Does the Bible permit in any circumstance to divorce and remarry?

Does the Bible permit IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE to divorce and remarry? Emphatically, NO. Then what about various Scriptures in the Bible and the arguments of many learned authors and so-called spiritual leaders? Let us prayerfully and carefully study them. Some say, if a person's wife (or husband) leaves him without any fault on his part, he can marry again, himself being the innocent party. God's Word says, "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth: but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: But if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man" (Rom 7:2-3). It is very clear from this text that absolutely no room is left out for anyone to marry again as long as the marriage partner is alive. In case anyone marries again, offering any (lame) excuses, IN THE SIGHT OF GOD IT IS ADULTERY. It is possible, such remarried couples may face severe punishment and judgment, if they do not repent and turn away from their wickedness. Did not Jesus teach that in case the wife (or husband) commits adultery, the husband can divorce and remarry? Many who support divorce and remarriage put forward this question. Let us look at the statement of Jesus connected with this argument. "But I say unto you, that 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" (Matt 19:9). Any reputable dictionary defines fornication as "illegitimate sexual relations on the part of an unmarried person" while adultery means "illegitimate sexual relations on the part of a married person." In some places in the Old Testament, the word fornication in a larger sense is used also to mean unchastity; however, that does not alter the above meaning at all. Moses did not permit divorce on the grounds of adultery, for which the punishment was death - "The adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death" (Lev 20:10). As in any English dictionary, in the Bible fornication (Greek, porneia) is clearly distinguished from adultery (Greek moikeia) as found in Matt 15:19; Mark 7:21 and Gal 5:19.

In Matt 19:9 the "exception clause" was fornication and not adultery. Fornication clearly means premarital impurity. In the Bible, betrothed woman is called wife even before the consummation of marriage. "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife." When the angel told this to Joseph, he was betrothed only. The same truth is found in Deut. 22:23-24 and in many other places in the Bible. We can therefore safely conclude that what Jesus stated in Matt 5:32 and 19:9 ("saving for the cause of fornication" and "except it be for fornication) was, in case a betrothed wife was found to have fallen into sin, the husband has the right to terminate the betrothal contract. This was exactly what Joseph was planning to do when he found Mary, his betrothed wife had conceived a child. How sad, many well-meaning Christians are deceived (perhaps by the misinterpretation of their own ministers) into divorcing and remarrying. How can anyone ignore the clear teaching of Jesus, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery" (Lk 16:18). Although such adulteries are legalized by same pastors and churches, let us note, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal 1:8).

Now the important question is this, "Suppose someone ALREADY divorced and remarried, what can be done?" Mr. J.M. Humphrey, a man of God born in 1872 in Tennessee, in his small booklet "What...God Hath Joined Together" gives his own testimony. His wife went into open sin and finally had to leave him. Although he had to divorce her, he decided to remain single being faithful
to the Word of God. After seven years, some pastors influenced him with the argument saying, "innocent party can marry again." Mr. Humphrey being the innocent party, finally he married. But soon after the marriage he started feeling strange. Let us read his own words: "But as time passed by, this annoyance became a constant thing; so I would set myself apart for a few days of prayer and fasting. But after the first five months of our married life, the thing became a REAL DOUBT; so I resolved to set myself apart by prayer and as much fasting as I deemed prudent, for I wanted to KNOW from God. First: if I had really made a mistake - and if there were really no ground for divorce-marriages. Second: I wanted to know (if it was wrong) what steps to take to get out of it, as it would no doubt be a great stumbling block to the unsaved. However, I was fully determined to obey God in spite of men or devil, even at the loss of all things, even life itself. So we lived a separate life, for eighteen months, waiting for the CLEAR, UNMISTAKABLE mind of God.

  1. On the night of April 13th, 1907, the Spirit came to me in a dream or vision, in the form of an eminent preacher, who lives an exceptionally holy life, and quoted CLEARLY and DISTINCTLY two passages of Scripture. The first one is found in Isa. 52:11., "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." The next passage is found in IICor 7:1, "Having therefore these promises dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." These came, not as other flighty dreams, but were stamped on my heart and mind by the invincible power of the Spirit. Hence, I can never forget them.

