MDR - Palatka, FL 1958

Sermon Transcript

Harry Pickup, Sr.
Transcribed by Stan Cox

...And at the same time to be able to fully realize and comprehend our own individual obligations in this matter. This is a subject, or course, which is somewhat controversial. And it should not be because the teachings on the question are very simple. And I assure you my friends, that I know nothing about any situation in the lives of any of you or any other people in this area, that would in any manner mitigate my thinking or my presentation of this material.

Of course, as you know, the subject for our consideration this night is Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage. And I want to try and present this material in such a way that everyone will know what I am talking about. Now frequently in discussing matters with individuals I find myself in a position of trying to be clear, and at the same time be as brief as possible. I'm sure that you understand that this subject is such that in answering all of the various parts of the subject that I have assigned to me this evening, that it will be necessary for me to be as comprehensive as I can in including all of the things that we feel will be helpful to our understanding of this matter.

Now first of all, I am a little lengthy in my introductions to what I'm going to say. And if I shall take a little more time than the rest of the speakers will take on this part of the survey, then it will be only because of the fact that I believe that a thing properly introduced is more easily understood. I want everyone to understand what I am saying, in order that you may be able to turn these facts over in your mind, that you may be able to apply the principles, for after all the manner in which you react is your individual responsibility. And the manner in which I shall react to similar situations, would be a responsibility that belongs to me.

Now I want to show you how that I intend to discuss this matter tonight. And as I said I shall introduce the subject thoroughly before I get into the various parts and questions that have been asked. I want you to know that I believe with all of my heart, that God answers the questions that we may have in our minds, regarding every problem, or every situation that could possibly arise in all of the world. It is impossible for me to conceive of a God, who can make a man, who could not make a book that would guide the man that He has made. So you can be sure that as I reason with you this evening, I am reasoning from that point of view.

Now another thing that I want to say concerning this matter is, that I believe that the purity of the home affects the purity of the church. If the home is impure, if the home is wrong, if there is something that is any way deterring, or in any way disparaging the activities of the members of that family, that household, that will affect even to the extent of the influence of that individual the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in that vicinity. Now if some member of this family here, and I speak of the family, meaning the local or functional group that meets here from time to time in its congregational capacity. If one single member of this group becomes a criminal it will affect the group as a whole. If five members of this church are involved in a scandal in your town, it will affect the purity of the work, or of the church, the congregation, as it meets here from time to time. Now I want you to consider that. Because it is of extreme importance that we realize that as we move about in our various activities that the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ is greatly affected by the various relationships that we sustain, the one to another in this world. If I'm in a business that I ought not to be in as a member of the family of God, I am going to affect the standing of the congregation in that community. Let an individual be in your community who is in the automobile business, and he has a reputation for lying and cheating, then the people of your community will look down upon anything that he has anything to do with.

Now with these simple illustrations, and I'm sure that you can understand how significant these matters are, I want to get into the study of the questions that I have written out, and have many times discussed in previous meetings, that we may be able to see the focal point of each phase of this discussion. I realize that other speakers will speak after me, not tonight but at other times. And I am very happy to know that these individuals that will speak on this program, in an effort that we may be all able to know the truth on this most important subject, are men in whom I have the greatest respect. There is not a single man that is connected with this lecture program that you're having, but that is a very close friend of mine. If you find some discrepancy or disagreement between us, and it is very probable that you will, it is possible that you may, I'll put it that way. It may be my friends that a further study of the question would enable you to see in a greater sense of clarity all of the points that are involved, and to arrive at the truth on the subject, and that's the object of the whole series of lectures.

Now first of all I want to discuss with you the fact that marriage is a fusion of a husband and a wife into one God-made unit. Now I want you to think about that. That the subject of marriage, or the ordinance of marriage, or the state of marriage, or the relationship of marriage, is a relationship that fuses one man and one woman in the bond of matrimony in a relationship that God accepts when God's law has been obeyed in the observance of that matter. Now I want to call your attention to a statement in the 2nd chapter of the book of Genesis, beginning at verse 23, and reading verses 23 and 24. "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 mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh." That's the fusion of two people who have obeyed the law of God concerning marriage. Now I want you to remember that, because that is an important matter. If these individuals have not obeyed the law of God concerning the marital relationship, then marriage does not consist or exist.

