1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
The Lord Jesus prayed (John 17) that His disciples would be united in their love for each other as it was in His love with the Father. Unity is the foundation of the church as all in Christ unite together as His body. It was His prayer that all in Christ would come together and join in fellowship with each other, and like a body, each of His children are gifted in many ways for the edification of the body. (Eph 4)
The power of the Gospel is what brings all in Christ together. The Gospel transforms the believer into understanding the things of God which are spirit. (1 Cor 2) That is because the Holy Spirit enters into a person on the day of redemption. (Eph 1:13) It is the Holy Spirit that helps us in understanding the words of God, and how God through the history of mankind was making provision for our salvation.
You may ask, so what does this have to do with marriage?
If the Holy Spirit enters into us on the day of redemption, and we now have knowledge of the things of God, then it should be understood that we would have an understanding of marriage. The things of God are the things of the spirit, and knowing that God is of spirit, we would have an understanding of living in the spirit as it pertain to marriage.
Marriage extends beyond the ideas of men, not simply to equate to a worldly extension of time, but as an eternal symbolic nature of Christ’s love for His church. If we view marriage as something temporary in nature, then it would not be as God designed marriage. According to His word, marriage is one man and one woman for life. Should not those who are in Christ recognize and be a witness to this holy ordinance?
When people say that marriage permanence causes division, do they understand the definition of marriage as it is to God, or do they understand marriage as what they think marriage ought to be? The majority will tell you that marriage was God’s “idea”, but He has allowed the provision of divorce in certain cases. They like to offer these exceptions when it seems to fit their “idea” of divorce and remarriage, rather than understanding the purpose of marriage.
Then there is the whole idea of truth, and how this plays out in understanding truth in light of understanding the things of God. Marriage is no exception. If there is an understanding of marriage permanence and this is truth, then one must understand why there would be division if one does not believe in marriage permanence.
Let us compare two professing Christian women who have two separate understandings of marriage.
Mary believes that marriage is permanent until death, and that the vow she made before God depends on remaining in Him rather than the circumstances surrounding the marriage.
Susan believes that marriage is intended to be permanent until death, and the vow she made before God is dependent upon the circumstances surrounding the marriage.
In both cases, the husbands of both wives file for unilateral divorce and leave the marriage.
Mary believes that she is to remain under the vow she made before God because she believes that her husband is fallen away and that her witness to her marriage may be the only way her husband will see the love of Christ. She honors her vow before the Lord and she trusts in His sovereignty and faithfulness over all circumstances...till death she part. Mary believes that a unilateral divorce paper has no power over what God has joined, and even should her husband remarry another, she knows that he will remain in adultery should he not repent of this adulterous remarriage.
Susan believes that scripture affords her the “option” to carry on with her life. She believes the divorce ended the marriage and that remarriage is a very real possibility. She assumes that once her husband divorces and remarries another woman, her hopes of reconciling are gone. She believes that the divorce no longer requires to recognize her husband anymore and that his remarriage releases her of any obligation to remain in her marriage to him.
Which case is the truth? If there is one truth, then certainly one of these women are causing division and disrupting what the Lord has to say about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. The consequences of either circumstance provides some clarity to this.
If Mary is correct, her standing for her marriage will not jeopardize her relationship with the Lord. In fact, leaning to the Lord and trusting in Him will not only comfort her for the rest of her life, it may also afford her a better understanding of her own faults. She has a clear understanding that the vow of marriage remains until death. Thus, she will remain unmarried till her husband dies, or she dies. Regardless, she will remain in Christ and her true marriage is to Him for all eternity. Is her witness a stumbling block to those who divorce and remarry, or is her witness a testimony of Christ’s love for His bride?
