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104: Divorce, Remarriage and Polygamy

In the beginning Christ created one man and one woman with the intention that the two persons should become one flesh, as an allegory that Christ would become one spirit with his chosen and resurrected to spirit bride.   

This article is about marriage and is not intended to cover all the laws on the subject of sexuality.  Those laws will be covered in our study through the book of Deuteronomy at the 2018 Feast of Tabernacles.

Physical marriage is an allegory that Jesus Christ was married to Israel in the Mosaic Covenant, until he was made flesh and died, freeing him to marry again.  At the resurrection of the chosen faithful, they will be taken to the marriage of the Lamb before the throne of God in heaven (Rev 15, Rev 19).   

For several in depth articles on the Marriage of the Lamb and the love of Christ for his bride see the Spring Festivals category

All those changed to spirit will become the wife [bride] of the Lamb, which marriage will last forever, because all the resurrected to spirit will live forever, there being no more death. 

Physical marriages making of two one flesh are a type of a spiritual marriage, making the collective bride ONE SPIRIT with the Lamb of God, and through that marriage they are adopted as the children of the Lamb’s Father!   

Because of the deep deep meaning of marriage, Satan has worked to pervert marriage and sexuality from the beginning, so as to obscure the truth that as a man and a woman are made one flesh and are to be loyally committed to each other to the exclusion of all else; humanity and the Creator are to become one spirit together, totally committed and loyal to one another to the exclusion of all others [subject to God the Father] for all eternity!   

The lesson of marriage is about unending dedicated commitment and loyalty to ones spouse in the flesh during our physical lives; to prepare us for an unending dedicated commitment and loyalty to our spiritual spouse, the Lamb of God; for all eternity! 

That is the intended lesson, yet we are flesh and in today’s world, most are fully subject to sin and Satan’s influence.  Therefore God allowed certain things because of the wickedness of mankind, in order to mitigate the suffering of mankind.

 

Jesus Teaches About Marriage

Matthew 5:31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:  5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication [pornea; any sexual disloyalty], causeth her to commit adultery [if she is not already an adulteress she will become one if she remarries]: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. 

All marriage is until death, but God allowed divorce for humanity and in the Mosaic Covenant to mitigate the hardheartedness [wickedness] of the people.  Nevertheless divorce is absolutely forbidden to those called into the New Covenant, with the qualification that if an unconverted mate leaves, one is not bound,  because light cannot be bound to darkness.

Matthew 19:3   The Pharisees also came unto him, etempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read [Gen 2:22], that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 19:5  And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

Jesus then teaches the spirit of the law, which is that men and woman should not divorce; and that only one man and one woman are to come together and be one flesh as long as they both shall live.

19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Then the Pharisee’s asked him why the Mosaic law permits divorce and remarriage [and also winked at polygamy].

19:7   They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

And the very Creator himself, told them that divorce and remarriage was not his intent in creating humanity male and female.

He had told Moses to allow divorce and remarriage because the Mosaic Covenant was a physical covenant without the promise of the indwelling of God’s Spirit of mercy, love and righteousness; therefore the hearts of the people were hard and unforgiving and Christ saw the potential suffering and allowed divorce and remarriage as an act of mercy; a kind of lesser evil, that saved a couple from living their lives in animosity and immense misery.

19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

In another place Jesus said: Matthew 5:17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

The word “fulfil” means two things:

1.  To keep and do the law, and

2.  To fill up, to complete and make full the law, by explaining the full meaning, intent, purpose and spirit, including the spiritual applications of the law.

Jesus temporarily allowed divorce as a merciful gift to the hardhearted of the Mosaic Covenant not forcing people to remain together in abusive situations, but divorce remarriage and polygamy were not the original intent of the Creator. 

