Divorce and Remarriage

The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)

The question has been asked: “Is there any cause for which a man can divorce his wife and marry another and be justified in the sight of God?” Over this question there is no little division. We doubt if we will be able to give an answer that will satisfy the masses; however, we shall by the help of Almighty God answer this question as we understand the teaching of the Bible.

Our answer to this question in the very beginning of this study is “yes.” Yes, there is a cause for which a man can divorce his wife and marry again. Jesus Christ, Himself, tells the cause in Matthew 19:9. Hear him, "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." Here Jesus makes fornication the exception. This proves the answer that we have given. For the cause of fornication, a man can put away his wife and marry another.
But, says one, some preachers are preaching to the contrary, they are teaching that there is no cause for which a man can put away his wife and marry another. That is true, but we think that Jesus knows more about it than any preacher that ever lived upon the face of the earth. A preacher has gotten too smart when he flies into the face of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, and disputes His plain teaching. Some preachers like to deal with things that are agitating in nature, things that are argumentative and often they prove themselves dishonest in such matters.

Sometimes a misconception of the teaching of the Word of God is responsible for the wrong teaching on such subjects. One of the things that seem to cause some of us to miss the mark on this subject is the phrase, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19:6). Just about all preachers, in performing a wedding ceremony use this expression. Thus, they seem to believe that when a couple is being united into the bond of matrimony, God joins them. We do not believe a word of it. We do not believe that God joins men and women in marriage today, and we maintain that the Bible does not teach that He does.
Our brethren are death on the sects for teaching a direct operation of God from heaven and yet some of them are ready to impress upon the hearts of thousands that He does operate directly in some mystical, twistical, incomprehensible manner in the joining together of men and women in the bonds of matrimony. I wouldn't so accuse my Lord of such unfairness. He joins me to a bad one and joins my friend to a good one, and another to a bad one and then another to a good one, and on and on it goes. No, sir, God does not engage in such bungling. When God does a job, He does it well. If God joined men and women together, they would stay together. There would be absolutely no need for the divorce courts whatever. However, God does recognize whatever is done, whether the thing done is right or wrong.
Now, let us recap the procedures in the average marriage and see if we can find out where God comes in. If God acts in the procedure, certainly there is a place where He comes in, or acts. Here we go: (1) man meets woman, (2) she attracts him, (3) he asks for date, (4) courtship ensues, (5) infatuation or love results, (6) he asks for her hand in marriage, (7) she agrees and he purchases the license, (8) he secures the preacher, (9) preacher goes through ceremony and they pledge themselves, either to the other so long as both of them shall live, (10) the preacher pronounces that they are husband and wife on the grounds of the pledges that they made.
When did God come in? It must be admitted that God only recognized what transpired, whether it was right or wrong.
Well, another may ask, what is taught by the phrase, "What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder"? Let us just go back to Matthew 19:3-6. "The Pharisees also came to him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? and he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them 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."
Now what is here taught? Just this: if you will kindly notice, He said in verse 4 that “he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” Now don't put this asunder, don't change this. God did join them together at the beginning. He did NOT join a male to a male and a female to a female, but He made a female for every male and he did this only at the beginning. He said unto them, "Be fruitful and multiply." Thus He established the law of physical propagation. To put this asunder would mean an end to propagation.
Notice, Jesus said WHAT God hath joined together, not WHOM. If this had reference only to man and wife, God would have doubtlessly said, whom therefore God hath joined together. But He did not say whom. He said WHAT. This takes in beasts, fowls, fish and every creature upon the face of the earth. Put asunder what God joined together (and He did his joining together at the beginning - Matt. 19:3) would result in putting an end to reproduction.
As an example, we call your attention to some who did put asunder what God hath joined together. Go with us now to the first chapter of Romans and let us commence at verse 25: "Who change the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which is meet."
Now this is a clear cut lesson against putting asunder what God hath joined together. Let us forget the idea that God in some physical way joins men and women together in marriage, for He does no such thing. They join themselves by the pledges they make to each other. God just recognizes the thing done.

God tells His people how to do it, like He tells them how to do other things. The Bible teaches that God objected to the sons of God being married to the daughters of men, but “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took unto them wives of all which they chose” (Gen. 6:2). This caused God to bring the flood upon the earth and destroy everything upon the face of the earth. Now who did this marrying? Did God join His sons to the daughters of men? Did He? Certainly not! God doesn't build again the things that He destroys, thus transgressing His own law. The Bible says these men did this. "The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took unto them wives.” God did not join them to them, they did it themselves.
God told His people not to make marriages to any of the seven nations that He would deliver unto them (Deut. 7:1-3). He told them not to do it. Joining together in marriage is what men do by their pledges, vows and solemn declarations of love and faithfulness. God simply recognizes the pledges and vows made and when a man makes a vow, God holds him to it, for He said that it is better not to vow, than to vow and not live up to it (Eccl. 5:5). God condemns the covenant-breakers, truce breakers and people who will not live up to a bonafide agreement (Rom. 1:29-32; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).
Paul said, "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh" (1 Cor. 6:15-16). Notice Paul said, "Shall I"? This is what man does and not what God does for him.
But, says one, what is meant by the phrase, "The two become one flesh"? It simply means that the two live in unity in the flesh. Paul said, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh" (2 Cor. 10:3). To be one flesh simply denotes an intimate communion, as if the two were but one person or one body (Gen. 2:24). Paul said that he could wish himself were accursed from Christ for his brethren, his “kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom 9:3). So we see the phrase, "the two shall become one flesh," has reference to their lives being united. They become one in purpose and aim to be accomplished; they become one in objective, and united as they live in their fleshly bodies; they go down the pathway of life, sharing their blessings and their woes, facing their obstacles and disappointments as on through life they go.

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