Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Pride of Divorce and Remarriage


Proverbs 11:2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.


It is nearly four years since my current view of my own marriage came to light. For nearly fifty years I was under the assumption that a divorce could end a one-flesh covenant marriage. I also believed that if you divorced for specific reasons in the Bible you were also permitted to marry another person. I believed marriage was a covenant with limitations. I also knew there were some who have different positons and opinions on marriage. 

It wasn’t until ten years ago, that I began to have a greater interest in marriage. This was only due to my own “marriage” coming to an end. Up to that point I certainly took my marriage for granted. I was going with the flow so to speak.  Then I heard the dreaded words… “I don’t love you anymore”. It was at that moment that my marriage suddenly meant everything to me.

My testimony for marriage permanence was a journey through a couple of years where I would slowly, and often painfully, find that I was never married in the Lord. I would come to a clear understanding that my “marriage” was nothing more than adultery. At first this was a real shock to me and I thought that I was the only one who believed this. Well, I must say that I did know there were others who believed this, but they were certainly the minority. I would come to terms that I was part of the minority and that my marriage of 18 years was nothing more than an adulterous union.

I read verses such as Luke 16:18 and 1 Cor 7:10,11 in the past, but never really applied these to me since I always found ways to get around these unambiguous passages. I also found comfort from the Pastor who would marry me to another man’s wife. It was never a thought to believe that marriage vows come from clergy rather from the Lord. It was never a thought to believe that a marriage can be terminated with a piece of paper rather than by death alone. I had all the excuses and all the exceptions in place, only to find out one day that they were all a lie.
The rationalizations came in books by well-known pastors and scholars who I have come to believed were “ordained” by God to be such men. If these men were speaking for God, then surely their books and articles about marriage, divorce, and remarriage were truth. It had to not only be a spiritual thought, but intellectually it was easy to understand that exceptions and excuses could apply to any marriage. Or could they?

It was reading the word of God without any bias that swayed me. Surely some will say that my brokenness of my marriage was the reason for my willingness to seek the truth and I will not deny it. But please do not confuse ministry with revenge, or revelation with justice. There are those who will tell me that this is my way to deal with my loss. They believe that I am only doing this in bitterness as revenge since my spouse left me for another man. You will only believe this nonsense if you disagree with the permanence of marriage and also believe that the Gospel did not change me forever.
On one occasion a gentleman told me that my “overly strict view of marriage” was due to my circumstances surrounding my loss, of which I responded that his “loose” view of marriage and his willingness to “remarry” another woman after his divorce from his covenant wife was due to his circumstances. These pointless “ad hominem” remarks lend nothing to the validity of scripture. If scripture points to the permanence of marriage, then let us set aside our own feelings, emotions, and circumstances for the truth of God ‘s word. I wrote several posts on this very subject in the past.  Responding to Convictions...Our Way or God's Way” and “Dear Convicted Remarried Believer.”

The point and purpose of this post is to ask why many see the truth of marriage, divorce, and remarriage and yet they will not accept these truths. There are scholars and pastors with doctorates who wrote many great books on the Gospel and the Christian life, but they believe marriage is not until death. In case you have not noticed, my posts are directed to the body of Christ, or to the very least to those who profess faith in Christ.

 I firmly believe that greatest deception of marriage, divorce and remarriage is among the body of Christ, and unlike me, many are convicted of marriage permanence but have yet to take the step to speak the truth. These are often immature believers who have yet considered the meat of God’s word. (Heb 5:11-14) I too had a different view of marriage for a time, and it was only through prayer and faith in the Holy Spirit’s prompting that I could receive the truth.
 

 I firmly believe that greatest deception of marriage, divorce, and remarriage is among the body of Christ, and unlike me, many are convicted of marriage permanence but have yet to take the step to speak the truth.


 Then there are those who are wolves in sheep clothing who come into the body for deceiving those who are in the body. (Jude 1:3-4) There are many books, sermons, and publications on marriage, divorce, and remarriage of which foundation is centered on the flesh and not the spirit of Christ.  Even though this is the case, we as believers are to test all things (1 John 4:1) and we also are called to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and to put on Christ (Romans 13:14) so that we will not have the lust for the things of this world.  
I have concluded that apart from self-inflicted ignorance, there is one reason why many will not stand for the truth of marriage. This reason is deadly to the soul, and if it is not corrected it will lead to destruction.

 
Pride.