  2. On September 28th 1907, in my dream I stood on the sidewalk of a solitary street. I saw no one for miles around. But suddenly a being from another world descended and sat on the top of a building just across the street from where I stood, and began talking in a loud, clear, thrilling and awful words, such as filled me with terror, for they seemed not only words, but stuck fast in my soul like arrows. He spoke as follows: "There is some one in this community rejecting God-given light and if he does not stop, God is going to send him to hell forever. He has sent me to warn him. Now you may do as you please about this matter. I have warned you, so good-bye!" ...immediately I awoke, filled with confusion, terror and conviction, beyond the power of language to describe. I related it to my wife, and told her that God was not pleased with our marriage. But she did not seem to see it in that light. Hence the sad news almost broke her heart. So I did not leave her then as I wanted to be sure it was God talking, and not the enemy. So I decided to pray, for God to make it clearer still. However, we continued to live clean and separate.

  3. Another night I saw in my dream a large white boat at sea, (which I believe represented the safe Bible way) but I had left this boat, and taken a narrow skiff (which I believe represented that one isolated passage of Scripture Matt 19:9 which is the only passage in the Bible that seems to give ground for divorce-remarriage) and was rapidly drifting away from the large lifeboat. And as I drifted, my little boat became uncontrollable and rapidly leaped on, over the angry, turbulent waves, until it gradually began to sink, and I went down to a watery grave. I awoke with a sense of God's displeasure on divorce-marriages beyond the power of description. But as I wanted to be sure, and not make another mistake, I decided to still keep the matter before God, so as to obtain His clear, unmistakable leading.

  4. Another night, in my dream, I saw myself joined arms with my second wife, walking down a wide brimstone road in hell, and as we passed a large vestibule, I saw throngs of voluptuous men all dressed in black, and wearing silk hats. They were all keeping time to a band of music, and waving college banners, and singing this chorus:
    In hell at last! In hell at last!
    And earth and all her pleasures past.
    In hell at last! In hell at last!
    For aye and aye the die is cast."
    And in front of these men were about a dozen large black swine (emblems of filth and uncleanness) and they were flopping their ears and cringing to the music. In this, God showed me that I had followed the sensual, unclean, fleshy indulging multitudes of earth, in this divorce-marriage business. At this I awoke with that awful picture burning in my brain, and that hellish
    music ringing in my ears.
    But as it meant so much to make another public confession, and say I had made a mistake by remarrying, while my former wife lived, I thought perhaps these were only dreams, and I had better pray some more before I made, what seemed such a fatal step. So I decided to spend some more days in fasting, and some more all-nights in prayer before God, to know the unmistakable truth about this matter.
  5. One day, as I stood all alone in the parlor of a friend's house, in an eastern city, (while contemplating taking up this awful cross) it seemed as though a glorified spirit descended, and sang the following chorus to me (I never heard the words or the tune until then):
    Heaven is cheap at any cost,
    Do gain its ports or all is lost;
    For earthly gain is only dross
    And nought's of value but the Cross.
    And with this song there seemed to come volleys of exhortation from Wesley, Fletcher, Pollock and millions of glorified saints saying to me, "Gain heaven's port at any cost!" [Later on this was put into the song book, "Revival Fire in Song"].

    After this invincible message I was not only convinced that the divorce-marriage was wrong, but also thoroughly convinced that we had to separate fully. So we began to plan and work to that end. However we kept praying for still clearer evidence so that in after years there would be nothing to regret over taking this step of separation. Of course, after many of our friends and brethren heard that we had decided to separate, they came to us, by letter or in presence, and tried to reason us of our conviction, etc., by defining what divorces meant, and by saying what Jesus must have meant, etc. They meant well, but their arguments were too shallow to build on for eternity. We saw one woman die in this divorce trap. She was a good Christian woman, and professed holiness too, but we have never seen such distressed, forlorn, God-forsaken looking being before or since.
    O friends! We cannot afford to take any doubtful position in regard to our eternal welfare. Preachers and people can reason us on to a false track, and into hell, but they cannot reason us out. So my advice to everyone is to take the CLEAREST track to heaven. Of course it may be the most unpopular, and may bring lots of persecution, but after all, it is the safest way to the pearly gates.

  6. One night, in my dream, two preachers came to me (one I thought was St. Paul) and as they stood near me, the other preacher read to me from a paper which he held in his hand the following in substance: "You would be alright if it were not for that divorce-marriage." At this they disappeared, and I awoke with this awful words ringing in my ear: 'YOU WOULD BE ALRIGHT IF IT WERE NOT FOR THAT DIVORCE-MARRIAGE." And while lying there thinking upon these awful words, a strange feeling seized me, as if it was death. I was conscious, but could not speak or move; and as I struggled and made efforts to free myself, I found something holding me fast: and God seemed to put this question at me: "How would you like for this to be death and you tied
    up in that divorce-marriage" As I lay there and struggled all that I could see, filling the whole horizon of my mind, was, "That divorce-marriage." From this, God caused me to see that a soul could not afford to go to their death bed with the least conviction on their heart, or a shadow of a doubt in their experience.

