1. Christ’s Discourse on “Marriage”
2. Christ’s Discourse on “Divorce”
3. Christ’s Discourse on “Remarriage”
1. In this lesson we will be discussing “marriage, divorce and remarriage.” This is one of the most misunderstood and debated topic in the Christian faith. What will be clear as we proceed is that there are diverse opinions on this topic more than there is truth! We will stand firm in the bible regarding these issues. There are basically three positions on these issues: legalism, liberalism and conservatism. Let me add, that Jesus’ position on this topic was that of the word of God. Saying unto the leaders, “Have ye not read?” Matthew 19:4.
2. First, we will address the topic of marriage as discussed by the Lord and others. The Hebrew writer states: “marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge,” Hebrews 13:4. Jesus states: “marriage was to be permanent.” Divorce was granted because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of Israel. Jesus said: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so,” Matthew 19:8.
3. Second, we will discuss the issue of divorce as described by the Lord. He mentioned: “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,” Matthew 19:9. The same statement was made in Matthew 5:32. In these scriptures Jesus permits divorce for one reason only, and that is: “infidelity.” That is one or both parties are guilty of sexual misconduct. Divorce could be granted for reasons of “fornication, adultery, and other sexual sins.” Notice however, Jesus does not mention forgiveness or even staying with the unfaithful partner in these verses. Nor, does he mention who could or could not remarry, if the divorce was granted even for the "exception:" that is infidelity. We will deal with these issues later in this lesson.
4. Lastly, we will discuss the issue of remarriage as described by the Lord. Notice he says: “…and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery,” Matthew 19:9. One must conclude, that remarriage by one or both parties, if divorced for any other reason than the ‘exception', doth commit adultery. The question on this topic not mentioned by the Lord – in this text - can one or both parties if divorce for the “exception” be allowed to remarry without committing adultery? However, this question has been given exhaustive discussion by many writers; but with very little mention of scripture from the New Testament! We will also deal with this notion at the proper time. But for now, let’s look first at what Jesus says on marriage.
BODY OF LESSON
I CHRIST’S DISCOURSE ON “MARRIAGE”
A. As mentioned before: “marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge,” Hebrews 13:4.
1. Solomon wrote: “Whoso findeth a wife, findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord,” Proverb 18:22. Also: “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD,” Proverb 19:14.
2. Marriage in Jesus’ time. There were two schools of thought on this issue then; one was from the school of Shammai – that permitted divorce for only “adultery”; the second was from the school of Hillel – that permitted divorce “for any reason.” It was from this teaching (Hillel) the “Pharisees came tempting Jesus saying unto him, is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Matthew 19:3. To answer their question Jesus said:
a. Have you read – referring to the beginning. God made them male and female.
b. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother – joined to his wife, they shall be one flesh.
c. What God has joined together – let no man put asunder, undo.
3. The Jewish leaders then asked: Why did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement and to put away?”
4. Jesus responded: “Because of the harness of your hearts – he suffered you to put away your wives. From the beginning it was not so...
B. God recognizes all marriages. Marriage is a “leaving and cleaving.” Marriage is then the leaving of mother and father; and, the cleaving unto his wife. Notice:
1. Jesus 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.”
2. Jesus concludes: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,” Matthew 19:5-6. What God has joined in marriage; let no man break it.
C. Wife is bound to her husband. The wife is bound by the law of her husband as long as he is alive. But once he is dead, she if freed from the law and the marriage contract. Notice:
1. Paul Letter to the Corinthians: “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 Corinthians 7:39.
2. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “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?” Notice:
a. First, “For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth.” As long as the husband lives; she is bound by the law and the marriage contract.
b. Further, “But if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” She is no longer bound by the law; death has severed the marriage contract. She is no longer married to her husband; she is loosed from her husband.
c. Next, “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress.” If then, she marries another man; she shall be called an adulteress. It is therefore, marrying another man; while her first husband yet lives – which makes her an adulteress. Isn’t this what the Bible is declaring?
d. Finally, “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,” Romans 7:1-3.
e. Conclusion: As long as the husband is alive; and he had not granted her a “bill of divorcement;” if she marries another man, she shall be call an adulteress. But if her husband be dead; she is no longer married, and can be marry to another man and shall not be called or considered an adulteress. Paul clears up a very important truth in these verses. We will come back to this principle later in the lesson.
