Summary: God’s plan is for lifelong marriage. God permits divorce in certain limited circumstances. Divorce is not the unforgivable sin.
Clarity or Confusion?
5. Divorce and Remarriage
Feb. 21/22, 2004
MAIN IDEA: Although divorce is never God’s hope for marriages, it is permissible in limited circumstances and remarriage is allowed – in fact encouraged in some cases.
o People will understand the full witness of scripture on the issue of divorce and remarriage.
o Those in troubled marriages will be encouraged to do everything possible to save their marriages.
o Divorced people will hear a message of grace and forgiveness.
Love and marriage. It’s a complicated issue. Someone once asked some children to weigh in on some of the most important questions surrounding it – here’s a sampling of their responses.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY?
"You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming." Alan, age 10
"No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with." Kirsten, age 10
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
"No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married." Freddie, age 6
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
"You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids." Derrick, age 8
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
"Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough." Lynnette, age 8
"On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date." Martin, age 10
WHEN IS IT OK TO KISS SOMEONE?
"When they’re rich." Pam, age 7
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
"Tell your wife that she looks pretty even if she looks like a truck." Ricky, age 10
TRANS: How would you make a marriage work? Sometimes it seems there is no way to do it. And for a large percentage of people here today either their marriage or a marriage of their parents or their children has ended in divorce.
As we close out this series of messages called “Clarity or Confusion” we’re going to take a look at what God’s word says about the issue of divorce and remarriage. What does the Bible really say? When is divorce a viable option? If a person has been divorced, can they remarry? And what if someone gets a divorce when they really shouldn’t have – what then?
I’ve struggled this week. I’ve argued with God a bit, because there are places in God’s word where the words I read don’t seem to jive with what I know about God’s character. As I delve into this often confusing issue, it is my hope to rightly divide the word of truth. To not say more or less than God’s word says when taken in its proper context.
That leads me to a couple of preliminary observations about Biblical interpretation. First, in order for us to interpret and apply God’s word correctly, we must first understand the context in which it was written. What did it mean to the original audience? Then, What timeless principle can I take from that meaning and apply today?
Second, we must always seek to understand the whole counsel of the word of God. It is not enough to read just one verse and assume we know what God says on any given issue. If one believes that God’s word is infallible for instructing us in righteousness, as I do, one must do the sometimes difficult work of reconciling passages of scripture which at first glance seem like they contradict each other. When this is the case, we’ve got to keep praying, Lord help me understand your heart.
With these observations in mind, let’s dive in and see what God’s word says about divorce and remarriage.
1. God designed marriage to be a life-long covenant. (Matt. 19:4-6, Mal. 2:14-16)
Matt. 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’
Matt. 19:5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?
Matt. 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
When a man and a woman are joined in a God-ordained marriage, they are no longer two, but one. If you take two pieces of cloth and weave them together, they become one cloth. If you tear them apart – they will both be marred.