Divorce and Remarriage (part 3): Conclusions

CAUTION! This article contains many Scriptures which will likely require you to reconsider what you may have believed the Bible says about marriage, divorce, adultery, sexual conduct and related matters. If you are not completely committed to placing the written Word of Elohim above all other sources of information, it is highly recommended that you NOT continue reading this article.

     Now that we have completed our comprehensive study on all the passages in God's Word related to marriage, divorce and remarriage, we can finally begin to draw some important conclusions. We have seen in the Tanak that the sole justification for a man to put away his wife was if he discovered the matter of uncoveredness, which we have determined to be virginity fraud during the betrothal period. We have also seen that there was no comparable virginity fraud issue when the wife was not assumed to be a virgin, such as when the man verifiably took her virginity by deceitful means, or in cases where she had been previously married. If a husband put away his wife without just cause (which was possible but not lawful), he was acting treacherously against the wife of his covenant.

     However, when there was justification due to virginity fraud AND intent to separate, the man was required to write her a certificate of divorcement, give it to her himself, and send her out of his house. Only in such cases where all these conditions were met, was she actually freed to become another man's wife. Such a marriage was considered to be fraudulent from the start. It was handled exactly the same as if they were brother and sister or Israelite and non-Israelite. Such illicit marriages were treated as never having existed and she was free to go and marry another man.

     We saw how different interpretations of Deuteronomy 24 allowed for divorcement for varying reasons. The Hillelite Pharisees allowed divorcement for "any matter", while the Shammaite Pharisees allowed divorcement only for sexual immorality of the wife. Regardless of the chosen interpretation, everyone understood that any couple that separated unlawfully (that is, outside whatever the requirements of Deuteronomy 24 happened to be) would still be married. That is precisely the reason that there was so much debate on the matter. Yet there could only be ONE TRUE INTERPRETATION of this passage, and Yahushua provided it for us.
     "Whoever puts away his wife, except for the matter of whoring, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a woman who has been put away commits adultery."

     "Whoever puts away his wife, except on the ground of whoring, and marries another, commits adultery. And whoever marries her who has been put away commits adultery."
     This matter of whoring mentioned solely in Matthew is exactly the same as the matter of uncoveredness mentioned in Deuteronomy 24. Yahushua spelled out, in no uncertain terms, that putting away one's wife, outside HIS authoritative interpretation, and then remarrying was not to be permitted. The covenantal marriage bond was not severed outside of His singular condition, which we have seen to be virginity fraud during the betrothal period. Unless it was fraudulent, the marriage covenant would remain binding for life.
     "Did you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what Elohim has joined together, let man not separate."
     Although many Believers think that Yahushua changed the law on divorce under the New Covenant, we have seen that the only valid justification for marital separation was if she committed whoring (virginity fraud) during the betrothal period. Certainly, we can see that Yahushua raised the bar on the awareness of the implications for unlawful marital separation and remarriage, making sure we saw the resulting sin that He saw, which was adultery.

     Based on all these passages, we can see that what constitutes adultery for the man is not exactly the same as what constitutes adultery for the woman.

Adulterous marriage for the MAN:
  • A man may not marry a wife who separated from her living husband. (Mk. 10:12; 1 Cor. 7:10-11)
  • A man may not marry a put away wife while her husband still lives. (Mt. 5:32, Mt. 19:9, Lk. 16:18, Rom. 7:2-3, 1 Cor. 7:39)
  • A man may not take another wife after having put away a wife (while she still lives?) (Mt. 19:9, Mk. 10:11, Lk. 16:18)
Adulterous marriage for the WOMAN:
  • A wife who separated from her husband may not marry anyone else while her husband still lives. (Mk. 10:12; 1 Cor. 7:10-11)
  • A put away wife may not marry anyone else while her husband still lives. (Mt. 5:32, Mt. 19:9, Lk. 16:18, Rom. 7:2-3, 1 Cor. 7:39)
     An important fact to recognize here is that the man is forbidden to take another wife ONLY if he puts away or abandons his wife. The man who does NOT put away or abandon his wife is still free to marry another. Many people fail to recognize this subtle but important distinction in Scripture, usually because they discount all the Scriptures that permit a man to have more than one wife. Nevertheless, if the wife puts away her husband or abandons him, the husband does NOT commit adultery by remarrying. He did not cause her to commit adultery if she chose to leave him. According to Scripture, the only way a man can commit adultery against his wife is if he remarries after forcing her to separate from himself.