D. The law of marriage under Moses. Moses wrote: “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.”
1. First, “And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.”
2. Further, “And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife.”
3. Next, “Her former husband (first husband), which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled.”
4. Finally, “For that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance,” Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
5. Conclusion: The Law forbad the first husband to take his former wife again; if she is divorced by her present husband; or he dies and leaves her a widow. However, the legalist’s position is, for the woman to return to her former husband. Moses did not permit such under the Old Testament. Should it be allowed today? Notice:
a. First, if it was not permitted under the Law; why, it is espoused as New Testament doctrines today?
b. Second, if it wasn't permitted under Moses' Law, because it polluted the land; how could such teaching be acceptable in the church of Christ in the first century; or a part of the Lord’s church in the 21st century?”
c. I conclude: If it was wrong under the Old Testament; then it is also wrong under the New Testament. Recall: “Those things written afore time was written for our learning,” Romans 15:4. We will come back to this also later in the lesson.
E. A woman with 5 husbands. Jesus found a woman at Jacob’s well which had five husbands, and “saith unto her, go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband. For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly,” John 4:16-18.
1. The Lord said this woman had five husbands, and was then living with a man, that was not her husband. During this time, the man was permitted to divorce his wife for any reason (Hillel’s view).
2. However, the woman had no right under Jewish law at all to divorce her husband. What Jesus has done in Matthew 19:9, was to level the playing field (which we will consider later in this lesson). Jesus accepted that the woman was legally married 5 times. I’m not sure that many here could; but, Jesus accepted each marriages and divorces, as being legal under the Law of Moses.
3. If this Samaritan woman obeyed the gospel, which husband should she return to, as argued by many today? Notice:
a. She was legally married; and legally divorced under the Law. This is clear, from the Lord’s comments, “Thou hast well said, ‘I have no husband.’”
b. He said further: “For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly,” John 4:18.
4. If this woman left her live-in partner, or quit “shacking;” would she be a fit subject for the kingdom of God?
a. Could the grace of God save her? As a result of Philip’s preaching in Samaria, Acts 8:1-12. Can the grace of God save any woman in a similar case? Or, has grace no place for such a person as this woman? How foolish such a thought!
b. Remember she had 5 husbands! Probably not one of her divorces was of her choosing. Neither was one of them for fornication or adultery (this would have require that she be stoned to death), John 8:5; Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22.
5. If this woman repented of her “fornication” and left the man. Could she be saved by the grace of God? Would this be sufficient as true “repentance?”
6. Would she be then, free to marry under the Law of Christ, whoever she will “only in the Lord?” 1 Corinthians 7:39. There are many today that would argue strongly against all of these proposals. They are not true believers of the grace of God, Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5-8. Let’s continue to investigate the truth regarding this subject. Let’s discuss what our Lord says about divorce.
II CHRIST’S DISCOURSE ON “DIVORCE”
A. Divorce is described as the “putting away” of one’s spouse. There are many reasons for divorce throughout the United States and the world. Some are: “we are no longer compatible; no longer in love; I have found someone else and we have out grown each other,” just to mention a few.
1. However, the Lord gives his commandment on this subject. Divorce was permitted, under the law; but not commanded.
2. It was granted because of the hardness of their hearts.
3. It is now time to discuss divorce WITHOUT the “exception.”
B. Divorce without the exception. Matthew wrote: “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?”
1. They sought to tempt the Lord regarding this issue: “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female…,” Matthew 19:3-8.
