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Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage:
Frequently Asked Questions Answered from the Bible

Copyright © 2005 - All rights retained by author
Written by: C. W. Booth

This page of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage is intended to be a supplement to the online book, Split Asunder: Divorce and Remarriage Scripturally Explained, and the article, Should I Divorce My Second Wife to Remarry My First Wife?

Frequently Asked Questions are not based on specific real life situations, but are doctrinal responses to questions of Bible interpretation as they apply to theoretical situations, and therefore these FAQs should not be taken as relationship advice.

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage are difficult and emotionally draining topics. Please take the time to study, pray, and seek godly counsel as you explore this area of biblical investigation.

Q1: Can you prove the Exception Clauses in Matthew are not instructions about engagements?
Q2: If polygamy (marrying multiple spouses at the same time) is a sin, why did so many biblical / historical figures do it?
Q3: If God hates divorce, why did He initiate a divorce against Israel? (note: Jeremiah 3 is also paraphrased)
Q4: Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Jeremiah 3:1 are part of the Old Testament Law, and we are not under the Law, so these passages no longer apply to us, right?
Q5: What is the "Covenant Marriage Movement" and is it biblical?


Question 1:
Can you prove the Exception Clauses in Matthew are not instructions about engagements?

Answer 1:

Proof is a high and almost unattainable standard with regard to interpreting literature or the Bible. Generally, with regard to Bible interpretation my preference is to say there is evidence and avoid the use of the word proof. In the case of the Exception Clauses not being at all applicable to engagements, the evidence is so strong and compelling as to amount to "proof."

So, permit it to be said just this once: Yes, the words of Scripture prove the Exception Clauses found in Matthew were never meant to be applied to engaged couples. There are three primary reasons which can be extracted straight from the Word of God:

  1. Paul says Jesus never spoke on the topic of fiancés or virgins breaking their engagements, therefore, since Jesus never spoke on the topic of fiancés breaking their engagements the Exception Clauses cannot be instructions from Jesus on how fiancés can break their engagements
  2. Paul teaches that engagements may be broken for any reason or for no reason and it is not a sin, yet as Jesus taught the Exception Clauses (if they were to apply to engaged virgins) would mean that engagements could only be broken if one of the espoused persons was sexually unfaithful prior to the wedding--breaking the engagement for any other reason would be a sin--Paul and Jesus would therefore contradict each other
  3. God divorced Israel on the grounds that she was an adulteress, a biblical example of the Exception Clauses being applied righteously by the Lord

"Proof" 1: Paul tells us explicitly in the very words of the Scripture he wrote that Jesus never taught about the engagement of virgins and whether such engagements could be lawfully broken. Because Jesus never taught on the subject of engagements Paul felt it necessary to render his own opinion on the matter.

Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

Are you bound [by engagement] to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from [an engagement to] a wife? Do not seek a wife.

But if [a virgin male should] marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin [female] marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. (1 Corinthians 7:25-28)

When Paul says there is, "no command of the Lord," he means that Jesus gave no teachings on the subject of terminating engagements between virgins. If Jesus had taught on this subject in the presence of witnesses, if there were quotes circulating among the believers from "sayings of Jesus", or if Jesus had directly revealed to Paul a teaching on terminating engagements, then Paul would have said, "I do have a command of the Lord." Because Paul had none of these things, no teaching from Christ on engagements, he says he must render an opinion from his own deliberate study of Godís Word. Since we know Jesus never taught on the subject, we know that the Exception Clauses which Jesus taught were not about, could not have been about, the termination of engagements.

When someone says, "The Exception Clauses which Jesus taught, found in Matthew 5 and 19, are only about the breaking of engagements between virgins," they simply fail to realize that Paul said Jesus never taught such a thing.

