There has been a lot of misunderstanding lately over the issue of divorce and remarriage. God's original perfect design was one marriage between a man and a woman; however Biblically, there is precedent given for divorce, and/or remarriage.
1. What did Jesus say about it?
Many nowadays are posting claims that divorce and remarriage are not permitted by Jesus, that you will be condemned to hell for this. Some Christians are now leaving a new covenant marriage because of this teaching. Telling believers to divorce a faithful spouse is a false doctrine and is causing harm or demise to many loving, faithful remarriages.
In Matthew 19:9, Jesus does allow for divorce and remarriage: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, accept it be for fornication, and shall marry another commits adultery and whosoever marries her which is put away, doth commit adultery." The word adultery or fornication is translated 'porneia' which includes sexual immorality, adultery, even pornography.
In the context Jesus is speaking with the Pharisees and then the disciples. Jesus explains, "Moses allowed for a bill of divorce because of their hardened hearts." The Pharisees seek to entrap Jesus with their question: "Does God allow for divorce? " Responding, He wisely answers with scripture: "Haven't you read, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh," Scripture clarifies further: "What God has joined together let no man put asunder." Along with Jesus' response that true marriage is designed by God, for one man and one woman in perpetuity, it also removes any approval for same-sex marriage. It is clearly to be in Holy matrimony between a man and a woman. 2. We remember the story of King David after he sinned in adultery with Bathsheba. David is responsible for her husband's death and then marries her. Seemingly, two most egregious condemning acts: Murder and adultery. Yet, King David repents, after the prophet Nathan comes to him revealing his evil sins. In the famous Psalm 51, David laments: "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin..." There is a consequence, however, for his sin. David and Bathsheba's first son dies from an illness. The prophet Nathan again comes to David and has another word from God. Essentially, Nathan tells him to enjoy his new marriage with Bathsheba. That they will have another son. The child will become the wise King Solomon and reign for forty years with peace.
3. In the Epistles, the Apostle Paul writes that divorce and remarriage are permissible under certain conditions, such as adultery and abandonment. "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart, a brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace." 1st Corinthians 7 Paul continues; "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows it is good for them if they remain even as I am, but if they cannot exercise self-control let them marry for it is better for them to marry than to burn." 1st Corinthians 7: 8-9 "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives, but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 7:39 Could this not mean that if a former spouse is dead in sin and not alive in Christ they are dead spiritually? In that case, are they not free from bondage and free to be married to whom they will in the Lord? Is Paul differentiating between being married in the Lord and being married to someone who is dead in sin? 4. One of the biggest issues with this false message, now circulating widely on social media and elsewhere, is that women are at the forefront teaching it. Scripture says not to suffer a woman to teach over men (1st Timothy). We see a lot of women throwing these ideas out there, without considering the damage they may be doing to a new covenant marriage. The doctrine being spread these days that says 'leave your spouse of remarriage' goes against scripture. 1st Timothy 4: 1-3 says: "Now in the latter times, many will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils...forbidding to marry..."
Let's put the shoe on the other foot. How many people or women that teach this false Doctrine, have had sex with someone before they were married? Were they not joined to another themselves, in adultery/fornication, as 'one flesh?' So is a marriage, to their spouse, a spiritual remarriage, similar to the finger they are pointing? Have they repented? Jesus says "Go and sin no more," while always calling us to repentance. Thankfully, these women 'teachers' are not Jesus. Jesus is all about repentance, grace and new beginnings: "For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17. 5. Ideally, the Lord calls us to marry and be equally yoked and stay together in a covenant relationship until death do us part. This is the ideal, and the original design for marriage. However, the Lord does make allowances due to our sorry hearts, for abuse and sexual immorality and possibly a 'dead' spouse. Then there is freedom to marry in the Lord. There will be consequences. We are called to NOT take divorce and remarriage lightly.
6. In the end, we 'see through the glass dimly' as the Bible says. In Malachi it does say that God hates divorce. If a believer is remarried in a covenant marriage, then stick with it. In Corinthians Paul also says to stick with it, if we are with a non-believer, as well, unless they depart. Remember, Grandma always said "two wrongs do not make a right." In other words, if you messed up in your first (maybe non-covenant) marriage and divorced because of adultery, abandonment or abuse, and are now married to a believer, would God want you to divorce now? Of course not. God loves equally yoked marriage, and hates divorce... Let's not pile up more sin on the heap by divorcing again, so press into your current covenant marriage. God hates divorce, whether in your first marriage or remarriage. God values marriage. Wisdom says, repent of previous marriages and other sexual relationships that were not ordained by God, and move forward. Pressing toward the prize, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
7. We remember in the Bible those fallen are the ones God often uses the most. Those Peters who deny Jesus three times, also show up in marriage. There is Abraham who has sex with Hagar, his wife's maid servant. There is David and Bathsheba mentioned earlier. The prophet Hosea is instructed by God to marry a prostitute. Jacob, is married under false pretenses after being given too much drink and marries Leah, then he marries her sister Rachel. Then there is Lot, who barely escapes from Sodom and Gomorrah, but has sex with his two different daughters. Are all of these Biblical characters damned to hell? Friends, take heart. It is by God's grace, by faith that salvation is given. It is by His divine mercy on the cross, and by atonement and repentance of our sins, that any of us have any chance at all. We have all made such horrible messes in the course of our lives. We come humbly before the Lord, and pray that He counts us worthy. Scripture says, Jesus will judge us on the day of the Lord. Jesus is our judge. And we each, "Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling." We encourage believers to pray about it, research the Bible and seek Holy Spirit guidance and conviction. May God bless you richly and comfort you with His truth and grace.
In His Holy Service, Eric Soldahl 9/26/23