  7. The following night in my dream I was standing in a large yard all alone; and while thus standing, it seemed that God was so angry with me because of my divorce-marriage that a great stream of lightning swept down from heaven and ran on the ground to meet me, in thousands of fiery spangles. It picked me up literally, and carried me about thirty feet to a large heap of fire burning on the ground, and held me fast in those flames. When I awoke, I still seemed to be in fire. Even the bed seemed hot with those wrathful
    flames. And as I was awaking, I heard these words out of the avalanche of lightning, "Prepare to meet thy God." This occurred while I was in another town. I went home and told my wife and we mutually agreed to separate.

Since we did so, I feel as clear as an angel. And I am fully convinced that divorce-marriages are wrong: no matter if every preacher in the universe says that are not. I have been in hell (so to speak) for almost two years on account of listening to false teachers. O friend! Don't be deceived by any preacher or teacher! It is wrong beyond all shadow of doubt! If I had the voice of an archangel I would sound it from pole to pole. I came near losing my soul by giving ear to these false teachers, rather than to God! Of course, many of them are good, well meaning Christian men, but they are only giving their opinions, and also what that isolated passage in Matt 19:9 seems to me. But I have been caught in the snare of the thing, and God has been hurling light and conviction on my soul for nearly two years, both night and day, making me know and feel that the thing is wrong. I am not writing what I think, but what I positively know; and am willing to seal this testimony with my blood. I know whereof I speak. And no matter how conferences or Church disciplines may rock the conscience of the people to sleep telling them they can marry while their husbands or wives live; They are wrong, and the souls whom they are deceiving will find it out when eternity is unveiled, if not before. I thank God that He kept conviction and light streaming from heaven on my soul until I walked in it, in spite of all the false comforters, who were crying, Peace! Peace! When there was no peace; but dread, fear and awful uncertainty.

Now, precious eternity-bound friend, will you take the advice of one who has acted the fool, never, never enter into a divorce-marriage under any circumstances? And if you are now in one, and love your soul, and want to gain heaven, do get out of it. Even at the cost of all things, or else you will regret it throughout all eternity.

Every honest and level-headed Bible reader will agree that Matt. 19:9 is the only passage in the whole Bible that seems to give grounds for the divorce parties to remarry. Of course Matt. 5:32 gives grounds to put away the unclean party, but does not say either party can marry again. We also agree that it does not say they cannot. But the Bible says so in four or five other places which we will mention later. We often meet people who say that Mark, Luke, Romans and I Corinthians are to be read in connection with Matt. 19:9. i.e., he exception is to be recognized in reading those passages. But the safer way, to my mind would be to accept the testimony of the three writers in preference to accepting the testimony of one against the three. Jesus says, " In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word is established."

We will quote the divorce - pleaders' passage, which seems to give ground to remarry, but does not say so emphatically. "Whosoever shall put away his wife except it be for fornication, and shall marry another committeth adultery against her" (Matt 19:9). Now if this was the only passage in the Bible that treated on the subject, we could have been confused at least for a moment. But let us quote some of the passages that say emphatically there is no ground for divorce-marriages.

In Mark 10:11,12 we read as follows: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery. This is clear and emphatic. So that if a doubt should be left in our minds on reading Matt. 19:9, in this verse it is all removed.

Again we read, in Luke 16:18, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery." One might say right here, the Bible does not forbid the innocent party to remarry. Well, it says "Whosoever." I am quite sure "whosoever means everybody."

Again we read, in Rom. 7:2,3, "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from the law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man." Some people try to make it appear that if one breaks the marriage vow, he is reckoned as dead, but this is too thin to build for heaven on. We all agree that a dead man or woman does not walk, talk, eat, drink and work, as we do. Hence that is not the death God means.
God means physically dead, so that they have ceased from all their labour under the sun, and gone to eternity. [If Jesus did not mean physical death, but spiritual, anyone who has an unconverted husband or wife can divorce and marry again, because the unconverted person is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. If one partner backslides, the other partner can divorce and remarry, because a backslider also is spiritually dead!]. How can we misinterpret God's Word and lead them into son, death and hell. O God! Deliver us from these soul cut-throats.

