This is one of two posts the Lord encouraged me to write last week, however, His timing for publishing the posts was different from mine. I’ll be on vacation this weekend so I won’t write a post for Saturday.
God’s institution of marriage has been under attack from many sources through the years. No fault divorce started the melee, and now marriage between homosexual sinners has further diminished that sacred bond between a husband and wife that is made before Almighty God. The Pharisees came to Jesus wanting to know His thoughts on divorce and marriage; the answer He gave them is recorded in Matthew chapter nineteen.
The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” and He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9
Here in one fell swoop, Jesus Christ not only condemns no fault divorce, He also demolishes any arguments for homosexual marriage with the statement that He made them male and female, and then God gave the divine institution of marriage. Jesus Christ also gives one of the biblical grounds for divorce and acceptable remarriage. Notice He says that Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of the human heart. So it is today, especially in the church that individuals pursue divorce on unbiblical grounds. I want to share other important Bible passages that address marriage and divorce, especially in the light of women pursuing the dissolution of their marriages in record numbers.
To be sure, marriage is a huge commitment that takes a lot of love, work and forgiveness. My husband and I have been married for thirty-six years. We both know and testify that we have been together this long by the grace of God. I’m not sure, but I think that most marriages go through seasons where there is great unity and harmony, and then seasons where there is disharmony and discord. That covenant before a Holy God helps us to keep the bonds of holy matrimony intact during times of difficulty. Recently, my son’s wife filed for divorce here in the great state of California, and it is just a matter of weeks before it will be final. They have a wonderful son who has felt the impact of their divorce, although they have both worked hard to keep it from being a hostile split. I would love to tell her what the Bible has to say about her choice, but I don’t have that opportunity. I do know that Romans chapter 7 makes it clear that an unbiblical divorce and then remarriage makes that person an adulteress (or adulterer).
Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Romans 7:1-3
It is extremely sad that so many do not take seriously the covenant they have made before our Holy God with their spouse. There are other passages in the Scriptures which give God’s truth about marriage and divorce.
In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul goes into great detail about the heavenly ordained covenant of marriage.
Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. 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 to marry than to burn with passion. Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all churches. 1 Corinthians 7:1-17
From these verses we see that marriage is a means of sexual purity. Divorce is not okay, but Paul concedes there are times when a wife has to leave her husband, however she cannot remarry. Her only option is to be reconciled to her husband. He flat out tells husbands not to divorce their wives. He goes on to give the option for divorce only in the case where an unbelieving spouse leaves the believer. So based upon these verses and the verses from Matthew 19 we can say without reservation that divorce is only biblical in the case of sexual immorality and desertion. In those instances, and in the event of the death of a spouse, remarriage does not result in adultery. We as believers are called to an amazingly high standard. That is why we need the grace of God poured out upon our marriages so we can honor the vow made before our Holy God.
We have this high standard that we are called to because marriage is a picture of the relationship between God and His people. That is the theme of the book of Hosea, and as New Testament believers, we are given the symbolism of this relationship by Paul in Ephesians. In the midst of commanding husbands and wives how they are to live with one another, he gives the spiritual reasoning behind these godly commands.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or an y such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husband ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the who shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:2-33
As I was typing these verses I was overcome with the wonder and glory of our relationship to our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are so blessed! That blessedness must be on display in our marriages for His glory and praise. Other verses give further instruction for loving our spouses.
After addressing how slaves should behave towards their masters whether they are kind or harsh, Peter then gives instructions about our marriage relationships in 1 Peter chapter three.
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and a being heir together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:1-7
God has used these verses many times in my life to bring me back to the attitudes that are pleasing to Him, regardless of what my husband is or isn’t doing. Remember, Sarah obeyed Abraham when he told her to say she was his sister and as a result twice she ended up the harems of rulers. God was faithful and protected her. We need to remember that God is faithful to us and we can trust His deliverance and guidance as exhibit a quiet and gentle spirit. These verses also encourage me because they flesh out the commandment for the husbands to love their wives, by teaching them they should know, understand and honor us. I have seen the Lord do that in my own husband’s life and as a result, our Heavenly Father has answered his prayers. Marriage is ordained of God and pictures our relationship with His Son as we walk in obedience to His Word relying on the Holy Spirit. It is good for us to remember what God says about divorce in the book of Malachi.
“For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16
God hates unbiblical divorce because it violates His covenant, and it violates the one who is divorced. For believers, it besmears the beautiful picture of our wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ. Let us pray for ourselves and our spouses that we will love one another, obeying the commands of God given in the Bible regarding what He has instituted, so that we glorify our loving Savior Jesus Christ.