DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
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You may have already been divorced when you read this sentence, and Jesus Christ still loves you. About half of the marriages in America end in divorce, and being a professing believer does not change the statistic. Therefore, either you will be facing divorce, or you know people both within and without the church struggling with the issues of divorce and remarriage.
In this chapter, we will see that Jesus Christ provided very concrete answers to questions regarding divorce. He commanded us to believe that following Him provides an abundant life (John 10:10). Therefore, we should absolutely believe that Jesus Christ told us the truth about divorce and remarriage. If you disdain His teaching, then you must expect sin to bear consequences in your life, and your children’s lives. When a parent sins regarding divorce and remarriage, then the entire family will be affected by the choice to obey Jesus Christ or to reject His teaching.
Jesus Christ blessed us by providing clear answers to our questions regarding divorce. Let us start with the basics about marriage.
ORIGINS OF MARRIAGE
The Beginning of Marriage
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
No Longer Alone. After making man, the LORD God determined that “it was not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) and created woman from the rib of man (Genesis 2:22). In the Hebrew text, this word for “good” (“tov, טוֹב”) God used to describe all of His creations upon earth (Genesis 1:10, 1:12, 1:17-18, 1:21, 1:25). God used the term “good” here to show that He was pleased with the creation, and it suited His purpose. When God made man, He said that work was “very good” (“tov meod, טוֹב מְאֹד“). From the moment of creation forward, God took more pleasure and delight in man that in any other part of His creation. We alone are “very good” in the eyes of God as He reviewed His creation. Therefore, when we read that man, being very good before God, lived in a world of “good” things created by God, we see that just because you live in the best surroundings, completely unpolluted at that point by sin, you may not yet be complete. God cares deeply about our spiritual and social well-being. He wants only the best for His creation. Although Adam was created and deemed by God “very good,” God still knew that Adam should not be alone. So the creation of man and his environment was very good and good respectively, God still deemed the solitary creation of Adam “not good” (“lo-tov, לֹא־טוֹב”). God placed His finger upon the need of Adam to have a companion.
The LORD God brought the woman to the man so that she would be a “helper” (“עֵזֶר”) suitable for him (Genesis 2:18). Therefore, from the beginning, God joined man and woman together so that they would become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Jesus taught that “what God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6).
Now let us go through these foundational principles one at a time.
Marriage Principles from God
Jesus Christ Made Males and Females
God did not create women and men just alike. As we see in the order of creation, God made Adam and then Eve. Never think that both men and women look at each other from the same perspective, or that they have the same goals and aspirations in life. Essential differences will always exist between men and women, and that will be the case in marriage as well. Men and women approach marriage differently, and also view marriage differently while married. Instead of fighting the innate differences between males and females, we should recognize that differences exist and allow for them in counseling. When you talk to women, you must be sensitive to their perspectives and their desires. Likewise, men will have different outlooks, desires, and emotions. While different, the commands of Christ regarding marriage apply to both males and females alike.
Jesus Christ Instituted Marriage So that
One Male and One Female Would Live
Together to His Glory
God designed marriage for men and women ready to leave their parents and establish a new life together in Christ (Genesis 2:24; cf. Genesis 24:58). Because marriage joins together two separate creatures into “one flesh,” a Christian should never marry a non-Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Jesus Christ designed the woman to be a
helper to man, and created her
completely perfect for her role.
Women have certainly received unfair and unwelcome treatment for centuries. Now, laws protect women in many countries from discrimination based upon gender. God never intended women to occupy a second place before Him, but rather to fulfill the role He planned for her since creation. Jesus taught all of His disciples that service would make them great (Matthew 23:11). In Genesis, God created woman to serve her husband and used the term helper (“עֵזֶר”). David called God his Helper (Psalm 30:10).
Christians Only Marry Christians
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, God explained the reasons for this union of only a male Christian and female Christian in marriage.
No Partnership. First, God revealed the lack of partnership (“μετοχὴ, metoxe“) between believers and unbelievers. Righteousness indwells the believer while lawlessness rules the unbeliever. God ordained a partnership of two righteous believers, but by nature the righteous cannot be joined to the lawless (2 Corinthians 6:14). An unbelieving spouse simply will not have the same ambitions, goals and desires. The believer will want to go to church, make Christian friends, and place Christ first in all areas. The unbeliever will not want to come to the light, because they know their deeds are evil (John 3:20).
No Fellowship. Second, just as believers and unbelievers cannot have partnership, so also they cannot have fellowship (“κοινωνία, koinonia“) together. God extends His fellowship to believers, and then allows believers to have fellowship with each other through Him (1 John 1:1-4). Fellowship exists in the light of God, and the darkness cannot comprehend it (1 John 1:5-7; John 1:4-5). Unbelievers dwell in darkness, and light cannot have fellowship with darkness. Therefore, the believer, a child of light, cannot have fellowship with an unbeliever, a child of darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14). The believer has been transferred out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:13). God instituted marriage to be a source of closest fellowship. An unbeliever can never know the fellowship with God enjoyed by every believer and shared among believers. I love to hold my wife near me while I pray daily for all of our needs, and give thanks for all God has done. An unbelieving spouse will never join spiritually in such activities, because the wrath of God abides upon every unbeliever (John 3:36).
Third, unbelievers cannot live in harmony (“συμφώνησις“) with believers just as Christ cannot have harmony with Belial (Satan). Harmony here may be pictured as a melodious blending of two distinct voices, joining together to make one beautiful song. The believer has been born again in Christ (John 3:5-8; Romans 8:9) and claims God as Father (Romans 8:14), while unbelievers descend from their father the devil (John 8:44). Unbelievers do the works of the devil, while believers do the works of Christ (Ephesians 2:10).
Fourth, believers have nothing in common (“μερὶς“) with unbelievers. Even as Christ forms the ground of partnership, fellowship, and harmony, so also He provides unity in marriage. God draws upon the thought that Christians form one cohesive whole in marriage by drawing together two parts into one whole. In contrast, an unbeliever has no part in Christ. Without Christ, the unbeliever has nothing in common with the believer (2 Corinthians 6:15) and everything in common with Satan.
Fifth, believers are the temple of the living God. God lives in believers, and dwells in them and walks with them (2 Corinthians 6:16). God explicitly commands His people to live separately from unbelievers, and never touch anything unclean (2 Corinthians 6:17). Then, God will welcome them as Father, and they will be sons and daughters to Him (2 Corinthians 6:18). God concludes His warning against marrying unbelievers with a direct command to live separated to God, as His child, looking to Him as Father.