If Susan is correct, her divorce offers her a chance to start over. She sees remarriage as a chance to have a marriage she always wanted. She also believes that God would not want her to be alone and unhappy the rest of her life, and that a divorce and remarriage is representation of God’s grace…a chance to start over. The stigma that surrounds her divorce will all dissipate when she remarries another. She knows this new vow of marriage is different from her first vow, and that she will love her new spouse better than her first spouse. Is her witness a stumbling block to those who remain in their “first” vow of marriage, or is her witness a testimony of Christ’s love for His bride?
The truth be known that only one of these women are living in the grace and truth of Christ.
Mary is living in the truth that marriage is a one-flesh covenant no man may break, and the grace she has for her husband is a witness for him to come to repentance. If he does not repent, he will spend eternity in Hell. She understands the vow she made before the Lord was contingent upon His part in the marriage, and that remaining in Christ can only serve to glory Him. Should her husband repent of his sin, she is fully prepared to forgive his debts as Christ has forgiven her debts, and reconciling these sins will produce full restoration of his salvation and the marriage. The foundation of this stance is to trust God and remain in Him.
Susan cannot live in the truth of one-flesh covenant marriage because she has forfeited her vow by believing she can marry another. The grace she expects is in her accepting the fact that her husband is dead in his sins, and that she can continue in her life. Since her remarriage offers her a chance at a new life, she expects others to extend grace to this remarriage. This way of thinking hijacks the truth of marriage and places it in lesser consideration affording the idea that divorce and remarriage is always an option. This way of thinking stands in contrast to the Gospel which includes Christ as the faithful husband to His bride, the church. The foundation of this stance is inward and self-seeking.
This says much about the evangelical church that defines, promotes and encourages divorce and remarriage. In fact, just as there are women like Mary and Susan, there are clergy who stand on different sides of the fence when it comes to understating the significance of marriage permanence. What is to say of division to those who promote divorce and remarriage, and those who will not “remarry” anyone with an estranged living divorced spouse?
Let us compare two professing Christian Pastors who have two separate understandings of marriage.
Pastor Paul believes that marriage is permanent until death, and that the vows exchanged before God are dependent on remaining in Him rather than the circumstances surrounding the marriage.
Pastor David believes that marriage is intended to be permanent until death, and the vows exchanged before God is dependent upon the circumstances surrounding the marriage.
Very two distinct views, and two very different outcomes.
If Susan or her husband were to enter Pastor Paul’s church, both would be very surprised to understand that the divorce does not separate the marriage covenant, and that the word of God requires reconciliation or to remain unmarried until death do they part. Pastor Paul’s “compassion” for marriage is based on the foundations of the Gospel, and that grace and truth are required in understanding the significance of marriage and the heart’s desire for divorce.
In Susan’s case, Pastor Paul would explain that her husband is fallen away and that her remarriage would give him the idea that his remarriage allows him to remain in his sin of adultery. Pastor Paul will not “remarry” Susan on the basis that her husband’s “remarriage” is unlawful, and not a marriage at all. He would expect Susan to pray for her lost husband and remain in Christ. He would also point her to other spouses who stand for their marriages.
In Susan’s husband’s case, his remarriage would exclude him repenting of divorcing Susan, and that remarrying him to another is akin to sanctifying his adultery. Pastor Paul would never “remarry” a person with an estranged living spouse based on the truth of marriage. He would instruct Susan’s husband to repent of his sin, or he will die in his sin and go to Hell. He would instruct Susan’s husband that his divorce does not end what God has joined, and if he remains with his adulterous partner, both and she will remain under the wrath of God. He would offer Susan’s husband and his mistress the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and nothing more.
If Susan or her husband entered Pastor David’s church, they would find “compassion” for their desires to remarry another. They would understand that even though God hates divorce, He provides certain circumstances for unrepentant sin. Pastor David would only need the word of Susan’s husband that he repented of his sin, and that he is a new person in Christ to validate remarrying him. Pastor David knows that the teaching he received from seminary affords him the authority to administer marriage vows and that once these vows are spoken, the “remarriage” is a new marriage and must not be divorced.
