*FOR PART 1 OF THIS STUDY, CLICK HERE.
(I would encourage you to read Part 1 of this study since it ties in with this study. Please read both studies in their entirety.)
Preface: The only intent of this blog is to guide others to Jesus and to expose any possibility of sin so that it may be repented of. It is not written to bring condemnation – but rather, revelation and unity through Christ. I also wish to state that I have spent numerous hours in careful, prayerful study. I am confident in my stance on this topic since I feel it is based on scripture; however, each one of us must discern and ask for revelation to understand the scriptures for ourselves. I am always seeking and studying scripture to learn more about God and his holy word. In the event I gain more revelation (on any given topic) I always try my hardest to align my teachings with what the Bible teaches.
Why Discuss Such Things?
This topic is a very touchy one, in that, it impacts many in profound ways. It would be altogether more comfortable to avoid discussing such a topic; however, it must be addressed. Why? You see, we find the sin of adultery as one (of many) that would prohibit a person from Heaven and eternally separate them from God, unless they repent. Therefore, sin is a very serious matter which impacts our eternal existence.
Sin is running rampant and it grieves me deeply to see so many oblivious to sin or comfortable with it. Ultimately, we only have control over our own choices; but in love, my drive to teach biblical truths is done out of concern for others. 1st Corinthians 6:9-11 states: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.”
As long as there is breath in the body, there is hope and an opportunity to cry out to God for forgiveness… all is not lost if we find ourselves in any type of sin. I, for one, am far from perfect and I thank God for forgiving me and giving me a new nature that I may strive to be more like him. Our Lord is more than willing and able to forgive and make us new as we forsake our sin and turn to him.
Defining the Terms:
The Bible speaks of both adultery and fornication – and while similar, they are derived from two different Greek words. However, I did not find the exact term remarriage anywhere in the King James Version of the Bible; although I found scriptures referencing it.
Typically, remarriage is phrased in scripture as, “married again” or “married to another“. It is interesting to note that the New Testament references to remarriage are always tied with adultery, except for one instance. The one case where remarriage is not tied to adultery in the New Testament is in the case of a widow marrying again after her original husband had died (see Rom. 7:3, 1st Cor. 7:39). Some may argue that other scriptures also validate remarriage – however, we will cover that later in this study.
Nowadays, the majority of people define adultery as an act/acts of unfaithfulness when a married person “cheats” on his/her spouse. However, this same majority of people refuse to define remarriage as adultery, also. Most do not feel that remarriage is equivalent to adultery. They reason that since the remarriage (2nd marriage) occurred after the original man and wife were divorced – then it is not adultery. However, scripture teaches otherwise. Some examples are as follows:
~ So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress…(Romans 7:3)
~ Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. (Luke 16:18)
~ A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. (1st Corinthians 7:39)
~ And He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.’ (Mark 10:11-12)
“Without absolutes revealed by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers.” ~John Owen
Explaining the Exception Clause:
As I stated above, some may argue that other scriptures (such as Matthew 19:9) validate remarriage. This particular scripture has been the cause of much debate due to the “exception clause”. Matthew 19:9 states the following:
“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.”
The “exception clause” we are referencing is “except it be for fornication”… Remember earlier in this blog study, I stated that the words adultery and fornication were from two different Greek words – adultery is moicheia; while fornication is porneia. Many will say that this scripture is meaning if your spouse cheats on you (adultery/moicheia) that you are free to remarry. But, we cannot interpret it this way. It would be safer to interpret fornication (porneia) as a sexual sin(s) which may merit a separation but certainly not a remarriage to another.
You see, fornication is from the Greek word porneia which is defined as, “whoredom, idolatry; pornography/pornographic, a selling off (surrendering) of sexual purity, promiscuity of any (every) type, etc.” (Strong’s Concordance, Helps Word Studies).
