Summary: I would like to set before you some biblical principles and practical implications of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
Luke 16 primarily deals with the topic of possessions. However, in the middle of chapter 16 Jesus made a statement about divorce and remarriage as an illustration of the ongoing applicability of the moral law of God. I mentioned last time that I would like to take the opportunity to address the topic of marriage, divorce, and remarriage today.
Let’s read about marriage, divorce, and remarriage in Luke 16:18:
18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18)
Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16:18 says that adultery is committed when a divorced person remarries or when one marries a divorced person. If that were all that the Bible said about divorce and remarriage, and adultery, for that matter, then we would have a specific principle regarding these matters.
However, the Bible says so much more about divorce and remarriage. So, we need to look at the other places in Scripture where the topic is addressed to develop a full-orbed understanding of the biblical teaching regarding divorce and remarriage.
I would like to deviate from my usual practice of textual exposition. As you know, I normally preach an expository message on a verse or verses of Scripture. Today, however, I would like to do more of a topical exposition. That is, I would like to examine briefly the topic of marriage, divorce, and remarriage as it is given to us throughout the entire Bible.
My reason for doing this is because I would like to state as clearly as possible what I understand the Bible to teach on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Our culture increasingly opposes biblical teaching on the topic, and it is important that we are clear about what the Bible teaches on the topic.
As I thought about how to approach the topic of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, I decided to use our own Session’s position paper on marriage, divorce, and remarriage that was approved on January 17, 2008. At that time our Session thought that it was important to state our church’s position regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
So, today, I would like to set before you some biblical principles and practical implications of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. Biblical Principles Regarding Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
2. Practical Implications Flowing from the Biblical Principles Regarding Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
I. Biblical Principles Regarding Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
First, let’s look at biblical principles regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage.
Our Session approved nine biblical principles, which I would like to set before you today.
First, marriage is a divine institution between a man and a woman.
There are two key biblical texts to support this principle. The first is Genesis 2:18-24:
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 20 . . . But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
And the second text to support marriage as a divine institution between a man and a woman is Matthew 19:4-6:
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The clear biblical teaching is that marriage is between one man and one woman, in accordance with the Word of God.
Second, Christians must enter into and conduct their marriages according to the rules for marriage set down in Scripture, and explained in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 24, and in agreement with our Book of Church Order, Chapter 59.
The Westminster Confession of Faith (in Chapter 24) and our church’s Book of Church Order (in Chapter 59) set down further clarifying rules for marriage, based on the Word of God. Some of these rules are restated in our document regarding the biblical principles for marriage, divorce, and remarriage.