“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.” Matt. 19:9

 

(2014) Last month was my tenth anniversary managing Christ The Way Bookstore and one thing is for sure: I have seen and continue to see changes on the wind. The Jesuits will be happy to know that many rock solid standards that our Bible believing churches and elders have held fast in the past are being abandoned with a mere sentence, “…I was wrong.” As surely as the winds blow, I have seen a paradigm shift during these past ten years in many matters of consequence including, Bible versions, music, dress, and doctrine, but one change that may be argued to have the most devastating effect is that of divorce and remarriage. It was one of the first lessons Jesus taught to His disciples and hits at the core of God’s values: He loves the family and intended to form His church in that context. How we interpret this issue will certainly affect future generations of the church and if it is not dealt with expeditiously, we are in danger of reshaping our landscape into something quite unrecognizable.

Much confused rhetoric begins when we no longer desire to follow after the Holy Spirit. For instance, I have been hearing of how unfair it is to the so-called, “innocent party” of the divorced spouses, the ones left all alone in the wake of this division. But, are they really alone when Jesus promised us, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee…”? I have heard of how that individual should not have to suffer because of the transgressions of offending spouses, having to stand helplessly by and watch as their ungodly spouses go on with their lives without them. I am hearing more and more pastors’ hearts being changed by the influence of their friends to compromise their long held beliefs in this matter and then counseling their flock to follow. I am a witness of the remarriage of dear old friends to the divorced who, for so long, have been those dear and faithful eunuchs for the kingdom that we hear of written in God’s Word. I hear those who have held for literally decades that unscriptural remarriage was wrong now tell me that they have retooled and redefined and have come around to a different interpretation of the scriptures. Were they and all the like-minded old time preachers who took this stand wrong all this time? Not long ago, even unsaved society took this stand at one time: divorce is outrageous and remarriage grounds to be shunned!

So, is it truth? Can we divorce and then remarry if certain “conditions” are met? Any honest person would then be compelled to ask: if this is true, mustn’t we now revisit and apologize to all those dear friends who have gone on before us after having been told, “I’m sorry, but scripturally, it’s ‘till death do us part.”? Would there not have to be some retraction that remarriage was not actually wrong after all those years of their suffering and loneliness to those still amongst us? Should we remove this age-old sentiment from the vows of marriage seeing we know not what the future brings? This decision can have far-reaching implications into all future generations. Is this legacy one we want to leave to our children?

Only One Word

This issue would be very confusing to many, yea, everyone in the church without God’s Word! I thank the Lord our God, the author and finisher of our faith who made the way clear and that there is never any ambiguity in His Word. There exists no contradiction between one passage and another. However, to those who no longer want to wait and allow the Spirit to teach them, there will only be misunderstanding; to those whose flesh would beg them onward into deception.

With your permission, I would like to take a few of your minutes on this matter. God’s Word is clear on this issue of divorce and remarriage. The answer is as black and white, but there are those who are now saying there is room for remarriage outside of reconciliation with the living spouse. Have a look at these following verses, could they mean any more than what is plainly written?

“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.” I Cor. 7:39

“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” Rom. 7:2-3

Having read the above verses, one may say, how could you possibly misunderstand those? But, I have been referred to another verse, as follows, which we will discuss.

“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.” Matt. 19:9

Looking at this verse, let us take it in two parts. Since there is a colon separating the two thoughts; let us split it up there for a moment.

Firstly, the verse says,

“Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery:”

Then, after the colon, the verse continues on to say,

“…and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

Now, please notice this definition from a grammar website about this punctuation mark called, the colon:

“A colon instead of a semicolon may be used between independent clauses when the second sentence explains, illustrates, paraphrases, or expands on the first sentence. Example: He got what he worked for: he really earned that promotion.” ~ http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/colons.asp

