BY DONALD R. WELBORN
A primary goal that we hope to accomplish in this study is to answer the question "Does the Bible really teach the permanence of marriage until death, or does it support the idea of divorce, leaving the option for the person to remarry while their spouse is still living?”
To start this study we will go back to the very beginning, because our Lord mentioned “from the beginning” two different times in His discourse with the Pharisees, so we will read from Genesis chapter one, verse twenty-eight:
God blessed them and God said unto them, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air and over all the living things that moveth upon the earth.” This statement was made by God after He had created them both male and female and blessed them. So with that in mind, let us read from chapter two of Genesis, starting at verse eighteen:
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help suitable for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature; that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help suitable for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: (We might comment at this point, that this is a picture of our Lord going into a “deep sleep“. The Lord did not get his bride until after He went into a "deep sleep“, and Adam did not have his bride until after he had gone into his “deep sleep“.)
Now let us continue in Scripture, So the Lord took one of Adam’s ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. (It is interesting that the Lord did not say cleave unto her as long as he wanted to, but He just said cleave unto his wife. If he is not cleaving, he is not doing as the Lord has indicated.) And they were both naked, the man and his wife and they were not ashamed.
In Matthew 5: 17,18, our Lord brings up the law in His discussion with his disciples: Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. He further gives six indicators of what He is talking about when He said He came to fill up to the fullness, the law. These are seen in the following six references in Matthew: 5:21,22 - 5:27,28 - 5:31,32 - 5:33-37 - 5:38,39 - and 5:43-47. As you will notice, one of the six deals with marriage, divorce, and remarriage, showing that divorce was linked with the law. This same subject comes up in Matthew 19:3-9 in connection with the law. However, it is the Pharisees who bring to our attention the law this time, and not our Lord.
They came to Him tempting Him and saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And He answered and said unto them, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female and said for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife. It is very important that we realize that He said this word at the beginning – cleave. And here our Lord says, he shall cleave to his wife and they twain, not are one flesh, but shall be one flesh - indicating it is something in the future. This is depictive of the betrothal or espousal period, when a man takes a woman to be his wife, and they are indeed husband and wife, just like Mary and Joseph were as recorded for us in Matthew chapter one, but they had never come together in sexual union. We know our Lord was virgin born. Now, notice our passage in Matthew 19:5,6:
And the Lord said for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they twain shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. This is indicative of the wedding feast (see Genesis 29:20-30), when the man would take his wife into a tent, and the marriage cloth would be used during the experience, so that they would have proof that she was a virgin. It would then be given to the parents of the woman, and they would hold it in sacred trust to prove that they actually gave a virgin in Israel to be married to a man. (see Deuteronomy 22:13-19). So here our Lord says, wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh (after they had gone into the one flesh union). Only after this experience could our Lord say, What therefore God has joined together let not man put asunder. Please notice that the Lord did not say, Let not man put asunder after verse five. However, after they had become one flesh as stated in verse six He then said Let not man put asunder.
Our Lord allowed a hard-hearted man to put away his wife only if she was not a virgin, and prior to his becoming one flesh with her (see Deut. 22:13-29 and 24:1-4). We must keep in mind that divorce was only allowed under the law or the first covenant. Today we are not under that first covenant, thank God, but are under a new covenant. We need to remember what our Lord said in Matthew, Mark and Luke: This is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins. So He spoke of the new covenant that was inaugurated when He shed His blood on the cross at Calvary.
In Deuteronomy chapter twenty-four, the Lord says, When a man has taken a wife and married her...(so they are husband and wife, but have never come together yet for their intimate union), and it comes to pass that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her... This particular expression “some uncleanness” translates a Hebrew expression often rendered “matter of nakedness” (see Strong’s Concordance for clear evidence). So you will find that because he found some uncleanness in her- that is, he learned that she was not a virgin- he is allowed to divorce her. The passage says, Then let him write a bill of divorcement and give it into her hand and send her out of his house and when she has departed from his house she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her and write her a bill of divorcement and give it into her hand and send her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband which sent her away may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled... Please notice why he sent her out- because she was not a virgin. We see her later going into a marriage union after her first husband divorces her.
But when that union ended through her second husband’s death, she was not allowed to go back to her first husband who had put her away.