     The rules for the woman are different, however. A wife is bound to her husband so long as he lives, even when she would be considered the "innocent party". A woman with a living husband, whether married or separated, whether given a certificate of divorcement or not, is simply off-limits to all other men beside her lawful husband. Check every passage of Scripture to verify this fact. In order for her second husband to commit adultery with her, she must still be another man's wife. The physical act of adultery is certainly a violation of her marriage covenant but that act does NOT dissolve the marriage covenant. That concept can be found nowhere in Scripture.

     Yahushua specified that any remarriage that results in adultery is a continuous sin. The original marriage still exists and is binding so long as they both shall live, regardless what anyone says. The man who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery. The woman, whether she is put away by her husband or leaves on her own, if she remarries, both she and her new husband commit adultery. That is the Word of Elohim regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage.

     Here's what we now know about marital separation and remarriage:
  • If a husband puts away his wife lawfully (i.e. with the matter of the virginity fraud exception), the covenantal bond is dissolved and they are both free to marry. (Dt. 24:1-4, Mt. 5:31-32, Mt. 19:9)

  • If a husband puts away his wife unlawfully (i.e. without the matter of the virginity fraud exception), neither the husband nor the wife may remarry without committing adultery. In addition, anyone marrying the wife also commits adultery. (Mt. 5:31-32, Mt. 19:9, Mk. 10:11-12, Lk. 16:18, Rom. 7:2-3, 1 Cor. 7:10-11, 1 Cor. 7:39)

  • If a wife abandons her husband, he may still remarry (men are permitted as many wives as they can care for) but she remains his wife and he would be obligated to take her back as his wife if she returned in repentance. She may not marry another man without committing adultery. In addition, anyone marrying her also commits adultery. (Mk. 10:11-12, Lk. 16:18, Rom. 7:2-3, 1 Cor. 7:10-11, 1 Cor. 7:39)
Justifications for Adultery

     There is no ambiguity in the Bible's passages on divorce and remarriage. All the passages align perfectly so long as we don't try to interpret them with a predisposed agenda. Yet when people want to divorce (or marry someone divorced), the first thing they do is to look for excuses to justify it. As it turns out, one of the easiest places to find such excuses is in today's church. So many people try to interpret Scripture by looking for the exception to the rule, rather than trying to really grasp what Scripture is teaching. Believers can come up with many reasons for why they think a person is permitted to leave their spouse:
  • physical, emotional or verbal abuse
  • drug, alcohol, gambling or pornography addiction
  • irreconcilable differences
  • sexual incompatibility
  • no longer in love
  • dishonest or illegal behavior
  • never should have gotten married
  • spouse not serving Elohim
     Other Believers will argue for marital separation based on the Torah where the spouse would have been put to death for their actions, implying a ďdivorce by deathĒ scenario:
  • adultery
  • incest
  • beastiality
  • sodomy
  • witchcraft
  • murder
  • smiting parents
     Yet none of these reasons are recognized in Scripture as grounds for marital separation. This may be suprising to many Believers, but even adultery by a spouse is not given as grounds for marital separation anywhere in Scripture! The only exception that Yahushua gave was for pre-marital ("porneia") whoring, never for post-marital ("moichao") adultery. Once they are fully married and become one flesh together, only death can truly separate them.