Another passage of scripture in the 19th chapter of the book of Matthew, and beginning with verse 4 I read several passages: "And he answered and said unto them, 'Have you 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," therefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.'" I want to anticipate one of the questions that I'm going to answer in just a moment by pointing out to you this statement again. The record says, "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." The preposterous idea that God does not recognize certain marriages when his law is obeyed is not in keeping with the teachings of the scriptures. But God's law is the law that a man and a woman obey when they are united in the bond of matrimony. It is not something that they may originate and think within themselves is marriage, but marriage is an obedience unto the law of God. To say that God's law does not concern itself with an individual if that individual is not a Christian is a mistake, for the simple reason that God has ordered and ordained the laws of God.

The same is true in the natural field. Why in the field of agriculture, the field of growth, the field of chemistry, the field of the various medicines that man is now able to make, man does not create anything. He only obeys the law of God concerning this particular thing. So the record says, that "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Now one other passage, and then we will comment. In the 1 Corinthian letter, the 7th chapter, and verse 39, the record says 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. Now the point is simply this, God is telling us in that passage, as in the others, that His law must be obeyed. The law of God. Its not the law of man. Now because man can break his law. Why the laws of man can change anytime that they want to make them change. You change the traffic laws in the state, or in your city, as your city council sees fit to change it, but that does not give man the liscense to change the laws of God. And it is the law of God that we are considering.

So my friends we find that this is true, that God's law must be obeyed. Now one of the questions that I want to consider along this line in my first commentary upon these scriptures is this: Would the scriptures forbid a Christian marrying an unbeliever in the first marriage. Now that's one of the things that we want to talk about for a little while. My answer to that is that I do not know of a passage of scripture that says the Christian or the believer shall not marry an unbeliever. And I believe that you can understand that that is one of the things that God does not say. I also would say that neither do I know of a passage of scripture that forbids a man from wearing iron shoes. I do not know of a passage that prohibits an individual. If I wanted to walk around in pair of iron shoes, each one of them weighing about 50 lbs. a piece, I do not believe that I would be violating a scripture, not even a scripture principle in the doing of that. Now that's a ridiculous illustration my friends, I'm aware of that. On the other hand I want you to see, that the way I'm approaching this subject, is to try to get you to see, I'm not going to speak where the Bible does not speak. Neither will I be silent when the Bible is speaking. But I'm going to attempt to present to you the things that God says regarding the various things. And I do not know of a passage of scripture that positively and absolutely affirms the fact, either by direct statement, or by any other command of God, that God will not permit, or will not recognize the marriage of a Christian with an unbeliever.

Now, I want to make another statement (a short buzz obscures several words). the scriptures that I have just read. The Bible says they shall be one flesh. The Bible says that a man shall cleave unto his wife. The book says that they are bound by the law as long as her husband liveth. And there are other passages of scripture. I conclude therefore, my friends, that Christians ought to marry Christians. I believe that you can see that. I think the significance of the passages of scripture in the Bible indicates that certainly God expects a child of God to make no union that would be an embarrassment to the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now I'm aware of the fact also, that it might not necessarily be an embarrassment. It might not necessarily bring reproach upon the cause, or hinder the one who is a child of God. I'm aware of that. But I would tell you my friends, that under the circumstances that are involved, the very fact that an individual can see in the teaching of the scriptures such as I have mentioned here, and these are taken from Genesis 2:23-24, Matthew 19:4-6, and 1 Corinthians 7:39, that in view of the fact that these passages are so positive concerning these matters, we ought to teach our young people, don't marry somebody who is not a Christian. Well, why? It may deter you in your activities as a child of God. It could interfere, it could draw you away from the Lord. It could affect your influence as a child of God, and you don't want to do that. That's the reason that I would not wear iron shoes, because it would impede my progress, unless I were a deep sea diver, and were going down on the bottom of the ocean. And then they might be useful to me, and I'd wear them. But I don't intend to do that, and neither do you. The average individual would not therefore. Well what? For the simple reason, there would be an impediment in his progress as a child of God. But do you take the position that if an individual does marry somebody who is not a child of God, that he is bound straight for hell, and can you give the scripture that says that? No sir I can not. I do not believe the man lives that can. But I do say that under the circumstances of the passages that I have read concerning the fact that a man is to cleave unto his wife, well that's something that means that the man and the wife, being one flesh, ought to so live and so move that there is complete sympathy on the subject of religion, and there cannot be if one is an unbeliever and the other is a believer.

I want to get to another matter that I will discuss a little later.  But I want to get to it now, for the sake of this particular idea.  In the matter of the problem of adjustment in married life... in marital experience.  I don't know whether you know what we're talking about unless we gave a lengthy lecture, on the subject of the marital adjustment, but everybody has some idea of what those adjustments are.  There is the religious adjustment, there is the sexual adjustment, there is the social adjustment, the financial adjustment, the children adjustment, the friends adjustment.  The seven fields of marital adjustment that we recognize in one phase or another... (tape here is interrupted by a short section of singing which obviously was recorded at a later time.  Only a few seconds of the speech was lost)...

