A Message By:
David Jerome – Rochester, New York
2 Timothy 4:3-4 says:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
There is a doctrine being preached today about marriage that is contrary to the Bible. This doctrine is that it is okay for divorced persons in the church to remarry.
The rate of divorce in the Christian Church is over 50%, which is higher than that of people with other or no religious beliefs. To add to that, it is not uncommon to find many religious leaders such as pastors or bishops, who also are divorced. It is no wonder then, why teachings of remarriage after divorce, are growing and so nationwide.
The Bible says in Matthew 5:32 (KJV), “But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commiteth adultery.” The passage “Except for the cause of fornication”, is often misinterpreted that divorce is acceptable if the spouse has had sex with someone other than the one that they are married to after the marriage has taken place. But this passage here is in reference to Deuteronomy 22:13-21, which states what a man may do if he discovers his wife is not a virgin after they are married. Sex before marriage is fornication. One cannot fornicate after marriage, because then it is called adultery. Biblically, one cannot divorce someone because the spouse has cheated on them and committed adultery. The Bible means only if the man was deceived about his wife’s virginity, before entering the marriage. On this ground, and this ground only, can someone get divorced and remarried.
There are many pastors and church leaders who are divorced for reasons other than stated in Deuteronomy 22:13. As stated before, the rate of divorce in the Church is over 50% and higher than that of non-Christian or secular people. Therefore, many preachers preach ways around this clear teaching of the Bible.
Jesus was asked in Matthew 19:3 (NKJV), “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Jesus answered them in verse 4 saying, “Have you not read that He who made them in the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘for this reason shall a man leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife that the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” Then the Pharisees asked Jesus as to why Moses permitted divorce. Jesus answered in verse 8, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Jesus goes on in verse 9, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality (before marriage), and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Modern preaching has gone so far as to say that there are processes by which a divorced person can get remarried. “Remedies”, such as praying to be delivered from the former spouse or asking God to “bring the right one this time”, and many others have been offered. This is clearly against the Bible. There is no way around this teaching. Many preachers, however, including some who are very famous and can be found on television speaking to crowds of thousands, preach ways around this clear doctrine of the Bible. Because so many Christian people are divorced, this new type of doctrine is very popular. It is sad to say that many Christians do not respect the institution of marriage enough to not get divorced the first time.
But What If your spouse divorces you?
The question has been asked, “But what if your spouse divorces you, even if you want to keep the marriage together?” Or “Is it fair that if you did everything right as a husband or wife the first time and your spouse divorces you, that you can never get married again?” Jesus’ disciples also thought that this was a tough thing to swallow. They said in Matt 19:10, “If this is the case with a man and his wife, it is better not to marry.”(NKJV)
What About God’s grace?
Some people take the position that because God is merciful and abounding in grace and love, that God would “okay” a marriage of divorced people because he is forgiving and gracious. This is totally false. Paul addresses this exact issue in Romans 6:1-3; “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (NKJV) Anyone who remarries while the first spouse is alive lives in adultery. This is not at all in reference to those divorced and remarried before being saved by Christ, their sins are forgiven. Paul is speaking about those who know the law and intentionally break it, and then try to justify themselves with the fact that God is gracious. God is a God of grace. But this has been twisted in order to suit the desires of people.
Paul had a thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12. He said that he prayed three times for God to remove it, but God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” God is a God of grace. But his grace is not so that sin may abound. It is a struggle for divorced people to remain unmarried or to wait to be reunited with their spouse. God’s grace will not permit you to break a law because it is convenient, but God’s grace is sufficient for you to deal with your thorn in your flesh, weather that thorn is lust, loneliness, or whatever you need to overcome. This is what is meant by God is a God of grace.
Isn’t This Being Legalistic?
Some preachers may say that obeying this teaching is living by the letter of the law, and therefore legalistic. There are Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are pillars of Biblical doctrine, and no one can say that it is just simple legality to follow these commandments. It is not legalistic to not kill, or worship God only, and it is not legalistic to not commit adultery. Yet that is what divorced people who marry another are doing—committing adultery.
This is what dying to flesh is all about. Many people would clap in church services, or voice their “Amen’s” at the concept of dying to flesh as long as it is in reference to not watching R rated movies, or swearing in traffic. The truth is, whoever will not die to his or her own desires, will not hold up if that person’s life is put on the line for the Gospel.
The only way for a person to remarry after being divorced is if the husband or wife dies. Then, as Paul says in Romans 7:2-4, the divorced person is free from the law of marriage and can marry another.
What Then, Is A Divorced Person To Do?
First and foremost, someone going through a divorce should be praying for reconciliation and restoration of their marriage. Even if there has been many years since the marriage broke up, as long as that person’s spouse has not remarried, a restored marriage should be the goal in a divorced person’s life not remarriage. Cases of people who are divorced, especially of those who are young with their whole lives ahead of them, are indeed heart wrenching. The pain involved in divorce is probably one of the reasons why the Bible says, “God hates divorce”(Malachi 2:16). I encourage all to have compassion on divorced people, and to flood them with prayers and support.
In the modern church today, there is far too much emphasis on getting married. Paul said in 1 Corinthinthians 7:28, “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” 1 Corinthians 7:27: “Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.” Paul goes on in verse 29, “What I mean brothers, is that the time is short. From now on, those who have wives should live as though they had none.”
With the state of the world as it is, and with the ever nearing arrival of our Lord and Savior speeding towards us, we should set our minds on what is most important, and what is lasting. Many are dying, even as this is being typed, even as you are reading this, and many are going to hell. Let’s put things in perspective. When you consider an eternal hell against a temporary marriage, the latter seems much less important, and the former gravely serious. I suggest more preaching needs to be taught on 1 Cor 7, and to those who need help, to meditate on 1 Cor 7:27-29. And may God bless and strengthen those who read it.
Rochester, New York