SOME FINAL QUESTIONS
We have spent considerable time investigating the biblical principles
that relate to the binding nature of the marriage union. Repeatedly, we
found that there is not to be divorce under any circumstances whatsoever.
What God has joined together is not to be put asunder. Moreover, it someone
does become divorced for some reason, we found that it would be a grievous
sin to remarry while the former spouse still lives.
We then looked briefly at the implications of these truths upon both
the husband’s role and the wife’s role in the marriage relationship. We
discovered that, even if both spouses are saved, it can be very difficult to
be the kind of husband and wife that God desires. But when one spouse is
unsaved, it is certain that the other will have an exceedingly difficult life
However, by God’s grace it is possible to live victoriously even in
such a difficult marriage. But to do so requires very careful obedience to
God’s rules. Wonderfully, God has given us His rules and principles so
that even in the most trying circumstances we can experience the
blessings of obedience. Those blessings include not only the comforting
knowledge that we are living in the will of God, but they sometimes
include the salvation of the unsaved spouse as well.
But now we will look at some other questions that often arise in
Christian circles. For example, isn’t it true that when we become a
Christian old things have passed away and all things have become new?
Doesn’t this imply that if I was divorced before I was saved, now that I
am saved I, as a new creature, am free to remarry? And what am I to do if
I become saved after I have already married a second time? Let’s
conclude our study by examining such questions.
Divorce And The Newly Saved
A common assertion these days is the idea that if we were divorced
before we were saved, after becoming saved we are free to remarry. This is
based on the contention that as saved people we have become new creatures in
Christ. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. But
is this kind of teaching biblical?
Actually, this teaching is quite unbiblical. First, it does not
recognize that God’s laws apply to all mankind. For example, the
commandments “thou shalt not kill” or “thou shalt not covet” apply to the
unbeliever as well as to the believer. The only difference is in the
response to these commands. The true believer earnestly desires to be
obedient to all of God’s commands, while the unbeliever pays little
or no attention to these rules.
The true believer knows that all of the commands of the Bible are to be
obeyed. There is no statment of the Bible he would disregard. Therefore,
if the Bible says he is not to remarry after divorce, then he will
remain single. And this is true whether he was divorced before or after he
Secondly, becoming a new creature in Christ does not necessarily
nullify the physical results of our sin. For example, a murderer is
sentenced to the electric chair. While waiting to be executed, he becomes
saved. This means he will never be threatened with hell for murder or for
any other sin he committed. He now stands absolutely blameless before God.
But does this mean that now he can leave death row and avoid execution? No,
he still must be executed for his crime, unless he receives a very unusual
pardon from the governor.
The same is true of a drunkard. Because of his continued drunkenness
he is told he is dying of liver disease. But then he becomes saved. All of
his sins, including drunkenness, have been covered by Christ’s blood. But
does this also mean that he will not die of liver disease? Not necessarily.
Normally, the effects of his drunkenness continue with him.
Likewise, the man who has a messed up life because of divorce can be
forgiven of this sin along with every other sin he has ever committed. When
he becomes saved he can know that he will never have to answer to God for any
of these sins.
But much of the impact of those sins remain with him. God’s laws
concerning marriage and divorce still stand. Even if he becomes saved
after he was divorced, he knows that God’s law prohibits remarriage
while his former spouse is living. Therefore, he will remain single as
God has commanded.
This leads us into another question. Is it really true that God expects
those who were divorced to live the single life in total celibacy? Isn’t
that asking too much? Surely a loving, forgiving heavenly Father would not
These questions can be answered from two vantage points. First of
all, let us look at a marriage that was broken by God. Consider the
example of a widow with five children, one of whom is a child with special
needs. God has taken her husband by death.
Biblically she is free to remarry, and if any family needs a husband and
a father, it is certainly this one. But in actuality, marriage for this widow
is highly unlikely. It would be difficult enough to expect a new husband to
become the instantaneous father of five children. But it is well nigh
impossible for a new husband to be willing to take on the additional
responsibilities of a child with special needs and cares.
