MARRIAGE, DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE IN THE BIBLE
創Genesis 2: 24 申Deuteronomy 24:1-4 箴Proverbs 2:17
瑪Malachi 2:13-16 太Matthew 5:31, 32 (esp. 32) 太Matthew 18:15-18
太Matthew 19:3-9 (esp. 9) 林前I Corinthians 7:10-16
Introduction. Why Discuss the Topic?
Divorce is increasingly common among Christians. No longer a taboo word.
Many are affected, and suffer the consequences, when divorce happens.
God has spoken on marriage, divorce, and re-marriage. Don’t go by our own
God offers help, support and comfort for those who suffer the consequences of divorce. I Cor. 10:13
Christians often have un-biblical ideas about love, marriage, divorce, sex, sin and re-marriage. Romans 12:2
We are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). So God’s instructions are
Understanding this helps single people prepare properly, biblically for marriage.
God instituted marriage for companionship (Genesis 2:18). God also wanted man and woman to multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). Marriage is not our idea; it’s God’s idea. (Now God of course knows about the population explosion problem, and the expenses of a child’s education, etc.! God is sovereign!)
Marriage is not a sacrament (as the Catholic church teaches). By getting married, you do not gain more grace/salvation. Nor is singleness more holy/spiritual.
Marriage is a covenant. It is a commitment, a vow before God, to love until death.
(Whether done in a church or in front of a government official, once vows are exchanged, two persons are married!)
Proverbs 2:17: “that leaves the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God.”
Malachi 2:14: “the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”
What is love? (I Corinthians 13) It is a decision to live and act for the other’s highest good. It is not a feeling, though love is expressed with feelings.
This, of course, is a lesson which God wants us to take a whole lifetime to learn.
God hates divorce. Divorce is never God’s intention. Divorce is a consequence of the fall of mankind.
Malachi 2:16: “‘For I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel.”
But divorce happens. Though God hates divorce, He regulates it (e.g. Deut. 24, Mt. 19, I Cor. 7).
Even though God regulates divorce, God’s will is – one man, one woman = one flesh.
“What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:6)
Jesus instructs his followers (Christians): do not divorce. Divorce breaks the
“It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’: but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except of the reason of unchastity (fornication), makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)
After a divorce not warranted by the Bible, if either one enters into another marriage, the subsequent marriage is adulterous because it has violated the sanctity of the first marriage. Note: Many Christians may be living in such “adulterous” 2nd marriages. However this does not mean that they should hastily go and get another divorce. When we repent of our sins, God promises forgiveness!
注﹕淫亂(fornication) = 所有與性有關的罪。
奸淫 (adultery) = 任何違背婚約﹐不忠的行為。
Jesus provides one exception: fornication.
Note: “Fornication” is any kind of sexual sin. “Adultery” is any unfaithfulness which violates the marriage vow, sexual or not.
“Except for the reason of unchastity (fornication)” (Matthew 5:32).
“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)
In Matthew 19:9, Jesus is rebuking the Jews for easy divorces. Though God regulated through certificates of divorce, he did not encourage divorce. God never requires/encourages divorce!
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 describes a situation: a woman is divorced twice for “unpleasantness”– God does not approve of either divorce. But divorce is so serious in God’s eyes, that it cannot be remedied through reconciliation, once re-marriage has happened.
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency (unpleasantness) in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife,
and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an
abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)
(一) 私下面責﹔(二) 帶一﹐兩個證人面責﹔(三) 告訴教會﹔(四) 開除會籍
Understand Matthew 19:9 in light of Matthew 18:15-18. Jesus is speaking in both places. When a Christian commits fornication, the church must follow 4 steps: (1) speak privately to him, (2) bring witnesses, (3) tell it to the church, (4) if he does not repent, expel him, regard him as a non-believer. If the Christian repents (in steps 1-3), restore him, reconcile him to his spouse.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuse to listen to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:15-18)
吩咐的一樣) 。紀律的目標﹐一定是恢復犯罪者與神的關係﹐和與人(家庭) 和好。若好好執行紀律的話﹐教會必定更健康。這需要勤勞的事奉﹐是不容易的﹗很多教會在這方面虧欠/懶惰。
Discipline is explicitly commanded by Jesus, like baptism and the Lord’s Supper are. The goal of discipline (Matthew 18) is always to reconcile people to God and others. Discipline contributes to the spiritual health of the church. It is hard work! (Churches are grossly negligent here.)
Put Matthew 18 and 19 together: (a) Christians must not divorce. (b) If a Christian commits fornication, follow the 4 steps in Matthew 18. (c) If the sinner does not repent, the Christian has the option to divorce. Divorce is never commanded/encouraged by God; it is allowed here.
I Corinthians 7:10-11 Paul teaches the same thing as Jesus. Christians cannot divorce each other.
同住。(二) 若非信徒要離開﹐那麼基督徒必須讓他離開(離婚) 。神吩咐基
In verses 12-16, Paul deals with a second scenario which Jesus did not deal with: (a) If a Christian has a non-Christian spouse, the Christian must live with him/her. (b)If the non-Christian leaves (i.e., divorces the Christian), the Christian is commanded to allow for the divorce, for peace’s sake.
“But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband I sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.” (I Corinthians 7:10-15)
In I Cor. 7:12-15, non-Christians are “holy” because a Christian is in the home!
方已經不是基督徒了) 。(二) 林前7﹕12-15教導我們﹐當一個非基督徒向一
Conclusion: (a) Matthew 18 and 19 teaches that, if a Christian’s Christian spouse commits fornication, does not repent and does not heed discipline, the Christian can divorce his/her spouse (who by now is regarded as a non-believer). (b) I Corinthians 7:12-15 teaches that when a non-Christian divorces a Christian, the Christian must allow for this divorce and go through with it. These are the two situations where God allows the Christian to participate in a divorce.
Note that “mental pain” is never given as a reason for Christians to divorce. The church, however, must follow Matthew 18 and exercise discipline when a spouse neglects or violates his/her marriage obligations (e.g. by desertion or physical abuse). If there is physical danger, the church should act immediately to protect the injured/potential victims.
In I Corinthians 7:15, a Christian who participates in a divorce initiated by his/her non-Christian spouse, is allowed to re-marry.
“ Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.” (I Cor. 7:10-15)
We conclude that in Matthew 19:9, Jesus allows divorce to happen in the exceptional case of fornication (with the understanding that, reconciliation is not possible because the fornicator refuses to repent and refuses to heed discipline.)
The most natural interpretation is: he/she who divorces under these circumstances, can remarry.
Jay Adams, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible (Zondervan 1980).
“Divorce and Remarriage,” PCA Digest: Position Papers 1973-1993 (info: www.pcanet.org; www.gcp.org). pp. 182-293.
June 9, 2002
Last Update: Jan 29, 2007.
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