grant her a divorce because he says there’s no point –as a divorce would be so she could remarry, which would be adultery.
Here’s my comment to the second man:
I commend you for wanting to uphold God’s Word as the final authority, and for encouraging us in the “fear of the Lord.” I hear what you are saying. And yes, we need to get this doctrine right, for continuous adulterers do go to Hell. And I would agree with you –Scripture is full of the opposite of what “once-saved, always-saved” groups teach. I write on it myself –extensively– for I do believe it is one of the main culprits for the rampant sin in the church, including amongst the leaders.
However, though God is full of wrath against sin and sinners, He also loved us so much that He came as a man to take that wrath, thus covering us with mercy. Mercy is undeserved forgiveness, compassion, and pardon. Therefore, when we are committing no sin that we know of, and are walking in the Light we’ve so far grown in and are continuing to grow in, God sees and extends the mercy that Jesus ransomed us for. He also extends it to us when we fall –if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and repent (Luke 13:3), and prove that repentance by our deeds. (Acts 26:20)
I am saying that when one spouse has time and again received cruel treatment (adultery, abuse, or abandonment of ANY of the marriage vows), then if the cruelty (sin) does not stop, the mistreated spouse would be wise to leave. Then if there still is no repentance, divorce is permissible. To then remarry… that is an issue of being led by the Lord. For “we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Rom. 7:6)
We often don’t really know what causes a divorce. For it’s really all the “little things” that just add, and add, and add.. up. Sometimes the husband is too domineering or neglectful or demeaning to his wife… she finally calls it quits (or has an affair), and the man say, “I didn’t do anything. She just left me.” –Or, “I was slaving away for our family, and she goes has an affair!” But the leaving or the affair was just a symptom, not the main problem (–unless, of course, she’s just one of those types who likes to cheat.) So was the “innocent” man actually innocent? No. But does God’s mercy extend to him too? Yes, if he is truly repentant.
So, the point: No matter how much fault was ours, if we are truly repentant, God forgives. He wipes the slate clean. No, not for consequences. We still reap that. But cleared as in salvation. You don’t agree –still? Okay. How is it that you have chosen to deem remarriage as the one unpardonable sin? Because you and I and all of us know that we’ve all very likely had to be forgiven by God several times this month for crimes against Him (sin is lawlessness… sin is rebellion… remember) that are just as bad as the “adultery” of remarriage. (James 2:10,11)
Someone quoted Mal. 2:16 –that God hates divorce. Yes, but it also says that He hates violence, and says that the “breaking of faith with one another” is “a detestable thing.” (v. 10) The breaking of faith is the breaking of any of the marriage vows –like, “I promise to love, honor, cherish, help you, protect you, and provide for you…” You know we’ve all broken faith in the “smaller” ways. But those James verses above, say that if someone “stumbles at just one point [he] is guilty of breaking all of it.” Guilty. Of ALL of it.
So, if you condemn another to Hell for a certain sin, you also condemn yourself for your particular sin –even if you, like me, are aiming for perfection daily. Let’s shine these verses on ourselves before we judge another’s “sin” as supposedly not being cleared by repentance under the cross:
Prov. 6:16-19 ~~”There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”
If that doesn’t convict you, then how about, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”–? (Mark 16:15) That is a command to us all. Have you done it? How about this: “Be joyful always; Pray continually…”? (1 Thes. 5:16,17) –Or do you ever stumble with those two? Or how about, “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2) and “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…”? (v. 10) –“wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” (Eph. 6:7) –Ex-spouses included.
If someone wants to leave –yes, as in, leave the marriage– we are not to play Judge, saying, “You are in rebellion to God, so I will try my best to withhold from you any peace of mind about your decision –or about your right standing with God –or about your assurance of salvation.” That is not your job. Your job is to still try to tenderly love your wife, help her out, and grant her the freedom to make her own choices.
Yes, children are harmed by separation and divorce. But they are harmed even more so by the anger, resentment, belittling, and accusations that they see continue from one or both parents. Children losing their confidence in God over this? No, children lose their confidence in God by watching a person (especially their own father) who they know is to love his wife as Christ loves the church, portray actions or words that are the opposite.
