DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE #3
by Keith Hunt
FIRST CORINTHIANS SEVEN
When an individual REPENTS, his or her PAST sins of adultery (previous marriages and divorces) together with any other sins, are WASHED AWAY - GONE. The individual stands as a NEW person.
The new Christian may have a husband or wife who has NOT become a Christian, and that mate may no longer want to be married to the one who has become CONVERTED to Christianity.
The unconverted mate may want a DIVORCE!
Where does the Christian stand now in regard to God's law on
For the answer to that question, we must turn to I Corinthians 7, verses 10-17.
Because much of Paul's instruction in this chapter is based on the "PRESENT DISTRESS" (verse 26), the TRIBULATION of those days that the Corinthians found themselves in, some will dismiss this chapter as meaningless for us today, or will say that verses 10-17 are only talking about a SEPARATION and not DIVORCE or REmarriage.
I can not agree with the first argument, and the second has its weakness when examined closely.
THE TWO GREEK WORDS OF I CORINTHIANS 7
As some have presented a technical study of the Greek words used here for "DEPART" and "PUT AWAY" to uphold their teaching, I must of necessity do the same.
The Greek words are "CHORIZO" and "APHIEMI." Please note carefully: "CHORIZO" is used in verses 10, 11, and 15 for "depart." The word "APHIEMI" is used in verse 11 ("put away"), verse 12 ("put her away") and verse 13 ("not leave").
Let's look at the word "APHIEMI."
The ENGLISHMAN'S GREEK CONCORDANCE, pages 97-98, gives all the verses where this word is used.
It is translated as "LEFT" "LEAVE" and "FORSAKEN" in a number of places, with the sense of a COMPLETE and TOTAL ABANDONMENT (see Mat.4:11, 20, 22; 19:27, 29, 22:22, 25; 24:40, 41; 26:56).
In dozens of places it is rendered "FORGIVEN" or "FORGIVE."
Now when God FORGIVES, He does not halfway FORGIVE. He forgives COMPLETELY. Our sins are GONE, never to appear again. The blood of Jesus has broken the BOND of death that sin held over us - there is TOTAL FREEDOM. Our sins are not just SEPARATED from us and set to one side, so God can bring them up to us at some future date. No, they are DIVORCED from us, fully gone.
This word "APHIEMI" carries a strong meaning of COMPLETENESS, of SEPARATION.
Now let's look at the word "CHORIZO" in the ENGLISHMAN'S GREEK CONCORDANCE, page 805.
Notice it is used in Mat.19:6 ("put asunder"). It is used in Acts 18:1: "Paul DEPARTED from Athens ...." Paul did not halfway depart - he COMPLETELY left or SEPARATED from Athens.
Turn to Matthew 19:3-9. The whole discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees was concerning DIVORCE - not separation or fraudulent marriages (as we saw earlier). The Greek word used here (except in ONE place) is "APOLUO," and is translated in other places as "PUT AWAY, RELEASE, FORGIVE, LOOSED, DISMISSED, LET GO, and "DEPART" (see the Englishman's Greek Concordance, page 75).
Let me prove this to you from Matthew 19:3-9. The conversation is concerning DIVORCE (in verses 3,7,and 8, the word "apoluo" is used), but when Jesus came to say in verse 6, "....What therefore God hath joined together, let not man PUT ASUNDER" he obviously meant from the context, "Let not man DIVORCE." But Matthew, in relating what Jesus said, did NOT use "apolou" but "chorizo." BOTH Greek words are used in this section a Scripture to represent our ONE English word "divorce."
Why should this seem strange to us? In our own English language we often use different words that convey the same MEANING to avoid boring repetition. It was no different for the writers in the Greek language world.
We need to be very careful, in studying Greek words, that we do not try to FORCE isolation on words that were never meant or never used as "an island unto themselves," or we may find ourselves on an island God never intended or wanted us on. We will now see this demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11.
Paul, speaking to Christian COUPLES (he speaks to other couples, where only one is a Christian, in verses 12-16), says in verse 10 that the COMMAND is from the LORD, "Let not the wife....."
