My salient advice is to prayerfully consider all the spiritual issues involved in embarking on divorce and remarriage. Moreover, we will discover that as unlikely as it seems, confusion is the ideal launching pad to fire us to the answers we need. Perhaps the discrepancy between the ideal and God’s response to practical reality explains some of the seemingly contradictions. It is better to defer all critical decisions until one feels confident that God’s Will has been revealed. I suggest you keep seeking until you at least feel the peace of God that such answers exist and that your decision goes perfectly with every part of the Bible as God’s eyes.
For me, the issue is simplified in a violated marriage. The prior act of infidelity in adultery was the fact that the marriage was still inviolate. There is a different scenario once a marriage has been dissolved due to an act of adultery. In this case, the parties are no longer husband and wife, so it is difficult to see any biblical ground to conclude that the remarriage of the guilty divorcee is an act of adultery. There is no biblical evidence affirming that the person who has been divorced for adultery commits another act of adultery when they remarry.
However, in upholding morals, the Church must condemn adultery and other sexual sins. Christ must be honored in all ways, so the Church’s discipline must include sexual offenders. But the Church must not go beyond scriptural teachings. Categorizing the second marriage as an act of adultery does not rest on the requisite biblical evidence and does not fall within Church discipline. It means the second marriage of the guilty partner cannot be declared right or wrong. Dogmatically we are not in any position to declare either way. The person divorced for adultery who remarries may not be regarded as having committed adultery or living in an adulterous relationship. The Church may not categorically declare the remarriage as legitimate or place its imprimatur and benediction; at the same time, it cannot declare it illegitimate.
In summary, marriage is envisaged between a man and a virgin. That is a marriage devoid of fornication. Fidelity in this type of marriage is also envisaged; infidelity is adultery and can lead to divorce. Paul’s words in 1 Co 7: 8, 9, 10 & 15 become our final Word on divorce and remarriage. Vs. 8 & 9 “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am, But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” NIV. Unmarried refers to any single person for whatever reason who remains single.
A divorced woman or man has become unmarried, so the Word of Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, speaks to such a person. V.10 of the exact text encourages doing the right thing in marriage. A marriage by right is indissoluble, but if it happens due to the exceptive clause given by Christ, v.9 applies, which is the determinant for remarriage if so desired. Also, v.15 deals with the divorce of an unequal yoking of a believer and unbeliever. If the unbeliever spouse leaves, Paul says, “let him do so.” A believing partner is, therefore, not bound in such circumstances, for God has called us to live in peace. In essence, due to the unbelieving spouse’s going away, the believing partner becomes an unmarried man or woman now and therefore has a right to remarry.
The bottom line is the ‘Grace of God.’ If Righteousness can be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing. No goal can be achieved by human effort. Let the Spirit of God lead us in whatever action we take in divorcing a spouse or marrying another. We should be dead to the law so that we might live for God. Galatians 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Paul also told us in Gal 3: 10 & 11 that “All those who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the law.” The law justifies no one before God because “The righteous will live by faith.” Only by faith can we receive the promise of the Spirit.
Righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe in Him. We are called in Christ to be free but not to use our freedom to indulge the sinful nature; instead, to serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single Command; “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Gal 5:14; who can be the closest neighbor to you than your spouse? If the Spirit genuinely leads you, you are not under the law. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” Gal 5: 22-23. All the above-listed fruits of the Spirit are the requisites for a good and indissoluble marriage.
My final submission is a prayer for my readers. The same prayer Apostle Paul offered to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi:
And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1: 9-11 NIV.
Marriage is envisaged between two virgins (the man and the woman). Fidelity in this type of marriage is contemplated. Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 7: 8, 9, 10 & 15 become the final words on divorce and remarriage.
Marriage is ideally indissoluble from its very nature and the divine Institution by which it is constituted. As respecting divorce and its implications, this is on accounts of the most pivotal passage in the NT; we have the combination of two clauses, namely the exceptive clause and the remarriage clause expressed in Mat 5:32; Mk 10:11; Luke 16: 18 but only in Matt 19:9 are they coordinated.
For if a man may rightly divorce his unfaithful wife and if such divorce dissolves the marriage bond, the question of remarriage is inevitably posed. Furthermore, 1 Co 7:15 would certainly face us with the question of the effect that desertion by an unbelieving partner would have upon the marital status of the deserted believer. The real crux of the question in Matt 19: 9 is, however, the force of the exceptive clause “except for fornication” it does not intimate, any more than Matt 5:32, that the man is obligated to divorce his wife in the event of adultery on her part. It simply accords the right of liberty. Canon law of the Church of England, while allowing separation for adultery, does not permit a remarriage for the parties so separated as long as they both live. If the text of Matt 19:9 is adopted as genuine and authentic, then there is considerable difficulty in holding to this position. It is the difficulty of restricting the exceptive clause to the putting away and not extending it also to the remarriage.
In God’s sight, a marital union can be dissolved only by death, regardless of how innocent one party is or how guilty the other one is. Jesus gives an exception to the above, as stated before. Could there then be situations where God requires divorce or separation? We see an Old Testament instance of this in Ezra chapter ten, where those guilty of marrying pagan wives were compelled to divorce. It must be read in the light of 1 Co 7:12-16, which seems to take a very different approach.
Nevertheless, here is a case where the divorce was not merely permitted but was mandatory. Now let’s move to the New Testament. It speaks of the importance of separating from unbelievers, those engaged in blatant, repeated, unrepentant sin. In 1 Co 5:11, for instance: “. . . you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat“.
Suppose you are married to someone who considers the ideal is to “enjoy” both sexual unfaithfulness and the benefits of being married to you. If you knowingly allow your spouse to pursue this, does that make you a partner in their sin? Of course, you cannot prevent your partner from being unfaithful. Still, if you know what is happening, it is your decision whether your partner can enjoy marital privileges with you while pursuing extramarital sin. There are a lot of images to consider on this topic. Imagine for a moment if, in God’s eyes, marriage is dissoluble only by death; would that mean that if a woman is married to a divorced man every day that she remains married to him, she is committing adultery? Does this mean that to stop sinning, she must separate from him? Does it mean that if for these reasons she divorces him, she is free to remarry since her first marriage was not a marriage in God’s sight but an adulterous affair? One might suppose that remarrying someone you had previously divorced would be a godly way of correcting a past mistake. However, it is revealed in the Old Testament that this could be highly offensive to God, at least in some instances. It says that if a man divorces his wife and she marries someone else who then dies or divorces her, it is a gross sin for the first husband to remarry his former wife (Dt 24:1-4). It should be treated with extreme seriousness, given that it is found in the same Testament that permits divorce.
The precise situation it describes, however, might be critical. Without David divorcing his wife (Saul’s daughter), her father married her off to someone else. David took her back again (2 Samuel 3:13-16), presumably because although she had been remarried, there was no divorce of the first marriage. It suggests that each condition of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 must be fulfilled before God considers remarrying the same person an abomination. God’s commands are not always blanket statements divinely intended to cover every rare and unlikely scenario. For instance, of all the Gospels, only Matthew says “except for fornication” when forbidding divorce. Presumably, Mark and Luke regarded this as an intended exception and felt no compulsion to spell. Could there be other exceptions to the general ban on divorce that Scripture does not bother to enumerate? Spiritual matters are not discernable with human methodology, thoughts, and assumptions.