Since we are assured that Jesus never spoke of the dissolution of engagements between espoused virgins, we also know that the following two passages cannot be applied to, or be in reference to, the breaking of engagements:

Exception Clause One

[Jesus said:] "It was said, 'Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce'; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matthew 5:31,32)

Exception Clause Two

[Jesus said:] "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9)

Divorcing oneís spouse is the sin of adulterating oneís marriage, or to be more precise, oneís marriage covenant. That is, divorcing oneís spouse is the sin of adultery except for the reason that the spouse has been sexually unchaste, sexually immoral, and sexually indecent. This is why these phrases in Matthew are called "the Exception Clauses."

As we just studied, Paul says these two "Exception Clauses" which Jesus taught are not instructions to engaged fiancés. Paul says Jesus never gave us instructions about engaged couples and whether they may dissolve their engagement bonds. Therefore, these "Exception Clauses" to Jesusí General Rule of Remarriage must apply to unfaithfulness in existing marriages and not unfaithfulness in engagements.

 

"Proof" 2: Paul teaches that engagements may be broken for any reason or for no reason at all and no sin has been committed. Adultery by one of the fiancés is simply not the only valid means to end an engagement.

Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is [that is, unmarried].

Are you bound [by engagement] to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from [an engagement to] a wife? Do not seek a wife.

But if [a virgin male should] marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin [female] marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. (1 Corinthians 7:25-28)

Here Paul tells us that if a virgin man is released from his engagement, he can stay unmarried and it is no sin. Then Paul says, at some future time if this virgin male should marry, again, he has not sinned. There is simply no consequence of sin to the virgins who dissolve their engagements or to those who consummate them in actual marriage. Dissolve the engagement, no sin. Marry, no sin. Engagements simply do not have the permanence of marriages, nor the insoluble covenant bonds of marriage. Nor does dissolving the engagement cause one to be guilty of adultery.

If we pretend for a moment that the Exception Clauses did apply to engagements the same as they do to marriages, then what the Exception Clauses teach us is that the only reason two people may break off their engagement is because one of the two people had been sexually unfaithful. To break off the engagement for any other reason would be the sin of adultery. This makes an engagement as permanent, and as seriously binding as a marriage--making this a new commandment.

For example, permit a temporary change to the words that Jesus spoke, and make them apply to engagements instead of marriage. It is now obvious how impossible it would be to ever end an engagement for any reason at all, except in the situation where one of the fiancés was sexually unfaithful.

[Jesus said:] "It was said, 'Whoever sends his fiancée away, let him give her a certificate of divorce'; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his fiancée, except for the reason of her sexual unfaithfulness, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced fiancée commits adultery." (Matthew 5:31,32--altered for illustration purposes)

Making the dissolution of engagements the same as committing adultery is a new commandment of tremendous proportions without precedent in Christian history. Are engagements which are ended just because the couple wish to dedicate all their time exclusively to Christian service really committing the sin of adultery? We know marriages ended by divorce are adulterous sins. But is pure folly to say, "whoever marries a divorced fiancée commits adultery."

Consider this question: Which is more extraordinary, that the Exception Clauses were given to establish the inviolate permanence of engagements, or that they were given to explain and regulate the breakup of adulterous marriages? The Exception Clauses cannot mean both things.

To believe that Jesus teaches that engagements are as binding as marriages, and that engagements can only be broken if one of the fiancés commits fornication with a third person, is to equate the custom of engagement with the Law of Marriage. It also means that Jesus considered traditions (the custom of engagement) to be the equivalent of the Mosaic Law, because violating this "custom" would result in the most serious of sins, just as violating a Law of Moses would result in sin. To assume that Jesus valued tradition as highly as He valued the Law is an untenable assumption.

And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. (Mark 7:6-9)

If all of that were not bad enough, it would also mean that Paul contradicted and usurped Jesus when Paul claimed that engagements can be called off for no reason at all without the couple being guilty of sin. Finally, it would also indicate that Paul was simply out of his mind when he said that Jesus never spoke on the subject of dissolving engagements, "Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord."

Proof 3: God divorced Israel on the grounds that she was an adulteress. In Jeremiah 3, we read that God found Israel to be so persistently promiscuous (by worshipping idols) that He felt compelled to divorce her.

