Once Married Always Married
What I want to preach about today is the subject of marriage and divorce.
And I know this can be a very difficult subject for many.
But the purpose of my sermon is not to condemn those who have divorced and remarried.
My focus today is on those who are married or are considering marriage.
To the single I say, choose very wisely. Because apart from choosing Jesus Christ, this is the most important decision that you will make in your lifetime.
So the Bible is clear in Matthew 5 that marriage is to be a life-long commitment between 1 man & 1 woman.
And even if you’re not a Christian, God has instituted marriage to be a lifelong union between 1 man and 1 woman, and anything less than that … is not God’s plan!
It’s not God’s plan to divorce under any circumstances, I don’t care how you justify it!
GOD HATES DIVORCE!
The world says that marriage can be treated like pretty much any other relationship. There’s a veneer of sanctity in marriage today, but it is thin and veiled with unfaithfulness.
The bible says that your wife is “thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.” In Malachi 2
Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away …
God hates putting away …
But the world says that if things don’t work out or if things aren’t what you expected that you can divorce for any reason.
And people are getting divorced for all kinds of reasons today.
But the Bible says in Matthew 5:32 that if you divorce and remarry you’re committing adultery!
READ MATTHEW 5:32
That’s straight out of the mouth of Jesus.
And you’ve heard the stats:
• Approx. 50% of all marriages end in divorce. And that’s for 1st marriages.
• Divorced & Re-married: the stats jump up to between 65-and almost 70%. And it just goes up from there.
• The divorce rate today is double what it was 50 years ago.
• If you consider the divorce rates from the last 100+ years, the contrast is staggering.
• 1800s: 3%
• By 1900, it had jumped to 7%. Low because you could not obtain a divorce without proving significant cause of abuse, adultery, or abandonment. Our laws were set up to protect marriage.
• The more permissive we’ve been in our laws, the more permissive we’ve become in our morality.
• Around WWI, 1914, the rates jumped up to 10%.
• By the 1920s, the rate increased again to 15%. ROARING 20s.
• This was a time period called the “Roaring twenties” because of economic growth coupled with the breakdown of traditional family values, a decline of Biblical morality, and the advancement of pop culture, secular music & dance. It was a time of rebellion against social norms.
• Women’s suffrage also played a big role in the 20s & 19th amendment was passed and women for the first time entered the political arena by voting. Feminism gave women a new sense of “liberation” from traditional norms, including marriage.
• Culture also began to unravel with the advent of the industrial revolution as large droves of the population left the simple life on the farm and rural settings for technological advances in big cities, where liberal education and ethics undermined traditional values and society as a whole.
• So we see that as society “progresses”, we see a moral decline and regression in society. Societal progress doesn’t always mean we’re moving forward. In many cases, we’re actually devolving morally.
• In the 30s, the rate increased again to approx. 16-18% with the Great Depression a contributing factor. As unemployment increased, divorce increased also.
• By the early 40s, divorce had jumped to between 20% and 25%. And after WWII the rate had increased to between 35-43%.
• WWII empowered women to now enter the work-force and feminism continued to spread & encourage women towards “new-found freedom” in the workplace. Marriage suffered as a result.
• In the 50s divorce rates went back down to 25% as Americans as a whole again embraced conservative and Biblical family values.
• In the late 60s & early 70s the rates again increased as the degenerate, rock&roll, drug-taking, anti-family, antichrist hippy movement exploded & the married could now file for divorce for virtually any reason for the first time, making divorce easy to obtain.
• & we find ourselves today in the 50%-60% range for divorce today.
And now, divorce is the new normal!
If things don’t work out, there’s no societal stigma attached to divorcing & remarrying.
In early America, you were practically shunned if you divorced;
and re-marriage would have been out of the question for any respectable citizen!
OK, So, Are there any exceptions to the rule?
There are only 2 clear-cut exceptions, and some would say 3 …
Look again at Matthew 5:32, at the phrase, “saving for the cause of fornication”.
• There’s a bit of a debate about the word, “fornication”.
FORNICATION is intimacy or “to know” someone outside of marriage between unmarried, single people.
ADULTERY is “knowing someone” when at least 1 of the involved is married.
It doesn’t have to be 2 married people. It only takes 1 and both are guilty of adultery.