The Ten Commandments forbid coveting a neighbor’s wife but say nothing about a woman coveting a neighbor’s husband. That is a law not intended to include every possible scenario. It is an obvious instance of the Lord expecting his people to draw principles from general laws and under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and guidance. Jesus said,
Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took the consecrated bread; he ate what was lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions (Luke 6:3-6).
Jesus seems to regard this as acceptable, even though such an exception is not spelled out in the law. It is possible to sin by being too strict in interpreting God’s commands. Many devout Jews felt they were honoring the Almighty God by insisting that Jesus cannot heal on the Sabbath. It seems reasonable; after all, there were six other days in which one could heal. Nevertheless, their strict interpretation was wrong and drew Jesus’ wrath because it showed a lack of compassion. If, through too strict an interpretation of Scripture, you influenced a woman not to leave her abusive husband, could God hold you guilty of pressuring her to be molested or tormented by her husband, especially if it leads to the woman’s death? Or could you cause an abandoned partner to fall into sexual sin because you have convinced that person that remarriage is forbidden?
We must avoid being like the Pharisees and those experts in Jewish law whom Jesus accused of loading people down with burdens (Matthew 13:4). Even the apostle Paul, whose personal preference was that every Christian remains unmarried, recognized that in our sex-crazed world, celibacy is an impractical and excessive burden to lay on most people (1 Co 7:1-9). V.9 states, “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” – NIV). Paul’s advice is for whoever cannot withhold their passion rather than burn and commit terrible sins; such a person should marry. Let’s not forget that God allowed divorce in the Old Testament because of people’s “hard hearts.” Does this mean that Jesus described the ideal – what we should all aspire to become, but the Old Testament described God’s understanding of practical reality in a fallen world? But Jesus himself said about his teaching on divorce, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. . ..” (Matthew 19:11). On the other hand, even in the Old Testament, the Lord says he hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), so one would think that at least one partner in a divorce – but not necessarily both – would be grieving God’s heart. Nevertheless, the undeniable reality of God’s extreme compassion does not indicate whether cruelty is sufficient grounds for divorce or separation. We must weigh up the fact that the following applies to women with less than godly husbands: 1 Peter 3:1 Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the Word.
Moreover, this Scripture is found in the very letter that repeatedly speaks of the importance of physically suffering for Christ and tells enslaved people to submit even to harsh masters. Just as with Jesus’ suffering, there are times when our short-term suffering achieves eternal good than us having an easier life. When marrying, it is the norm to vow to remain committed to one’s partner “till death do us part” or “for as long as we both shall live.” I haven’t seen marriage vows that allow the option “until my partner commits adultery” or “until my partner marries someone else.” Perhaps the vows should have been worded differently. Nevertheless, the vows you made – not the ones you wish you had made – are the ones you have to commit to yourself. Your vow obligated you to remain faithful to your partner before God: “for as long as you both shall live.” Regardless of what your partner does?
What God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). But who exactly is it that “God has joined together”? It cannot be only those who have had a church wedding because, in Bible times, there was no such thing as a church wedding. Scripture applies this Bible truth of two becoming one flesh principles even to a fleeting, sin-ridden encounter with a prostitute (1 Co 6:15-16). It might be that “what God has joined” or what God declares to be one flesh applies to every sexual encounter, no matter how contrary to God’s will that relationship is. Might it be similar to Joshua and his nation, who were tricked into making a covenant with people whom God had declared should be destroyed? The Israelites had been conned. They regretted it, utterly contrary to God’s will. Still, merely because they had made a covenant, it was so binding in God’s eyes that he insisted that they (Joshua 9) and even subsequent generations (2 Samuel 21:1-9,14) must keep that covenant in its entirety. Other nations were so furious with these people for selling out to the Israelites that they massed their armies to destroy them. It seemed an ideal opportunity for the Israelites to have their past mistake eradicated.
Without lifting a finger against these con artists, the Israelites could let heathens wipe them out, as God had originally intended. But instead, the Lord insisted that they fight to protect those with whom they had made the covenant. And to assist, the Almighty made the sun stand still (Joshua 10:1-15). There is biblical evidence that God regards sex as entering into a binding covenant. I postulate that a significant factor behind God being so strict as to who one has sex with is that he views sex as joining people together in a bond that should never be broken, no matter how much God may wish it had never happened. One of the themes threading through Scripture is that God is moved to treat us like we treat others. In Luke 6:37-38, Jesus gives us examples:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged!
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Give, and it will be given to you. . . .
Here are some other examples:
Psalm 18:25 To the faithful, you show yourself faithful.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Galatians 6:7. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
In addition to the above, we know that Scripture sees a close similarity or link between marriage and our relationship with God. Under Old Testament law, several sins incurred the death penalty, including rejection of the true God (e.g., Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 20:2,27; 24:16) and certain sexual sins – proven adultery, homosexual acts, bestiality, incest (e.g., Leviticus 20:10ff). We all know that the death of one’s partner frees one to remarry:
Romans 7:2-3 For example, by law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the marriage law. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. Of course, the death penalty no longer applies to these sins, but does it reveal a divine principle that if one partner remains unrepentant of such gross sin and is dead to God, the innocent one is free to remarry as they would be had the partner died? Or is Old Testament practice irrelevant since the person is still physically alive? Even if divorce in certain circumstances were acceptable to God, that might not mean that remarriage is acceptable. For instance, one must consider this:
1 Corinthians 7: 10-11 “To the married, I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband..”
In wedding vows, one promises to love. It is a beautiful, highly Christian concept that is often ruined by confusing it with the worldly love of romantic fiction. That is Agape love and not romantic love, which is fickle, fleeting, and selfish. It is not a virtue; the only predictable thing about it is that it quickly fizzles out. In contrast, the agape love is noble and inspires heaven to applaud you; it is a virtue of eternal worth. Ideally, we should marry not for our pleasure but God’s glory. Similarly, our decision about divorce should be based not on our ease but on what will maximize God’s glory in a problematic situation.
***read the conclusion tomorrow, Sunday, July 31, 2022
Pauline’s teaching is prominent; here, it is clear that if husband and wife have been separated, they must remain unmarried or be reconciled. But the relevance of this rule to the case of divorce for fornication is by no means apparent. The text bears upon the question of divorce for fornication, and such divorce is forbidden, be it noted not only in the sense of separation from bed and board. Such a conclusion, however, cannot be admitted. Matt 5: 32; 19:9 establish the right of divorce for fornication.
