Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Divorce and the Christian

I Corinthians 7:10-11

The Shakers did not believe in marriage, and the founder left her husband in order to found the sect. Through the years, many others have left their husband or wife to be free to "serve the Lord." Passages such as Matthew 16:24-27 have been used to support this doctrine. Some such teaching was apparently showing up in the church at Corinth as well, as a result of their unspiritual state, and Paul responds to their questions.

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." (I Corinthians 7:10-11)

Spirit led Christians should not be separating from or divorcing their mates. If they do so for whatever reason, they are not to marry someone else. They are to remain celibate, or be reconciled to their mate. This is God's command. It recognizes that a mate can be so abusive that one cannot remain in the relationship, but that does not free one to go elsewhere.

This is exactly what Jesus teaches in Matthew 19:3-9. "The Pharisees also came unto 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 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 twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

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. 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."

Marriage is an act of God, and mankind does not have tha authority to separate them. This was never God's intent, but the law recognized the wicked nature of humanity and provided a meanas of escape. It is adultery to leave one mate, even though a divorce has been obtained, and marry some one else, unless that mate has been sexually involved with someone else. In the Old Testament, that would have called for their execution. In the New Testament, That is the only grounds for more than a legal separation, which is the Meaning of the Greek word for divorcement.

Jesus had said pretty much the same thing earlier, in Matthew 5:31-32. "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 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." Separation, for any reason except fornication by the other party, exposes them to temptaition to adultery. As previously stated in I Corinthians, marital relations are the best way to prevent sexual misconduct. Here he says that we are accountable for the other's sin if we separate or otherwise fail to live up to our sexual responsibility.

Separation is not to be lightly entered into, as it is a definite rejection of God, and his perfect will. It is not grounds for excluding one from the church, however, and once the separation has occurred, the person can stay separated or return to their mate, as they choose. The choice is not limited to the man, as some have taught, as Paul specifically speaks of the woman in this passage.

Jesus' teaching in the preceding passages infer that fornication, (actual physical sex outside marriage, whether homosexual, or heterosexual), is grounds for divorce, and appears to infer that the injured party is free to marry someone else. Under the Old Testament law, if one of the couple married someone else, they were forbidden to return to the original mate, even if the the second mate died. It raises doubt about reconciliation for adultery or other sexual sin being practical or desirable. It is definitely not required, and in some cases is forbidden

Just as in the Corinthian church, divorce is a problem in todays church, and for the same reason. There are few spiritual Christians in the church. As a result, unscriptural positions have been adopted, and the problem grows year by year. The solution is to learn to walk in the spirit.

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