...problems come.  So my recommendation is, my friends, young people, and of course you who are already married, I can't do anything about that.  As I sometimes tell my classes, there is no hope for the older people, the only hope of today is among the young people, that we can change their ideas, because people who are already married are established in that marital relationship.

Now what have I been talking about.  I talked about marriage as a fusion.  I have answered question number one concerning the fact that the scriptures do not forbid it, but the tenor of the scriptures, and the implications of God's word, and the statements concerning what the marital relationship is, on the one hand,  as the fact that religion is one of the most difficult of the fields of adjustment on the other, as we consider it from the standpoint of the social scientist.  I want you to note that the odds are against the marriage succeeding where one who is a child of God marries one who is not.

Now the second  thing that I want to talk about tonight is this.  What is a broken home?  Now we talk about marriage and divorce and remarriage.  What is a broken home?  What do we mean by "home", where divorce has come.  And I want to give you a sort of a definition.  And I call these biblical definitions because they come from the teachings of the scriptures.  And in a few minutes I will get to the scriptures themselves.

Number one, the broken home is a household where death has taken one of the two parties.  Now what happens in that case.  Well, here are the two parties, and they are living together in the marital relationship, but one of them dies.  The home is broken. 

Another way in which the home is broken is by separation.  That's where one partner decides to take off.  He goes and leaves.  And, he never does anything about that, but he simply goes away.  That's what we call the poor man's divorce.  He hasn't got the money to go down to the magistrate and purchase a divorce.  And he simply walks off.  Do you know that there are about 25,000 people that are walking out of their marital relationships every month of every year in this country alone.  About 25,000 are walking out with that poor man's divorce.

Now the third definition is a household where divorce has taken place between the partners in the marriage.  Now what do I mean by divorce?  I mean one of two things.  Number one I mean that the divorce is a legal separation, that's legal in the eyes of the law of the land.  And another, I mean there is divine separation which is legal in the eyes of God.  I am not talking always about the separation or the divorce that comes about as a result of the fact that a man and a woman decide to go down before the court and get a divorce.  And then as they walk out of the door, one of them going one way, and the other going another, and the children usually going to the devil.  As they divorce themselves, that does not necessarily mean that it is a divorce in the eyes of God.  Do you believe that everything that man calls baptism today is baptism?  Do you believe that?  No, you don't believe that, for the simple reason that there are some things that man calls baptism that the Bible does not call baptism.  In the same sense there are some things that man calls divorce that God does not call divorce.  Divorce as Jesus mentions it in the 19th chapter of Matthew and in the 5th chapter, is not the legal separation simply, but it is the separation that God is talking about where the individuals have a right to separate, if we grant for the time being that that would be true.  Divorce is therefore the separation on that basis.

Now another thing that I want to do here is to talk about this just a little bit farther concerning the matter of divorce, and to discuss with you the fact that there is, number one, a legal decree.  It is a legal decree that is legal in the eyes of man, and second it is a legal decree in the eyes of God.  Or, in God's eye.  Thus, we have a legal decree in the eyes of the laws of the land, and a legal decree in the eyes of God.  Now the Bible in the scriptural divorce, is considering not this, but this, (pointing at a blackboard, presumably at the "Eyes of God").  And as I said about the subject of baptism, or about the confession, or about what is repentance, or what is the Lord's Supper, that people would disagree concerning that, but God has given us the definition that we are to hold regarding these matters.

Now the Bible, scripturally, in speaking of this, talks about this as a separation authorized by God which dissolves the relationship.  That is what God is talking about in the 19th chapter of Matthew and verse 9, listen to this, "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another committeth adultery.  And whosoever marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."  Now what is the Lord talking about in this particular thing.  He is discussing the relationship between these individuals.  They might go to the magistrate, or to the lawyers of the land, and have a due and legal separation.  Walk out and think that all is well.  But that does not mean that all is well,  anymore than the wrong observance of some other scriptural command of God becomes right in the sight of God simply because man proposes to do it that way.

Another passage is Matthew 5, and verse 32, "But I say unto you 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."  In other words the civil courts irrespective of the scriptures, issue a court decree authorizing legal separation.  God is talking about the relationship in his sight.  But the civil decree is talking about the relationship as humanly  interpreted regardless of the laws of God.

