HOM-3 - God Hates Divorce
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GODLY HOMES IN AN UNGODLY WORLD
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to
his wife and the two shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24.
Welcome to our study of the home as God would have it.
Today, our homes are struggling greatly in America with the problems
that arise in the family that sometimes occur: divorce, sin, and the
consequences of worldliness. The home desperately needs God's
guidance and God's help and so in this series of lessons, we're thinking
about: what does God say in the Scripture, about the home that will help it
to be a godly home; that will grow godly children and that will help each of
us to get to heaven.
Today, specifically, we're dealing with the problem of divorce and
remarriage. What does God say about marriage, divorce, and remarriage?
This is indeed a very, very serious problem. Some statistics show
that nearly half of all marriages are ending in divorce. What does the
Scripture say about those who are divorced entering into another
Well, to better understand God's teaching on marriage, divorce, and
remarriage, we just simply need to look to those Scriptures in the Bible that
teach what we need to do about that and then apply our lives to that
teaching. The first is all the way back to the beginning of creation: Genesis
2:24. God's teaching in the original plan for the home and marriage is: one
man, one woman, leaving father and mother for life. Listen to the words
again. The Bible says, "Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife and they, the two, shall become one flesh." What's
God's original pattern and plan for marriage and the home? One man, one
woman, leaving father and mother, making their own family unit.
Here's what you don't find: you don't find multiple wives, you don't
find one man and one man or one woman and one woman. You don't find
that and you don't find divorce or that marriage ending for other reasons.
God's original plan and pattern, in its purest simplest form, is for husband
and wife to marry for life, to bring godly children into that home, and to help
one another strive to live a godly life, and indeed to go to that beautiful
place called heaven.
Well, as we further think about God's plan for marriage, divorce, and
remarriage, and his laws for those, we must learn, though, that the
Scriptures do teach about divorce.
I want to direct your attention to Matthew 5:31-32 where the Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ discusses divorce and the only scriptural reason for
that. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus will say in Matthew 5 beginning in
verse 31, "Furthermore, it has been said, whoever divorces his wife, let him
give her a certificate of divorce, but I say to you, whoever divorces his wife
for any reason except sexual immorality, or fornication, causes her to
commit adultery: and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits
What's Jesus trying to teach here? Well, the Jews had heard, "You've
heard whoever divorces his wife let him give her a certificate of divorce."
That was the, that was the way they had corrupted the teaching of Moses
in Deuteronomy 24 and some of their rabbis had taught that. And so, their
idea was: You want a divorce, just give her a certificate of divorce and be
done with it. What did Jesus say? No, whoever divorces his wife, Jesus
said let me tell you God's law whoever divorces his wife save for, except
for, fornication, sexual morality. Literally, the Greek word is 'porneia': illicit
sexual activity. Remember, the only licensed place for that is in the
marriage bond, Hebrews 13:4.
Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except fornication commits
adultery and causes her as well to commit adultery. No doubt the
remarriage idea entering into that as we'll discuss later, but what's God's
law? "Except for fornication." God has not licensed marriage, or divorce
Now, I want you further notice what Jesus says about this in the
same book, Matthew chapter 19. Look with me, if you would, in verses 1
through 12; that's Matthew 19. We'll actually begin in verse 3, "The
Pharisees also came to him, testing him, and saying to him, "Is it lawful for
a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" And Jesus answered and
said to them, "Have you not read, that he who made them at the beginning
made them male and female," and said, "For this reason man shall leave
his father and mother, be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one
flesh?" So then, they're no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God
has joined together, let not man separate." They said to him, "Why then did
Moses (listen to this now) command to give a certificate of divorce, and the
put her away?" Jesus said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of
your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it
was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual
immorality, and marries commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is
divorced commits adultery."
The Jews again had some misconceptions. They start with the
question, "Can a man divorce his wife for just any reason?" Some of their
rabbis said they could; some said they couldn't. So, they come to Jesus,
we've heard about your miracles; we know you know the law. What's your
answer to this great question? Can a man just up and divorce his wife for
any reason? Jesus takes them back to the original plan. In the beginning,
from the beginning, it's not so. God made man a woman, brought them
together to be a family unit and there's no idea in that teaching of divorce.
