The state of society is waxing worse, more wicked and perverse with every passing moment, but with this comes a challenge to The Church of God to stand firm in the doctrine and faith of our Lord. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10). “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin…” (1 John 3:9).
Our 29th Important Bible Truth of the Church reads: “Divorce and remarriage constitutes the sin of adultery. The only allowable causes for remarriage are fornication and death. However, fornication is not unfaithfulness or simple adultery, but is a state of being married to another’s wife or husband. See Matthew 5:32, 14:3, 19:3-12; Mark 10:12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2,3; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 13; 6:9, 13, 16-18; 7:2, 10, 11; Acts 15:28, 29; Revelation 2:20-22.”
The Word of God is clear on the divorce and remarriage issue. We cannot be deceived by the popular ear-tickling “theology” of our day. The Bible records John the Baptist preaching to Herod about the subject of divorce and remarriage in Matthew 14:3, 4. John said, “It is not lawful for thee to have her… [your] brother Philip’s wife” (v. 4). Philip had divorced his wife Herodias and Herod had taken her to be his wife. We see Herod’s response, and the ending result of his message was that John lost his head. He didn’t die in vain, nor has God changed His mind on this doctrine. John the Baptist preached the truth and died because he would not compromise. It should build our faith and resolve to know that we are lifting up that same message and standard today!
With the world’s promotion of lust and self, and with the breakdown of society and morals, marital unfaithfulness has been an escalating problem which continues to intensify. Scripture states that even if a man be married to a harlot, the most unfaithful of women, he is still bound to her in a one-flesh relationship for life. “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh” (1 Cor. 6:16). The Word of God has further instructions for us concerning marriage. “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10, 11). So the Bible clearly teaches that we are not to depart or put away our spouse. If she/he departs, they are to remain unmarried or seek to be reconciled unto each other. The Bible goes on to define the sin committed if one does marry another. “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke 16:18). “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:12).
As our former General Overseer, Brother Pruitt stated, “Death is the only act which frees one from that divine bond” (WWM, May 14, 1977). The Scripture says in Romans 7:2, “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 we are bound to our husband or wife as long as he or she lives, which is in harmony with the marriage covenant. The Bible goes on to say, “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” (1 Cor. 7:39).
In addition to the above, “saving for the cause of fornication” is also well defined in Scripture. We know that fornication is not martial unfaithfulness or adultery because the Scriptures already cited said that even if one be joined unto a harlot they are still one flesh. Jesus also said in Matthew 5:27, 28, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Also, the aforementioned scriptures clearly state that if one leaves his biblical spouse and then marries another it is adultery. So then, unfaithfulness or sexual lust is not fornication, but adultery. Many want or try to create a loophole to get out of a bad or failed marriage, and they fabricate a twisted definition of fornication to attempt this. Scripture says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:32). Paul clarified the term fornication in 1 Corinthians 7:2 when he said, “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” Have your own, not someone else’s! If one who has never been married before, marries a divorced person, then they have joined themselves unto a spouse that belongs to someone else (as the divorced individual is still one flesh with their first marriage companion). This marriage is not recognized by God because it says very plainly that we are to have “our own” husband or wife! The fornicator under these circumstances must leave that sinful relationship and, should they choose to, marry someone who has not been married before, thus “except for the cause of fornication.” (In this example: the one never married before is the fornicator and the one who is married is an adulterer, as defined in previous scriptures.)
Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees about the doctrine of divorce and remarriage. They said that Moses had issued divorces. Jesus explained that no man had the authority to dissolve the martial union. He said in Matthew 19:6 that, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” And Jesus said, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:8). Moses did this because of the hardness of the people’s hearts toward God, but Jesus said that from the beginning it was not so! So what then was the beginning of the marriage relationship as established by God? In the creation, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” The following verse states, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:23, 24). This is how God intended it from the beginning – one man for one woman, for life – and God has that person specially made for you. Men and their wicked ways have sought to pervert marriage and God’s divine institution. Perversion has not stopped there in our world, but has grown exceedingly sinful with their acceptance and embracement of adulterous relationships, homosexuality and other non-biblical unions or “live in” cohabitations.
There are simply no loopholes, as men have tried to create while seeking a way out of a failing marriage instead of investing and working on it to help it succeed. We live in a society that, when things aren’t easy, people give up or when something gets broken they throw it away instead of fixing it. In light of the Scriptures, this mentality cannot apply to marriage. If a marriage has failed, we should pray for our spouse and attempt to reconcile with him/her as clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11, and if we are separated we are not to marry another person. Perhaps the greater emphasis should be made even before the “I do’s” as our “Advice to Members” relates, or within the early junctures of a marriage to work on things before they get to this point. At whatever stage, let us be reminded of the clear commands in the Word of God, knowing that the excuses that man attempts to fabricate will only lead to physical, spiritual and eternal destruction. “…Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife” (Gen. 20:3). One’s temporary happiness is not more important than the Bible or eternity. God is able to “unscramble” what sinful choices a person has made to scramble their own lives. He does have compassion and love for people’s feelings, their loneliness and hurt and has given much strength to those facing such circumstances. He can restore marriages and save families and make it a beautiful testimony of His power when we seek to do things His way. The Word of God does not change for us. We must change and conform to the Word or face the consequences. One who is forgiven from sin becomes a new creature in Christ – bearing fruit and keeping His commandments. Of sin, including adultery, the Word declares that they will not “live any longer therein” (Rom. 6:2).
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