The link between divorce and mortality

The News Story – Famous Wedding Resort to Offer “Divorce Packages”

An upstate New York hotel famous for its lavish weddings is about to get into a new side of the marriage business—divorce.

Reports the New York Post, “For a flat $5,000 fee, the divorcing parties are put up in separate rooms at Saratoga Springs’ Gideon Putnam Resort for a weekend and work with a mediator to finalize the details into a signed agreement.” Some of the divorcing parties will even broadcast their negotiations via a reality television show.  Rob Sgarlata, a spokesperson for the hotel, does not believe that providing a venue for both weddings and divorce proceedings in the same weekend will “tarnish the hotel’s reputation as a wedding venue.”  According to Sgarlata, the organizers of these divorces “want people to get into an environment that minimizes the stress of the situation and that’s exactly what we offer.”

But even the hotel’s hiking trails and spa services cannot minimize the after-effects of divorce, which are a bit more serious than such “speedy divorce” arrangements might lead one to believe.

Continue reading


In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus Christ says, “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.”  Close to 50% of new marriages in the United States today end in divorce.  One third of all marriages end in divorce within their first 10 years.  About 25% of American children 16 and under live with a stepparent.  Therefore, it should not be surprising that this doctrine taught by Christ is not a very popular one these days.  In fact, this doctrine has been rejected by a rather large number of our own brethren.  False doctrine on this issue has so infiltrated our brotherhood that there are surely many souls that have never heard the truth taught on this subject.  It is not uncommon to hear of brethren who “re-studied” the issue and changed their minds about it (not for the better), usually in response to a divorce occurring in their own lives or perhaps a family member’s.  Not a few brethren have shamelessly embraced false doctrine in an effort to attract new members, since so many prospects are already in a second or third (or more) marriage.

The old paths of marriage

In Jeremiah 6:16, God told His people Israel, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”  Paths do not get any older than the ones God established in the very beginning.  In the second chapter of the entire Bible, God created the first man (Adam) and woman (Eve), and then instituted marriage and the family.  Genesis 2:21-24 says, “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.”  What we read here is not a complicated concept: one man is to marry one woman and they are to remain married as long as they both shall live.  God did not authorize divorce, remarriage, polygamy, “same-sex” marriage, or any of the other corruptions that vex our souls in today’s wicked, wicked world.  Therefore, what Jesus spoke in Matthew 19:4-6 is not actually a new doctrine at all.  Christ was merely restoring the arrangement that God had made in the very beginning.  Concerning the practice of divorce, Jesus said that “from the beginning it was not so” (Matt 19:8).  Sadly, the Israelites told the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 6:16 that they would not walk in God’s old paths.  So also their fathers had rejected God’s doctrine of marriage in the Book of Genesis.

God hates divorce

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were also guilty of rejecting the “old paths.”  They attempted to justify their own practice of divorcing their wives “for every cause” (Matt 19:3) by appealing to Deuteronomy 24:1-4.  That passage reads: “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”  The Israelites made the mistake of concluding that God approves of whatever He allows.  They conveniently forgot about the time in the wilderness that God allowed them to have the meat they demanded, but were then smitten with a “very great plague” (Num 11:4-33; Psa 78:26-31).  God also gave them the king they demanded, but never approved of it (1 Sam 8).  It was over 2,500 years after the creation that God permitted divorce under the Law of Moses (Deut 24:1-4).  That He did not approve of the practice is discernible from His statement that a man who divorced his wife could not marry her again.  She was defiled by him, and could marry any other man except for him, showing that the fault lay with him, not her.  God only permitted divorce because of the hardness of the people’s hearts (Matt 19:8; Mark 10:5).  God had not changed His views on marriage.  In fact, Malachi 2:16 says, “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.”  To repeat, the Creator of all things says that he hates divorce!  He would not accept the offerings of the men who divorced their wives: “And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” (Mal 2:13-15).  As Jesus restored God’s original law, he said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9).  Any religious doctrine or practice that is newer than what Christ taught is not good, because all truth was revealed by in the New Testament (John 16:13; 2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:3).  Therefore, any effort to pervert the teachings of Christ and say that divorce and remarriage for any cause is acceptable in God’s sight is sinful and must be opposed by all who are his true disciples.

MORE MARRIAGE LAWS AND CUSTOMS: Even the O.T. Polygamist Had Laws

“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish” (Exod. 21:10).

Christian women today can only imagine what it might be like to be a minor wife or a concubine.  First of all, poverty would be the driving factor in being sold as a slave cum wife to some man who wanted more than one.  The choice would not be theirs, but there was protection for Hebrew women even under the Old Testament Law.  A Hebrew (man or woman) might be sold as a bond servant in consequence either of debt (Lev. 25:39) or of the commission of theft (Exod. 22:3). However, his servitude could not be enforced for more than six full years.  If a Hebrew male servant were sold, he had to be released again after 6 years unless it was his choice to remain a slave (Exod. 21:2).

A Hebrew woman was not to be treated the same way.  She could not be sent out again after the husband had “humbled” her (Deut. 21:14; Ex 21:7).  She was to remain his wife even if he did not like her.  This gave Hebrew women a measure of protection from being sold to first one stranger and another or left without food, clothing or the “duty of marriage.”  See Deut. 15:17 also.  Any wardrobe her husband would provide might be less than wonderful, but her body would be covered and she would have food to satisfy her basic needs (similar to 1 Tim. 6:8).

The Lord has a similar law in the New Testament era.  The Holy Spirit, through Paul, speaks of the duty of marriage for Christians today.  When we make our vows of marriage we do not own our own bodies anymore (1 Cor. 7:1-5).  Our bodies belong to our mates.  Similarly, in the OT, because of this basic principle or “duty in marriage,” the Hebrew polygamist could not by law refuse to give the wife her rights.  Only if he found something “unseemly” in her was he able to send her back to her father.  Even then, if her father could prove she had been a virgin when he sold her, she could not be sent away or shamed publicly.

There are many examples of concubines being part of a multi-wife family under the Mosaic Law.  The accounts show such customs were both authorized (2 Sam. 12:8) and practiced (Gen. 21:9-10; Gen. 37:2; Judges 19:3-5).  Other accounts dealing with concubines are found in multiple scriptures (Gen. 22:20-24; Gen. 25:1; Gen. 30:3-5; Gen. 35:22; Gen. 36:12; 1 Chron. 1:32; 1 Chron. 2:42-50 and 1 Chron. 7:14).  As we study these passages, we are able to see God’s protection of women in the strict laws made for concubines (Exod. 21:7-11; Lev. 19:20-22; Deut. 21:10-14).  Even though their children could not necessarily inherit from their master (Gen. 15:4; Gen. 21:10; Gen. 25:1-6; 1 Ch 1:32-33), the Hebrew women were never to be left destitute of food, clothing and the duty of marriage.

What a blessing Christian women have under the Law of Christ!  We are treasured and honored as the one-and-only wife, which should make our responsibility and our dedication to our husbands even greater.  We should not expect the finest clothing or jewels (1 Tim. 6:8), but be ever grateful that the Lord has given us first place under our husbands in our marriage relationships.  Then we have that wonderful hope of a place in eternity as the bride of Christ.  What a beautiful concept that becomes, as we consider our place in eternity.


  1. What was/is a polygamist?
  2. Was polygamy a sin for the man under the Mosaic Law?
  3. When could a man send a wife back to her father?
  4. When could he send her out to be another man’s wife? (Deut. 24:1-4)
  5. When could a father sue the daughter’s husband for damages (Deut. 22:13-21)?
  6. What three things did every husband have to provide for his wife whether or not he liked her?
  7. Could a Hebrew female slave be treated the same way a Hebrew male slave was treated?  Why not?
  8. What material blessings does God promise Christian men and women today?
  9. If someone asks us for financial help, what should be our consideration (1 Tim. 6:8)?
  10. With what should everyone be content (Luke 3:14; Php. 4:11; Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:8)?



1 Corinthians 7:10-24

10     And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11     But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

12     But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13     And the woman which has a husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14     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.

15     But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace.

16     For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

17     But as God has distributed to every man, as the Lord has called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

18     Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

19     Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

20     Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

21     Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou may be made free, use it rather.

22     For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

23     Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

24     Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

Some argue that the passage in 1 Corinthians 7:15 (“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.”) gives desertion as another just cause for divorce.


The argument that 1 Corinthians 7:15 permits divorce for the cause of desertion is based on the phrase “a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.”  They say that “bondage” is the marriage bond.

Their whole case is based on this assumption, for if “bondage” here is not referring to the marriage bond, then there is absolutely nothing in this or any other verse in the New Testament which gives desertion or anything other than fornication as a scriptural cause for divorce.

The Greek word, translated “bondage” here, is Strong’s 1402, douloo (doo-lo’-o); from NT: 1401; to enslave (literally or figuratively): KJV – bring into (be under) bondage, given, become (make) servant. It is used 7 other times in the New Testament besides 1 Corinthians 7:15.  It never is used to describe marriage.  It is used to refer to literal bondage (slavery) in Acts 7:6.  It is used to describe being a slave to God (Rom. 6:22), to men for the gospel’s sake (1 Cor. 9:19), and to righteousness (Rom. 6:18).  Conversely, it is used to describe being a slave to corruption (2 Pet. 2:19), under “the elements of the world” (Gal. 4:3), and to wine (Titus 2:3).