Now, did God leave this poor widow in an impossible, terrible situation?
Surely God is perfect in His actions and His wisdom! Therefore, when God
took this husband by death God knew full well that the widow could continue a
meaningful and happy life without the presence of a husband and father for
True, it would be a life that would be different from what the world
considers to be ideal. She would certainly need the help of others. And
she would have to constantly cry out to God for wisdom and patience. But
she would find that God’s grace is truly sufficient. In fact, she could
experience in an especially dynamic way the reality of such promises as “I
will never leave thee, nor forsake thss: (Hebrews 13:5).
So, if God’s grace is sufficient for those whose marriages have been
broken by His own action, surely we can expect that His grace will be
sufficient for those whose marriages have been tampered with by man’s
action of divorce.
There is a second emphasis here that must be kept in mind. In our
sinful, finite mind we think that because the intimacies enjoyed in our
marriage were such a seemingly necessary part of our life, that it would be
nearly impossible to live a celibate life after divorce. “How can I be
expected to live the rest of my life without any further intimacies with the
opposite sex? Surely a good God does not intend that for me,” we reason.
But God is the one who has designed us. It is God Himself who has put
the body chemistry within us so that we can enjoy the intimacies of
It is also God who assures us that it is possible for humans to live
very happy lives without the benefit of such intimacies. God declares in
I Corinthians 7:27,…”Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.” He
adds in verses 32-34:
But I would have you without carefulness. He that is
unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how
he may please the Lord:
But he that is married careth for the things that are of the
world, how he may please his wife.
There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The
unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she
may be holy both in body and spirit: but she that is married
careth for the things of the world, how she may please her
These verses clearly show that there are some special advantages
that are awailable to the unmarried. In these verses God is not speaking to
a certain group within the company of the believers. He is speaking to all
who have become children of God.
Jesus spoke to this question in Matthew 19:12 where He taught:
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their
mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made
eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made
themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that
is able to receive it, let him receive it.
The strict definition of a eunuch is someone who is not physically
equipped to perform the sexual act. But Jesus is teaching that some
people make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. But
He is not implying that they are to have themselves physically altered.
Rather, they choose to live without the physical intimacy of the marriage
relationship. In denying themselves this intimacy, they gain all kinds of
new and wonderful ways to live to God’s glory.
True, the world in which we live has put an enormous priority on sexual
intimacy. Listening to the advertisements, the novels, the TV programs,
the psychologists of our day, we have been brainwashed into thinking
that if we cannot have this kind of intimacy, we are being deprived of the
greatest blessing known to man.
But this is a lie. God’s Word is the truth. While God indicates
there are certain blessings within the marriage relationship —
particularly in the rearing of godly children — there are even greater
blessings to be realized in the single state. This is what we learn from I
The single person has the advantage of having more time to serve the
Lord by doing such good works as caring for the lonely, the children of
broken homes, and the elderly in nursing homes. They also have more time
for Bible study and prayer.
Married people should also be involved in denying themselves so that
their lives might be as fruitful as possible for Christ. But it is in the
lives of the unmarried that these ideals can be realized to the highest
And it is this spiritual dimension that can make the big difference
in the lives of widows, widowers, divorced people, and those who have never
married. God has given this special comfort and promise to all those who are
But it is only as they live in accordance with God’s principles
that these added blessings become evident. If the single person listens
to the advice of the world, the feeling that the single state makes a person a
deprived, pitiable, second-class citizen can be overwhelming. This in turn
can set the stage for a fall into fornication. Only when God’s rules are
followed can the life of the single person become even more victorious than
that of the married person.
But now we should face another question. What about someone who has
married a second or even a third time and then becomes saved? Is he or she
to divorce these latter spouses? What is to be done in order to obey God?