God says, "If a husband divorces his wife and she goes from him and belongs to another man, will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted? But you are a harlot with many lovers; yet you turn to Me," declares the LORD.

Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no spring rain. Yet you had a harlot's forehead; You refused to be ashamed.

Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there.

And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. (Jeremiah 3:1,3,6,8)

Whatever else is true about divorce, we know that God cannot sin and that He did not sin when He divorced Israel. What God did by writing a writ of divorce against Israel due to her continued adulteries is exactly the situation described in the Exception Clauses. If it is sin for a man to implement the Exception Clauses under the same situation in which God implemented it, then would God not be guilty of sin?

We must note that God decided not to marry a new nation (He did not choose a new nation to be His chosen people) after the divorce. Instead, He used the divorce to shame Israel into returning and reconciling. Israel, for her part, was already an adulteress (by worshipping idols) but she never married any other god (Israel did not choose to put a false god into the temple and call herself the nation of a false god). Israel chose to return to her husband, God, and repent, thus restoring the marriage. God used the divorce to send a chilling message to Israel, similar in nature to this paraphrase: "repent of your adulteries or be forever cutoff from God, for I have the right to choose a new nation" (Jeremiah 3:1). Perhaps Christians today should be using divorce in this manner when a spouse persistently strays into adultery.

If God divorced Israel in precise accord with the terms described in the Exception Clauses, and if He did not sin, then why would it be sin for a man to do as God did?

Another question must also be addressed: If a divorce based on the persistent adulteries of the other spouse is an unlawful divorce, how are we to understand or interpret Jeremiah 3:8 without indicting God of sin?

God did just as the Exception Clauses indicate we may do. If our spouse is in persistent sexual immoralities, we may seek a divorce, as God did. If we marry another following the divorce we eliminate all possible paths to reconciliation with our original spouse (Jeremiah 3:1, Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

If the Exception Clause does not mean that a person can divorce a persistently adulterous spouse, then exactly what Law is it that permitted God to write His wife, Israel, a writ of divorce?

Summary of "Proofs"

It is for these three reasons we know for a certainty, proven beyond doubt, that the Exception Clauses do not apply to, or refer to, engaged virgins:

    1. Paul says Jesus never spoke on the topic of fiancés or virgins breaking their engagements
    2. Paul teaches that engagements may be broken for any reason or for no reason and it is not a sin, yet the exception clauses (if they applied to engaged virgins) would mean that engagements could only be broken if one of the espoused persons was sexually unfaithful prior to the wedding--breaking the engagement for any other reason would be adultery
    3. God divorced Israel on the grounds that she was an unfaithful adulteress, and God did not sin

Only one interpretation covering all of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jeremiah 3:1-8, Matthew 5:31-32, and Matthew 19:9 create one consistent message. If a person divorces a spouse for persistent adultery, it is not a sin.




Question 2:

If polygamy (marrying multiple spouses at the same time) is a sin, why did so many biblical / historical figures do it?

Answer 2:

Perhaps the two most notable of the polygamists recorded in biblical history are David and his son, Solomon. It is most surprising that men so close to God would do something so obviously contrary to Godís standards, yet, that is the reality. Such things would be more expected from pagan rulers, like the pharaohs of Egypt, but not the rulers of Godís chosen people.

David began marrying wives even before he became king, while he was still on the run from Saul. Not only did he marry them, but he had multiple children by them (2 Samuel 3:1-5). Were these women legitimately married to David as wives? Yes, for so we are told in the accounts from Scripture. Was it lawful of David to marry these women? No, but he did it anyway.

And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matthew 19:4-6)

David makes a very poor role model for us to follow with regard to sexual purity and self control. He married multiple wives, acquired sexual slaves (concubines), lusted after other menís wives, committed physical adultery, had children outside of any of the many marriages, lied about his adultery, and committed murder to hide some of his sins.