The Mosaic Covenant was with a people who had hearts of stone [that is a hardhearted people]; and that Mosaic Covenant which had no promise of the Holy Spirit and involved a hardhearted people, was to be replaced by a promised New Covenant which included the gift of God’s spirit to turn the hard as flint hearts into hearts of flesh  

Jeremiah 31:31  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Ezekiel 36:24   For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.  36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water [the water of the Word and the Spirit] upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Divorce and remarriage and polygamy were permitted as acts of mercy for humanity in the Mosaic Covenant of the hardhearted; but these things were never intended by the Creator and are forbidden by the spirit of the law! 

Jesus came to complete the law by explaining the intent and meaning, the spirit of the law.  He taught the intent of the law regarding marriage and divorce in Matthew 5:31 beginning by quoting the Law:  It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:  and then adding the spirit and intent, the original purpose of the Creator: making that purpose of the creator a binding part of the spiritual New Covenant.

Now we have an issue in the church of God with the word “fornication” and it was wrongly taught to mean that n if a person was sexually active before marriage and did not inform their intended; that they could divorce for fraud.  This position did not take into account that a difference between fornication and adultery is a modern concept and that the Greek word use here is porneia;  meaning sexual misconduct of any kind including adultery.

5:32  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

 

Polygamy

Consider this:  Polygamy was winked at in  the Mosaic Covenant; but we have been called into a New  Covenant to keep the letter and also the spirit and intent of the law that Christ revealed. 

Jesus told us that if we divorce and remarry improperly we are adulterers! 

According to the intent and spirit of the law; how much more are we adulterers if we marry another while still being married to the first one? 

Polygamy was never the intent of the Creator, and those called into the spiritual New Covenant are to keep the  intent of the Creator! as revealed by the very Creator, Jesus Christ! 

No polygamy is not lawful under the New Covenant and neither is divorce and remarriage!  However if a wicked spouse  depart, let them depart; and then the faithful are delivered to remarry, only in  the faith! 

Jesus then expounds this further in Matthew 19:9  where the same misunderstanding of the mistranslated word “fornication,” as being exclusively premarital sex is jumped on by many.  Again the original word is “Porneia” which means idolatry [rejecting true religion] or adultery or illicit sex of any nature.  The “Idolatry” meaning of the word is not only linguistically correct, but confirmed by Ezra and Nehemiah who forced Judah to divorce their pagan wives in a time when true religion was a national Mosaic Covenant..

Matthew 19:9  And I say unto you, 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. 

 

Porneia

Matthew 19:9 And 1161 I say 3004 5719 unto you 5213, 3754 Whosoever 3739 302 shall put away 630 5661 his 846 wife 1135, except 1508 [it be] for 1909 fornication 4202, and 2532 shall marry 1060 5661 another 243, committeth adultery 3429 5736: and 2532 whoso marrieth 1060 5660 her which 3588 is put away 630 5772 doth commit adultery 3429 5736.

 

 Word: porneia

Pronounce: por-ni’-ah

Strongs Number: G4202

Orig: from 4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry:–sexual immorality. G4203

Use: TDNT-6:579,918 Noun Feminine

 

Heb Strong: H2183 H8457

    1. 1) illicit(unlawful) sexual intercourse

 

    1. 1a) adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, intercourse with animals etc.

 

    1. 1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18

 

    1. 1c) sexual intercourse with an unlawfully divorced man or woman; Mr 10:11,12

 

    1. 2) metaph. the worship of idols

 

    1. 2a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

 

    1. 2b) any form of idolatry

The issue being that a breaking away from being one flesh with one’s spouse, by becoming one flesh with another in adultery; is grounds for divorce. 

The same thing being true spiritually when we follow our idols of men and corporations, we commit “Porneia” [adultery and idolatry] against our espoused Husband Jesus Christ and will be rejected by him; just as a physical spouse can reject a disloyal mate. 

Consider carefully the words of Christ.  If we put away our spouse for any reason EXCEPT “porneia” and remarry, we are adulterers [porneia] ourselves. 

This clearly also means that if we put away our spouses for clear and unrepentant “porneia” then we have a lawful right to remarry.

Again “Porneia”  refers to not just physical sexual sin, but to the sin of either leaving the faith or never having been in the faith and not being willing to live with a person in the faith peacefully.