2. Jesus goes on to address His position on this matter. Jesus says: “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,” Matthew 19:9. Why would such a case be “adultery?”
a. In this statement; both parties are still legally bound to each other; because the marriage contract has not been set aside by God. God does the binding and the loosing. Won’t you agree? Both, if they remarry, committeth adultery. Please note, it is the marrying of another while legally bound to another; that causes this form of adultery. However:
b. Many would argue it is the sexual cohabitation that causes the sin of adultery. If this be so, could they abstain from sexual cohabitation – and remain married and no longer be guilty of adultery? Of course they would answer – NO!
c. This form of adultery is caused by either party remarrying while still being legally bound by the law of marriage to their former spouse. The marriage contract has not been loosed, broken or “put asunder” by God.
C. Divorce for the exception. Now, let’s notice what Jesus says regarding His exception. Notice: “And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, (for the) exception of fornication, and shall marry another, (does not) committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth (not) commit adultery,” Matthew 19:9. The exception Jesus grants permit the offended party to put away his/her spouse. The marriage is no longer binding – he or she is loosed from the marriage contract. The offended party is free to remarry. (Italics and parentheses are my insertions).
1. Therefore, it stands to reason; that if one party is loosed from the marriage contract; than the other party would also be loosed.
2. The legalist would require the guilty party to still be bound – and unable to remarry. Notice:
a. Divorce is like death – if the husband dies; than the wife is free to remarry. She is no longer bound to her husband who is in the grave.
b. Illustrate: Plowing with two oxen. Loose one the other is also free.
c. If one is legally divorced – than the other party cannot still be bound – he/she is has been loosed from the marriage contract!
d. If marriage is “binding” the two together; then divorce for the exception, is “loosing” both from the contract of marriage.
D. Divorce for desertion. In many marriages desertion often become an item of discussion. Paul discusses this notion as another possible reason for divorce. He describes two scenarios regarding marriage and the “putting away” of one’s spouse for desertion, 1 Corinthians 7:10-16. Illustrate: The Christian and non-Christian’s responsibilities to their believing and unbelieving spouse. Notice:
1. The Christian. The Christian is commanded not to depart from her/his husband/wife. But if one does depart; they are to remain unmarried or be reconciled, 1Corinthians 7:10-11. The Christian may be required to depart from a believing spouse; but he/she is not permitted to remarry; but to be reconciled to his/her spouse (husband or wife).
a. To the married I command. Some might say, "If the unmarried state is best now, it will be better to leave our married partner." He replies, "The Lord commands otherwise," (Mark 10:12; Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9).
1) But and if she depart. Provided, despite the prohibition, there is such disagreement that she leaves her husband, she must remain unmarried, or be reconciled.
2) Let not the husband put away his wife. The wife "departs," because she leaves the home; the husband "puts away his wife," by sending her off (away by divorce).
a) Both are equally prohibited (in this text). The same rules apply to each sex.
b) Among the Jews, only the husband exercised the right of divorce; among the Greeks and Romans, the wife exercised it equally with the husband.
3) Reference, People’s New Testament, Explanatory Notes, on 1 Corinthians, by B.W. Johnson, page 94.
b. One cannot use this option to allow Satan an opportunity to tempt the other party to sin; and then, find reason for divorce. Remember: “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
c. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency,” 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.
d. Paul speaks here of providing for the sexual needs of each other - willingly and lovingly.
2. The non-Christian, if he/she be pleased to be married, let not the brother or sister “put away” his/her spouse, 1 Corinthians 7:12-14. We are commanded to remain in the marriage for their sake and the children.
3. However: “But, if the unbelieving depart, let him/her 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 Corinthians 7:15-16.
a. Paul’s instruction is to move on with your life. Note however, Paul neither forbids nor permits remarriage of the party that is left behind.
b. He merely states – “the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.”
c. This will need to be decided as a result of prayer, much fasting and counsel by a strong church leadership (elder and wife combination).
4. When desertion takes place – more than likely infidelity has already occurred or will occur. A brother or sister is not under ‘bondage” in such cases.
a. Paul speaks of the marriage contract – he/she is no longer bound by the contract of marriage.
b. He/she is released from the contract of marriage.
c. Just like in death: “She is loosed from the marriage contract, and the law of her husband,” Romans 7:2-3.