The context of the “bondage” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:15 is not the marriage bond itself.  The context of “bondage” in this passage is established in verses 1-5 where the one who has power over his or her body is his or her spouse.  If someone has power over your body, you are under “bondage.”  This bondage refers to one’s marital rights.  It is sinful and it is defrauding, to deny someone their marital rights.

But what if your spouse leaves you?  How can you obey the commandment given in verse 3 to render to your spouse “due benevolence” and the command in verse 5 not to defraud your spouse if your spouse leaves you?  That is the question which is answered in verse 15.  That is the context of “bondage” in verse 15.  If the unbelieving spouse departs, the innocent Christian is not under “bondage” in such a case.  That is, God will not hold him or her guilty of not rendering due benevolence to their departed spouse.  Again, this does not refer to the marriage bond.  Therefore, God does not sanction divorce and remarriage on the grounds of desertion by using the word “bondage” in 1 Corinthians 7:15.

Thus, the entire manufactured basis of the false doctrine that desertion is scriptural grounds for divorce and remarriage has collapsed.  Therefore, the doctrine itself is exposed as false and it has collapsed.

Furthermore, the scripture cannot contradict or teach differently than another scripture (1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Tim. 2:13).

We must conclude: when Jesus gives only one just cause for divorce, nobody can add a second, or third, etc., including desertion (Pro. 30:5-6; Rev 22:18-19).

1 Corinthians 7:10-14 absolutely reaffirms Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19:9.  Verse 11 sums it up the options which a married person has who is separated from their mate, but their mate has not committed adultery: they may 1) remain unmarried, or 2) be reconciled with their mate.  Divorce is not an option.  Verse 15 is not going to suddenly undo all that the 5 preceding verses just established.

Some argue in favor of what they call the “Pauline privilege, which is (according to this doctrine), that the one who becomes a Christian can remain in whatsoever marital state they were called).


Keep one fact firmly fixed in your mind; one scripture cannot or will not contradict another.

The “states” described here are states that one cannot help or control. They do not include states of behavior.  In fact, it is plainly explained that it is the “commandments of God” which counts in contrast to circumcision, uncircumcision, being in bondage or being free.

If 1 Corinthians 7:20, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called,” includes states of behavior, does it only apply to certain states of behavior (such as those living in adultery) but not to others?  If someone is called as a serial killer, can he (or—to be truly accurate—must he) remain a serial killer?  What’s the difference?  It’s the same ridiculous logic!

Some argue that “1 Cor. 7:11 testifies that God recognizes that the wife who has left her husband and departed is recognized as “unmarried,” which would naturally mean that God recognizes she is “divorced.”


This argument is based in the word ‘unmarried,’ assuming that the command to ‘remain unmarried’ means that the woman is no longer married and should remain ‘unmarried’ until she is reconciled with her husband.

First, IF the word ‘unmarried’ means she is no longer married to her first husband (which means that the marriage bond has been broken), then how can they reconcile the fact that in the same verse the ‘unmarried’ woman still has a husband?  The command is that she is to be reconciled to her husband, which obviously means she still has a husband.

Second, if the woman is ‘unmarried’ to her first husband, they two joined together again they would have to be remarried.  However, the command to the ‘unmarried’ woman is to be “reconciled” to her husband, not remarried to her husband.  If the woman is truly not married to her first husband, she would have to remarry, not just be reconciled.

The only possible meaning of “unmarried” if the scriptures are consistent (which they are), is that she must remain unmarried any other man.  Thus, “let her remain unmarried” must be understood as “let her remain unmarried” to any other man.

If the command is to “remain unmarried” from her first husband, how could she obey both commandments?  How could we ‘remain unmarried’ and yet be reconciled to her husband?  Is she to be reconciled to her husband but ‘remain unmarried’ to her husband?  That would make no sense at all.  The only possible understanding is that she must ‘remain unmarried’ to any other man, which would make it possible for her to be reconciled to her husband.


What about a put away party that did not commit adultery?  Say a woman commits adultery and divorces her husband (who did not commit adultery), can the man who was put away, although he did not commit adultery, remarry and please God?  Just asking to see where you stand…


Matthew 5:32—But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife (the innocent party-BJ), saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced (the one put away for the wrong reason and not by choice-BJ) committeth adultery.

Even though the gender is switched here, I see this as assuming the innocent party would marry when he/she was put away.  If the marriage bond that God made is not broken for the right reason, neither party has a right to remarry.

