Divorce and Remarriage

Mt 19:3 ¶ The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 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.
10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
12 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.

Here, God is telling us that divorce is permitted under the circumstance of fornication. There are some questions that need to be answered:
1. What is fornication?
2. When are two considered “husband and wife?”
3. Why was this saying so hard for the disciples?

Fornication in general means any unlawful sexual relations; this not being limited to men with women. However as we study the bible, vague loosely defined words will not hold any weight. So we must provide a clearer definition. Consider the following:
Fornication: 1. The incontinence or lewdness of unmarried persons, male or female;

With this clearer definition we see that fornication is narrowed to unmarried persons. So if unmarried persons commit lewdness it is called fornication. Let us reexamine the verse. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication… So with this in mind we can began to examine what the Lord is saying to us.

As we continue let us remember that these words were given to first century Jews. We need to be careful not to interpret with 21st century understanding. Fornication was never to be confused with adultery. Notice the following:
Mt 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Mr 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
1Co 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
1Co 6:9 ¶ Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

So, again, we see a clear distinction between fornication and adultery.

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 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.

Fornication meant that the young lady was “playing the whore.” A thing that was so terrible that the only remedy was stoning. Notice the following:

De 22:21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

The above context was a young lady who was just married and her husband suspected that she was not a virgin. Let’s look at the verses in their entirety.

De 22:13 ¶ If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
16 And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

Let us look in detail at the above verses. The man had just taken his wife, now he hates her. There is nothing that suggests an enormous lapse of time. He brings up a report that she is not a maid (in this case a virgin). The parents bring the “tokens of her virginity” to the elders of the city. There they spread the cloth to determine if the tokens are present. If they are the man is chastised. Additionally he is told that “he may not put her away all his days.”
The tokens of her virginity are none other than the blood stain that was caused when a maid looses her virginity. This is the evidence that the elders are looking for.
On a side note, this is not always present in modern virgins because of tampons. These are inserted into the body and the break occurs the first time they are used.
If the blood was present the husband may not put her away ALL his days.
IF the tokens were not found then the daughter was taken and stoned for playing the whore in her father’s house.

I believe these verses make it clear that fornication is clearly distinguishable from adultery and must be considered when examining Matthew 19.
Husband and Wife
When are the two considered one flesh? When the man leaves his mother and father and takes unto him a wife.

When the man takes unto him a wife they are considered husband and wife. This is even before the consummation of the marriage. Consider the following:
Mt 1:18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Let us examine these verses more closer. Mary was espoused to Joseph. What exactly does this mean?
ESPOUS'ED, pp. Betrothed; affianced; promised in marriage by contract; married; united intimately; embraced.
They were not only engaged, betrothed, but married in the most simplest definition. This was even before the consummation. It is at this time that Joseph, he husband, being a just man was going to “put her away” privily. The angel stopped him and fear not to take his wife.
Mt 1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Let us now examine the putting away. Joseph had every right to put his wife away because of Mary being with child. Remember it was called folly to “play the whore.” An act so terrible that warranted death.
She, obviously, was no “maid” being with child. Due to the circumstances Joseph was well within his right to put her away, and were it not for the angel he would have. But since the thing was of God, he took her unto him, not knowing her until she gave birth to JESUS.
Until Death Do Us Part
Matthew 19
10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

The fact that the disciples suggested that this was a hard saying shows the gravity of marriage. Since it is a lifelong covenant (he may not put her away all his days), Jesus says that “All men cannot receive this saying.” The Jewish males had, no doubt, grown accustomed to leaving their wives and getting new ones when they felt it necessary. However this was never condoned by, nor in the mind of God for marriage.

