BIBLE TRUTH ON DIVORCE
By Maurice M Johnson
"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: . . . 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 passage is repeated in Ephesians 5:21-33.
Divorce is popular today, but popular whitewash has never washed a black sin white.
GOD'S WORD THE FINAL COURT
In the study of the divorce question, as in every other question on which God has definitely spoken, Christians are silenced and instructed by the Word of God. Isa. 8 :20 ; I Tim. 6:3-6. Changing customs of man's making are ruled entirely out of all consideration of this question. Before man's courts, questions concerning the husband's cruel treatment of the wife's pet poodle may weigh heavily, as do problems of mothers-in-law, incompatibility, and scores of other tangles and travesties on what God intended should be a little foretaste of eternal bliss. But with the God-fearing Christian, marriage is not only a God-created institution, but is also a God-planned institution. In other words, with Christians there is no possible place for a "Court of Domestic Relations."
There are no scriptural grounds for a divorce among Christians. Rome's teaching on divorce is thoroughly unscriptural, because that ecclesiastical institution seeks to control both believers and unbelievers. God, Himself, does not seek to do that in this day of grace. Under the law given to and through Moses, God controlled His own earthly nation, Israel. Deut. 5 :1-3 ; Rom. 9 :4-5 ; 6 :14 ; Gal. 2:19-20. He governed them not only as to marriage and divorce, but as to diet, sanitation, and politics. In this age of grace, however, the unsaved are under no law governing their conduct except the laws of their particular country, the laws of "Caesar."
GOD'S LAW FOR ISRAEL
In the laws given to Israel, God was seeking to preserve a pure race, the nation which descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore, mixed marriages were condemned. That is why the Israelites were commanded to put away their strange wives and the children born to their mixed marriages when the remnant nation returned from Babylon under Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra 10.
But under grace, we find God commanding believing husbands not to put away their unsaved wives. 1 Cor. 7:12. (In this verse, Paul is not quoting what Christ said while on earth, but he is giving the command with his authority as the inspired apostle to the Gentiles for this age. Gal. 1 :10-12; Col. 1:25.)
Most evangelical preachers teach that Christ's words spoken while He was on earth plainly teach that fornication is a biblical ground for divorce. The references are : Matt 5 :31-32 ; 19 :3-11; Mk. 10 :2-12 ; Lk. 16 :18. By rightly dividing the word of truth, however, we find that the granting of a bill of divorcement in the case of fornication was merely a temporary measure given to Israel by Moses, ". . . but from the beginning it was not so," Christ said. The only reason Christ in any way endorsed this temporary provision under Moses was that Christ, Himself, lived under the law of Moses and took none of it away till His life and death had fulfilled it all. Matt. 5:17-19.
GOD'S ORDER FOR THE CHURCH
However, Christ's new definition of adultery clearly indicated that a new order was coming. You remember He said, "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."—Matt. 5 :27-28. Can't you see the difference between God's way of dealing with His own physical nation, Israel, and His spiritual people, the church? The overt acts of fornication or adultery were punished by divorce or death; but today, God has no religious court with ability or the authority to prove heart guilt and condemn or divorce the "man that looketh upon a woman to lust after her." Be well assured, however, that simply because God's judgment against deliberate sin
is not instantly meted out in this day of grace, that does not mean He winks at those who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. "Be not deceived ; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." —Gal. 6:7.
But what about people who married when they were unsaved and later became Christians? Were their marriages recognized as such by God? The plain biblical answer to this question is shocking to our polite traditions, as in the Bible answer concerning your becoming wedded to a man-made "church," Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, etc. It is all in the realm of willful flesh. What an unbeliever does with his flesh in this day of grace is of no concern to God, because all the unbeliever does is ungodly. Matt. 15.19. Can a bad tree bring forth good fruit? First make the tree good, and its fruit will be good. In this day of grace, God allows men to govern themselves as they wish, and He commands us Christians to respect and pray for kings, governors, and other authorities in Caesar's realm. Titus 3:1-2. In other words, God has no rules of conduct whatsoever for Christ-rejecters, except the rules laid down by the various governments which He permits to rule until "the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." At that time, "He whose right it is to reign" will return to this old drunken world and will set up His own kingdom. Dan. 2 :44; Rom. 11:25-27 ; 1 Tim. 6 :13-16.
In the meantime, the unbelievers who are married according to man's laws are " dead in trespasses and sins," just as surely as the unbelievers who are living in houses of ill fame, for there is no difference in God's sight. The rejection of His dear Son is the taproot of all sin in God's sight. John 3:17-18; 16:8-9. Therefore, neither the filthy sins of the flesh nor the polite legality of the flesh in any way changes the willfulness and wickedness of the Christ-rejecter's heart.
If you were legally married and divorced a dozen times in the old life, you became a new creature when Christ came into your life. If an unsaved man and an unsaved woman married last year and became Christians yesterday while in that married state, let them abide in the calling wherewith they were called. "Seek not to be loosed." 1 Cor. 7 :27. If only one of them becomes a Christian, he or she must in no case put the unbelieving mate away ; but if the unbeliever no longer wishes to live with the believer, let the unbeliever depart. "A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases." I Cor. 7:15. The next verse states that God has given no positive assurance to the Christian that the unbelieving mate will ever be saved. Therefore, God allows the unbeliever to dissolve the marriage relationship.
Now, I realize very well that this message will be rejected alike by the unsaved and all carnal Christians who fail to rightly divide the word of truth. But "He that is of God heareth God's Word." Jn. 8 :47 ; 2 Tim. 2 :15.
The Spirit-taught Christian waves aside mere sentimentalism and sees things through the Lord's eyes. I Cor. 2:12-15. Let us be well assured that God does not join together all married couples. According to the Word of God, only Spirit-led Christians are capable of heaven-made marriages. The wedding of two unsaved young people may be ever so pure and sincere, comparatively, but the fact remains that they have refused to allow the Lord Jesus to be the Saviour and Lord of their lives. Therefore, their marriage is nothing but a fleshly affair, a Christless affair. For "all flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth : . . ." Isa. 40:6,7. So is everyone that is born of the flesh. "Ye must be born again."
Let us who are new creatures in Christ have done with all of this sentimental blindness regarding "the finest things" of this Christ-rejecting world, for the things that are highly esteemed among men are abomination unto God. "The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel" (Prov. 12 :10) in their final results. "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin : and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Jas. 1 :15.
Fleshly infatuations and fleshly marriages are producing their legitimate works faster today than ever before in the world's history. Read the papers and hear the conversations in public places regarding love and marriage and divorce. How many of our courts are becoming but graveyards for fleshly marriages?
On the other hand, how surely a foretaste of heaven is the spiritual union of a man and woman in the holy bonds of matrimony. Read carefully the third chapter of I Peter, especially noting the beautiful expression, "being heirs together of the grace of life."
(Message given by Maurice Johnson, a servant of Christ, over Radio Station KMTR, December, 1937)
Return to Navigation