Paul is not dealing with the case of fornication or adultery. In the preceding verses, the significant burden of Paul’s exhortation is the means God has provided to prevent fornication. He stresses the ordinance of marriage and the conjugal debt owed within the married relationship as the divine provisions for preventing sexual uncleanness. The case of adultery is outside the universe of discourse in this passage. In Matthew, the exceptive clause propounds a right which is the one exception to the wrong of putting away; in 1 Co 7:11, no right of separation or dismissal is propounded. Hence any appeal to 1 Co 7: 11 to defend the right of separation without the right of dissolution is a distortion of the apostle’s teaching.
Paul recognizes that human nature is perverse, and notwithstanding the wrong of separation or dismissal, the parties to a marriage may violate right and perpetrate wrong. It is for that evil contingency that the parenthesis provides – “but if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.” Failing that, under no conditions, may another marriage be undertaken. Paul is analyzing unequal yoking as in a marriage of believer and unbeliever. In verses 12 & 13, Paul is very decisive that the believer should not leave or send away the unbeliever in a case of a mixed marriage; he uses the imperative in both instances.
This imperative is distinctly mandatory in verse 15. In this instance, the imperative is permissive. It is slightly different from the imperatives of verses 12 & 13: “let him depart,” bearing not so much upon the unbelieving spouse, who is deserted or has deserted as upon the believing spouse who has been deserted. There is both decisiveness and severity in the injunction; the believer is not under any obligation to pursue the deserting spouse and is freed from all marital debts and duties. But the question is whether it also implies more, namely the dissolution of the marriage bond and liberty for the believer to marry another. Jesus dealt with the question of “putting away.” On the other hand, Paul is not dealing with putting away but with willful desertion on the part of the unbeliever. Conflict in the matter of Faith gives no ground for divorce. The believer does not “put away” the unbeliever but the unbeliever “goes away” of their own accord.
Paul deals from v12 onwards with cases that did not come within the purview of our Lord’s teaching. This difference should caution us and should constrain us to hesitate, at least before concluding that what our Lord said concerning that which came within his purview has the same direct relevance to what Paul says concerning a very different situation. Our Lord’s statements fell into the case dealt with in verses 10 and 11 and not unto the case category dealt with in verse 15. Hence, if we interpret 1 Co 7:15 as legitimating the dissolution of the marriage bond, it is most necessary to restrict this liberty to conditions and circumstances analogous to those of the situation dealt with by the apostle Paul.
Paul in Romans 7: 1-3 is not dealing expressly with the question of marriage and separation as he is in 1 Co 7: 10-15. The subject with which Paul is here dealing is the expansion and valuation of what he had stated in Romans 6:14; the allusion to the marriage law is incidental to Paul’s primary purpose. An appeal to Romans 7: 2 & 3 is inconsistent; it is an inconsistency demonstrated by the logic inherent in the necessity of appeal to tradition and the importance fully acknowledged by Romanists. Romans acknowledge the concession in 1 Co 7: 15 is a warrant for the dissolution of the marriage bond, comport with Romans 7: 2, 3, so Romans should have to admit that when Romans 7: 2, 3 is cited to support the indissolubility of the bond of consummated marriage, there is the tacit understanding that one exception holds good namely the case of 1 Co 7:15. It, therefore, follows that on these premises the principle of Romans 7: 2, 3 is asserted. And if it admits of one exception, why may it not also admit of another? John Murray’s thesis is that divorce for adultery does not interfere with the relentless obligation and unrelenting principle to which Paul gives expression in Romans 7: 2, 3.
Paul is stressing here the binding law that governs marriage. The woman must always recognize that she is under the law of her husband and that deviation from conjugal fidelity will mean the sin and disgrace of adultery for her. This obligation to conjugal fidelity continues throughout the whole life of her husband, and the very suggestion of an exception to such a law would be an ethical abomination. Suppose adultery gives the innocent spouse the right to divorce and remarriage. In that case, it means acting on the part of the guilty spouse radically affects the relationship. The release is thereby secured from the law that previously bound the innocent party. Paul is looking at the marital relationship from the standpoint of the principles and provisions that are permanently operative and binding in the Christian economy. It is more feasible to regard Romans 7: 2, 3 as parallel in this respect to 1 Co 7:39 and that both passages will have to be interpreted and applied in the same way about the question of divorce.
Divorce & Remarriage:
Jesus said Moses permitted divorce due to the Israelites’ heart’s hardness. That is saying that certain freedom in divorce was tolerated, and a civil or ecclesiastical penalty was not incurred when that freedom was exercised. This freedom conceded under the Mosaic economy is removed under the gospel dispensation. In the very act of divorce, there is an intrinsically wrong not compatible with the absolute standard of right. There is no need for divorce; it was not legitimated, sanctioned, or encouraged. The apodosis, the penal sanction in Deut 24:4, is a witness to the unalterable irregularity in the divorce. The remarriage on the part of the divorced woman is not expressly stated to be defilement irrespective of return to the first husband. The second marriage was not placed in the category of adultery. Nor was the woman regarded as an adulteress in the Pentateuchal legislation. No one put the woman and her second husband to death as the Pentateuch required in the case of adultery. The moment she returns to her first husband, the woman is said to have been defiled; this restoration is called an abomination. In the vision of Prophet Ezekiel, where God gave him guidelines for the priests to live above reproach so they could carry out their responsibility to teach the people in Ezekiel 44:22,23, divorced women are classified along with widows. It means divorce is the death of a conjugal bond.
The ineradicable distinction established in creation and exemplified in the divine ordinance is fully recognized and is applied in many concrete situations. Yet, in several respects, contrary to the Old Testament, there is no longer male or female, as there is no longer Jew or Gentile. In respect of marital relationships, the same rights and liberties are granted to the woman as are granted to the man when they violate conjugal fidelity. The indication given in Mark 10:12 and the apparent equality expressed in 1 Co 7:15 are to be interpreted in the light of this more general principle. These passages verify the legitimacy of applying the general principle to this situation. The right of remarriage, the exceptive clause in Matt 19: 9, applies to remarriage as well as putting away. This privilege belongs to men and women who put away a spouse for fornication or adultery. The question that arises is the status of the guilty spouse in the case of divorce for adultery. The innocent spouse is free to remarry. What about the guilty spouse? Exegetically this is essentially the question of the interpretation of Matt 5:32b; Luke 16: 18b; (cf Matt 19:9b).
Matt 5: 32b & Luke 16: 8b have the same meaning and effect; the question is: does this apply to every divorced woman and, by implication, mutatis mutandis, to every divorced man, whether divorced with or without the legitimate reason? It is because when spouses are divorced without reasonable cause, they are still man and wife in the sight of God. Consequently, other conjugal relationships by either are adultery as if the divorce had never occurred. We must remember that the main thrust of all the passages is not the legitimacy of divorce for adultery but the illegitimacy of divorce for other reasons. Allowance is made for the exception only by the analogy of Matt 5:32; 19: 9. If this inference is correct, the woman divorced for adultery would not be in view when it is said, “whoever marries her who has been put away commits adultery” – Matt 5:32b. Reference to Matt 5:32a favors this conclusion “everyone who puts away his wife except for the cause of fornication makes her suffer adultery.”