Marriage should not be entered into without counsel. And most people should probably be counseled out of marriage when possible.
Mennonite Views
The earliest Anabaptist tract on divorce and remarriage, "Concerning Divorce", was written in 1527 and has been attributed by some to Michael Sattler. It stressed the permanence of the marriage bond, the priority of one's obligation to Christ over one's obligations to a marriage partner, adultery as the only grounds for divorce, taboos against marrying a fornicator, and sanctions against remarrying when divorced. Menno Simons also called for faithfulness in marriage, allowing adultery as the only grounds for divorce, according to Matthew 19:9 and I Corinthians 7:4. According to J.C. Wenger, the Swiss Brethren, the Moravian Hutterites and the Dutch Mennonites all had similar standards regarding divorce. http://www.mhsc.ca/index.asp?content=http://www.mhsc.ca/encyclopedia/contents/D59ME.html

Scripturally, there is nothing which breaks the marriage bond except death. The act of adultery does not dissolve the marriage bond, although it decidedly affects the quality of a marriage relationship and leaves a permanent scar on the persons involved. A legal document called divorce, from God's point of view, does not break the marriage bond, else remarriage would not be adultery. Even the conversion of one of two unbelieving married partners does not dissolve the marriage bond. If the unbelieving partner should leave, the marriage bond continues. Divorced persons who enter a second marriage relation while their first partners are still living may be recognized by the state as legally married, hut "from the beginning it was not so." Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:6-8; Mk. 10:4-9: Prov. 6:32. 33; Rom.7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:10-16, 39.

Divorce was granted in the Old Testament only as a concession and was neither commanded nor commended by God. Divorce is clearly depicted in the Scriptures as being in direct contradiction to the original purpose of God and the true nature of marriage. Principles of the New Testament would allow a divorced person two options. He may remain unmarried or be reconciled to his partner. Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:3-8; Mk. 10:2-9; 1 Cor. 7:10,11.

A very real test comes when children are born in an adulterous marriage relationship. To dissolve such a family unit may cause the children extreme suffering. However, children are also caused to suffer similarly from divorce of original partners or from being born out of wedlock. Such consequences are touching, and are a grim reminder that in the wake of sin there are many innocent sufferers. Prov. 6:32, 33; 13:15; Gal. 6:7, 8.

I would like to show the utter nonsense of the Mennonite view concerning divorce and remarriage. According to them they believe that marriage is for life, even among unbelievers. However, to their discredit, they suggest a married couple with or without children get a divorce. They even suggest going back to a husband or wife after they have been married before. This is clearly condemned in scripture:
De 24:1 ¶ When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

Furthermore if marriage is for life, what about the current marriage? It is just as binding as the previous one.
Mennonites believe in salvation by works. With that in mind, they believe that if one is in a divorced and remarriage situation that they cannot be saved. This is completely ridiculous. The gospel says that “whosoever.” If marriage is honored by God whether believer or unbeliever, and divorce and remarriage is not condoned by God, then getting a divorce now is likewise as evil.
Having said that the best thing to do is recognize the wrong repent, and move on with serving God. There is nothing in scripture that says that the divorced and remarried couple should annul their current relationship and go back to their previous husband or wife, who may be in a new relationship.

God has made it clear that marriage is for life. Unfortunately many have committed wrongs before and after salvation that has made a mess of our society through divorce and remarriage. We simply cannot continue to allow this in our churches. Pastors must do what they can to encourage commitment in current relationships and admonish courting couples to thoroughly consider the gravity of the decision they are considering. The bible gives some encouraging words for husbands and wives.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Col 3:18 ¶ Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

Tit 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Marriage is a complete commitment of both the man and woman to each other. Sure there will be “life events” that will happen to anyone and everyone, however these events should cause the couple to become closer together not vice versa.
Did not the two that entered into the marriage covenant, entered into a vow before God and witnesses? And in the covenant is there room to disannul it for any reason? Consider the following concerning vows.

Ec 5:4 ¶ When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

The marriage covenant is sealed with an oath to each other under any and all circumstances.

The best protection from lust is to not make provision for it:
Ro 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Job 31:1 ¶ I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

This abomination should never happen in the life of the believer if he/she is walking with the Lord. A departure from the Lord is surely a way to bring this kind of sin into the your life.
Final Admonition
Mal 2:12 The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.
13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.
14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: