11 Theses on Marriage, Divorce,
Remarriage & Adultery
In a day when many people are living in open sexual sin,
either living together without marriage, or living with
another person’s wife or divorcing and remarrying at will,
it is time to consider what the LORD says about this
subject. We are to follow the Word of God, not our opinions,
or what appears right and convenient to us.
1. All marriages are ordained of God. God
joins a man and a woman in an unbreakable bond until death parts them. This is
the case, even if the wedding vows were exchanged in a registry office between
two pagans. A marriage is not a sacrament—as Rome teaches—so a non-Christian
marriage in a secular place, or a marriage in a false church is still a joining
of two in an unbreakable bond.
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matt. 19:5).
The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth (I Cor. 7:39).
For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband as long
as he liveth (Rom. 7:2).
Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his
wife: and they shall be one flesh (Gen. 2:24).
2. Anyone who comes between a man and a
woman thus joined commits adultery.
3. If there is sexual unfaithfulness in a
marriage, divorce is permissible, although not commanded. Ideally, there should
be repentance by the guilty party and restoration. The only ground of
divorce is adultery. "Incompatibility," boredom with one’s spouse, poverty,
sickness, lusting for a younger or prettier or wealthier woman, etc., cannot be
grounds for divorce. The
Lord recognises one and only one ground for divorce and
no ground for remarriage. Divorce on any ground other than adultery is
itself adultery: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of
fornication, causeth her to commit adultery" (Matt. 5:32). The reason why he
"causes" her to commit adultery is because he leaves her wide open to remarriage
or getting involved with another man sexually.
4. Adultery cannot break the original
marriage bond, which can only be broken by God at death.
5. If any man puts away his wife and
marries another woman he commits adultery against his spouse. Neither the
"guilty party" (the adulterer) nor the "innocent party" (the one cheated on) may
remarry unless the original spouse has died.
Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery (Matt. 5:32).
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 (Matt. 19:9).
Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery
against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to
another, she committeth adultery (Mark 10:11-12).
Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and
whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery
If while her husband liveth, she [the wife] be married to another man, she shall
be called an adulteress (Rom. 7:3).
6. If a man divorces his first wife he is not
free to make wedding vows to another woman: unless the first spouse is dead.
can sanctify or make lawful a "marriage" to a second spouse: neither the passage
of time, nor conversion of one or both of the partners, nor custom, nor human
law, nor public or popular opinion, nor church decree or "blessing" can make
lawful a second "marriage" while the first spouse lives. Jesus confronted the
many-times-"married" Samaritan woman with these words, "Thou hast had five
husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband" (John 4:18). John the
Baptist confronted Herod who was married to Herodias while Herodias’ husband
Philip was still living: "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife"
(Mark 6:18). Because Philip was still alive Herod and Herodias were committing
adultery. For speaking out, John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed. The
same happens today. Today the persecution comes in the form of anger against the
messenger. "You’re a legalist!" "God wouldn’t expect that of me!" "You are
making everything too hard!" These are all common objections today.
7. To "repent" and then continue to live in the
same sinful adulterous relationship with a second or third "wife" is not
repentance. If a sodomite is converted or a fornicator is converted and he
continues to live sexually, etc., with his "partner" while claiming to have
repented, he shows himself to be unrepentant and rebellious.
8. If Jesus judges a relationship as adultery
means that the adulterous relationship must stop. To continue—claiming
love or hardship or any other reason—is not an option. That is part of taking up
one’s cross and following Christ. You cannot live in sin and be in Christ.
9. If a man divorces his wife he has two options:
be reconciled or live singly. "If she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be
reconciled to her husband" (I Cor. 7:11). Entering a relationship with a third
party ("marriage" or fornication or co-habitation) is not an option. Thus Jesus
spoke of some who "made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake"
(Matt. 19:12), people who deny themselves sex because they must live singly,
10. If a believer is married to an unbeliever he
should not seek to be loosed from such a difficult marriage. "If any brother
hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him
not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if
he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him" (I Cor. 7:12-13).
11. Nobody can claim that this is easy. The
disciples were so shocked by Christ’s teachings on the unbreakable marriage bond
and one ground for divorce with no remarriage that they exclaimed: "If the case
of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry" (Matt. 19:10). Jesus
replied, "All men cannot receive this saying, save them to whom it is given"
(Matt. 19:11). However, as hard as Christ’s words may be, Jesus will not change
His teachings to accommodate us. They are timeless and unchanging; they are
neither culturally limited nor old-fashioned. They are the words of the Son of
God, which He received from His Father. Jesus shows mercy to adulterers
("Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more;" John 8:11) but He commands
that they repent ("Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;" Luke 13:5).
Those who repent—which involves forsaking their sins—are shown mercy; those who
do not shall not enter the kingdom of heaven:
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor
effeminate, nor abusers with themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous,
nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (I Cor.
Jesus does not forgive somebody so that
that person can continue in the same sin in which He found him. That would be a