Today in most countries in the world, one out of five marriages ends in legal divorce. Divorce is one of the major problems facing homes today. Most of these divorces could have been prevented if reasonable counsel on marriage was sought earlier before wedding.
Today divorce is granted for many reasons including adultery, cruelty, desertion, drunkenness, and neglect to provide, vagrancy, conviction of crime, separation, bigamy, incompatibility, audulent representation, misconduct, etc.
Let us approach this subject by attempting to answer a number of questions:
I. HOW LONG IS A MARRIAGE CONTRACT?
“Till death breaks it” Matt. 19:6,
“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”.
In marriage God performs a miracle when two individuals become one person. Only God is permitted to break that union by taking one of the partners in death,
II. WHAT CONSTITUTES A MARRIAGE?
If a couple in a state of intoxication; infatuation; passion; fascination or obsession has a civil ceremony are they legally married? Is such a marriage null and void?
1. The marriage is legal because the law says that marriage duly performed is a legal ceremony.
If the proper documents are signed, they are officially husband and wife, an inseparable couple.
2. According to I Cor, 6:16, “What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body?
For two, saith He, shall be one flesh”; sexual union constitutes marriage. Marriage is twofold: It is both legal and spiritual; sealed by God Himself.
III. IS THERE ANY SCRIPTURAL GROUND FOR DIVORCE?
Yes. There is one and only one legal reason and that is fornication.
Matt. 19:9, “And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry commits adultery. What does the word, “fornication” mean in this passage? Some newer translations translate it “unfaithfulness.” The basic meaning is illicit sexual relations with a third party. Both Dr. Rice and Dr. Orr suggest that it means only if the other person has become a habitual fornicator; ordinarily the innocent party would forgive the guilty party upon confession and be reunited. However, for chronic cases the Lord permitted a writing of divorcement
IV. THE INNOCENT PARTY SHOULD DEMAND A DIVORCE IF MATTHEW 19:9 BECOMES TRUE?
NO—Divorce is never commanded; it is permitted in unusual and extreme cases. Divorce was not in the original plan of God for human beings—Matt. 19:4, 5.
Why then are there divorces? Jesus explained it this way in Matt. 19:8, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered (permitted by the dispensation of grace) you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.
V. IF PEOPLE ONCE DIVORCED AND MARRIED TO ANOTHER PERSON GET CONVERTED SHOULD THEY RETURN TO THEIR ORIGINAL PARTNER?
Definitely not so. The second marriage is legal and to try to dissolve it would create many other intricate, complex problems. The Scripture says, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called I Cor. 7:20. (Dr. Ironside’s).This is the principle followed by missionaries; life begins at conversion.
VI. IF A WIFE IS DIVORCED AND MARRIES SOMEONE ELSE WHO LATER DIES, MAY SHE RETURN TO HER FIRST HUSBAND?
Definitely not; this is an abomination in the sight of the Lord. Deut 24:1-4, would clearly forbid any such action.
VII. SHOULD A DIVORCED PERSON REMARRY?
If the persons were divorced on Scriptural grounds, they would be free to remarry. Naturally, they would be much more cautious the next time.
Deut. 24:2. If they were divorced on unscriptural grounds, then the second marriage would be “living in adultery.”
VIII. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE AVOID DIVORCE?
Consider the welfare of the children who suffer the most Consider the shame connected with divorce and the scandal that it engenders. Some churches deny church privileges to divorced people. Many Christians look on divorce as sinful, regardless of the circumstances. Economic disaster often follows divorce. Divorce is a public admission of utter failure. Divorce is the ruination of love and happiness in marriage.
IX. MAY THE INNOCENT PARTY IN A DIVORCE REMARRY?
It is doubtful if there is such a thing as an innocent party in the sight of God, for likely the “innocent” party failed in some way which caused the partner to go further afield for satisfaction. Dr. Ironside said that innocent party would need to prove his or her innocence with two or three witnesses (2 Cor, 13:1). mt. 24:2, does permit the innocent party to remarry.
X. IS IT PERMISSIBLE FOR A DIVORCED PERSON TO HOLD A CHURCH OFFICE?
The people were innocent and the divorce granted on Scriptural grounds then the answer would be, yes.
The person was partially guilty or received the divorce for other than Scriptural grounds, and then the answer would be a strong, no.
XI. WHY IS THERE A SHAME, DISGRACE, DISHONOR, STIGMA, AGAINST DIVORCE?
It is because, it represents a tragedy, disaster, calamity, misfortune, heartbreak, that has undermined the home, the basis of society, cause of the misery that follows in its path: broken homes, bruised and broken hearts, disorientated homeless children, felonious youth, mountains of loneliness, oceans of tears and even suicide and mental illness.
XII, WHAT ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE ANTICIPATING MARRIAGE BUT AFRAID OF DIVORCE?
Divorce should never be considered and will not be necessary if the marriage is made in heaven. To prevent divorce, be sure that both parties are Christians, of the same religious faith, with mutual interests, and private guidance to enter into marriage. Commit everything to the Lord and He will choose both well and satisfactorily, Psa. 37:4.
XIII. WHAT ABOUT MARRIED PEOPLE WHO ARE CONTEMPLATING DIVORCE?
Let the couple solemnly renew their vow for “better or worse till death do us part. Let each get right with the Lord and then with one another; confession and repentance with mutual sharing will make any marriage a success.
Let them spend time in prayer individually and as a couple. Little children are often the solution to marital problems; preventing children leads to childlessness, dissatisfaction, frustration and quarreling. Let the husband be the actual, head of the home; Let wife be subject to her own husband.
Let husbands and wives continually encourage each other; each needs a great deal of affection, fondness, and care. Continuously ask God for a holy love for each other.
XIV. CAN THERE BE LOVE WHEN THERE IS NO RESPECT?
Dr. Rice answers “YES,” for God loves the unlovely sinner, whom He cannot respect. Many a mother loves a drunken, murderous son.
The Father in Luke 15 still loved the prodigal. Love that is unselfish and godly can be deep and powerful even with those whom we cannot respect. Jesus even goes further when He says, “Love your enemies” Matt. 5:44