By Thomas L. Andrews
Many times society is tolerant and even encourages things that are contrary to God’s will. Such is the case concerning divorce. Jesus had the opportunity to teach the truth on the subject after being questioned by the Pharisees (Mt. 19:3-12). It is sinful to divorce, or put away, a marriage partner. The only exception to this rule is in the case of sexual unfaithfulness of one – fornication. Notice that it is a rightful conclusion to say: Every divorce involves sin.
Consider verse nine more carefully. The person (whoso) that marries the one put away commits adultery. Divorce makes it possible for more than one person to become an adulterer. When we consider that as the result of a divorce, four people could ultimately be guilty of adultery, the sinfulness of divorce is magnified.
How serious is adultery? The Bible teaches that as such an adulterer cannot inherit eternal life (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21). The situation that is in existence today is heartbreaking. Knowing that no adulterer shall inherit the kingdom of God, it saddens me to find out that about half of the people I meet are divorced. Many times when we are very sympathetic concerning a matter, we try to work things out to find a solution. Dear reader, do not be guilty of trying to change God’s truth relative to the subject of marriage.
God recognizes the marriages of all people whether they are Christians or not. John the Baptist condemned Herod for taking his brother’s wife (Mk. 6:17-18). Herod was guilty of adultery even though he made no profession of trying to follow God. The matter of the Corinthians demonstrates that God recognizes the union of people while they were yet heathens (1 Cor. 7:12-13). Yes, God recognizes the moral conduct of men before they become a Christian. Repentance requires an adjustment of wrongs which a person has committed (as much as is within his power) before a person becomes justified in the sight of God. The sins a man commits before becoming a Christian will be remembered with regret after he is a child of God. The life of Paul is a clear demonstration of this fact.
Some people would say that a person may marry as many times as they wish and get as many divorces as desired before becoming a Christian. Then, after they have demoralized all the people they can, they may present themselves for baptism, and God will forgive them without them endeavoring to correct crimes they have committed prior to this time. This is one of the most dangerous and untruthful ideas a person can have. I dare not think of the outcome, if this theory were to be advocated to the young of the country. This removes any restraint that ever was and, more importantly, it is contrary to God’s will. Alas, no doubt this type of thinking has been involved in the causes for the decay of the home as we have seen in America.
No man or woman with a living wife or husband not guilty of fornication can marry another without being guilty of adultery. There is no lapse of time that will purge the cohabitation of its sinfulness. To become a child of God one must repent. This involves the confession of sins and correcting of wrongs. The illustration of the horse thief teaches a valuable lesson. The horse thief, in order to repent, must take back the horse that does not belong to him. What about the man that has a wife that does not belong to him? He must give her up! Anything short of this shows a lack of faith in the heart and a lack of genuine repentance. A service to God cannot be done half way.
After Jesus gave the commandment in Mt. 19:9, the disciples decided that it was best not to marry. Christ’s law was so different from the custom that was accepted in their day. If a man was to cleave unto his wife and remain with her all of his days, he had better think about it. Amen!
Here is the point: the trouble with the question of divorce is not a failure to understand the teaching of the Bible, but a lack of faith and courage to do what it requires. The truth of God does not change with the whims of society.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 47, p. 764
November 29, 1979