Paul is quoting Jesus! Where is that quotation found? Why in
Matthew 5:32; 19:6,9; Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18. Read those passages - they are plainly talking about DIVORCE. Paul is quoting Jesus about divorce (putting away) where the word "APOLUO" is used, but he chooses not to use "APOLUO" but "CHORIZO" as he reiterates what was the Lord's command. Paul's quotation meant exactly the same as Jesus' command, as he was telling the Corinthians what Jesus had said.
Because of the TRIBULATION the Corinthians were enduring (verse 26), some thought it best to divorce their Christian mates (be unmarried and serve the Lord, verses 32, 33) and be single. Paul gives them Jesus' answer (verse 10) - no divorce for that circumstance.
There is a PLAY on words by Paul in these two verses, as "CHORIZO" can mean either SEPARATE or DIVORCE.
I will paraphrase, "And unto the Christian couples I command, yet not I but the Lord commands, 'Let not the wife divorce (CHORIZO) her husband.' But if she chooses (under this present tribulation) to separate (CHORIZO), she must remain single or be reconciled again to her husband. And the husbands should not divorce (APHIEMI) their wives."
I suppose "CHORIZO" in verse 11 could be rendered as "divorce." Then we would understand Paul as giving instruction to the Christians who were either PRESUMPTUOUS or IGNORANT of the Lord's command. They were to remain as single or be reconciled again to their Christian mates.
Having studied the words "APHIEMI" - "CHORIZO" and "APOLUO" we are ready to answer the question: "What if the UNconverted mate wishes to divorce the Christian?" Read verses 12-16. "APHIEMI" is used in verses 12 and 13, and "CHORIZO" in verse 15, again showing the interchangeability of these words. Paul is talking about the same thing in all three verses.
TO THE REST
In verses 1-9, Paul was speaking to the UNMARRIED and WIDOWS; in verses 10 and 11 to the MARRIED with BOTH partners in the church; in verses 12 to 16 to "the rest" of the married - those with an UNCONVERTED mate.
I will now take the time to record various comments on these verses (12-16) from a number of Bible Commentaries.
BARNES' NOTES ON THE NEW TESTAMENT, emphasis his and mine).
" 'I have spoken in regard to the duties of the UNMARRIED and the question whether it is right and advisable that they should marry, verses 1-9. I have also uttered the command of the Lord in regard to those who are married, and the question whether SEPARATION and DIVORCE were proper. Now in regard to THE REST OF THE PERSONS AND CASES referred to....' THE REST, or remainder, here referred to, relates particularly to the cases in which one party was a Christian, and the other not..."
THE INTERPRETER'S BIBLE
"Verses 12-15. The reader might wonder who the 'rest' might
be. The apostle at once makes clear that he has in mind MIXED MARRIAGES, where only ONE partner was a Christian. Obviously, Jesus could have had no occasion to make a pronouncement on THAT situation.....If the UNBELIEVING PARTNER DESIRES TO SEPARATE, THE CHRISTIAN IS NOT BOUND. It is recognized that Christian faith brings new standards of life. A heathen partner should not be compelled to continue under the new circumstances
unless he or she is ENTIRELY WILLING to do so........
Paul grounds the permission to separate.......GOD HAS CALLED US TO PEACE.......Some apparently wanted to hold the unbelieving partner in the hope of leading to his or her conversion. Paul wisely reminds them that there is no certainty of such a result; marriage is not a sphere for missionary work.......If the believer is divorced by the unbelieving partner, what then?.......Do we have the one scriptural ground for the remarriage of divorced persons? Some commentators have thought so......."
THE ABINGDON BIBLE COMMENTARY
"The grave problem of mixed marriages Paul has no dictum of the Lord to cite, but gives his own judgment (vv 12-16). The Christian husband or wife whose heathen partner is WILLING TO SHARE the home is not to sever the tie .... If, on the other hand, the heathen husband or wife DISSOLVES THE UNION, this situation is to be accepted, for in such conditions the Christian wife or husband is in no slavish subjection to marriage; for God called us to a life of peace. It would be a dangerous presumption to hold that the heathen partner must inevitably be saved by the forced attachment of the other."
