Welcome to: The Faithful Word.org -- Titus 1:9

Split Asunder:
Divorce and Remarriage Scripturally Explained
An On-Line Book
Copyright © 1996, 2002, 2005 - All rights retained by author
Written by: C. W. Booth

Select this line to read Chapters 1 through 9 of Split Asunder.

Chapter 10: Overview of Paul's Teachings from 1Corinthians Chapter 7

Paul actually compiled an entire set of case studies concerning different circumstances under which people could divorce, separate, and in a few cases, remarry. This set of case studies comprises the better part of 1 Corinthians Chapter 7. To gain a more complete understanding of what Paul compiled, it is appropriate to consider how the chapter is outlined.

Sex and Marriage vs. 1-7

vs. 1-2 Reason to marry: to avoid extramarital sexual sin
vs. 3-5 Fulfill your sexual duty to your spouse
vs. 6-7 Remain single if you have the gift of celibacy

Unmarried and Widows vs. 8,9

vs. 8-9 Get married if you burn with lust, otherwise stay single

Married Couples vs. 10,11

vs. 10-11 Remain married, but if you do divorce, remain forever single or reconcile to original spouse

Mixed Marriages of Believers and Unbelievers vs. 12-16

vs. 12-16 If the unbeliever leaves, let him/her go

All Believers: Remain in Your Saved Condition vs. 17-24

vs. 17-24 Stay circumcised or uncircumcised, enslaved or free, single or married

Virgins vs. 25-38

vs. 25-26 Virgins, continue to remain as virgins
vs. 27-28 Engaged couples should marry, broken engagements should remain single, neither is sinning because virgins have liberty to choose
vs. 29-35 Singles can focus more easily on God, couples must think also of each other
vs. 36-38 One who has a virgin female may choose to marry or to stay single

Surviving Spouses vs. 39-40

vs. 39-40 Surviving spouses may marry again, but only to Christians

Sex and Marriage vs. 1-7

Paul's great treatise on marriage does not begin in Chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians, but really it begins earlier. Chapter 6 sets up the discussion by introducing the need for sexual purity among Christian believers. Unlike most every other sin, sexual sin violates the very body of the Christian.

In this context of sex, Paul begins to answer questions on relationships that the Corinthians had previously raised in a note they had sent to Paul. While we do not have their note, we do have Paul's responses. First Paul asserts that men should not "touch" women (touch means to physically make contact, and in the current context, this means sexual contact outside of marriage), therefore, to prevent sinful contact, marriage is a God-provided option (vs. 1,2)

More precisely, once married, sexual contact is no longer an option, it is obligatory. Paul presses this point, even stating that the spouse has "mastery" over (authority over) the other spouse (man over woman, and, woman over man) in the area of sexual relations. Meanings here are quite clear. It is appropriate for each spouse to make demands on the other spouse with respect to the sexual relationship in a marriage (vs 3,4).

Within marriage, it is not appropriate to exercise the philosophy of celibacy. Sex is a required part of marriage and should only be voluntarily interrupted for short periods of time for prayer. Even this has to be by mutual agreement between both spouses. One additional sobering thought, the purpose of sex as described in these passages is not procreation. (v. 5)

A theme is now introduced that Paul will bring up several more times. While neither God our Heavenly Father, nor the Lord while He was on the Earth, ever gave such a command, Paul encourages everyone to remain single so that one may focus solely on service to God. However, each man has been given a spiritual gift of the Spirit, and not all have been given the gift of celibacy. Marriage and life-long celibacy are both choices and gifts, and the use of either is not a sin. (vs. 6,7)


Unmarried and Widows vs. 8,9

Paul announces his next demographic grouping as being "the unmarried and widows". Again, it is Paul's earnest opinion that all people who are eligible to marry remain single if they have the self-control over sexual urges to do so. Of course, for those who are so inclined, marriage is a better alternative than constant sexual tension. (vs. 8,9)


Married Couples vs. 10,11

Once again, Paul spells out which demographic grouping he intends to deal with, in this case, married couples. Paul also wants everyone to know that the Lord has already left us instructions about being married and that he is not now leaving a new command.

The commands that he says the Lord has already given us are: remain permanently married and do not leave your spouse. If you do leave you are obligated to remain single or to reconcile with your original spouse. This set of interpretations is fully consistent with Jesus' own teachings and Moses' commandments. (vs. 10,11)


Mixed Marriages of Believers and Unbelievers vs. 12-16

Not one to shy away from difficult subject areas, Paul introduces the next demographic grouping, marriages between believers and unbelievers. Paul also points out that the Lord has left us no specific commandments directed toward mixed marriages. He does, however, present two case studies:

Case 1

the Christian believer may not initiate either a divorce or a separation from the unbelieving spouse, especially when the unbeliever wants to remain married. This completely removes from the Christian the option of pursuing any type of release from marriage.

