Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 7, 1953


Cecil B. Douthitt, P. O. Box 67, Brownwood, Texas

Marriage: Whom Does God "Join Together"?

Dear Brother Douthitt: I appreciate your discussion of scriptural marriage (man and woman joined together by God) in the April 16 issue of the Guardian.

If you will tell the readers under what conditions (aside from one or both parties being guilty of fornication or adultery) God does not join man and woman together, you will help some good people clear up their marriage status.

Since God does the joining together of man and woman in all scriptural marriages, it seems reasonable that, as you teach, there are conditions under which God does not join them together. Certainly if they are not joined together by God, they are not scripturally married.

This logically raises the question: What is meant by the divinely spoken term "joined together"? Is this purely a fleshly join together, or does it include more than a "fleshly union"? For what purpose does God "join together" man and woman? Is reproduction one of the purposes? If there can be no reproduction, has God joined a man and woman together?

I know several fine Christian homes that have no children because a physical condition on the part of one of the companions made this impossible. They are happy together. Some of them have adopted children.

I know a man who for many years has been a great teacher in Israel who was divorced from the first woman he took for his wife because she could not bear children, nor even be a wife to him because she had been born with a physical deformity which made this impossible. This he did not know until they were married under the laws of the land. This brother married another because he believed God had never joined him to the first woman he took for wife. This brother has been pointed to as an adulterer on account of this second marriage. Had he not married another he would have been forced to live in celibacy. What do you believe God teaches about such?

I have not gone into the study of God's teaching sufficiently on marriage to learn if He teaches in just what instances He does not join man and woman together, other than when one or both are guilty of adultery or fornication. Your citation of what John the Baptist said to Herod about his unlawful marriage does certainly show that sinners or aliens must comply with God's marriage laws, and that they are not permitted to escape these laws just because they are aliens.


Several letters with questions on marriage have come to me recently from both men and women. The above letter from a brother in Fort Worth, Texas, contains questions similar to those in some of the other letters; therefore, answers to his questions perhaps will be helpful to all.

The term "joined together" in Matt. 19:6 means that the man and woman have complied with the conditions of God's law of marriage, and the two are united as husband and wife in the sight of the Lord; that the two have become "one flesh," and God so recognizes the marriage.

The querist says he has not studied sufficiently the scriptures on marriage to determine if the Lord teaches in just what instances He does not join man and woman together in marriage. Neither do I know all the circumstances and instances under which God does not join together in marriage, even when the man and woman do meet all the requirements of civil law. God does not honor some divorces granted by the courts of the land; nor does He honor some marriages recognized by civil law.

If one of the parties enters the marriage contract under duress and with no intention of making the union permanent, I do not think such marriage is recognized in heaven. I know of one case in which a boy married a girl in order to stay out of the penitentiary. He never lived with her one day after the ceremony, but started divorce proceedings immediately. In another case the marriage ceremony was performed while the father of the bride sat in the room with a shotgun across his knees. Within a few days after the wedding the groom fled to another state leaving the bride behind. If God joins together in marriage in cases like these two, could we not conclude also that He forgives sins when the sinner is forced to be baptized at the point of a gun?

As to the "teacher in Israel" who took "for his wife" a woman that never was and never could be a wife, how could any one contend that God joined her to this man and recognized her as his wife when it was impossible for her to become a wife? I certainly would not accuse this brother of being an adulterer in his second marriage. If it was impossible for the first woman to be a wife, then she just never was his wife, regardless of man's pronouncing her as such.

Beginning with Sarah, the wife of Abraham, and continuing on to Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias (Luke 1:7), we have examples of many women who were barren and yet had husbands to whom God had joined them. They were capable of being wives, though not capable of bearing children. If God had made the ability to bear children a condition of scriptural marriage, then he would never join together in marriage any couple, if the woman was too old to bear children, and marriages among such would be sinful. It is absurd to conclude that God has made the ability to bear children a condition of marriage.

If we mean by "fleshly union" a union that pertains to the body and not the spirit, then I would say that marriage is a fleshly union. It is a relationship designed for people in this life and it does not continue after death. (Rom. 7:2,3) In marriage the two become one FLESH. (Matt. 19:6) Reference is made to the wife as the body of the husband and "his own flesh." (Eph. 5:28,29) We have fathers in the flesh, but they are not the fathers of our spirits. All spiritual relationships continue on after this life is over. Marriage does not continue after death, because it is not a spiritual relationship. "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven." (Matt. 22:30)