The Second Marriage
The question we are facing is a serious one, even though it should not
be. If the human race, led by the church, were obeying God’s laws concerning
marriage and divorce, there would be very few second marriages. But because
of the wholesale repudiation of God’s laws concerning the sanctity of
marriage, this problem has become enormous. Everywhere we turn we meet
those who have remarried after divorce. Therefore, we must try to find an
answer to this question.
We already know that the second marriage is an adulterous marriage.
Remember, the wife is bound to the husband as long as he lives. And Romans
7:3 plainly declares:
So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to
another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her
husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no
adulteress, though she be married to another man.
We cannot deny the clear teaching set forth in this verse. The wife
is an adulteress if she is married to a second husband while her first
husband is still living. She is an adulteress because her first marriage
has become adulterated by her divorce, as well as because she has married a
We must recognize that a number of examples are given in the Bible of
men with multiple wives. Jacob had four wives, David had several wives, and
Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines! But, these were exceptions. The
usual example that is given is of one wife. This was true of Adam, Noah,
Isaac, Moses, etc.
We also consider that never did the Bible instruct a man to divorce
all but the first wife. This is remarkable when we remember that the
principle of one man, one wife goes all the way back to the beginning. God
did not tell Adam that the three or four or several shall become one
flesh. No. He instructed mankind in the beginning that the two shall be
one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Although in Genesis 2:24 the number “two” is not
used, the verse speaks of a man cleaving to his wife (not wives) “and they
shall be one flesh.”
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and
shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Remember, Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:8. In
both of these verses He declares that the two shall be one flesh.
Therefore, we might expect that God would ask those who have violated
this command by taking multiple wives to divorce their additional wives.
But such an admonition is not given by God.
Thus, we must realize that even though God has willed that the proper
marriage is one husband, one wife, nevertheless He has allowed mankind
to break this law by having multiple wives. Nowhere in the Bible does
He ask those believers with multiple wives to divorce the extra wives.
The reason for this state of affairs probably lies in the fact that even
the marriage of a second wife is still a marriage. Even though it is
altogether wrong, for some reason God still counts it as a marriage.
Thus, the second wife becomes bound to the husband even as the first
wife has become bound to the husband. And once this binding relationship
occurs, there cannot be a breaking of that relationship.
True, the marriage to the second wife adulterates the pristine,
ideal character of marriage as a one husband, one wife relationship. But
the second marriage still is a marriage, and therefore, there can be no
When a man divorces his first wife, she is still bound to him from God’s
vantage point. Therefore, when he takes a second wife while his first wife
is living, he has two wives bound to him. The act of divorcing his first
wife was grievous sin. Likewise, the act of marrying a second wife was
grievous sin. But the second marriage was still a marriage, and therefore,
there cannot be divorce from this second wife. This is the marriage in
which he must continue until death separates him from this wife.
True, a second or third marriage under these circumstances is far from
ideal. From the standpoint of its relationship to the first marriage, it
is adulterous. Secondly, there still exist responsibilities towards the
first wife. Alimony and child support are the most obvious. But
there are also moral and spiritual responsibilities and conflicts that
may continue to plague the one who has arrogantly violated God’s
rules. Unfortunately, the children frequently suffer the most because of
these selfish parents.
Moreover, such a husband can no longer be a pastor, an elder, or a deacon
within the church. In I Timothy 3 God specifically instructs that such an
office bearer in the church is to be the husband of one wife. Remember
that in Romans 7:3 God speaks of the woman’s husband still living while she
is married to another man. God considers her to have two husbands, even
though she is legally divorced from the first. Likewise, from God’s
vantage point, the man who has divorced his first wife and married another now
has two wives. Therefore, he does not meet God’s qualifications
for a pastor, an elder, or a deacon.
In spite of the difficulties of a second marriage after divorce, it
is still a marriage. The spouses involved are to live as if it were their
Wonderfully, if they have become true believers, they can know that all of
the sins connected with the divorce and remarriage are covered by Christ’s
blood. Christ came for sinners, not righteous people. Regardless of how
many dirty, rotten sins we may have committed, when Jesus becomes our
Savior we can know that He has paid for all our sins.
