Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
We receive so many calls and questions about what are the rules for getting in and out of a marriage relationship.
What does the Bible say?
Did Jesus speak on the topic?
For the next few weeks, we will be looking at what the New Testament says about this controversial topic.
What we’ve learned so far is that the Bible teaches that there are two sanctioned reasons that allow the Christian to divorce and then re-marry. They are,
- First allowance for divorce with the subsequent right to re-marry: “Sexual Immorality.”
- Second allowance for divorce and subsequent right to re-marry: “Abandonment of a Christian by an unbeliever.”
Because we live in a broken, fallen world under the curse (Genesis 3, Romans 8), the world is a place where we find ourselves in some very sticky and unclear places where the waters are muddy.
So practically speaking, how do we wade through all of this?
CONCLUSIONS AND PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS Part 2:
- Pornea as grounds for divorce does not equal lustful adulterous thoughts or pornography (a common presenting issue within marital discord) as described in Matthew 5:27-28), as the word pornea describes illicit behaviors (sexual acts) with another person(s).
- Many people who do not understand the historical context of this passage commonly misunderstand the words in this passage. In Matthew 5:27-28, He is challenging the assumption of righteousness held by the religious leaders as well as the populous at large. They assumed they were righteous before God based upon following the letter of the law. If this were the case then they would not need to trust in the upcoming substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. In His public address, He is exposing matters of the heart to show the crowd that they were indeed guilty before a Holy God and subsequently in need of a Savior. The standards of God were actually higher than the teachings of the religious leaders of Israel. The persistent challenging of the religious establishment by Jesus, ultimately lead their decision to crucify Him.
- While abuse is certainly wrong, it is not listed within the Bible as grounds for divorce. Separation for securing physical and emotional safety for oneself and the children is the suggested course of action. This action would include police and legal interventions. Often, with strong measures taken and therapy, which addresses the injuries of the abuser, growth and change can occur. Some theologians may make a case that such behavior is “un-Christian like” so they default to the position that the person acting unbecomingly must not be a Christian, thus they are “abandoning” the believer which in turn gives the innocent party a Biblical basis for divorce. I do not personally hold to this view because Christians can do shameful acts and deeds and still be saved.
- How do you handle the resistant, non-growing “Christian” spouse? Instead of getting sucked down into the drain of negativism and cynicism, keep growing in Christ and moving toward service, fellowship and personal growth.
- How do you handle two Christians stuck in a stalemate where the marriage is dead in their eyes and past hurts seem insurmountable? Philippians 2 says there should be a “race to humility” where the other’s interests are considered more important than your own.
- How about two Christians separated or divorced without Biblical grounds who then are in a celibate standoff waiting for the other person to “morally fail” so that they can then claim they have a biblical grounds for divorce? Keep working on reconciliation and spiritual & emotional growth for God is undoubtedly desiring to use this “trial” to bring both partners into a place of maturity where they are more “perfect and complete lacking in nothing (James 1:1-5).”
- William Wilson, Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, (McLean: MacDonald Publishing Company), p.79.
- Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), p.783.
- Bauer, op. cit., p. 630
- Bauer, op. cit., p. 478
- Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Dictionary, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), p. 272.
- Bauer, op. cit., p. 205.
Again, we know that this is very difficult material to take in and absorb, so go slowly and ask God for wisdom in applying these concepts to your life. Next week we will discuss some of your e-mail questions.
Thanks for listening,
Love and blessings,
Milan & Kay