I feel sure Matthew 5:32 is meant to be a stern warning to the ones doing the putting away.  “Hey!  Look at this!  You are not only going to go to hell yourself, but you are causing an innocent person (maybe even four if they both marry again) to go with you.”  It would be equivalent to having “hands that shed innocent blood.”  They will be held more accountable than one who simply sinned by himself.


  • Though physical abuse is not cause for divorce, God does not require someone to live in a situation in which they are in physical danger (Pro. 22:3; 27:12).  However, consider that the marriage bond is not broken and therefore neither party has a right to marry anyone else.
  • The fact that so many people have divorced and remarried unscripturally does not lessen God’s definition and judgment of sin and His requirements for repentance (Ezra 10:10-14).
  • Someone who denies the partner their marital rights cannot be regarded as innocent if their partner commits fornication.  They are not free to remarry.  1 Corinthians 7:2-5 commands husbands and wives not to deny their mates.  If they do, they are guilty of defrauding.  According to Matthew 5:32, one who defrauds one’s mate, such as by putting them away, is responsible for causing them to commit adultery (though that doesn’t excuse the partner if they do commit fornication).  They bear part of the responsibility for their mate’s sin and, therefore, they do not have the scriptural right to divorce their wife or husband for something they are in large part responsible for.  They have no scriptural right to remarry.
  • Similarly, one who entices, forces, beguiles, traps, encourages, etc. their spouse to commit fornication in any way is guilty and has no scriptural right to divorce and remarry.
  • Those who remain in an unscriptural marriage and never repent of it will go to hell (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Heb. 13:4; Rev. 21:8).  These souls need to be dealt with according to 1 Cor. 5:1, 4-6, 11.  Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?


My purpose is to use God’s word to evaluate the doctrine that a man or woman can object to his or her spouse’s efforts to put him or her away for reasons other than fornication, take those objections to the church, wait until his or her spouse commits fornication, and then put that spouse away with God’s approval. This analysis is conducted with the utmost love for those who teach that doctrine and for the Lord who gave us His word to help us make the decisions that please Him.

Jesus said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mt. 19:6 ASV, KJV). The Greek word translated “put asunder” is choridzo. The NKJV translates this word “separate.” The definition according to Strong’s Bible Dictionary is, “to place space between, i.e., part; depart, put asunder, separate.” Vine defines his word as “separate, divide.” Thus, God does not want man separating, dividing, or placing anything between the man and woman He has joined together in marriage (Mt. 19:4, 5).

Jesus is commanding us to avoid such separating or dividing. Please note that God does not say that it is impossible for man to put asunder what He has joined together. In fact, when Jesus said, “…let not man put asunder,” He implied that man can separate, divide, or place something between what God has joined together if man exercises his freedom of will to make that choice. If it were impossible for man to do this, it would have been unnecessary for Jesus to make this statement!

In Mt. 19:9, Jesus talked about the man who chooses to “put away” (KJV, ASV) his wife. Our Savior plainly and clearly said that if the man puts his wife away for any reason other than sexual immorality and then marries another woman, he commits adultery. By such a putting away, this man has put asunder (separated, divided) what God had joined together. Just as plainly and clearly, the Lord said that whoever marries the woman who was put away commits adultery. Jesus could have qualified that statement by providing for some unusual circumstances. In fact, if He were going to address such unusual circumstances, there would be no better place than this verse. That is true because He described a situation where a man put away his wife, apparently unjustly, and certainly put her in a horrible position spiritually and probably economically and emotionally.

For example, Jesus could have said, “And whoever marries her who is put away commits adultery UNLESS she resisted the putting away, UNLESS she brought her objections to the church, UNLESS she waited until her husband committed sexual immorality, and UNLESS she then put him away for fornication.” Jesus could have qualified His divine statement in that or other ways, but He didn’t do so. We cannot find such qualifying statements or conditions in this verse. Furthermore, I could not find them in any other passage of Scripture. The only way we can come up with those statements or conditions is by adding to what Jesus said in this verse. However, we know that God absolutely forbids us to add to or take away from His word and He tells us that the consequence of doing so is eternal condemnation. That is the primary reason I am so concerned about this doctrine. It is my firm belief that it is an addition to God’s word that has horrible eternal consequences for those who teach it and for those who obey it.

When we accept what Jesus said in Mt. 19:6-9 literally and without addition or subtraction, it is clear that when a spouse puts away their spouse for reasons other than fornication, they have put asunder what God has joined together. The tragic result is that neither spouse can remarry without engaging in adultery.

We might object that such an understanding of this verse is unfair or too hard. That is the kind of reaction that the disciples had when they heard Jesus speak these words originally (Matt. 19:10). However, the Lord did not change or soften His hard teaching in the slightest way. In fact, our blessed Savior made it clear that, for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake, some would deny themselves of the physical intimacies only allowed in unions approved by God (19:11,12). That is certainly a demanding teaching! However, it is only one of many such “hard sayings” that the Lord made.