The deadliest sin off all, pride is defined as pleasure or satisfaction in one’s own achievements. Pride is totally contrary to humility and a contrite heart and is a direct assault on the Gospel. Pride tends to rear its ugly head through emotions and feelings rather than truth. Pride does not consider others, but is a self-seeking virtue. What is most compelling is that pride is NOT a prerequisite of marriage. Humility, selflessness, and love are the prerequisites of marriage, not bitterness, selfishness, and pride.








  What is most compelling is that pride is NOT a prerequisite of marriage.


Pride immediately surfaces in most discussions of those who defend divorce and marriage. It is often joined with such emotions such as fear and hate. In most cases, people get angry if you tell them that marriage is a one-flesh covenant which can only end in death. In other cases, there is the fear of the unknown and the thought that marriage is permanent would jeopardize the life they live. It is simple to understand this pride when we see the visible fruit of fear and anger.

Fear of not knowing the future is common to many unbelievers. If they do not have hope, they begin to dread and despair. But in Christ we not only have hope, we have a future of His promises. Fear is not a fruit of the spirit. Yet many who read the truth of God’s word on marriage cannot get past the fear associated with the betrayal of a spouse. This often includes believers who may have married with the idea that the spouse he or she married will never betray them.

It is assumed that when we make vows in marriage that our vows are contingent upon the actions of the other spouse. That is a lie. A marriage vow to your spouse is not contingent upon his or her vow to you. A vow of marriage makes you one-flesh, never to become two again, and is founded in humility and selflessness until death do you part. You both give up all singular rights as individuals to become one-flesh with each other. A marriage cannot be a marriage without the vow. It is a direct correlation to God’s creation (Gen 2:24) and represents His love for us. (Eph 5:31,32)

The pride comes when we believe that the other spouse’s breaking of the vow relieves us of our commitment to him or her and affords us the opportunity to unjoin the one-flesh union. It becomes pride because we have forgone the thought that God is no longer a part of this vow, and that He would no longer expect us to keep our end of the bargain. This pride is often expressed in fear. 

Fear is evident is not trusting God in the unknown. Fear of the unknown and the circumstances surrounding this unknown are directly related to the sin surrounding the situation. Sin is always the root of any conflict, and how we handle the pride in our own lives is always significant in how we handle the sin associated with the conflict. Our expectation of marriage can only be understood in our acceptance in understanding Christ’s role in our lives.

Our spouse will sin against us, (and that will happen this side of Christ’s return) and it is how we handle the sin that matters. Pride becomes evident when our fear drives us to do anything other which is in Christ. Church discipline (Mt 18:15-17) is the law of Christ, and when we repent, forgive, and reconcile, we defeat the power of sin. If we deviate from these laws, we have fallen into pride. This pride is evident in our fear in not trusting Christ.


 Pride becomes evident when our fear drives us to do anything other which is in Christ.


Fear is also evident when we realize that a divorce and remarriage is not a marriage in the Lord, and that repentance from this adulterous union requires a “divorce” from adultery. The world system has permissions for divorce which apply to civil cases, and they have this idea that a one-flesh marriage can end in a civil divorce. The word of God tells us that one-flesh marriage can only end in death (Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9) and that a husband is never to divorce his wife (1 Cor 7:11), and if he marries another he commits adultery. (Luke Mt 5:31; 19:9; Mk 10:11; Luke 16:18; Heb 13:4) a wife, if divorced from her husband, is to remain unmarried or reconcile the marriage (1 Cor 7:10,11) . A wife is commanded to never divorce her husband (MK 10:12)and if she marries another she commits adultery (Mk 10:12). 

[For those of you unfamiliar with the positions of marriage, divorce and remarriage, I direct you here. To those who challenge with the “exception clause” and abandonment excuses, I direct you here.]

Fear in these cases is believing there is no hope in the “unknown” rather than trusting God. The questions of fear arise.
“How will I be able to afford living single?”
“What will others think of me?”
“What will my pastor think?”
“What do I tell my children?”   

These are just a few examples of how this fear drives many from the truth. There are always consequences to sin; including the sin of remarriage adultery. If you are genuine in your repentance of that sin by forsaking the union without prideful thinking, then you would never fear the unknown. Ever. Fear to OBEY God is centered in pride, and to deny this is a lie.
Just as fear is a fruit of pride contributing to the disobedience to God’s word on marriage, so too is anger a fruit of those who choose to divorce and remarry even when they know that divorce is hardheartedness and remarriage is adultery. This anger is usually dormant until it is exposed by the trials of life and most often by the truth of God’s word. Like fear, anger is another fruit of the deeper sin of pride. This pride most often starts in the individual long before it surfaces in marriage. 