The woman put away for the cause of fornication already committed adultery before her being put away. Hence when we look at the later verse, “whoever marries her who has been put away commits adultery,” we should reasonably infer that the divorced woman in mind is the woman who has been made to suffer adultery. And not the woman who had previously committed adultery and had been legitimately divorced by her husband. Possibly, the woman who has been divorced for adultery is not to be regarded as committing another act of adultery after divorce. She contracts another marriage, and the man who marries her is not to be regarded as thereby committing adultery. Another consideration is the event of divorce for adultery; the marriage has been dissolved so that the innocent spouse may remarry. It is, therefore, difficult to see on what ground the contracting of another marriage on the part of the guilty divorcee could be considered adultery.
What constituted the prior act of infidelity, an act of adultery, was the fact that the marriage was still inviolate. We must therefore remember that in the case of divorce for adultery, it is by a divine warrant that the marriage is dissolved. The parties are no longer man and wife; if so, it is difficult to discover any biblical ground to conclude that the remarriage of the guilty divorcee is considered adultery and constitutes an adulterous relation. Church discipline must take such sin and anomaly into its purview to preserve the honor of Christ and the purity of the Church. But the Church, in the exercise of discipline, must not go beyond the warrant of Scripture. To categorize the second marriage as an act of adultery and to discipline accordingly do not appear to rest upon the requisite evidence.
Separation without dissolution 1 Co 7: 11 provides an example of this kind of separation by which the spouses may mutually agree to separate from one another or by which one spouse may properly leave the other. 1 Co 7: 11 indeed envisages de facto separation, but the separation in view is not considered legitimate (Vss 10, 11). The statement in verse 11 – “but if she departs, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband,” provides that if separation occurs contrary to this commandment, another marriage must not be contracted. God’s Word in this passage or elsewhere provides no sanctions separation apart from the dissolution of the marriage bond.
Divorce for fornication or adultery is by divine sanction; it is a divinely instituted provision for a particular situation and dissolves the bond of marriage. But there is no such divine provision for mere separation. The divine instruction is that those united in the marriage bond are bound to the mutual discharge of all marital debts until the bond is severed by death or dissolution on a proper ground. In most cases, all that the Church is called upon to determine is whether or not a divorce granted by the Court is proper and to decide the issue of discipline, as it may arise, accordingly. We must note the strange occurrence not envisaged but has become part of societal life today. Most marriages contracted nowadays are between men and women that are not sexually pure (having been disvirgined by other people). Mistakes are part of the lives of every person living. The solution, therefore, for past sexual sin is reclamation by desisting from further sexual impurity. Virginity is both physical and mental. Jesus affirmed on new creations; all old things have passed away and replaced with new when one accepts LORD Jesus as Lord and Saviour; Repentance, Forgiveness, and Sexual fidelity save such situations.
***read Divorce & Remarriage (5) on Saturday, July 30, 2022
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her, and the man can never divorce her as long as he lives; – Dt 22:28, 29 NIV.
The verses above indicate that humbling a damsel through sexual intimacy is the actual marriage; in other words, marital bonding from copulation is marriage and not just the ceremony carried out in the Church or at home. It also indicates the Word used by Jesus Christ – “Fornication.” Fornication is a sin committed by yet-to-be-married people. People misconceived the ceremony that takes place on the wedding day as a marriage rather than the conjugal bonding that takes place when two people become sexually involved the first time.
Sexual bonding is the actual marriage, which is why marriage is always annulled if not consummated sexually. Virginity involves sexual purity of the body and mind. Christian Couples must reassert their parental authority by instructing their children about God’s view on sex. They must teach their children to flee fornication. They must teach their children to avoid temptation by making no provision for the flesh. They must teach them to exercise self-control in every area of their lives; they must educate their children about the dangers of premarital sex and the wisdom of obeying God’s commands regarding human sexuality.
God never wants us to be involved in wild and free sex. That is the reason Joseph wanted to divorce Mary secretly because of her pregnancy. Until the Angel sent by God convinced him that the pregnancy was by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and not by human sexual intimacy. Mary was still a virgin untouched by any man. It is the essence of the call for sexual abstinence before marriage (sex only after the wedding).
Premarital sex is fornication, and it is a sin. Once you have sexual intimacy with a partner, you are already yoked. If you fail to seal it up with marriage as expected and right in the sight of God, the separation of ways is a divorce. How many wives or husbands have you divorced through careless conjugal bonding? A man can divorce his wife because he fails to meet the wife as a virgin on a marital night. Divorce is only permitted among couples who find out on their marital night the unfaithfulness of the other partner by not being pure as possessing virginity. If a man has carnal knowledge of his wife-to-be before the ceremony, he is duty bound to marry her, and if on the wedding night he discovers she is not a virgin, he has the right in the sight of God to divorce her. Premarital sex exposes emotional immaturity and the inability to wait for the best of God. The test of real love is not sex, but Jesus gave us a new life in 2 Co 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” NIV
Adultery is another issue; this is a sin committed by married couples, a sin of covetousness, a married man or woman having sexual intimacy with another woman or man. In Dt 22:22, we are told, “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die; you must purge the evil from Israel.” NIV. The act of adultery is evil but forgivable when the sinner repents. The coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, abolished the death penalty associated with adultery, and instead, Repentance and Forgiveness are preached and expected.
Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was unfaithful to him; yet with this open adultery, God did not permit Hosea to put her away. Hosea 1: 2a “When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, take yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness….” Hosea 3: 1a The Lord said to Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress;” Hosea’s relationship with his unfaithful wife was a sign of Israel’s adultery in idolatry. The Israelites sought illicit relationships with foreign nations and mixed Baal worship with the worship of God but God is a faithful God. Just as Hosea went after the unfaithful wife to bring her back, the Lord pursues us with love despite our failings and numerous sins. So husbands or wives could and should forgive their adulterous partners and not put them away. If they show great love like the love of God, the erring partner might change for the better and reciprocate the love that will eventually sustain the relationship.
The Teaching Of Jesus Christ (Matt 5:31, 32):
Christ teaches us that the law goes far beyond external behavior alone. The format Jesus used was “You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you.” Matt 5:27-28, He addresses the commandment on adultery in this fashion: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” When lustful imaginations are entertained in our thoughts, adultery has already been engaged in, as far as God is concerned.
With this setting in mind, many have committed adultery; but it is not indicative that you should divorce based on adultery. Rather repentance and forgiveness are offered. Our Lord Jesus Christ used the word “Fornication.” Let us use the biblical adulterous woman as an example: John 8: 3-11 is aptly captioned ‘Jesus Forgives an Adulterous Woman.’ The Pharisees brought this woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and wanted to inflict on her the punishment ordered by Moses, but Jesus told them in v7b, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” In v10, Jesus asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?; in reply in v11, the woman said, “No one, sir,” “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared, “Go now and leave your life of sin. It is indicative of Jesus’s teaching of repentance and forgiveness.