This legacy of sexual hedonism was passed along to his son Solomon, who was a far more ardent hedonist than was his father David. Solomon pursued every type of pleasure under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:10), not just sexual gratification.

In spite of all this gross sin, God honored the faith of these men, and their willingness to repent. However, the consequences of sin were borne by those who committed such acts. David lost his friend and most loyal military commander by trying to cover up his adulteries and then he lost an infant son as well. Certainly, no one charged David in judicial court with his crimes (murder, adultery, polygamy), but he still suffered the consequences.

Solomon also had to bear the outcomes of his own sexually motivated sins. His wives and concubines led him into idol worship. Even though he had built the most magnificent temple to the true God ever seen in Jerusalem, he became an idolater and a worshipper of false gods (including Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh, and Molech), because of the influence with which he had surrounded himself at the hands of his many wives and concubines (1 Kings 11).

Just about every instance of polygamy one can isolate in the history of the Jewish patriarchs results in ugly consequences. Far from being a model of marriage for us to follow, polygamy, sexual slavery, adultery, and prostitution are examples of sinful relationships that ensnare the believer and drag him into deeper sins.

Finally, it must be noted that Jesus tells us bluntly enough: from the creation of mankind itself, God only created them so that one man may marry one woman, and the two shall become one union through a lifelong covenant. Not the "three shall become one", but the "two shall become one."

During the formation of the church, polygamy, just as is a second marriage after a divorce, was considered a sin so heinous that having multiple living wives was considered a reason to disqualify a man from service as a pastor or even a deacon.

An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2a)

Deacons must be husbands of only one wife (1 Timothy 3:12a)

If anyone can find a passage of Scripture in which God explicitly endorses the marrying of multiple spouses at the same time, this would be a passage worth studying and sharing, for this passage has not yet become known to the general public.

Consider also that the instructions to all Christians includes the following:

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:1,2)

Each man is to have one wife, not wives. Each wife is to have but one husband, not husbands. Such is the teaching of marriage throughout the ages in the Scriptures, from the creation of mankind. One man, one woman, for a lifetime. Man has certainly perverted this concept, most notably David and Solomon, yet, Godís standard remains. One man, one woman, a lifetime covenantal relationship until death.




Question 3:

If God hates divorce, why did He initiate a divorce against Israel?

Answer 3:

Jeremiah, Chapter 3, can be a most puzzling chapter of Scripture if one is not conversant with Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Matthew 5:32, and Matthew 19:3-10. This chapter of Jeremiah begins with a warning to the nation of Israel. It is a warning grounded in a quotation from Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

God says, "If a husband divorces his wife and she goes from him and belongs to another man, will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted? But you are a harlot with many lovers; yet you turn to Me," declares the LORD.

Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no spring rain. Yet you had a harlot's forehead; You refused to be ashamed.

Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there.

And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. (Jeremiah 3:1,3,6,8)

 

God reminds Israel that if a man divorces his wife they can only reconcile later if both remain unmarried. If one of them remarries someone new after the divorce, they are forever prevented from returning to each other.

God warns Israel that He is speaking as the Husband, and that Israel is the faithless wife, the harlot. Israel keeps falling into idolatry, then even while the idols are being polished in their houses, they continuously turn to also worship God before turning back to care for their idols. Constantly, the people turn back and forth, hypocritically turning back and forth from God to idols, and from idols to God. Tired of this hypocrisy God issues a formal writ-of-divorce to Israel to shame her into leaving her idols once-and-for-all.

The warning has teeth. If Israel does not turn from her idol worship fully and completely, God will treat Israel as if she were the wife who had dedicated herself to a new husband; a new husband in the form of foreign gods made from stone and wood.

If God decides that Israel has married her new husband (gods of idolatry) during this divorce, He will invoke the law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 against her and Israel will never again be able to worship God, Israel will be cut off from God forever.

As history is prophesied in this passage, Israel does eventually discard her idols, and for many hundreds of years, from the days following Jeremiah until the time of Christ, the worship of idols in Israel became unheard of. Israel chooses to return to her Husband (God) and to discard her lovers (idolatry). This enables God and Israel to reconcile under the terms of the Law.

