God who instituted the marriage union has a standard for it. The Scripture clearly shows God's standard that is to be followed and observed by His children. God is interested in the marriage of His children. He gives good husbands and wives to those that come to Him. Seek the face of God earnestly to receive His choice of a marriage partner.
God's Standard in Marriage
Proverbs 19:14 "House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord." Matthew 7:11 "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him."
The Scripture warns believers against marrying unbelievers. An unbeliever is someone who has not been saved from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. He is a sinner. He or she may be active in the church and profess to be a Christian, but there is clearly no evidence of such profession. Such should not be married by a child of God.
Titus 1:16 "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteous-ness? and what communion hath light with darkness?And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
1 Corinthians 7:39 "The wife is bound by the law as long as the husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." Deuteronomy 7:3, 4 "Neither shall thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindle against you, and destroy thee suddenly."
Do not esteem such advantages as beauty, same tribe, same church, educational attainment, social status, wealth, family background, etc. above the requirement of Scripture. Do not risk your eternal soul. It is better not to marry at all than to marry an unbeliever. Those who are already married should know that God is the marriage builder. He can repair every marriage union and solve every problem between husband and wife, however complex. Bring your marriage before the Lord; He will put it in order and give you peace.
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Psalm 68:5, 6 "A Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation.
6 God setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land." 1 Peter 5:7 "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." God has giving us in the Scripture His standard in marriage. Those who desire to serve Him must keep this standard.
Mark 10:6-9 "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh; so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
The scriptural marriage is a union between one man and one woman in holy wedlock. Those who marry more than one wife are sinners before God. The man who does so is committing adultery against his wife and shall be judged by God. If he desires to repent of his sins and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, then he must put away those women he is committing adultery with, whatever the number of years they have stayed together and whatever the number of children they have gotten in the marriage. Separation is required between him and the illegal women and not the children. He should remain with his first wife. The scriptural law of marriage binds a man to his wife and a woman to her husband as long as the other marriage partner is alive.
Romans 7:2, 3 "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so 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."
1 Corinthians 7:39 "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
The law of marriage binds a husband to his wife and the wife to her husband as long as both of them are still alive. Divorce and remarriage to another person is not allowed. Whoever divorces and remarries when the marriage partner is still alive has no part in the kingdom of God. He or she is committing adultery.
Mark 10:10-12 "And in the house His disciples asked Him again of the same matter.m And He saith unto them, 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."
If you are married to another woman or as a woman you are married to another man, apart from your first scriptural binding marriage partner, you are in a wrong relationship and must dissolve it, if you want to please God. You should go back to your first lawful marriage partner or stay unmarried.
1 Corinthians 7:10, 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."
Saving For the Cause of Fornication," Explained
There are those who say that adultery committed by one of the partners in a marriage union can result to scriptural divorce and remarriage. This understanding comes from the misinterpretation of the following scriptures:
Matthew 5:32 "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." Matthew 19:9"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."
The issue here that can cause divorce is fornication and not adultery. Unfortunately some Bible translations replace the word fornication with marital unchastity or marital unfaithfulness. Many stumble by these renderings. Fornication is a sin which is committed by someone who has not yet entered into the marriage union. The following scripture will give understanding of the above scriptures:
Matthew 1:18-20 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."
In this scripture Mary was called the wife of Joseph, when they were still in betrothal relationship and the marriage union had not yet been contracted. When Joseph thought that Mary had become pregnant through fornication he made up his mind to put her away and would have done so, except that God stopped him and gave him a clear explanation concerning Mary's pregnancy.
Among the Jews the betrothal stage of marriage was binding on the partners and they were not to separate from each other, but must enter into the marriage union in the appropriate time. Jesus in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 above showed that fornication by either of the partners in betrothal relationship can break the betrothal bond and the other party could be free to marry another. This is in consonant with the uniform revelation of the New Testament on this subject. No Scripture stands alone.
Among Christ's followers, we must note that when two believers are in bond to marry each other and one of them backslides from the faith, such marriage proposal must discontinue. The other partner has become an unbeliever and can no more be married, to keep to the standard of the Scripture. If the backslider repents and gets restored and the believer still feels persuaded to continue with the marriage proposal, it is acceptable.
He or she is not marrying a sinner but a believer. Let us consider that scripture again. Matthew 19:9 "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso married her which is put away doth commit adultery."
Seven Facts to Prove That Adultery Cannot Cause Divorce
Note that the clause "except it be for fornication" is not found in the gospel accounts of Mark and Luke and in the epistles. The following facts show clearly that this scripture does not refer to adultery or marital unfaithfulness committed by a husband or a wife in a marriage union already contracted.
