Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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The Bond of Marriage Established
by God and Unbreakable by Man


The burden of this article is to establish from the Bible the following truths concerning the marriage bond:

  • God created marriage and imbued it with a great mystery, that of the Bridegroom Jesus Christ and His bride the church. This bond is established by God alone and is utterly unbreakable by man.
  • God alone breaks the bond of marriage and does so only by physical death of the mate, thus permitting the only possible case of a biblical second marriage.
  • God, with divine reluctance, permits divorce on the sole ground of adultery, but does not allow this legal separation to break the real marriage bond.
  • God hates unreconciled separations in marriage. He instructs both partners to remain unmarried should this happen, but He does not require the separated spouse to remain physically shackled to the departing mate.
  • God judges it as adultery when the remarriage of either partner follows any divorce.
  • Such adulterous remarriage, if persisted in, is continuing sin. True repentance of his sin is confession of it in godly sorrow and turning from it in the separation of the partners.
  • Christ Himself calls some to remain unmarried, however painfully, for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, and grants His grace to enable them to receive this calling.

1) Genesis 2:18-24: "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

(God created marriage when He created Adam and Eve and joined them together as one flesh, man and wife.)

2) Matthew 19:3-6: "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? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 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? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

(In the way of His creation ordinance, God joins man and wife in every marriage and commands that there be no putting away, no putting asunder.)

3) Malachi 2:15b-16: "Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously."

(God hates putting away and He calls this a violent treachery against the mate.)

4) Ephesians 5:21-32: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

(The great mystery of human marriage is that it is a picture of the bond of Christ and His church, established solely by the sovereign grace of God and unbreakable by man.)

5) I Corinthians 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."

6) Romans 7:2-3: "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 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."

(God alone breaks the bond of marriage, and in only one way, by the physical death of either mate or both. God’s Word in these two passages, and others, forbids one to leave the marriage partner and join another. This is not the same as if God had commanded that man shall not break the marriage bond. Nowhere in Scripture has he so commanded, because such a command, like every law, would include the premise that man is able to do what he ought not to. And man is not able to break this bond, despite his ability, and proclivity, to adulterate it terribly. God makes this bond, and only God can break it.)

7) Mark 10:2-12: "And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, 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."

8) Luke 16:18: "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."

(In both these passages from Mark and Luke, Christ clearly attests to the unbreakable bond of marriage by stating unconditionally that whoever divorces the mate and marries another, commits adultery, and whoever joins in this second marriage commits adultery.)

9) I Corinthians 7:10-16: "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 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. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 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. 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. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?"

(Let there be no departure, but if one departs, both must remain unmarried or be reconciled. Neither is permitted to marry another. Here Paul reiterates Jesus’ foundational position of the unbreakable bond, and adds that one is not in bondage to, is not shackled to, the one departing.)

10) Matthew 5:31-32: "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 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."

(The husband who puts away his wife is charged with guilt for any later adultery by his wife, unless he puts her away because of her fornication. In this case, he may divorce her without being charged with any of her subsequent guilt. Therefore, the phrase "saving for the cause of fornication" is given only to establish the single biblical ground for divorce, a legal separation, and contains no approval for any separate marriage of either the husband or the wife.)

11) Proverbs 19:20-21: "Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand."