11 Thesis On Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage And Adultery
In a day when many people are living in open sexual sin, either living together without marriage, or living with another person’s wife or divorcing and remarrying at will, it is time to consider what the LORD says about this subject. We are to follow the Word of God, not our opinions, or what appears right and convenient to us.
1. All marriages are ordained of God. God joins a man and a woman in an unbreakable bond until death parts them. This is the case, even if the wedding vows were exchanged in a registry office between two pagans. A marriage is not a sacrament—as Rome teaches—so a non-Christian marriage in a secular place, or a marriage in a false church is still a joining of two in an unbreakable bond.
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth.
(I Corinthians 7:39)
For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
2. Anyone who comes between a man and a woman thus joined commits adultery.
3. If there is sexual unfaithfulness in a marriage, divorce is permissible, although not commanded. Ideally, there should be repentance by the guilty party and restoration. The only ground of divorce is adultery. “Incompatibility,” boredom with one’s spouse, poverty, sickness, lusting for a younger or prettier or wealthier woman, etc., cannot be grounds for divorce. The Lord recognises one and only one ground for divorce and no ground for remarriage. Divorce on any ground other than adultery is itself adultery: “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32). The reason why he “causes” her to commit adultery is because he leaves her wide open to remarriage or getting involved with another man sexually.
4. Adultery cannot break the original marriage bond, which can only be broken by God at death.
5. If any man puts away his wife and marries another woman he commits adultery against his spouse. Neither the “guilty party” (the adulterer) nor the “innocent party” (the one cheated on) may remarry unless the original spouse has died.
Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
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.
Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
If while her husband liveth, she [the wife] be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress.
6. If a man divorces his first wife he is not free to make wedding vows to another woman: unless the first spouse is dead. Nothing can sanctify or make lawful a “marriage” to a second spouse: neither the passage of time, nor conversion of one or both of the partners, nor custom, nor human law, nor public or popular opinion, nor church decree or “blessing” can make lawful a second “marriage” while the first spouse lives.
Jesus confronted the many-times-“married” Samaritan woman with these words, “Thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” (John 4:18).
John the Baptist confronted Herod who was married to Herodias while Herodias’ husband Philip was still living: “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18).
Because Philip was still alive Herod and Herodias were committing adultery. For speaking out, John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed. The same happens today. Today the persecution comes in the form of anger against the messenger.
“You’re a legalist!”
“God wouldn’t expect that of me!”
“You are making everything too hard!”
These are all common objections today.
7. To “repent” and then continue to live in the same sinful adulterous relationship with a second or third “husband” is not repentance. If a sodomite is converted or a fornicator is converted and he continues to live sexually, etc., with his “partner” while claiming to have repented, he shows himself to be unrepentant and rebellious.
8. If Jesus judges a relationship as adultery then to repent means that the adulterous relationship must stop. To continue—claiming love or hardship or any other reason—is not an option. That is part of taking up one’s cross and following Christ. You cannot live in sin and be in Christ.
9. If a man divorces his wife he has two options: be reconciled or live singly. “If she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband” (I Corinthians 7:11). Entering a relationship with a third party (“marriage” or fornication or co-habitation) is not an option. Thus Jesus spoke of some who “made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Matthew 19:12), people who deny themselves sex because they must live singly, being divorced.
10. If a believer is married to an unbeliever he should not seek to be loosed from such a difficult marriage. “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him” (I Corinthians 7:12-13).
11. Nobody can claim that this is easy. The disciples were so shocked by Christ’s teachings on the unbreakable marriage bond and one ground for divorce with no remarriage that they exclaimed: “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” (Matthew. 19:10). Jesus replied, “All men cannot receive this saying, save them to whom it is given” (Matthew 19:11).
However, as hard as Christ’s words may be, Jesus will not change His teachings to accommodate us. They are timeless and unchanging; they are neither culturally limited nor old-fashioned. They are the words of the Son of God, which He received from His Father. Jesus shows mercy to adulterers (“Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more;” John 8:11) but He commands that they repent (“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;” Luke 13:5). Those who repent—which involves forsaking their sins—are shown mercy; those who do not shall not enter the kingdom of heaven:
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers with 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.
(I Corinthians 6:9-11)
Jesus does not forgive somebody so that that person can continue in the same sin in which He found him. That would be a mockery.
By Martyn McGeown