Know Your Bible
VOL. 13 July 20, 2014 NO. 20
SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT DIVORCE & REMARRIAGE
Must the innocent party divorce the spouse guilty of fornication? Certainly not. Fornication does not dissolve marriage, but instead gives the innocent party the right to dissolve the marriage. They are not obligated to do so. In fact, it could be a great lesson in forgiveness if they choose not to divorce.
Must a Christian take back a mate guilty of fornication in order to forgive? The question arises from a misunderstanding of the difference between sin and the consequences of sin. For instance, it is true that a murderer may be forgiven of his dreadful act, even by the family of the murder victim. It is also true that the murderer may still have to spend time in prison or even face death by capital punishment, and that sentence may be due to testimony given by those who have forgiven him. Forgiveness of sin does not absolve a person of the consequences of that sin. Likewise, the innocent party may forgive a mate of fornication, but because of the mental anguish caused by such a betrayal, may not be able to receive them back as a mate. Divorce is still the right of the innocent party and may be the conse-quences the fornicator pays for sin.
If the marriage bond is broken by God in a scriptural divorce, can the guilty party remarry, since they are no longer bound? Again, this is a misunderstanding. God allows the innocent party to dissolve the marriage, and frees them (the innocent) from their bond. The bond remains for the guilty. The guilty party who remarries is then guilty of adultery (Matt. 19:9).
Does Matthew 19 really give anyone the right to remarry, or does it just give the innocent the right to divorce? Matthew 19 discusses remarriage as much as divorce. Where there is no remarriage, there is no resulting adultery for the guilty. Therefore, when Jesus says, "Whoever divorces ... except for fornication, and marries another ... commits adultery," it is implicit in the statement that one who divorces for fornication and marries another does not commit adultery.
Since all the passages dealing with this problem are addressed to men divorcing women, can a woman divorce her mate if he is guilty of fornication? Clearly, this is just a question of semantics. Mark 10:10-12 addresses the woman who divorces and remarries without proper cause (fornication) and puts her actions in the dissolving of a marriage equal with that of the man. Granted, Mark 10 does not mention the exception, but Jesus' teaching on this matter must be gathered from all sources (thus Matthew as well). In addition, there are other passages in the New Testament addressed to "men" which are really addressed to all (see Gal. 6:1, Matt. 5:27-28). Therefore, we must conclude a woman whose husband commits fornication has scriptural right to divorce him and marry another.
What about the one who is innocent, but a sinful mate "puts them away?" Jesus gives the right to remarry only to those who "put away" their mate for fornication. If one is "put away" and then remarries, they commit adultery. Therefore, if an innocent party is "put away" for incompatibility, they commit adultery if they remarry.
Why is this issue so much debated recently? It is clear that we have let worldly ideas about marriage and divorce influence our lives as Christians. Many people seek for "ways out" for loved ones and friends who find themselves divorced without proper cause. As Christians, it is important to stand for what is right and true even when "the truth hurts." We do not wish for anyone to have to suffer the lonely life of a "eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven," but we recognize that this is far better than being lost. Our desire to stand on the scripture compels us to continue to debate this vital issue with those who would distort His word.
When children are born, they are like books full of empty pages. Some have more pages than others, but we don't know how many pages each one has. What we must understand is that we as parents and their elders are helping write each page in each book. Each page is filled with something -- things trivial and/or things of value. Somebody is going to write those pages. Especially in the early years, someone other than the child will have the predominant place of writing each page. An infant does practically nothing for himself. Someone teaches him how to eat, how to go to sleep, how to sit up, how to drink, and a little later how to talk and walk.
The pages are empty at the start. Like soft clay, children are molded, shaped, and refined in all particulars by those who care for them. Indifference to a child's needs means that little is written that will be constructive. If television is the shaper, one should not be surprised at the very undesirable traits that are developed. Children have to learn everything except those things that nature controls, and those things must be refined and controlled. It is far easier to shape a child aright at the first, than to have to reshape to eliminate bad habits and behavior that are unacceptable. We have a very short time to do the writing over which we have control. Once that time is gone, we have little power to change the product that has been entrusted to our care and that we have shaped.
