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Chapter 11 "I Hate Divorce"

“For I hate divorce,”
says the Lord, the God of Israel.
—Malachi 2:16

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Why are so many marriages ending in divorce? We have all heard the statistics . . . 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce and 80 percent of second marriages end in divorce!

But why? “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock” (Matt. 7:25). Most of our houses were not built on the Rock of God’s Word.

Was your house built on the Rock? If not, then you, like me, were foolish. “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall” (Matt. 7:27).

The Rock that we need to build on is His Word. “Consequently, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6). “. . . And the two shall become one flesh; consequently, they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Mark 10:8). “. . . But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt. 5:32). “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality [fornication], and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). “And He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her’. . .” (Mark 10:11). “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18).

“So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man” (Rom. 7:3).

The Scriptures on marriage are very clear.

Commitment

Another reason for the high divorce rate is the lack of commitment. We are not committed to staying married. It’s out with the old; let’s look for someone new. The real shame is how many broken marriages are in the church, because the church accepts divorce as an option!

Accepting divorce as an option is another reason for the high divorce rate within the church. When we entertain a wrong thought or idea, God tells us that it is because “. . . each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (The definition of lust is a “longing” for what is forbidden.) Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:14–16).

Many will say that there is nothing wrong with divorce, especially in some circumstances; that’s where the deception comes in.

The Deception

We must obey God rather than man. Everyone has his or her own opinion concerning marriage and what he or she “thinks” God tells us pertaining to marriage in His Word. The “gray area” is easiest for most Christians to stand on, but it is not grounded in Scripture. Divorce is very clearly a black and white issue. A firm stand is difficult and unpopular; that’s why so many pastors don’t want to take a strong stand against divorce. But, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).

He is our only hope for salvation. Don’t look to follow what a person says. Instead, follow and obey God, for He is our only hope for salvation. Don’t complicate His Word by trying to find “what you think He means.” He means exactly what He says! Some of the more liberal or progressive churches have changed the miracles of Jesus into something quite different. We heard a woman pastor said in her sermon that the miracle of the loaves and fishes was nothing more than a lesson on “sharing.” The little boy was the first to share his food; then others began to share what they had been hiding!

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Please stand by God’s teachings regardless of what is popular or how many people in your church have divorced and remarried. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). Please know that if marriages are to be saved, we must stand on Truth!

With gentleness, correcting those who are in opposition. Please do not debate the issue of divorce. Each person is only responsible to speak, teach, and live the Truth. The Holy Spirit will do the convicting and the Lord will turn the heart. “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s bond–servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness; correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the Truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:23–26).

The tree is known by its fruit. We can see the “fruits” of many of those in the church who have allowed loopholes and the widespread abuse of the exceptions for divorce. We have seen that it began with the loophole of “unfaithfulness or adultery” and led to divorce for practically any reason! It parallels what has happened with the abortion issue . . . rape, incest, and the health of the mother now account for less than 1 percent of all abortions performed—99 percent are for convenience’s sake! “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16). “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit” (Matt. 12:33). We can clearly see the bad fruit that has been produced—broken marriages and broken vows.

The Questions

Why must we understand and follow God’s Law concerning marriage?

Because families are being destroyed, and, without the family, the foundation on which our country stands will have been removed and great will be our fall! We as Christians will be to blame. We cannot point the finger at others because of God’s promise to us as believers: If “My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).

Christian marriages are perishing at the same rate of destruction as those in the world. Why? “My people perish for a lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). Christians have been deceived and are following the world’s ways, rather than God’s ways.

How can we know that we are being deceived about marriage and divorce?

We know we are deceived because we don’t want to hear the Truth. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the Truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4).

We know we are deceived because we are seeking worldly solutions for troubled or wounded marriages. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:9). We are not a “peculiar people” if we just follow the beaten path that leads to divorce court!

Because His Word is always consistent—God’s Word is the opposite of the world’s philosophies and sometimes difficult to understand and follow. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14). “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh . . . so you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:17).

Again, because we can easily see “the fruits” of all the Christian marriages that have been destroyed because they believed the lies. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matt. 7:15–17).

Scriptural Facts to Stand On

Let’s search more Scriptures to see where God stands on marriage.

Wife by covenant. Marriage was to be a blood covenant. On the wedding night, a blood covenant is made as the couple consummate their marriage. “This is the new covenant in My blood” (1 Cor. 1:25). “And this is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Mal. 2:13–14). “My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips” (Ps. 89:34). “All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and Truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies” (Ps. 25:10).

