Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 5 May 2014
Page 13

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to editor@gospelgazette.com

Scriptural Grounds for Divorce

Louis Rushmore, Editor

What about the believer who has married an unbeliever KNOWING this was against what the Bible teaches and they continue to stay married? How does the believer repent of that unequal yoke? Does he divorce the unbeliever even though he has no “scriptural” grounds to do so, since sexual infidelity is the only exception in the marriage relationship?

There is an apparent misunderstanding of Scripture indicated in the question above regarding what it means to be unequally yoked.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord  Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NKJV)

First, do you see how many times in the quotation from 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 that references to marriage occur? None! Yet, many people, including the questioner above, apparently only see in that context a reference to marriage between an unbeliever and a Christian. Someone must be reading a lot between the lines, doing a little eisegesis (putting something into the text that does not appear there) instead of exegesis (getting out of the text what was put there by God).

The context of this Scripture above does pertain to marriage potentially, but only because it also applies potentially or conditionally to any other human relationship (e.g., friendships, vocational associations, etc.).

Secondly, what does it mean to “be unequally yoked with unbelievers” respecting non-Christian spouses, non-Christian friends and non-Christian fellow employees and employers? If this passage truly forbids marriage between Christians and non-Christians, it equally forbids Christians from having non-Christian friends and from forming relationships with non-Christian fellow employees and employers. Generally, people readily recognize that whatever appears to prove too much does not really prove anything at all.

In truth, 2 Corinthians 6:14 prohibits any relationship of a Christian with a non-Christian when the non-Christian’s influence overpowers the Christian’s ability to faithfully practice Christianity. It is assumed by the context that a yoke between Christians, in whatever that association may be, would not be an unequal yoke. Sadly, though, sometimes Christians are unequally yoked with each other, too, when one of them does not faithfully practice Christianity. Second Corinthians 6:14 is a general command where Christians are left to decide for themselves according to their personal judgments and common sense what marriages, employment conditions, friendships, partnerships, etc. are unequal relationships.

It is biblically erroneous to claim that Christians and non-Christians are forbidden by 2 Corinthians 6:14 to marry each other, especially in light of 1 Corinthians 7:1-16 which forbids Christian and non-Christian mates from divorcing each other because one of them is not a Christian. See more about being unequally yoked in the following two articles from the “Archives” of Gospel Gazette Online.

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2006/may/page13.htm

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2012/mar/page16.html#article2

Thirdly, there are circumstances other than “sexual infidelity” for which spouses may separate or divorce biblically (e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:15). However, there remains only one reason for which New Testament instruction permits a spouse may divorce and at some subsequent time marry another biblically eligible candidate for marriage – with God’s approval (Matthew 19:9). My article at the following URL speaks to (1) the relative sameness of “separation” and “divorce” and (2) of a wife, for instance, separating from or divorcing her husband in self-defense or for the protection of her children, yet without the right of remarriage.

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2000/oct/page18.htm

There are nearly 200 articles in the “Archive” for Gospel Gazette Online that address the topic of “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage.” Here are some of them.

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/aug/page6.shtml

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/nov/page19.shtml

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/oct/page19.shtml

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/may/page16.shtml

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/may/page19.shtml#law

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/may/page19.shtml

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2000/may/page13.shtml

http://www.gospelgazette.com/bookstore/download/articles/marriage.htm

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2000/jun/page16.shtml

The premises in the quoted question atop the page are false. Christians are not forbidden to marry non-Christians, though it is unwise; it is equally unwise for Christians to marry unfaithful Christians. Repenting always involves stopping the sin for which one is repenting, and it may become necessary for the interruption of marriages, employment conditions, friendships and partnerships that become unequal yokes in the true, biblical sense. Regarding marriage (only one of the possible scenarios of unequal yokes), 2 Corinthians 6:14 would be “scriptural grounds” for separation or divorce, but not for remarriage. “Sexual infidelity” is not the only grounds for divorce, but only adultery is grounds for the innocent party to remarry an eligible candidate later.

There are only three types of persons who are biblically eligible candidates for marriage. Persons who have never been married are biblically eligible to marry (1 Corinthians 7:2; Hebrews 13:4). Persons whose spouses have died may marry other biblically eligible spouses (Romans 7:1-4; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 1 Timothy 5:14). Finally, a person whose spouse is guilty of fornication may divorce that spouse and remarry another biblically eligible spouse (Matthew 19:3-9) at some time in the future. All others must remain single (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).


There Is No Consensus on the Issue

Louis Rushmore, Editor

The “issue” about which a questioner bemoans that “there is no consensus” is marriage, divorce and remarriage. The problem with this way of thinking is that no doctrine of God is up for vote! Irrespective of whether mankind can muster a consensus of approval respecting any doctrine of God, divinely given, inspired truth is absolute and unchangeable. New Testament truth was decided upon and delivered to mankind nearly 2,000 years before any contemporary person was born. The decisions regarding biblical doctrine were made before any of us made our respective debut on planet earth, and God asked none of us for our opinions. Neither has Almighty God crowned any living person with the authority to countermand biblical Truth. Jesus Christ had and has “all authority… in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18 NKJV), and He has not surrendered any of it to mere mortals – and certainly not to anyone living today.

New Testament teaching in a nutshell regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage is contained in primarily two passages – Matthew 19:9 and 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. Jesus Christ Himself uttered what we find in the first of those two references. The apostle Paul attributed what he penned in the latter citation to Jesus Christ as well. Jesus Christ alone is responsible for the teaching about marriage, divorce and remarriage that is applicable in the Christian Age, and it matters not all whether members of the church can come to a consensus among themselves about what to believe and practice.

 

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