So divorce need not be the only way out of an act of adultery; if the guilty partner repents and the innocent partner is willing to forgive. Though Matt 5:31 (NIV) uses the Word marital unfaithfulness, this could be interpreted in many ways since the marital union is accepted from the stage of engagement of a couple to each other, as was the case of Joseph and Mary. Hence, fornication is still a very apt description of marital unfaithfulness as much as an act of adultery within the union. God’s commandments are transgressed by the heart’s unseen attitudes as well as the visible actions of the body. In the law, God requires perfection that measures up to the perfect character of the Father Himself. The law says we are to hold within our hearts and manifest a character that matches God’s through actions. “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” As a professing Christian, can you say that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Are you doing your business for Christ? Is it not done for self-aggrandizement and family advantage? How can you live for another object without committing spiritual adultery?
Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure, but who is there that dare says that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the life of a Christian, its source, sustenance, fashion, and end, all gathered up in one Word- Christ Jesus. If Jesus forgives all our sins, marital partners are urged to forgive marital unfaithfulness upon repentance of the guilty partner. Only in unrepentant marital unfaithfulness can the innocent partner be allowed to put away the guilty partner. Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the law (VSS 17-20); “Think not that I come to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I came not to destroy but to fulfill“ (Vs. 17). Jesus’ assertion in v.31 does not in the least interfere with the interpretation of Deut. 24: 1-4. In verse 32, Jesus proceeds to propound the principle that to put away or dismiss a wife for any reason, but that of sexual infidelity is a sin. It is well to remember that two subjects are closely pertinent to this subject on which this text does not reflect.
The first subject deals exclusively with dismissal or divorce on the part of the man. We are not intimated about the rights that may belong to the woman suing for a divorce. The second point is that Jesus says nothing here regarding the remarriage of the man who puts away his wife for the cause of fornication. Fornication is an act committed before marriage. A wife is meant to be a virgin on the marriage day; a wife found to have been defiled that is committed fornication and not met as a virgin; by Jesus’s proclamation, she can be put away (divorced) by her husband. In Israel, a disvirgined girl is abhorred, and no man marries her again. Such a woman lives in disgrace for the rest of her life in her father’s house.
A case to consider here was Absalom’s sister Tamar when Amnon, her half-brother raped her. 2 Samuel 13: 11-20:
But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister,” “Don’t, my brother,” she said to him. “Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king: he will not keep me from being married to you.” But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than her, he raped her. Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. He hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!” “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.” But he refused to listen to her. He called his servant and said, “Get this woman out of here and bolt the door after her.” So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing a richly ornamented robe, for this was the kind of garment the king’s virgin daughters wore. Tamar put ashes on her head and tore her ornamented robe. She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went. Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman. NIV
She becomes a desolate woman for any woman not married by the man who dis-virgins her. Fornication is a great sin in Israel. Marriage is regarded as adulterous because the first conjugal bonding (marriage) is still in God’s sight regarded as inviolate. The divorce has not dissolved the bond. Illegitimate divorce does not dissolve the marriage bond; consequently, such divorce does not relieve the parties concerned about marriage-related obligations. In reality, they are bound to one another in the bonds of matrimony and a marital relation. Or any exercise of the privileges and rights of the marital relation with any other is adultery. It, therefore, follows that a man who divorces his wife (except for the cause of fornication – not being a virgin) is not at liberty to remarry any more than the divorced wife.
However, it does not settle the question of the status of the remarriage of the woman divorced for adultery. Certain inferences call for consideration:
The OT did not provide for divorce in the case of adultery; the law was most stringent; it required death for such sexual infidelity.
The law enunciated by God, on the other hand, institutes divorce as the means of relief for the husband in the case of fornication on the part of his wife. So in the economy, Jesus himself inaugurated, the requirement of death for adultery is abrogated. He abrogated the Mosaic penalty for adultery and legitimated divorce for fornication. It is perhaps the most conspicuous concrete instance of the exercise of that authority in the Sermon on the Mount.
In the Mosaic economy, divorce, for a reason mentioned in Deut 24: 1-4, was suffered or tolerated but was not penalized by civil ostracism or ecclesiastical ex-communication in the Mosaic Jurisprudence. The economy Jesus inaugurates is not to be characterized by the laxity inherent in the sufferance afforded in the Mosaic economy. It means the reasons for divorce in Deut 24: 1-4, tolerated in the Mosaic jurisprudence, are abolished in the NT.
The import of this is that marriage, from its very nature and the divine Institution it is constituted, is ideally indissoluble. As respecting divorce and its implications, this is on accounts of the most pivotal passage in the NT; we have the combination of two clauses, namely the exceptive clause and the remarriage clause, which Matt 5:32; Mk 10:11; Luke 16: 18 but only in Matt 19:9 are they coordinated.
Sexual sin is either fornication or adultery. Having premarital sex is fornication, while infidelity in marriage is adultery. If a man may rightly divorce his unfaithful wife and if such divorce dissolves the marriage bond, the question of remarriage is inevitably posed. Furthermore, I Co 7:15 would certainly face us with the question of the effect that desertion by an unbelieving partner would have upon the marital status of the deserted believer. The real crux of the question in Matt 19: 9 is, however, the force of the exceptive clause “except for fornication” it does not intimate, any more than Matt 5:32, that the man is obligated to divorce his wife in the event of adultery on her part. It simply accords the right of liberty. Canon law of the Church of England, while allowing separation for adultery, does not permit remarriage for the parties so separated as long as they both live. If the text of Matt 19:9 is adopted as genuine and authentic, then there is considerable difficulty in holding to this position. It is the difficulty of restricting the exceptive clause to the putting away and not extending it also to the remarriage. (Scholars such as Charles Gore, who deny the authenticity of the exceptive clause, fully recognize that it applies to the putting away).
However, the construction must be maintained if Matt 19:9 is not interpreted as legitimating remarriage after divorce for fornication. It means that divorce in such a case dissolves the marriage and that the parties are no longer man and wife. With the result that the man is free to remarry without thereby incurring the quilt of adultery; – Mark 10: 2-12; Luke 16: 18. There is no contradiction between the two accounts as found in Matt 19:7,8 and Mark 10: 3-5. The far more critical question with Mark 10: 2-12 is the omission of the exceptive clause in Mark 10:11. The same is true of Luke 16:18. G. H. Box, in his booklet, ‘Divorce in the NT,’ written jointly with Charles Gore in answer to R. H. Charles, says in the Markan account and Luke that the prohibition of divorce is absolute. In Matthew, a limiting clause is introduced except for fornication or un-chastity. Some scholars say this is a case of editorial addition or modification. It formed no part of our Lord’s teaching in its original form, preserved correctly in Mark and Luke.
The emphasis of the discourse in Matt 19: 3-9 and iMark 10: 2-12 relies on the abrogation of the Mosaic permission of Dt 24:1-4. The passages involve a complete annulment of the permission granted for other reasons and presupposed in the Deuteronomy passage.