Jeremiah, Chapter 3, will have no meaning to the modern Christian until he comes to grip with the fact that Deuteronomy 24:1-4 means precisely what it says. If a man divorces his wife, and if she marries someone new, she can never be permitted to return to her original husband, no matter what else may happen. This can be thought of as the Law of the Twice Married Divorced Woman.

"When a man takes a wife and marries her,

and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her,
and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house,
and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife,
and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house,

or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife,

then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance." (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is what gives Godís warning in Jeremiah 3:1 merit, authority, and the teeth of real and lasting consequence if Israel does not repent.

Still, the Christian is left with the nagging question, "Is it not a sin to issue a divorce against oneís wife?" Does not the Lord tell us that divorce is treachery?

"let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel" (Malachi 2:15b,16a)

Jeremiah 3:8 is quite unambiguous about Godís tactic to guide Israel into repentance.

"And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce" (Jeremiah 3:8a)

In essence, God was saying to Israel, "My dear wife, Israel, to shame you into leaving your lovers, your idols, and remaining faithful to your Husband, I have issued you a writ of divorce. Not a divorce decree written on paper, but written in pain, sorrow, hardshipÖ"

There is only one way in which to understand how God could take this action against Israel without Himself violating His own law, and that is to understand that God permits divorce from a continuously promiscuous and cheating spouse. In todayís vernacular we call this "the Exception Clauses" of Matthew.

It was said, 'Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce'; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31,32)

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. (Matthew 19:9)

A divorce is hateful treachery against a spouse, unless the divorce was issued because the spouse is engaged in constant immorality and unfaithfulness. Only then is the divorce not a sin.

If the exception clauses of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 do not allow a lawful divorce based on a spouseís infidelity, then where else in all the Bible may we see the Law by which God is permitted to execute a divorce against Israel? In all other New Testament passages of Scripture divorces are called sinful, and the only exceptions are those found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.

Does Deuteronomy 24:1-4 allow divorce against cheating spouses? This is precisely the question Jesus was answering when He gave His comments in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. The Pharisees had asked Jesus a question similar to this, "Moses commanded that an Ďindecencyí be found in the wife as the reason to write a lawful divorce, but does that mean any or every kind of indecency is good enough reason?" Jesus gave a reply that specifically answered the Phariseesí question of what kind of indecency it was that made a divorce "lawful" when He said, "Deuteronomy 24:1-4 only allows a divorce if one spouse is unfaithful, all divorces for any other reason are the sin of committing adultery against the spouse of your marriage covenant" (Matthew 19:9 paraphrased).

The existence of the "Exception Clauses" themselves is owed to the fact that the Pharisees asked Jesus to interpret Deuteronomy 24:1-4 ("what Moses commanded"). Jesus interpreted that law as, "All divorces are unlawful and sinful, except those divorces that were issued because a spouse was unfaithful to the marriage covenant, such as we see described in Jeremiah 3:1-8."

Jeremiah, Chapter 3, is all about Godís use of the law of divorce and remarriage found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and the Exception Clauses found in Matthew 5 and 19. God divorced an unfaithful Israel with the goal of shaming her into giving up her indecent love affair with idolatry.

For the purpose of assisting someone who earnestly wishes to properly interpret and understand Jeremiah, Chapter 3, a table is presented below. On the left hand side, Jeremiah, Chapter 3 is quoted in its entirety from the NAS. On the right hand side, the same passage is paraphrased and is also expanded with some interpretation as an aid to study. Reading this expanded paraphrase alongside other translations might also be useful and is strongly encouraged.

 

Jeremiah 3, NASB

Jeremiah 3, expanded paraphrase

God says,

Israel, listen closely, the one who speaks to you now is not Jeremiah, but I am the Lord your God.

"If a husband divorces his wife and she goes from him and belongs to another man, will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted?