5. Therefore, there are three conditions that can break the marriage bond: death, divorce (for fornication) and desertion.
a. There is no instruction to forbid remarrying in either case. Nor, is there any instruction for one having to remarry or take another spouse.
b. This is left up to the one offended and the Lord to whom she or he continues to serve faithfully. The only commandment is that “she should marry in the Lord,” 1 Corinthians 7:39.
E. Forgiveness and reconciliation. In all these passages; Jesus does not discuss forgiveness and reconciliation after a partner has committed fornication or adultery. The voice of divorce is silent on these principles of love, compassion and forgiveness. But I will speak to it now as the servant of the Lord.
1. God has and can forgive the adulterers and the sin of adultery. And we, who claim to be His servants, must learn to forgive even in this offense. Before we notice the last point, let’s notice the attitude of our heavenly Father and Jesus in this matter. Let’s notice the forgiveness of Jesus for these types of sins. Notice:
a. The woman caught in adultery. She was caught in the very act of adultery. Christ said: “Woman, where are thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” John 8:1-11. The Law required that she be stoned; but Jesus set aside this penalty and forgave her sin as an act of grace on her behalf. Do you believe the Lord Jesus Christ can forgive this sin today? See Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22.
b. The woman at the well, John 4:1-24. As mention earlier in the lesson, she was married 5 times, and living with a man. Could the grace of God fix this woman’s condition? If she was one of the converts in Samaria as a result of Philip’s preaching, which husband would she have to return to – according to some legalists? See John 4:39-43; Acts 8:1-5, 12. The answer is neither.
1) Grace does not demand her to return to any husband (she had none).
2) And the Law of Moses, forbad any from returning to their first husband, as some demand today (as being necessary to obtain forgiven).
c. Remember Deuteronomy 24? Notice: “Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled,” Deuteronomy 24:4. See also Jeremiah 3:1.
1) The Law of Moses did not permit the first husband to go back to his wife – nor the wife to go back to her husband. Why is this teaching the doctrine of the New Testament church?
2) If this practice (return to the former spouse) defiled the land under the Law; would it not defile the church of Christ today? Remember, “Those things written aforetime were written for our learning…” Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11-12.
3) The Lord would not permit such with His bride, the church of Christ, Ephesians 1:4, 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Colossians 1:22.
2. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
a. Were any of the adulterers in this text married, divorced and remarried?
b. Did God called them; washed them, sanctified them, and justified them, when He forgave their sins?
3. Law where there is no law. Have we allowed some in the church to make a law where there is no law? Some who will read or hear this lesson are going to struggle with this plain teaching. Not because it is wrong; but because many have been hurt by divorce, or have some family member divorced without the exception. I will give you God’s answer to this dilemma in the next point.
a. For now it is sufficient to say today as the early church did regarding another schism: “For as much as we have heard, that certain which went out from us troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying: Ye must be circumcised and keep the law (you must leave your current wife/husband and return to your former wife/husband) to whom we gave no such commandment,” Acts 15:24. (Italics and parentheses are my insertions).
b. The men of the first century who attempted to bind on the church where they had no authority to bind; so are some binding this doctrine; where they have no authority to bind in the 21st century. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God,” 1 Peter 4:11. See also Matthew 22:29, Isaiah 9:16.
4. We must learn to forgive the adulterers. The believer must learn to be as gracious as God is, with this sin. Forgiveness is possible, reconciliation is recommended!
a. Some however are broken to such a degree, that forgiveness is not possible at that time; and reconciliation is not an option because a great bond of trust, affection and sanctification has been violated. They will need time, prayer and counsel to heal from this hurt. All things are possible with God, Matthew 19:26.
b. Jesus permits divorce for unfaithfulness or infidelity (sexual immorality). Let’s be clear here that the Lord permits divorce; but he does not command it. A greater good could be served for the one offended, if he/she be willing to forgive and reconcile to their spouse after suffering such hurt and betrayal.
c. Paul admonishes: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:31-32. See also 1 Peter 3:8-11.
d. Paul encourages the husbands: “To love their wives and not to be bitter against them,” Colossians 3:19; Ephesians 5:25-33.