It should be noted that there is no mention in Mark or Luke of a man’s right to put away his wife for fornication or adultery. The silence of Mark and Luke respecting this right does not in any way prejudice the right itself. We may reasonably conclude that Mark and Luke are not envisaging the situation created in the event of adultery and are not reflecting on the rights of the innocent spouse in such a case. They concentrate on abrogating specific Mosaic provisions like divorce and prevalent customs in Jewish and Gentile circles.
Another notable difference that appears in Mark 10: 2-12, when compared with the parallel passage in Matthew, is Mk 10:12. In Matt 5:32; 19:9, there is no reference to the woman’s rights in the event of adultery on the part of her husband. Mark 10:12 is instructive and essential as it is the only passage in which there is an allusion to divorce on the part of the woman. “And if she shall put away her husband and marry another, she committeth adultery.” ASV It simply means to me that a woman is not to put away (divorce) her husband for just any reason and marry another. The ostensible import of Mark 10:12 is that the same law applies to the woman as it applies to the man if she takes the initiative in a divorce suit. Mark’s passage points the direction of a specific provision in the Christian economy to the effect that the woman is accorded an equal right with the man in the event of marital unfaithfulness on the part of her husband. In the OT, there is no provision for divorce by the woman. But in Mark 10: 12, there is an indication that our Lord, in the exercise of His authority, not only provided that a man may divorce his wife for the cause of fornication but that the wife also may divorce her husband for the same offense.
The exception mentioned by Jesus in Matt. 5:31-32, and Matt. 19:9 is fornication meaning “Pornia,” adultery is “Moichao.” You may then ask why he used the word “fornication” and not “adultery”?
(a) Fornication is sexual relations between two unmarried people.
(b) Adultery is sexual relations between two people, both married to others or one of whom is married to someone else.
I believe Jesus used the word “fornication” because he was talking about a situation where one was unfaithful before the marriage was to be consummated. We must remember that in the Hebraic culture, engagement (Marriage Pledge) could only be dissolved by divorce. It is significant to note that the “exceptive clause” is only mentioned in Matthew, a gospel written by a Jew to the Jewish people that specifically addressed their concerns. Essentially, Jesus said that an engaged couple might “divorce” if one of the two has committed fornication. But once the marriage has been sealed, there is no allowance for divorce. It’s not an exception for after marriage, but before the union takes place. In Eastern cultures today, this is practiced; (Tokens of virginity; No blood, No marriage). When divorce is sought and tokens of virginity are provided, divorce is refused. An illustration was the case of Joseph and Mary when Joseph determined in his mind to divorce Mary in secret on account of her pregnancy until the Angel of God appeared to Joseph to convince him of Mary’s sincerity.
In the Yoruba Culture of my forefathers, they spread white bed sheets for new brides on their wedding night. Blood-stained white bed sheets convinced the in-laws of the purity of the brides. It brought great respect not only to the bride but to the entire family of the bride. On the other hand, if there were no sign of blood to stain the white bed sheet, such a bride would be disgraced and sent back to her family. Also, the groom’s family would demand a refund of the dowry (bride price), and such bride was stigmatized and left desolate in her family compound. Sexual abstinence of bride-to-be was significant lack of virginity on wedding night meant automatic separation or divorce.
The five books of Moses, known as the Pentateuch, are revered because of the pedigree of the writer, Moses, who spoke to God face-to-face. In the beginning, God instituted the union called marriage by creating Eve from Adam’s Rib. It was a perfect union of love and trust until the fall of man. The fall of man brought a great distrust in buck-passing from Adam to Eve and from Eve to the Serpent. The fall of man also brought in the most significant breach of troth with God and the two; the great disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit. That resulted in the rupture of the divinely instituted order of right, troth, and love, putting the conjugal bond asunder.
The Marriage Teaching of Old Testament (OT) is not in conformity with the divine Institution as created in the beginning but as it evolved from the rupture of the divine Institution (Marriage). That was why Moses permitted divorce on any grounds. Deuteronomy 24:1-3 forms the protasis, stating the divorce conditions, while verse 4 is the apodosis according to S. R. Driver. Joseph Reider explained these verses in the sentence, “The chief concern of the law is to prevent remarriage after divorce.”
Other passages in the Pentateuch reveal the practice of divorce, such as Lev. 21:7, 14; 22:13; Num. 30:9 (10); Dt. 22:19, 29; cf Isa. 50:1; Jer 3:1; Ezek 44:22). Driver says: “Hebrew law, does not institute divorce, but tolerates it, because of the imperfections of human nature.“ John Murray remarked that in the very act of divorce, there is an intrinsically wrong not compatible with the absolute standard of right. Christ is the illumination to all things right and good. Certain acts are directly recognized as universally and unconditionally wrong. Falsehood, for example, is known to be wrong, not from its incompatibility with social well-being but its very nature. Honesty is exemplary, not because of its financial and social results.
Marriage Teachings Of New Testament (NT)
The typical Jewish conception was that marriage was the proper and honorable estate for all men. ‘Any Jew without a wife is no man’ (Talmud). The view of the Essene that avoided marriage as unclean and degraded is not in NT (1Tim 4:3). Jesus Christ, however, emphasizes the propriety of the unmarried state in certain instances (Matt 19:12).
James Hastings in Hastings Dictionary said Paul’s views undoubtedly changed. Paul in I Th. 4:4 regard marriage as a safeguard against immorality. He makes the subject prominent in 1 Co. In 7:1, 7, 8, 38, he prefers the unmarried state, allowing marriage for the same reason as in 1 Th. (1 Co 7: 2, 9, 36). Paul gives three reasons for his attitude, the one purely temporary, and the others valid under certain conditions:
(a) it is connected with the view he afterward abandoned of the nearness of the Parousia (V.31); there would be no need to provide for the continuance of the race.
(b) It was a time of distress, i.e., hardship and persecution (v.26), and
(c) Marriage brings distractions and cares (v. 32).
The one-sidedness of this view was corrected by his later teaching as to the sanctity of the marriage state. The keynote is struck by our Lord’s action in the significance of the Cana miracle (Jn 2). It corresponds with Christ’s teaching that marriage is a Divine Institution (Matt 19:9). So Eph 5: 22, Col 3:18, and the Pastoral Epistles’ assume that the married state is normal in the Christian Church. It is raised to the highest pinnacle as the type of union between Christ and His Church. This conception emphasizes the honorableness of the estate and the heinousness of all sins against it; husband and wife are one flesh (Eph 5; cf. He 13:4). It is then right and proper to be married and be happy. Without marriage, it is assumed you are incomplete.
A Serious Look At A Serious Problem:
Paul warned us through the Scripture not to be unequally yoked. Unequal yoking leads to separation and, at times, divorce. Jesus preached on repentance and forgiveness. The reality on the ground is that our hearts are hardened. We are stubborn like the Israelites of old; many unresolved issues lead to separation. That is the reason for the rampant dissolution of marriages.
All error is the Devil’s error. And honestly, the Devil is at work sending scripts into Christian doctrines and shaking the Christian faith’s foundation. Despite the Christian teachings and values, the divorce rate among Christians is climbing. There is no difference between the Church and the world in divorce matters. The Pulpit is not spared either; Pastors and Ministers of God divorce their wives and remarry others. I dare not downplay the fearful gravity of this matter.
