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Marriage and Divorce

God intended the marriage relationship to be a blessing, but there are many hurtful ideas concerning divorce and remarriage which come from the traditions of men and ordinances of some churches. Undoubtedly many lives have been disrupted and others have turned from God because of those presumably speaking for God. The ideas presented in this study have been derived from the Scriptures, for the Scriptures take precedence over the traditions of man.

1. Was man intended to live alone?

God said it was not good for man to be alone and made a helper suitable for him. The Apostle Paul tells us that because of immorality each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband. There are some who can contain their own passions but for most it is better to marry than to burn with passion. Despite this there are those who forbid others to marry. Celibacy was not a requirement of apostleship or discipleship. Genesis 2: 18; 1 Corinthians 7: 2, 9; 9:5; 1 Timothy 4: 3


2. What was God’s plan for marriage?

God created mankind as male and female, because God recognized from the beginning that it was not good for man to be alone. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother, cleave to his wife and the two should become one flesh and should not separate. It has always been God’s intention that a man and his wife should live together until death. God forbids man to put this relationship asunder. We should not assume, therefore, that it is impossible for man to sever this relationship anymore than we might assume it is impossible to take a life because God forbids murder. Jesus recognized that men have put away their wives and dealt unkindly with them. Matthew 19: 4-9

3. Why then did God permit Moses to give a bill of divorcement?

Men were putting away their wives for almost any reason. Unless a certificate of dismissal was given, the wife would be considered an adulteress and would not be able to marry again or engage in society again. Many in this situation turned to prostitution and became social outcasts. God permitted the bill of divorcement to protect the unjustifiably divorced woman. Certainly He did not do so to accommodate their disobedience, but rather because of the hardness of their hearts in dealing with their wives in a cruel and insensitive way. We should never assume that the certificate of dismissal was the cause of the dissolution of the marriage. Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 5:31

  1. What is the meaning of Matthew 5: 32?

"But I say unto you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

5. What is the traditional explanation of this passage?

The traditional explanation has the divorced woman committing adultery when she subsequently marries the second man. Others reject the idea that she is really divorced, because, in their view marriage is indissoluble. The first view takes unwarranted liberties with the text. Presumably, if the woman did not remarry, she would not be caused to commit adultery. But the text does not allow this view, for she is caused to commit adultery upon her divorce. The second view is also untenable, the Scriptures and experience demonstrate that marriages can be dissolved. Deuteronomy 24: 1-4

6. What is the meaning of Matthew 19: 9?

"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

7. What is the traditional explanation of the verse?

According to the traditional view the subject of the discussion is "marriage eligibility" when in reality the subject is "marriage destruction."

8. If a woman is divorced, and marries another, can the first husband take her again as his wife?

No, as she is defiled, such a marriage would be an abomination before the Lord. Despite this, people in this situation are often told they must return to the first relationship. Deuteronomy 24: 1-4

9. If a man or woman deserts his spouse, is the remaining spouse obligated to the marriage?

According to the Apostle Paul, the remaining spouse, in such a case, is not under bondage in such cases. Let them leave! 1 Corinthians 7: 15

10. If a man has been married several times and is now married to another woman, accepts the Lord, what should he do in regard to his present wife?

Remain in the state in which he is called, remain married to present wife. 1 Corinthians 7: 17-24

11. If a believer leaves his spouse other than for fornication, may the believer marry another?

No, they are either to be reconciled to their spouse or remain unmarried. 1 Corinthians 7: 11

12. If a couple separates and marries others, may they subsequently remarry?

No, according to Deuteronomy 24: 1-4 this is stated to be an abomination unto the Lord.

13. Why did God permit polygamy in the Old Testament?

I do not have a definitive answer, but I would surmise from the nature of God, that protection and care for those least able to care for themselves, women and children, and the goal of populating the earth were primary considerations.

14. What should you do if you have really messed up your life and the life of others in regard to marriage and divorce?

This writer does not even pretend to have all the answers, but I suggest the following:

First: Get right with God. God loves and will forgive you. You need to be united with Christ and God in a personal relationship.

Second: Become familiar with the passages that deal with marriage and divorce. Resolve to let them guide you in the future. They include the following: Matthew 5: 27-32; 19: 3-12; Mark 10: 2-12; Luke 16: 18; Deuteronomy 24: 1-4; 1 Corinthians 7

Third: Do not be bound by the scruples of others. Our assumptions and conclusions are not to be bound on others. Romans 14

Fourth: If you are in a situation that the Scriptures do not specifically address, remember that God’s commandments are based upon love. What do you think is best for all parties? How would you like to be treated if you were in their situation? Romans 13: 8-10; Matthew 7: 12

Fifth: If you have wronged others, ask for their forgiveness and as much as possible rectify the situation.

Sixth: Pray to God for forgiveness, wisdom, strength and courage to do His will.


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Last Update   09/26/12