Case 2

the non-Christian leaves of their own volition because they do not wish to remain married to a Christian. In this case, the Christian is permitted to let the non-Christian leave.

A very controversial statement is made by Paul concerning Case 2, "the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace." What does bondage mean? Literally, bondage means to "tie up" in ropes and chains. For our purposes, it is quite irrelevant whether this means that the unbeliever filed for formal divorce or simply walked off. For all intents, the marriage just ended.

What should the believer do when the unbeliever decides to leave?

1) Let him leave, the marriage bonds are untied (you are no longer obligated to obey him and sex is no longer a right or an obligation for either one). v. 15

2) Do not hound or hang on to the unbelieving spouse, but be at peace with them. v.15

3) Remain single or be reconciled to your former spouse. v. 11, and vs. 17 - 24

Why should the believer be forced to remain single for a lifetime? Is it fair? After all, are we not released from our marriage bonds? Once released, does this not afford to us the freedom to remarry?

No, we may not remarry. Jesus made this abundantly clear, over and over. Divorce may occur outside our ability to control it, and even against our will, but remarriage for any other situation than provable adultery is itself adultery.

Do not get trapped by worldly thinking that says that God owes us a marriage partner for all stages of our life. Rather, we owe God our lives. Either single or married, God is our sufficiency and our happiness, though we often chose to ignore Him.

Even though marriages may end in divorce, we are not free to marry again until the death of the original spouse. Referring again to 1 Corinthians 7:10 - 16, this passage does allow the unbeliever to sue for divorce, but it does not grant permission for any re-marriage to another. For the correct response of the believer, we must look to Paul's earlier references to Jesus' teachings, "But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband)..."


All Believers: Remain in the Life Condition into which You Were Saved vs. 17-24

As if to underscore the seriousness of staying married, even to an unbeliever, Paul launches into a short discussion of salvation demographics. We were all saved out of sin, but we all also were saved at different times and in different life conditions or situations. Most of the time, it is perfectly legitimate to remain in our situation.

A few conditions might be improved upon, such as slavery, but whether we are married or single, circumcised or gentile, we are to remain without shame or guilt in the condition in which God called us. Be slaves to God, not to men. However, for some people, such as virgins, there is also no sin in deciding to change our life's situation after we are saved.


Virgins vs. 25-38

For a full discussion on this passage, please see the chapter entitled, Paul Allows Divorce, Doesn't He?

Virgins make up the demographic group that have never participated in a marriage relationship. Once again, Paul repeats his appeal that they consider remaining single so as to serve the Lord unencumbered. Very quickly he adds that this is not a command from the Lord Jesus, nor from God. It is Paul's own suggestion or advice, and to ignore the adivice, he says, is not a sin.

Virgin males who were bound to a future wife through formal espousement, as were Joseph and Mary, were required to get a formal divorce to untie the engagement knot. However, since these were still "virgins" and had not actually made the life-long marriage commitment, they were at liberty to get married to another without it being considered adultery or sin.

It is extremely important to understand their situation. They were virgins who had not yet been married--they had not yet participated in committing to a marriage covenant--merely engaged to be married. Once they made their marriage commitments to each other, they were married and no longer could qualify for divorce, regardless of whether they consummated the marriage or not. Once again, Joseph and Mary serve as our example; they did eventually get married but did not have sexual relations until after Jesus was born. Still, during that time of abstinence, they were fully married. Annulment of a legitimate marriage is not a Scriptural concept nor is it permitted by the Word.

Virgins, then, are free to break engagement and later to marry, or simply to break the engagement and not remarry. In any case, because they were never actually married, it is not adultery or sin. Engagements are largely governed by custom or cultural tradition, they are not marriages, and engaged couples must act with all the sexual self-control expected of single men and women. It is also important to understand that the word "virgins" in the Greek in verse 25 refers to both male and female virgins.

Not to be dissuaded from his theme, Paul again puts forth his case that newlyweds will have more difficulty focusing on serving God than their single brethren. Marriage partners must spend precious time pleasing their spouses. Such time is taken away from service to God. This is God's plan for marriage. Putting time into the marriage is important. This difficult balance between serving God and putting proper time into the marriage is an obligation that we agree to take on when we agree to marry.