A NEW CATHOLIC COMMENTARY ON HOLY SCRIPTURE
"15. If the unbeliever 'desires to separate,' the believing
partner is no longer bound by the marriage....."
THE DAILY STUDY BIBLE (William Barclay)
"I Cor. 7:8-16. This passage deals with three different sets
I) Those who are unmarried or who are widows.....
2) Those who are married.....
3) With the marriage of BELIEVERS and UNBELIEVERS. On this Paul has to give his own judgment, because there is no definite command of Jesus to which he can refer them. The background must be that there were those in Corinth who declared that a believer must never live with an unbeliever; and that, in the event of one partner of a marriage becoming a Christian and the other remaining a heathen, separation must at once follow.......Undoubtedly, mixed marriages produced problems.......Paul dealt with this problem with supreme practical wisdom. He knew the difficulty and he refused to exacerbate it. He said that if the TWO COULD AGREE to live together, by all means let them do so; but if they wished to separate and FOUND LIVING
TOGETHER INTOLERABLE, let them do so, because the Christian was never meant to be a slave......."
MATTHEW HENRY'S COMMENTARY
"He brings the general advice home to the case of such as had
an unbelieving mate (v. 12). But to the rest speak I, not the
Lord; the Lord had not so expressly spoken to this case as to the former of divorce. It does not mean that the apostle spake
without authority from the Lord......He closes this subject with
a declaration to the contrary (v. 40), I think also that I have
the spirit of God ....
To the advice itself - which is, that if an unbelieving
husband or wife were PLEASED TO DWELL with a Christian relative the other should not separate .... If the unbelieving relative desert the believer, and no means can reconcile to a cohabitation, in such a case a brother or sister is not in bondage (v. 15) .... Bound servilely to follow or cleave to the malicious deserter, or not bound to live unmarried .... In such a case the deserted person must be free to marry again, and it is granted on all hands. And some think that such a malicious desertion is as much a dissolution of the marriage covenant as death itself .... It does not seem reasonable that they should be still bound when it is rendered impossible to perform conjugal duties or enjoy conjugal comforts, through the mere fault of their mate. In such a case marriage would be a state of servitude indeed ....."
THE LITTLE WORD "IF"
The Corinthian converts had apparently asked something like this: "What about some of us, Paul, who are married to unbelievers? Must a Christian put away an unbelieving mate?"
If the Christian position was that NO putting away was EVER allowed, these would be strange words indeed. Why would Paul say NOT to put away an unbelieving wife "IF she be pleased to dwell with him," if NO divorce was EVER permitted? If putting away was out of the question, whether she was "pleased" or "not pleased" would be beside the point! The fact that Paul used the word "if" shows there was an option. If the unbeliever was not pleased to dwell with the believer - if the unbeliever departed - the believer was NO LONGER UNDER BONDAGE!
NOT UNDER BONDAGE
The word "bondage" here is translated from the Greek word "DOULOO" used to describe one who was bound as a slave. The terms "under bondage" and "not under bondage" were established legal terms that were used in slave trade. If a slave was no longer under bondage, he had been set free - completely. The slave owner had no further claim to him. So here, applied to marriage, a person who was no longer "under bondage" was free from that marriage. Let us further prove that.
The Greek word "DOULOO" signifies: "TO MAKE A SLAVE, BRING INTO BONDAGE." It comes from the Greek "DOULOS," a SLAVE, which in turn is from the verb "DEHO" - to BIND, KNIT, TIE. These three Greek words are closely KNIT or BOUND together, as we can see.
In Romans 7:2, the word "DEHO" is used for "BOUND." In I Corinthians 7:15 the Greek is "DOULOO" for "BONDAGE."
