QUESTIONS I HAVE ABOUT
THE SHERIDAN—OSBORNE DEBATE
By Fred Seavers
I will begin by saying, in the big scheme of things, I am a decent Bible student with much left to learn. Scholastically, I have no business being on the same playing field with many of the men involved in the present Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage issue which still rages. It is my prayer that the controversy can soon end - brethren shake hands - and nobody come out swinging. Until that time, I do believe we need to continue to study, review and correspond concerning the scripturalness of one another's arguments.
It will probably be evident by the time you finish this article, that there is a real need for some of our older and much more scholarly brethren to shed some light on this discussion. In over twenty years of preaching, this will be only the second article that I have sent to an editor of a paper for print. This is definitely not my forte. However, to continue a refutation of the present "second divorce," error, the younger preachers who are willing to take a stand are compelled to write the articles that they should be reading, and from which they should be learning. If you are one of those old soldiers with more time preaching under your belt than I have been on this earth, who stands opposed to the current "application" covers all theory – who is reading these articles, and saying to himself, "I can't believe that boy couldn't do a better job of answering that quibble – he didn't have any business writing that article," then please pick up your pens and papers and let your voices be heard! I will now do my best to allow the scriptures to give us a proper understanding of the words "Marriage and Bond."
"Marriage Bond" – I know this was not specifically dealt with in the debate, but I feel it is very important to understand. The words "Marriage Bond" seem to be a very harmless description of that man—woman, two becoming one flesh biblical concept of Marriage. However, we must realize that according to Matthew 19; Romans 7:1-4 and other passages, that marriage and bond are simply two parts of one relationship.
When one is married (scripturally of course) to another, he is then bound to her by God and His law, as she is also to him. It has often been represented on charts as a pyramid shaped relationship with God at the top, and the man and woman at either side on the bottom corners. After a period of time, the love may be lost, and a decision may be made to dissolve the marriage through divorce proceedings. At such time as the "mental" disposition of the two leads them, either jointly or in a one-sided fashion to terminate the "marriage" – the bond established by God's law may or may not be broken.
For example: If the one is not putting away the other for the cause of fornication the "marriage," may be dissolved. They may even "marry" another as the text of Matthew 19 states; yet they are still bound by the law of God to one another.
This is why a young widow in 1Timothy 5 is told to "marry." She is free to do so with the blessing of God. She is no longer "bound" to her dead mate, Romans 7:1-4. Both the marriage and the bond have been dissolved. Such is not the case in an unscriptural divorce. The two may become unmarried and marry again, but they are still bound by the precepts of the law of God, (Matthew 19:6; Romans 7:1-4).
So, yes, there is a marriage and a bond. But, the two describe two different facets of the one relationship, and should not be used in broad terms to appear as if they are synonymous, or interchangeable. They are much like the words Adultery and Fornication. All adultery is fornication, but not all fornication is adultery. All dissolving – scripturally or unscripturally - of a marriage dissolves that particular marriage. But the bond is only dissolved on the part of the innocent party who puts away a guilty party for fornication, according to the law. The guilty party is still bound by the law of God to remain faithful (through celibacy) to the initial marriage, while the other is scripturally (according to the Law) free to remarry and form a new bond with a scripturally acceptable mate.
A misunderstanding of this principle can lead one to believe that a "marriage" is not dissolved nor even recognized as having been dissolved until the "bond" (looked upon as the equivalent of marriage) has been broken through the innocent party's putting away of the fornicating party. This some say may be done before or after there has already been a divorce not for fornication.
In this case one might be free "legally" to be remarried, but he is not free "lawfully" according to Romans 7, et. al. to be bound to another. The only thing that gives an allowance for one to be bound according to the law in a second relationship to another, and thereby free to lawfully remarry, is when the first union has been scripturally severed, the bond according to the law of God broken – and the innocent party left free to be married and thereby bound by God, to another. I admit there is a semantical problem in all of this "marriage and bond." Herod was said to have his brother Philip's wife. The woman at the well in John 4:16-18 was told by Jesus to call her husband to come to Jesus. She answered that she had no husband. To this Jesus agreed. However He states the reason He agreed as being, "For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband..." Now go figure out the wording on that one! Whatever the case, she could not be, or was not lawfully bound to this last one.
The same semantical problem is found in 1 Corinthians 7:11, "But and if she depart, let her remain UNMARRIED, or be reconciled to her HUSBAND: and let not the HUSBAND put away his WIFE." If he or she were to remarry another it would be just that – a MARRIAGE – an unlawful marriage, but a marriage. It would not be a new BOND. According to the text, she can remain unmarried or return to her husband. She can be considered unmarried yet he is called her husband. What about the idea of "espousal?" In Matthew 1:18 it was apparently considered the basic equivalent to marriage as far as the first century Jews were concerned, though it was not yet a marriage. In verse 18 Mary is said to be "espoused" to Joseph; yet, in verse 19 Joseph is called her "husband." In verse 20 he was told not to be afraid to "take unto thee" Mary thy WIFE. The same idea is found when comparing Ephesians 5:21-33 with Revelation 21:1-9 and Matthew 25:1-13. We find the words bride - wife - bridegroom - and husband, all referring to the same people. Even so, according to the scriptures which deal with the possibility of a second lawful or even unlawful marriage, we can know that 1) A man and woman are married, and therefore are bound by the law of God to one another. 2) If the husband divorces the wife for fornication, the marriage is severed, and he is released from the restrictions which the law (binding) would impose upon him, and may be remarried. She (the guilty party) on the other hand is not free so to do. She may get "married" again, but she cannot be scripturally "bound" to another.
Again, if the divorce, or severing of the marriage is not according to the cause of fornication, then both remain bound according to the law, to one another. The binding remains intact, and neither can remarry. It is really a very simple issue, but necessary to a proper understanding of the debate at hand. We find this word used in only three texts in conjunction with marriage: Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:27, 39. We find in both Romans and 1 Corinthians 7:39 the words "bound by the law," and "bound by the law to her husband." When does this binding take place? – "And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What God hath joined together let not man put asunder." There is the binding, and a scriptural marriage. God bound them, and only God can loose the innocent from that bond by his or her divorcing the fornicating spouse. There is no such thing as a second divorce commanded, given by example, or ever implied in Matthew 19 and other passages – And we should not defend those who so teach.
Fred Seavers III
HC 74 Box 57D
Hinton, WV 25951