Maybe this is not the case with you, but these polarizing statements do not have a good tone: “Has my wife lost her salvation? Has she ‘crossed a line’ by persistently hardening her heart against me and God? I hope not.” Wow! Hopefully, you haven’t stated that within earshot of your children! Or, “No, I am simply representing a firm disagreement with the unbiblical beliefs of my wife.” (Using the word “unbiblical” –too pious, judgmental, and arrogant sounding.) So, –fine. –Firmly disagree. –But don’t control. And repeated use of the word “rebellion” isn’t gonna get you far either.
God is the one who deals with our rebellion, not a spouse. Husbands are to protect, provide for, and cherish their wives, not discipline them –which is the idea that’s coming across to me from your statements. Seven years? It’s over. And to pretend it’s not, is just plain folly, denial, and keeping another bound. If you want to be bound (celibate and alone), fine, but to try your best to bind her (against her will) to your beliefs and ideals, is sin –continuous, deliberate sin. Furthermore, your god appears to be this: A covenant. –Which in that, you are breaking the first of the Ten Commandments, which is a worse sin than the type of “rebellion” sin supposedly your estranged wife is in.
The trouble with us humans, is we get an idea in our heads, an ideal, a value, a worldview, and we can’t shake loose of it. Kind of like the belief in OSAS –those who say, “It just has to be this way! –because that’s my belief!” In other words, “I believe it’s like this, therefore it is.” But beliefs are not what matters. What matters is the truth –and then believing that.
Oh, yea –so my opinion (yes, based on the Bible), about false prophets getting divorced? Well, who could stay married to one? If someone is a false prophet, he or she is likely also a nut; and if it’s apparent there is never going to be a change (short of a miracle), then to remain a “helpmeet” would be to assist someone in preaching error about the Lord. And if not assisting in it, how could a spouse then remained joined –be “one”– with such a farce? Anyone righteous could not do so easily.
Remember, Matt. 1:19 tells us, “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her [Mary] to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Notice that this says “her husband”. Notice that it says he was “a righteous man”. Notice that he “had in mind to divorce her…” And why? Because he thought she was unrighteous, and he did not wish to remain joined to that. Would he have remarried? Undoubtably, yes. True, he didn’t live with her yet. But had the solemn oath already been given –the covenant made? Yes. But… BECAUSE he was righteous, he was about to BREAK it.
Speaking of “sanctified”, look at Heb. 10:26 & 29. Verse 26 says that if we deliberately keep on sinning, then Christ’s sacrifice no longer covers us, and we are headed for Hell. And v. 29 says this is the punishment for those who have “treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him…”
Heb. 6:4-6 condemns those who have fallen away after they have been enlightened, tasted, shared in, and participated in the Holy Spirit (the heavenly gift), God’s Word, and the power of God. Those verses could not be written any clearer. Heb. 3:14 says, “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”
We should be able to especially understand what these verses are saying when we’ve seen many, who, after some years of marriage, do NOT hold firmly to their confidence of wanting to stay a lifetime with their spouse. Did not the spouse that wanted the divorce (or separation, or affair, etc.) confidently want (at first) the marriage to happen –oh, so in love…?! Yes. And this certainly can happen between us and Christ too! Not that He will ever leave us, but He gives us the freedom of choice to come, follow, and obey Him, –or… to leave Him. (John 6:67)
And some do leave –because His teachings get too hard to take (accept), such as in John 6:66, “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” Still others, as He teaches in Luke 8:14, leave Him (–He who is the Word of God) because of worries, trials, and/or the allurements of the world. As He says in v. 13, “They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”
These types are condemned also in 2 Peter 2:20-22: “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred commandment that was passed on to them. [The commandment to truly and purely love God and others –for “love is the fulfillment of the law.” –Rom. 13:10] Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'”
You point out to us 1 Cor. 6:11 about having been “sanctified” –as well as having been “washed” –yet the verses above say a person can “undo” that by deliberate sinning.