Pride begins before the marriage itself. There is an expectation or personal definition of marriage in an individual that often contributes to the exposure of pride. If an individual believes marriage is for his or her selfish benefit and passions, then he or she is setting themselves up for destruction. Marriage is for God’s glory as a representation for the Gospel and Christ’s love for His bride, the church. Marriage was designed by God to provide a man a suitable partner for the man. If either the husband or wife do not conform to this law (Eph 5:22-33), then there will be trouble.   

Far too many marry for the wrong reasons. There are many great books written with purpose of “why” God made marriage, but it is foolishness to believe that one-flesh marriage can end in any other way than death. If that truth is not ingrained in the mind of everyone, then we should be like the disciples who said,If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” (Mt 19:10)

Anger appears in a person when the other spouse does not live up to the his or her expectation and standards. This standard is often set in place long before one says, “I do.” Many who divorce and remarry have long since had pre-nuptial standards for justice should the other spouse fall. This is readily available in unambiguous passages of scripture laid done by the fathers of the Reformation. Even though the Catholic church is a strong supporter of marriage permanence, many a Catholic have “support” (annulments) for ending marriages should they go south.  

The point is that many enter marriage with a presupposition of divorce as an option. Unfortunately, this “thought” is centered on pride and not the word of God, and most often this pride is reflected in anger when the truth becomes told. Anger most often surfaces when a spouse is “wronged” by the other spouse. Sin again is the common problem, but the difference ALWAYS lies in how we handle sin, as opposed to this sin giving one the easy way out. It has been my limited experience as a former DivorceCare facilitator that divorce is most often the best option, and to defer from this course usually brings on wrath.  

There is always this need for justice and that we feel entitled to how things ought to be. If a spouse commits adultery against us, we often feel that justice is served in divorce. Yet, scripture calls us to forgive our enemies and loves those who are not deserving of love, just as Christ loved us. It often seems that marriage is devoid to this kind of love; especially if the espouse committed a crime again us. I have often questioned how many can exegete scripture Matthew 19:9 and 1 Cor 7:15 to believe that God gives exceptions in marriage, yet requires this unconditional love to complete strangers. The problem either lies in the exegete of these scriptures, our understanding of God’s love, or both. 

I know many Pastors and Biblical scholars will start their commentaries on divorce and remarriage with the thought that it is “best” to reconcile the marriage, but can just as easily assert that there are certain conditions which afford a person to forgo this “forgiveness” to divorce and remarry another. I personally have not found these commentaries befitting of the Gospel and at the very least bring confusion more than clarity. I can see why many become angry, if not more for their own ignorance or rather that they have been misinformed. 

We all know that the deep foundation of any divorce is hardheartedness. It takes a hard heart to refuse to forgive, and it takes an even harder heart to believe that this “unforgiven” spouse will never come to repentance. Even if they did, there seems to be zero tolerance to forgive since it is so much more easy to remarry someone else. This pride to divorce and remarry is NOT centered on the Gospel and is more associated with selfishness and love for the world. 

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

This brings us to the idea that repentance from an adulterous remarriage requires one to “divorce” from this unlawful union. If you want to see anger at its highest level, try telling a divorced remarried person that his or her union is adultery. You can be the most loving, gentle, kind, and careful person in telling a person the truth about marriage, but you are sure to get an angry response when it comes to telling a prideful person e or she is in adultery.

"You can be the most loving, gentle, kind, and careful person in telling a person the truth about marriage, but you are sure to get an angry response when it comes to telling a prideful person he or she is in adultery."

I wish there was an easy and painless way to tell someone the truth about his or her remarriage. In fact, it is my own pride surfacing if I do not tell someone of his or her adultery. The fear of losing friends and family was what I first experienced when I came the truth. I had to tell people the truth no matter the cost of my own personal feelings. It is no different is witnessing the pride of those who hear the truth.

“How dare you tell me that I am in adultery.”

 If I do not tell you, you will go on believing that adultery is not a sin which requires repentance. 

“God tells us not to judge less we be judged.” 

If what I tell you is the truth so that you would repent of the sin of adultery, am I judging you, or am I leading you to the truth in Christ?

“My Pastor tells me that you are causing me sin if I get a divorce.”

 Your pastor is ignorant to the word of God since your “remarriage” is not a marriage in the Lord to begin with. A “civil” divorce cannot end a one-flesh marriage any more than a “remarriage” is a marriage in the Lord. Thus, your “civil” divorce terminates something that should have never happened to begin with.