Again we read, in I Cor 7:39,40 "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." These passages say positively you cannot marry while your husband or wife lives.

It would be very unwise to risk our souls and an eternity of bliss on a doubtful passage that only seems to endorse what five others clearly condemn. I was fool enough to risk it, but by the mercy of God I got out before hell closed her horrid jaws upon my poor soul forever. I believe God let me out to give this word of warning to other deceived souls.

We now come to the next great question that is asked by so many people, "What shall we do? - we were married when we were sinners, and we did not know it was wrong. Now since, the lord has converted us and forgiven our sins, was not this included in the forgiveness?" We answer, Yes, but God saved you on the terms that you would ever walk in the light, which meant, when you would find out more of His will, you would do it. When I first started in the way of the lord I used tobacco, but He soon let me know it was wrong, and I had to quit. When we were first saved, God did not remind us of all our restitutions, but reminded us of them one by one, as He gave us grace to attend to them. He did not show us everything at once, or we might have become discouraged and given up the way. Hence He let the light shine by degrees. However, we were His children, and were forgiven for every sin, because we had agreed to continue to do or undo anything he would show us, all the way until our dying day. So when you were first saved, God did not call your attention to the divorce matters right away; for you were not able to bear it, but now when you have gained strength enough to take up this cross, He sent the light on your soul. And if you refuse to obey, you can no more retain His favour that can a man that refuses us to return a stolen article, or pay a honest debt. Of course God will give you time and grace too, to walk in this light, but if you refuse, you will lose His favour just as would any disobedient child.

In Ezra 10 we read how the people put away their strange wives. We must remember that it meant as much for them in those days to put them away as it does for us now. But God has laid down His laws in righteousness, and we are to come up to them, by His assisting grace, or be lost forever. No matter how the scorning world may laugh and jeer. They will weep and wail some

Dr. A. C. Dixon (in his article "Divorce and Remarriage as Taught by Christ") says :

  1. The marriage of one man and one woman is a divine institution. In the beginning God made them male and female, one man and one woman (Matt 19:4).

  2. The marriage of one man and one woman is not only a divine institution but a divine act. "What God hath joined together." (Matt 19:6). The fact that marriages turn out badly is no proof that God did not have part in the ceremony.
    The first marriage [conducted by God Himself] did not turn out very well. The husband was enticed by the wife into sin, and both husband and wife learned to know what a broken heart means when they stood over the corpse of their son, Abel slain by the murderous hand of his brother, Cain (Gen 4:1-8).

  3. The marriage of one man and one woman by this divine institution and divine act joins husband and wife in a relation close and more binding than the relation between parent and child. We read in Gen 2:24 : "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife."
    Jesus quotes these words with approval (Matt 19:5).

  4. The marriage of one man and one woman by divine institution and divine act, joining them in a close and more binding than the relation between parent and child, so unifies husband and wife that they cease to be two and become one flesh. Jesus declares that they are no more two but one flesh (Matt 19:6). "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder".

  5. The marriage of one man and one woman by divine institution and divine act, joining them into a relation close and more binding than the relation between parent and child, and so unifying them as to make them no longer two but one flesh, can be dissolved only by death." John the Baptist became a martyr as he vehemently spoke against divorce and remarriage (Matt 14:3-10). Now we need more John the Baptists' than ever before, as the curse of divorce and remarriage has entered even among the Christian leaders.

Can a divorced and remarried person break off the second marriage and go back to the first marriage partner? Breaking off the second marriage is right, but going back to the first marriage partner is wrong, even if the second marriage partner dies. It is abomination in the sight of God. "Her former husband, which sent her away may not take her again to be his wife after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance" (Deut 24:4).

Some people, to suit their carnal mind quote Jeremiah 3:1 "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's shall he return unto her again? Shall not that land be greatly polluted but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me", saith the LORD. Any level-headed person can understand Deut. 24:4 deals with physical marriage and Jer. 3:1 concerns marriage in the spiritual sense. God here exhorts that although physically going back to the wife who married someone else is abomination, He is inviting back His people who are spiritually committing sin in the high places (Jer 3:2). In fact Jer. 3:1 further proves that if a man goes after his former wife who became another man's wife, the land will "be greatly polluted. "We all know that the term "wife of God" is purely a spiritual term and no sexual relationship is involved.

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