No longer two, but one flesh. Marriage is for life. We say the vows until death do us part, but do we mean it? “Consequently they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6). “. . . And the two shall become one flesh; consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Mark 10:8).

For I hate divorce, says the Lord. God says that He hates divorce! First, He says, “For I hate divorce, says the Lord” (Mal. 2:16). And, He never changes. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Not even for you, your friend, or your brother . . . “I most certainly understand that now God is not One to show partiality” (Acts 10:34).

The husband of one wife. We are to be the living example of Christ and His Church, the husband of one wife: “. . . the husband of one wife . . .” (1 Tim. 3:2). “. . . if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife . . .” (Titus 1:6).

Commits adultery. Remarriage is not an “option”; it’s “adultery”! “. . . But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt. 5:32). “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality [fornication, KJV], and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). “And He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her . . .’” (Mark 10:11). “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18).

If you divorce, you are lacking sense! “The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it” (Prov. 6:32). “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:10). “And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds” (Rev. 2:21).

You’ll be proved a liar. What about the exception clause? First of all, very few marriages in the church end because of adultery, even if that were the correct “exception.” The verse says, “. . . but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of . . . [adultery, fornication, moral impurity, or unchastity], makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt. 5:32). In different Bible versions, the words adultery, fornication, moral impurity, and unchastity are used interchangeably as though they were the same word. They are not.

The “exception” Jesus is talking about is the word fornication, moral impurity, and unchastity. This is porneia (4202), before the marriage takes place. The word adultery, which refers to after marriage, is moichao (3429) in Strong’s Concordance in the Greek or original language. Adultery or moichao (3429) and porneia (4202) are two separate and distinct sins. Therefore, you cannot divorce your spouse for the reason of adultery, moral impurity, or unchastity. Divorce was and is only allowed for the case of fornication when a woman was found not to be a virgin on her wedding night.

Another interesting notation is found in the definition of 4202. The author admits that he has added his own words. He states, “These words have been added to include ‘adultery’ and ‘incest’ for better understanding of fornication (porneia).” He is saying that adultery was added to the definition of the word porneia. But God’s Word says, “Do not add to His Words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar” (Prov. 30:6).

Let me also quote Strong’s note under Signs Employed and Plan of the Book: “Parenthesis . . . denotes a word given with the principal word to which it is annexed and a few words of explanation are added to identify it. Again, one should never “. . . add to His Words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar” (Prov. 30:6).

Falsehoods and reckless boasting. Be careful what you say God told you. “Behold I am against those who use their tongues and declare ‘The Lord declares.’ Behold I am against those who have prophesied false dreams, declares the Lord, and related them and led my people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting” (Jer. 23:31–32). “For I hate divorce, says the Lord” (Mal. 2:16). God never tells us to go against His Word! He never changes.

Also, be careful what you say about divorce or remarriage; it could lead another to divorce or to remarry. “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! . . . It is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:7, 6).

Great was its fall. If you believe that divorce is okay in some circumstances, you have been deceived. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Whenever you feel led to say or do something, first make sure that it is consistent with Scripture. “Therefore everyone who hears these Words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these Words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and burst against that house; and it fell and great was its fall” (Matt. 7:26–27).

Spirit against the flesh. After you check Scripture, then check to see how driven you are about it. Fleshly desires feel good to the flesh. When you have urgency behind what you do, you need no grace to carry it out. “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:17).

What If

What if my wife is unfaithful and commits adultery, then am I allowed to divorce her?

No. His Word says that you can divorce for the reason of fornication only, which, as we saw previously, is intercourse prior to marriage. This was during the betrothal time. Fornication and adultery are not the same sin. If they were they would not both be listed in the same verse, as in this Scripture: “. . . neither fornicators, idolaters, nor adulterers . . .” (1 Cor. 6:9).

Divorce for the cause of fornication was allowed during the betrothal time, as with Mary and Joseph. “And Joseph, her husband . . . desired to divorce her secretly” (Matt. 1:19). The terms fiancé and engaged were not used during this period of history. Joseph was considered her husband because he had already committed to marrying Mary. He was allowed to divorce her because it was prior to their marriage, since divorce was allowed for the case of fornication. In the verse preceding this, it explains that the divorce was to take place before the marriage! “. . . When Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child . . .” (Matt. 1:18). The latest a divorce could take place was the day after the wedding night, if the woman was found not to be a virgin.

