A Little Context For Me

Monday, October 17, 2016

Reader's Question - Is Remarriage a Sin?




Reader’s Question –

Jesus said, whoever divorced his wife and married another commits adultery. When I married my husband (who has been in a previous relationship) I knew this. But I shrugged it off. And I thought that it probably didn’t count in our situation. But it’s pretty cut and dry. And honestly, I’m scared to death I’m going to hell for being an adulteress. What are your thoughts?

The first thing we have to do is look at what the Bible has to say about divorce. We know that God made provision for it in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. In Malachi 2:16 we are told that God hates divorce, and this is one of the most quoted verses about divorce out there. However, if we are going to quote it we need to read it in context and pay attention to what is and is not being said. God does not say it is a sin, he says the reasons for the divorce are a sin and he hates that his people are acting in violence, hurting one another.

This brings us to Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10:1-10

First, there is a set up. The Pharisees ask Jesus a dumb question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus doesn’t take the bait, and points them back to the passage in Deuteronomy mentioned above when he asks them, “What did Moses command you?” In other words, he was saying, “Of course, it is lawful for man to divorce his wife. God already addressed that when he gave Moses the law. And then Jesus explains why the law was given, and it was given because people have hard hearts.

Think about this with me for a while. What would cause anyone to do the things that lead to divorce? What causes someone to cheat, to abuse, to control, to be insensitive, to deliberate choose to do things that hurt another human being – particularly a person you have vowed to love and who has vowed to love you? If you answered a hard heart, then you win the prize. (Go buy yourself a cookie and enjoy!) God knew that people are lousy at keeping their promises to him and each other, and that no one can force another to be true to their word. So he gave us an out for when someone breaks their promises to us and allow us to stop being hurt. That is how much he loves us!

He desires that marriages remain intact and that we grow through this intimate union, but he set a boundary in place. He said you don’t have to be the victim of another person’s harden heart. You can be free, and you can put an end to the violence committed against you.

Before we go any further, let’s back up and take a look at what was really going on in this conversation. We have already shown how the whole thing was a set up with misleading question the Pharisees asked, but a set up for what? In Jesus day there were more than one type of Jew. There were the liberal and the conservative Jews, each interpreting the law according to their own bias. The liberal Jews said that divorce could be had for any reason and still be lawful, all a man had to do was establish that his wife was displeasing to him. (I don’t know about you, but my morning breath is pretty displeasing to everyone, including my husband, but I don’t think that is grounds for divorce.) The conservative Jews said that divorce was only allowed in cases of adultery. The whole point of this question was to get Jesus to declare whether or not he was liberal or conservative. It had absolutely nothing to do with the right and wrongness of divorce – that debate had already been settled along party lines.

So Jesus, being the brilliant person he is, sidesteps the whole issue of party politics and cuts right to the heart of the matter – if you divorce then you are causing another person to sin. This was particularly true for the women whose only options were to remarry or to become prostitutes in order to support themselves. Men could decide not to marry again and carry on with their lives.

And if we go back and read Matthew 19:1-12, we get pretty much the same break down of the issue, but it is interesting that if go back a page from that to Matthew 18: 5, 6, you will see that the person who causes another to sin is held to be the guilty party – even more so than the one sinning! And the consequences are severe. Jesus is driving home the point that divorce is not to be taken lightly, but he never renounces the Torah’s provision for remarriage. Remarriage was not only allowed, it was expected under Jewish law.

If we turn on over to 1 Corinthians 7:1-16, we find that while Paul encourages married people to remain together, he recognizes that it is not always within the believer’s power to keep it from happening. He goes to say that if an unbelieving spouse leaves the believing spouse is “not enslaved.” I believe that Paul is saying that the vows of marriage no longer bind the divorcee. And it is important to note that he never renounces the provision for remarriage offered under the Hebrew law. How do we know that remarriage was expected under Jewish law? Two reasons: Deuteronomy says that a woman who was divorced and remarries a second man cannot return to her original husband if she divorces him. Notice that the second marriage is taken for granted, and there is no decree that the second marriage was wrong. Two, it is recorded within the Rabbinic teachings that remarriage is encouraged after divorce.

Now, back to the reader’s question, is she going to hell for being an adulteress? No. I don’t believe so, and here is why. Even if I thought I remarriage was a sin, I still have to believe that God is big enough and loving enough to keep his word to forgive all sins we may ever dream up. He is not a liar, and he does not break his promises.

I also cannot imagine where breaking our promises or vows within a new marriage is the right thing to do. Two wrongs do not make a right, and if we dissolve a second marriage we are merely compounding our folly. If the original relationship was ended for reasons that are not Scriptural, then repentance is the correct response, and forgiveness needs to be sought with God. However, once that has been carried out then we need to accept God’s grace and trust in his loving nature so that we may live holy lives now. Now is the time to not only embrace God’s mercy, it is a time to become a living example of how God’s love changes our lives and brings new blessings in the midst of our brokenness.

3 comments:

  1. Nicely answered! You've covered a lot of important points in a fairly short space. I especially like the 9th paragraph—the concept of causing or contributing to another person's sin is too rarely addressed; certainly in discussions on divorce, but also in the church at large.

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  2. God is VERY clear on REMARRIAGE and it is very much so SIN.
    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.
    ***NOTE*** He did NOT say except for “adultery or marital unfaithfulness” like these new age bibles translate. He said FORNICATION. Fornication is done between 2 UNMARRIED people. In context this was talking about the betrothal period or “engagement.”
    Even if one wants to use that man made “clause” to divorce a spouse. The second part of the verse is clear. whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. So in that alone there is no “loophole.”
    The “guilty” and “innocent” party are NOT in position or permitted to remarry.
    1Corinthians 7:10-11
    And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife.

    ***NOTE*** This is not an excuse to stay in a second marriage God considers sin. If he calls it sin (Adultery) then we are to forsake our sin. Then God calls it righteous.

    Luke 16:18 - Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery
    Romans 7:2- 3 - For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of [her] husband.So then if, while [her] husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
    **NOTE** If you are in a second marriage God calls you and adulteress. So how is he then blessing that union made by man and not by God.
    Do NOT use the grace of God to remain in sin. Be not deceived.
    1Corinthians 6:9-11
    Know ye not that the unrighteous shall NOT inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    Revelation 21:8
    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    Revelation 22:14-15
    Blessed are they that “DO” his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

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  3. Whenever any question is asked, one must put aside human “opinion” to seek what God says about a matter. No matter how “logical” the answer may seem, we have to weigh what we believe to the word of God, it is our responsibility as believers.
    Proverbs 14:12
    There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

    2Timothy 2:15
    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    Scripture is clear and if we say we love God we MUST stop rejecting the commandments of God to keep the traditions of men.
    Mark 7:7-13
    Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

    I will leave you with this thought,
    If 2 homosexuals were in a same sex union and then got saved. They realized that they had sinned. Do they tell the Lord they were sorry for being in a homosexual relationship and then remain in it because “Two wrongs do not make a right, and if we dissolve (the same sex union) we are merely compounding our folly.” Or “ Because God is big enough and loving enough to keep his word to forgive all sins we may ever dream up. He is not a liar, and he does not break his promises.
    The love of God does not mean continue in sin. The grace of God enables us to turn from sin.
    Matthew 11:15
    He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

    God Bless

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