Thoughts on MDR

I have rarely commented on the topic of MDR because it is a topic of tradition based opinion hot bed of controversy. 

It has been brought to my attention that some preachers, therefore, some church members, in the church today feel that Jesus decreed a universal law that is forever in His statements of Matthew 19 and the corresponding passages in the other Gospels.

The present idea of MDR that the church holds came from Catholicism.  From what I have read, the church (universal) was not worried about MDR until around the 600’s when the Roman Church decreed the marriage was a sacrament of God.  Up until then, divorce and remarriage was not an issue.

I often wonder why on the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached the 1st recorded gospel sermon, that the 3000 that believed and were baptized were not required to pass the present day MDR salvation test that some in the church requires? 

The reason we do not see a requirement in scripture baring divorce people to remarry is that God never made one.  The rules we try to force everyone to follow concerning the issue of MDR; all came from the Roman Catholic Church in the 600’s AD.  It is a false study when based our doctrine upon just Matt. 19:9 and not the complete picture of biblical facts presented by scripture.  Therefore, the conclusions we have reached within the church are false.  This is what the church of today has done for the past 150 or so years concerning MDR:  Followed a false doctrine of man and not what God said.

The Bible does not lie and it does not contradict its self.  Jesus did not make a universal forever law in Matt. 19 because if He did then Paul is a liar and a false teacher in his letters to the Corinthians and to Timothy.

The Bible is not in conflict between Jesus and Paul as they both are guided by the Holy Spirit of God in what they said.  So with this understanding, the teachings of the church since about 600 AD must be wrong and therefore false.

What I do know is simple: 

A.   The gospel is a simple path to follow and leads to salvation. 

B.   God is NOT looking for away to send me to hell as the fear preachers seem to think. 

C.   If salvation were a “restitution” system and not a grace system, none of us could ever be saved. 

D.   If God was looking for away to send me to hell, He would not have sent Jesus as a sin payment for me and everyone who believes and is baptized. 

Further more:  My only hope and prayer is that other’s will study what I have posted and see that the things that have been taught by the church are not correct because they would make Paul out to be a liar and would place most of the New Testament in doubt because most is written by Paul and therefore, it would make our faith void because it would be based on lies.

However, to really and truthfully understand the topic of MDR in light of working out your own salvation; I humble submit the following unbiased study I conducted on this topic considering all relevant passages of the Bible I could think of at the time.

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If salvation is based on a “restitution” system then none could be saved – My study of MDR = Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
By Guy Lewis

My premise concerning my study of this topic is that all of the scripture covering divorce and remarriage in the New Testament must agree with each other and that if any passage of scripture does not seem to agree with another then it is mankind’s opinion that is wrong and not scripture.  I will take a simple look at each of the passages of scripture that is concerned with the issue of divorce in the New Testament and look at the simple language of what it has to say and see if we can not see the simple message offered and if it in fact agrees with all other passages of New Testament scripture.  Therefore, I hope to show that there is no prohibition on remarriage of divorced person and that Paul was not contradicting Jesus in 1 Cor. 7 when he said that divorced person’s do not sin if they marry.

De 24:1-4

1 When a man taketh a wife, and marrieth her, then it shall be, if she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her, that he shall write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.
3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, who took her to be his wife;
4 her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before Jehovah: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. (ASV)

First off we must understand what the Law of Moses had to say about divorce and see if we can understand why this Law was given. 

In verse 1 the Hebrew word for “unseemly thing” is “ervah” which means indecency or nakedness or shame, that the husband shall give her (the wife) a bill or certificate of divorcement or divorce and send her out of the house.  This verse implies that there was a need of the Hebrew nation to protect the wives from just being sent out or being put out of a house by the husband and being discarded and destitute with no way to provide for themselves.

Verse 2 provides the remedy of the destitution indicated in verse 1.  That she may be the “wife” of another man.  This is a legal wife before God and before man.

Verses 3 and 4 says that if the second husband finds some “ervah” with her and divorces her or he dies, the first husband is bared from taking her as his wife again.   This is said to be an abomination before God and therefore a sin.  This may have been done to protect the woman from a wicked ex husband as or an effort to keep the nation pour in their bloodlines, but I am not sure but might be indicated by the use of the term “cause the land to sin” in verse 4.

Now this was the Law of God handed down through Moses to the people of Israel, concerning divorce and remarriage.

Mt 5:17-20

17 Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. (ASV)

Jesus did not come to destroy the Law of Moses.  Jesus did not come to change the Law of Moses.  Jesus says in verses 17 to 19 that He did not come to do away with the Law of Moses and that whoever keeps and teaches the Law will be great in the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus did not come to change but to keep the Law.  In verse 20 Jesus says that keeping the commandments is not an outward show it is a matter of ones heart that matters most.

