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Vol.  10  No. 1 January 2008  Page 20
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Since You Asked By Louis Rushmore

Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.

Louis Rushmore

Remarriage of Guilty Party
after the Death of One's Spouse

Hello. I have a question. Can the one, who is divorced for the purpose of “fornication,” remarry when their now “old” spouse dies (Romans 7:1-3)? Does the death of a spouse give eligibility to remarriage, no matter what the circumstance (even in the case of unscriptural divorce)?  Thank You. Anthony Grigsby- Dayton, Ohio USA

    Strictly speaking, the New Testament records our Lord’s prohibition of the spouse guilty of adultery or fornication, who then is divorced by his or her mate, from marrying again (Matthew 5:32; 19:9). The prospect of the innocent (sinned-against) spouse dying and whether the guilty party can then remarry is not entertained in those passages.

    Romans 7:1-3 uses the marriage covenant to illustrate regarding the following verses that mankind is no longer bound to the Old Law after it is dead and removed, but that mankind can and must recognize the binding nature of the New Testament. Further, this illustration about marriage emphasizes the impropriety of either trying to have two husbands or abide by two law systems at the same time. Though Romans, in that illustration, mentions that death dissolves marriage, enabling the survivor to remarry, divorce is not a part of the equation in the passage.

    In other words, neither any of the passages under consideration, nor other passages outside our current consideration, speak to the specific circumstance of a divorce of an adulterer and his subsequent remarriage, irrespective of whether one’s spouse is alive or dead. Therefore, a direct answer as to whether a spouse divorced for adultery or fornication can remarry with God’s approval after the former spouse dies does not appear in Scripture.

    What persons, brethren or not, who have little or no respect for the authority of the Bible conclude is of no consequence to sincere students of the Bible. However, brethren who have a healthy respect for the authority of Scriptures come to conflicting conclusions as to whether the guilty party to a divorce because of adultery or fornication may remarry with God’s approval after the death of the former spouse. Some conclude that the guilty spouse put away is under a prohibition from God to not remarry irrespective of the innocent party to a divorce because of adultery; if that is so, the death of one’s former spouse would be immaterial. It may be argued that the guilty party to a divorce for the cause of adultery or fornication is no longer under the law of the husband (Romans 7:3), and that the death of that spouse, then, doesn’t release the adulterer or fornicator from the prohibition of remarriage. Other brethren, basing their conclusion solely on the relationship of marriage, though fractured by divorce because of adultery, in spite of the fact that the innocent spouse may have remarried, suppose that death erases the prohibition to remarry. (Just what, then, would be the relationship of persons in that failed marriage: an innocent spouse, a new innocent spouse and a guilty spouse that cannot remarry due to some connection to the former spouse?)

    There is always a way that cannot be wrong (i.e., a way that is safe beyond question). Since marriage, divorce and remarriage is a doctrinal question that can affect eternities, one needs to be sure that the choices made respecting this are correct. The consequences for a wrong decision here cannot be undone in the next life.

Did the Wisemen Know?

I am looking for a place where I can ask questions and someone of authority would answer. Do you know of such an email group? An example of such a question would be the wise men saw an Eastern Star and they knew the Lord had been born. How did they know? How many years did that star shine? Carl Martin, Humble, Texas

    The only religious authority is the Bible itself. No person can speak authoritatively about religion beyond what the inspired Word of God reveals (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). What the Bible reveals, we can know; what the Bible does not reveal, we cannot know (Deuteronomy 29:29). Surely, God has revealed to mankind everything religiously that He wants mankind to have; surely, God has preserved everything religiously that He wants mankind to have.

    That being said, the Bible does not specifically record how that the wisemen knew that a special starry phenomenon that they observed indicated the birth of the Lord. In addition, the Bible does not specify for how long this special star shone.

    The best one can do regarding these questions is to attempt to deduce some relative or possible answers. Any plausible answers, though not definitive, preclude dismissal of the event.

    Though there had been silence from God for about 400 years since the close of the Old Testament, the New Testament opens with several divine revelations to various individuals: Zacharias (Luke 1:5-20); Mary, mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-37), Joseph (Matthew 1:20-23), shepherds (Luke 2:8-14), the prophet Simeon (Luke 2:25-26) and the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38). It is reasonable to conclude that divine revelation may have informed the wisemen about the significance of the unusual star.

    Regarding how long the star shone, if the wisemen traveled from Gentile lands far to the east as is supposed because of the location of population centers east of Palestine and the descriptions of the wisemen, the star had to shine a sufficient long time to lead them from where their journey began to where Jesus was (i.e., in a house, Matthew 2:11). Weeks to months would be involved since the time about which they inquired was the birth of Jesus, but by the time of their arrival, the 40 days of Mary’s purification were fulfilled (Leviticus 12:2-6) and the family was no longer lodged in the temporary, makeshift abode of a stable, but they were in a house. The age span of children (up to two-years-old, Matthew 2:16) that King Herod ordered slaughtered in his attempt to kill Jesus also suggests that several months were involved between the time the wisemen began following the star and their arrival in Jesus’ presence (i.e., if they began following the star before or soon after the birth of Jesus).

Are Training Schools Biblical?

    A Gospel preacher in India asks if Bible training schools are biblical. Bible schools and preacher training schools are employed in the United States and overseas effectively to teach people about Christianity as well as to prepare men and women Christians for greater Christian service.

    The words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2 authorize teaching especially Christians in such a way as to increase their knowledge and effectiveness in Christian service. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men [Greek, anthropos, meaning “human being”], who shall be able to teach others also.” This verse implies that a means must be employed to accomplish the directive to teach, but the details regarding how to teach are not included. The means of implementing the teaching, then, are left to the discretion of humans. Therefore, by divine implication and human inference, Bible training schools and preacher training schools are authorized because they are means by which the directive of 2 Timothy 2:2 are satisfied.

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