Associate Editorial

Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage:
An Introduction

Harry Osborne tells the story of being asked by a young man in Lithuania, I believe, concerning what the Bible says on the subject of second marriages. Harry did what any sound gospel preacher would do in that situation -- he turned to the passages that tell us what the Lord says on that subject, and simply read what they say. The young man politely listened to what Harry read and seemed satisfied with the simple truth. Harry, anticipating, as most of us would, some question about the matter, if not some controversy, asked if the man understood the answer to his question. The man responded affirmatively. Harry was persistent, believing surely that the man would raise some objection to the Lord's simple teaching. Instead, the young man became a bit perturbed at Harry for the interaction. The fact is, the man understood what the Lord said, on his first hearing of it.

I never cease to be amazed at the diversity of thought on such a seemingly simple question. An honest response, however, would reveal that the problem here is not one of understanding, but, rather, one of submission. When Paul says, 1 Corinthians 6:18, to "flee fornication," those who desire to "live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age," (cf. Titus 2:11), will take what Paul said to heart and flee fornication. Those who desire to fornicate will commit that sin at will. When Peter said, Acts 2:38, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;" those who, Acts 2:41, "gladly received his word were baptized." What is the will of the individual? Is it to obey or to disobey? Hebrews 5:9, "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Will we submit to the teaching of the gospel or will we reject it?

Matthew 5:32, "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery." Is that verse really so hard to understand? I have fifth grade students at Athens Bible School who can readily define the word whoever. Some of my brethren can't do that without putting some tag on it that RE-defines it or softens the impact of the verse. Why is that? Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Maybe these "brethren" who cannot seem to be able to define such simple words as whoever or except or adultery need to become more like little children. It may be that the real problem with the issue of marriage, divorce, and remarriage is a lack of true conversion and a lack of faith on the part of many . If we truly believe that Jesus is Lord, it is difficult to see how men could possibly contend for the positions they do in regard to this matter.

We present in this issue of Watchman Magazine, a series of lessons on the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. This subject is a problem in the church. Divorce is a problem in the society which has reached deep into the body of Christ. Our position is quite simple. God ordained marriage between one man and one woman for life. Genesis 2:24, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Malachi 2:16, "'For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence,' Says the LORD of hosts. 'Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.'" Matthew 19:6, "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." That is the plan of God from the beginning. Acts 17:30, "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." Matthew 19:8, "He (Jesus) said to them, 'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.'" God tolerated men to marry multiple wives in days gone by. He overlooked many sins committed by His people and still called them His people. Now, however, the command is to repent, and now, Jesus has said what His law is in regard to marriage divorce and remarriage. Matthew 19:9, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." Marriage is for life, but if one mate commits sexual immorality, that one can be put away, divorced for that infidelity, and the innocent one in that divorce has the right to be married to another. Jesus speaks of but ONE exception and one exception only to the law of marriage for life. It is not a hard law to understand, but, in too many cases, a hard law to apply. Is that God's fault for making the law or man's for not wanting to submit to it?

Reams and volumes have been dedicated to the question we discuss in this issue. It is our prayer that we not become just another sound in the wind of noises in the world. Our goal is to teach the truth of God's word. 1 Timothy 1:5, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (NASB). I appreciate the men who have contributed to this issue of Watchman Magazine and I appreciate the faithful who will read these words with a view to eternity. May God bless us all as we study and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

E-mail Larry Fain

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