Summary: This sermon explains in detail the Biblical teaching on Marriage, Seperation, Divorce, & Remarriage.
Treatise on Biblical Marriage, Separation, Divorce, & Remarriage
By: JB Hall
When man’s laws do not correspond with God’s laws, or standards, it is often confusing to sort through the maze of legal, social, and moral issues to arrive at God’s plan concerning the issue in question. The simplest method of determining God’s will is to bypass all human sources of information and go straight to the Word of God.
In Matthew Chapter 19, Verse 3 the Pharisees asked Jesus a legitimate question (although their motive was impure) and received a legitimate answer. Their question was, “…Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” In verses 4 – 6 (3 verses) Jesus lays out God’s plan for marriage for the ages. The question was concerning ‘putting away’ or ‘divorcing’ a spouse. Jesus responded by explaining God’s plan for marriage. It was not until they pressed Him further in verse 7, that He addressed the topic of divorce in verses 8 and 9. Let’s examine the topics of marriage, separation, divorce, and remarriage in light of scripture.
Marriage – In response to their question about divorce, or putting away one’s wife, Jesus explained God’s plan for marriage. While we often consider the Old Testament to not apply in today’s world, Jesus established the foundation for marriage as being God’s original plan as stated in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24. In the last part of Matthew 19:6 He adds the statement, “…What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” In other words, when a man and woman stand before God and make a covenant of marriage, there is not only the obvious legal aspect; there is a spiritual component to the covenant as well. God Himself has sanctioned, or added his endorsement to, that covenant. Therefore, it is God Who “…hath joined together…” that man and woman. That being the case, there is no legitimate reason for man to grant a legal divorcement of one marriage partner from the other.
Seeing God is the One who joins together the man and woman in marriage, He makes the rules of who can and cannot be involved in such a covenant. First, a marriage is to be between a man and a woman, not 2 men or 2 women or multiples of the male and female genders. Secondly, in II Corinthians 6:14 we are informed that believers are only to be yoked together (in this case by marriage) with believers. Never are believers to marry unbelievers. If, however, one gets saved after the marriage while the other remains lost, we are told in I Corinthians 7:12-13 the believer is not to leave the unbelieving spouse if the unbelieving spouse is willing to remain with the one who has been saved.
Separation – We know that from a practical standpoint there are times when the marriage relationship can become so abusive that to protect the health or life of the one being abused; he or she might have to separate himself/herself from the one perpetrating the abuse. What then? In I Corinthians 7:10-11 we are told this is not grounds for divorce, only separation. The separation occurs for obvious safety reasons, but the one separating himself/herself from the marriage is to remain separated, not get divorced, hoping one day to be reconciled to the other partner.
Divorce – When Jesus answered the Pharisees question concerning divorce with a statement concerning marriage, they persisted by asking, “…Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” in Matthew 19:7. Jesus’ response was two-fold: (1) in verse 8 He states the reason was “…because of the hardness of your hearts…” not because it was God’s plan for this to happen; for in the last part of verse 8 He reiterates, “…but from the beginning it was not so.” (2) While their question was “…Why did Moses command…” Jesus reminded them Moses didn’t command, he suffered (permitted) them to put away their wives. It was never God’s plan for a person to put away his spouse. It was only given as an allowance, and only because of the hardness of their hearts. Divorce is never God’s plan and is only an allowance for one violation and one violation only – fornication.
Remarriage – Building on the premise that divorce is only permitted on the grounds of fornication, we must find a definition of fornication if we are to understand the divorce and remarriage issue. Why did Jesus use the term fornication instead of adultery? The definition of fornication is as follows:
Fornication – from the Greek word porneia
1) illicit sexual intercourse
a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, etc.
b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11 & 12