     For far too long, the Christian church has allowed and even encouraged unbiblical divorce and remarriage. If Scripture is to be our final authority on these matters, we canít have one foot in the Word and one in the world. As Believers in Messiah, we dare not ignore or disagree with His Word in order to align ourselves with the traditions of men.
     "'And in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men.' Forsaking the command of Elohim, you hold fast the tradition of men." (Mark 7:7-8, The Scriptures)
Adulterous Grace

     So what exactly is required of the individual caught in the midst of an adulterous remarriage but who wishes to get things right with Elohim? What does Scripture teach regarding turning away from sin in repentance? Is an adulterer or adulteress required to terminate the sinful adulterous relationship to truly repent, or can they simply remain in the remarriage which Yahushua Himself said is committing adultery?
     "And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commands. The one who says, "I know Him," and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:3-4, The Scriptures)
     Some fellow Believers will say that such a person doesn't actually need to end the adulterous remarriage in order to repent and be forgiven. Instead, they simply redefine adultery as the act of "divorce", rather than the illicit sexual relationship that Scripture shows it to be. By their reasoning, all one need do is simply repent of the "divorce" by determining to stay in the second marriage and never divorce again. Rather than recognizing adultery as a sexual sin, adultery now becomes the act of repudiating one's marriage vows, regardless whether they actually remarry or not.

     This kind of subtle twisting of God's Word is an example of result-oriented dogma at its finest! According to this view, one can abandon his or her spouse for any reason, later promise never to do so again, and then enter into a new "marriage", all the while being consoled into believing they have fully repented of their adultery by agreeing never to divorce again. Those who promote such a blatantly false ideology are twisting Scripture and making an absolute mockery of all the Messianic Scripture teachings on divorce and remarriage.

     Consider how the Messianic Scriptures use the term "adultery". Is there any suggestion that the word refers to the abandonment or termination of a marriage?
     "But I say to you that everyone looking at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28, The Scriptures)
     Are we to suppose that men lustfully fantasize about breaking marriage covenants, or does the word "lust" here denote a sexual context?
     "they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery." (John 8:4, The Scriptures)
     What act was she in the process of committing when she was apprehended? Abandoning her husband? Tearing up a marriage certificate? Or having sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband?

Repentance

     Once we realize the full magnitude of what Scripture says, many of us are left in a seemingly impossible situation. Is adultery now the unpardonable sin? What hope is there for the one living a lifestyle of adultery? To answer that question, let's go back to Godís Word.
     "From that time Yahushua began to proclaim and to say, "Repent, for the reign of the heavens has drawn near." (Matthew 4:17, The Scriptures)

     "But unless you repent you shall all perish in the same way." (Luke 13:5b, The Scriptures)

     "Truly, then, having overlooked these times of ignorance, Elohim now commands all men everywhere to repent," (Acts 17:30, The Scriptures)

     "Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and tolerance, and patience, not knowing that the kindness of Elohim leads you to repentance? But according to your hardness and your unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of Elohim, who "shall render to each one according to his works" (Romans 2:4-6, The Scriptures)

     "Yahweh is not slow in regard to the promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, The Scriptures)
     These passages tell us, in no uncertain terms, that the alternative to repentance is to perish. There is no middle ground here. Forgiveness of sin always involves repentance - a radical and deliberate turning away from sin and turning or returning to Elohim. If we refuse to repent and turn away from any known sin, we cannot be forgiven for it. Now, I'm not talking about a lapse in judgment or a momentary weakness of the flesh here. I'm referring to a sustained, intentional lifestyle of sin from which one refuses to repent and gain forgiveness for. That doesn't mean the sin itself is unforgivable, but simply that Yahushua cannot save people who refuse to forsake their sin.
     "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Master, Master,' shall enter into the reign of the heavens, but he who is doing the desire of My Father in the heavens. Many shall say to Me in that day, 'Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?' And then I shall declare to them, 'I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23, The Scriptures)
     Consider for a moment the Christian man who is deliberately sleeping with his next-door neighbor's wife on a regular basis. Can he continue impenitent in his sinful adulterous relationship, or must he repent and cease his sinful behavior? What does the Scripture say? Even a state-sanctioned divorce and remarriage doesnít change Elohim's mind as to whom the wife belongs to. It's still adultery so long as her husband lives, even if they pass themselves off as a married couple. Yahushua spoke very direct on this point.