Paul handles this question of  Porneia [adultery and unconverted idolatry] in his letter to the Corinthians. 

First Paul allows a temporary separation with the intent of working out problems and aiming at reconciliation.  This is a temporary thing:  It is NOT divorce and it is certainly not remarriage. 

1 Corinthians 7:10    And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 7:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

7:12    But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

7:13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Paul advises the converted to remain with the unconverted spouse as long as they can dwell together in religious peace; that is, as long as the unconverted is tolerant of the faith of the converted.  But if the unconverted is adamant against allowing their spouse to be faithful to God; and either applies pressure on them or abandons them; the converted is free to leave and to remarry; because of Christ’s teaching that they may divorce for “Porneia”.

7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

7:16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

The converted are NOT to marry the unconverted; however in cases where married persons become converted without their spouses, and the spouse objects; or where a person thought to be converted later leaves the faith:  The converted should dwell with the unconverted as long as the unconverted live with them in a peaceable way. 

However if the unconverted either abandons the faithful, or attacks them and pressures them to leave their faith; The converted spouse is NOT bound to the wicked for they are of one spirit with God the sinless!  In those cases the converted may leave the sinner to marry another.

 

LAWFUL grounds for divorce and remarriage according to God’s Word

1.  Adultery.

2.  Abandonment by the unconverted spouse.

3.  Violence against a spouse [not living in peace]; this includes bullying.

4.  Habitual unconverted conduct and willful sin for which one should be expelled from the brotherhood, 

5.  Attacks on a person for their faith; either physical attacks or continuous verbal abuse, and or the withholding of the normal rights of the spouse to food, clothing, security, sex etc. 

The above are all actions of an unconverted mate, and anyone who does these things habitually is unconverted.

No couple who are both in the faith may divorce.  In any divorce one person must always have left the faith through turning against the faith, or by habitual sin.

Any couple that divorces with both considered to be in the faith; are living in adultery if they remarry and are to be immediately rejected and disfellowshipped for such sin.

 

Repented Sin

All sin including sexual; is washed away by baptism and a commitment to go and sin no more; therefore no sin before baptism is to be held against anyone.

It should be understood that any and all actions taken before conversion are washed away at repentance and baptism.  God does not hold past sins sincerely repented of against us and neither should we hold repented sins against anyone.  If a person has been married and divorced ten thousand times before repentance, that becomes nothing upon sincere repentance, baptism; and forgiveness and acceptance by God the Father. 

God commands through Paul that we are to remain in the state that we find ourselves upon baptism. 1 Corinthians 7:20 “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.”  The past sickening wickedness and lack of mercy by Rod Meredith in forcing scores of happy couples to divorce because of pre-baptism mistakes; is a monstrous crime against God and against the brethren; and shows an incredible lack of understanding of the Word and nature of God..

 

.Part 1:  When both spouses claim to be converted

The one who gave up his God-hood to become flesh, was the very Creator Jesus Christ; and when asked about marriage and divorce he revealed God’s intentions regarding marriage.

Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,  19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Jesus Christ told us of his intent in creating marriage, that one man should cleave to one woman as long as they two shall live.  This being a type of the spiritual relationship that he wants with each human being.  As two humans were to be made one flesh for as long as they live so Jesus Christ wants to be one spiritually with his collective bride for as long as they two shall live, which is for all eternity.  For a man and his wife to divorce breaks up this analogy and brings much sorrow to all.

19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

Jesus then teaches that while it was never God’s intent for godly couples to divorce; divorce was allowed for the hardness, for the unconverted ungodliness of people; that suffering within marriage by unconverted actions might be mitigated. 

In other words the unconverted without God’s spirit, like most in the entirely physical Mosaic Covenant people, were permitted to divorce because they could not live by the spirit of the law which is mutual cooperation, love, sincere repentance of sin and fo9rgiveness.  While those who are supposed to be converted and are supposed to be full of God’s spirit, are to keep the spirit and intentions of God and are NOT to divorce. 