Using a general point of the law as an illustration, Paul said a woman "was BOUND by the law to her husband so long as he lives" (Rom. 7:2). But, in different circumstances, the same
apostle says that a wife is NOT BOUND, NOT UNDER BONDAGE to an unbelieving husband who leaves her. If being "BOUND" in the one case meant she was NOT FREE from the marriage (as those teach who hold that only death severs a marriage), it is certain that her being "NOT UNDER BONDAGE - NOT BOUND - in the second case, means she was FREE from the marriage. If it does not mean she is free to remarry, words have lost all meaning.
Is Paul saying that a Christian can REmarry if the UNconverted partner wishes a divorce?
I do believe this is exactly what Paul is saying.
Here are additional reasons why I understand that Paul is
giving a God-given ground for REmarriage if desired:
1. All have sinned (Romans 3:23). All are under the death
penalty (Romans 6:23). The whole world is deceived (Rev.12:9).
2. No one can be a Christian UNLESS God the Father DRAWS him (John 6:44). The Father desires all to LIVE and not perish (II Pet. 3:9). All will be taught God's truths (John 6:45).
3. Not all are being CALLED to Christianity today (I Cor.
4. Jesus knew that some individuals in a household would be CALLED while others would not, some households would be SPLIT UP! (Mat. 10:34-38).
5. God is SUPREME ruler - nothing happens unless He ALLOWS it. Read Job 1 and 2.
6. God is RESPONSIBLE for all things (Isa.45:7).
7. If He is responsible for CALLING one individual and not
another (which He is), then He knows that it could cause a SPLIT between husband and wife.
8. God CHOOSES us when He decides and in whatever situation we are at the time (I Cor.7:17-24).
9. If the UNconverted wishes to DIVORCE the Christian - and it happens - God is ultimately RESPONSIBLE for that circumstance.
As God is responsible for WHEN a person is CALLED, and his or her mate is not, and a divorce ensues, it is certainly not in the nature, mercy, or love of God to demand that the Christian remain SINGLE for the rest of his or her life, because of a situation beyond the Christian s control.
These situations arising within the growth of Christianity - not being there before - it was only fitting that God would lead someone like Paul to declare his judgment on the matter.
Paul, having the Spirit of God (I Cor. 7:40), wrote his judgment, which in turn, became a part of the inspired WORD of God, which is now the LAW of God for this age.
BEING PLEASED TO DWELL WITH
Can an unbeliever PHYSICALLY abuse his or her mate and claim he or she is still "pleased to dwell" and so the believer must submit to the bondage of the union? Can the un-Christian man refuse to provide for his mate and still claim the union is to be unbroken? Can the un-Christian refuse to perform conjugal duties with his or her partner, and claim he or she is "pleased to dwell"? Can the unbeliever "run around" with or "date" others of the opposite sex and still say to the mate, he or she is "pleased to dwell"? Can the unbeliever live as he wants, talk as he wants, shout, rant and rave, verbally abuse, and do other hurtful deeds against his or her Christian partner; and still claim he or she is "pleased to dwell"?
Must a believer endure the bondage of someone who claims he or she is "pleased to dwell with the Christian," but is a child beater, wife beater, habitual drunkard, fighter, or someone who is not upholding his or her responsibilities as husband or wife?
The marriage union and vows demand that each partner be responsible for certain undertakings. They are to love and respect each other's personal rights as human beings. It should still be a partnership - consisting of sharing, giving, understanding, kindness, serving, and loving respect.
Paul is telling the Christian that IF an unbelieving mate is pleased to carry on the union in this manner of love, respect and responsibility, the Christian should not leave or separate; BUT IF NOT, the Christian is not under bondage to endure war - he has been called to peace.
Anything less than love, respect and responsibility is not being "PLEASED TO DWELL" and the Christian is not under bondage in such cases.
It is quite possible that two people start out as Christians together, belonging to the same Christian denomination, but for various reasons and through the process of time, one partner moves to another denomination church, no longer believing and practicing the same religious beliefs. They are both STILL professing to be Christians. Does this situation come under what Paul is talking about here?
