An American boy and girl married when he was less than twenty and she was barely sixteen. They had two children and did well for a long time until she started working outside the home. Her non-Christian friends and fellow employees were a bad influence on her so that she began demanding more and more freedom to go where they went and be involved in things Christians should not be involved in. After nearly twenty years of marriage, the couple divorced because of her unfaithfulness/fornication. Both partners remarried, but those marriages did not work out either. The wife married three times and the man eventually married a fifth time. They each moved to different states and said nothing about their marital status to new friends. The man and his fifth wife have been active in church work where they attend.
- What commands did the first wife in this example refuse to obey that would have protected her from many temptations (2 Cor. 6:14-18)? Is this passage only about marriage?
- How does God’s admonition to the wife about being a “keeper at home” help to resolve such conflicts as this couple had?
- How would 1 Corinthians 15:33 explain part of the problem this couple had?
- Was the first marriage bond still in effect or was that first marriage bond somehow broken?
- Did both partners have a right to remarry after they finally divorced? Why or why not?
- If the wife committed adultery and the man put her away, did that justify his second marriage?
- Considering the subsequent divorces and remarriages, if this man and woman want to be forgiven of their adultery, what must they do now?
- If the church where the man and his fifth wife attend does the right thing, what must they do when/if they find out his marital status (assuming he does not repent) (1 Cor. 5:9-13)?
Another preacher and teacher for a preacher training school divorced his wife for some other reason than adultery. Maybe they just could not get along. Maybe he did not like her cooking. He knew he had no right to remarry so he lived single for more than ten years, until his wife eventually started dating someone and remarried. When she remarried, he claimed she had committed adultery, so that gave him the right to remarry.
- When Moses allowed divorce under the Old Law, what reasons did the Israelites have to give for putting away their wives (Deut. 24:1-4)?
- Matthew 5:32 says, “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.” If the wife committed adultery by remarrying, who caused it?
- Is the one who causes his mate to commit adultery (Matt. 5:32) justified in using the adultery he caused as grounds for his remarriage?
- What did Jesus say about the man who divorced his wife for a cause other than fornication and married another (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)?
- What did Jesus say about the woman who was put away by her husband for a cause other than fornication and who married another (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)?
Another man was also a teacher in a preacher training school as well as an elder in the congregation where he attended. His wife died and in a very short time an old friend from elementary school days contacted him to let him know she was interested in “getting re-acquainted.” He responded by moving to the state where she lived so they could pursue this plan. Many Christian friends admonished him not to make such a move at all and certainly not so quickly after his first wife’s death. They doubted that he could afford to rent a house in the new city and so would probably move in with the lady. For more than a year they lived in the same house while he tried to teach her about the church. His old school friend stoutly refused to become a Christian, but they eventually married. Gradually he became active in the work of the church again with no one seeming to contest his marital status or his activities before his marriage.
- Because of the temptation to commit fornication (1 Cor. 7:2) God made marriage; however, He has given the privilege of marriage with restrictions. Name the restriction(s) for someone (man or woman) who has lost a mate (1 Cor. 7:39).
- Does 1 Corinthians 7:39 only apply to women?
- Can anything in the Lord be outside the church?
- What is the reason we are told not to marry outside of Christ (2 Cor. 6:14-18)?
- Is there a command that says a person must be withdrawn from if he/she marries outside of the Lord?
- Is there a command that tells the man he must divorce his wife if he disobeys the command to marry “only in the Lord?”
- Is there a passage of scripture that allows a man and woman to have marriage relations before marriage?
- If the man and woman lived in an adulterous relationship before they married, would his sin not prove to her that the commands of God were not important?
- What kind of example is this church leader when he tries to warn sinners about their disobedience to the Lord’s commands?
- What kind of example is this leader to the members of the church under his influence?
In this lesson we want to consider several more examples of modern day disobedience. Under the Law of Moses, God commanded the Israelite nation never to marry anyone from the nations they conquered, because evil communication would corrupt the Israelite. In their case, they were tempted to worship the false gods of those nations (Exod. 34:10-17; Deut. 7:3-4). Under the New Testament, Christians are also admonished: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). Corresponding to this teaching is the very specific command to widows in 1 Corinthians, chapter 7: “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” (1 Cor. 7:39). Some want to ignore this principle, but it is hardly a coincidence that God’s directive is the same under both covenants. Others want to use this as an excuse to put away the non-Christian wife they have married. By that same reasoning, they probably have abortions when they commit fornication and conceive out of wedlock.
An American preacher went to a foreign country for a short mission trip. While he was there, he had an accident and had to be hospitalized over an extended period of time. During the time he was being treated for wounds sustained in the accident, he fell in love with a nurse and wanted to marry her. There was just one problem: He was already married to an American Christian back home. As soon as he was able to travel again, he flew back to his home to divorce his wife, return to the foreign land and marry the nurse. He freely confessed that he had sinned in divorcing his wife for some other reason besides her adultery, but claimed he had repented of that sin and God had forgiven him. Thus he was now free to marry again.
- Is a marriage covenant broken when a man has put away his wife and married another according to Christ directive (Matt. 19:9)?
- If a man divorces his wife for any other reason than her unfaithfulness, is the bond created by God actually broken (Matt. 19:6, 9)?
- If the bond that God made between husband and wife is not broken, then does either mate have a right to marry someone else?
- Does baptism dissolve a marriage covenant and promises made before God and witnesses?