1) The love of one’s wife should compel forbearance and forgiveness in all things. Why not in this area also? “Love will cover a multitude of sins,” 1 Peter 4:8; James 5:19-20.
2) And of course the same would apply to the wife regarding the weakness of her husband. Although one might have the right to “put away” one’s spouse – a greater good might be served through the sincere act of forgiveness. With this, let’s now consider our last point and that is the Lord’s discourse on “remarriage.”
III CHRIST’S DISCOURSE ON “REMARRIAGE”
A. Where remarriage is not permitted. Jesus clearly states that if one remarries without being divorced for the “exception” the new union is one of “adultery.” Or, he/she committeth adultery as a result of this newly formed union of marriage. Why?
1. Simply because the one who marries outside Jesus’ “exception” is still legally bound to his/her former spouse and is not permitted to be married to another.
2. My question to all this today: “what makes this union adultery?" Is it the marriage; or the sexual cohabitation that results within the marriage?
3. I want you to think on that as I continue in the lesson. We will answer that question and deal with all the old arguments, at the proper time.
B. Where remarriage is permitted for those scripturally divorce. Now let’s deal with the notion of remarriage for the offended party; those who obtained a divorce for the “exception and now desires to remarry.”
1. Looking carefully at the passage: “And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, (for fornication), and shall marry another, (doth not) committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth (not) commit adultery,” Matthew 19:9. (Italics and parentheses are my insertions).
2. Here is the situation; Jesus permits remarriage for the party that has sought divorce for the reason of infidelity (fornication or adultery).
a. The reason remarriage can be sought, is that the one offended in the last marriage; is no longer married to the offender. Isn’t that right?
b. Why, because God has granted the “putting away” and the parties are no longer married. The marriage contract is not binding!
c. Like death, the wife is no longer bound by the contract of marriage, and she is free to remarry to whom she will: “only in the Lord,” 1 Corinthians 7:39.
C. The question that remains. What is the status of the guilty party in this great evil (the one that committed the act of adultery – which resulted in the divorce from his/her spouse?) Before answering this question, let’s review again what constitutes marriage and divorce – by Christ. Recall:
1. Marriage is the “joining” of a man and a woman by God. It is the leaving of mother and father – and cleaving to his wife/her husband, Matthew 19:5.
a. They are no more twain, but one flesh, and what God has joined together let no man put asunder, Matthew 19:6.
b. Is it safe to say – that God performs the real marriage and joins the man and woman together? And that union is to be, for as long as they both shall live!
2. Divorce is the “putting asunder” of the union of a man and a woman by God. God has said: “Let no man put asunder, this union.”
a. As He can marry – He can divorce – for the “exception” the Son of God has permitted – infidelity. (Keep in mind, Christ would rather that forgiveness and reconciliation take place; however, He has granted the option of divorce to the offended party).
b. We would trust that all efforts will be/were taken by both parties to save the marriage; but, in some cases this might be the only option.
c. In a scriptural divorce God grants the “putting away” – and releases the offended party from the bond of marriage (marriage contract).
1) He/she is free to marry again without committing adultery – because the marriage contract has been terminated.
2) He/she is not legally bound to his/her spouse – God has granted the divorce and has dissolved the union of marriage. If not, why not?
3. Can we have one party loosed and the other bound? The question before us now – can we have one party loosed from the marriage contract – and the other still bound by it?
a. The answer is “no;” this is no more possible; than a woman being still bound to her husband – after he has died and is buried. She is free from the marriage contract, because her husband is dead. Will you agree?
b. If the offended party is free – so is the one that committed the offence – the act of “fornication” which led to the divorce. The guilty party is also divorced!
c. One party cannot be freed from the marriage contract and the other still bound to it. There is no longer a contract of marriage existing, between them! Both parties are divorced or “put away” in this marriage.
