Strong Marriage – Medicine!

The subject of divorce and remarriage is very controversial in our time, but the controversy is by no means a new one. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus picked up the hot potato subject of divorce and addressed it with direct and simple but very sobering words — “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32). Space won’t allow an in-depth analysis of this text, but Jesus’ teaching here is augmented by His further teaching later in Matthew 19:1ff. There Pharisees attempted to put Him on the defensive by asking in verse 3, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” As a part of His answer Jesus declared in Matthew 19: 8-9 – “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Those are strong words about divorce and remarriage! Combined, the two passages emphatically declare only one reason God allows divorce — sexual infidelity by the marriage partner. If a divorce takes place for any other reason and then remarriage follows, all the parties involved commit adultery: the divorce-er, the divorcee, and the one the divorce-er or divorcee remarries. That’s tough marriage-medicine in a me-first world where people want a quick, easy way out of any difficulty and inconvenience that arises, including in marriage.

Jesus’ words, though not difficult to understand, have proven difficult for many in our divorce-prone, no-fault divorce world to accept, including some in the church. I have read that a friend of W. C. Fields once entered the old comedian’s room to find him reading the Bible. Fields, a self-avowed atheist, was asked what he was doing. Fields quickly shut the Book, and, apparently embarrassed, replied, “Looking for loopholes, just looking for loopholes.” Many people look, and with first one argument and then another, insist they have found a loophole that releases them from the authority of God’s law concerning marriage and divorce. The mental twists and turns people go through bring to mind something I learned from fellow-preacher and friend David Sain. In a sermon I heard David preach, he mentioned a quote people often use regarding different Bible teachings — “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” But Brother Sain pointed out that saying is incorrect, and went on to proclaim the truth of the matter this way: “God said it….and that settles it!” Whether or not we believe a Bible truth has zero to do with its veracity! A majority of men and women once believed the earth was flat, but that did not make it so. Some in Jesus’ day had relaxed God’s law on marriage and divorce — but Jesus never did. Marriage is sick and getting sicker in our society, and even in the church. The hope for a cure is not in diluting Jesus’ teaching. Let us, at least in the church, take and trust the strong marriage-medicine the Great Physician prescribes.

Dan Gulley – Smithville Church of Christ

#culture, #divorce, #god, #jesus, #marriage, #remarriage, #the-will-of-god

Battleground Passage

I have been asked to speak on 1 Corinthians 7:14-16:

14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

15: But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.

16: For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Considering the number of doctrinal fights over this passage concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage, this is a daunting task. I guess I will find out how many theories there are out there for this passage.

The first and last verses are rather easy — the middle is a battlefield passage in the Lord’s church.  Entire books have been written on this passage doing battle against false doctrines.

What are your thoughts on this passage? Thanks for your input!


#corinthians, #divorce, #marriage, #mdr, #remarriage

Making oneself a eunuch for the kingdom's sake

Fellows, my heart is heavy and has been for two days now. I’ve been preaching full-time now for a small church of about 30 people for nearly 11 years and I experienced a difficult first this week pertaining to Matt. 19:9, I Cor 7:10,11, etc.

First, let me say this–I understand the truth of God’s word on marriage, divorce, & remarriage (MDR), and I teach it.

Nevertheless, it is one thing to teach a difficult truth to an audience and another thing to teach it to a couple sitting across from you (there is a huge difference emotionally). It is one thing to teach an audience that “we must not live in adulterous situations–even if the civil courts sanction such” when you don’t have any specific person in mind, and it is another thing when you know the couple sitting a few feet away is, by their own admission, living in adultery.

Let me back up a minute–this is not the first time I’ve had discussions like this with people privately in my office. Strangers will call me up asking me to marry them. I never agree to do so over the phone but always offer to meet with them to discuss their situation. Often the couple interested in getting married has no Scriptural right to do so, and I show them Jesus’ words to that end. Some are respectful and quiet as they leave but others are angry and let it be known.

But 2 days ago I had a new experience. A couple I’ve been studying with (both about 50 years old with no young kids) have learned much in the past few weeks and have come to understand they need to be immersed. We talked a lot about conversion in our recent study. Also, they specifically wanted to talk about marriage, so we did. She has a Catholic background and was concerned that the church of Christ would not accept their marriage. We addressed that and then we talked about Matt. 19, etc. The man was qualified for marriage, but the woman was not (having divorced her 1st husband years ago, but not for infidelity). This man and woman sitting across from me understood (for the first time) the gravity of Jesus’ words in Matt. 19:9 and it hit them like a ton of bricks. I felt like Ezra and would have pulled out some of my beard if I could grow one (9:3).

“I’m not a bad person,” the woman said. “We didn’t know these truths when we got married a year or two ago” (they had lived together a number of years before getting “married” recently). I nodded as my heart ached for them. I thought to myself: “Would they be able to do what God’s word prescribes?” I then shared some verses on commitment, Jesus’ sacrifice as an example for us, and what it means to make oneself a eunuch for the kingdom’s sake. I tried to explain the brevity of life and the “duration” of eternity.

The couple didn’t get mad; they didn’t leave; they sat stunned and took it all in. This gave me hope for them. After 2 hours of talking about MDR and baptism, we all left the office with heavy hearts. How will it end? I do not know. But I’m praying for them and hope you will, too. They have great potential for the Lord–but not as a “married” couple. Will they seek first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness or will they turn away as the rich, young ruler did? Only time will tell.

I have a small inkling now of perhaps how Ezra felt in Ch. 9. I know the truth and can do nothing else but preach it in its entirety. I’m not the most sensitive chap, and, in my youth, I cannot recall every feeling terrible about sharing God’s word with someone. But it had to be done (Acts 20:26,27), and I did it the best I could in love (Eph. 4:15). Praise be to Almighty God!

#divorce, #marriage, #remarriage

The Preacher and Divorce

When a preacher gets a divorce, can he continue as the preacher? I am discussing this on my blog. Join me.

#congregation, #divorce, #marriage, #moving-word, #preacher, #remarriage