19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication [any disloyalty including idolatry; meaning any departure from the marriage covenant], and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

The word “fornication” used here is from the Greek word porneia (Strong’s #4202) and means: harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry – fornication. see GREEK porneuo (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

HELPS Word-studies: 4202 porneía (the root of the English terms “pornography, pornographic”; cf. 4205 /pórnos) which is derived from pernaō, “to sell off”) – properly, a selling off (surrendering) of sexual purity; promiscuity of any (every) type.

The same word is used in 1st Corinthians 5:1 and clearly shows that porneia is defined as more than sex before marriage because the same Greek word that was used in Matthew 19:9 is used here, also, but is indicating incest in this verse. This word, in essence, includes all types of sexual impurity as per the above Greek word definitions and how it is used in other passages in other parts of the Bible.

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication (porneia is the Greek word here which is clearly referring to incest, not sex before marriage) among you, and such fornication (pornea) as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. (This appears to be a married woman so this also includes adultery plus incest.)

Let us look Paul’s counsel to married couples that are struggling in their marriages beginning in 1st Corinthians 7, verse 10. Note that Paul says that his counsel is really coming from the Lord and that what he is going to say to them is what God would command that they do.

The Greek word for “command” is paraggelló (Strong’s #3853) and is defined: to transmit a message, to order, to command, charge, From para and the base of aggelos; to transmit a message, i.e. (by implication) to enjoin — (give in) charge, (give) command(-ment), declare. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

We know that God is inspiring Paul to make judgments concerning some very serious issues that needed to be addressed, which perhaps the brethren had asked him in a letter or by some other kind of communication as to what they should do when they find themselves in certain situations.

We can tell by the context that the first category of married people are those who are married in the faith and Paul addresses them first.

He commands that if a wife and husband are having problems they might separate for a little while, to sort things out, to have a cooling off period,  to reflect and to seek God to reveal exactly what has gone wrong and do some soul searching to see if there are things that each could change and do better at. They are commanded not to seek to be married to another, but rather seek to be reconciled to her husband and to one another. Paul further addresses the husband as well to not divorce his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 7:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

In these verses there is no mention that one of them is an unbeliever, so this instruction holds true IF both marriage partners claim to be converted, because it is the intent of the Creator God.

If they truly are true called out Christians, then they should be able to work things out even if it takes a little time, especially since they both should have God’s Spirit and it is through the fruits of the Spirit, (love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, self-control, etc.) that they would be enable to overcome any conflicts that they have.

Paul commands troubled spouses  to “be reconciled,” which is the intent and will of God!

This is his counsel to partners that are both believers and who both are supposed to be keeping the whole Word of God and are both filled with God’s Holy Spirit! 

If two converted persons in the faith cannot resolve their marriage difficulties; they are forbidden to remarry! 

 

Part 2;  When one spouse is not converted

Paul now speaks to “the rest.”  That is to those married to unconverted spouses or who are unconverted themselves. 

We see that Jesus and Paul both make a clear difference between those who have God’s spirit and are supposed to be keeping the whole Word of God in its full spirit and intent; and those who do not have God’s spirit, are unconverted spiritually, and because of that are unable to work out their problems. 

The truly converted who do have God’s spirit are not to divorce but are to work out their problems.  While those without God’s spirit may divorce to alleviate suffering, because they cannot work out their problems.

Because Paul follows with the statement “to the rest speak I” in the next verse, we know that he is changing his focus to a different category of married couples and again the context shows that the “rest” are those Christians who are not in a marriage with another believer. Paul now turns his attention to address certain situations that can come up for those who have unconverted spouses. The following verses clearly distinguish a DIFFERENT situation from the marriage of two converted spouses, and Paul is now giving counsel to those truly converted people who are married to “unbelievers”.

1 Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 7:13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Paul is saying that if your unconverted spouse is willing to allow you to live according to how God would have a true Christian live, being faithful to keep all of God’s Word, and if he or she is not upsetting the peace of the household with pressure against the way, then a converted spouse should stay with their marriage partner and seek to make the marriage work if it is at all possible.