NO, IT CERTAINLY DOES NOT! Such people are STILL "believers" in Christ and the Christian faith. What Paul is talking about is the situation where one in the marriage is an un-believer, or becomes an un-believer, by walking away from God and Christ and the Christian faith, fully and completely. He is not talking about someone in the partnership who merely "changes" church affiliations.
Then, to digest this a little more. It could well be that one in the marriage partnership does give up the Christian faith fully and completely, making them an un-believer. Does this "automatically" mean that the other Christian partner to the marriage SHOULD or CAN immediately "divorce" the one who has now become an un-believer? NOT AT ALL!
The Christian may now find he or she is married to an un-believer. This then puts them in the situation that Paul was here discussing and giving his judgement on. IF the now un-believer of the Christian faith is "pleased to dwell" with the Christian, then the Christian is NOT to "put away" or divorce the un-believer. But if the now un-believer is "not pleased to dwell" with the Christian believer, then the Christian believer can be free from the marriage and free to re-marry if they so desire....but as Paul said elsewhere, "only in the Lord."
SAVING YOUR MATE?
Some Christians believe they are required to remain indefinitely in a bad marriage because they may be able to save their unbelieving husband or wife. They think this is based on the following verse: "For what do you know, O wife, whether you shall save your husband? or how do you know, O man, whether you shall save your wife?" (I Cor. 7:16).
Notice, the question in this statement of Paul's.
It is true that a believing wife can have a positive and godly influence on an unbelieving husband (I Pet. 3:1-2). But staying with him does not guarantee that he will be saved. It has also been stated by Paul previously that if an unbeliever is pleased to stay with a Christian, then a believer should not seek a divorce. Yet on the other hand, Paul was NOT saying one should stay with an unbelieving mate simply because the possibility exists of his or her conversion. After just saying IN THE VERSE BEFORE that if the unbeliever departs, "Let him depart," he was not turning around in this verse and saying "Don t let him depart!" Also notice that the word "FOR" introducing this verse links it with what he had previously said. Paul was saying, in effect, that the Christian is no longer bound if the unbelieving mate wants to depart.. The Christian should not feel he or she must try to remain in the union. There is no way to know for sure if a mate will ever be converted in this life time.
The LIVING BIBLE, though a paraphrase, gives the intended sense: "For, after all, there is no assurance to you wives that your husbands will be converted if they stay; and the same may be said to you husbands concerning your wives." Paul was telling the Christian whose marriage ends in divorce, because the unbelieving mate wants to leave and is no longer pleased to continue the marriage, that he or she should not feel guilty about this, thinking that the unbeliever might have eventually been saved.
"If the unbelieving depart....." (I Cor. 7:15).
We normally think of this only in its primary meaning - someone who literally leaves, packs his/her bags and heads out. But is it not also true that some may depart in mind, affection, attitude and other ways?
This kind of "departure" can be just as real, and often worse than the other! Some couples have departed from each other, though they still live under the same roof. Perhaps you have heard of or known couples who have separate bedrooms and only speak to each other through their children. I once gave counsel on marriage problems to a young man who told me he grew up with parents who did not speak to each other except through their children. They were in their hearts divorced - it just had not been done LEGALLY. They had departed from each other but still lived under the same roof. There can be little doubt that such departures constitute being "not pleased to dwell" and fall within the spirit of what Paul was saying.
If divorce is inevitable, who actually files for the divorce or who actually DEPARTS is really beside the point. If a man treated a woman so badly that he, in effect, drove her out, his claim that SHE "departed" would not make him innocent. The basic point that Paul was making is that the Christian should not be the CAUSE of the divorce.
GOD HAS CALLED US TO PEACE
The reason a believer was not bound to an unbeliever who was not "pleased" to remain in a marriage is this: God wants the Christian to have PEACE. "Let him depart .... God HAS CALLED US TO PEACE." Peace was given priority in Paul's teaching.
Divorce was not the original ideal, but neither was marriage if it was unpeaceful. "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:16). True, a Christian should do all he can to live peacefully with an unbelieving mate, but as the saying goes, "It takes two to tango." If a man is married to a woman who destroys the harmony of marriage, tears up his Christian literature, causes no end of troubles, turns the home into a living hell, and finally wants to depart and divorce, then Paul says LET HER DEPART. The man is no longer bound.