Now, like a good magician, some “sleight of word” happens here. Something very tricky happens that our dear old pastors and Bible believing friends knew to look out for in time past, but that some of our present day pastors are falling for. Some will put these two together and do what is called, “proof-texting”, which is to say they pull out a verse, or a part of a verse, and build a doctrine around it while ignoring other verses in the same scriptural context. Many look at the whole verse and say, “See? If this is true, then the opposite must also true!” But, God’s Word is very specific! God would have written it down if He meant to say it, whatever it is. (While we are looking at this, please keep in the back of your mind our earlier verse that says, the wife is bound to the husband, “…as long as he liveth…”, He meant it!) Now, two thoughts come to mind. Notice how the second part of that verse as a complete thought helps define the first part of the verse before the colon, “whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” We know that is a true statement, because other verses in scripture clearly teach that doctrine. Now, let us look at the first part of that verse, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.” Again, the second part of the verse by virtue of having a colon separating them helps define the first part of the verse. So, in review: what is allowed in the case of fornication? Divorce. Please understand these are God’s words through Jesus, who is God. His perfect will is not to divorce or to set aside the marriage vow, but His permissive will makes a concession for the hardness of our own hearts. Who is the hearts’ hardness directed to? It is directed to the spouse, because of the unforgiveness, spite and bitterness as a result of our pride and rebellion against each other.

Now, the question is, is remarriage allowed? Looking only at the two parts of this verse, I believe, no, but I believe we need to rely on context of the rest of scripture to support this. I believe that our forefathers who were convinced that remarriage was never allowed to anyone other than the living spouse (called, reconciliation) was ever in view in this verse. In context, the first part of our verse in Matthew says, there is an allowance for divorce and that the spouse is not bound to perform the conjugal duties that come with this, but that the divorce is to be with a view to reconciliation.

“But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” I Cor. 7:11

When we include this clear command that the spouse is to either, “remain unmarried or be reconciled”, we then have support to understand the whole verse in Matthew 19:9; divorce is allowed in God’s permissive will with a hope of reconciliation, but that does not include remarriage to someone else even if the offending spouse goes on to marry another. Sadly, the breaking of God’s law is more and more prevalent these days. The Bible addresses directly what you ought to become if reconciliation with your living spouse is not possible: a Eunuch for the kingdom or remain ‘married to Jesus’ as I have heard a dear divorced friend describe it.

“For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Matthew 19:12

Finally, my dear friends, we cannot misapply meanings to words and proof-text scripture to satisfy our wants and desires nor for any other reason. We cannot lay back on this issue of divorce as if it has less importance to God now than in generations past – we change, but He never changes. In time past, even the godly, “innocent parties” were removed from their church responsibilities if they were divorced let alone remarried. God’s Word is clear. We must continue to take His definitions seriously and not let it slip any farther. The ramifications are too great and far reaching. There is far too much at stake. I ask you, is it worth it? I will answer for my children before God right now – a resounding, “…absolutely not!” Is this not the epitome of selfishness at this late hour, an hour that the Bible describes as the generation of self?

We must return humbly to God’s words through Paul’s letters to the Romans and Corinthians that marriage still is, till death do us part. Was not that vow spoken openly in the first place at the wedding? Jesus was clear when he said unto us, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery…” Certainly, because the world has permeated the church you will find whenever you stand for God’s truth that there will be opposition, there will be people who leave you and forsake you, but truth is worth standing up for. Do not relinquish your stand on God’s Word! He will honour your obedience as He always does. It is His church and His bride, after all!

I hope and pray that this study will bring glory to God through our obedience to His Word and an exhortation to good works. May God richly bless you as you search the scriptures daily to see if these things are so. I would invite any reply to this study after you have prayed and may God grant us His grace to understand His immutable truth. ~R.

© 2014 Remi Fernhout

 

3 Comments

  • Vivian Cruise Posted May 11, 2020 2:12 pm

    If a husband is abusive towards his wife, are the marriage vows ” till death do us part still apply? And if the person gets a divorce and remarries, does that person not have a right to be happy and or is that person still committing adultery? Interesting topic, but i do not agree with you.

    • Remi J. Fernhout Posted May 11, 2020 2:25 pm

      Dear Vivian, many thanks for your reply! In love, please consider;

      Matthew 5 teaches, “till death do us part”:
      44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
      45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
      46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
      47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
      48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

      And, if for any reason you marry again while your spouse is still living, you are given a new title: “adulteress”.
      Romans 7: 2-3;
      “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”

      I hope you will reconsider. You are not disagreeing with me, but with God’s words.

  • Dean carter Posted May 3, 2020 4:31 pm

    Nicely said Remi. Thank you brother..

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