STATEMENT ON MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, AND REMARRIAGE
FROM THE ELDERS OF THE ROCK CHURCH OF FENTON
The goal of this statement is to present the guidelines that the Bible gives regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage; to encourage obedience to the Word of God. This can be a sensitive subject for those who have a personal experience with marriage, divorce and remarriage. We ask for grace and understanding be extended toward those who have experience these sensitive situations.
The Rock Church desires to remain faithful to the Word of God. Since each situation of marriage, divorce, and remarriage is different, we will use this as a guide to determine the course of action we will take in counseling and officiating marriages.
If you have any questions, please let us know.
It is important to begin by understanding marriage, its purpose and the principles that make up a healthy God design marriage. In the Word of God the purpose of marriage is demonstrated from the very beginning with Adam and Eve in Genesis 1-2. God created Adam to serve him, by managing and caring for his creation. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:26, 2:15)
Although God understood that Adam would be lonely, and that was not good for him so He created Eve to be a companion and help meet to what God created Adam to do, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18).
He also commanded this newly formed relationship to be fruitful and multiply, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”(Genesis 1:28) Multiplication is uniquely tied with the ability to continue purpose that God had created the man to do.
Marriage also a unique representation of God relationship with his people. In Philippians 2:5-8 it teaches how Jesus gave up his divine privileges to love and serve his people. Ephesians 5:22-33 teaches, in marriage, we are to have the same mindset that Jesus had for his fallen creation for our spouse. This relationship between God and man is modeled in marriage when mutual respect and servitude of one another is happening. When this happens the gospel is proclaimed to all those observing the relationship and God is glorified through the marriage relationship.
Biblical Marriage Principals
When God created marriage he create it with a purpose and with specific principles that make it a healthy and God honoring. In Genesis as well as in many other locations in the Bible it teaches that God designed marriage to be a covenant, or an agreement, that one man and one woman make to faithfully love and serve one another. While they God together, until death separates them. The principles of a lifelong, covenantal, monogamous marriage between one man and one woman are found in Genesis 2:18-24, Matthew 19:3-6, Romans 7:2, 1 Corinthians 7:39. And we would recommend you read these passages on your own to see these principles explained and demonstrated.
Another principle that is understood from the Word of God is that a marriage should be “equally yoked”. This phrase “equally yoked” is a metaphor of 2 oxen being yoked, or linked with a wooden block around their necks, serving their master together. Since God created marriage to be a team that serves him together it is not surprising to find in the Word of God that a believer is not to be “joined together or yoked” with an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). The question is posed in this passage, “How can a believer and an unbeliever team up to serve God together?” With the logical conclusion that they cannot. That is why God commands believers to not marry an unbeliever, because there is no way for a believer and an unbeliever to serve God together.
Although this begs the question, “What should a person do if they become a believer, after they are married and their spouse does not come to know the Lord?” Paul answers this question in 1 Corinthians 7:12-14; 16,
“If any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy…15Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 16For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?”
Paul states here that those who find themselves in this situation are to remain married to the unbeliever if they are willing, because who knows whether the faithful love and servitude for the unbeliever and commitment to the covenant that was made to them will lead them to come to know Jesus as savior and Lord. The only exception that is given, is if the unbeliever chooses to leave the believer, then the believer has the liberty to let them leave.
Many people have asked the question, “Doesn’t the Bible give some instances when someone is allowed to divorce?” This is not a new question. It is a questions that the Pharisees asked Jesus in Matthew 19,
3“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Jesus does give the allowance for people to make the decision to divorce in the context of “sexual immorality,” but it is important to notice that he also says, “but it was not this way from the beginning.” Jesus allows divorce in this one scenario, because he honors Moses allowance due to the hardness of the hearts of people, but would prefer those even in this situation to live out 1 Corinthians 7:10-11; 16
“To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)
“Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?” (1 Corinthians 7:16)
Jesus’ desire is that through through the unconditional love and faithfulness of the person who has been offended. The sexually immoral will come to repent for their sins and know Jesus as Savior and the Lord. This situation that Jesus desires and Paul writes about is lived out by Hosea to demonstrate the gospel to the offender in the marriage.
The Heart of God About Divorce
As discussed in the section on marriage. God designed marriage to be a team serving God together. Divorce divides a team which God has brought together and miraculously made one flesh out of. Few life experiences are more painful or destructive than divorce because it tears apart the one flesh into two pieces, leaving all those involved hurt. It is not surprising to read in Word of God that God hates divorce(Malachi 2:14-16). He hates it, because he hates seeing his people hurt and broken, or seeing people do things that hurt and break other people. And that is just what divorce does. It destroys what God has brought together and hurts everyone that is connected to the relationship.
While God hates divorce(the sin) (Malachi 2:14-16), He does not hate the divorcee(the person created in his image), because he loves his people regardless of their sin. In Romans 5:8 we see that God unconditionally loves each and every one of us, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Even while we were sinners Jesus loved us, demonstrating to us that even when we sin God will be there to love on us. Because he love us he wants us to live a new life free from the bondage to sin which is why Jesus says, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” Therefore if Christ has set you free from the sins of you past then we need to live free from the decisions we have made in the past.
But that does not give us the license to continue to made the same sinful decisions over again. Jesus when confronted with the adulterous woman does not condemn the woman for the things done in her past but exhorts her, “Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” Jesus hates the sin she has done in past, but he loves the woman. So he loves on her by not condemning her for her past, but commands her to change the way she does things in the future.
The Principles We Draw From The Word of God on Divorce
Divorce is not God's design because it separates what God has made one flesh (Mark 10:9)
Divorce is only permitted(by Moses and honored by Jesus) in sexual immorality but still discouraged by Jesus because it removes the ability for unconditional love and faithfulness to demonstrate the gospel (Matthew 19:3-9)
Separation is allowed and sometimes recommended in some circumstances but always with the heart and expectation to work on reconciliation. That is why in 1 Corinthians 7 it allows for separation without remarriage.
Another question that is asked is, “what does the Bible say about remarriage?” And to many people's surprise, the Word of God does speak to the parameters of remarriage. But before we discuss the areas where remarriage is permitted, an understanding is needed of what the Word of God teach about a when remarriage is sinful.
When Re-Marriage IS NOT Allowed
In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 it says, “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.” The principle that we drawn from this is that if a “believer” chooses to step outside the will of God and decides to leave their spouse, they are to remain unmarried or reconciliation with their former spouse.
When Re-Marriage IS Allowed
The first circumstance of remarriage is found in Romans 7:2 and 1 Corinthians 7:39. In the unfortunate situation that their spouse is deceased that the person is free from their covenant and allowed to remarry.
Another allowance for remarriage is found in 1 Corinthians 7:15. “Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases” In the situation where a believer is married to and unbeliever who chooses to divorce them, they are no longer bound to that covenant. We believe that since in this verse it says, “you are not longer under bondage” to this covenant previously made, that you are also free to remarry.
Another allowance for remarriage is when sexual immorality through remarriage makes reconciliation is no longer possible In Matthew 19:9 it says if someone is sexually unfaithful in the marriage, then the person has the liberty to divorce and remarry. If a believer is doing their diligence to the word of God and remaining “unmarried” but the other person decides to be unfaithful and remarry, making reconciliation impossible. They are released from their covenant. Since reconciliation in not possible anymore, this person is now free to remarry.