Sermon: Divorce and Remarriage
Scripture: Matthew 5:31-32
In this week’s lessons, we look at the subjects of divorce and remarriage, and learn what the biblical standards are for those who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Theme: Permanency of Marriage
The place to begin in the discussion of these texts is not with the exception itself, however—we will come back to it later—but with the general direction of the passage. And this, quite clearly, is to assert in the strongest possible language the permanency of marriage. Marriage is of God; hence, men are not to disannul it. In this assertion, Jesus was clearly at one with the entire scope of biblical teaching.
We find this in Genesis: “And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him an help meet for him… And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD 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” (Gen. 2:18, 21-24). These words indicate that marriage was instituted by God for man’s welfare, and they imply that the union that makes a man and a woman one flesh is to be permanent throughout both of their lives.
We turn from the first book of the Old Testament to the last book of the Old Testament, and we find the same teaching, only in a more direct form. This is important in itself, for some teach that the standards given to Adam and Eve in Eden before the fall have become impossible after it, and that God has come to tolerate divorce as a result. Well, has he? “Not at all,” says Malachi. In fact, it was because of the multiple divorces in Israel that at that time, according to Malachi, God was no longer hearing their prayers.
Here is the way the prophet says it: “Yet ye say, why will the LORD not hear us or receive our offerings? Because the LORD hath 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 wife for Adam? Yet had he the residue of the spirit [i.e. he could have made more]. And why one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore, take heed to your spirit [i.e. your breath], that it might not be mingled with the breath of another woman, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away [divorce]” (Mal. 2:14-16). According to this passage, not only does God hate divorce, he still considers the couple married, regardless of what the parties to the marriage may have done.
When the Lord Jesus Christ argued against the common divorce practices of Judaism in His day, it was to texts like these that He drew His hearers’ attention. And the main line of His teaching was that God does not want divorce. In fact, He hates divorce. The standard, as I said earlier in these studies, is clearly chastity before marriage and fidelity afterwards. This is to be true regardless of the conduct of the other person.
What does Genesis 2 teach about marriage? What does it indicate about God’s purpose and intention for marriage?
What do we learn about God’s view of divorce from Malachi?
Prayer: Pray for any couples you know who are struggling in their marriage.
Key Point: The standard, as I said earlier in these studies, is clearly chastity before marriage and fidelity afterwards. This is to be true regardless of the conduct of the other person.
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “Divorce and Remarriage.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)