D. Remarriage is possible when one is legally divorced; or, as a result of the death of one’s spouse. Then, we all agree that remarriage is possible after the death or the scriptural divorce of one’s spouse? Let the church say Amen!
1. What we have observed in this lesson; is that, the marriage bond can be broken for three reasons, and they are: death, divorce (for fornication) and desertion.
2. The question that remains now before us is: "What is the situation or the fate of the offender?" Or, that person who committed the act of adultery; and caused him/her to be “put away” or divorced? This is where true bitterness, anger and resentment still remain in the hearts of many who have been through a divorce.
3. There has been more discussion on this person, than any other party; by all who have written about this subject. There are several prominent views. Notice I said, views; and not necessarily the truth of the scriptures. Many are mere conjecture and not founded in the word of God at all. Here are a few:
a. He/she cannot remarry – must bear the guilt and punishment for their adultery.
b. He/she can be forgiven – but cannot remarry – and they are still bound to the marriage contract.
c. He/she can be forgiven – and can remarry – and they are both freed from the marriage contract.
4. To settle this question – we must determine; what is the real sin that is outlined in Matthew 19:9? We must spell it our clearly! Can you “handle it?”
a. It is clear that the “putting away;” must be for: “fornication” or "unfaithfulness."
b. But what causes the sin of “adultery” that is mentioned in this verse and others?
E. The sin of adultery in Matthew 19:9. Some argue it is the sin of cohabitation that takes place as a result of the marriage – the sexual relationship that occurs in the marriage bed, Hebrews 13:4. They allege:
1. The parties now live in a continual state of adultery because of their sexual relationship. Others would argue it is the sin of marriage itself – the union with another partner while still being legally bound to their former spouse.
2. Let’s entertain both as we begin to conclude this lesson. “Come now let us reason together,” Isaiah 1:18. And, “Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself,” Proverbs 25:9. Consider the following:
a. First, it is the cohabitation (sexual relationship) that causes the adultery. If this is the case – then each could do as Jesus instructed the woman caught in the very act of adultery – “go and sin no more.”
1) In other words, continue to live in this relationship, but without sexual contact. As Jesus forgave this woman’s sins He could forgive theirs; after true repentance and abstaining, from any further intimacy.
2) I don’t think that some would agree with this position. Even though many have followed this course of action – because they believe their salvation depended upon this sacrifice of faith to be pleasing to God.
3) I have known and counseled members such as these over the years. True repentance would be to abstain from any future sexual relationship – or be guilty of adultery. This is one position, and here is the other.
b. Further, it is the marriage that causes the adultery. The other position – it is the marriage to another partner; while still being legally bound to their former spouse, which is causing them to commit adultery. Remember Paul’s discussion of this in Romans 7:1-3? I told you we must revisit this Letter at this time in the lesson.
c. Finally, it is the marriage to another person while the husband liveth; and in this case while not being legally divorced from their former spouse. These are the same. Notice our Lord and Paul again, with these principles in mind.
1) The Law of Christ. Jesus said: “Whosoever…marrieth another, without a divorce for the “exception” or fornication, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away, doth commit adultery,” Matthew 19:9.
2) The Law of Moses. Paul wrote: “If a woman marrieth another man, without a (“writing of divorcement”) while her husband liveth, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her, doth commit adultery,” Romans 7:3. (Italics and parentheses are my insertions).
3) Please note that these two principles are the same, death and divorce for the “exception;” frees the other party, from the marriage contract.
a) If however, a woman marries another man while her husband liveth; or that has been divorced for a reason other than the “exception,” she committeth adultery.
b) And he whosoever marrieth her, doth also commit adultery.
4) We should note at this time, that it is the inherent right of a married man and woman to enjoy the intimacy of marriage (sexual relationship); but, it is sin to indulge in such intimacy outside the marriage bed. And the church said, Amen!
3. What should a person do? I will conclude this discussion by stating what the Apostle Paul directed the church at Corinth to do. He was writing to those who were: “Sanctified, called to be saints, by the gospel of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. These instructions were penned within his discussion of marriage, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 7. Notice:
a. First, “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God."
b. Further, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant; is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free; is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."
c. Finally, “Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God,” 1 Corinthians 7:17-24. The message: “Abide in the calling wherein ye have been called.”