A woman who supposes - contrary to what Paul taught - that God never permits divorce, might refuse a divorce to an unbelieving husband who wants one. He may leave for months at a time, returning now and then for a week or so. This would be upsetting not only for the wife but also for any children, if they had children still at home. There could be the possibility of another pregnancy. It is degrading to the woman to be married - and yet not married. This is definitely not God's plan. God has called us to PEACE. The peace of the marriage is the real issue here, divorce being permitted when this peace is no longer present. To insist that ALL people who are married stay together in ALL circumstances is not the teaching of Paul.
LOOSED FROM A WIFE - IF YOU MARRY?
"Are you bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. BUT AND IF YOU MARRY, YOU HAVE NOT SINNED; and if a virgin marry, she has not sinned" (I Cor. 7:27,28).
The words "bound" and "loosed" in the first section present a sharp contrast to each other. The Greek for BOUND is "DEHO," the same as in Romans 7:2. The word "LOOSED" is the Greek "LOO-O" which means to loosen, break up, destroy, dissolve, put off. In the second question the word "LOOSED" is "LOO-SIS" (which is from "LOO-O") and means a loosing, a release.
Both phrases, "Are you bound" and "Are you loosed" in questions one and two of verse 27, are in the PERFECT INDICATIVE tense, which conveys the notion of an action terminated in past time, but continuing its effect to the present.
Together with Paul's thought in verse 26, let me amplify these verses we are looking at.
"Are you bound (through a past marriage that is still in effect) unto a wife? seek not to be loosed (put off, dissolved, divorced - do not make the present distress and tribulations an excuse to divorce and leave your wife). Are you loosed (through a past divorce that is still in effect) from a wife? seek not a wife (for the present, while this tribulation is upon us). BUT and IF YOU MARRY, YOU HAVE NOT SINNED; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned" (verses 27,28).
A man who has gone through a divorce from a wife either before he became a Christian or after (because the unbeliever was not pleased to dwell (verses 12-15) CAN REMARRY if he chooses. HE DOES NOT SIN by doing so, any more than a virgin (one never married) does by getting married.
Those who believe only death can release a person from marriage, say the man in this verse was "loosed" from the marriage because his wife had DIED. If being loosed meant his wife had died, what could the expression "seek not to be loosed" mean - that he was seeking her death? This could hardly be the meaning of what Paul was saying to the Corinthians.
THE UNMARRIED AND WIDOWS
"I say therefore to the UNMARRIED and WIDOWS ... if they cannot contain; let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn (with desire)" (I Cor. 7: 8, 9).
It is doubtful that Paul, speaking here of the "unmarried," meant only those who had never been married before, "virgins," for he began to talk to them in verse 25: "Now concerning virgins ..." The term "unmarried" here probably has reference to people who had been married at one
time, but who were now single (because of a divorce some time previous to becoming a Christian or because they became a Christian). The term "unmarried" can apply both to a virgin (verse 34) and to a woman who has left her husband (verse 11). In whatever circumstances these were single, it is clear that celibacy was not required of them.
Paul instructs that "for the present distress" (verse 26) it would be better to remain single, but if they could not contain their desire, it would be better to marry. Is it not just as great a sin to burn with thoughts of desire toward someone, as to have thoughts of hate towards a person? We are flesh, and we were created male and female - it was not good for man to be alone, said God. Whatever sins may have been committed that resulted in being "unmarried" (if such was because of sin) are completely FORGIVEN and FORGOTTEN upon repentance and baptism. Paul understood this when he wrote that if the unmarried could not contain, "Let them marry."
Now let's turn our attention to the word "widows." It is plain to see that Paul answers the question about MARRIAGE for widows who have lost their husbands through death, in verses 39, 40. Is Paul just repeating himself here in verse 8 ? I think not.
