To Have & To Hold - Destiner Press Topics

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Origins and Destinies "The Pharisees also came to Him (Jesus), testing Him, and saying to Him, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?' And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.' They said to Him, 'Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' He said to them, 'Because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 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.'" (Matthew 19:3-9)

"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: a wife is not to depart from her husband (the apostle Paul is quoting Jesus' command above). But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him...But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases." (1 Corinthians 7:10-15)

" have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part." (a marriage vow that agrees with the Word)

To Have & To Hold This topic, concerning the Scriptural principles regarding marriage and divorce, is in response to many letters from readers who have struggled with the issue.

If you are confused by what you have been taught by the hireling shepherds of the clergy or from any other "advisory" source, the Scriptural commandments concerning marriage and divorce are stated very plainly in the Bible. What the Word of God says is this. 1. Only death dissolves a marriage, that is, natural or accidental death, not the murder that some might wish to (or actually) commit in order to remarry. 2. Divorce does not dissolve or annul a marriage; it is a state of separation but it cannot undo or erase the promises that were made, and it does not leave a person free to remarry. 3. Annulment can only apply to a marriage that was never consummated and therefore was not marriage, never in fact existed. Annulment is exactly what Joseph sought to offer Mary, because they were bound and betrothed but not yet married, and he had mistaken her pregnancy to be due to her sleeping with someone else. Annulment is not divorce, because it can dissolve a union on grounds that divorce cannot. Only death dissolves a marriage.

There are innumerable "counselors" out there who would tell you otherwise. Consider this notion by Barbara Rose, Ph. D., author of several best-selling books: "Taken literally, this promise is broken more than it is kept. But 'til death do us part' can be interpreted differently...In this phrase, 'death' does not need to mean the end of physical life. It can mean the end of the couple’s purpose for being together; once the purpose is fulfilled, the union no longer needs to continue." Ha! What Christian sewage! This sly wordplay says you can change your partner like your underwear, because you became tired of the flavor of the day and the mood or purpose (whatever that means) no longer suits you. Not so, reader, and you are literally playing with fire if you believe garbage like that.

Christians, ever willing to break the Word and further the business of the church, may also tell you that the apostle Paul's teaching (in 1 Corinthians 7) leaves a believing partner free to remarry, but Paul does not say that at all. He does not endorse the lawfulness of such remarriage in that passage or anywhere else in his letters. The "bondage" from which couples are freed in Paul's instruction is not marriage, it is the command to stay together from which they are liberated, and most specifically if it is the "unbeliever" that departs. Read the plain grammar of verse 15 again, "If the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases." Put clearly, if an atheist, or Muslim or Hindu or classic Christian spouse wishes to separate from one of the Lord's elect, then the elect person may be free of that bondage to living with an unbeliever, but not free to remarry.

Christians trying to slide around this most commonly use the excuse that Paul did not specifically say that persons separated on account of unbelief may or may not later remarry. He did not need to say that! He had already quoted his Lord's words: firstly, that married people are commanded not to split, and secondly, that if they separate there are only two options, to "remain unmarried" or "be reconciled." (1 Corinthians 7:10-15) Read the passage again; read it carefully. Of course Paul never cites remarriage as an option. It was not an option. If Paul had said that such separated spouses were free to wed again, he would have directly contradicted the Son of God who says that those who remarry are committing adultery. If you cannot remarry after separation on the grounds of adultery, then you certainly cannot remarry just because your unbelieving partner walked out, or if you fled an abusive marriage, or any other adverse situation, much less a mere change of affection. The options are the same, try for reconciliation or remain unmarried. The churches and priests and the world may tell you otherwise, but the Word of God certainly does not.

God's law for marriage is set forth in such passages as Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 5:32, 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7, and Romans 7:1-3. Two people are absolutely bound together for life. For life, reader, and the Word always counsels that no matter what difficulties are encountered, the preferable resolution is for the couple to remain together. This is what the Word of God declares without wavering. Death, adultery and unbelief are the only three contingencies (Romans 7:2, Matthew 5:32, 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:15) but with different resulting situations. The death of a spouse leaves a person free to remarry, but sexual unfaithfulness does not make a person free to remarry, only to separate permanently. Unbelief leaves only the unbeliever at liberty to depart, not the believer, and if the unbeliever does depart, the believer is no longer subjected to the obligation of maintaining or restoring that difficult co-habitation, but not free to remarry.