We need to be reminded of just how empty the pages are at the start. Children must learn eating habits, choices of food and drink, to sleep in their own bed, to share, to be patient, to be respectful of others, to obey, to know when and how to use the restroom, to be still and listen, to read and write, to understand danger and what is dangerous, to control desires that are a part of their nature. They must learn about God and origins of all things, about the purpose of life, about pleasing God and revering Him, about God’s punishment for the disobedient and His reward for the obedient, about duty and how to work, the joy of giving and the value of service to others, the value of prayer and how to pray, how to sing wholeheartedly, the importance of punctuality, the importance of keeping one's word, the high place of honesty and the problems of lying, about proper human relationships, the value of human life, and sexual conduct and purity.
Habits are created by repeated behavior. If a thing is bad and harmful, children must learn to avoid it. Consistent unpleasant results make the action undesirable. Where we are today is the result of the writing of each page of the book of our lives, and so it will be for those whose books we are helping to write, page by page. Sobering thought, isn't it? "Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction." "A child left to himself brings shame to his mother." (Prov. 19:18; 29:15).
Many churches today have what they call "special singing". What is meant is that they are going to have anything from a soloist to a choir to be doing the singing. Most of the time they are in the form of quartets. While the New Testament authorizes "singing" in worship to God, can this singing be done by a select few while others look on and listen?
We read in Ephesians 5:19: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." In Colossians 3:16, we read: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." The "teaching", "admonishing", and "singing" spoken of in these passages are not separate, unrelated activities. All three show how we are to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly". When Christians assemble and engage in singing TOGETHER, they are teaching and admonishing "ONE ANOTHER".
The New Testament is very specific with regard to singing. In addition to authorizing only congregational singing, we are restricted in the KIND OF MUSIC. While we know there are different kinds of music, namely vocal and mechanical, the New Testament only authorizes VOCAL when it says "singing". We are also restricted in the STYLE OF MUSIC. While there are bluegrass, classical, rock, country, and etc. that are recognized as different styles of music, the New Testament only authorizes "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs". When it comes to singing there can be any number of things that serve as the OBJECT OF MUSIC. It might be a wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend, parents, places, and etc. However, the New Testament has restricted the object of our music to singing "TO THE LORD". The New Testament also has restricted the ATTITUDE OF THE SINGER when it teaches that we are to be "singing with GRACE"; that is, we must have gratitude when we sing. Also the New Testament has restricted the INSTRUMENT INVOLVED in singing. We are to sing using our "HEARTS".
When we sing we are "speaking to yourselves" and "teaching and admonishing one another". "One another" is a reciprocal pronoun which simply means that the action being done is mutual or done by all. I cannot ‘teach and admonish' you unless I am ‘speaking'. Neither can you ‘teach and admonish' me unless you are ‘speaking'. Singing, in these two passages, teaches ourselves and everyone else who participates.
Those who wish to change singing in worship to using a soloist, duet, trio, quartet, or choir want to put the emphasis on "LISTENING". Yet, neither in Ephesians 5:19 nor Colossians 3:16 can you find the word "listening". The truth in the matter is this: LISTENING TO OTHERS SING, WITHOUT JOINING IN THE SINGING TOGETHER, IS UNAUTHORIZED; THUS UNSCRIPTURAL!
In reality, why would a church want "special music"? Why set apart a specialized person or group of singers who perform on their own in the assembly? There can be no doubt that the real reason is because there is a great desire to want to be entertained in religion rather than worship God as He directs! God seeks us to "worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). "In truth" would be according to His Word because God's Word is truth (John 17:17). To worship "in spirit" is to worship Him with our minds consecrated upon worship directed TO GOD.
May God help us to resist the hype and glitter that is characteristic of our day and age. Let us not be fooled by the emotionally-stimulating distractions that only create an artificial sense of spirituality.
—E.R. Hall, Jr.
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--- E.R. Hall, Jr.
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