Now then I have some other questions here that I want to pose in the light of these scriptures that I just read.  In the 19th chapter of Matthew, this question, published question is posed, "Does Matthew 19:9 only apply to the believer?"  Yes, it applies only to the believer, in the sense, that, certainly, the passage of scripture is talking about one who is a child of God.  But does it only concern that individual?  And is God referring here to a union that is only between the individual who is a child of God and one who is... another one who is a child of God?  I want to read for you in 1 Corinthians 6:9 a passage of scripture, beginning with verse nine, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effiminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetousness, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor exhortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."  Now they'll not inherit the kingdom of God.  But now watch.... "And such were some of you."  That's before they were Christians.  Before they became Christians they were adulterers.  Before they became Christians they were thieves.  Before they became Christians they were idolaters.  Before they became servants of God they were in violation of the law of God.

Now friends, listen.  If this passage of scripture is only concerning the child of God, then the child of God is the only one that can commit adultery.  For the simple reason that here God is talking about something that if it only concerns the child of God, that only children of God are bound by the law concerning this particular matter, namely the matter of marriage, nobody could commit adultery, or commit any other sin, except the person who is a child of God.  Take Romans the 13th chapter and the ninth verse for example.  And this passage has this to say, "For this, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet.  And if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'"  Now this passage of scripture is prohibiting murder.  But does murder only represent the sin of murder when it is committed by a Christian?  Why, certainly not.  An individual who is not a child of God can kill, he can commit murder, he can commit adultery, he can lie, he can steal, but if he does he is condemned for that.

And I want to take the time here, and its going to take me a minute or two to get this across to you, and I get away from the subject just this long, to make you see another proposition.  Why does God condemn an individual to the eternal pits of all of hell, throughout the ages of eternity? Why has this individual been assigned to that?  Somebody says it's because he doesn't believe in Christ.  Why, that's not so.  That's not so.  Belief in Christ is one of the things that saves him from that.  Not that condemns him.  Well, somebody says, "He's condemned to hell because he isn't baptized for the remission of his sins."  No, Sir, that's not it either.  Now let me show you what I'm talking about.  I want you to think about this.  Here's a man out in a boat with some other men.  The boat turns over, and one of these men drowns.  Why does he drown?  Well somebody says, "He drowned because he did not have a life preserver."  Well that wasn't the reason at all.  "Well, he couldn't swim, that was the reason he drowned."  That's not so.  Suppose I couldn't swim, I haven't got on a life preserver.  I'm not in any danger of drowning.  You're not in any danger of drowning.  Why did the man drown?  He drowned because he was in the water.  That's the reason he drowned.  He drowned because of the fact that he was there in water that was over his head,  and he couldn't swim, and he didn't have a life preserver.  But it wouldn't have made any difference whether he had a life preserver, or could swim, unless he were in the water.  And the reason that he drowned was because he was in the water.  Lots of people never drown that can't swim, and never know what a life preserver is.  They don't drown.  Well, why not?  They're not in the water.  Stay out of the water, and you'll never be in any danger of drowning.  If you don't get too deep in the bathtub sometime, you'll never be in any trouble along that line.

Now remember the illustration, and get back to the main point.  Why does God assign certain souls to hell?  It is because they are sin!  That's the reason.  That's the reason that people are lost.  Faith saves a man.  Repentance saves a man.  Confession saves a man.  Baptism saves a man.  These things are not negatives, they are positives.  Why does a man go to hell?  It's because he is in sin.  Now, make the application.  Why does this individual commit sin, and against who does he sin?  He sins against God.  You don't have to go to hell... ah, you don't have to be a Christian to go to hell.  You can go to hell and never be a Christian.  That's the teaching of the Bible concerning that.  The Book of God teaches that the individual who obeys His will, will be saved, the one who does not obey His will, will not be saved.  He will be lost.  And so it is my friends concerning the matter of whether or not that this applies only to a believer.  It applies to everybody.  The laws of God are concerned with everybody.