     What about two homosexual men who are "married" according to the civil authorities and are later introduced to the Gospel message. Once they believe and are baptized, are they free to continue in their sodomy, or must they repent and turn away from this known sin? Both examples warranted the death penalty under the Torah. Is one example worse than the other?

     Either the homosexual couple can continue in their sodomy because they are "married", or the adulterous couple must walk away from their adulterous lifestyle in compliance with Scripture. We canít have it both ways without being hypocritical. Either both examples are sinful and must be turned away from, or both examples are acceptable and can be continued freely.

     Can a man and man who are "married" according to society, according to the state, even according to some Christian churches, remain in an impenitent state of sexual sin?

     Can a man and woman who are "married" according to society, according to the state, even according to some Christian churches, remain in an impenitent state of sexual sin?
     "For this you know, that no one who whores, nor unclean one, nor one greedy of gain, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the reign of Messiah and Elohim. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these the wrath of Elohim comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partakers with them." (Ephesians 5:5-7, The Scriptures)
     Many Christian pastors today are fearful of preaching a comprehensive repentance message against adultery, because so many adulterers and adulteresses now fill our churches. But if Believers aren't willing to stand up against adulterous remarriage in the churches today, our children will be facing the exact same issue with homosexual couples in the churches tomorrow. We must speak the truth in love and lead the Body back to a Gospel message of repentance!

Judgment and Salvation

     But what if a fellow Believer doesn't KNOW that their marriage is adulterous? After all, for the past fifty years or so, the Christian church at large has become increasingly accepting of divorce. The majority of Christian leaders have been completely silent on the issue of divorce and remarriage, primarily out of fear of offending someone. As a result, most Believers have not been told the truth from the church leadership (primarily because those in leadership haven't studied the matter in detail themselves), so it's really no surprise that Believers have a divorce rate that's higher than the rest of the nation.

     Suppose two women in identical circumstances each marry another man while their husband is still alive. One sincerely believes that she has Elohim's blessing on the new marriage, while the other believes that by remarrying, she is committing a grave sin. Will He end up judging them differently?
     "And that servant who knew his master's desire, and did not prepare, nor did according to his desire, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet did what deserved flogging, shall be beaten with few. And everyone to whom much is given, from him much shall be demanded. And to whom much has been entrusted, from him much more shall be asked." (Luke 12:47-48, The Scriptures)
     We know that Scripture teaches that some things become sin to a person simply because he or she believes them to be sinful, but we have to remember that this is in reference to acts that are not actually sinful in themselves. Nowhere does Scripture teach that if someone believes whoring or adultery are moral, that they suddenly become acceptable before Elohim. He went to extraordinary lengths to make sure this was understood in His Word.
     "Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the reign of Elohim? Do not be deceived. Neither those who whore, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor greedy of gain, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers shall inherit the reign of Elohim. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were set-apart, but you were declared right in the Name of the Master Yahushua and by the Spirit of our Elohim." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, The Scriptures)

     "And the works of the flesh are well-known, which are these: adultery, whoring, uncleanness, indecency, idolatry, drug sorcery, hatred, quarrels, jealousies, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, murders, drunkenness, wild parties, and the like - of which I forewarn you, even as I also said before, that those who practice such things as these shall not inherit the reign of Elohim." (Galatians 5:19-21, The Scriptures)

     "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim? Whoever therefore intends to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim." (James 4:4, The Scriptures)
     For many of us, this can be a very hard pill to swallow. Some will claim that this is simply too harsh or unforgiving to accept. I certainly can sympathize, seeing as this is the same position that stunned both the Pharisees and Yahushua's own disciples. Believe me, if I could change the rules, I certainly would. Nevertheless, God's Word must remain the final authority in our lives, not just in spite of our personal situations but because of them! The Biblical rules concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage are eternal, unchangeable and absolute.