Mt 5:31-32

31 It was said also, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32 but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery. (ASV)

These two verses must be read in the same context as the rest of the verses in this section of the Sermon on the Mount such as Matt. 5: 17-20, Matt. 5:21-22 and Matt 5:27-28.  Verse 31 says simply that the Law of Moses says to give a certificate of divorce (i.e. divorce your wife not just send her out or put her away).  Jesus was saying in verse 32 that to (apoluo) send her away or put her out would make her an adulteress because to survive she would have to join with another man who could support her or become a prostitute.  The only way she could be an adulteress was if she was still married.  So the word (apoluo) in this text can not mean divorce or she would not be an adulteress.  Because to divorce according to Deuteronomy 24 would have ended the marriage in the eyes of God and man and she would have been free to remarry whom ever she desired because that was the Law and Jesus did not come to change the Law.  Therefore the correct translation of (apoluo) in verse 32 is send out or put away and not to divorce.  This translation is in keeping with and fits with all other passages in the New Testament concerning MDR.

Mt 19:9

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.  (ASV)

Once again in verse 9 Jesus was saying that to (apoluo) send away a wife or put a wife out and marry another would cause adultery because of being still married.  So the word (apoluo) in this text can not mean divorce or there would be no adultery.  Because to divorce according to Deuteronomy 24 would have ended the marriage in the eyes of God and man and both the man and woman would have been free to remarry whom ever they desired because that was the Law and Jesus did not come to change the Law.  Therefore the correct translation of (apoluo) in verse 9 is send out or put away and not to divorce.  This translation is in keeping with and fits with all other passages in the New Testament concerning MDR.

Mr 10:11

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her: (ASV)

Again the word (apoluo) in verse 11 does not mean divorce in this passage either but to put away without divorce thus causing the adultery because the two are still married.  Because to divorce according to Deuteronomy 24 would have ended the marriage in the eyes of God and man and both the man and woman would have been free to remarry whom ever they desired because that was the Law and Jesus did not come to change the Law.  It is interesting to note that here Mark also tell us to whom any adultery is committed against and that is the wife who is put away and not the new person married.  This is the only passage that specifically tells us this information.

Lu 16:18

18 Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband committeth adultery. (ASV)

Once again the word (apoluo) used in verse 18 does not mean divorce in this passage either but to put away without divorce thus causing the adultery because the two are still married.  Because to divorce according to Deuteronomy 24 would have ended the marriage in the eyes of God and man and both the man and woman would have been free to remarry whom ever they desired because that was the Law and Jesus did not come to change the Law.

Mt 16:18-19

18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
19 “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (ASV)

What does Jesus mean when He tells the apostles that what they “DO” require on earth will be required in heaven and what they ‘do not” require will not be required in heaven?  Jesus is speaking directly to Peter in this passage but He was also talking to the other eleven by the context.  See the context of the nature of the conversation in:

Mt 16:13-16

13 “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (ASV)

Jesus started the conversation out by addressing all the disciples not just Peter.  Peter just happens to be the one who answered for the group. (Also see John 20:23 where Jesus tells the disciples that whom ever they forgive on earth will also be forgiven in heaven.)

Jesus was talking about the new kingdom or church once it was established in Act’s chapter two.  Jesus was not addressing the apostles concerning events prior to the establishment of the church in this conversation because they were still under the Law of Moses.

Now the question is “Which of the apostles”, if any, established rules concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage after the church was established in Acts chapter two.

Ro 7:2-3

2 For the woman that hath a husband is bound by law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband.
3 So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be joined to another man.  (ASV)

This passage is talking about a MARRIED couple not a DIVORCED couple.  So if she is still a married wife to the husband and she joins with another man then yes she become an adulteress because she was never given a divorce according to the Law because to divorce according to (Deuteronomy 24 which Jesus did not change) would have ended the marriage in the eyes of God and man and woman would have been free to remarry whom ever she desired.

1Cor 6:9-11

9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. (ASV)

This passage is important because it says that no matter what your sin, verses 9 and 10 the blood of Jesus and the Spirit of God washes you clean; sanctifying you and justifying you.  This means you are made new again.  Made whole again.  Your prior sins are washed away as if they never happened.  In the book of Hebrew it says that God remembers your sins no more.  This is what verse 11 is also saying.  What ever the sin, including adultery according to verse 9, it is wiped away and remembered no more by the blood of Jesus.

