We Are Radical

Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)

Who Can Marry?

There are few subjects that have led to more differences of opinion than that of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. So many different views are held by those who believe and teach the Bible that many have concluded that one view is just as good as another, or that we cannot really know what is the truth on this subject. Such an attitude indicates disrespect for the Bible and a lack of faith in God’s ability to express His will to man so that we can understand it. To the contrary, Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) Are there exceptions to this statement? Are we to take the position that no one can really know what the Bible teaches concerning divorce and remarriage; therefore, all we can do as preachers and teachers is to read certain passages of scripture to people, let them make up their own mind, and then accept whatever decision they make? If we refuse to teach the truth on this subject because it might offend someone or because others differ from “our position,” have we “shunned to declare the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)? What subject will we shun next? When people are in danger of losing their souls externally because of sin, we must inform them or suffer certain consequences ourselves (Ezekiel 3:17-21).
This writer does not claim to have the answers to solve all the marital entanglements in which people find themselves. However, if we would keep certain Biblical teaching and principles in mind, the answers can be found. The solution may not be easy. In fact, it may be most difficult, yet there is always an answer when we open our hearts and accept God’s word just as he gave it.


From the beginning of time, God in his infinite wisdom, has intended that marriage last for a lifetime. There is nothing in the Bible that would indicate that he has changed his mind or come up with a better plan. To properly understand this subject it is imperative that we realize that marriage, as a general rule, involves one man with one woman for life. This principle is taught throughout the Bible.

“…the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? …For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce…” (Mal. 2:14-16)

“…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 two shall be one flesh? …What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matt. 19:4-6)

“…Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12)

“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery.” (Luke 16:18)

“For the woman which has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” (Rom. 7:2-3)

This instruction concerning marriage precedes the church. It even precedes the Law of Moses, since it began with Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:24). Therefore, it is not applicable only to Christians, or just to the Jews while the law was in force, but it has been, is, and shall be applicable to all men everywhere who have descended from Adam. Our Lord explained why divorce for almost any cause was tolerated under the law of Moses, and then proceeded to explain God’s will concerning marriage by going back to “the beginning.” (Matt. 19:3-8) He did not change the original instructions that were given in Eden.

The apostle Paul had been asked various questions concerning marriage by the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 7:1). This inspired man chose to answer those related to the married by stating God’s will concerning marriage, and then applied this general rule to the particular situations (1 Cor. 7:10-15). The general rule stated: (vs. 10-11) “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, ‘Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.’” Just as the Lord had reminded the Jews of what God had said in the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), Paul reminds the Corinthians of what the Lord had said.

Having set before them God’s instructions concerning the married, he then proceeded to apply these instructions to the rest of the situations about which the Corinthian’s inquired concerning those who were married.
(1) V. 12 – “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him” what shall he do? To answer the question, he went back to the general rule he had set before them (v. 10-11); therefore he replied: “Let him not put her away.”
(2) V.13 – “and the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he is pleased to dwell with her” what should she do? To answer this question, he went back to the general rule again (v.10-11): therefore he replied: “Let her not leave him.”

Many questions are asked today concerning marital situations. The only way to properly and scripturally answer them is to follow the example of Jesus and the apostles. First, lay the foundation by stating God’s world-wide instructions concerning the permanency of marriage, and then proceed to apply this general rule to the marital situations.


After stating God’s original instructions concerning the permanency of marriage, Jesus gave one exception to this general rule. “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.” (Matt. 19:9) Therefore the only person who has a living companion, and who could be free to remarry, is he or she who puts away the companion for fornication. Some teach that this verse applies only to a Christian married to a Christian; therefore it is a covenant passage. However, nothing in the context, or anywhere else in the Bible, indicates such. Jesus enjoins it upon the whole human race by tying it to God’s instructions for marriage from the beginning.
Also, “whosoever” is all inclusive just as it is in John 3:16, Revelation 22:17, or similar passages. The two words “committeth adultery” denote continual action since the verb is present tense. The meaning is such a divorce, other than for fornication, followed by marriage to another person causes the persons involved to be living in a state of sin, namely, adultery. Becoming a Christian does not change the state of a person’s life. He must change the state of his life in order to become a Christian. This is done by repentance, followed by turning away from sin. Then, and only then, does baptism wash away the sin.

We might observe that only three classes of people have a right to marry, provided the persons they are marrying are scripturally eligible for marriage.
(1) One who has never been married
(2) One whose companion has died
(3) One who has divorced a companion for fornication
To give a fourth category is to go beyond that which is written (2 John: 9), as well as open the door for a fifth, sixth, or as many as man might devise. Those who are so concerned that we not “bind where God has not bound” should be just as cautious not to “loose where God has bound” (Matt. 16:19).

Richard Harp, Enduring Words, Vol. 1, Issue 2, February 1982

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