So the question is: Is remarriage deliberate sin? And if so, is divorce not a sin then also –since it is reneging on a covenant? And even if a person feels they did not initiate or cause the divorce, isn’t it still a sin to not be making every effort to reconcile? Or, on the flip side, isn’t it a sin to refuse to grant someone else a divorce who wants one? Even God gives us more freedom of choice than that!
Look, I am genuinely asking these questions, and I think we should all be willing to help each other come to the truth, acknowledging that there are no flippant answers. We who teach (or even influence others’ lives –our own life, as well), must get this doctrine correct!
I feel terrible to hear your grief-stricken words of being caught still –after many years of being divorced– in a sad cycle, admitting your experience feels worse than death. Yes, and many say that. Once, a man whose wife was having an affair the whole two years before he found out, said to me, “Couldn’t she have just put a bullet in my head instead?” Oh, what pain one human can cause another! Betrayal is a horrible thing! –Even if it’s not adultery, for there are many types of betrayals…
Also… We CAN keep the law. Because it is the law of the Spirit. (Rom. 8:2) And “if the Spirit of God lives in you” (v.9), then you “are controlled, not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit… the Spirit of Christ…” (same verse) Thus, we abide in Jesus and His words (John 15:7), for as He says, “apart from Me you can do nothing.” (v. 5) But… by Him living through us, we “will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
Yes, I certainly know about the no-fault divorce laws of the land. What I meant, was, as in “the law of love” / “the law of the Spirit” / “the law of Christ”. To be more blunt, I feel that _______ may be breaking that law (thus sinning) in that he MAY be shaming his estranged wife, laying a guilt trip on her, or threatening her with scare tactics from God’s Word.
Most of us know a lot about spiritual abuse. It is very real, strong, and controlling. We are never to control another. Control is to be left to God. We are to love and bless –even our enemies. (Matt.5:44) We are to always seek the other’s highest good above our own (1 Cor. 10:24), even if the division continues unintentionally. For “who can straighten what He has made crooked.” (Ecc. 7:13) And God does intervene and deliver those who are oppressed or maligned by others. (Ps. 12:5-7)
Jesus clearly does command perfection in Matt. 5:48 –“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And as 1 Peter 1:15 says, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” In ALL we do. –Be perfect and holy JUST AS God is. Yes, it is a high calling, a high bar. It is impossible to jump over the bar ourselves.
However, we jump over by being born anew of the Holy Spirit. Then by feeding off of Jesus and His Words, we gain the strength. That’s how we can daily deny self (Luke 9:23) and crucify self (Rom. 6:6,12,13) to the world and it to us –through the cross. (Gal. 6:14)
Abiding (John 15:1-8) is about walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), being “controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Rom. 8:9) If you are having a problem with that, then you likely “do not belong to Christ.” (same verse) “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (1 John 3:10) For “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s nature abides in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.” (v. 9) This refers to deliberate sin. Sinning against the leading of the Spirit, as well as against the Word of God.
The Lord does not expect us to become mature in a day, or to learn everything in a day. (John 16:12) But we are to continuously meditate on Scripture so as to “be careful to do everything written in it.” (Josh. 1:8) Thereby we do “train ourselves to be godly.” (1 Tim. 4:7)
2 Tim. 2:12 says, “If we disown Him, He will also disown us.” (Some versions, the KJV included, use the word “deny” here instead of “disown”.) Titus 1:16 says, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” Thus, our actions can cause Him to disown us –to divorce us. Just as He “gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce” (Jer. 3:8) –even though in Ezek. 16:8 God says, “I gave you My solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became Mine.” Yet in verse 32 He says, “You adulterous wife!” speaking of her “detestable practices” (v. 22), and then says in verse 59, “I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised My oath by breaking the covenant.”
And we know that He then soon made a completely new covenant –with a new people –a people who truly love Him and remain faithful to Him –holy, pure, and obedient.
This issue of divorce and remarriage has scarred the church maybe more than anything else. For besides ruining families and churches and societies, it hits us at the core of our spirits –our emotions, our ideals, our hopes… threatening to devastate one’s life and psyche.