This brings us to the last group of questions we shall consider in
this study. If a second marriage is to be lived the same as a first
marriage with the complete assurance that the sins of divorce and remarriage
become completely forgiven by God, why can’t I just go ahead into a second
marriage and then ask God’s forgiveness later? Suppose I am already married
to someone, but I want to marry someone else with whom I have fallen in
love. Why can’t I go ahead and get an unbiblical divorce and then sinfully
marry this second person? Cannot I then ask God’s forgiveness, believing
Christ’s blood will cover these sins? Or, suppose I am divorced; can’t I
first marry someone else before I get right with God? That way I can have
my second marriage and Christ also. Then I don’t have to live the rest
of my natural life in the single state.
These questions and observations surely seem logical and attractive.
They surely appear to solve the problem of one having his cake and eating it
But this course of action is fraught with danger.
Effectively, the one contemplating this action is taking the role of an
adversary of Almighty God. Effectively he is saying, “I can sin as deeply
and as often as I wish, and in my own sweet time I can become saved. And God
must save me when I am ready to become saved.”
Such a one is tempting God like Israel tested God in the wilderness
when they complained that God was leading them to destruction. God warns
in I Corinthians 10:9:
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and
were destroyed of serpents.
The specific sin God had in view in this verse is recorded in Numbers
21:5-6 where we read:
And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore
have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?
for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our
soul loatheth this light bread.
And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they
bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
The nation of Israel accused God of being too harsh in bringing
them out of Egypt into the wilderness where they were to live following God’s
direction. But their complaints against God only brought judgment upon them.
So, too, those who insist on having their own way concerning divorce or
remarriage after divorce effectively are complaining that God’s way is too
severe and too harsh. They are insisting on having their own way.
Ancient Israel insisted on having its own way and as a result came under
God’s wrath. How then can we expect God to treat any differently those
who insist on having their own way in such important matters as divorce
and remarriage? Indeed, it is a very serious matter to contend with Almighty
Moreover, the idea that I can sin for as long as I like, then sometime
in the future I can repent at will and secure God’s grace, is entirely
faulty. It does not recognize nor understand the nature of God’s grace.
We must remember that mankind is not the decision maker in salvation.
Only Sovereign God Himself decides who is to be saved. But He comes to us
commanding us to believe in Christ as Savior. He warns, “How shall we
escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? He
exhorts,…”make your calling and election sure…” (Peter 1:10). And He
instructs us that we are to come not despise” (Psalms 51:17). He also
warns that He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
With such warnings and exhortations before our eyes how would anyone
dare to deliberately rebel against God in something as serious as divorce
or remarriage after divorce? These are not sins that one slips into
incidentally or accidentally. These are sins that require deliberate planning
and consistent action over a period of considerable time. And if one’s heart
is rebellious and hard enough today to commit such a sin, the probability
is that this person is not saved. Moreover, it is evidence that God is not
even drawing this one toward salvation. If God is today allowing this
person to engage in such rebellion, what assurance can he have that later on
God will deal kindly with him and soften his heart in order to draw him to
We may never presume upon the mercies of God. Today is the day of
salvation. No person has any guarantee or promise that he will even be alive
tomorrow. How then can we know that tomorrow we can be able to make our
peace with God?
Furthermore, if we are so rebellious today that we would dare to sin so
deliberately, how do we know that at some future date our hearts will
become broken before God so that we can honestly and sincerely cry out
for mercy? Indeed, we have no such assurance.
Therefore, to deliberately divorce or remarry after divorce, knowing
that such action is contrary to God’s will, is the most foolish and
dangerous action anyone could take. The only fulfilling way to live is
in accordance with God’s laws. And the best time to begin living in this
way is right now. May God give wisdom to those who have even played with the
idea of sinning now and repenting later!