No. 1: Jesus said a husband and wife in a proper marital relationship are one flesh and are no more two. This bond is made by God and man has no power to cancel it.
Matthew 19:4-8 "And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 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? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so."
No minister, church or custom has authority to dissolve the marriage bond between husband and wife in a scriptural marriage union. Divorce pronouncement in a law court by a Judge based on the laws of the country does not dissolve a scriptural marriage union, because the laws of God are higher than the laws of any country.
No. 2: The grace of God in Christ Jesus gives the believer the power to forgive his fellow men of all sins, including adultery, even as he or she has been forgiven by God:
Matthew 18:32, 33 "Then his lord, after that he hath called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? Colossians 3:13 "Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
The forgiveness a backslider receives from God restores him to the love and fellowship of God and restores to him his rights and privileges in Christ. Anyone who practices the word of God will forgive the wife or husband of all sins including adultery and restore him or her to marital love, fellowship, rights and privileges.
No. 3: Jesus showed that adultery is as evil as every other sin in the sight of God, damnable and forgivable.
John 8:4, 5, 7, 10, 11 "They say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou? 7 So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 10 When Jesus hath lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
Here we see that if adultery has the power to destroy life or lawfully terminate marriage, then every other sin can do the same, because all sins are equally damnable before God. Jesus forgave this woman of her adultery and cleansed her from her sin. Can any one condemn someone Christ has justified? Can any man or woman call unclean what God has cleansed? Can the husband of this woman reject her in marriage and be doing God a service?
No.4: Believers are instructed to remain bound in marriage to their unbelieving partners as long as the unbelieving partners desire to remain married to them.
1 Corinthians 7:12, 13 "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him."
1 Peter 3:1, 2 "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear."
The unbelieving marriage partner which the believer is instructed to condone with commits every kind of sin, including adultery certainly. By this the Holy Spirit is showing that no sin is strong enough to break the marriage bond.
No. 5: God loves children and seeks to protect and save them; hence He hates divorce. Divorce does a lot of harm to the children born into the family.
1 Corinthians 7:14 "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."
Malachi 2:14-16 "Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not He make one? Yet hath He the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously."
One may reason thus: "Will not God also seek to protect the children born to the unlawful marriage?" The God of mercy is also the God of truth. He will not lay aside His eternal truth to show any one mercy.
No. 6: Adultery in marriage does not separate the marriages of sinners around us in the world in which we live.
Many of our unbelieving neighbors forgive and condone with the adulteries of their marriage partners. Should sinners become more reasonable, forgiving, patient, enduring and loving than the saints? It is not too much for any believer to forgive the adultery committed by his or her marriage partner, because even sinners do the same! The Lord of the church has given us a righteousness not lower, but higher than that of sinners.
Matthew 5:46, 47 "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so." Matthew 5:20 "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
No. 7: The Lord has confirmed this truth to many of His servants that saw Him face to face in a divine encounter. Divorce and remarriage to another partner when the first lawful partner is alive is damnable in hell fire.
Hebrews 2:1-3 "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him?"
The Believer Must Remain Unmarried if the Unbelieving Partner Departs
The Bible further instructs that if the unbelieving marriage partner decides to depart from the marriage, such one can go. The believer is guiltless of the separation. He or she should remain peaceful in Christ. 1 Corinthians 7:15 "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."
Note that this scripture does not negate or nullify the instruction and command of the other scriptures. The two are still one flesh and the law of marriage states that neither of them should remarry as long as the marriage partner is still alive. The unbelieving partner or backslider who has departed can receive the conviction and salvation of the Lord at any time and reunite with the marriage spouse.
Luke 15:17, 18 "And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee."Philemon 15, 16 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever.16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord?"
If the unbelieving partner does not return, let the believer remain alone and count it a blessing from God who makes all things work together for the good of the eternal souls of His dear children. His wisdom is at work and His grace will be sufficient in all ways.
1 Corinthians 7:7, 27, 32 "For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord." The Scripture warns that "Whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."
Because of this warning, let every married man examine his marriage and be sure that he is not married to another man's wife and let every married woman examine her marriage and be sure that she is not married to another woman's husband. You may need to make detail investigation and seek counselling from scripturally sound ministers to ascertain your case. Questions like these may be helpful. Was your spouse married before?
Did the first marriage secure parental consent? Was it seen as marriage by the people in the society? Will you sincerely judge yourself married or on married, in the light of the Scripture? Much prayer, investigation and counselling will reveal the truth. Unlawful marriage union must be dissolved, for the purpose of eternal life. Those who are entering into the marriage union must investigate properly to ensure they are not entering into unlawful union.