Most Christians who sincerely believe they know the morality of divorce and remarriage are unaware that their understanding of the Bible’s teaching on this subject is dangerously shallow. I need you to ponder seriously on the pointsI am making; do not jump to a conclusion until you read my closing line. I am appealing also that you do not get confused because you will discover that some points seem pro-divorce and some seem anti-divorce. That’s because I am harmonizing the views to sieve them clearly for the manifestation of God’s perspective. Let us carefully examine the marital bond’s origin, “The Institution of Marriage, carefully.”
Divorce is an unscripted word (idiom) that crept into the home and Church and caught us unaware. God instituted marriage and not divorce. He created marriage as a blissful union. God did not want the man to be alone, so God gave the man a helpmeet. He created one man and one woman to be united for life—one flesh, as one before God. What God has joined together, let no man separate (Mt 19:6, Mk 10:9). The Principle is simple: God never contemplated separation, and he never desires that such a holy union as marriage should be dissolved. Divorce is one of the weird intrusions into men’s affairs by the Devil’s poisonous injection. Jesus in Matt 19:4-6 begins by going back to the beginning; God’s original design. That is indicative of the genuine desire of God. Gen. 2: 23, 24 set out the nature and basis of marriage. It implies that divorce could not be and should not be contemplated.
Divorce crept in as an output of the rupture of the divinely instituted order of right, troth, and love created by God. This rupture is the resultant effect of the breach of troth with God; that occurred during the Fall of Man. The sin of Adam and Eve defiled all relationships, including the sanctity of the marriage bond. The man was separated from God at the fall of man; the restoration of humankind came only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who shed His blood on the Cross. Only in Christ can one be made truly new and inherit eternal life by repentance and forgiveness of sin. The Jewish culture understands that once a marriage covenant is established, the bride would be set apart exclusively for the bridegroom.
King Solomon warned about arousing or awakening love until it so desires (in marriage) – Song of Songs 2: 7, 3: 5, 8: 4: Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field; Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.
***read Divorce & Remarriage (3) on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.
Mychosen topic is controversial in the Church. Divorce & remarriage are issues Christians are not united, and churches interpret Biblical teachings differently. As a theologian, I decided to look into the contemporary issue of divorce & remarriage. I welcome constructive theological-based criticism of my article. One could disagree with my submission on personal homiletics or hermeneutic interpretation of Biblical verses. Before writing the series on divorce & remarriage, I used many translations for the main Bible chapters and verses for comparable and parallel studies. I adopted several methodologies: biblical hermeneutics, exegesis, sociological, and historical approaches.
Divorce rates are as high in the Church as in the world. It seems there is an epidemic of marriage destruction. Even if we know the truth and never divorce our spouse, the chances are high that we will interact with or influence the life of someone considering divorce in a difficult marriage. – Jarod Hinton, July 2007
The courts grant divorce daily for several reasons that are not attuned to the Biblical view. The questions to answer are: Is divorce permitted in the Bible for any reason? If divorce is legitimate at a point, can there be a remarriage? In other words, does the Scripture support remarriage? What are the biblical references that support divorce or remarriage? What is a conjugal (marital) bond? I delved into available materials; I could lay my hands on in the Holy Bible, fervently praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance for an expose. There are over one hundred Bible translations worldwide; so to do an in-depth exposition or what is called ‘Biblical Hermeneutics’ on divorce and remarriage and get God’s perspectives; there is the need to look into many translations of the Bible.
Adam & Eve’s sin led to the Fall of Man and caused breaches, including violation of troth, the destroyer of holy matrimony, and the acerbic of the bond. The Sin desecrates all relationships, including the sanctity of the marital bond. Therefore, it is conceivable that while the reason for divorce is sinful, the right to divorce may be divine! Divorce and Re-Marriage are issues that have different reactions in the Church today. The Church is not spared despite the apostolic doctrines. There are many divorcees as much as in society. Many eligible men and women are afraid of marriage because of the rampant dissolution of marriages. People now live in sin as common-law partners instead of tying the wedding knots for ease of separation. The person divorced for adultery who remarries may not be regarded as having committed adultery or living in an adulterous relationship. The Church may not categorically declare the remarriage as legitimate or place its imprimatur and benediction; at the same time, it cannot declare it illegitimate.
I am not sensational, sentimental, or emotional but concentrate on the eternal Word of God. Paul’s sayings in 2 Timothy 3: 16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness KJV. This article is an in-depth biblical scholarship. I aim to help the Church administer the proper disciplinary measures to those who go against God’s ‘Will’ on the issue of divorce and remarriage. My concern is about the truth, which only the Bible can reveal. Many priests/pastors have found themselves divorcing their spouses and remarrying others, not to mention many who are not priests but confessors of the Christian Faith. There are divergent views on divorce and remarriage in Christendom, but what does God say? What are the biblical teachings concerning these two issues?
Some Christians outright condemn divorce and remarriage without finding God’s perspective on the twin issues. Many Ministers of God also unleash ecclesiastical order without in-depth knowledge of scriptural perspective on the matter. God’s standard is perfect and speaks to us on all issues. In the beginning, God created us ‘Male and female,’ and it was good by the standard of God. God created the divinely instituted order of troth and love between the first couple (Adam and Eve) as an excellent indissoluble union.
Divorce is an alien, a stranger that was never contemplated in the nature and basis of the union set out by God in Genesis 2: 23, 24. Then Satan, in the guise of Serpent, tempted Eve to disobey God. Eve convinced her husband, Adam, to also disobey God. This disobedience was the root cause of all human problems. In Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English – Low Priced Edition, divorce is described as “(a case of) the official ending of a marriage, esp. as declared by a court of law.” Divorce is taken for granted in the Old Testament (OT) (Lv 21:7, 14; 22:13; Nu 30:9), it being the traditional right of the husband, as in Arabia, to ‘put away his wife’ (Gn 21:14).
For separation to become a divorce, there must be a bill of divorcement (Is 50:1, Jer 3:8), prepared on a definite, and therefore presumably before some public official, and formally given to the woman. In the New Testament (NT), divorce seems forbidden (Mk 10:11, Lk 16:8, 1 Co 7:10, 39). Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches that OT permission was a concession to a low moral standard and was opposed to the idea of marriage as an inseparable union of body and soul (Gn 2:23). Yet in Matt 19: 9, we have the exceptive clause that permits divorce.
The Scriptural teachings on this topic that I thoroughly analyzed are Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 5:31&32; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:15; and Romans 7:1-3. The comparative analyses of all available translations of these biblical texts that I can lay my hand on, as well as horizontal and vertical references for the above passages, were looked into for an in-depth study to support my conclusions. There will be more Scriptural references as I go on to make one point or the other. Please take your Bible and come along with me as I interpret and teach the Word of God as it concerns divorce and remarriage. The Word of God is Life and is enough spiritual food to sustain us.
