Those Who May Marry
By Jeff Belknap
Before one can properly establish what is lawful and right, it is imperative to consider all regulations on a particular subject (Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 18:17). One must weigh those things which are divinely approved with those things that are specifically condemned. Therefore, to help clarify those who are authorized to marry according to the scriptures, we must acknowledge those marriages which result in adultery.
Besides those who may reconcile with their bound mate after an unlawful break up of their marriage (I Corinthians 7:10-11), it has been widely accepted among brethren that there are three classes of people who may marry. Likewise (in addition to those who are already married and bound), there are also three classes of people who are revealed in scripture as being precluded from lawful marriage. Unfortunately, it is this aspect of God’s Law that is being rejected by some brethren. The chart below illustrates that all bound, put away people are emphatically prohibited from marriage to another according to the will of God.
Obviously, those who are pressing the second (mental divorce) “putting away” doctrine and remarriage to another while their bound spouse lives, are not handling aright the Word of God (II Timothy 2:15)! Those who are authorized to put away and remarry another in Matthew 19:9a are obviously not those in Matthew 19:9b who commit adultery whenever they remarry another!
From the context surrounding Matthew 19:9a, it is clear that the passage addresses only those who are scripturally married prior to the sundering of their one flesh relationship for fornication. The only passage that gives instructions to those involved in an unscriptural divorce (i.e. a divorce in which God has not loosed the obligation) is I Corinthians 7:10-11:
“And unto THE MARRIED I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 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” (emp. jhb).
Hence, it is clear that following an unscriptural divorce (marital sundering), there is no authority for a post-divorce “putting away” (of which the Lord spake nothing) – much less for remarriage to another while one’s bound partner lives (cf. Romans 7:2-3).
In conclusion, compare God’s law given to the scripturally married in Matthew 19:9a (not to sunder the marriage, except for fornication, cf. v. 6) with the law which is specified to the unmarried in Matthew 19:9b (cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11). Not only is there no support for the notion that a put away person has the ability to “put away” their bound (obligated) partner and remarry another after a divorce, but the Bible condemns such a remarriage as adulterous (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b).