By Micky Galloway
The Bible is a marvelous book that reveals God’s will to us in all things “pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). The “gospel of the grace of God” and “the kingdom of God” is all the “counsel of God” (Acts 20:24-27). The gospel message is a message that will ultimately make our lives happy. Contained in this message is the will of God pertaining to our homes and our marriages. Obedience is always blessed (Deut. 10:13), but sin brings hardship and never privileges. “Good understanding giveth favor; But the way of the transgressor is hard” (Prov. 13:15).
In the society in which we live problems in marriage is a reality. However, God’s will on marriage as revealed in the New Testament is as applicable now as it was in first century times. Without doubt all of us have been touched by the sorrow of marriage problems, divorce, and remarriage in one way or another. As this problem increases in society it will grow as a problem among God’s people. We must, however, be content to “speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent” (cf. 1 Pet. 4:11).
God’s rule for marriage is simple: one man for one woman for life. In Genesis 2:24 God said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” This rule is repeated several times in the New Testament (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Eph. 5:31). This rule requires one man for one woman. God’s rule for marriage is simple: one man for one woman for life with one exception. It is simple to say that and find that most all agree. However, in the application there is much disagreement.
This original rule of God excludes ALL immorality. This “one flesh” relationship between “a man” and “his wife” would forbid fornication, adultery, polygamy, concubines, homosexuality, and bestiality. These things would desecrate the union and Jesus says this is grounds for one who is innocent to put away the guilty (Matt. 19:9). One who is guilty of these sins could in no way profit from his sin by desecrating one relationship and forming another. Therefore, the put away fornicator is excluded from marrying another.
Man has not always followed God’s ideal for the marriage relationship. In Genesis 4:19 we read of the first case of bigamy. Later in Genesis 12:10-20 we read of one making his wife available to become the wife of another. Further, in Genesis 16:1-3, one had a child by a household maid. In Genesis 25:1-6 we read of man taking concubines. Moses even made a concession regulating Jews who were divorcing their wives (Deut. 24:1-4). The Jews questioned Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” (Matt. 19:3 NASU). However, as Jesus explained God’s original marriage law he said, “… but from the beginning it hath not been so.” Jesus ended the Mosaic concession and commanded that “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:1-6). The only exception that Jesus gave is “for fornication.” Jesus allows one who is innocent to put away their guilty companion and “marry another.” In every other case except this one case Jesus said if one marries another “he … committeth adultery” (Matt. 19:9).
We are now being told that 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 teaches that those involved with polygamous marriages may keep their multiple wives. Note the following:
“There is absolutely no evidence that those who practiced polygamy had to divorce all but their first wife before they could become Christians. If polygamy is marriage in scripture, it seems that God would not want to break a polygamist marriage any more than he would want to break up a monogamist marriage. Therefore, it seems that when we preach the gospel to a society who still practice polygamy, before we demand that they break up their polygamist marriages, before they become Christians, let’s make sure that this is God’s will. We are certain of one thing and that is that God wants monogamy. However, it is also certain that God condoned polygamy as a marriage relationship. If God changed his mind about this he never revealed it to us” (Marriage & Divorce by John L. Edwards, page 83, NOTE: NOT Johnny Edwards of Plainfield, IN).
Paul tells them not to seek a change in their outward conditions or circumstances of life that God has given to them. Concerning the unmarried and widows, Paul said “it is good for them if they remain even as I” (1 Cor. 7:8). Concerning the married, Paul said, “Let not the wife depart … and let not the husband put away his wife” (verses 10-11 KJV). They are to remain married. Concerning mixed marriages, the believer is not to initiate a separation (verses 12-13). Concerning virgins, “it is good for a man to remain as he is” (verses 25-26). Concerning widows, “she is happier if she remains as she is” (verse 40). Paul illustrates this principle with circumcision (verses 18-19) and slavery (verses 21-23). Whether then it be one’s marital status, or nationality, or social status, Paul urges them to remain in that situation they were in when they were called to Christ. To apply this principle of “remaining” to those who are involved in sin (adultery or polygamy), is major abuse of the text. Paul is only considering situations that God “assigns” (Greek: emérisen) (verse 17 - NASV) to each. This means, “according to the limits of the work to which God has appointed us (literally ‘according to the measure of the rule which God has apportioned to us as a measure’) cf. 2 Cor. 10:13” (Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain). God does not “assign” or “appoint” sinful conditions! Though society often accepts sinful practices, God’s standard is not changed by society! Paul is not suggesting one may remain in any sinful relationship, whether it is adultery, incest, homosexuality, or polygamy even though this is the accepted norm of society.
Let us have respect for God’s simple rule: One man for one woman for life with only one exception. “(Let) marriage (be) had in honor among all, and (let) the bed (be) undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Certainly, when we submit to God’s rule for our lives we are preparing for happiness in this life and we can share in the ultimate blessing of eternal life. – Fifth Street East church of Christ Bulletin, July 15, 2018.
By Joe R. Price
“2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man” (Rom. 7:2-3).
Marriage ought to be honored by all (Heb. 13:4). Our passage teaches several divine truths about marriage. First, marriage exists between a woman and a man (“the woman who has a husband”). Same-sex marriage is not approved by God, and no amount of redefining marriage will make it so. Next, we learn that marriage is for life (“bound…as long as he lives”). Too often marriage is viewed as a temporary relationship, even though the vow is made “till death we do part.” Marriage is for life, so, choose wisely. Finally, we learn one commits adultery by marrying another while his or her original mate is alive (v. 3). Jesus gave one person in marriage one exception to this rule, that is, putting away for the cause of fornication (Matt. 19:9). Otherwise, only death allows for sinless remarriage. God hates divorce and will not hold guiltless those who dishonor marriage (Mal. 2:16; Heb. 13:4). We have no right to sunder what God joins together (Matt. 19:6). – Sword Tips, December 5, 2014.
“And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mk. 10:11-12); “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke 16:18).