1Cor 7:27-28

27 Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife.
28 But shouldest thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Yet such shall have tribulation in the flesh: and I would spare you. (ASV)

Paul in verses 27 and 28 is clearly saying that if you are divorced and you remarry you have not sinned.  In verse 27 the word loosed (which is released in the NASB) indicates that one was married or attached to another (wife by the passage) so that they could not be released from her.  In the Greek it is number 3080 is translated “seek release or to be loosed.”  Whereas in the Greek number 3089 is also translated “Are you released or loosed?” within the same verse.  Two different Greek words have been translated into the same English word release in the NASB or loosed in the ASV in verse 27.  Also in the KJV and the NKJV this word is “loosed”.  In the NIV this word is “divorced” and “unmarried” respectfully.  In the RSV and NRSV the word is “free.”

The Greek word with the number 3080 = lusis meaning a loosing (by divorce) or released.

The Greek word with the number 3089 = luo meaning to loose, to release, to dissolve: – annuls, break, breaking, broke down, broken, destroy, destroyed, loose, loosed, putting an end to, released, removed, take off, unbind, untie, untied, untying.

Therefore, with this in mind, Paul, the inspired writer, by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, said in verse 28 that divorce person’s, who choice to, have not sinned if they remarry. 

This does not violate Matt. 19:9 because Jesus never changed or altered the Law of Moses.  Divorce according to Deuteronomy 24 would have ended the marriage in the eyes of God and man and both the man and woman would have been free to remarry whom ever they desired because that was the Law and Jesus did not come to change the Law

1Tim 4:1-5

1 But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,
2 through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron;
3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 for it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.  (ASV)

In this passage, Paul tells Timothy that a time will come where people, false teachers, will tell other people they can not marry.  In verses 1 through 3 we see this clearly.  And as we have seen, if we apply usage of “put away” for the Greek word (apoluo) and not divorce, then all of the passages commonly referred to marriage and divorce fit together without any problem.  Also when we use “put away” for the word (apoluo) we have not reason to refuse anyone the right to remarry provided they were legally divorced from their prior spouse.  We will not be one of the people Paul warns Timothy about in verse 3 when we use the proper meaning for the Greek work (apoluo) in our translations.

Summary:  The Bible does not prohibit remarriage, but wants people to remain as they are or marry. 

The over all context of 1 Corinthians 7 is to remain in what ever state you are in but that you have not sinned if you can not stay unmarried or if you decide to seek marriage.  Jesus did not change or alter the Law of His time; he explained it in simple understanding to get it back to its simple meaning.  No where in the Old Testament Law or the New Testament is the Bible saying an unmarried person (never married, widowed, or divorced) can’t marry. 

By the direct authority of Jesus to the apostles:  Jesus leaves it up to them to set policy on this matter.

Yes God’s plan from the beginning was that it was “not good for man to be alone.”  Yes God hate’s divorce but that does not negate the fact that God Himself said that it was not good for man to be alone. 

As I have shown, all the New Testament passages agree and none are in conflict with each other with this translation.  The apostle Paul established the rules of the new church or kingdom concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage by the authority of Jesus Himself and Paul said that “if you are divorced and remarry you have not sinned.”

Who are we to continue to rule where God has already ruled in this matter?

Original study was completed on 5/26/2007
(Updated to this study was completed on 6/27/09)

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5 thoughts on “Thoughts on MDR

  1. Marriage is a “Covenant for Life”!

    Why is something that God hates (divorce) so prevalent in our society today?

    It is because people today do not know what the Bible says about marriage, divorce and remarriage.

    “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.” —Jesus Christ

    Because remarrying after a divorce constitutes adultery, we must ask ourselves who are we committing adultery against if we are no longer married? If a divorce makes us single why are we committing adultery AFTER a divorce and if we have no spouse AFTER a divorce then who are we committing adultery against?

    The answer would have to be that it is against the one from whom we are divorced. This would mean that a divorce does not dissolve the marriage bond if we can still commit adultery AFTER the civil court proclaims that they have dissolved our marriage.

    If divorce truly ended marriage, it would be impossible to commit adultery AFTER divorcing. The fact that Jesus Himself says that the adultery kicks in AFTER a divorce must mean that divorce is powerless to actually end the marriage covenant that God has said is for life.

    “A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives.” 1 Corinthians 7:39

    Many, many people today are deceived.

    If a divorce makes us single, why are we then committing adultery while on a honeymoon with a new partner AFTER a divorce?

    People don’t get it, the divorce didn’t work…Jesus said so.

    Divorced people are off limits, they are still bound to another. If you touch them you will be committing adultery, as stated by Jesus.

