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Pastor Fred Bekemeyer

Marriage, Divorce &  Remarriage

This is truly an important subject, one that should not be taken lightly. In practice I never offer the option of divorce as a way to resolve conflict to married people. I believe that there is no situation so grave, or so helpless, even adultery, which we know can be devastating, that two Believers who are willing to submit themselves to the authority of God’s word, direction and help, cannot resolve the conflict that is between them. The provision under grace is forgiveness. (See Ephesians 4:32, in which Paul writes, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.")


From the beginning, God’s design for marriage was to be One Man and One Woman together for life and God has been consistent in this regard throughout the ages. So it is no surprise when we come to 1 Corinthians 7 that Paul in the strongest manner possible reinforces God’s standard. He writes:


(1 Cor 7:10-11) 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. 


By saying let not the wife depart from her husband, Paul is saying to the wife,"Don’t divorce your husband, but and if you do depart, divorce, and remain unmarried, meaning don’t get married to another man to keep the opportunity of reconciling back to her husband a possibility."


In the same vein, the husband is exhorted to not put away his wife. “Put away” means, forsake, lay aside, leave, put (send) away, or yield up. The context would say don’t divorce your wife. And though it goes unsaid the doctrine is still implied that he too should remain unmarried so he could be reconciled to his wife.


One of the important aspects of verse 11 is the word unmarried. “Unmarried” here clarifies the word previously used - depart. The departure is such that it takes two people who were at one time classified as married and gives them a new classification of now being unmarried. So in this passage we have the recognition of the beginning of a marriage and the ending of a marriage. Divorce ends a marriage, thus the exhortation to remain unmarried. What causes a married person to become unmarried? The only way to become unmarried is to do something which causes the marriage to end in divorce. Therefore, the question is not, does God approve of divorce. I think the teaching is clear. He does not approve of divorce. The question is two-fold. Does God allow for divorce? And does He then recognize that divorce ends a marriage? 


(Mat 19:1-6) And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; {2} And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. {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 hath joined together, let not man put asunder.


In this passage Christ acknowledges that God recognizes divorce as the ending of a marriage. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. “Asunder” means to separate. What God has brought together as one, let not man divide, or separate. The only thing that man can do to break the oneness created by marriage is divorce. God recognizes that divorce formally ends a marriage.


(John 4:16-18) "Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. {17} The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: {18} For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly."


This passage confirms that the Lord recognizes the ending of a marriage. For in dealing with this woman from Samaria He acknowledges the beginning and ending of five marriages.


In 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, Paul shifts gears a little and talks about the attitude that a believer should have if they were married to an unbeliever.


(1 Cor 7:12-16) "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. {13} And the woman which hath an husband that believeth 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 hath called us to peace. {16} For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knoweth thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?"


Here Paul is putting into perspective the attitudes that believers who are married to unbelievers should have. The point is that as long as the unbeliever is willing to remain married to the believer then so be it because there are benefits to remaining married in theses circumstances.


(1 Cor 7:17-24) "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath 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 mayest 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."


These verses give Paul the opportunity to clarify what he began back in verses 7-8.


(1 Cor 7:6-8) "But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. {7} For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. {8} I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I."


Paul simply states that he believes it would be better for people not to be married. Paul believed that God had given him the gift to remain unmarried (even though Paul was never married, the context does not imply that when Paul speaks of being unmarried that he means never married. Unmarried does not mean Never Married). However, he also recognized that God had not given all men this gift, and so if it were not possible for them to remain unmarried, he gives them his approval to marry for the first time, or to marry again.


(1 Cor 7:9) "But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn."


There are still some issues that need to be cleared up. Paul recognized that the things he said to people had great impact on them and therefore he did not want those who found themselves married, or those who did not have the gift to remain unmarried to feel guilty or to become dissatisfied with being married, if they were. Ending this thought with 1 Cor 7:24, "Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called (saved), therein abide with God."


Now Paul’s exhortation to virgins:


(1 Cor 7:25-26) "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. {26} I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be."


Paul believes that if you are a virgin that it is a good thing. An interesting point here is that Paul’s uses of the word virgin is not limited to those who have not had sexual relations but to those who are unmarried. Strongs 3933. parthenos, par-then'-os; of unknown or.; a maiden; by impl. an unmarried daughter:--virgin.


Now Paul brings to a close these thoughts on marriage divorce and remarriage.


(1 Cor 7:27-28) "Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. {28} But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you."


“Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed.” If you’re bound to a wife, your married. If you’re married, do not desire or contemplate the thoughts of becoming loosed, meaning, do not do anything that would dissolve or break the bond, such as a divorce, that you have with your wife, your spouse. “Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.” Are you divorced? Then don’t go out looking for a wife. And perhaps the most important statement Paul makes which leaves no room for misunderstanding in relation to divorce and remarriage, he says, “But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned…”




Even though God’s design is for one man to be married to one woman for life, God allows for, and recognizes divorce. Therefore, it is not a sin for divorced people to marry again, even if it is not to their original spouse. And if it is not a sin to divorce and remarry then we should not create an environment, or cause someone who has been divorced, and remarried to feel as though they have sinned.


Thank you for the opportunity to have open dialogue on this sensitive but important subject.


Praise The Lord


Pastor Fred Bekemeyer

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