Now don't misunderstand me.  I want you to know that I am not taking the position that one who is a non-believer is going to be condemned because he is not taking the Lord's Supper.  He's not going to be condemned because he doesn't believe in the Lord.  He's not going to be condemned because he doesn't, uh, isn't baptized.  He's going to be condemned because he is in sin!  That's why he's going to be condemned.  Faith in the Lord will bring him out of sin.  Baptism will remit his sin.  Confession of the Lord shows God that he's accepted this new leader.  So it is with the passages of scripture.  Does the unbeliever sin against God in killing?  Or who does he sin against?  Why, He sins against God.  Well, you couldn't sin against God, unless there were a law against sinning.  What is that Law? Why the Bible tells us that these things that He has given us are for our admonition and our learning and thus we are able to see hear the significance of these matters... (voice fades for a period of time).'s wife, it is good not to marry.  Now people have posed that question.  Why they've said within themselves, "Everybody's having so much trouble."  That's not so.  Not everybody is having trouble in their marital relationship.  There are millions of people that are getting along very happily in their marital relationship.  If that were not so then the whole civilization would break down.  It is true that many are.  But, some people are not.  And so, as the disciples posed the question, "Maybe it would be better for us not to get married?"  The Lord just simply said to them, "Well, you make the decision about it.  Some men can receive them, and some can't."  Well, can receive what?  Can receive this instruction.  Some men are going to be eunuchs because they were born that way.  They do not necessarily crave marriage.  And that is perfectly alright.  Man doesn't have to get married to go to heaven.    If that were so, then of course the bachelors would all be left out, and the old maids.  But, that is not true.  God has not so placed that. And a man can remain in an unmarried state if he so desires, and there are circumstances in man's life in which he would not want to get married.  And that is perfectly alright.  So let him receive it, the one that was able to receive it, let him receive it.  Here's the explanation that Jesus makes, and I think that you can understand it very easily by reading it.

Then the next question, and this one is number four.  If a man puts away his wife for fornication, and she marries another man, that is the one who is put away, she marries another man, would they be living in adultery?  Yes, my friends, they would be.  Who would be?  The person who is guilty of adultery.  Now, you just look at this for just a moment, if you will.  I want you to see what I mean by this.  The Bible teaches very clearly concerning this matter, here are the two individuals, these are the two parties to which (one word too faint) the relationship.  One of them commits adultery.  So we remove her from this marriage bond, and she marries another.  She goes into another union with another individual.  This is the one who has committed adultery, and therefore is removed from the union with that individual because of fornication.  Certainly she is living in adultery, because Jesus said in this passage of Scripture.  "Whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."  So the individual that has been married to another one, and is guilty of adultery, she is not in a position, or he is not in a position, where he or she can marry again.  For the simple reason that Jesus said that the one who marries this one commits adultery.  Well, what happened to her?  She's already in adultery, she's already been guilty of adultery.  What can she do?  Then she can repent of her adultery.  Get back where she was, and let this fellow go his way that he may have another companion, that he can legitimately have in the eyes of God.  Well, is that the price that she pays for her folly?  That's the price that she pays for her folly.  For the simple reason my friends, she has been guilty of adultery, and if so, she does not have the right to have a relationship again for the simple reason that she has fallen and is branded as an adulteress.

Well, the third question now.  If a man put away his wife for fornication, and he, (that's the man here now, this is the man), this man puts away his wife for fornication, then she is removed from that relationship.  If he marries again, the question says, would they be living in adultery?  Or, would he commit adultery?  No, he would not.  If the cause is fornication, and he has put her away for the cause of fornication, then he may marry another for the simple reason that he has not committed adultery.  Now watch, unless he has contributed to her adultery.  Sometimes, sometimes the husband who appears, or the wife who appears, to be lily white in this matter, has likewise contributed to the adultery of the spouse.  By neglect.  By refusing to observe the marital  bond that God has so ordered.  As Paul in discussing the matter points out, that if you people decide that you will not be together for a while, that you may give yourself to fasting and prayer.  That simply means that you  ignore the sexual relationship for the time being, in order that you might devote yourself to some great problem or some great service, or some great season of prayer unto God.  But come back together again, he says, lest Satan tempts you for that incontinency.  And so as a result of that, I would say that if this individual has not contributed, has not contributed to her deliquency, then he would be permitted to marry again.  But the thing is so thin my friends, that I have been so leary of that, and I do not disagree with my brethren concerning that.  I know that's what the passage says. "Whosoever shall put away his wife,"  what is the exception?  The exception is, "unless it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery."  The opposite of that is true.  If he puts her away for adultery, and that is the cause of him putting her away, then certainly he would not be guilty of adultery.  Therefore I have tried to show you in these particular things, what we mean by marriage, what we mean by divorce, and what are the answers to these particular problems.

Now another thought that I want to present to you for your consideration tonight before I answer any more of these questions, is this matter.  What are we considering now with regard to the evils of divorce?  Well you say, I know the evils of divorce, and you don't need to talk about that.  I want to talk about it for just a moment or two, because, I want to get some others matters for your consideration.  It is evil my friends, because, first of all, I want to tell you, that when divorce comes into the home regardless of who is guilty, it simply means the home has failed.  Now you can call it anything you want to call it.  You can call it an individual getting rid of an unwanted companion who is evil, and who is leading him away, or her away, and that may be so.  But it simply means to the Word, that the home has failed, and that is a very significant and a very important matter.

Now the second field of adjustment, that I mentioned a moment ago, these have been ignored in one way or another.  




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