Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 19, 1963
NUMBER 49, PAGE 1,7a

Marriage - As God Would Have It - (No. I)

Gene Frost

It is not without cause that sociologists of our land are becoming alarmed by the fast increasing rate of divorces. This trend attended the fall of Rome. It may well portend our destruction as a people.

Not only is national security threatened by internal deterioration, but, more important, souls are involved in the violation of marriage vows. And even though the subject of marriage, divorce, and re-marriage is becoming increasingly unpopular (and too few preachers have the courage to speak and stand for the truth), we cannot refuse to declare the whole counsel.

It shall be our purpose to set forth the teaching of the Bible on marriage, divorce, and re-marriage and to refute the doctrines calculated to set aside the will of God. In order that the issue itself may be our primary concern, no identification of personalities involved is made. (All quotations, however, are from preachers in general fellowship.)

I. From The Beginning When God created the earth, clothed it in verdant growth and placed upon it creatures of every kind, He saw that it was good. Every creature had its complement, save man and he stood alone. Then God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him." (Genesis 2:18) Woman was made to be a "helper" corresponding to, the counterpart of man. When she was presented to man, God said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh." Thus it was in the beginning.

"Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled." (Hebrews 13:4) The sacred relationship by which man and woman are joined together before God is a blessing most precious and should be held in such esteem, especially dear, Were all so minded the world would not mourn over the curse of broken homes with the attending problems. And this curse seems to mount rather than subside. As with all other matters of God's will, man early violated the marriage vow, to cast off the bride of his youth and to be married again. Though God hated such, He tolerated it in Israel because of the hardness of heart characteristic of them. As a check to such promiscuity, however, He commanded by law that formal procedure should be followed: the woman was to be given the divorcement in writing, presumably therefore in civil proceeding; a wife once put away could not be remarried by her former husband, this a deterrent to hasty divorce. (Deut. 24:1-4) Divorce never has been in harmony with God's will; it was once "permitted," or "winked at," but never willed. Even when permitted, God said, "Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away." (Malachi 2:15-16) Now lest any should reason that because of hardness of heart one may put away his wife and marry another with impunity in this age, let us remind, "the times of ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent." (Acts 17:30)

When the Jews tempted Jesus concerning the application of the law and asked, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?", Jesus replied, "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made the 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." Then they countered, "Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?" He answered, "Moses because of the 'hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 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." (Matt. 19:3-9) Thus Jesus referred to the law and explained its provisions, which were contrary to the will of God as proclaimed in the beginning. Now by His authority, the original design shall be respected!

Writing to a church composed of Jews and Gentiles, Paul addresses himself to those who understand "law" to prove his case concerning the covenants. "Do you not know, brethren, for I speak to men knowing law, that the law rules over a man so long as he lives. For the married woman is bound by law to her living husband; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. Therefore, if while her husband lives, she becomes wife to another man, she will act the adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from the law; so that she is not an adulteress in becoming wife to another man." (Romans 7:1-3, translation by Moses E. Lard.) What Paul says concerning "the law" and its purpose and limits it true of law in general, and to illustrate the truth of this he refers to the general law of marriage: a woman is bound to her husband as long as they both shall live. What God has thus "joined together" man is not to put asunder! Whenever this law is violated and without cause (fornication) one divorces his mate and marries another, this guilty party commits adultery.

II. Living In Adultery

Adultery is "voluntary sexual intercourse by a married man with another than his wife or by a married woman with another than her husband." (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary)

When a person previously "joined together" by God separates from his mate without cause (fornication) and marries (cohabits with) another, this is adultery. And the Lord so declares. (Matt. 19:9) It follows therefore that civil sanction to a marriage does not disannul God's will! Even in "marriage" one may commit adultery with his "wife" (or "husband"). "So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress." (Rom. 7:3)

Some of the Colossians were living in illicit relationships when Paul preached the gospel to them. When he wrote back to the church, he said, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: in which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth." (Col. 3:5-8) Herein the apostle writes to brethren who once "lived" in sin, including "fornication" ("prop, of illicit sexual intercourse in general" — page 531, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, porneia). Sometimes we hear it objected, "We ought to ....quit calling something we cannot read about in the Bible — 'living in adultery'." Yet, these brethren had at one time lived in fornication, illicit sexual intercourse in general! These, Paul instructs to "mortify your members," i.e. to put to death.. in the sense of destroying the strength of, depriving of power, with reference to the evil desires which work in the body." (Col. 3:5) (nekroo, page 273, Vol. I, W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of N. T. Words) The Colossians once lived in fornication, et al., but "now ye also put off all these." Having quit their sins they are to put to death the members, the evil desires of the body. Here is an example of people who were guilty of illicit sexual intercourse, living in such illicit relationships, who put them all away when they became Christians. We emphasize this point early in our study inasmuch as some theorists, in defiance of God's expressed will, contend that adulterers, who are such in "marriage," do not have to cease their illicit sexual life! The Colossians did....why? They repented.

Before one is baptized for a remission of sins, he must first repent of these sins. Repentance is "to change one's mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence one's past sins." (Thayer's Greek -English Lexicon, page 405, metameo.) This includes adultery: when an adulterer repents, he changes his mind (will), to amend his life, abhorring his conduct contrary to God's will. In repenting, he quits committing the illicit act. (If he does not quit his illicit conduct it is evident that he did not repent.) When he is baptized, the sins are forgiven, the guilt removed. Now he is to walk in newness of life in harmony with God's will. (Phil. 1:27)

— 1900 Jenny Lind Ave., Fort Smith, Arkansas