In Susan’s case, Pastor David would say that Susan’s husband has broken his vow and that she is permitted to remarry if she wants to. Pastor David would hope there was repentance and reconciliation, but since Susan’s husband already divorced and remarried, she is free to do the same.
If Susan did not remarry, and claimed that God’s word tells her to wait on her husband to repent, Pastor David would tell Susan that this would be out of the question, especially if Susan’s husband divorced and remarried another. Would Pastor David be so bold as to warn other churches that Susan’s husband is in adultery? Would Pastor David be so bold to remarry Susan’s husband to his mistress?
In Susan’s husband’s case, Pastor David would like to know the circumstances surrounding his divorce, but rarely do men like Pastor David consider that Susan’s husband may or may not be telling the truth.
Supposing that Susan’s husband told Pastor David that he was at fault in breaking the marriage, and that Susan has already “remarried” another, Pastor David would tell him that if he repents of his sins, he will marry him to his adulterous partner. This “repentance” need not include “reconciling” to Susan, because Susan has already “moved on” in life. But assuredly, Pastor David would expect Susan’s husband to honor his new vows to his new wife…
Suppose Susan’s husband tells Pastor David that he was at fault in the divorce to Susan and that he has since come to the Lord since he is with his mistress. He also tells Pastor David that Susan is unmarried at the time of this meeting. Would Pastor David be obligated to tell this man that he must leave his mistress to reconcile to Susan, or would he be obligated to tell this man that his repentance of his sin is asking forgiveness to the Lord and to remarry his mistress based on believing the divorce ended the marriage?
Suppose Susan’s husband tells Pastor David a lie and that Susan was at fault in the marriage. Does Pastor David do a back ground check on Susan’s husband and find out the facts surrounding the divorce? Does Pastor David seek to get a confession of faith from David, and maybe a water baptism to absolve him of his sins so that he can marry his mistress?
Suppose Susan’s pastor, Pastor Paul, calls Pastor David and tells him that Susan’s husband must repent of his sin, and should Pastor David marry Susan’s husband to his mistress, it would be sanctified adultery. Is there unity or division in this case if Pastor David tells Pastor Paul that Susan’s husband has repented and that he is free to “remarry”?
If you notice, there is many scenarios surrounding the actions of Pastor David and his "compassion" concerning Susan, and Susan’s husband. All of this compassion must lead to truth about marriage, truth about the circumstances surrounding the marriage, and the testimony of those involved. As you can see, there is much confusion and lack of unity among Pastor David’s position, while Pastor Paul’s position is concise and unwavering. Pastor Paul believes that marriage can only end in death, and what both Susan and her husband need to decide is what way seems right to God.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he ended the letter saying that those who cause division are those who teach contrary to what was learned.
Romans 16: 17-18Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
There is no question that there is totally lack of unity in how many people view marriage, divorce and remarriage. This is a post I wrote on the four different stances on marriage, divorce and remarriage. If there is lack of unity in the way we view marriage, what is to say of those who are wrong? Paul told us to “mark” and “avoid” them, and the Lord Jesus Christ said: Mt 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
This must be applied to what people teach on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. The Lord Jesus Christ taught the permanence of marriage and so too must the church. Unfortunately, there are many Pastor David’s out there who serve their own belly, and will claim good works while giving fair speech on what they believe to be true about the Gospel, about marriage, and about the authority of the church.
Since there is no question that there are many opinions on divorce and remarriage, we had better make sure that we are the Lord’s side. If marriage is permanent, until death do you part, then what the Lord said about remarriage adultery is very serious. In fact, we know that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9-10) and that unrepentant sin is enough to cast one into the lake of fire. The fact that marriage permanence causes division is actually a good thing. Division will help us understand the importance of God’s word on marriage and what we need to do to defend marriage, and mark those who speak otherwise.
1 Cor 11:18-19 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
In Christ’s love,