Yet, what do we do with the exception clause given in Matthew? Why is it included in this Gospel but not in the other Gospels nor in other New Testament scriptures about marriage? As I just stated, people wrongly interpret this exception clause as meaning this: If there is marital unfaithfulness (cheating/affair) then the innocent party is free to divorce and remarry. However, this wouldn’t make sense in light of the other New Testament scriptures given on divorce and remarriage. We must rectify this scripture in light of the others. When we have difficulty interpreting the exact meaning of a particular scripture, it is a fearful thing to simply assume what the scripture means. However, if we can use other scriptures (not our opinion) to confirm its meaning – we are safe.
After careful study, my interpretation of Matthew 19:9 (when tied in with other scriptures and used in the proper context) is merely saying that, perhaps, divorce/separation is permitted in the case of fornication – as an interjection phrase – but certainly not remarriage. It’s almost like Jesus is giving two thoughts/answers in one sentence. Also note the Pharisees original question to Jesus was not about remarriage but divorce only. That is why Jesus interjected the “exception clause” to help answer the Pharisees original question while teaching them his new command in contrast with the old covenant teaching on this topic.
You see, in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, the old covenant allowed for a man to divorce his wife for any cause and to remarry. However, this was not God’s original plan. So, after Jesus came – the new covenant taught that there should be no remarriage while your spouse is still living; and that divorce should not occur – but if it does, for reasons of fornication or desertion, still, remarriage is not permitted. In God’s eyes, despite divorce, he still sees the original man and wife as one; and nothing can break that until death (see Rom. 7:2). Remember the wedding vows typically say, “Til death do us part”? This is not just a romantic phrase, but a very scriptural way to define marriage.
Another good explanation of the exception clause is given in the Pulpit Commentary, which states: “There could never have been a doubt about this subject had it not been for the difficulty in interpreting the parenthetical clause [in Matthew 19:9]. The solution offered for this difficulty is this – that Christ is contemplating merely what we call judicial separation; he considers that no trivial cause justifies this [divorce], in fact, nothing but fornication, and that this modified divorce does not free the man so that he may marry again; he is bound by the Law as long as his wife lives. Our Lord seems to have introduced the exceptional clause in order to answer what were virtually two questions of the Pharisees; whether it was lawful to “put away a wife for every cause,” and  whether, when a man had legally divorced his wife, he might marry again. To the former Christ replies that separation was allowable only in the case of fornication; in response to the second, he rules that even in that case remarriage was wholly barred.”
Proponents for remarriage (while your original spouse is living) typically utilize three scriptures to justify their stance. The first scripture is 1st Corinthians 7:15 which states: “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace.”
I feel this “not under bondage” scripture is best explained like this: A brother or a sister is not under bondage… Many have supposed that this means that they would be at liberty to marry again when the unbelieving wife or husband had gone away; but this is contrary to the strain of the argument of the apostle. The sense of the expression “is not bound,” etc. is, that if they forcibly depart, the one that is left is not bound by the marriage tie to make provision for the one that departed; to do acts that might be prejudicial to religion by a violent effort to compel the departing husband or wife to live with the one that is forsaken; but is at liberty to live separate, and should regard it as proper so to do (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).
In other words, the Christian is not bound to marital duties if the unbelieving departs nor are they bound to renounce their Christianity in order to salvage the marriage. The Believer is not condemned, in this case, if a divorce takes place beyond their control. But, if it be possible, live in peace with all and reconcile if possible. This scripture makes no allowance for remarriage to another while the original spouse is living.
The second scripture which many proponents of remarriage (while your original spouse is living) utilize is 1st Corinthians 7:24 which states: “So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.”
Unfortunately, this scripture is often taken out of context. In the preceding verses leading up to this one, the examples given are in regards to circumcision, slavery, and freedom. Basically, the Apostle is teaching not to worry whether you are circumcised or not (since this was a major thing under the old covenant), nor to worry if you are a slave or a free man. Don’t worry about it – knowing that none of these things would prohibit you from living for God. The Apostle simply uses these true examples as a bridge to preface his upcoming statements which are directed to the unmarried and widows. So when he says to remain “in whatever condition each was called” – he is certainly not approving of remaining in sin such as adulterous remarriage.