May the Lord heal the penitent one, and through His great forgiveness and mercy, raise him or her up –with a totally clean slate –no longer bound to whatever happened in the past. For “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal. 5:1) –“Set free from sin” (Rom. 6:18), but also set free to be forgiven. (1 John 1:9)
We know very well that Jesus was amongst a very male-dominated, women-much-inferior society, and that these men adhered to the Talmud (Mishnah, plus their commentary on it, the Gemara), and that in those teachings men were allowed to divorce their wives –even without giving her a kethubah (deed of marriage settlement)– for such things as scars, loud voice, excessive perspiration, moles, and offensive breath. Thus, when Jesus was addressing this issue, we can go to Matt. 19:3 and see the Pharisee’s initial question that day: “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
Jesus’ point, then, in saying –No, only for reason of unchastity, was to counter their horrible and unfair divorce laws. The reason we can know that Jesus was not ruling out other exceptions, is because we can go to other passages in God’s Word and compare Scripture with Scripture. –Such as 1 Cor. 7:15 –”But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances…” Does Paul use the authority of Jesus’ past statements on the matter? No. He gives this reason: “God has called us to live in peace.” Does he then say that remarriage is out of the question? No.
Some will get all hung up on that word “unbeliever”. Yet anyone who is continuously and deliberately sinning can be considered to be manifesting unbelief / distrust / disobedience to God, and though we don’t know one’s heart, we can judge by their fruit. This is why, when false teachers keep getting further entrenched in their error, blasphemy, and false doctrine, a spouse would have to remember 1 Cor. 15:33, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” And then apply 2 Cor. 6:17, “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
A godly wife, if she lived with a blatantly false teacher, or a druggie, or a violent man, or a liar, etc., would also have to “rightly divide the Word” (2 Tim. 2:15), and apply other verses such as, “Allow no evil to dwell in your tent.” (Job 11:14) Or, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Prov. 22:24,25) (That is a wise warning –God’s Word– to all who remain with an abuser.) God’s Word also says it is BETTER to separate from such, even from a quarrelsome spouse (Prov. 25:24) or a mocker (Prov. 22:10 & Ps. 1:1), and that to love or be in alliance with the wicked incurs God’s wrath upon ourselves. (2 Chron. 19:2)
Once a couple has separated, yes, there should be utmost effort for reconciliation –as they live apart and try to mend things, knowing that likely it was sin on both their parts that led to the present mess. However, both need to repent –not just one. Otherwise, the contract of marriage (marriage is a vow to love, honor, respect, live together, and yes, unique only to marriage –”make love” with) has been broken. And once broken, it is null and void. It is not voided until one partner breaks it; but once one has, it is broken. What many legalists don’t seem to want to admit, is that once the covenant has been broken, one spouse, (or both) has then also abandoned the marriage vows, which is already a type of divorce.
Ex. 21:10,11 says, “If he marries another woman…” Let me stop: We have civil laws that now prohibit polygamy, but this can apply when a spouse has been deliberately LOOKING lustfully after another which Jesus says is adultery (Matt. 5:28) (–though I don’t hear any of you telling such a person to gouge out their eye…) Besides this, we know that under O.T. law, the adulterer would be stoned, thus dead, thus leaving the “innocent” one to remarry. We don’t have this death penalty anymore, thus we have complications.
Ex. 21:10,11 continued: “If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights.” Stop again. This would be provision and security –physical, but also emotional and spiritual. “Marital rights” definitely includes making love to one’s spouse, as we read in 1 Cor. 7:3-5, therein stated “marital duty.” If someone has not fulfilled this for seven years, they are completely out of obedience to God’s Word and the contract / promise has, long ago, been broken.
Verse 11 of Ex. 21: “If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.”
So, we see that we cannot take just one command and run with it. We once had a wretched Civil War because of those who used the Bible, such as Col. 3:22, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything…” to justify keeping others bound. We must obey the WHOLE of God’s counsel. Really we should not even be discussing the law –for those who walk in the counsel of the Holy Spirit know that “all who rely on observing the law are under a curse.” (Gal. 3:10)
As Jesus said, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:5) And in declaring innocent those who broke the Sabbath laws because of the greater need of hunger (Matt. 12:5), Jesus said, “If you had know what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” (v. 7)