Divorce and Remarriage

by Edwin Morris

It is said that there are nearly as many divorces as there are marriages today in this nation. In Oklahoma it is said there are more divorces than marriages. This indicates to us why sin is so rampant in this society. The sad part is that this trend is beginning to creep into the church. There is only one scriptural cause for divorce and remarriage that is given to us in the word of God. Jesus taught in Matt. 5:32 "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. And in Matt. 19:9 "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."

When both husband and wife are Christians and divorce for any other reason than fornication can they scripturally marry again and continue to live with the second partner and please God? What does the word of God teach that they must do when they divorce the partner for other reasons than fornication? The answer is found in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 "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. This is the two choices they have, (1) remain unmarried, (2) be reconciled to her husband. Often times today couples cannot get along and break up for other causes than fornication and later play a waiting game until the other remarries and then claim the cause. This does not fit the scriptural teaching. They have not obeyed the one of two choices they have. Regardless of how long they remain in this adultress marriage time does not change their condition and the only thing they can do is to obey 1 Cor. 7:10-11. Some might say why cannot they repent and make a confession and have the prayers of the church and be o.k.? It is simple, they have to obey what they were told to do remain unmarried; be reconciled to the first and they have not done that.

What are we, the church, to do after we have talked to them and taught them what the word teaches and they continue to live together and remain married. The answer is found in 1 Cor. 5:9-13 "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to keep company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or an idolater, for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." They are told not to keep company with this one; not to eat with them and put away from among yourselves this person. Notice in verses 10-11 that there is a difference between those in the world and those in the church as to our association with them.

Who is responsible in carrying this action out? The answer is found in vs. 4 "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." This is the church "gathered together" and vs. 13 "from among yourselves." So this is not individuals but the church. Now In 1 Cor. 5:1-8, it is to the one who had taken his father's wife which would be his stepmother according to Lev. 18:7-8. In verses 9-13 it includes all fornicators and the other sins that are named.

What is the purpose of this discipline, vs. 5 answers this; "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." Someone says we cannot deliver such an one to Satan only Christ can do that. The command is in vs. 4 "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" which means "by his authority" and he gave the church the authority to take this action and when they did Christ delivers them to Satan. Notice John 4:1-2 "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples." The church had to do what they were commanded to do and then Christ does what man cannot do. The act of excommunication for sin when administered according to the will of the Lord, is not merely man's decision, but will be executed by the power of the Lord.

When the Church carried this out did it have the desired results. In 2 Cor. 2:6-7 "Sufficient to such man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many, so that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, lest perhaps such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." Someone might ask the question that since it was inflicted of "many" what about the few that would not go along with it? The answer is found in 2 Cor. 7:11 "For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves clear in this matter" The many means majority but does that mean that the few are under no obligation to obey the command. If there were 100 members and 90 took part and 10 did not, did the 10 that did not clear themselves? No, because they violated what they were told to do.

Is the church today doing what the scriptures tell them to do? Generally they tell the guilty party you cannot take part and you cannot attend business meetings and that is usually as far as some go. This is not doing what they were told to do: Purge out, keep no company; no not to eat; put away from among yourselves. Many times today members will eat with them, keep company with them, and being among them you would never know but what that they are in good standing. Fellow Christians do not take this Bible command lightly.