Tuesday, April 5, 2016

On Divorce and Remarriage - "I do, But"

On Divorce and Remarriage - "I do, But"
by Diane M. Hoffmann

There was an article that appeared in The Light Magazine recently that spoke on the issue of divorce and remarriage.

The following is my reply to some of its content:

There is a big problem in the Church concerning the teaching on divorce and remarriage; this is why there is as much divorce/remarriage going on in the Church as there is in the World.

The article is void of many necessary scriptures.  In answer to some of the comments expressed in the article, we need to understand three things:

1)_Marriage is a covenant. And it is not just a covenant but a blood covenant. “Malachi 2:14 confirms this quite clearly. Marriage is a sacred institution of God for mankind.

2)_The adultery is not in the divorce. It is ‘divorce and remarriage”. Divorce alone is not adultery. It is when one remarries after divorce, when the spouse is still alive, that is cause for adultery – because a covenant can only be broken by the death of the partner.

3)_The exception clause Jesus told about in Matthew 19:9, and which everybody uses as the excuse for ‘self-legitimizing’ divorce/remarriage, is not ‘immorality or infidelity’ within a  marriage. It is ‘fornication’.

“And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery.” The word “fornication” refers to sexual sin before marriage.”

Excerpts from "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today":

“In the book Divorce is not a Choice, Marriage is a Blood Covenant until Death by Ian Taylor, it says:
 A valid marriage requires a virgin bride, vows before man and God and consummation. The consummation under these circumstances will involve the shedding of blood … Such a covenant, according to Biblical principles is in effect until the death of one partner.

"Without getting too complicated here, in ancient times, it was known that a girl had a hymen (a membrane) to protect the proof of her virginity to her new husband. We don’t even know or hear about this anymore. But people of that day knew. The eternal life of the groom was at stake. If the woman had had intercourse with a man prior to their marriage, he could divorce her for that betrayal. But he only had her word and that of her parents until their first wedding night took place where the hymen would rupture and shed the blood (thus the blood covenant). That would be the proof or the ‘tokens of virginity’ (Deuteronomy 22:15). This was what Jesus referred to in Matthew 19:9 when he said, “And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery.” The word “fornication” refers to sexual sin before marriage.

"But today, we are taught that committing adultery, or sexual immorality as some modern translations have it, on the part of the marriage partner is permission to divorce. That’s a long way from the original intent of the wedding night discovery of “fornication.” Anyone suspicious of male chauvinism here might say: “But why is the woman the only one required to shed the blood? Does that leave the man free to not keep himself a virgin? Is man again getting away with male favoritism?” Hardly, his blood covenant had already been made with God by circumcision. This ritual was his blood ordinance with God to live righteously before Him—which included to keep himself pure until marriage. Through marriage, the woman made her blood covenant with the man, and the man with God in the circumcision. Just as God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man, and man is the head of the woman, so is the covenant made between God, man, and woman.

"However, please take note that rituals required in the Old Testament such as circumcision are no longer required in the New Testament under the new covenant of grace. The heart now is circumcised, “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29).

"In Deuteronomy, the law stated that if a man had an intimate relationship with a woman, he had to marry her (Deuteronomy 22:29). If he didn’t and married another, this was then considered adultery. How far we have come from the sanctity and seriousness of sex and marriage today! Just because we no longer follow or honor those old customs today—since we have been freed from the Law by the grace and mercy of God in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—does not mean that the underlying meanings have changed. The principles are still the same right from the very beginning of time in Genesis 1:27. That’s how the Old Testament is still relevant today—we read it to understand the original intent of the principles that we now can live out through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we have come a long way from those Godly principles in our self-righteousness and there is no more teaching about it."

The article says, “Yet sometimes people choose divorce for other reasons.  If that happens, is remarriage in God’s eyes still possible? To answer that question, we look at Jesus’ words and God’s mercy. First, whether the reason for divorce was biblically legitimate or not, Jesus assumed that those who divorce will likely remarry.  That’s why he says any man who divorces his wife for a reason other than adultery makes her (and the man who marries her) commit adultery. Jesus presupposes the woman will remarry, as marriage was often her sole means of support. The implication is that if this happens, the responsibility is placed not on the woman who remarries, but on the man who first divorced her for reasons other than adultery."

Let’s decipher this:

1)_Re “whether the reason for divorce was biblically legitimate or not”,  Jesus says there’s only one exception and that is “fornication”.

2)_The implication is not that the responsibility is placed on the man only, but on the woman also because Scripture says if she marries another man she makes him commit adultery. And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. (Mark 10:12). It works both ways.

The article says, "For those of us who have experienced divorce and possibly remarriage, what are we to do?"

Well, there is forgiveness available. Someone said to me one day, “Don’t you think that Jesus’ blood is powerful enough to cover divorce and remarriage?”  To this I say, the blood of Jesus is powerful enough to even cover murder. But we still have to teach to not commit murder.

So there is forgiveness once we come to know the truth and we repent. But Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more". Just because there is forgiveness, does not give approval to go ahead and remarry after divorce. Once we know the truth we cannot say, “Oh, well, I’ll divorce and remarry because God will forgive me.  But if we’ve already divorced and remarried, then we ask forgiveness, we repent and God forgives us through His grace, mercy and blood shed on the cross. Then we don’t divorce and do it again.

God will not be mocked. If we know that something is sin, we cannot go ahead and do it. That’s what Paul is talking about in Romans 6:15.

Let’s not forget that the scripture about divorce and remarriage is quoted by Jesus in the New Testament. There is so much more on this subject, such as understanding what is fornication and what is adultery, what is the connection to the blood covenant for the man and for the woman, what is the token of virginity that fornication refers to, etc.  Let’s not forget that Jesus’ quote in Matthew is in the New Testament, but it underlays the original principles of the covenant of marriage.

It is so important to understand this issue, because for many, there will be eternal consequences.\dmh


Diane M. Hoffmann, B.Th., M.Th., Ph.D./Th.
Author of "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today"
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