Marriage & Divorce Vs. Binding & Loosing
By Jeff Belknap
In regards to a lawful, “one flesh” relationship where fornication is not a factor, Jesus stated “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Thus, this statement succinctly teaches the simple truth that it is man who marries and divorces (often, irrespective of God’s law) and God who binds and looses – according to His will (Matthew 19:6, 9; cf. 16:19; 18:18).
When a wrongful divorce takes place, it is the remaining, God-imposed obligation to one’s living ex-spouse that renders any remarriage to another an adulterous union (Romans 7:2-3). Hence, the Lord’s unalterable decree stands: any remarriage to another while one’s bound partner lives, results in adultery (Luke 16:18).
Nevertheless, some are contending that when man divorces for a cause other than fornication, his act does not really “put asunder” the “one flesh” relationship. However, this is the exact opposite of what the Bible says!
When the Lord was asked in Mark 10:2, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?” The Lord decreed in verse 9 and stated, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (# 5563, chorizo).
“Let not” does not mean cannot. The question was “Is it lawful?” – not “Is it possible?” Compare this with some other “let not” verses: Matthew 6:3; Luke 21:21; John 14:1, 27; Romans 6:12; 14:3, 16; Ephesians 4:26; I Timothy 5:9, 16; James 1:7.
Additionally, in I Corinthians 7:10-11, Apostle Paul made reference to the Lord’s rule in Matthew 19:6 (Mark 10:9), regarding divorce. Moreover, we learn that after a wrongful divorce, “the married” becomes “unmarried:”
“And unto the married (# 1060, gameo) I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart (# 5563, chorizo) from her husband: 11 But and if she depart (# 5563, chorizo), let her remain unmarried (# 22, agamos) or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”
This is proof positive that God recognizes that an unapproved divorce renders those involved as “unmarried” – the direct opposite of “married.” Scripture clearly teaches that the remaining bond is what makes remarriage to another adulterous for both involved. There is NO inspired evidence that the remaining bond makes a post-divorce “putting away” possible. One cannot “put away” what is already “away” or “put asunder” what is already apart! Therefore, after the marriage has been sundered, the only authorized recourse is to “remain unmarried” or “be reconciled” to your bound partner (I Corinthians 7:10-11; cf. Matthew 19:11-12).
Moreover, scripture refers to those who are involved in an unauthorized marriage as “married” (Mark 6:17-18). Remarriage to “another” after an unapproved divorce (while one’s bound spouse lives) always results in “adultery” (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:3a).
Notice that on numerous occasions, Jesus acknowledged man’s ability to put away (and be put away) and marry another for unjust causes:
“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit ADULTERY: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth ADULTERY.” Matthew 5:32
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth ADULTERY: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit ADULTERY.” Matthew 19:9
“And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth ADULTERY against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth ADULTERY.” Mark 10:11-12
“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth ADULTERY: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth ADULTERY.” Luke 16:18
Please consider the following sound words: “It is the contention of this writer that it is a flagrant violation of language and reasoning to argue that a person is divorced and yet married to the person from whom he/she is divorced. A person may be divorced unscripturally, but he/she is yet divorced; and a person divorced from another person is not married to that person. This business of insisting that one may be divorced ‘in the eyes of men’ and not divorced ‘in the eyes of God’ is nonsense. God may not approve of a given action (divorce or whatever), but that does not mean that the action does not occur because God does not approve of it. A divorce without scriptural grounds is yet a divorce and renders the person divorced ‘unmarried.’ The argument being advanced here is that: ‘All actions not approved of by God become non-actions or actions which do not occur.’ If this is the case, then is it legitimate in any sense to speak of an action as having occurred when in actuality it did not occur? It is far better to take the language of a given text as meaning what it says (i.e. married means married, divorced means divorced), than to play this game of semantical gymnastics wherein words do not mean what they mean.” Maurice W. Lusk, III, [Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the Teachings of Jesus and Paul (Atlanta: Guild of Scribes, 1982), pp. 44, 45].