4. How about this: “Let everyone abide in the marriage wherein they have been called, let them therein abide with God.”
a. If these believers were: “Washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
b. If these Corinthians are now: “In Christ, and have become new creatures: and old things being passed away; behold, all things being new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10. Tell me, I pray thee what is left behind for one to return too?
c. Could the believers today obey the same “calling” through the gospel; and obtain the same blessing? If not, why not? To annul the last argument, the legalist would ask: “Where are the fruits of repentance?”
5. Here are the real fruits of repentance. Let this not be once named among you again, after experiencing the grace of God; and the forgiveness of the “sin of adultery;” that is, marrying another while still being legally bond to one’s former spouse. Paul’s admonition:
a. That the baptized believers to remain with his/her current spouse and work to strengthen the marriage through prayer, fasting and counsel with the ministers and the leadership of the church.
b. That there are no directions in the scriptures for the baptized believer to return to their former spouse. If “old things are passed away; and all things are become new”; there exist nothing in the believer’s past to return to or to correct.
c. The Lord has forgiven all their sins. The believer has been “washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17.
6. My last question before I conclude: “Which sin of adultery was not forgiven among these Corinthians?” There are three ways to commit adultery, maybe even four. They are: the very act; to look on a woman to lust after her; and an unlawful remarriage. Idolatry could also be included. Which of these three or four sins of adultery, grace cannot forgive? Someone here might find one or two. But grace can forgive all sins; even adultery. And the church said, Amen. Let me hasten now to my conclusion.
A. Summarize main points.
1. Christ’s Discourse on “Marriage”
2. Christ’s Discourse on “Divorce”
3. Christ’s Discourse on “Remarriage”
1. In this lesson we discussed “marriage, divorce and remarriage.” As I mentioned, this is one of the most misunderstood and debated topic in the Christian faith. What was clear as we went forward was that there are diverse opinions on this topic more than there is truth! We sought to stand firm in the bible regarding these issues. There are basically three positions on this issue: legalism, liberalism and conservatism. Let me add, that Jesus’ position on this topic was that of the word of God.
2. First, we addressed the topic of marriage as discussed by the Lord. The Hebrew writer stated: “marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge,” Hebrews 13:4. Jesus stated: “marriage was to be permanent.” Divorce was granted because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of Israel. Jesus said: it was granted by “Moses because of the hardness of their hearts he suffered them to put away their wives: but from the beginning it was not so,” Matthew 19:8.
3. Second, we discussed the issue of divorce as described by the Lord. He mentioned: “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,” Matthew 19:9. The same statement was made in Matthew 5:32. In these scripture Jesus permitted divorce for one reason only, and that was: “infidelity.” Or, one or both parties is guilty of sexual misconduct outside of their marriage bond. Divorce was permitted for reasons of “fornication, adultery or sexual sins.” We notice however, Jesus did not mention forgiveness or staying with an unfaithful partner. Nor did Jesus mention who could or could not remarry if the divorce was granted for the "exception:" that is infidelity.
4. Lastly, we discussed the issue of remarriage as described by the Lord. Notice Jesus said: “…and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery,” Matthew 19:9. We concluded, that remarriage by one or both parties if divorced for any other reason other than the ‘exception” doth commit adultery. The big question on this topic not mentioned by the Lord – but by all progressive writers was, are one or both parties if divorce for the “exception” permitted to remarry without committing adultery? This question was given exhaustive discussion by many writers; but with little mention of scripture in the New Testament! The grace of God and the believer’s obedience to the gospel of Christ – grants him/her the forgiveness of all sins. The believer is now in Christ and old things are passed away and all thing have become new. Therefore, there is nothing for the one “washed, sanctified and justified” to fix or straighten out – God has done it all for them. And the church said, Amen.
C. Invitation, HBRCB.
D. Motivation and persuasion.
E. Song of encouragement.