Those who remarry after imagining that they have annulled their previous marriage on grounds of a spouse's adultery or unbelief could not be more mistaken. They have misunderstood in ignorance or deliberately twisted divorce to mean annulment or dissolution. Their minister or judge may placate them with sugary words, but in the eyes of the Lord they are in fact now living in adultery themselves, a permanent state of uncleanness in their second non-marriage and every such non-marriage afterward if they do it repeatedly. How many would so frivolously divorce, or so casually marry in the first place, as they do today, if they realized that any subsequent marriage was a state of interminable adultery in the eyes of God? Adultery is a death sentence offence in Scripture, reader, and you can find the critical New and Old Testament Scriptures concerning this and other deadly sexual offences in the topic, Sodom & Tomorrow.

There is no end to the devious ploys that Christians will invent to circumvent the plain meaning of the Word. Some Christian churches will not recognize a marriage outside of their sect, treating it as if it did not count, and so they imagine that they can sneak around the Word and permit another marriage within their walls. It's business, of course, a very lucrative one, and churchmen have always been open for business, just like temple money-changers and the hard-hearted priests that Jesus encountered and constantly admonished for their false teaching. These "ministers" will tell people anything to please their ears and keep them in their pews, filling their collection plates. They are bound for the wrong gate, reader, with a faith that is dead. They have no idea what being faithful and true to one person is all about. They would change spouses with ease, forgetting that it is a state of oneness second only to oneness with the Lord. But since they are not one with the Lord, it is hardly surprising that they treat marriage so frivolously.

Jesus confirmed what Scripture tells us from the very beginning, that what God joins may not be rent apart by man, even if man vainly imagines that he can do so. Two become one, reader, and the word one quite literally means indivisible. That is why the apostle Paul warned so severely that a man who has intercourse with a prostitute has become "one" with her. (1 Corinthians 6:16) He was hammering a point home that many would think obvious, but bear in mind that he was writing to the Corinthians, an assembly that was very seriously infected by the early sect of Christians with their classic church views and antics, especially in sexual sins. And I can tell you, reader, that I have met many such churchmen who loudly proclaim their salvation in Christ and who at the same time sleep around, some even traveling to Third World countries to visit brothels or fornicate with underage youths. They have the faith of the doomed, with mouths full of religion and souls dead to the Spirit of God.

The elect are not called to imitate the worldly and their ways; they are called to conform to the image of God's Son, and that image is clean and pure. It does not matter what Hollywood tells you in its relentless propagation of the breaking of all the commandments, and it certainly does not matter what man-made institutions like the State stipulate, or the Church (Satan's ace card) recommends or whispers in your ear. A faith that leads people to act like them is no faith at all, and the spirit that moves them comes from a very dark and ominous lair. The elect are to be different, and markedly so, especially in the area of faithfulness and sexual cleanness.

This leaves us with two special conditions to consider. The first is that of persons who are awakened to life by the Lord, finding that their names are in the Book of Life, but who have already been divorced and are now single. This first case is simple, because the commandments of Jesus and Paul apply just the same. If you have been married, made yourself one with another person, and been divorced, you can remain unmarried or try for reconciliation with your original spouse. You cannot remarry another, and if you do so, your claim to believe and obey the Lord is null and void. Marriage is not to be taken lightly reader, because to fail is to face the celibate life, if you believe. If you do not believe, well, in the end it does not matter what sin you commit. But if you do believe, and you are caught in this situation, then turn it to your advantage; put all your energies into serving the Lord in ways in which you might otherwise be hindered if you had the obligations of a spouse. Be celibate, not in resentment but in eagerness like those who never marry because they choose to channel their efforts into serving God's kingdom in a more concentrated and less distracted manner, and loving Him with all their heart and mind and soul, without the complications and conflicts of interest that come from also loving a spouse. Find encouragement in the Scriptures that say such people are much freer from the cares of the world. (Matthew 19:12; 1 Corinthians 7:7,8, 32-35)

The second case is that of persons who are awakened to life by the Lord, finding that their names are in the Book of Life, and have already gotten themselves into a remarriage confusion. Well, they are clearly in a very complex mess, but no more so than anybody saved from the darkness of spiritual death (cheats, false witnesses, thieves, even killers) from which the Son of God came to redeem that precise flock which the Father prepared for him before the foundation of the world. They are to abandon their previous behavior, turn around and follow a new Way, and this despite the past errors that cannot be undone.