How Did It Happen
But now let’s turn our thought to wondering how it could ever have
happened that the dreadful sin of divorce has become so widespread in our
The problem of unbiblical marriage and divorce is so serious, so
catastrophic, that we wonder how the church could ever have strayed so far
from the truth. Fifty years ago it was only in the more rebellious elements
of the secular world that this sin was visible. Because the church would
not even eountenance this sin, the secular world did not dare to go too
deeply into sin. It is a fact that the church is to some degree the
conscience of the secular world.
But then comes along a dear lady who was married to a man living
adulterously with other women. The church began to wonder: “Must this dear
wife continue to live with that kind of horrible husband?” So in its
sympathy and compassion, the church restudied the question of divorce for
adultery and finally decided, “Yes, the Bible does allow divorce for
adultery.” And so the door was opened so that not only could this dear lady
have her divorce, but also many others in the congregation could begin to
lawfully seek divorce. Because the church is to some degree the conscience
of the secular world, the people of the world also began to expand their
divorce horizons. And so divorce began to multiply in the world.
At this point another kind of problem began to arise. Another dear lady
was deserted by her husband and she had to labor all alone in caring for
her childre. But there was a dear Christian man who loved her and wanted to
marry her. Surely, they reasoned, it must be in accordance with God’s will
for those children to have a Christian father to care for them!
So again the church, in its pity and compassion for this woman,
appointed study committees to research the possibilities of biblical divorce
for desertion and biblical remarriage after divorce. And again
victory was assured. Indeed, these theologians successfully convinced
themselves that the Bible allows divorce for desertion and remarriage after
divorce. And so not only could this dear lady divorce her scoundrel of a
husband, but she was free to marry this fine Christian man who had fallen in
love with her.
Many in the church now believe they have God’s blessing to divorce and
remarry. Indeed, even deacons and pastors are now freely divorcing and
remarrying. And the world, taking its cue from the church, becomes a
wasteland of broken homes.
Simultaneously, the church, taking its cue from the world, tacitly
gives assent to the dreadful sin of birth control. This not only encourages
the world to go deeper into this particular sin, but also opens the
door to increased fornication. Where forty years ago it was rightly
considered to be shameful and repugnant for unmarried individuals of the
opposite sex to live together, now it has become commonplace.
Indeed, sexual restraints of any kind have almost disappeared.
Along with all of these step-by-step violations of God’s laws for the
protection of the family unit, have come shattered lives of men, women, and
children whose families have been hopelessly broken. The havoc is so
widespread and of such magnitude that no words can accurately describe the
full extent of the horror story.
Indeed, it is no wonder that God’s judgment is on the church of today.
I am afraid that the primary blame for the destruction of the marriage
institution and the family unit must be placed at the door of the church, for
it has the Word of God that indicates divorce is not to be countenanced.
The church is the institution that has rewritten the rules to accommodate
these sins of its members.
But what can we do? We must do the same thing that must always be
done when we find sin in our lives. We must repent! We must turn away from
all of these rebellious rules that permit divorce and remarriage. We must
cry out to God for His mercy and forgiveness.
And we can’t wait for another denomination or even another church
within our denomination to agree with us that we have sinned. I
personally must repent if I have had wrong thinking about these questions.
And the church I belong to must repent.
Unfortunately, few will repent. The sins that have developed and have
been accepted as the marriage institution has been slowly but surely destroyed
are so widespread and so interwoven into the fabric of our churches that
there is little hope for that. This is particularly so because we are so
close to the end of the world. These dreadful sins evidence the
fulfillment of the prophecy that most men’s love will grow cold. May God
have mercy on us!
Wonderfully, however, those who truly want to be obedient to God’s Word
can still move in the direction of a more holy life. If we discover wrong
practices or wrong doctrines in our life, we can repent of them. God is
gracious. He does forgive! And the Bible is just as much a guide for our
lives today as it has ever been.
Could it be that there will be those who humbly will give heed to all
that God teaches? Although we cannot turn this massive destruction of
the family around, individually we can grow in holiness by becoming more
obedient. This is the heart’s desire of every child of God.
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