Now consider this a warning from the very Law of Moses which I gave you. Do you remember that Moses taught you something in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 about divorces and remarriages? Did Moses or Myself ever permit a husband to remarry a wife he had divorced if she had married a second husband? No, Moses did not, nor do I. If such a husband did remarry his original wife did I not tell you the land would be polluted? Yes, I did tell you this.

Take warning Israel, if a husband divorces his adulterous wife, and if she marries a new husband, she can never go back to her first husband--you are my wife, I am the husband, I will divorce you for your adulteries against our mutual covenant, and you are dangerously close to marrying a false god and losing your relationship with Me forever

But you are a harlot with many lovers; yet you turn to Me," declares the LORD.

You constantly go off and commit adultery by worshipping idols, violating your covenant in which you promised to love and worship only Me, then you come running back and say, "See, I am still your faithful wife." Yes, you keep turning back to Me, though you would not have to continually turn back if you did not always turn away to your idols. This duplicity must stop; this constant turning back and forth must end.

Lift up your eyes to the bare heights and see; where have you not been violated? By the roads you have sat for them like an Arab in the desert, and you have polluted a land with your harlotry and with your wickedness.

There is nowhere you can gaze inside the nation of Israel where someone has not been seen worshipping an idol. Even on the highways themselves people sit and practice idolatry, which is adultery against your covenant with Me, you make the land stink with idolatry.

Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no spring rain. Yet you had a harlot's forehead; You refused to be ashamed.

Because you committed idolatry, I withheld your necessary spring rains from the crops. Still you were not even ashamed enough of your idolatry to try to hide it, instead you flaunted it like a prostitute advertises her profession.

Have you not just now called to Me, 'My Father, You are the friend of my youth? 'Will He be angry forever? Will He be indignant to the end?' Behold, you have spoken And have done evil things, And you have had your way.

How can you possibly be serious when say to Me, "My Heavenly Father, are you not my Friend from the very beginning? Will God really hold a grudge against His chosen people forever? Surely we think not so we will act in any indecent manner we desire because He will eventually forget." So, you say and think. You have sinned, you have had your way and you have sinned.

Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there.

I thought, 'After she has done all these things she will return to Me'; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.

Then God said to me, "Jeremiah, did you see what faithless Israel did? She played the harlot to idols everywhere. I thought that after she had done all this she would return to Me, her God, but she did not. Even worse, her treacherous sister, Judah, was watching what she did."

And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.

So I, God, Israelís husband, divorced her, put a writ-of-divorce in her hand and sent her away because of her faithless adulteries. Even after that, her evil sister, Judah, did not have sense enough to be afraid and continued to play the harlot to idols also.

Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.

Israel did not even think it was a big sin, so she did nothing to stop idolatry from spreading across the entire land.

Yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception," declares the LORD.

Judah, Israelís treacherous sister, did not come back to me in sincerity, but she tried to pretend to repent while keeping her sin within her heart," says the Lord.

And the LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.

And then God said to me, "Faithless Israel has proven herself more righteous than deceitful Judah, for at least Israel constantly repents every time she faithlessly sins, while Judah merely feigns repentance."

Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, 'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the LORD; 'I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,' declares the LORD; 'I will not be angry forever.

'Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,' declares the LORD.

'Return, O faithless sons,' declares the LORD; 'For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.'

Jeremiah, go and publish these words Northward, toward the direction of Israel, "The Lord calls for your repentant return, faithless Israel. If you acknowledge your iniquity, your transgressions against God, He will not be angry forever, but will forgive. You have committed the harlotry of idolatry everywhere, as a harlot would do with every stranger under every tree; you did not obey Godís voice. God calls for you to return since He is your Master; as many as there are who are found repentant, one here, two there, He will bring them to Zion.

Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.

It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land," declares the LORD, "they will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss {it,} nor will it be made again.

Then God will give you leaders who will shepherd the people, leaders who seek to please My heart, who will feed you My knowledge and understanding.