In other words, whether “bond or free, of masters or servants; they are admitted equally to enjoy the same favors and privileges in the house of God; have the same access to the throne of grace, and enjoy the same communion with God; and therefore should be content in their present situation” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).
Lastly, the third scripture which many proponents of remarriage (while your original spouse is living) utilize is 1st Corinthians 7:27-28 which states: “Are you bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she has not sinned.”
Proponents of adulterous remarriage tie this verse with the one we just covered in 1st Corinthians 7:24. They incorrectly twist it to mean that if you have already remarried (and your original spouse is living) that you should stay in the adulterous (2nd) remarriage and “seek not to be loosed.” They go on to quote the rest of this verse, “…if you marry, you have not sinned;” in support of adulterous remarriage. Such erroneous interpretation of this verse is wrong on so many levels.
You must understand that during the time frame which the Apostle wrote these instructions, there were distressful times of persecution among Christians. Remember, this was not long after Jesus had ascended into Heaven and it was up to the small number of Christians to spread the Gospel. That is why there may have been some question as to what would be the best condition to do the Lord’s work – as a married man or as a single man. That is why the Apostle Paul encourages the single to remain as such, so that he may be more at liberty to do the Lord’s work without the responsibilities of marriage. However, he doesn’t condemn the married, as they can still do wonderful work for the Lord. Many of the Lord’s workers were married. Take Peter, for example – he was married yet had a grand ministry. So, this scripture certainly has nothing to do with adulterous remarriage whatsoever.
This scripture is stating:
A.) If you are married, don’t seek to be loosed (divorced or single again) in order to serve God. You can still serve God as a married person.
B.) If you do not have a wife, do not seek a wife. In this sense, so you can be free from the responsibilities of marriage in order to do the Lord’s work.
C.) But, if you (a single man, never married) do get married, you have not sinned. You can still serve God.
D.) And, if you (a single woman, virgin, never married) do get married, you have not sinned. You can still serve God.
Remaining in Sin:
It grieves God for a divorce to take place and is emotionally difficult for all parties involved. God intended one (original) husband and one (original) wife to be married until death. He never intended for divorce to occur – but sometimes, for reasons beyond our control, it does. From all we’ve seen in scripture, it is clear that remarriage is only permitted if your spouse has died; no exceptions.
Still, many Christians who have went through a divorce choose to remarry while their original spouse is still living; this deeply burdens me. Perhaps, some remarried before they were saved and knew God’s word. Maybe some remarried after receiving, what they thought, was Godly counsel. Others may have misinterpreted scripture and felt it was permitted for them to remarry. Irrespective of the cause, the bottom line is that they find themselves in a remarriage and have maybe even had children from this union.
Many in such a state will not “rock the boat.” They will leave everything as is – even if they feel convicted of their sin. We must remember that although our Lord is gracious, he also has guidelines for righteousness. Just like the lady caught in the act of adultery, Jesus forgives when we are grieved over our sin, but he also instructs us to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Hebrews 10:26 says, “…if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.”
If one chooses to willfully disobey God’s word and ignore the conviction graciously given by the Holy Spirit, they may as well discard the pages in their Bible that speak against adultery. Evangelist Keith Daniel puts it like this: “Take the scissors, please, and start cutting out whatever verses condemn you because of some other doctrine that gives you the right to be filthy. Start cutting out everything God condemns you for if you feel safe, brother, committing adultery… Please, cut it all out – but don’t go walking around with a Bible you say you believe in when you’ve got to cut out most of it to be honest and say – this is all I can live or believe in. I dare you to do it from tonight ’til you die… tragic.”
Some questions to ask yourself:
~ When does an adulterous remarriage stop being adultery? Isn’t it ongoing sin?