A classic example of this is the confused Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at the water well. He said to her, "You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." (John 4:17,18) It is hardly credible that the woman had been widowed five times, that during five true marriages all her husbands had died. Either she had been divorced several times, or had simply lived with all of them, moving on to the next. In other words she had become one with many more than one. She may have had a true husband (or two, if one died) by marriage in the first place, but it is almost certain that the rest were non-husbands, or husbands in name only, husbands from man's point of view. And whomever she was living with when Jesus spoke to her was not a true spouse either, not in the eyes of God.

But her case, however complicated, was not insoluble; nor is it so for people caught in the same state today, when they suddenly recognize and believe in Christ. For those regenerated while already in the so-called remarried pickle, the situation from that point on remains exactly as that described above for a couple in their first true marriage, bound under the commandments of Jesus and explanatory instructions of Paul. They cannot undo multiple vows for previous marriages (to which they are also bound but unable to fulfill) because they cannot possibly keep all those vows and still be faithful to one. However, they can apply new life in the Word to themselves now, and be faithful to the Word from now onward, namely in recognizing that only death can annul their present marriage, and only adultery or unbelief permits a state of permanent separation (Biblical divorce) without entitlement to remarry.

Those who teach that the woman at the well was caught in a time when social conditions meant she had no alternative but to take shelter in yet another adulterous non-marriage or face a life of prostitution have obviously never understood what it is to be faithful, with the spiritual strength to resist sexual offences even at the risk of one' life. (Genesis 39:7-23) Saying the Samaritan woman's plight was a necessity of society is ridiculous. What! Was every divorcee or widow or spinster in Israel and Samaria a harlot? Rubbish. Many worked in the fields, either reaping or gleaning, in markets, making pottery, sewing or weaving at looms, or as housemaids. They did not have to turn to harlotry. That reasoning is no better than saying that thieves and murderers have an excuse if they come from a bad part of town, because their unacceptable behavior is due to their society and therefore not their fault. What kind of weak baal do these philosophers believe in who cannot overcome society? Jesus overcame the world. I have met hundreds of people in Third World countries and under extreme conditions of poverty who do not use such lame excuses or break the Lord's commands on such pathetic premises. Those who propose such poppycock obviously have no idea of what the power of the Spirit of the Living God can accomplish in a human heart. And his commands are the same for all, for rich and poor, for privileged and disadvantaged.

So then, what about those who say they believe, and are aware of what the Scriptures teach, but deliberately divorce each other (calling it annulment or dissolution) and remarry? Well, reader, they have chosen to live in a state of constant adultery, continuous sexual uncleanness in the face of the Lord whom they claim to know and love. They think that they can become one with yet another person, over and over again, just like the Christians who blasphemously line up every week to be baptized in the Spirit repeatedly, as if once was not enough. They have no concept of the Oneness of the Indivisible God, who saves his elect once and for all, so they jump in and out of what they imagine to be a state of grace like the evanjellybeans they are; it is not surprising that they have no perception of the binding oneness that a first marriage brings. They have the faith of classic Christian churchmen, dead in sin, deliberately choosing a state that the apostle Peter so aptly described as "willingly ignorant." (2 Peter 3:5) They are merely born-again Christians, not born-from-above elect, and churches manufacture and churn them out like factory frankfurters. They still should know better, but they do not want to know, choosing vainly to blot out the truth despite their impending doom. What happens to such fakes? Peter describes a very fiery end in sight.

You can also read about similar counterfeits in Jesus' parable regarding disobedient servants in the vineyard, those who pretend to serve Him but inwardly hate the Master's teaching and will not obey. (Luke 20:14-16) Even when their fate arrives, they will be objecting in shock and disbelief, refusing to accept that their cherished view, their government-passed law or their church doctrine, is not the Law of God or the Word at all. They will have an eternity to think about it. No doubt they will still be protesting that they invited Jesus into their hearts (classic non-Biblical church spiel and self-deception) long after they find that they were not on His guest list. (Matthew 22:11-14; 7:21-23)

May God give you the strength, resolve and commitment to never be found in that company, reader. Be faithful and true, to the Word foremost and to your spouse next if you have one. It is that simple. If you are in any of the sticky situations described above then do what you are commanded to do, remain as you are, reconcile, whatever options are specifically given and permitted by the Word. Work it through. But do not go beyond that and walk where angels fear to tread. Leave such presumption to the goats of the church.

Lastly, if you have never been wed, and wish to know more about marriage and the Biblical reasons why it should never take place in a church or be conducted by a priest, then you will find this in detail in The Truth Which Sets Free, Chapter 10, Church Sacraments.