Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The "Exception Clause" and 1 Cor 7 Collision

 Marriage is a holy institution between a man and a woman designed by God. It is no mystery that if you read my other posts, I believe the Bible proves that time and time again, those who divorce or believed that a divorce ended their marriage do so with hard hearts. The Bible also proves that in every case, that remarriage after divorcing a living spouse is adultery. The Bible also proves that anyone who "marries" a divorced spouse commits adultery and remains in adultery until there is repentance.

What the Bible will prove in this post is that a confessing believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will NOT divorce and remarry no matter what happens in their marriage. A believer will trust in God to restore their prodigal spouse to Christ first…Then they will seek for the restoration of their marriage. If you read yesterdays post, Paul calls all believers to renew their minds…

    Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In this particular post, scripture will contradict those who believe that the Bible offers an “exception clause” to divorce and remarry. The exception clause is Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9  In yesterday’s post HERE, I gave examples of how the exception clause causes confusion and wickedness to those who pervert this exception clause for their own selfish desires. However, if the exception clause refers to betrothal marriage, there are no contradictions and no misunderstandings.  

The Gospel of Matthew is the only Gospel that offers this exception clause. The two verses are Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9. For the sake of this post, I offered three popular translations. The King James Version (KJV), the New International Version (NIV) and the New Living Translation (NLT) I want to be clear that I rely on the King James Version and the betrothal view of marriage that is only applicable to Jewish Christians who understood that “fornication", can only take place in a non-consummated betrothal marriage. More on this here.  For the sake of this post, I want to approach this exception clause from an alternative, yet equally compelling view.  

Matthew 5:32

King James Version (KJV)  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

New International Version (NIV)  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

 New Living Translation (NLT)  But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.

Matthew 19:9
King James Version (KJV) And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

New International Version (NIV) I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.

New Living Translation (NLT) And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.

If we read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we see where Paul makes a blanket statement at the beginning of his discussion of marriage, and a blanket statement at the end of when his is talking about marriage. Paul is actually quoting what Jesus already says about marriage….If you notice, there is no exception clause in this beginning verses. These verses point to the permanence of marriage. Till death do we part!

The beginning…
1 Cor 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

The end…
 1 Cor 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

For the sake of this post, we will focus on what Paul says to the believer. We already have knowledge of what Paul says in verses 10 and 11….But now he addresses a situation. A believer married to an unbeliever….

1 Cor 7:12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 
16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

In both verses 12 and 13, the believing spouse must not put away his or her unbelieving spouse if he or she is pleased to dwell in the marriage. If you notice, Paul does not mention any exception clauses. If this is the case, if a spouse commits sexual immorality/unfaithfulness/fornication, does this elevate them to “unbeliever” status?

Like yesterday’s post, I believe it I best to use fictitious names and a scenario as an example. We will use the names of Joe and Mary.

Joe marries Mary in the eyes of God and man. Mary has an adulterous affair with her co-worker. We will call this man Bob. According to this exception clause, Joe has the option to divorce Mary if she does not repent of her adulterous relationship with Bob. However, if we go specifically by this exception clause, is it mandatory that Joe divorce Mary, or can Joe forgive Mary should she repent?

In additions, do Mary’s actions qualify her as an "unbeliever" if she does not repent? If so, should Joe not put Mary away because she yet desires to live with Joe? Let us say Mary denies the fact that she is having an affair with Bob, and she seeks to remain in the marriage with Joe…Should Joe divorce Mary?

As you can see, the exception clause and 1 Cor 7 collide. The scripture commands that the believer is not to put a way an unbeliever who seeks to remain in the marriage. Can you see the stress and pain this would cause a believer? What is a believer to do in this situation if they cannot exit the marriage? This is what is referred to as an unequally yoked marriage (2 Cor 6:14). The believer will never be in peace if he or she remains in a marriage with an impenitent unbeliever.Yet, this is exactly what Paul commands of the believer.

If Mary seeks to leave the marriage with Joe to be with Bob, Joe is not obligated to stop Mary.  
1 Cor  
7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

However, Mary is in adultery with Bob because a divorce does not break the marriage bond. Joe will be at peace because Mary is no longer in the home.  Joe should also be at peace knowing that he is not a fault for Mary's actions. This verse (1 Cor 7:15) does not give Joe the option to divorce and remarry. The option Joe has is to pray for the salvation of the prodigals, Mary and Bob. If Joe divorces and remarries, he will enter into adultery himself, and he will cause Mary and Bob to remain in their adultery. This is tragic.

This is another example of how the exception clause causes more sin. In fact, divorce is a hardhearted decision that never ends well. Both Jesus and Paul preach that only death breaks a one-flesh marriage covenant. If we believe any other way, we contradict scripture and cause confusion. God wants to restore a marriage and no marriage can be restored if one or both believe the marriages ends any other way than death.

 The following scriptures are called accountability scriptures or Church Discipline. They help us to restore a sinner to repentance.

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

God loves the most disobedient prodigal, and so must we. God demands repentance form sin, so must we trust in His word and act accordingly to His will.. Marriage may require one spouse to patiently wait on the Lord in singleness, so that God can restore the prodigal to Him. We must believe and trust in God’s faithfulness. Do not let others convince you that your marriage ends with the actions of a sinful spouse. Let the Holy Spirit guide you with the truth of God’s word and the truth of God’s promises. Remember, it was God who waited patiently for you, when you were yet far from Him.

We must not live as if this world is all there is. A marriage covenant is applicable in this lifetime. If you entered into marriage without considering God’s design for marriage, there will be consequences. However, if you truly love others as Christ loved you, you will lovingly point a prodigal to the truth of their sin. You will forgive when there is repentance. You will give God the glory even in the darkest hour by saying, Thy will be done…You will be an ambassador of reconciliation, a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Lord.  

In Christ’s love,


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