From my perspective, the doctrine mentioned in the first paragraph certainly does not advocate the best approach to the terrible dilemma caused by a spouse who puts away his spouse for reasons other than fornication. Life is too short and eternity is too long to take chances like this when precious souls are at stake! Surely all would agree that the safe approach is to advise any involved in such situations to remain unmarried or be reconciled to their spouse. To my knowledge, this would not contradict any passage of Scripture. In fact, it is exactly what the inspired apostle Paul said should be done in a case where there has been a separation or departure for reasons other than fornication (1 Cor. 7:10, 11).


Matthew 19:3-9

3       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?

4       And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5       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?

6       Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

7       They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

8       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.

9       And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away doth commit adultery.

 1. Some say, “This teaching applies only to Christians,” or, that the New Testament is a law only for Christians and not for unbelievers.” (Sometimes this is called the ‘Covenant Law.’)  The conclusion to this new law would be that a non-Christian is not under the New Testament law and therefore does not have to comply with this teaching and can remain in an unscriptural marriage after he is converted.


Jesus’ audience at this time (the ones he was directly addressing) was the Pharisees (Matt. 19:3).  They were not his disciples.  Considering his audience, this teaching was originally addressed to unbelievers and, therefore, if it applies to anyone today, it obviously still applies to unbelievers as well as believers.

Jesus also applied his teaching to “whosoever.”  There is no qualification to the term ‘whoseover.’  It applies to “whosoever,” both Christian and non-Christian (Matt. 19:9).

Jesus was reaffirming God’s intention for all men from the beginning of the creation (Gen. 2:24).

2. “A person can repent from the sin of an unscriptural divorce which means his first marriage is dissolved and he can continue in the second marriage.” (i.e. those who have been unscripturally divorced and remarried can “repent” and continue to live together with the second husband or wife).


God joins the man and the woman in the covenant of marriage.  Except for fornication, He will not break that bond (Matt. 19:6-9).  As long as bond between a man and a woman remains, God will not join that man or woman to yet a third man or woman.  Wouldn’t we be guilty of blasphemy by saying that God would bind a third man or woman with a man or woman already bound together and thus make two bonds?  Can we accuse God himself of aiding and abetting polygamy? We must recognize that unless God breaks the first bond, that man and woman are bound together no matter what other relationship they think they enter into.

Civil court of law does not govern God’s actions.  God makes the bond when the man and woman made the vows before Him, which is before it was registered in the civil court.  If a marriage is registered in a civil court, it is because God commands His children to obey the law of the land (Rom. 13:1-7). God does not wait until the civil court registers the marriage to join the man and woman together. (There are times when the officiate mails or waits several days to register the marriage.  Does that mean the man and woman are living in adultery or committing fornication until the civil authority puts the record in its books?  In the same way that the civil courts do not join the man and woman together, the civil court cannot force God to break the bond he has made between a man and woman.)

Under the Old Testament, repenting from an unscriptural marriage required separation from the mate (Ezra 10:10-14). What constitutes an unscriptural marriage has changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament because the covenant has changed; however, God has not changed (Mal. 3:6) and what He requires for repentance has not changed.  Therefore, in the New Testament, repenting from an unscriptural marriage also requires separation. There is a difference between the sorrow of the world and godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:9-10). True repentance requires 1) confessing, and 2) forsaking the sin (Pro. 28:13).

Marriage is not just about the physical relationship but a contract made between a man and a woman before God and witnesses.  Many today claim their marriages were never “consummated” because they did not have relations after the wedding. They feel justified in getting those marriages annulled and marrying someone else.

Let us consider the account of Joseph and Mary.  Joseph was espoused (stronger term than our engagement today) to Mary before she was found to be with child.  Then God appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take her to wife (complete the contract begun with the espousal) and “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” (Matt. 1:24-25).

You can see by the inspired words of God that Mary is called Joseph’s wife long before the marriage was consummated.  God says several times that Joseph and Mary were married even though Joseph did not have relations with her.  That has to be understood that the vows are what make the marriage and not the sexual union.  If sexual union is what makes a marriage, then everyone committing fornication (even with a prostitute) is married to that woman.

3. Some say, “The only sin is the act of remarriage, not the relationship which follows” (i.e. those unscripturally divorced and remarried do not live in adultery). 