And so, God's original pattern is what Jesus holds up. And Jesus says
concerning divorce, "From beginning it was not so." It was not a part of
God's original plan.
Well, the Jews then have another question: "Why did Moses (and
watch their language) command to give a certificate of divorce?"
"Command", Jesus said (wait a minute now) "Moses, because of the
hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, from
beginning it was not so." What's happening during that time? Well, as we'll
think about a little later, in that context there seems to be just the putting
away of wives and taking new ones and that seems to be a problem then.
And so, for the protection of the women, Jesus, Moses allowed to
give a certificate of divorce. He permitted it but that was never a command.
It's never as though you have to do this and this is licensed. It was already
occurring so there was some control over that for the protection of women
there, but Jesus goes on to say, "From beginning it was not so." Now listen
to Jesus' words here though, verse nine, "I say to you, whoever divorces
his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits
adultery; and whoever marries her who's divorced commits adultery."
What exactly is Jesus trying to teach in this context? Well, first of all
Jesus taught that if you divorce your wife and it's not for fornication and
marry another you commit adultery and whoever marries that woman who
was divorced for reasons other than sexual morality commits adultery and
so there's only one, just one now, scriptural reason for divorce and that's
sexual immorality, fornication. And then and only then, in the Scripture, is
the innocent party given the right to remarry.
Now make it practical. Let's say that if two people are married, and
those people are in a scriptural marriage, and one of those mates has an
adulterous relationship with someone else, and the innocent party,
although he loves his wife, although she loves her husband, decides that
they're going to do that. They can't be trusted; do they have a right, not a
command? We're not saying you have to, we hope and pray that even
then, will people strive to work it out. But, do they have a scriptural right to
put the guilty party away and remarry? Yes, but that's the only party and
the only reason in the Scripture for which that can be done. The guilty party
has no license to do that within the bounds of Scripture. And so, the only
reason for divorce, in the New Testament, under the law of Christ, is for
fornication and then and only then does the innocent party have the right to
Again, we stress that even under situations like those, we ought to try
to make it work out. We ought to try to rebuild that trust. If at all possible
and the person is penitent, even then, one ought to strive to work toward a
godly marriage and a godly home, if at all possible. We then want to think
about a third passage which teaches that fornication and the act thereof is
something that can be lived in and this goes along the teaching of some
who say that, well, adultery is not something you live in, it's a point in time
action. You can repent of that and not be live. Jesus said, yes, you're going
to commit adultery, but you can repent of that and still stay in the marriage.
Friend, we want to address that idea by showing that in Colossians
3:5-7 the Scripture actually teaches that fornication which would include the
sin of adultery is not just point in time action that something that one lives
in. Notice the words of Paul to the church in Colossae, in Colossians 3
beginning in verse number 5, as he discusses the idea of adultery and how
one can live in that sin. The Bible says beginning in verse 5, "Therefore,
put to death your members which are on the earth: (watch this) fornication
(which is inclusive of adultery), uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and
covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God
is coming up on the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once
walked (watch this now) when you lived in them."
These sins are not just point in time. Some will say, "Adultery is point
time action, you can repent of that sin and remain in the marriage. Not
according to Colossians 3:5-7, if someone is in an adulterous relationship,
it's not as though you can repent of that and remain in it, for the Scripture
says it's something that you live in. Can a person live in adultery?
Absolutely, if adultery is a sin you can live in.
Then friend, to repent of it, we must do what God says to get out of
that ungodly marriage and ungodly relationship. We're going to look at this
a little later as well, but in Ezra 10:3-4, God commanded his people to put,
to get out of those ungodly relationships. They were commanded to put
away their ungodly spouses.