~ Would it be pleasing to God for me to remain in such a state, knowing what the Bible teaches?
~ The Bible says God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Heb. 13:4) – is that me?
An atheist recently wrote a letter to a public forum asking why homosexuality was condemned in Christian churches, yet other sins, such as adulterous remarriage, were not condemned. He concluded that it was not condemned since there are so many church-goers that are remarried, including the clergy. Of course, we know that homosexuality is sinful as well – but he brings up a valid point. Shouldn’t all sin be frowned upon? Shouldn’t righteousness and wholesome living be uplifted?
I heard a wise, Christian lady give a very thought-provoking example. Let’s say a homosexual couple got married and maybe even adopted children. After being married for a few years, let’s say one of them decided to follow God’s word and became a Christian. After his conversion, he became convicted of living a homosexual lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be advisable for him to get out of this sinful lifestyle and repent? Of course! But, what if he just said, “God, I’m sorry for my sinful lifestyle”, yet continued to remain in his sinful marriage? We could conclude that he was either:
A.) Not convinced that his sin would separate him from God, therefore he remained in it.
B.) Had no fear nor reverence for God or the Bible and its standards.
C.) Was just giving lip-service and was not truly sorrowful over his sin nor was he truly converted.
D.) Figured God’s grace would overlook his sin and give an exception, after all, he was happy and had children.
“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid!”
Sin is sin, right? Why then, would we advise a homosexual in a sinful marriage to repent and forsake his sin, yet we tell the heterosexual in a sinful remarriage to remain as they are? Both are sin – why are we defending and justifying the latter sin? Let me clarify, I am not at all defending homosexuality – because it is a sin that will separate a person from God. But, isn’t the sin of adultery also a sin that will separate a person from God? So many quote 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 to rightfully condemn sins such as homosexuality or drunkenness, yet, many fail to see that it also mentions the sin of adultery. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Go and Sin No More:
What if a remarried person feels conviction? What if they now see clearly that they are in sin? What are they to do? In such cases, we cannot apply scriptures meant for original husbands/wives – seeing that would not apply in the case of adulterous remarriage (scriptures promoting you to stay together, etc.). So, we must find scriptures in regards to sin and how to handle it.
Now… we have come to the most difficult part of this study – the time when a decision must be made and some deep soul-searching must be done. The decision to repent of sin in the area of adulterous remarriage would mean to forsake your sin, right? To “go and sin no more” as Jesus instructed the woman committing adultery? The only way I see to forsake this sin is to get out of it. However, that will mean much heartache and suffering. As Mars Hill Pastor, Mark Driscoll, once said, “All sin is equally damning, but not all sin is equally devastating.” Likewise, Hebrews 10:32 says, “Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful [to Christ] even though it meant terrible suffering.”
I feel that divorce, in this case, would be considered an act of righteousness since it would rid you of the sin you find yourself in (similar to the case in Ezra, chapter 10). I must be very careful in advising such extreme measures since there is no direct command in scripture; it advises not to be remarried while our spouse lives and expects us to live accordingly, therefore, I find no exact scriptures on how to handle this. However, there are examples in regards to adultery and sin such as, “go and sin no more,” etc. which I feel are applicable. Please note the following scriptures, as well (see Proverbs 28:13, James 1:22, Ezra 10).
“Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity. And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.” ~Matthew 5:31-32MSG
“Be not deceived. Men are very much inclined to flatter themselves that they may live in sin, yet die in Christ, and go to heaven. But we cannot hope to sow to the flesh, and reap everlasting life.” ~Matthew Henry
(Matthew 15:19, Proverbs 30:20, Proverbs 6:32, 1st Peter 3:1-7, Mark 7:21-23, Exodus 20:14, Exodus 20:17, Colossians 3:18-19, 1st Timothy 3:1-12, Ephesians 5:22-28, Proverbs 18:22, Proverbs 31:10-12, Proverbs 12:4, John 4:16-18, Matthew 5:28)