    The civil court may declare someone’s marriage dissolved but Jesus does not agree with the civil court. He goes by a higher court…Luke16:18

    “A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives.” 1 Corinthians 7:39

    http://www.cadz.net/tony.html

    http://www.cadz.net/remarriage.html

    http://www.marriagedivorce.com/mdreform2.htm

  2. Erin, (if that really is your name) It is clear that you did not read my post at all. You skimmed over it maybe. You seem so willing to eagerly be one of those people Paul talks about in 1Tim 4:1-5 by making an opinion concerning MDR without looking at all the scriptures or discounting some to fit your own preconceived ideals of restriction and restitution on other people. God never made such rules within the New Church and New Covenant.

    In all of your post on the websites you have baring people from marriage none address what Paul had to say in 1Tim 4:1-5 or 1Cor 7:27-28 much less the Biblical fact that once a sin has been repented of there is no more sin in the eyes of God because God no longer remembers it. Only mankind remembers wrongs of others. Not God.

    If you are going to dedicate so much of your opinion to MDR on websites you make and post, then you should at least study scripture for what IT says and not so you can defend your OPPINION of what scripture DOES NOT say.

  3. For everyone who only skims over my first post I submit this for your consideration.

    Please do not eagerly accept teaching based off mankind’s opinion rather look at the scriptures with an open heart and eyes. To base an opinion on MDR without looking at all the scriptures or discounting some to fit a church preconceived ideal of restriction and restitution on other people is wrong.

    God never made such rules within the New Church and New Covenant and we should not either.

    God spoke through Paul, and said that people who forbid marriage depart have departed the faith, give heed to deceiving spirits and practice the doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Tim 4:1-5)

    I would rather look at all the scriptures God has provided and not just pick the ones I want to fit ideas I was told all of my life.

    Some man made facts to consider:

    1. The New Testament never EVER speaks of scriptural or unscriptural marriage. This is mankind’s restriction not Gods.

    2. The New Testament never EVER requires remarried divorced people to DIVORCE yet again. This is mankind’s restriction not Gods.

    3. The New Testament never EVER requires remarried people to DIVORCE a PRESENT spouse and return to a PRIOR spouse. This is mankind’s restriction not Gods.

    4. The New Testament never EVER talks about INICENT party concerning divorce. This is mankind’s restriction not Gods.

    5. The New Testament never EVER requires a Pre-Baptism qualification test covering present marriage or prior marriages or divorce. This is mankind’s restriction not Gods.

    6. The issue of MDR was never a true concern in the churches of Christ until the topic appeared in the Gospel Advocate and Firm Foundation church wettings. If you take those same articles and check the keynote points mad with the official Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church you will find that they are exactly the same. Therefore, the churches of Christ formed their rules concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage based upon Catholicism and not scripture.

    Some more important and true Biblical facts to consider:

    1. God hates ALL divorce period.

    2. To break an agreement or vow (covenant) is a sin in God’s eyes period.

    3. Like it or not, in a divorce, both the husband and the wife break the covenant of marriage concerning their vows to each other. (Till death we do part, for sickness and health, for richer or poorer, etc…) when they each agree to the conditions of the divorce.

    4. God’s ideal is for one man and one woman in one marriage for one lifetime.

    5. God, Himself, told, directed, allowed and authorized Moses to require a letter of divorce when a marriage ends. We know this because the Old Testament says that the only disobedience to God that Moses ever did was hit the rock instead of speaking to it.

    6. All sins are forgivable by God including divorce (adultery in this case) and God remembers them no more: Period.

    7. The Bible tells us to trust God and not men.

  4. I am not asking anyone to agree with me. I am asking for common since to be applied to this topic. If the ridged view of today’s church is taken strictly from Matthew 19:9 then most of the New Testament is left in doubt and question because Paul would be a liar with what he wrote in 1 Cor. 7:8-9, 1 Cor. 7:27-28 and also 1 Tim. 1-3 concerning the divorced person.

    We as Christians cannot have it both ways. Either a divorced person can remarry or they cannot. The Apostle Paul, writing by the authority and power of God’s own Spirit says they can.

    It is not I old school people are disagreeing on this topic but the Bible its self you are having your struggle with because I just presented the passages in chronological order for all to read.

  5. Hey Guy. Your study and convictions pretty much line up with mine concerning MDR. So you’re not alone.

    And speaking to Erin, I don’t and God certainly doesn’t expect lost people to understand what marriage is and live it out. He gave it to us for our protection and divorce is unfortunately going to happen because the hardness of our hearts. However, Christians are expected to hold to the lifelong standard of commitment. Divorced people can remarry, however a lot of wisdom must be involved in the process, including the person’s marital state at the time they were saved, the status of their ex-spouse, and the person’s recovery and healing from the previous relationship.

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