Let's think, then, for just a moment about how God really feels about
divorce. I want us to think back to Malachi 2:16, as we find out how our
Father, how God, the Father, really feels about divorce. Notice the
Scripture: Malachi 2:16 the Bible says, "For the Lord God of Israel says,
'He hates divorce for it covers one's garments with violence,' says the Lord
of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit that you do not deal
treacherously." God, how you really feel about divorce? God says, "I hate
divorce." Why? "It covers one's garments with violence." You know when
we think about violent crimes related to the family, or the relationship and
the family, we think of maybe domestic violence, spousal abuse. We think
of rape or we think of some other violent crime. Do we realize that divorce
is a violent event? You think about the trauma, physical maybe, emotional,
You know it's as though today you can get a divorce for $200- $300,
put that behind you and be done with it. Friend, it is not at all that easy.
There is baggage. There are emotional, psychological, and spiritual scares.
Think about in a divorce where there are children: how do children
feel about that event? I can assure you, to them, it is a violent event. The
tearing apart of the home, the tearing apart a father and mother, the
splitting of all that, the having to go different places, and that's a violent
event and God says, "I hate divorce." Friend, the things that God hates, we,
ourselves, ought to hate and in so doing, here's how that ought to help us:
we ought to strive (if God hates this) to never let it happen and to make
sure that we're working toward having a godly and scriptural marriage.
I want you, then, to direct your attention to another passage.
Deuteronomy chapter 24 discusses divorce under the old law and in the
context of Jesus' words in Matthew 19; this would be what the Jews were
referring to. Notice Deuteronomy 24 beginning in verse 1. The Bible says,
"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds
no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and
he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts in her hand, and sends her out of
his house, when she is departed from his house, and goes and becomes
another man's wife, (the Bible says) if the latter husband detests her and
writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of
his house, (how's that person feel about that) or if the latter husband dies
who took her his wife, then her former husband who divorced her (the Bible
says) must not take her back at to be his wife after she's been defiled; for
(the Bible says) that is an abomination before the Lord, and you should not,
God says, you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is
giving you as an inheritance."
When we think about Deuteronomy 24, here you've got a context of a
man finds some uncleanness in his wife. Because of that, he's allowed to
give her this certificate of divorce.
Friend, it's very likely that that uncleanness could be sexual
immorality. Let me illustrate: Jeremiah 3:8 says this: God said, "Then I saw
for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had
put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous
sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also." You know
from Jeremiah 3:8, I learned that when God gave Israel a certificate of
divorce, it was for adultery, which very likely could be the uncleanness,
sexual uncleanness, and sexual immorality, mentioned in Deuteronomy 24
as well. And so here you've got this idea that if a wife commits some
uncleanness, uncleanness, and her husband finds that in her, he can give
her a certificate of divorce, put her away, but she's not become some other
man's wife. Or if she does, her husband can't take her back as well. That
would be an abomination on the land and would actually be known as God
talking about that concerning sin.
So Deuteronomy 24 and yet Jesus, when he thought about
Deuteronomy 24, when he was asked about it, do you remember what he
said? "From beginning it was not so." It was allowed so that the Jews, who
were already doing it, so that women could have protection, so that it could
Friend, from beginning this was not part of God's original plan. Jesus
said because of the hardness of your hearts Moses permitted it; from
beginning this was not so.
Let's then think about a situation where two people find themselves
in an unlawful or unscriptural marriage. What must they do to really repent?
Well, some would say that, if two people find themselves in unscriptural
adulterous situation, to repent, they just need to say they're sorry. Now
remember Colossians 3:5-7 says adultery is something you live in. So, is
just saying we're sorry and repenting of that, what's required?
I want to direct your attention to the book of Ezra. Ezra, postexilic
writer after the time of the exile, has to deal with problems relating to the
Jews and some of their sin related to marriage. And so, in Ezra 9 and 10,
here's what's going on: the people have married heathen wives. God told
them don't marry the ungodly, heathen, women or don't take up
relationships with them. They did anyway and so the context is: the Jews
are in unscriptural marriages to these heathen wives. How did God tell
them to repent and deal with that?
Listen to Ezra 10:3 the Scripture says, "Now therefore, let us make a
covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who've been
born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who
tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to
the law. Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you.
Be of good courage, and do it." To those in unscriptural marriages, God
said, "Put away your wives." They're to do this according to the
commandment of God. There were unscriptural marriages then, what about
unscriptural marriages today? What about two people who enter into a,
maybe, a second marriage where neither one had the right to remarry?
What must they do to repent of that?