 J. Hastings, Hastings Dictionary of the Bible. U.S.A.: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2001
Religious Impact of Prosperity Preaching on Sustainable Economic Development
The prosperity gospel is damaging the world for many reasons, especially in Africa. The five reasons for the negative consequences are :
1. It is mixed with occultism birthing cultic theology:
Before Christianity came to Africa, people visited witch doctors and sacrificed goats or cows for prosperity. They poured libations on the ground so the gods would hear their prayers. Today similar practices continue because the prosperity preachers have replaced the Ifa priests. There are stories of church ministers who buried live animals under the floor of their churches to win people’s favor. The people who follow these prosperity preachers are reminded that their promised windfall won’t materialize unless they give large donations of money or properties.
2. It drives greed by fueling self-indulgence:
The prosperity preacher teaches people to focus on getting, not giving. Church members are continually urged to sow financial seeds to reap more significant rewards. In Africa, Christian revivals are dedicated to collecting offerings to achieve wealth. Preachers tell their followers that their physical prosperity measures spirituality. This greed preached from the pulpit spreads like the plague in God’s house.
3. It promotes conceit:
The greedy atmosphere in prosperous churches has produced arrogance and a warped leadership style. A Kenyan, Gideon Thuranira, the editor of Christian Professional magazine, called these men “churchpreneurs.” They plant churches not because they have a burden to reach lost souls but see different currencies of the world when they fill an auditorium with chairs. The most successful prosperity preacher is dangerous because he can convince a crowd that Jesus died to give you a Lexus, airplane, or several mansions. In Nigeria, there are many cases of these preachers accumulating fabulous wealth and living in luxury as their followers become poorer.
4. It works against the formation of Christian character:
The prosperity gospel is a poor imitation of the true gospel because it leaves no room for brokenness, suffering, humility, or delay. Prosperity preachers promise instant results and overnight success; if you don’t get your breakthrough, it is because you are not giving enough offering. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him; prosperity preaching calls us to deny Jesus and follow our materialistic lusts. Some church ministers are so set on getting rich; that they cannot go through the process of discipleship that requires self-denial. Spiritual formation has been scrapped for materials formation.
5. It keeps people in poverty:
The government of Malawi was once under international scrutiny because of fraud carried out by top leaders. The so-called “Cashgate” scandal is that professing Christians in the administration of President Joyce Banda were implicated. One of these people stole millions of kwacha from the government and hid the cash in a teddy bear! Most people in Malawi live on less than $1 a day, yet their leaders have been known to buy fleets of cars and vast plots of land with money that was not theirs. Sadly, the prosperity gospel preached in Malawi has encouraged pastors and leaders to follow the same corrupt pattern. As a result, God’s people have been financially exploited.
The same thing happened in Nigeria during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan when the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria was implicated in the South African government’s seized cash from his plane. Jesus described false prophets as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Churches have been increasing in many parts of Africa today, yet sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where poverty has increased in the past 25 years. So, according to the statistics, the prosperity gospel is not bringing prosperity! It makes their followers poorer, so it is a flawed message!
The Bankruptcy of the Prosperity Gospel:
Over one hundred years ago, the renowned pastor, Charles H. Spurgeon said to the then-largest congregation in all Christendom:
I believe it is anti-Christian and unholy for any Christian to live with the object of accumulating wealth. You will say, “Are we not to strive all we can to get all the money we can?” You may do so. I cannot doubt what, in so doing, you may do service to the cause of God. But what I said was that to live with the objectof accumulating wealth is anti-Christian. 
Due, in part, to the rise of several ungodly philosophies and movements, a new gospel is being taught today. This gospel has been ascribed many names, such as the “name it and claim it gospel,” the “blab it and grab it gospel,” the “health and wealth gospel,” the “word of faith movement,” the “gospel of success,” the “prosperity gospel,” and “positive confession theology.” In the words of Robert Tilton, one of the prosperity gospel’s most well-known spokesmen:
I believe that it is the will of God for all to prosper because I see it in the Word [of God], not because it has worked mightily for someone else. I do not put my eyes on men, but on God who gives me the power to get wealth. 
Preachers of the prosperity gospel encourage their followers to demand of God everything from modes of transportation to homes, furniture, and hefty bank accounts.
Prosperity Gospel and the Spirit of Capitalism:
Ihenacho (2012) observes that the contemporary Nigerian church is submerged in society’s quest for material benefits. Capitalistic tendencies have replaced spiritual growth and moral sanctity toward eternal life, and nothing is sacred when it comes to this spirit of capitalism. The preachers of Prosperity Gospel declare very sick people suffer from disorders that cannot be treated in hospitals but only through their spiritual intervention. They charge exorbitant fees even before attempting a cure. Elements such as oil, handkerchief, water, etc., are sold at exorbitant costs to their followers for miracles.
They prey on these people in search of miracles in their troubled lives. The Nigerian Punch newspaper of 18th May 2011 published a headline: “Africa’s wealthiest Pastors in Nigeria spend $225 million on Private Jets”. In the News was David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel, believed to be Africa’s most prosperous gospel preacher. Oyedepo owns a private collection of four expensive aircraft and a private hangar to park them. The overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, is another owner of a $30 million Gulfstream jet among others. Pastor S. Adeyemi, the founder of Daystar Christian Centre and a preacher of the financial prosperity gospel, also owns a jet. The spirit of capitalism has also seized the people who hear the prosperity gospel sermons. As Ayang (2011) points out: “nobody wants to attend a church service where the pastor dresses in simple clothes, rides a bicycle and lives in a low-income house.” The people will not believe such a pastor can perform miracles.
Consequences of Prosperity Message for Public Morality:
The preaching of the prosperity gospel threatens the nobility and integrity of the Christian faith. The zeal to gain wealth, by all means, harms the African nations. That is why crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping, ritualism, fraudsters, and so on have increased. Many people have fallen prey to these prosperity ministers. Some false preachers use socio-psychological manipulations to control and exploit their victims. They use techniques like altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, expectations, and hypnotic suggestions to prey on their victims. They falsely claim to anoint God by selling items like handkerchiefs, water, oil, and candles of different colors. The implications of prosperity preaching on African nations include loss of Godly character, loss of faith, lack of personal economic security, and the people’s general well-being.
 Tom Carted, ed., 2,200 Quotations from the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), 216.
 While it is impossible to trace the prosperity gospel back to an exact starting point, there are at least three movements from which it draws its ideas. One is experience-centered Christianity, birthed in the mind of nineteenth-century theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher and has come to fruition in the form of the twentieth-century Charismatic movement. A second philosophy that gave rise to the prosperity gospel was the “positive thinking” school of Norman Vincent Peale. Indeed, scholar Harvey Cox wrote concerning the prosperity gospel, “it owed much to the ‘positive thinking of the late Norman Vincent Peale.” Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1995), 272. The third modern movement influencing the prosperity gospel is simply the “American dream,” or materialism.
 Robert Tilton, God’s Word about Prosperity (Dallas, TX: Word of Faith Publications, 1983), 6.