Again, this ‘law’ ignores the fact that God joins the man and woman in marriage.  Unless God breaks the bond, the man and woman continue to be married.  It is true that the act of ‘remarriage’ is a sin, because the man/woman put away his/her wife/husband and married another which opens the door to adultery.  If God recognized the ‘second marriage,’ he would not declare that they are living in adultery (Matt. 19:9). This erroneous view fits closely with the prior one.

Several scriptures clearly teach that a sin can be “lived in” (Rom. 6:2; Col. 3:5-7; Titus 3:3; 2 Pet. 2:18).  Obviously, adultery is a state which can be (and too often is) lived in.

The word “adultery” is a word which describes sexual relations.  Therefore, the sin is not restricted to what takes place at the altar or before the justice of the peace in entering an unscriptural marriage.

The verb “commits” is NT: 3429 “moichao (moy-khah’-o)” This is a present, middle, indicative verb.  In Greek, this is continuous action.  This is not punctiliar action.  In other words, the Greek tense of this verb carries the meaning “keeps on committing adultery.”  It is not just a one-time action.  Therefore, those guilty of being in an unscriptural marriage are living in a state of adultery.  That is why the only way to repent of this sin is to separate from the unlawful mate.

4) Some say the guilty party can remarry after he/she repents. 


Matthew 19:9 (and 5:32) plainly says that “whoso marries her, which is put away doth commit adultery.”

The phrase “except it be for fornication” applies only to the innocent party, the one who is divorcing his or her mate.  There is no exception given for those who are divorced (i.e. the scripture does not say, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away, except it be for fornication, doth commit adultery.”).

Therefore, if a person is put away for adultery, one who marries him or her is entering into an adulterous relationship. The fact that God uses the word “adultery” in Matthew 19:9 does not give license to the one put away for fornication to remarry.

It is sometimes argued that since the word “adultery” is used in the statement “whoso marries her which is put away doth commit adultery,” that word cannot apply to those guilty of fornication because God sanctions that divorce and, therefore, both parties become unmarried.  It is argued that the one who did the divorcing cannot be regarded as no longer married while the one divorced is still regarded as married.  And since “adultery” is the word used in the above statement, it does not apply to the guilty party because “adultery” requires the person to be married.  This argument is false.

God sometimes uses a word which fits the majority of cases while it is to be understood that the teaching still applies to other cases in which the word used may not apply specifically.  That is certainly true of the word “adultery.”  For example, in Matthew 5:28 the Lord says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  The fact that God uses the word adultery instead of fornication in this verse does not mean that if one unmarried person lusts after another unmarried person (in which case it would technically be fornication that is committed in the heart, not adultery), he is not guilty of sin.  To be consistent, those who argue that Matthew 19:9 does not apply to those put away for fornication since the word “adultery” is used must also argue that Matthew 5:28 does not apply to an unmarried person who lusts after another unmarried person.  That is absurd.

Such word games could also be played with the gender of the pronouns in Matthew 19:9, Matthew 5:28, etc.  Can any man who is divorced scripturally remarry because God only says that “whoso marries her, which is put away doth commit adultery”?  Or can a woman lust after a married man without being guilty of committing adultery in her heart since God only says that a man who lusts after a woman is guilty?  That would be the same so-called logic that says the guilty party can remarry since God uses the word “adultery” in Matthew 19:9!

How thick would the Bible be if God had to word every verse to satisfy these kinds of people?  Here is a sample of how Matthew 19:9 alone would have to read:

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery and whosoever shall put away her husband, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away, except it be for fornication, doth commit adultery and whoso marries him which is put away, except it be for fornication, doth commit adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away for fornication doth commit fornication and whoso marries him which is put away for fornication doth commit fornication.

The fact still remains that God says, “Whoso marries her, which is put away doth commit adultery.”  God nowhere gives the guilty party freedom to remarry.  Those who argue that the guilty party can remarry are creating a right which God did not give!  They are giving a new law which Jesus never gave.

Finally, one who espouses this false doctrine (that the guilty party can remarry) is forced to take the position that one who is divorced because they burned their husband’s dinner is not able to remarry, but one who is divorced because they committed adultery can remarry!  Though that doesn’t prove that the position is erroneous, it should indicate that something is wrong with this view, because God is just and fair in His judgments.  God does not bind the innocent and pardon the guilty.