That is what he is referring to when he says further down in the chapter in verse 20, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.” A person may have at some point in the marriage become converted but their partner did not. Paul is saying, do not try to change your circumstances as long as your unconverted spouse is willing to allow you to obey God and live with you peacefully.

1 Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbelieving [apistois] depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

Yet if a Christian’s unbelieving spouse is NOT be pleased [consenting to allow the spouse to live this way] to live with the spouse that is trying to obey and serve God and wants to abandon the marriage, Paul counsels the Christian to let the unbeliever go.

In this case Paul is giving the Christian partner different advice that pertains to a different situation; than the before given advice to two truly converted person’s that are married together. Paul states that if the unconverted spouse  should leave, then the believing spouse is no longer in “bondage” to the one that abandons her (or him) in such circumstances.

Paul says that God has called “us” (those of us who are believers) to peace. If an unconverted spouse refuses to cooperate and they are producing very stressful untenable situations in the home and trying to prevent the converted person from obeying God or persecuting them for doing so, there is no peace, in that situation God says to let them leave and don’t try to force them to stay.

Paul explains that a brother or sister is not under bondage and they are not bound within the marriage in such cases, for God has called us to live in peace, not warfare and tolerating wickedness in the household.

Paul says that God gives His children a way out of that kind of miserable marriage situation because if we are living surrounded by the forces of darkness because of a sinning spouse, then it will eventually take us down and we could forfeit our opportunity to be in God’s kingdom.

God in His mercy allows that if a truly converted person is trapped in this kind of environment, she or he does have a way out, that they are not bound and that God does not expect them to tolerate grievous the wickedness that the unconverted mate is bringing into the marriage. God promises to deliver us from the powers of darkness and to help us to live as children of His Kingdom.

Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

After verse 1st Corinthians 7:15, Paul goes into some other discussion about seeking to stay in whatever station you were in when God called you and advice to virgins (single people). But what we want to concentrate on is the issue of divorce and remarriage and in verse 39 Paul addresses a third situation which is not about divorce, but whether or not a widow or widower is free to marry after their spouse dies. This verse clarifies the meaning of what it is to be in bondage (or bound) by the law ,and Paul gives even further instruction about remarriage and what God allows when one finds themselves no longer bound.

Paul most definitely gives his judgment that a person that is no longer bound to another, is free to remarry; the only caveat is that he or she must only marry someone that is a true believer.

1 Corinthians 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

This Scripture says that a woman is bound as long as her husband is alive, meaning she is married to him as long as they are both living; but also implies that the reverse becomes true, that she becomes “unbound” or “unmarried” when he dies.

1 Corinthian 7:15 is a different situation that ALSO says that a woman (or man) is not “bound” (or in bondage) if their unconverted spouse leaves; the two words used in both verses, “bondage” and “bound” refer to being married; that is made quite plain by their definitions and by the context in which they are used.

Here are the Greek definitions for “bondage” and “bound”:

Bondage (used in 1st Corinthians 7:15) is douloo (Strong’s # 1402) Cognate: 1402 doulóō – enslave (passive, “become enslaved”), focusing on the status of being a bond-slave. In contrast to the other verb-form of the same root (1398/douleúō), 1402 (doulóō) stresses the results (effects) of enslavement. That is, what automatically goes with belonging to another. See 1401 (doulos).

Bound (used in 1st Corinthians 39) is deó (Strong’s #1210) and means bind, be in bonds, knit, tie, wind. A primary verb; to bind (in various applications, literally or figuratively) — bind, be in bonds, knit, tie, wind. See also dei, deomai. see GREEK dei see GREEK deomai.
1st Corinthians 7:15 clearly states that a wife is not bound (or in bondage) if her husband leaves her, the same as if her spouse had died. If you are no longer bound, it means you are no longer married to that person and just as a widowed person is unbound when his or her partner dies, so is a person unbound whose unconverted spouse abandons the marriage.