Surviving Spouses vs. 39-40

Finally, Paul deals with the last demographic group, the surviving Christian wife of a dead husband. Once the spouse has died, the survivor is free to marry again, but only to another Christian. For better clarity on this point, we can also cite Romans 7:2, 3:

For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man.

These passages are the very source of the traditional marriage covenant, "Until death do we part." "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." Marriage is life long. While even the disciples found this to be a hard standard to accept, it is both the Old Testament Law and the New Testament Law of Grace which God has written to us in His Bible.


Chapter 11: Marriage Demographics Summarized

Listed below are the demographic groups that Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians Chapter 7. Along with each demographic group is a short summary of the options and obligations that each group takes on concerning marriage and divorce.

Never have been married

What God allows: May become engaged and marry, or, may choose to remain single for service to the Lord

What God forbids: any form of sexual contact outside of marriage

Engaged but never married

What God allows: May withdraw from engagement and marry another, withdraw and then marry anyway, or marry the fiancee

What God forbids: any form of sexual contact outside of marriage

Married (both Christians)

What God requires: Remain married as long as both live.

Exception: If one is found to be in a provable extra-marital sexual relationship, a divorce is permissible and remarriage is also permissible

What God forbids: divorce for any reason except adultery

Divorced Christians

What God requires: Remain unmarried until spouse dies, or, be reconciled to original spouse

What God forbids: Remarriage to anyone else except the original spouse.

Married (one Christian, one unbeliever)

What God requires: Remain married if unbeliever wishes it, or, separate/divorce if the unbeliever insists and then remain in that condition

What God forbids: Remarriage to anyone else except the original spouse.

Surviving Spouse (Widow, Widower)

What God allows: Remain single or remarry, but only to another Christian.

What God forbids: any form of sexual contact outside of marriage.



Chapter 12: Doesn't the Bible Say That God Got a Divorce?

Many have heard that God wrote a "writ of divorce" for Israel and then they use that fact to justify their own divorce proceedings. Sadly, this is a poorly used passage for such purposes. In Jeremiah 3 God states that Israel did indeed run off with many other "lovers", playing the harlot to idols and false gods of stone and wood.

Even with her adulterous affairs with false gods, Israel continued to call upon God. God was so angered by this behavior that He decided to punish Israel by withholding rains and other blessings. In a symbolic gesture, He calls this a "writ of divorce".

Despite the fact that this is symbolic, it must be understood that the divorce was initiated as a public means of showing displeasure to the bride for her adulterous affairs. Adultery is the only grounds for a divorce. The divorce was actually meant as a call to repentance so that the erring bride would return to her first love. Divorce was not used as an escape route from a failing relationship.

Neither God, nor Israel "remarried" someone else. God did not seek a bride in another nation of His choosing. Rather, the intent was for Israel to repent and return to God. God was ready to forgive her and take His bride back.

This is very much like the concept of "church discipline". A body of believers is obligated to discipline a believer who is stubbornly engaged in public sin by withdrawing their fellowship from the sinner. At the very core of the discipline is the earnest hope and goal that the sinner will repent and return to full fellowship in the church.

How much we can learn from God's own symbolic example. At the heart of the divorce was a desire to stir the bride's heart back to fellowship. Neither partner remarried, but rather the Groom waited for His bride's repentant return. Forgiveness was offered with outstretched arms to be given upon repentance so that the relationship might be restored.

Such an approach to divorce requires true commitment, patience, and love. What a different view of the "exception clause" God takes as opposed to our own. We view it as a "way out" of a "bad marriage". God views it as a tool which can be used to call back the wayward mate.

For a more complete exposition of Jeremiah, Chapter Three, including a verse-by-verse paraphrase side-by-side with the NAS text, please consider reading
FAQ Number Three in the Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage: Frequently Asked Questions Answered from the Bible article.


Case Examples -- Questions and Answers

Life is filled with complexities. Many of the things we do become mired in confusing twists and turns. With emotions hard at work everything seems to become unclear and confused. Applying God's Word and His principles is essential, but our circumstances often keep us from seeing how to do this.

For this reason, I will introduce some case examples simply for study purposes. Each person will need to evaluate their own situation in prayer and confidence that God's Word does address their needs.

In every case, whether it is explicitly stated or not, Biblical counseling from members of your church or clergy is essential, particularly those knowledgeable and trained in Nouthetic Counseling. No action should be taken without first consulting your church counselors. In some cases professional counseling may also be advised. Still, in other cases, police and court officials may need to intervene. Please talk with your friends, family, and church counselors to identify the correct plan of action for your situation.


