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. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress.
One of the most difficult parts of our ministry is acknowledging what the Word of God says about marriage and divorce. We live in a generation where divorce and remarriage are accepted by society and the church. But it was not always so. Historically, the church upheld what Jesus and Paul preached - if anyone remarried while their spouse was still alive, they committed adultery. It has only been during the last 50 years that the church has relaxed her standards and allowed remarried couples to join the church.
The following story is one couple's decision after studying God's word on marriage and divorce:
Some changes have developed here regarding my relationship with Kathy. You were very gentle about remarriage in your newsletters, but you were right. After reading the Word of God about divorce and remarriage and praying about it, Kathy and I have decided to separate. I am presently working on another place for her to live, realizing that our former spouses still live. That is a major change which I feel the Lord will honor.
It is the dead of winter now and there is no particular place for her to go, but Lord willing there is a house that is coming up for rent in April. I am going to be sleeping in my study and we are working things out from there. It is right brother, and it is what needs to be done. It is very clear from the Word of God.
Another change is that Kathy has decided to put her children back in public school. I am sorry that she has elected to put them back into a state school, but looking at it from a practical standpoint, she has no choice. She has no man. She has no husband.
She needs to be reconciled to her husband - but he is terrible. He is a drinker and has a married woman for his girlfriend. It is just one awful thing after another. Unless he is saved and repents, there is no possibility of reconciliation.
The fact of the matter is that Kathy and I must separate because that is now the revealed will of God. And because we are separating, she cannot educate her children at home because she will probably have to do some work to pay bills in addition to his support payments. Practically speaking, that is what is going to have to happen. That is why claiming residency in Heaven can only work with a husband and a wife properly married and subject to the Lord.
I have done some reading on what the church's position on remarriage has been in the past. Absolutely, almost 99 percent of the time, no church member was ever allowed to remarry while their spouse was still alive, with the one possible exception of "abandonment" under the Westminister Confession of Faith. It has only been within the last fifty years that churches have accepted into membership those who have remarried.
The truth of the matter is that what you have been saying in your newsletters is exactly what the Lord says. If a person is married to another person while their spouse lives, even if they were legally divorced, they are committing adultery if they live with another. It is as clear as a bell in the Word of God: "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery" Luke 16:18.
When God looks on the situation, He sees a nation of adulterers. And they have justified their adultery under the name of marriage, under the guise of marriage. They are deceiving themselves into thinking that they are not sinning.
I look around and I see what has happened in this country. I see no power of God in any churches. I see no evidence of His movings - even in the most fundamental circles. Could the reason be that most of God's people are living in a condition of adultery?
I attend a church periodically and I would say that over 50 percent of the couples there are remarried. Is it any wonder why going to church becomes just a humdrum religious event? These people are walking in disobedience and the pastors are afraid to preach against this sin because they are going to lose their members. And if they lose their members, they are going to lose their offerings. And if they lose their offerings, then they are out on the street. They will have to go to work. After all, preaching is a job, like any other job. I just see it as one great big vicious cycle - and I am contributing to it in this fashion.
I don't think marriage can work unless it is a first marriage - one husband, one wife and children. When you have another spouse trying to tell these children from another marriage what they need to do, you have a problem. It is just not natural. That is why remarriage is an unnatural state of affairs. In spite of the fact that she is a lovely wife, it cannot work. I see why the apostle Paul said, "better to remain as you are" (1 Corinthians 7:26,27). If you have been divorced, seek not a wife. If your wife has died, seek not a wife, even if she has died. I think you are free to remarry if your wife has died. But if you are divorced, there is no way you are free to marry. If you do, you are asking for a whole host of complications that will impair you from being able to do the will of God in other areas.
I think as far as being divorced and not being able to remarry, you have to get your eyes off of self. This is another classic example of the state granting you a privilege that God has forbidden. This shows again that the state is in conflict with the Word of God. By people's lives, they evidence what privileges they want and remarriage is one of those privileges.
I was just reading a book on humanism and one of the things they promote is divorce and remarriage. Humanism is Romanism under the guise of another title. Everything centers in man, begins in man and ends in man.
In your Thanksgiving newsletter I was reading about the lesbian woman. Of course she is in obvious error - but the day is coming when that evil will be looked upon as acceptable behavior. Just as divorce at one time was looked upon as horrid, now it is okay. It is just one thing after another.
In your response to her, you said her brother was on his third marriage. Well, if remarriage is wrong on the third marriage, why would it not be wrong on the second? When does it become wrong? Does it become wrong on the second or the third or the fourth? Remarriage is wrong the second time, while the spouse is yet alive.
The truth is the truth and if we really love the Lord we will do His commandments. If we really love the person we have been living with, we will do what is best for them. That is, we will keep the Lord's commandments, and not be selfish.
Kathy and I were talking, "Well, maybe we should look for the blessing of the Lord." I said, "We don't have to look for anything from God, He has revealed it in His Word. What more do we need." If it was something like, "Go to Africa and be a missionary," then we would look for certain leadings and evidences of His leading that way. But when it is so obvious and plain that He puts it in His Word, there is no need for any further confirmation.
I want to thank you for your candid writings and newsletters. What you are doing is absolutely correct and I pray that God would continue to work on me and give me the courage to do the same. I would appreciate your prayers as Kathy and I do this, that I would be more conformed to his Word and be happy therein.
Eric J. Phelps, c/o Postal Service Box 552, Manheim, Pennsylvania 17545
Pertinent Scriptures on Remarriage: Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:15-18; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7; Galatians 5:16-21
In the early 70's, lawyers were drinking and partying because of a new law that was going to greatly increase their business. My wife, Rachel, came home from the law offices where she worked and said the new law would make it possible for residents of Oregon to receive a divorce much easier. Under the new provisions, a divorce could be granted simply because the couple was having "irreconcilable differences."
Prior to the passage of this law, it was time-consuming and expensive to obtain a divorce. The state recognized a Godly form of marriage. Once united, the couple was bound "until death do us part." A divorce was granted only for a few specific reasons, usually because of marital unfaithfulness. And this charge had to be proved.
Why were the lawyers jumping up and down about the new divorce law? They knew that having easy divorce meant more people divorcing and more revenue for lawyers. Now, 20 years later we are seeing the fruit of this law upon this adulterous generation.
When I counsel young couples, I ask them, "What is marriage?" They may give me many romantic ideas about marriage, but they often miss the foundation.
Marriage is a commitment. It is an allegiance bonding two into one flesh. Marriage does not depend on whether you have good times or bad times together. You are still married. Through sickness or health, the commitment remains. No matter what happens through the years, you are married until death do you part.
It is the same with us as we become the Bride of Christ. It is immaterial what our walk is with Christ. We are walking with Christ through good times and bad. Apostle Paul asks, "What will separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35) He concludes that nothing will separate us. Our walk with Christ is for all eternity.