God said if I allow you to divorce her then I will not permit you to remarry her after her spouse dies because it violates the principle upon which I allowed you to divorce her in the first place -because she was not a virgin. Our King James version uses the expression, “after that she is defiled”. This did not mean she had some sin in her life, but rather it speaks of her sexual union with her spouse, which is God’s norm in the marriage relationship.
If we go back to Deuteronomy chapter twenty-two, we learn that God gives us some tremendous instruction about this issue of the permanence of marriage when He says in verse thirteen:
If a man take a wife and go in unto her...so here the man has married a wife, but they have reached the point through the betrothal period when they have gone into the tent and the one flesh union has taken place. The cloth was issued to the parents of the damsel to prove she was a virgin.
If a man take a wife and go in unto her and hate her and give occasions of speech against her and bring up an evil name upon her and say, I took this woman and. when I came to her and I found her not a maid (or a virgin). Then shall the father of the damsel and her mother take and bring forth the tokens of their daughter’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate. The damsel’s father shall say to the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man as a wife, and he hates her and Lo he has given her an occasion of speech against her saying, I found not thy daughter a maid, and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity, and they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. No one has been given any instruction to know what the cloth really meant. To interpret this would be difficult, but one thing we do know - to the Lord it was positive proof that she was a virgin, and was equal proof to the elders as well. Thus simply saying that this cloth, likely used as their bed for their first experience, was now proof that she was indeed a virgin when she married this man. So verse eighteen says:
And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver. Remember that the shekels of silver that a man gives as a payment to the woman’s father initially would be fifty shekels, and he has already paid that earlier when he married her and now he is having to pay one hundred more. (So that is three times the amount of the dowry of a virgin.) And they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the damsel because he has brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife...now consider carefully, he may not put her away all his days. In this situation you have a man taking a woman to be his wife and becoming intimate with her. This is very clear from verse thirteen: If a man take a wife and go in unto her- they are married, and they have had the intimacy of sexual union. It is indicative that once this happens, and if indeed she was a virgin when he married her, he may not put her away all his days (verse nineteen).
We call to your attention that in verse twenty-nine the same thing is said. However, on this occasion there was a man that found a virgin (he was not betrothed to her), and they became intimate and were discovered.
Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver and she shall be his wife; because he has humbled her, he may not put her away all his days. The language is precisely the same in verse nineteen as it is in verse twenty-nine. So it is saying that once you have had marriage and sex, or sex and then marriage, you could not be divorced- even under the law. So you could not invoke Deuteronomy twenty-four as a foundation or Scriptural grounds for a divorce because after all, if she was in fact a virgin when he married her, it is obvious that he can never put her away. Once they have had a sexual union, he cannot divorce her, which is made clear in Deuteronomy 22:13-29. So we see that God’s language in Scripture is quite clear that in those days marriage was permanent even until death- whether there was marriage then intimacy or intimacy then marriage.
Now we will go to the book of Hosea in which we get a tremendous picture of the doctrine of redemption. We also get some insights concerning the idea of marriage as well. God had told Hosea in chapter one that he was to go and take a wife of whoredoms. Verse two states:
The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, Go take unto thee a wife of whoredoms (or a prostitute) and children of whoredoms, for the land has committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord. (This particular experience was depictive of what had happened to the nation of Israel.) Hosea 1:3 says, So Hosea went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Now this union produced three children: two sons and a daughter. In chapter two we learn that this woman named Gomer, who had formerly been a fornicator (she was a prostitute) is now guilty of adultery, since she has been married to Hosea and ran off with some other lovers. Hosea 2:2-6 says:
Plead with your mother, for she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband, let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight and her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I strip her naked and set her as in the day that she was born and make her as a wilderness and set her like a dry land and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children, for they are the children of whoredom. And their mother has played the harlot, she that has conceived them has done shamefully, For she has said, I will go after my lovers... (not lover-here she is leaving Hosea to go be with other men-plural)... that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink (There are six things that she received, and six is the number suitable to man). Therefore, behold I will hedge up thy way with thorns and make a wall that she shall not find. So the Lord is giving judgment upon this kind of behavior.
In chapter three, verses one and two: Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet love a woman, beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress according to the love of the LORD (and this is the word for Jehovah) for the children of Israel who look to other gods and love flagons of wine. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. Hosea bought her away from the slave market, where she was being auctioned off, and he brought her back to function as his wife in the home: what a wonderful and beautiful picture of redemption. So we see that she was still his wife. She was a fornicator when he married her, and after he married her she became an adulteress; but the love that God wants us to have in our marriage relationship is sufficient to forgive her even of adultery, and bring her back into the home.