In other words, someone who’s single can enter into an relationship w/ a married person and they will both be considered adulterers.
The NIV and modern versions change “fornication” to “sexual immorality”, “unchastity”, or another equivalent word for “adultery”.
Top popular versions:
NLT: “But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.”
NIV: “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
ESV: sexual immorality / NASB: changes “fornication” to “unchastity”.
If you change fornication to adultery, it becomes a redundant statement.
• So there’s a difference between fornication & adultery or “sexual immorality”.
So let me explain …
FORNICATION is talking about after BETROTHAL, after CONSUMMATING the marriage / finding out the person you married misrepresented herself.
In other words, the person you married, pretended to be a Virgin and wasn’t.
You might say who’s a Virgin today anyway? Why does this matter? Why would Jesus be giving this one specific exception?
GOD STILL CARES ABOUT FORNICATING OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE & MARITAL PURITY.
The Bible is setting forth as an example for us the highest possible moral standards under the New Covenant.
Turn to Matthew 19 and I’ll explain (3-9).
People have a really hard time accepting that even adultery is not grounds for divorce under the New Covenant.
But you have to understand that Jesus elevated the Law of Moses to a higher level, not to a more permissible level.
Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law in any way, but to fulfill it in Himself.
A lot of Christians today want to throw out the OT, they’ll say that’s the OT, that’s the old Law, we’re all under grace now … and they allow a permissiveness into the church that Jesus or the apostles would never allow!
Jesus elevated the moral Law of Moses to the HIGHER STANDARDS of the New Covenant.
And that might surprise you … that Jesus promoted a stricter moral law.
But you see that throughout the whole Sermon on the Mount where Jesus compares, for example, lust in the heart to adultery.
He elevates the moral Law; He doesn’t diminish it, as modern Christians teach.
And Moses allowed a provision for divorce under certain circumstances out of a hardness of people’s hearts … out of the practical necessity of the Jews’ stiff-necked response to God’s perfect Law.
But Jesus sought under the NC to elevates us to the higher standards of the Kingdom of God, which ultimately is perfection.
Jesus ends Matthew Chapter 5 with:“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
READ MATTHEW 19:3-6.
Jesus refers the Pharisees back to the condition of man before the fall in the Garden of Eden.
Adam was the first man. Jesus is the last man.
1 Corinthians 15:45:
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Jesus, by fulfilling the Law of God in Himself was manifesting the Kingdom in its state of perfection, a sort of return to Eden before the Fall.
That’s the standard of marriage that Jesus wants for us today.
There should be no thought, no consideration for divorce among NT Saints!
Adam & Eve wouldn’t have even conceived of it, ever! For any reason!
Jesus is re-instituting Kingdom principles!
(7) Deuteronomy 24:1
Jesus replaces Deut 24:1 w/ fornication as the only exception after bethrol / consummation.
It’s like the equivalent of a modern period of “annulment” in the case you found out your spouse was unfaithful prior to marriage and was misrepresenting herself.
(10) Better not to marry / eunuch:
Paul said: For I would that all men were even as I myself … (1 Cor 7:7)
In 1 Cor 7:21 Paul said: “Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.”
2ND EXCEPTION: DEATH
2 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.
3 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.
2nd exception backs-up Matthew 5:31-32.
If you re-marry, it’s adultery, because God still considers you married while your spouse is still alive!
3rd Exception? Controversial.
1 Corinthians 7:10-16
Ok, so what if you have divorced and remarried?
The question that comes up: Are you living in perpetual adultery?
• Don’t compound the problem by re-divorcing & adding sin on top of sin.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
This is where grace has to come in.
VOWS TO GOD:
If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.
When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
VOWS APPLY to 1st marriages also!
Holy Matrinomy / vows before God!
Government should get out of the marriage business altogether.
Going to the Justice of the Peace is not a real marriage.
Piece of paper.
But there are people who have deliberately purposed to sin against God, knowing that it’s a sin to divorce and remarry and have decided to it anyway! Thinking that, well, God will forgive …
This is called “WILFULL SIN.”
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Men Wanting To Go Into Ministry
14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, [or] an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.
1 Timothy 3:2
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
2 Samuel 12:9-14
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.