Friend, just like in the days of Ezra, today repentance demands
putting away, getting out of that sinful relationship. Jesus said John did in
Matthew 3:8, that people need to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.
Real repentance demands a change in one's life. If someone is in an
adulterous relationship and that's something you live in, then just saying I'm
sorry is not repenting. You've got to stop the sin the sin is the relationship
itself which is contrary to the teaching of Christ. Is that, is that difficult? Is it
challenging? Absolutely it is!
But friend, to obey the will of God, one must stop living in that sinful
relationship. To live right with God, they must get out of those sinful
Let's then turn our attention to another passage mentioned by the
Lord and Savior in Luke 16. This passage of Scripture, relating to divorce,
just simply reiterates the law found in Genesis chapter 2:24. Listen to
Jesus' words in Luke chapter 16:18: Jesus said, "Whoever divorces his
wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who
is divorced from her husband commits adultery." Remember in Genesis
2:24 that it's one man and one woman for life. Jesus said whoever divorces
his wife based on those ideas, if you divorce your wife, you're committing
adultery and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.
Again, we know that there is the scriptural reason of fornication, but
Jesus just has in mind those who are not doing that. Those who were
divorcing just for any reason, they're committing adultery and they're
causing the one they divorce to commit adultery.
And so, when we think about Jesus' words, let's realize that marriage
is indeed a very serious command and only those who obey the will of God
and do as God says can live in harmony with his teaching. We want to
emphasize one other principle related to divorce and that has to do with the
idea of marriage lasting until death.
I want to direct your attention to the words of Paul in Romans 7:1. In
Romans chapter 7 Paul is dealing with the old law and how that Christians,
those today, are dead to that law so that they can be married to Christ. He
uses marriage as an illustration and indeed we can learn a lot from that.
Notice Romans 7:1 the Bible says, "Or do you not know, brethren (for I
speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man
as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by law all
to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she's release
from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she
marries another man, she will be called an adulteress, but if her husband
dies, she is free from that law, so that she's no adulteress, though she's
married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you've also become dead to
the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to
him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God."
The basic principle here is: since the old law is dead and you were
married to it, you can now be married to Christ. What do we learn about
marriage there? While one's mate lives, if they marry somebody else,
they're committing adultery. Now if that mate dies, they have a right to
remarry and thus the basic principle again of marriage lasting for both
partners until death do them part.
Friend, as we think about the idea of marriage and as we think about
the importance of it with the great struggles that the home is facing today,
what practical lessons do we learn? Friend, marriage should be a very
serious decision that two people enter into striving to please God and to
help one another get to heaven. But what about divorce? We should think
of divorce as not even being an option. Is there a scriptural reason? Sure.
Fornication is the scriptural reason.
Two people entering into marriage should say to themselves ‘we are
going to make this work no matter what.’ Can people remarry? Only the
innocent party for reason of fornication and then and only then. That's the
idea that God taught. There are not a hundred and one reasons for divorce
and yet people who enter into marriages, people who're divorced, who
enter into marriages and then don't have a right to divorce, they are living in
adultery. To get out of that, they must get out of the marriage to repent and
really live faithfully in God's sight.
God's laws are very serious and very strict and we must have
soberness in entering to that decision. As the writer said in the book of
Psalms in the long-ago, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in
vain who build it."
Let's let God's law govern our marriages so that our marriages will
please him in every way.
Study Questions for: “Godly Homes: Lesson 3”
1. According to Genesis 2:24, what’s God’s original plan for marriage?
2. According to Matthew 5:31-32, what is the only scriptural reason for
3. In Matthew 19:3-12, why does it say Moses had permitted divorces?
4. According to Matthew 19:3-12, if you divorce, except for sexual
immorality, what are you committing?
5. According to Hebrews 13:4, in what bond is sexual activity acceptable?
6. According to Colossians 3:5-7, what are we to put to death? Why?
7. How does God feel about divorce according to Malachi 2:16?
8. According to Colossians 3:5-7, is adultery something we live in?
9. According to Matthew 3:8, we should bring forth fruits worthy of what?
10. What are we dead to thru the body of Christ according to Romans 7?