Now if we can go to Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, the Lord has a comment there in chapter two that needs our attention, Verses fourteen and fifteen state:
Yet you say, Why? Because the Lord has 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 had He the residue of the spirit. And why one? That He might seek a Godly seed. In other words, God doesn’t want men and women to have sex together just because they are male and female, but rather He wants their relationship to be in a Godly, moral atmosphere. When a man and a woman come together in a marriage union and become one, then the children are not bastards, but rather, they are holy in a sense. They have come from a Godly union that produced a. Godly seed. He says here, And why 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. God says He hates divorce, which is “putting away”, and yet men are the ones that wanted it. They are hard-hearted, unforgiving, only love self, and only love virgin sex. So we can see it is a terrible plight, showing the depravity of humanity and coming out very clearly in this particular doctrine on the sacredness of the family and the home.
Next we will look in Mark chapter ten. Here our Lord speaks on this same subject, and it is interestingly different from Matthew’s account, which does not mention going into a house. In the house, it is Jesus with His disciples only. It is the Pharisees outside with our Lord Jesus in Matthew’s account in chapter nineteen. However, in Mark chapter ten it is the same type of thing, but going a little further. Reading in verse nine our Lord says:
What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house His disciples asked Him again of the same matter. And He saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. Notice He does not bring up the exception clause here because He is dealing with an issue that is pointing out something in a new dispensation.
You may have a question about why I am saying that, but if you will observe in verse twelve the writer, Mark, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit says, And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. So the Lord is making it co-equal on either side. In verse twelve you have something for which the law had no provision. Under the law, no woman could divorce her husband at all. Here our Lord is looking ahead-looking to the time when we will be beyond the law in a new dispensation, and He says there, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband... so there, clearly, since under the law no woman was ever allowed to divorce, we find this is speaking of a new dispensation. Notwithstanding, we see no exception clause there, He is just simply saying if you put away your wife and marry another, it is adultery. Likewise, if you put away your husband and marry another, it is adultery. And to somewhat confirm that, you can see that our Lord talks about it in Luke 16:18:
whosoever puts away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery. Luke’s account is like Mark’s, with no exception. The exception is found in Matthew, and then only for fornication, which is proof that the woman is not a virgin.
We have seen so far that only in Matthew is divorce allowed - and then it is only under the law, and if the woman was not a virgin. Also we see in Mark’s account that he brings out the fact that a woman could divorce, and that is speaking of our dispensation in which we live.
In Romans 7:1-3, we have a profound statement concerning the permanence of marriage. However, some would argue that this is not a valid portion to deal with this issue; they say this is only our Lord through Paul illustrating law and grace. If that is the question a person really has, my question for them is, “Does God ever use wrong illustrations?” You may say this is really not about husband-wife relationships, or divorce and remarriage, but an illustration of law and grace. Then my response would be, “Why does the Lord declare the same thing in I Corinthians 7:39? There it is not illustrating law and grace, but talking about marriage, divorce, and then remarriage. We will look at these verses starting in Romans 7:2:
For the woman who hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth; (not as long as he behaveth, but 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. That should be candidly clear. However, some use the excuse that the writer is not talking about marriage, divorce and remarriage. Therefore, let us read from 1 Corinthians 7:39, where it speaks of domestic union:
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. Here again the Lord is saying, yes marriage is permanent until death and we need to see that from the Word of God. Also notice the earlier verses of the same chapter, verses ten and eleven:
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. The Lord is saying if there is that much of an incompatibility, and an unwillingness to resolve the conflicts, separation might take place. Paul is saying that what I am writing to you is really what the Lord Himself taught while He was in His ministry here upon the earth.
There would be no third position offered. There are only two options- to remain unmarried (in the sense of not living in marriage union, is the idea) or be reconciled to the husband. It is very clear that the Lord is teaching here that a man and a woman are to be living together after marriage until death. In the latter part of this section, the apostle was inspired to say something about the unequal yoke in verse thirteen:
A woman who has a husband who believes not, if he be pleased to dwell with her let her not leave him. She is encouraged and I believe commanded to continue with her husband. That is a wonderful thing even if he is not a believer-hopefully he will be.
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. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace.