“Unbound” means that you are no longer bound to your mate, you are now unmarried and if you are unmarried then you are free to remarry, just as 1st Corinthians 7:15 implies and 7:39 definitely states. For why would 1st Corinthians 7:15 mean any different than 7:39? in both cases the wife (or husband) becomes unmarried (no longer bound) and in verse 39 Paul elaborates his counsel in regard to remarriage by further stating that if a person is no longer bound then that person is free to marry, but only in the Lord and not to an unbeliever. In both cases, whether abandoned or widowed, the person who is no longer married (no longer in bondage to a mate) is free to marry another.

We must put all the Scriptures together on any given subject to see what the clear meaning is and we must not take any given verse out of context to make it seem to say what it is not saying when taken in consideration of what the whole Bible has to say. In order to know the whole teachings as to divorce and remarriage and in keeping vows we need to study the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 7 and the other passages in Scripture related to this subject to see the true meaning of the subject about divorce and remarriage and what God says is permissible and not permissible.

Paul commands in another place that we are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. This is referring among other things, to deliberately become yoked by entering into a marriage with someone who shows no fruits of being converted.

Here it is:  Do not give your daughters to the heathen nor take their daughters for your sons.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

From this verse it would be wrong, to try to get back together with someone who has abandoned you and has proven himself (or herself) by his/her behavior to be an unbeliever (apistois).

The Greek word for unbeliever is apistos (Strong’s # 571) and means faithless, unbelieving. From a (as a negative particle) and pistos; (actively) disbelieving, i.e. Without Christian faith (specially, a heathen); (passively) untrustworthy (person), or incredible (thing) — that believeth not, faithless, incredible thing, infidel, unbeliever(-ing).

The Greek word for “unbelievers” [apistos] in this verse about not be unequally yoked, is the same Greek word used in 1st Corinthians 7:15 where it talks about the “unbeliever” leaving.

So in relation to keeping vows to stay married, how can a person keep a vow to be married to someone that has left him or her, has violated the marriage covenant and has clearly proven that he or she is unconverted?

When a man or woman that is an unbeliever, and has proven themselves to be immoral [unrighteous], someone that God forbids you to be unequally yoked with, and has shown that they are no longer pleased to dwell with you. This verse and the others trump the idea that a person must keep a previous vow no matter what. 

Marriage is a contract, a commitment made by two people before God; and if one of the parties breaks that agreement, then the agreement is void.  It takes two to make a marriage agreement and it takes two to maintain and keep that agreement. When one of the parties to the agreement departs from that agreement and rejects it; the other party is no longer bound to keep an agreement that no longer exists.  And we are not to seek to be bound to unbelievers.

If someone had made a vow (like baptism) to the Catholic church, or the Masonic Lodge, and God called them out of that to the truth and to leave a false ways and to follow Him; should that person refuse God’s calling because they made a vow when they did not know any better?

You would be putting your “vows” above obeying God, even when and if circumstances change and you are put into a position where you must now obey God rather than any vow that would hold you hostage to sin.

In 1 Corinthians 7:15 Paul then further states that God commands us to let an unbelieving spouse GO (regardless of any vows), and that God has called the believing true Christian to live in peace. Just as when a husband dies and the wife is no longer married to him because of the death, so a wife whose husband abandons her is no longer married to him.

It does not make sense that a person has to keep a marriage agreement when the marriage has been dissolved through no fault of their own and the unconverted offending party has made it impossible for the vow to remain intact.

 

What Does it Mean to commit Treachery Against the Marriage Covenant?
We know that from Jeremiah 3 that even the LORD divorced His wife Israel because of unfaithfulness; she committed treachery against the Marriage Covenant that she had entered into on Mt. Sinai with God (Exodus 24:3) by departing from Him, His commandments and the whole Word of God.

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord. 3:2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.

Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

Here is a quote explaining this concept in spiritual terms:

“God calls Israel’s sins “fornication” which means idolatry;  the seeking to be one with someone other than a spouse..

Everybody can relate to the sexual aspect of a physical union; however, the real spiritual sin behind sexual adultery [being one with a stranger]  is gross idolatry.

