The Simplicity of God’s Marriage Law

By Irven Lee

The law of God relative to marriage is rather simple and easy to understand. Simplicity generally characterized our Lord as He talked. We are told in Mark 12:37 that the common people heard him gladly. They would not have heard him gladly if they could not have understood him. It is beyond our comprehension that One who was with God in the creation and who possessed knowledge as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth could come in the flesh and so speak that the common people could hear Him gladly. They were the ones that were the easiest for him to reach. He did not reach the high and mighty, and certainly he made no effort to speak only to the high and mighty. He made a special effort to speak to the poor, to those who had had less opportunity in the field of education, and to those who were little in their own sight.

John the Baptist once sent two of his disciples to our Lord to say, “Art thou he that should come or look we for another?” John was in prison through no wrong doing and was likely discouraged. Jesus asked the two disciples to return to John with this message, “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:5). The poor have the gospel preached to them. The common people heard him gladly.

The law of marriage is simple and easy to understand. It would be a false effort on my part if I tried to make it seem complicated because it is not complicated. The Lord stated it so that the average man, the common people, could understand it. Back in the days when I was teaching school I had the privilege of having a sixth grade Bible class every morning for several years. I never did have anybody in one of those classes who could not understand the law of marriage as it is given in the New Testament. It is not hard to understand, but it is ignored . . . .

Jesus said, “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.” That is not hard to read, and it is not hard to understand. There are a lot of questions that people can ask that I cannot answer. They come asking questions after they have become entangled in complicated situations that seem to me to have no solution, and I do not know what to tell them to do. I could have told them before they became enmeshed in their difficult situations what the law of God is concerning marriage. It is much simpler to talk to people who have not violated the law and who are trying to avoid the pitfalls than it is to try to untangle some of the nets that they have woven around themselves when they did not examine the law carefully before marriage.

I want to reach young people who are not yet married. I want to help them to know the law so that they can enter into their marriages with the understanding that they must live together until the death of one of the partners. The law indicates that one cannot put away his wife because she is lazy or is not physically attractive, or because she has a high temper or because she is not a good housekeeper. The only way he may do so is for the cause of fornication. It was the Lord Himself who gave the law, and he has all authority in heaven and on earth. He has bound it on earth, and neither Congress nor the State Legislature can change it. The United Nations cannot come up with some decree that could change it. Now, states may write other laws that differ from that and put them on their statute books, but God’s law would still stand. It does not matter what the law of the land may say, the law of God will still say, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery.” Putting away one’s wife for any other cause than that of fornication brings about a temptation that is almost certain to lead her to commit adultery. It is a normal thing for her to want a husband, so she is likely to violate God’s law.

In Matthew 19 we have a record of the Pharisees’ coming to Jesus and questioning him, hoping to trap him in his answers. They asked 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 that 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. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 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. 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.”

Is this teaching so deep and complicated that only the intellectual genius can understand it or is it simple enough that the common man may understand it? (Excerpts from Good Homes in a Wicked World, pp. 11-12,14-16.)

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 18, pp. 545, 567-568
September 19, 1991