A point that has often been overlooked is that, Biblically speaking, a widow was simply a woman who had married a husband at one time but had since lost him. Her husband MAY have died, or he may have just DESERTED her, and she became a widow. This we shall now prove.
WIDOWS WITH HUSBANDS
In our English language we say a woman who has lost her husband by death is a widow; and a woman whose husband has separated from her by absence or divorce is termed a "grass widow." But the Bible uses only the one word "widow" to describe either situation.
Turn to Isaiah 54:1-10. God is telling Israel that He will restore her to her former glory and freedom. She had been "refused" and "forsaken" by her God because of her sins, but now she would be redeemed. Israel would forget the "shame of (her) youth," and "not remember the reproach of (her) WIDOWHOOD any more" (verse 4).
Notice 2 Samuel 20:3: "And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines ... and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in WIDOWHOOD."
These women, now separated from their husband David, became widows while David was STILL ALIVE!
God made provision in Israel for those who were "fatherless and widows" (Deut. 24: 17-21). Now if the "fatherless and widows" were only those cases in which the father and husband was DEAD, what about all the other children and wives who needed assistance because the man had DESERTED them? Surely these were also included in the phrase "fatherless and widows," which would mean any family where there was no husband or father because of either DEATH or DESERTION. The law of Deuteronomy covered BOTH situations.
Paul, in I Corinthians 7: 8, 9, tells the UNMARRIED and WIDOWS that if under the present tribulation, they could not refrain from marrying, it was better to marry than to burn with desire.
DESERTION - BREAKING THE MARRIAGE BOND
Under "WHAT CONSTITUTES A MARRIAGE," we saw the three basic requirements that God wants in a marriage as given in Genesis 2:24. One of those is SEXUAL union. Paul upholds this in I Corinthians 7:3-5. Sexual union is not to be denied by either partner, except for a time of FASTING.
Christian men or women should think twice before accepting a job assignment that would take them away from their mate for long periods of time - it is not the Lord's desire, "lest Satan tempt you (to sin) through your lack of restraint of sexual desire" (Amplified Bible).
In DESERTION, the sexual bond of marriage is BROKEN - therefore making that marriage VOID, according to the plan that God instituted for marriage. This kind of desertion - sexual - can and does often take place, while the deserting party stays under the same roof for convenience. Some couples have lived under the same roof for years together without any sexual contact at all.
Such WIDOWS are just as much a widow, as far as marriage goes, as the widow who has lost her husband through death.
It is human nature to go to EXTREMES. Saying that the Word of God teaches NO divorce and remarriage - WHATSOEVER - is one side of an extreme. Teaching that the Word of God says you can divorce and remarry at your will and pleasure, is the other extreme. Both are incorrect in the light of the totality of divine inspiration.
Marriage is a SERIOUS undertaking - it should not be entered into without serious thought and planning.
One of the biggest problems in our marriages today is COURTSHIP! Our societies of the Western world, from parents to schools to universities, have chosen, in the main, not to teach the young HOW to date, WHY they should marry, and WHAT to look for in a prospective mate. Many are finding out AFTER marriage that they have married the wrong person.
Divorce is hardly pleasant. If you can, try to save your marriage - try to solve the problems. Seek good professional help, especially from those who hold the Word of the Eternal God as their foundation.
We are living in the age of MAN and SATAN - this is NOT God's world yet. But the time is coming soon when God's age will be here - when His KINGDOM will be established over ALL the earth (Isa. 2:1-4). Then will take place the "RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS" (Acts 3:19-21). All will be CALLED to Salvation during that glorious 1,000 year reign (Rev. 20:1-4; Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:27-34).
Then in that age all the world, all the nations of the earth will be under the rule and laws and commandments of the eternal God. The Holy Spirit will be poured out on all peoples, and they will walk in the ways of the Almighty God. Then the institution of marriage will be as God originally intended when He first created Adam and Eve and brought them together as husband and wife.
Let's continue to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Written in 1984
All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published, e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit of God. Mr. Hunt trusts nothing will be changed (other than spelling and punctuation errors) without his consent.