Case Question 1: My husband claims to be a believer, but you would never know it by the way he acts and drinks all the time. If I cannot leave him, then what can I do?

Case Answer 1: There are several considerations. The husband claims to belong to Christ. He is acting in disobedience to the Word of God by being a drunkard. Please contact a Christian counselor immediately, preferably one who practices Nouthetic Counseling.

As a believer who is acting in public disobedience, he should be taken through the steps of formal church discipline. Specifically, one older believer should confront him, trying to convince and convict him through the Scriptures to repent. If he continues in sin, another witness is to accompany the older believer. If he still continues in sin, the entire church is to be told of the sin and the man is to be treated as if he were any other unbeliever who happens to attend the church, kindly and lovingly entreated to repent at every opportunity, but disallowed from usual Christian fellowship, such as communion or Sunday fellowship brunch. (See Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 2 Corinthians 2:6-11)

The goal of all discipline is to win back the sinner. Once the sinner has repented and turned from his sin, the church is obligated to accept back the sinner and to encourage him with Christian fellowship. The church that refuses to enact discipline, or refuses to forgive a repentant sinner, is itself a church that is being disobedient to the Word.

Of equal importance to what the church does, or does not do, is that the wife acts according to clear Scriptural commands in this situation.

"In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. And let not your adornment be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear." 1 Peter 3:1-6

Regardless of whether your husband has been formally placed on church discipline, or whether he is living a secret life of sin that only you as the wife are aware of, the same behavior is required. A wife must be "gentle" and possess a "quiet spirit", and above all, be "respectful". In this way, a wife might win her husband back to repentance, possibly without uttering a word.

Note: this passage does not forbid hair braiding and wearing jewelry and make-up. If it did, then it would also be forbidding women from wearing dresses, which is certainly an absurd thought. Rather, it strongly states that a woman is only truly pretty when she learns to clothe herself in a spirit that is submissive to her own husband.


Case Question 2: My church just formally disciplined my husband and he still refuses to repent. Since we now treat him as a heathen and an unbeliever, can I not divorce him under the guidelines that Paul implemented concerning unbelievers and believers getting divorced?

Case Answer 2: Many are the flaws in this reasoning. First, Paul absolutely forbade the Christian to pursue the divorce, only the unsaved person is permitted to make such an overture. Second, it is probably true that the husband is really just a Christian who is sinning; thus the correct response is not a divorce, but rather quiet submission to him. Third, the goal is to win the husband back to repentance, not to win a divorce. Fourth, even if your spouse did divorce you, you must remain unmarried or reconcile back to your original husband.


Case Question 3: My husband (or wife) frequently beats me and abuses the children, sometimes so badly that we have had to go to the emergency room. What can I do?

Case Answer 3: Above anything else, seek safety for yourself and your children. This may mean physically leaving your home and seeking refuge at a friend's house until you can develop a Biblical action plan.

Neither Scriptures nor the American civil and criminal law permits one person to endanger the life and health of an innocent person. Most states have a domestic abuse law that requires a physically violent family member to be taken to jail, at least for the night. Do not hesitate to call the police in a life-threatening situation.

It is also important to understand the difference between physical violence and an insult. In the same way that a simple short spanking on the buttocks of a child can shame the child into obedience, a mere slap across the face is rarely more than an insult. These are situations that are neither abuse nor health-endangering. However, when a slap across the face results in blood loss, bruising, loose teeth, or an injured jaw, far more than an insult has been delivered and may warrant police intervention. In any case, seek advice quickly from your church leadership and call the police if you fear real physical harm.

Once you have determined that you are presently safe from immediate harm, call your pastor or church counseling office. Also consider calling a Christian lawyer for additional advice. Prosecution for a criminal activity is not prohibited by Scripture. Certainly we are not permitted to sue other Christians in an unbelievers civil court of law, but that is in no way the same thing as seeking justice for a criminal action.

God has given us our governing authorities to punish those who break the law. Those who practice violence and endanger the health and life of innocent people are criminals and should be brought before the magistrates. (Romans 13:1-7)

Even if your spouse does go to jail, it may be the best thing that could happen. It will free you from fear of violence and may cause the offender to repent. In any case, your marriage commitments are still in full force. Sinful, even criminal behavior, is not a reason for gaining a divorce, though it may well be a reason for fleeing. Just be certain to take appropriate legal action.