What if my wife has died?

For those men who are widowed, it is important to know that if you meet a woman and you are considering marriage, she too must be widowed, or she must never have been married. Remember, Satan usually brings his best first—the Lord makes you wait and then brings His best! “Wait for the Lord, and keep His way” (Ps. 37:34).

“If either of you know any obstruction, why you may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, you will now confess it. For be assured, that if any persons are joined together otherwise than as God’s Word does allow, their marriage is not lawful” (“The Marriage Service,” C.R. Gibson Co.).

What if I am already in a second or third marriage?

First, you must ask God’s forgiveness, whether you were married before you were saved or not. You can’t be effective in your Christian walk if you can’t admit past sins. “He who covers his transgressions shall not prosper” (Prov. 28:13). “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the Truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9).

Time to repent. Remember Revelation 2:21, “And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.” Have no fear of confessing, since we are no longer under the law. Praise God! “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:10). “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).

Not My will, but Thine be done. After you confess, you must lay your will aside and ask your heavenly Father for His will concerning what He would have you do. Many others who are in a second (or subsequent) marriage have faced this difficult task. Some had assurance that God intended them to stay in their present marriage and use their lives as a testimony against divorce. Others saw that their marriage was crumbling because they had been used by Satan when they destroyed their spouse’s previous marriage. “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Trust Him. You must trust Him. He wants to give you an abundant life, not a counterfeit.

Can Adultery Be Forgiven?

Yes. Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery: “Did no one condemn you? . . . Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more” (John 8:10–11). But you must confess your sins and not encourage others to sin as you did.

Actually, not only is adultery not grounds for divorce, it is grounds for forgiveness as shown by Christ in John 8:10 above. We also have an example in Hosea of a spouse forgiving adultery. “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress’” (Hos. 3:1).

Then in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, when God refers to adulterers and fornicators, He says,“And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” We are washed in His blood of forgiveness.

Yet, many pastors say that adultery is grounds for divorce. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27–28). If it is true that adultery is grounds for divorce, then most married women could divorce their husbands, since most men have lusted over pictures of women that they have seen on television or in magazines!

But so many churches and pastors say that divorce is right in some situations and that remarriage is okay if it’s under the right circumstances. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).

How can I be sure that this teaching is right and what many of the churches are teaching is wrong? “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:15, 22–23). Aren’t many of the families in your church crumbling and the marriages dissolving? These are the bad fruits of most “Christian marriage counselors.”

Many pastors feel a “deep down” conviction about marriage, but don’t want to “offend” anyone—especially all those “church members” who are in their second and third marriages. “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God. Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

If a pastor or church takes a stand against divorce and remarriage they are labeled “legalistic” or “judgmental.” And those who want to “do their own thing” will go to another church to hear what they want to hear, to have their ears tickled. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away from the Truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4).

Since I’m already divorced and “single again,” couldn’t I date or remarry and then ask God to forgive me?

First of all you are not single! Only someone who has never been married is single. “And He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her . . .’” (Mark 10:11). “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18).

Secondly, you will reap what you have sown. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will reap also” (Gal. 6:7). You are willfully entering into sin. “Therefore to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

God’s vengeance. You’ll set yourself up for God’s vengeance. “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the Truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God? Vengeance is mine, I will repay. The Lord will judge His people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:26–31). “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:26–31).

In closing a difficult topic, because of the magnitude of church sin, let us look at the firm statement Paul wrote to Timothy: “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound Words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of truth” (1 Tim. 6:3–5). “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If you choose to follow the world’s beliefs, you have ultimately chosen to follow and be a slave to Satan. If you say you believe God, then obey Him. “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). If you have decided to ask Jesus for your salvation but are not following His teachings, then He is not your Lord and Master. If He is your Lord, then be sure that you act like it by obeying His Word.

Let us make a personal commitment to

Remain Married

and encourage all men to do the same.

Personal commitment: To remain married and encourage others to do the same. “Based on what I have learned from God’s Word, I recommit myself to my marriage. I will humble myself when necessary and strive to be a ‘peacemaker’ in my marriage. I will not cover my transgressions nor cause another to stumble. I will devote my lips to spreading God’s Truth on marriage.”

“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on, in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).

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