By John Shadowens
Matthew 19:9 reads, “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.”
There has been a great deal written in recent months about the subject of marriage and divorce, and rightly so, since this is a problem that plagues the church. There has not been very much written; however, about the individual that has been put away. Such a one finds himself in a real dilemma. I would like to suggest that those who have been put away, who are sincere, and wanting to do what God says, be given the support and encouragement to fight the good fight and not give up and quit (Gal. 6:1; 1 Tim. 6:12). One thing that a put away person wants to know is “What can I do?” This is a legitimate question. These people are being told so often what they cannot do, that I am afraid that they disparage and fall out of the race altogether. So what can they do?
That which is desired of course is to repent and turn their thoughts towards the Word of the living God. Many times brethren are not kind when something like this happens, saying, “we” forgive, but in essence, they do not, and then the individual becomes a sore spot in the congregation and it is cheered when he or she leaves. That one should repent is clear in the Scriptures (Acts 2:38; 17:30-31; 26:20; Mk. 2:17; Lk. 24:47; Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10). After one does repent (2 Cor.2:4-10), like the one in the church at Corinth, he should be received back and encouraged.
The individual who has been overtaken in a fault should realize that he now has another chance. He has disappointed the Lord, and other brethren, as we all do. Now, he must start a long road back to gaining the confidence of brethren he once had (Rom. 14:7). That is a difficult task because of the consequences of sin. He must turn his thoughts to God, and work toward trying to save others. He has sinned, and knows a great deal about this area of temptation and can perhaps be of help to others.
He again, can realize that God still loves him and that if he truly repents and turns to God, God will forgive him (1 Jn. 1:7). Because he has been put away, he realizes that he can never remarry except if the situation in Romans 7:1-4 happens; therefore, it would be truly unwise for him to keep female company, such as going out on dates (1 Thess. 5:.2-2).
Society will accept his divorce, but God, in his word, has issued his decree. When one begins to date, the individual is placing himself in grave danger. The danger is that he will fall in love (which is not permitted) and submit himself to undue temptations, possibly marriage or just plain fornication. Another thought is the unfairness to the innocent person he will date. The relationship cannot go anywhere. Even if the individual is not looking for a relationship, it can still lead to sin. Proverbs 13:15 says, the way of trangressors is hard.”
Once again, the conclusion can only show just how serious the marriage relationship is, and what God’s attitude is toward it. Young people need to take more time to find a companion. There must be more strong teaching in the family about marriage and divorce. There must be more encouragement for all to marry Christians.
It would seem then, that what the put away person can do and what he can look forward to is to repent and turn his thoughts and affections to God and walk toward Heaven. He can use himself as an example to others in a positive way, and devote the rest of his days to the Lord and his cause, Brethren can help by giving comfort and support to the restored individual who finds himself in this situation. Christians are bound by God to help each other to heaven.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 21, p. 661
November 7, 1991