Israel simply did whatever she wanted to do, whenever and however she wanted to do it. The harlotry implied is clearly spiritual; the breaking of the terms of the Mosaic Marriage Covenant. Her harlotry is unfaithfulness and disloyalty, which are spiritual in nature. Her sin is primarily idolatry, being unfaithful in forgetting who their great blessings came from; being unfaithful to follow other gods and idols, to obey them while rejecting any zeal to obey the whole Word of God their Husband.

Just like then, today’s COG groups are full of idolatry and spiritual adultery against the Husband of their espousal to this very day.

Another example is in Ezekiel and in the following verse, God compares physical and spiritual Israel’s faithlessness as adultery ( a whorish heart).

Ezekiel 6:9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.

For further explanation as to what it means to violate the marriage convent and what God had to say about it we can go to Malachi 2. In Malachi 2:16 it states that God hates divorce and I have heard this stated emphatically, I don’t know how many times in sermons and articles, but rarely does the pastor continue with the rest of the verse: “for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”

Malachi 2:13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.
2:14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
2:15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
2:16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

The last verse says; therefore keep a watch upon your spirit that it may be controlled by living righteously according to all of God’s commandments and to live holy and righteous lives and that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [against your marriage partner].

The context of this passage is that the men were being “treacherous to their wives and their marriage covenant with them and God saw it (He was a witness to it). He says here that He hates divorce, in the context that they were divorcing the wives of their youths to remarry, perhaps for more younger, attractive, and even the surrounding heathen women, and God said He hated that too (“let none of you deal treacherously with the wife of your youth”). He hates divorce but He also hates violence against HIS MARRIAGE COVENANT with us.

We need to understand then, what constitutes violence against the marriage covenant and what about 1 Corinthians 7 that says that if a mate leaves, to let him or her leave, that the person abandoned is no longer bound? Just what constitutes leaving or departing and why is it so important to understand this?

Treachery or violence is any kind of sin or evil that one commits on a continuing basis against their mate and refuses to repent of; whether it is infidelity, domestic violence, abusing one’s children, incest, alcohol and drug addiction; mental, verbal, spiritual, physical abuse, pornography addiction, etc, etc.

When we sin against our mates in any of these ways, God hates it! We violate the very purpose for which marriage was ordained; which is to produce holy seed (see verse 15 in Malachi 2), for wholesome strong families, stable and well grounded children who are being taught to live for God and to keep all of God’s ways. In this way each family is part of a stable society and if all the families that make up a society are stable and righteous, it will produce stable and godly nations.

God also desires that we each in our own marriage, properly and symbolically depict the Marriage Covenant we have with our Lord, as the collective Bride of Christ. Committing these sins against each other in marriage is a form of adultery whether it is actual physical adultery or spiritual adultery; for all sin is viewed by God as a form of adultery. (Please read Ezekiel 16 and book of Hosea)

When 1 Corinthians 7:15 says that “if the unbelieving depart, let him depart” Paul is implying that it means and involves much more than just leaving the house. We come to see from these other passages in the Bible that “to depart” means to leave and to abandon the marriage covenant. This can be done in various ways as we saw by visiting these other places in the Bible. What if a mate has left the marriage but refuses to leave the house and is doing violence against the covenant by sinning or by being abusive to his partner; what should the converted person do then? Is she or he permitted to leave the home then to get away from a sinning and/or abusive spouse? I believe that it is permissible and may even be exactly what God would have the converted spouse to do.

Just to clarify, this verse says if an unbeliever departs; it does not say leaves the house, it is saying depart and you can depart from the marriage covenant without leaving the marriage partner, by violating the marriage with sin and refusing to let the other spouse live in peace.
God holds those that His called out are responsible to put evil out of our lives and to hold those who are sinning against us and/or our children accountable even if we love them with all our hearts.

This includes in a marriage as well, for if Jesus is dwelling in a Christian how can He tolerate living with endless evil and wickedness in our lives, in our very home? I’m not talking about occasional mistakes,  but grievous things like repeated beatings, repeated adultery, delving into the occult and bringing that into the home, habitual drunkenness and addictions, minimizing God’s Word and openly justifying sin, or refusing to work and support the family; I think we all know what constitutes evil and grievous sins.