It is very unfortunate that the Old Testament sometimes doesn’t get the attention and study that it deserves.  In 2 Timothy 3:15, the holy scriptures that Timothy had known from a child obviously refer to the Old Testament scriptures.  Timothy was told by the inspired Apostle Paul that those Old Testament scriptures were able to make him wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  From what Timothy was told, we can see that it is essential for us to study the Old Testament and learn lessons to build our faith in the New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ.  Though we are not under and are not to follow the Old Testament law (Col. 2:13-17; Gal 5:1-4), the Old Testament consists of far more than the Law of Moses.  The Old Testament contains a record of God’s judgments and principles which are still as valid and true today as they ever were because they were given by the God of Heaven who never changes.  The law has changed.  God and His nature, principles and judgments have not.  Of Himself, God says in His word, “For I am the LORD, I change not” (Mal 3:6).  And James 1:17 describes God as “the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  Of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb 13:8).  What God has spoken in the Old Testament reflects His eternal, unchanging nature.  Therefore, in the New Testament God has taught us to study the Old Testament because it is for our example and admonition (1 Cor 10:6-11); for our learning, patience, comfort and hope (Rom 15:4); and, as we saw earlier, to make us wise unto salvation.  The flip-side of that, which God clearly implies, is that ignorance of the lessons of the Old Testament will result in our being foolish and, ultimately, can cause us to be damned.  And certainly that is the case with the subject we want to examine in this article: Christ’s teachings on divorce and remarriage.  This article is not designed to be an exhaustive study of this subject and all of the issues involved in it, but let us go to the Book of Ezra and study three lessons there that have application to Christ’s teachings on the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage in the New Testament.

In Ezra 9, the princes of Israel came to Ezra reporting the fact that the people of Israel had been entering into marriages with the heathen nations around them.  Israel had mixed with the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites (9:1-2).  Ezra was astonished and rent his clothes and literally pulled his hair out at the news (9:3).  Ezra’s reaction reflects the magnitude of the sin of the people.  Israel had transgressed God’s law which he gave through Moses in which He had forbidden them to marry people of those very nations, by name.  Ezra mentioned that law they had broken in his prayer to God in verses ten through twelve, where he quotes God: “Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons.”  This is from Deuteronomy 7:1-4 where the Lord said, “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. . . neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.  For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”  Therefore, the marriages the people had entered into were sinful, unscriptural marriages!  Though the Law of Moses no longer applies, Jesus teaches that certain marriages are also unscriptural under the New Testament.  Christ said in Matthew 19:9, “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.”  Thus, two categories of people are now forbidden by God to marry: 1) those who have divorced their mate for any reason other than fornication, and 2) those who have been divorced for any reason.  This law applies to “whosoever,” which includes both Christian and non-Christian.  None are exempt from that law, and those who break it are guilty of adultery.  Not just one-time adultery, either.  In this verse, the present, active indicative form of the verb “moichatai” (to commit adultery) in the Greek gives it a continuous action meaning.  It means those who enter an unscriptural marriage in the New Testament “keep on committing adultery” as long as they remain in that relationship!

The first lesson from the Book of Ezra that we want to understand is God’s definition of repentance, particularly as it applies to the sin of having an unscriptural marriage.  This is extremely important to understand since no adulterer will enter heaven (1 Cor 6:9-10).  Ezra 9:5-10:1 records Ezra’s prayer to God confessing Israel’s sin.  The people wanted to turn away “the fierce wrath” which God had towards them for their sin (10:14).  Again, God doesn’t change, and, therefore, He has always had the same requirements for those guilty of sin, in order to turn away His anger and obtain mercy.  In Proverbs 28:13, God said, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”  True repentance requires 1) confession, and 2) forsaking, or turning away from the sin (not doing it anymore).  In Ezra 10:11, Ezra told the guilty ones to do just that: “Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.”  In this Old Testament example, those who married ones whom God had forbidden them to marry had to repent of that sin by separating from the mates whom they had been forbidden to marry in the first place.  That is what was “God’s pleasure,” because separation was the only way to forsake the sin.  Not separating would have meant continued living in that sin.  It would not have been sufficient for the ones under the Old Testament to merely have said, “Lord, we confess that we shouldn’t have married these people.  Our marriages are sinful, and we sure are sorry.  In the future, if any of us ever have the opportunity to commit the same sin again by marrying someone else that we shouldn’t, we won’t do it again.  But we will just stay with the ones we are already with whom we were forbidden to marry.  We will remain in these unscriptural marriages we already are a part of.”  No, that was not sufficient then.  AND IT IS NOT SUFFICIENT TODAY for those who are in marriages forbidden by Christ!!  Many today are saying that those who have entered into unscriptural marriages before becoming a Christian can be forgiven by truly being sorry that they entered into the marriage in the first place and by determining never to repeat the mistake if they ever have opportunity to do so.  Others say that such will clear any guilty party whether they entered their unscriptural marriage before becoming a Christian or after.  Though men are saying such things, God does not teach that.  In fact, we see that God teaches against that in the Book of Ezra.  And, as the Lord teaches in Hebrews 2:2-3, if “every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward” in the Old Testament, then the punishment for neglecting the teachings of the Son of God Himself in the New Testament will be more severe.  (Note the same point in Matthew 11:20-24; 12:41-42, and Hebrews 12:25.)  God has certainly not lessened His requirements of repentance in the New Testament.  He has not lowered His standards.  And especially when it is taken into consideration that an unscriptural marriage in the New Testament is defined by Christ as being adulterous, then we understand that those who break Christ’s law are worse off than those we read about in the Book of Ezra.  So if the New Testament sin is worse because it is 1) against Christ’s word, not “just” the Law of Moses, and 2) it is adultery, then certainly our unchanging God requires a true, genuine repentance of the greater sin in order to forgive it.  Anything less falls short of God’s changeless requirements for repentance.  Anything less constitutes living in (“keeps on committing”) adultery, and no adulterer will be saved (1 Cor 6:9-10)!  God requires separation from the unlawful mate!

