Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 28, 1956

Bound By A Broken Bond?

J. Lee Hines, Garland, Texas

The divorce question is constantly and increasingly facing the church. This study of the issue is submitted for your critical examination. If it is unscriptural, the best service which you can render the writer, and those whom he may influence, is to scripturally refute it. The author has not at anytime preached differently from what is herein submitted; so, if any one can refute my arguments, he owes it to the GREAT BROTHERHOOD, of which we are a part, to overturn it.

For Every Cause

"Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?" (Matt. 19:3.) Some Jews justified divorce for any and every reason, including childlessness, appearing in public with uncovered head, if another woman was more attractive, etc. (Alfred Edersheim, Life and Time of Jesus the Messiah, II: 222-334.) This meant that the woman was at the mercy of the man; that the marriage bond was not really binding, but could be broken for any whim. The woman really had no rights, but could be turned out of her home at the man's whim and thus be exposed to whatever loss or reproach went with the breaking up of her home. Did marriage really bind or could it be lightly entered into and lightly cast aside?

Jesus said that the bond is binding. It binds man and woman. It is so binding, that those who divorce for every cause are not divorced by God's authority. They are still married, until they break the tie by committing adultery, for the bond is still in force. Since they cannot get loose for every cause they are still married, and cannot actually be married to another at the same time. To try it is to commit adultery.

For Any Cause?

Jesus did not say that one could not divorce for ANY cause, but he said EVERY cause. Some try to make Jesus say: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery, and whoso marrieth her which is put away committeth adultery." (Matt. 19:9.) But add the rest of what Jesus said on this, and it says "Whosoever shall put away his wife, EXCEPT IT BE FOR FORNICATION, and shall marry another, committeth adultery." (Matt. 19:9.) IF, there was no exception, why did JESUS make one exception?

If it be objected that this exception made by Jesus is not found after Pentecost, we ask: When, then, did this particular law prevail? Since Jesus spoke this under the law, and since Jesus kept the LAW, was the exception given in Matthew 19:9 a part of God's law at the beginning, that fornication broke the marriage tie? If this be not true, when did God change the marriage law? My contention is that God has never changed the marriage law!

Jesus, did not say that one had to put away a woman for fornication, but that it gave one the right to do so, if he wished. So, in other words, the guilty party has forfeited the right to continue in marriage. When the innocent party puts the guilty party away, the marriage bond no longer exists. They are not married any longer.

Remarriage To Another

Did Jesus say that once the marriage was broken by fornication, and divorce, that either party sinned if they remarry, but the guilty could not? If he so said, where did he say it? Or, where did he imply it? The way it is often read, it should say: "He that putteth away a woman, for the cause of fornication, and marrieth another, doth not commit adultery, but she that has been put away, committeth adultery if she marrieth another." It does not read that way, it does say that both commit adultery if it is for any reason other than for fornication.

When the bond is scripturally broken, neither one is married to the other. To maintain that neither can remarry, is to say that one or BOTH, are still bound. But, if the one who was sinned against is free to REMARRY, how can the bond be in force still, for the guilty one? She, or he, as the case may be, is not bound any longer, one is as CERTAINLY UNMARRIED AS THE OTHER.

Violation Of What Law?

If marriage for the guilty party is sinful, it must be because it transgresses some law. What law? It would have to be one of the following, but where can these laws be found?

1. Sinful, because it is a violation of the marriage bond? How, could this be, since the bond has already been broken?

2. Sinful, because of committing adultery? This cannot be, for adultery broke the bond, and since the marriage remarried? Did he say that the innocent party could bond is broken, the marriage bond is not in force, and therefore a contract cannot be broken that does NOT EXIST.

Conclusion I submit this article, not to justify any particular case, but I submit it for investigation and study. The position set forth herein, I have held for more than twenty years. Many homes have been broken by fornication, and it does seem to me that the Lord teaches that new and happy homes can be salvaged from the broken pieces. Of course repentance is always in order. God is merciful and knows the hearts of people. The brethren should be slow to judge, and never make a binding law where God has made none.