In the days of your repentant return, your numbers as a nation will grow and the people will no longer say, "I wish we were in the good old days when the ark of the covenant was among us," nor will they remember those times as "the good old days" any longer because the present times will be better.

At that time they will call Jerusalem 'The Throne of the LORD,' and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.

 

In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.

In those days of repentance the righteous ones will call Jerusalem "The Throne of the Lord," and all the nations will be gathered to Jerusalem for the sake of the name of the Lord; and the people will no longer live stubbornly following the dictates of their evil hearts.

In those days of repentance, Judah and Israel will merge into one house onto the land which the fathers had received as an inheritance.

Then I said, 'How I would set you among My sons And give you a pleasant land, The most beautiful inheritance of the nations!' And I said, 'You shall call Me, My Father, And not turn away from following Me.'

Then God said, "How much I have wanted to give my people a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance in all the nations of the world!" God said, "You shall call me, ĎMy Fatherí, and you shall not turn away from Me again, as you did before, continuously turning back and forth from Me to idols, from idols to Me."

"Surely, as a woman treacherously departs from her lover, So you have dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel," declares the LORD.

 

A voice is heard on the bare heights, The weeping and the supplications of the sons of Israel; Because they have perverted their way, They have forgotten the LORD their God.

 

"Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness."

"Surely, as a woman is a treacherous and faithless wife who departs from the husband who loves her to be a harlot to others, so you have done this treachery to Me, Israel," declares the Lord.

A voice is heard on the desolate hills, it is the sound of crying and prayers of repentance from the sons of Israel. They have come to know they have perverted their way. They know they have forgotten the Lord their God.

Return, faithless sons, and God will heal your faithlessness.

Behold, we come to You; For You are the LORD our God.

Surely, the hills are a deception, A tumult on the mountains. Surely in the LORD our God Is the salvation of Israel.

 

But the shameful thing has consumed the labor of our fathers since our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.

 

 

Let us lie down in our shame, and let our humiliation cover us; for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day. And we have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.

Dear Lord, our God, look, we do come to you, for you are God.

Surely the hills on which we built altars to idols was a deception to draw us away from you, a riot which we caused ourselves on the hilltops. Surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.

And yet, this shame of idolatry has been the preoccupation of our fathers, their very labor, since we were young, they dedicated their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters to serving idols.

Let us fall on our faces in shame and let our humiliation cover us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth to the present day. And we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.

Jeremiah, Chapter 3, is the very outworking of a righteous implementation of the Exception Clauses. An immorality (the "indecency" spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 24:1) is identified in a wife--she has been a faithless adulteress, practicing harlotry via idol worship. God uses a divorce to shame her into repenting. Along with the divorce comes the sincere and terrifying warning, "Israel, my wife, if you do not repent you will end up remarrying yourself to a foreign god which will prevent you from ever returning to Me again. Choose your next actions carefully: continue in your adulterous ways and never see My face again, or, turn back to Me one final time and forsake your adultery entirely."

It was an act of mercy and love which caused God to divorce Israel. Just as it is with "church discipline," the errant sinner is humbled into repentance and called back to renewed fellowship by an intentional act of forced separation.

Jeremiah, Chapter 3, is a living example of Matthew 5:31,32 and 19:9 in cooperation with the Law of Moses regarding divorce and remarriage as described in the case law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4. All these passages fit together like a strand of genetic code; delete, remove, or interrupt any aspect of the sequence and nothing makes sense resulting in chaos, illness, or death for the patient. If one should take away the Exception Clauses of Matthew, it is not possible to explain how God could righteously divorce Israel. Take away Deuteronomy 24ís prohibition on reconciliation and Godís warning to Israel in Jeremiah 3:1 has no teeth or consequence. Take away Jesusí General Rule of Remarriage, which states all second marriages are adultery, and you lose the ability to explain why Deuteronomy 24:1-4 prohibits reconciliation of original spouses after a remarriage.