The second lesson, or example, we see in this passage in the Book of Ezra is the irrelevance of the prevalence of a sin to the commands of God.  We especially need to note how that fact applies to the sin of an unscriptural marriage.  Many today, even in the Lord’s church, are falsely teaching that the current widespread practice of divorce means that we must now accept the practice which Christ condemned.  A typical example of this view can be seen from an article entitled “Religious groups try to reconcile Bible, reality of divorce” which appeared in The State newspaper of Columbia, South Carolina on August 2, 1993.  It said, “The Bible speaks clearly about divorce.  It’s not in favor. . . but with an estimated 47 percent of U.S. marriages ending in divorce (45 percent in South Carolina), religious groups are reassessing how they view divorce.  For some denominations, the statistics–and the people behind them–demand that they soften their historical positions.”  And it also said, “Because of the times in which we’re living, there’s a great tolerance for people who have been in relationships that are not compatible.”  The only question that matters is, Does God teach that if a sin becomes common and widespread enough, then He will no longer condemn it?  Of course, the answer is a resounding “NO!”  In Ezra 10:14, it says, “But the people are many. . . for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.”  The transgressors included the priests, the Levites and “the people” in general  (Ezra 9:1), “yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2).  If ever there was a sin so widespread that God would have decided to overlook it or ignore it, this was it.  It permeated the population from the leaders all the way down.  But God had the same requirement as if it had only been one or a few souls who were guilty.  Sin was still sin, and repentance was still required.  And notice that the people did repent.  They did separate from the ones they were forbidden to be with!  Yes, as the newspaper article said, the divorce rate in the U.S. is about 50% and, consequently, millions are wrongly remarried and living in adultery, but nevertheless, God still commands repentance and repentance is possible!

The final lesson we want to take note of is how serious the sin of an unscriptural marriage is in God’s sight.  Though men often take sin lightly, God does not.  And though so many take lightly the sin of an unscriptural marriage, God certainly does not.  In Ezra 10:14, it says God had “fierce wrath” over this matter.  Furthermore, verses 18 through 44 contain a veritable “hall of shame.”  There God recorded the names of the guilty for posterity.  He did so for a reason.  We need to understand the lesson taught there.  The fact is, God hates sin (Deut 25:16; Prov 6:16-19; Zech 8:17) and, therefore, He hates it when a person marries someone He has forbidden them to marry.  As we have noted, it is an even worse offense under the Law of Christ.  So when someone marries a person who has divorced their spouse for any reason other than fornication or when they marry a person who has been divorced for any reason, it is adultery and God hates it and will eternally punish those who do not truly repent and separate from the ones they have been forbidden to marry.

In 1 Corinthians 10:6, the Lord tells us that the punishment inflicted upon the children of Israel in the Old Testament when they lusted after evil things are “our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”  Some of the specifics as to what is evil and thus forbidden to be “desired” have changed from the Old Testament to the New since the law has changed, but the principle has not changed.  Desiring evil things, whatever that happens to be, always has been and always will be a sin.  By the same token, in Ezra 10 and Matthew 19 the specifics of what is an unscriptural marriage have changed from the Old Testament to the New.  But how to repent from an unscriptural marriage has not changed.  True repentance required separation then and it does now.  Also, the number of offenders had no bearing on what was acceptable then and it doesn’t now.  God didn’t tolerate sin in the face of its widespread practice then and He doesn’t now.  And the way God views this kind of disobedience is also the same.  God hated it then and He hates it now.  Let us be like Timothy and learn these lessons of the Old Testament well so that we also might have a greater faith in the words of Christ and grow wise unto salvation.  And, specifically, let us learn the lessons in the Old Testament that teach us to pay strict attention to what Christ has commanded concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage so that we ourselves do not lose our souls along with all the other adulterers, and also that we might teach others the truth on this subject so they don’t lose their souls either.