- If baptism dissolves an adulterous marriage, then would it not also dissolve good marriages?
- Are all those who have been baptized required to marry their wives after their baptism?
- If baptism dissolves a marriage, which marriage does it dissolve when a man has divorced and married another: 1) the original marriage or 2) the adulterous marriage?
- Is the man who puts away his wife and married another living in adultery if the civil court has broken the first covenant?
- Jesus says that a man who puts away his wife and married another commits adultery. If the civil court has broken the bond of a man’s first marriage, would he not be free to marry another?
- Does God agree that the civil court has broken the bond He made if he declares that man is living in adultery?
- If the civil court is able to break the bond that God made in a marriage, then why would Jesus declare that the person who divorces and marries another is living in adultery?
- Would there be any adultery if the first marriage bond and covenant had actually been dissolved?
I will call this young lady Priscilla. Priscilla was one of two children in a middle class Indian family. She was educated in an English medium school until fifth grade when her mother died. Her father owned his own business and kept the daughter with him as much as he could. She dropped out of school and during her teen years and ran away with a boyfriend with whom she had conceived a child. Meantime the father died.
Several years later Priscilla heard the gospel and learned that living in a common-law marriage was not according to God’s plan for families. She took the child and left to live alone. The preacher’s family and church members helped her as much as they could to stay aloof from old friends who might influence her to go back into the world.
Later, Priscilla met a man she thought would be a good husband and father to the child she already had, although he was not a Christian. They married and had another child of their own. Not long after the youngest daughter had her second birthday, Priscilla found out the husband had another wife. She immediately left him and gave the child to his family. Her reason for leaving the younger daughter with his family was so he would not keep coming to visit and thus present additional temptation. Later he brought the girl back saying his family did not want her. Now Priscilla has two daughters to train and provide for and worries what will become of her and their lives. She is able to work at a fairly good job while the two daughters are in school and so far has been able to support them and herself. She definitely has moral support from the congregation where she attends.
- What is Priscilla’s present marital status according to scripture?
- Did God join her to the man who already had a living wife?
- To abide by the law, she needs to either get a legal divorce from the father of her second child or have the marriage annulled? Since God did not join her to a man who already had a wife, should she get a divorce or an annulment?
- What hope, what counsel, do the scriptures offer Priscilla?
- What do the scriptures say about someone who has never been married before?
- What should we learn from this situation regarding the marital status of the one we plan to marry?
- Seeing that they have witnessed their mother’s bad judgment, what special moral training should Priscilla give to her two girls?
An Indian girl (youngest of a large family) was married to a man who claimed to be a Christian. He was older, but her brother arranged the marriage. The brother said he did not know the man already had two other wives, but apparently he never bothered to check. According to the groom’s testimony, he had given a “settlement” to his first two wives and sent them back to their parents. He did not divorce them through the courts.
- What scripture says God did not join this young girl to this man on her wedding day?
- She has gone back to live with her parents since she found out the truth, but what scripture tells her position before the Lord now?
- By Indian law she will have to go to court to divorce him. What is her position according to scripture?
- Since he has spoiled her reputation, does she have any responsibility to return gifts he has given her?
- If she were not really married to the bigamist, can she scripturally marry someone else and have a home and family?
In the late-19th Century, an American couple married and had five children. He was career military and was deployed overseas many times. She was left at home with her parents while he was gone. Even though he was gone most of the time, he routinely visited the family. His wife and children loved him and he appeared to love them. The man and his wife were incredibly poor but both were Christians and attended church faithfully as a family.
The first child (a boy) died of typhoid fever when he was five, and the third child (also a boy) was born footling breach. The wife almost died during that birth and was totally paralyzed from the waist down after the experience. She spent most of her time in a wheel chair or in bed and never walked again. Yet it seemed that each time her husband came back from his overseas duty, she became pregnant with another child until she had given birth to five.
Every time he visited she begged him to get a job and remain at home to help her rear their children, but he claimed the only work he knew was the Army. She continued to press him more and more until he finally told her he had another family to tend to overseas and could not be bound in one place.
Of course there was a huge quarrel and she demanded that he never return, even to see his children. Eventually the divorce was final and she determined to rear the four living children by herself. Her understanding of Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32 was that neither party had a right to a marriage after having failed in the first one. She believed that a divorce was allowed because of adultery, but remarriage was not allowed for any reason.
Her physical condition made it impossible to work and provide for her children, but she did embroidery, sewing and such like to bring in some income. The first year she was truly alone (her mother died and her father moved away), she and the children lived in a tent in central Texas and barely had enough to eat. They were cold and often sick during the winter months, so she determined to adopt the younger three to families in the community—none of whom were Christians. Only the older daughter (~ age 11) remained to care for the invalid mother.
- Was this lady’s understanding and moral conviction correct regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage? A careful analysis of the sentence construction of Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32 will be necessary.
- Nobody seemed to know when her husband had married the wife overseas. How would knowing who was the first wife have made a difference?
- If this abandoned mother had married again and defiled her conscience, would she have had favor with God? Explain with a scripture.
- During those days there were no laws to force the husband to pay for his children’s upbringing or for his invalid ex-wife’s support so this poor lady was forced, out of poverty, to give her three younger children out for adoption. QUESTION: If a widow is required to marry only in the Lord (1 Cor. 7:39), would it be reasonable to think the children should also be given to Christian families when they have to be given out for adoption?
- What can you predict happened to those three children’s training when they went to non-Christian homes?