Saturday, June 18, 2016

Do You Defend the Contracts of Divorce and Remarriage?

There are many popular books on how to define marriage and how to do marriage right. These books are written by doctors, pastors, psychologists and sociologists. The authors of these books will tell you that marriage is a covenant, not a contract, and that God designed marriage to be a lifetime commitment. The authors of these books will point to key passages in the Bible such as Eph 5:22-33 and tell us how a husband is to love his wife like Christ loves the church. These authors will tell wives they must respect their husbands, thus glorifying God. These books include how we can know “love languages”, his needs, her needs, and how we should view marriage as a sacred commitment.  There is marriage counseling get-away events, ministries devoted to family and marriage, and countless marriage counselors telling us how to do marriage right.  

Yet, the divorce rate is nearly 50%. Why?

I have begun to ask why there is such a thing as divorce if marriage is a covenant vowed by a man and woman to each other before the presence of God. All of God’s covenants can only end in death. A covenant is not a contract. Divorce is a contract. In fact, if marriage is a covenant, then this makes both divorce and remarriage as contracts. 

So when I read these books on marriage, there always seems to be this “idea” (Not command) that marriage is a covenant, but when these books get around to discussing divorce and remarriage, the definition of marriage suddenly becomes a contract and divorce and remarriage become the covenants. It’s as if the book suddenly defends divorce and remarriage and throws marriage under the bus. 

I know why this is…There comes a point in a marriage where the authors believe that one or both spouses “break”, or appear to “break” the covenant. There is a specific action (sin)of one spouse that determines the duration of the covenant. If the marriage is truly a covenant, the only action that breaks a covenant should be death.  But not according to many who believe that there are certain actions that determine the duration of the covenant. 

I believe that the church has failed to handle sin and how this sin associated to a spouse of marriage is the only reason for divorce. If sin is properly handled, then there would be no divorce. Also, if marriage was properly taught, very few would enter marriage with the idea that there are loopholes to divorce. In fact, if (This is a very BIG "if" that would require massive repentance on the part of the greater evangelical church) marriage is properly defined, a couple would have an clear understand that there are no loopholes to divorce.

I believe it is best to illustrate this: 

A man (Joe) and a woman (Mary) enter into covenant marriage. They love each other, they want to be together till death do they part, so they both witness these marriage covenant vows before God and men. They both understand that marriage is a covenant.  The word of God recognizes these vows because both Joe and Mary left their mother and father respectively, and joined into a one-flesh covenant marriage. God will no longer look at these two as separate man and woman, but He will see them as one flesh until the day one or both of them dies.

Before Joe and Mary made this covenant, they were both aware that the Bible gives examples of divorce. However, the divorce was permitted during the Old Testament under Jewish law and was only granted to a “hardhearted” husband to write a certificate of divorce should he find his wife to be unclean. (Deut 24) The examples of uncleanness were that he could divorce his wife if he found her not to be a virgin on his wedding night. (Deut 22) However, these marriage customs are not too dissimilar from what we understand as “engagement” today.

 Regardless, the Bible also makes a new command that divorce is no longer applicable since the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the law and recognizes that marriage is as it was in the beginning. (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9) If Joe and Mary were to do historical research, they both would find that the early church understood that marriage was a covenant and that divorce and remarriage were no longer permissible. This was the case for nearly 300 years after the resurrection, and is still the case for some today who adhere to what the Lord taught. (Mt 19:4-6 and Mk 10:6-9)

 Unfortunately, the laws of divorce began to reappear over the years, and after the Protestant reformation, marriage was handed over to the civil authorities and no longer was marriage a covenant… No one can deny that marriage was "handed" over  by Reformers to civil authorities!

Therefore, both Joe and Mary know that even though they vow into a covenant, there are loopholes in place to exit the marriage based on the laws of men. They can listen to Focus on the Family, New Life Live, and James Dobson’s program and get a very good idea that even though God wants us to fight for marriage, there are loopholes constructed by Reformers which permit divorce AND remarriage. These ministries even invite "knowledgeable" guests to define these "loophole" questions about divorce and remarriage.

These ‘loopholes” provide one or both spouses to divorce and remarry another should the marriage not go according to their standards. Since there are many congregations that worship the name of  Jesus with positions that determine the reasons to divorce, choosing the most lenient of these positions is very popular when it comes to remarrying another. In fact, many of these congregations are pastored by the divorced and remarried.  There are even divorce recovery programs like DivorceCare to help transition you to a new life in Christ on your way to that remarriage you always wanted.

This deconstruction of “marriage” suddenly makes divorce and remarriage the covenant. 



The one (Pastor and/or civil author) who performs the “remarriage” will tell you that you must honor your new vows of “remarriage” covenant, in good times, and bad times, in richer or poorer, TILL DEATH DO YOU PART. And that God approves of your “remarriage” and that He would want you to “stick it out” even in the worst of circumstances. After all, a divorce from a “remarriage” is not a good representation of the Gospel…

They will tell you to honor your now spouse, your new marriage, and that your ex-spouse is dead.

They will tell you that divorcing from a “remarriage” to reconcile to your original one-flesh spouse is evil. 

They will tell you to raise your children to honor a covenant marriage, even though you have divorced and remarried.

They will tell you that blended-families are acceptable in the case of “remarriage” after a divorce of an estranged “ex-spouse”. 

They will tell you to remain in what God calls adultery, and that “repentance” is telling your ex-spouse that “you’re sorry”, only to remain in your adultery.

They will tell you that they “dropped the ball” on defending marriage against no-fault divorce, and use “no-fault” divorce by claiming that the “innocent” spouse is permitted to divorce a guilty spouse, even if that guilty spouse repented.  

They will tell you that you cannot divorce and remarry in any other cases then those allowable by the “exception clause” and the “Pauline privilege”, but if you do so in their church, you MUST remain in the “remarriage”, less you break the covenant of “remarriage”. 

As you can see, the way we understand marriage today is that marriage is a covenant until it becomes a contract, then divorce and remarriage become the new covenant. So the next time someone asks you to define marriage, tell them it is a covenant only when it is after a divorce and remarriage.

Marriage today can only become a covenant when it becomes a remarriage after divorce?

God help us.

In Christ’s love,


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