Jeremiah, Chapter 3, is a precious resource in the understanding of marriage, divorce, and remarriage from the pages of the Word. Scripture is often self-interpreting across passages, and is always self-consistent. Properly understanding Jeremiah, Chapter 3, helps place all the passages on marriage in proper perspective.




Question 4:

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Jeremiah 3:1 are part of the Old Testament Law, and we are not under the Law, so these passages no longer apply to us, right?

Answer 4: This FAQ is still being written. Please return at a later date to read the answer. Thank you.


Question 5:

What is the "Covenant Marriage Movement" and is it biblical?

Answer 5:

Evaluating only the organizationís own material found on the one web site, covenantmarriage.com, it appears that this self-described "movement" is an effort to help Christian couples understand that God intended marriages to be lifelong. With such a goal driving the movement, a certain amount of appreciation must be expressed for the general concept. Word definitions may be a murkier issue, but a certain amount of admiration must be expressed for the stead in which marital permanence is held.

As we know from Scripture, a marriage is indeed a covenant, or rather, a covenantal relationship. This simply means a relationship established by means of a covenant.

The "Covenant Marriage Movement" tends to define the words covenant and contract in a manner inconsistent with the Bible and with the English language. In our English-speaking Western society, contracts are nothing more than agreements between two people, and for a Christian to break his agreement is to expose himself to be a liar--therefore, for a Christian, it is not an option to dishonor contractual agreements. The "Covenant Marriage Movement" appears to view this differently.

People can negotiate out of contracts, but not out of a covenant. ... When a couple shares their wedding vows, they are vowing to God, each other, their families, and their community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation, and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in their covenant marriage relationship. (Quotations taken from http://www.covenantmarriage.com/couple_support/covenant_marriage.htm on February 15, 2005)

What is a covenant? Biblically, and in the English language, a covenant is any contract or formal agreement between two people. An agreement, or a contract, is a statement of intent made by two parties which is made formal and effective at the moment of final agreement. In terms of a wedding, the agreement is formalized and put into force at the utterances of the "I do" statements. In business covenants, the final agreement is signified with a handshake or oneís signature.

A covenant is not an oath. Covenants and agreements are made all the time without oaths. However, a covenant (agreement) can be sealed by swearing an oath. An oath, sometimes called a vow, is an extra sworn statement in which God is invoked as the One guaranteeing the integrity and payment of the terms of the contract. Swearing an oath is a way of saying, "I am not credible enough or powerful enough to guarantee the outcome of this agreement or the truthfulness of the statements made in this agreement, so God must guarantee both the payment of the terms and the honesty of the statements made."

A Christianís normal statement of affirmation of "Yes, I will do what I have agreed to do" is sufficiently binding for all purposes under heaven today, according to James 5:12.

But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment. (James 5:12)

Merely saying, "Yes, I agree" is just as binding as swearing any oath or vow. Moreover, swearing oaths is now a forbidden activity for Christians since James 5:12 places a blanket prohibition on the very practice.

Due to an odd quirk of semantics, the "wedding vow" so often called and discussed, is not a vow at all. It is a simple statement of affirmation to an ordinary question. The pastor asks, "Do you take this man to be your husband, to love and obey, until death do you part?" The bride answers, "I do." No oath has been sworn, no vow has been uttered. But a covenant, a contractual agreement, has been completed and the brideís "yes" is as binding on her as any sworn oath could ever have been.

A marriage is only a marriage because a man and a woman made a voluntary and mutual agreement with each other to live as a man and a wife for life according to Godís rules for marriage. Once the agreement is made and the contract is in force, it becomes a covenantal relationship of marriage, an institution of Godís design and by His terms, and because it is His institution He is able to decree that what He has established men are not permitted to sever.

While the "Covenantal Marriage Movement" and thefaithfulword.org web site may have differences regarding the meaning of the words contract, agreement, covenant, and swearing an oath, there is accord around the principle that marriages are lifelong and permanent.

For a more thorough discussion from the Scriptures of the difference between covenants and swearing oaths, you are invited to read the online article: Oaths, Vows, Pledges, and Sovereignty.






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