 

Part 3:  What if a couple marry in good conscience thinking they are both converted and then one proves not to be converted. 

If a person claiming to be converted does not have the fruits and actions of conversion, then they are not converted.  As Jesus said we shall know them by their fruits.  If a spouse turns away from any zeal to keep God’s commandments and begins to habitually beat, bully, sin against, or persecute the faithful one for being zealous for God; then that person is not converted and is not living peaceably with the converted spouse.  In that case the converted mate should leave, and is free to remarry in the faith.  However they must wait several years before even considering remarrying, in the hope that their mate comes to their senses and repents. 

2 Corinthians 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

1 Corinthians 10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

10:22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Marriage is to be between two people as God ordained from the beginning (Genesis 2:24) and when one breaks their promise “to forsake all others” and wants to be joined with another man or women, they are abandoning their mate and they violate the marriage covenant. Paul here condemns this sin. From the beginning God intended for a wife and husband to be joined together and to never let anyone else come between them.

1 Corinthians 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul clearly says that one who has been abandoned is no longer bound in marriage, and is free from the marriage and therefore is free to remarry.

Finally, please consider what Paul says in 1st Timothy 4:3;’ declaring that it is a doctrine of demons to forbid to marry.. Think about it. 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

4:3 Forbidding to marry, [forbidding people to marry by teaching the error that God does not cleanse a person from all repented sin at baptism] and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

God created most men and women to have a natural desire to live this life with a loving marriage partner. He created marriage from the very beginning starting with Adam and Eve and He loves marriage. If God brings two people together who are deeply converted, have grown to love each other, and believe that they are compatible, why would these teachers or people want to deny them the blessing of being married? We must be careful to not add or take away from what God teaches in His Word.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. 

 

Conclusion

1.   In a marriage where both spouses are converted, divorce is forbidden, and remarriage is the sin of living in adultery.  However if they have problems they may separate for a short time for the purpose of prayer and fasting to seriously examine themselves as to their own conduct and to sincerely repent of any fault, so that they may come together again with a new attitude towards God, towards each other and towards the marriage. 

1 Corinthians 7:5  Defraud ye not one the other [do not withdraw your favors from each other i.e. do not separate], except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
Be very careful NOT to make a separation a sympathy seeking effort to try and justify oneself.  This big mistake happens very often as ladies run to friends and mother to seek sympathy by telling one sided stories about how bad they think their husband is; while men often run to seek sympathy from friends over alcohol.  Paul said “prayer and fasting” which, accompanied by honest self examination by BOTH spouses, is what is needed to build up marriages.

Divorce of converted spouses is forbidden, and remarriage in that situation is to live in the sin of adultery.  For a man to attend services with a new wife while his former wife attends with her new husband is an abomination before Almighty God!

2.  In a situation where a couple is married and one becomes converted; the newly converted person is to remain with the unconverted spouse and is to do the very best they can to be a model and perfect spouse, setting a godly example. 

If the unconverted spouse rejects the newly converted spouse; either by abandonment or by persecuting and making the life of the converted mate unbearable;  the new convert is not to seek reconciliation to the point of abandoning their conversion, but is to remain loyal to God; allowing the unconverted mate to depart.  In such a case the new convert is then free to remarry in the faith. 

3.  When two people marry “In the Faith” and one later either openly leaves the faith, or claims to be in the faith while rejecting God’s Word and habitually behaving in a wicked unconverted manner and persecutes the faithful spouse who is zealous to learn and to keep the whole Word of God:  That person is not converted and is not dwelling in peace with the zealous faithful spouse. 

In that case they should separate and the converted spouse is not bound because the other person proved out to be unconverted and was not willing to dwell at peace with the one who was zealous to keep the Word of God.  They are free to remarry, only in the faith and only after a protracted period to see if there is any repentance and possibility of reconciliation.  

James Malm

 

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