Case Question 4: I married a man who divorced his ex-wife for reasons other than adultery. Does this make me an adulteress? And if I am an adulteress, what can I do about it?

Case Answer 4: There is no mistaking the words of Jesus when He said that marrying someone who is divorced is adultery. Nor is there any way to mistake Paul's words in Romans 7 when he calls someone who does this "an adulteress".

Here, the question is really not, "Did I commit the sin of adultery?", but rather, "What must I do now that I have committed the adultery of remarriage?"

While adultery carries with it a rather permanent stigma (Proverbs 6:32,33), it is still a sin that is covered by the blood of the risen Christ. Call upon God, confessing your sin from a sincere heart. Then focus on living for God in obedience to His Word.

Once married, even though the marriage was the vehicle for your adultery, you are married. The rules and laws of the Scriptures apply equally to all marriages. Do not seek to "undo" the damage by taking further godless actions. For example, many believers upon realizing they have committed adultery in this fashion, wish to undo the damage by divorcing their current spouse and returning to their ex-spouse. God clearly forbids this action (Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jeremiah 3:1).

The past cannot be undone. However, the future is still available. Make the most of your current marriage. Encourage godliness in others, and do not flaunt your own sinful past. Let your testimony vindicate God's Word, not your own pride. Do not promote what you have done as being "right because we're happy", but rather, "we're happy because we repented". Your testimony can have dramatic or even grave results in others, so act wisely and walk humbly before the Lord, your God.

For a much more complete answer to this question, and for a deeper study into the doctrines behind the answers, please consider reading the article: Should I Divorce My Second Wife to Remarry My First Wife?


Case Question 5: My wife and I got divorced because we just could not get along. Now she has married someone else. Does this mean that she has committed adultery, and does this mean that because she is an adulteress that I can use the "exception clause" to get married too?

Case Answer 5: Your divorce was not obtained because of anyone's infidelity. Your divorce was therefore sinfully obtained. If your wife has remarried, Jesus says that it is you who have caused her to fall into an adulterous marriage ("...every one who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery..." Matthew 5:32).

Since, by divorcing your wife for a cause other than infidelity, you have incurred the guilt of her adulterous second marriage. For you to remarry would simply be adding another adulterous relationship to the already unhappy situation that has transpired.

What you should do now is repent of the divorce and agree with God to be obediently unmarried. God forgives every sin from which man is willing to repent.

Remember that every remarriage to a different person is a sin unless the original divorce was obtained solely on the grounds that the other spouse was proven to be having sex outside of the marriage. Stop searching for loopholes in the law and concentrate on obeying the clearly written commands.


Case Question 6: Our pastor is getting a divorce even though he says his wife has been completely faithful. Sure, I know it is wrong, but it isn't my responsibility, is it? After all, what can I do?

Case Answer 6: When you find out about a sin, especially a public one, it becomes your responsibility to properly apply Matthew 18:15-20. First, you must confront the pastor in love, alone and with great respect for the office the man holds. Then you must take another man with you and confront him again. Then you are obligated to implement 1 Timothy 5:19-21:

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.

Even pastors are subject to the law of Church Discipline. This is to be done without bias for the office. Remember, it is not church pride or the image of the congregation that you are trying to preserve. Rather it is the man whom you are trying bring back to repentance.


Case Question 7: My Christian daughter is marrying a divorced man and I have tried to warn her how wrong this is. Should I attend the wedding or stay away to show how strongly I feel?

Case Answer 7: Oddly, I have personally been placed into this type of situation more often than I ever could have imagined. There is no single magic answer that fits the peculiarities of all situations. However, there are principles and guidelines from the Bible.

In general, attending a wedding as a witness is considered by most to be an implied approval of the proceedings. This perception of implicit approval can be quickly corrected by standing up during the ceremony and verbally providing the "reason that these two should not be joined". Usually, this is impractical, and more often than not, no one bothers to ask if anyone knows of a reason why the couple should not be married, ruining your perfectly good prepared speech.

More seriously, the Bible does offer that we should not give "approval" to those who commit sin. Rather, we must be careful to prove to be a light, even standing alone against the onslaught of indifference or antagonism.

On the other hand, while not attending a wedding can send a forceful message, it can be a source of conflict in the relationship with your family. In the long run, what is your goal? Is it drawing your family members back to repentance? If so, how is this best accomplished without violating your own conscience or God's Word? Whatever you do, be well prepared with Scripture and be fully convinced in your own mind. (Personal note: at the times I have attended such weddings, it has most often been tossed back at me following the ceremony that I was hypocritical to be critical of the marriage and yet given my "blessing" by attending. In such future situations, should they arise, I will likely choose to absent myself which seems to be more consistent and acceptable in the eyes of family members.)