It is here some people in their exposition of Scripture have tried to teach that “not under bondage” means that you are no longer married. However, the word bondage is not the same as the word bound. The word bound means tied together, but the word bondage means servitude. In Romans 7:1-3 and I Corinthians 7:39, the wife is bound. The word bound translates a different word than the word bondage in verse fifteen. So we learn that bondage is servitude, and he is saying that if the unbelieving husband or wife departs from their believing husband or wife, the believer is not under bondage-meaning they are no longer obligated to serve the needs of their estranged spouse. When they are determined to vacate that department of life and leave their spouse and go out from that relationship, he is saying that the Christian that has stayed home is no longer obligated to serve the needs of the spouse that is determined to get away from him or her. Such is very clear, and no Scripture ever violates or contradicts another. And if we have learned that a wife is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth twice over (Romans 7:2,3 and I Corinthians 7:39), then that tells us very clearly that the Bible teaches the permanence of marriage. To see that the word “bondage” in verse fifteen means servitude, look at the seven other places that the Holy Spirit uses that Greek word to prove its meaning. It is in clear contrast to the Greek word rendered “bound”. (See the following seven passages: Acts 7:6, Romans 6:18,22, I Corinthians 9:19, Galatians 4:3, Titus 2:3, and II Peter 2:19.)
There are other verses in the chapter which people have brought up, such as in verse twenty-seven, Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. Now “loosed” means death as seen in Romans 7:1-3. Only death looses a person from a marriage union. It should be kept in mind that whatever is said here in I Corinthians 7:27-28 is in perfect harmony with the rest of the chapter.
There will be those who will try to reason that it is OK under certain circumstances to divorce and remarry. Please remember that such did not come from the Lord, but is from some other source. We can see from what we have read so far that God does not sanction divorce in this dispensation. There is no divorce in this dispensation suggested by God Himself; it would be impossible because God says He hates putting away. He says the wife is bound by the law (the law of marriage) to her husband as long as he liveth. Therefore we find that God is against this idea of divorce and remarriage.
In Hebrews 13:4 God says: Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (The word “whoremongers” translates the same Greek word that is in other places fornicators.) But fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Now if there are other verses in Scripture that seem to cause the believer to think that there is a legitimate cause for divorce and remarriage, when you compare it with all the other verses it is clear that such cannot be so.
Perhaps at this point it would be profitable to look at I Corinthians chapter seven with some degree of exposition. The writer gives us these words in verse one:
Now concerning the things about which ye wrote unto me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. The word touch here means to lay hold to in a possessive way. In other words, it is acceptable with God if a man chooses to be single in his life. Some men choose to be celibate. He goes on to say, Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, (Greek word pornia, indicating premarital sex-not adultery), let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. To disprove the idea that fornication includes adultery, all you have to do is just change the word here: Nevertheless, to avoid adultery, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. It is nonsense and evil, and certainly is not true. Also you will find that the word pornia (fornication) and moichia (adultery) appear in a single verse seven times in the Scriptures: Matthew 5;32, 15:19, 19:9, Mark 7:21, I Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5;19, and Hebrews 13:4. Why seven? It is the number of completion. The Lord is giving us something here to show the difference in these two words. Fornication involves premarital sexual activity, although it is not limited to that, but it does not include adultery. He says, Nevertheless to avoid premarital sex or fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. This tells me that the sex drive is in both genders – the male as well as the female. It is a wonderful thing, a balance that God gives to creation.
Verse three states: Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence; and likewise also, the wife unto the husband. The word benevolence translates a Greek word that has the idea of the husband rendering unto his wife whatever is her due. Whatever she needs in life, then he is to be the giver of that. And likewise the wife unto her husband-whatever he needs in life, she should be the giver of that.
Verse four says, The wife hath not power (or authority) of her own body, but the husband. When a woman marries a man, she surrenders the sovereignty of her body to her husband, and fittingly so. It continues, and likewise also the husband hath not power (or authority) of his own body, but the wife. So he has surrendered the sovereignty of his body to his wife in marriage. Neither can ever deny the other, according to the Lord.
He goes on to say in verse five: Defraud you not one the other, (simply meaning don’t hold out on one another sexually), except it be with consent (this is both and not one) for a time, that you may give yourselves (not to golfing and fishing or cooking and sewing), but rather to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your lack of self-control. The Lord is saying here that the sexual union is very sacred and special to God and to us. We are to regard it in a sacred way so that we do not fall into sin with someone else because of long abstinence from intimacy with our spouse.