     If every church leader today were preaching the Scriptural truth regarding the lifetime commitment of marriage, there would be a lot less Believers getting married and then getting divorced. It's only because divorce is now so common that people no longer take marriage seriously. Even within the Body, we honestly believe that if things don't work out, we can just dump the other person and start all over again. Marriage has become so cheapened in our eyes that we don't even properly comprehend our relationship to Messiah.

     For those who believe this Word is too harsh, consider the commands of the Apostle Paul. In one of his letters to the Believers at Corinth, he actually addressed how to handle anyone in the Body who is engaging in deliberate sin. If a fellow brother or sister (not an outsider, but a professing Christian) persists in whoring, we are to deliver them to Satan for the destruction of their flesh, and we are to have nothing more to do with them.
     "It is commonly reported that there is whoring among you, and such whoring as is not even named among the gentiles, so as one to have his father's wife! And you have been puffed up, and did not rather mourn, so that he who has done this deed, be removed from among you! For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged the one who did this, as though I were present. In the Name of our Master Yahushua Messiah, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Master Yahushua Messiah, deliver such a one to Satan for destruction of the flesh, in order that his spirit be saved in the day of the Master Yahushua." (1 Corinthians 5:1-5, The Scriptures)

     "I wrote to you in my letter not to keep company with those who whore. And I certainly did not mean with those of this world who whore, or with the greedy of gain, or swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone called 'a brother', if he is one who whores, or greedy of gain, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler - not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are inside? But Elohim judges those who are outside. And put away the wicked one from among you!" (1 Corinthians 5:9-13, The Scriptures)

     "Everyone who is transgressing and not staying in the teaching of Messiah does not possess Elohim. The one who stays in the teaching of Messiah possesses both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house nor greet him, for he who greets him shares in his wicked works." (2 John 9-11, The Scriptures)
The Final Word

     The reason it's so important to take a public stand on this matter is because when we sit back and do nothing, we implicitly communicate to these brothers and sisters that they are free to remain trapped in sin without repenting. If we don't love those caught in adulterous remarriages enough to tell them the truth, then their blood will be on our hands. If we're more concerned with maintaining the status quo with our friends and families, we would do well to consider the clear warnings of our Master and Savior:
     "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword, for I have come to bring division, a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - and a man's enemies are those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take up his stake and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he that has lost his life for My sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:34-39, The Scriptures)

     "Do you think that I came to give peace on earth? I say to you, no, but rather division. For from now on five in one house shall be divided, three against two, and two against three - father shall be divided against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (Luke 12:51-53, The Scriptures)

     "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and his own life too, he is unable to be My taught one. And whoever does not bear his stake and come after Me is unable to be My taught one. For who of you, wishing to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation, and is unable to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was unable to finish.' Or what sovereign, going to fight against another sovereign, does not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So, then, everyone of you who does not give up all that he has, is unable to be My taught one." (Luke 14:26-33, The Scriptures)
     If we are going to be fully sold out for Messiah, we had better first count the cost in our lives. If anything or anyone is more important to us than obeying His stated will, our priorities need adjustment. We must be willing to give everything we have to follow Him.

     Marriage is supposed to be symbolic of our relationship with Messiah, yet there are many people within the Body who are illegitimately married and living in a state of constant adultery. There needs to be instruction and correction within the Body on these issues. God has provided His Word for our benefit in order to help us experience a righteous life in Him. Pray that the eyes of our nation and our world are opened to see the truth about adulterous remarriage in God's Word!
     "And Yahushua, straightening up and seeing no one but the woman, said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Did no one condemn you?" And she said, "No one, Master." And Yahweh said to her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." (John 8:10-11, The Scriptures)

     "For if we sin purposely after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a slaughter offering for sins, but some fearsome anticipation of judgment, and a fierce fire which is about to consume the opponents." (Hebrews 10:26-27, The Scriptures)

 
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