“Everyone make mistakes…I am forgiven by the blood of Christ. Therefore, He forgives my sins of divorce and remarriage” 

There are many excuses fueled by this pride, but by far, this is the most dangerous.  It is foolishness to believe that God forgives you sin of divorce and remarriage is you have not repented of this sin. This hyper grace forsakes the truth of marriage for the sake of grace to remain in sin by not calling it sin. It is just like the homosexual who believes he or she can remain in the homosexual lifestyle after believing the Lord forgives him or her of the sin. If “remarriage’ is adultery, then repentance of this adultery is to forsake this union and call it the way God sees it.

Also, why is there this extended grace to remain in a “remarriage” vow when the one who made the “remarriage” vow did not extend grace to their covenant spouse? We look like hypocrites if we say that a vow of marriage is sacred, and then divorce and remarry another only to say again, “The vow of marriage is sacred.


In fact, one of the greatest deceptions in the body of Christ is illogical statements such as men who write and publish books telling us one thing and believing another. In one instance is the book by John Piper (This Momentary Marriage) and a question regarding a person who divorces a one-flesh covenant spouse and remarries another. Piper believes that marriage is permanent until death, yet he makes this statement in regards to this question:
“My answer is that a remarriage, while a divorced spouse is still living is an act of unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant. In that sense, to remarry is adultery. We promised, “Till death do us part” because that is what God says marriage is, and even if our spouse breaks his or her covenant vows, we must no break ours.”


“But I do not think that a person who remarries against God’s will and thus commits adultery in this way, should later break the second marriage. This should not have been done, but now that it is done, I should not be undone by man. It is a real marriage.”-John Piper This Momentary Marriage~page170


What Piper wants his readers to believe is that what God call “adultery” (a remarriage) suddenly becomes a “remarriage” that should not be broken based on the idea that vows were exchanged. If this is the case, then should we recognize same-sex vows of marriage? Per Piper’s logic, a vow of “sin” should be and must be honored by God. We must assume that God recognizes vows to become “adulterers” to agree with Piper’s statements.
What Piper asks of his reader redefine marriage, or at the very least include adultery as a viable covenant which must not be broken. What would compel a person to believe this? Well it is no mystery that divorce and remarried couples make up a large majority of the evangelical church, and that many Pastors not only approve of divorce and remarriage, they too have divorced and remarried themselves. The greatest evidence of pride in this case is Piper’s finally assessment on this question. Piper forgoes biblical truth for what appears in his eyes as evidence to what he believes about divorce and remarriage.  


“There are marriages in the church that I serve that are second marriages for one or both partners, which in my view, should not have happened, but today are godly marriages-marriages that are clean and holy, and which are forgiven, justified husbands and wives please God by the way they relate to each other. As forgiven, cleansed, Spirit-filled followers of Jesus, they are not committing adultery in their marriage. These marriages began as they should not have but have become holy.” -John Piper This Momentary Marriage~page 171


This my dear friends this is a compromise of God’s word and we could very well see these words in ten years for the same-sex marriages that have permeated society. Piper’s pride has forgone the truth of God’s word based on his own feelings and beliefs. Piper wants the reader to accept adulterous unions based on his observation that good people can be adulterers too. Never mind that adultery is a sin which requires repentance. In Piper’s eyes, repentance is not an option in these cases. Piper’s pride has got the best of him.

In conclusion, the pride of man as it pertains to divorce and remarriage is clear in what many teach, preach and believe about marriage. In a sense, these people have defended divorce and remarriage and redefined marriage to fit their own personal circumstances. It is tragic enough that societies and culture have perverted marriage with divorce and remarriage, but to see this happen by those professing to be the body of Christ is devastating and so unbefitting of the Gospel they claim. 


 The solution is simple. Repent.


The solution is simple. Repent. Forgo your pride and arrogance to believe that marriage is anything but a one-flesh covenant which can only end in death. It would take one humble and contrite of heart generation to right the wrongs of divorce and remarriage. The Gospel is powerful enough to replace the prideful heart with a heart of Christ. We need to teach our children the truth so that future generations will see the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ reflected in marriages that will remain until death do us part. We need to be a body of Christ that defends marriage as one man and one woman for life….So help us God.


 “Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God.” -John Piper, "This Momentary Marriage"


In Christ’s love,

Neil  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Neil. Nice to see your first post of the year.

I came across this blog from www.cadz.net. I'd been a Christian for 15 years before learning from Bible study and the conviction of the Holy Ghost that "remarriage" is adultery and requires repentance in order to be forgiven. Sadly, I had to leave a church once, because it was filled with such adulterers and adulteresses {the "pastor" was on his third "marriage"}.

Painful though it was to learn this truth, I thank God He taught it to me prior to being married! May the Lord bless and keep you.

~Lady Virtue