Verse six says, But I speak this by permission, and not by commandment. He is saying that it was not some prewritten commandment already in Scripture, but God permits him to say it now. Verse seven: For I would that all men were even as I myself (I believe that the apostle Paul made himself a eunuch for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake), The teaching on this is found in Matthew 19:11,12: But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. So, if a person is born with a sexual drive, which is normal, it should be fulfilled righteously in a marriage union, lest they fall into sin.
He goes on to say in verses eight and nine: I say, therefore, to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain... (and that is not saying to people who are divorced to do that because we have already laid down the axiom that divorce was only under the law and then only if the spouse was not a virgin to which you committed yourself.) ...let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn. Paul was saying earlier that to the unmarried widows he suggested that they abide even as he, as a man that had made himself a eunuch for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake. For those who loose their spouses, it would be good for them just to stay single if they would like, and could control their body. But here he says if they cannot contain (that is if there is a danger that they might fall into sin) let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn (with passion, obviously).
The next two verses are quite helpful in understanding the permanence of marriage. You will notice what our Lord says here, through Paul, And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord... (so he is saying the Lord in His public, earthly ministry took this up earlier and now is just simply repeating it),... Let not the wife depart from her husband; But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. What are the options? To remain unmarried, as though you had never married, or be reconciled to your husband or wife. So we see that the Lord is teaching the permanence of marriage here.
Verses twelve through sixteen speak on a different subject. Verse twelve says, But to the rest speak I, not the Lord, (that does not mean that the Lord is not giving the authority of this; because this same epistle in chapter fourteen has an answer for that in verse thirty-seven. Paul was inspired to say, If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. So here is the Lord’s command when he says to the rest speak I, not the Lord. The Lord did not take up the unequal yoke in His public or earthly ministry before His death, but He is taking it up through His servant Paul as he writes to the Corinthians.)
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. So he is saying here, even though there is an unequal yoke, do not divorce. And the woman who hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. (Now remember this idea of being pleased to dwell is not just pleased to be under one roof, but to live in marriage union properly.) 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. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace. So a brother or sister is no longer obligated to serve the needs of their departed spouse if he or she was determined to leave the marriage union and go some other way. If you are a Christian and your wife or husband abandons you, then you are no longer obligated to serve their needs, whereas, the previous verses three-five are clear on some of the servitudes that we need to render to our spouses.
Verse fifteen says, But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace. So he is saying do not try to chase after your departed spouse. God has called us to peace. If you would go out and try to get them to come back, you could create warfare. The next two verses go on to say, For what knowest thou, 0 wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, 0 man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all the assemblies. What I believe this is saying is that God has distributed to every man in His own sovereign will what should be in that man’s life as far as characteristics are concerned. As the Lord has called every one, so let him walk. We are all individuals, we cannot be the same as anybody else. God has made variance in our lives, our character, even in our physical being. He made us all different and for a good purpose. So we conduct our lives in the spirit in which God has created us.
Verse twenty states: Let every man abide in the same calling in which he was called. So if I was called after my wife had separated from me and divorced me, then abide in that same condition as the spouse that was deserted. Do not try to get another spouse.
Verses twenty-five through twenty-seven: Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose, therefore, that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to he loosed. Now someone might say, “See there-there is room for divorce in this dispensation.” In the first place, that is not what is being said. Secondly, you will find that the first covenant ended all the divorce that God had sanctioned. He does not write in the New Testament giving sanctions to divorce in any place. Art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. The only thing that really looses is death. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. So He is not saying a divorcee can remarry and it is not sin, but if you are single or a widow and you marry, you have not sinned, and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless, such shall have trouble in the flesh; but I spare you. This is indicating that if you are single, you cannot have trouble with a spouse that you do not have. Here it is saying if you marry you will have some difficulties.
Verses thirty-five and thirty-nine state: And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not; let them marry This is not saying that you endorse divorcees remarrying because it has already been brought out that it is adultery and God hates it. For those who were virgins and committed to being single for a while, if they decide to marry, it is not a sin for them to do so. Nevertheless, he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virginity, doeth well. So, then, he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. Then he goes on to say for the second time in Scripture in verse thirty-nine: 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. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment; and I think also that I have the spirit of God. And obviously he did. The Spirit of God was having him to write these very words.
In summary, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, from the Lord Jesus’ statements to Paul’s inspired verses, the Bible teaches the permanence of marriage. My hope and prayer is that men would follow and teach God’s will concerning marriage.