Case Question 8: I just got saved and now my unsaved wife doesn't like me anymore. She's asked for a divorce. Do I have to give her one?

Case Answer 8: Life is never simple and situations are rarely as easy as case studies in an ordinary book. That is why we have the Bible. It is no ordinary book and contains true answers and principles for living a complicated life.

Why does your wife dislike you? Are you acting unkindly? Are you being harsh and critical? Are you preaching fire and brimstone without also teaching and demonstrating God's loving forgiveness?

Have you sought counseling? Have you asked her why she feels this way? Have you tried to show her Christ's love in the same long suffering and sacrificial way that Christ showed His love to the church?

Maybe you have been as close to the model of a Christian husband as mortal man can be and she still insists on leaving. Suggest a trial separation. Indicate to her that you will remain single and wait for her for as long as it takes. If she insists on leaving, let her leave in peace, with the full knowledge that you love her and will always anticipate her return.

When the unsaved spouse has decided to leave, we are obligated to permit it peaceably. We are also obligated to remain "single" and be willing to reconcile if the opportunity presents itself. This is the very model of how God has reached out to rebellious man. God accepted us back, even after we turned against Him and ran off. We too must be ready to forgive and rejoice in the return of one whom we have lost.


Case Question 9: My unsaved brother is getting a divorce from his wife because he thinks he no longer loves her. Should we place him under some kind of church discipline?

Case Answer 9: Definitely not. Continue to treat your unsaved brother in a loving and compassionate way, but do not take church disciplinary steps against him. So long as he understands and acknowledges that he is unsaved, he is outside the jurisdiction of the church. Paul puts it quite bluntly in 1 Corinthians 5:12, 13, "For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves."

Church discipline is reserved for those who are in Christ but continue to sin. A relative who has not yet been born into God's kingdom should be tenderly treated as an unbeliever, someone who is yet to be won. His primary need is salvation. He must come to understand his guilt and personal need for Christ as the one who has paid for his sins. It is this message that Jesus brought to the woman at the well.



Surely the case studies could go on for quite some time. But once it becomes clear that the principles we have explored from the pages of Scripture can be directly applied to our own lives, then the case studies have served their purpose and can be put aside. It can take time and much effort to step back and apply God's principles and commands to our own personal situations, but once we do, we are in a much better position to honestly be obedient to Him.

Never discount the importance of obedience to God. Seek out the counsel of Godly men. Remain strong in your faith. In difficult times He is ready to carry you, but you must be constantly in prayer and strengthening your faith by hearing His word (Romans 10:17).


Marriage, divorce, and remarriage are difficult and complex subjects. However, here is the briefest of summaries of what we have studied together.

Marriage defined:

1) the union of a male and a female, no homosexual marriages

2) only one man and only one woman (two become one), no polygamy

3) God seals the marriage as final, man is not given authority to end it

4) marriage is life-long and permanent

5) to become married requires a mutual willing intent (covenant) and is permanently sealed by the promises of the couple before sexual intimacy is permitted

6) ended by death

Divorce defined:

1) the man-initiated end of the benefits of marriage

2) the obligation to remain forever single or to be reconciled to your spouse

3) causes the separated marriage partners to commit adultery if they remarry to someone new

The Exception Clause defined:

1) when one spouse of a marriage is caught in adultery, the other spouse may initiate divorce without penalty and may marry a new spouse without it being considered an adulterous act

2) the only known exception to Jesusí proclamation that all remarriage after divorce is adultery

3) found in only three passages of Scripture: Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Jeremiah 3:1

Engagement defined:

1) two never-married virgins agreeing to marry at some future date

2) dissolvable for any reason, or for no reason, without it being sin

3) a dissolved engagement permits the virgins to marry others or to remain single without it being sin

Thank you for walking through the pages of the Scriptures with me. While you may have come to different conclusions than the ones I have drawn, it is my sincere desire that you lean entirely upon the Word of God as the sole basis for your actions. It is also my sincere desire that your marriage relationship remain strong as a tribute to the glory of God.

For additional material on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage, please consider reading the article: Should I Divorce My Second Wife to Remarry My First Wife?

The Faithful Word.org Icon Return to TheFaithfulWord.org Home Page

Site Contact: sitemanager@thefaithfulword.org
Copyright 1996, 2002, 2005 - all rights retained
Page Last Revised: January 30, 2005