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Reply to Questions on Divorce and Remarriage


(These arguments were sent from a brother who had been divorced for fornication, was remarried and wanted to justify his present relationship. A church, whose elders claim to believe the law of God only applies to believers, accepted him in his present state.)

Have you really studied this issue or simply just accepted the traditional position on Matthew 19:9? This isn’t Bible study, it is taking one scripture to the exclusion of others.”


First, a thing is not wrong because it is “traditional.” Do we teach baptism is a burial because it has been traditionally taught, or because Romans 6 says so? Second, those who will be trying to justify homosexual marriages will use the same “reasoning” on Matthew 19. They will say that we take this passage (“male and female” and “man and wife”) and make the traditional interpretation. It is not wrong simply because the plain statement has been accepted for years.

What does Matthew 19:9 say constitutes adultery? Divorce without fornication and marrying another. It doesn’t say that the sexual relationship makes it adultery, it already is when the one person divorced and remarried. In order to continue to commit adultery, would he not have to continue to divorce and remarry others? ‘Living in adultery’ is not a Bible term.


The passage says “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery.” It does not say that divorcing is adultery, nor that divorcing and remarrying is adultery. It says “he who  divorces and marries another commits adultery.” It results in adultery. The word “adultery” is defined by Lexicons as “unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another.” The O.T. is plain in describing adultery. Lev. 20:10,11 says “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife…The man who lies with his father’s wife…” Is there any doubt about what “lies with” means? If there is any doubt, look at Lev. 20:13 – “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman…” (Is that getting a divorce?) Prov. 6:29,32 says: “So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent…Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul.” Wilson’s Word Studies says “touch” means “to lie with.” That is not getting a divorce, that is having sex in bed. Isaiah 57:3 says “But come here, you sons of the sorceress, You offspring of the adulterer and the harlot!” Is there any doubt about what causes “offspring”? Can an adulterer have offspring without having sex? The N.T. is likewise plain. John 8:4 says, “They said to Him, Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.” The scribes and Pharisees said that according to the law she should be stoned for committing adultery (Lev. 20:10,11).  Is there any doubt about what she was doing when they caught her? Jesus said “whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:28). When he was “lusting,” what was he thinking about? Was he thinking about standing before a judge to get married, or to get a divorce? This new definition of “adultery” not only denies plain Bible teaching, but it denies every scholarly definition of the word. Divorce and remarriage “except for fornication,” results in adultery because of the sexual activity that naturally results. Furthermore, a person who has sex with the spouse of another commits adultery whether he marries her or not. Adultery is plainly a sexual act.

If adultery is a sexual act, a person could “live in it,” just as he could practice any other sinful action. Furthermore, the Bible plainly says that a person can do that. Paul said “you once walked in” fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (Col. 3:5-7). Fornication is a broad word that includes adultery, therefore Paul said a person can live in (walk in) adultery.

Is there a Bible precedent, a case where someone was pronounced ineligible to have a marriage? Did any apostle or inspired writer ever state that baptism had to be refused and/or fellowship denied to someone because of a divorce or remarriage?


This is a series of questions, so I will answer each of them. (a) “Is there a precedent…?” Yes, there is! Paul told the married woman not to “depart,” but “if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:10,11). Obviously, she was not divorcing a fornicator, or she could have married another. She was commanded to “remain unmarried or be reconciled,” because she still was bound to a husband. (If one put away without committing fornication must remain unmarried, or be reconciled, what about one who was put away for fornication? Would it be better to commit fornication than to be faithful to the marriage vow?

(b) “Did any apostle state that baptism should be refused…?” No, but they did tell people to “repent” before baptism (Acts 2:38). What would idolaters, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, etc., have to do in order to repent? Could the fornicator in Corinth repent and continue with his father’s wife? If he kept her, would he have been “living in fornication”? (c) “Was fellowship denied to someone because of divorce or remarriage?” The church in Corinth had a member who “had his father’s wife” (1 Cor. 5:1). It is called “fornication,” because that word includes any sexual sin. According to your argument, the man living with his step-mother should have repented of “having her” and then he could have continued his sexual relationship. What did Paul tell the church to do? 1 Cor. 5:9-12 says they were to withdraw from him, unless he repented and ceased his sinful relationship, which he evidently did (2 Cor. 2:4-7).

We can understand Acts 2:38 in regard to forgiveness in every area except in divorce and remarriage. We also teach and understand repentance by the Christian as stated in Acts 8:22. Is divorce and remarriage without the put away mate committing fornication an unforgiveable sin?


My answer under “b” above applies to this question. Simon, the sorcerer had to change his heart and life (Acts 8:22). If a man is a polygamist, is he free to continue that sinful practice? Is it an “unforgiveable sin”? The same question can be asked, and will be, about homosexual marriages. Can they repent of having entered the relationship and continue to have sexual relationships, or is that an “unforgiveable” sin? Jesus said that some “have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Mt. 19:12). The worst thing in the world is not the loss of sexual activity, but the loss of the soul! The disciples realized that Jesus’ instructions were strict, but according to the loose views of many today, Jesus was just taking the “traditional” interpretation of God’s law from the beginning.

What does Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 7:2, if he isn’t saying all should marry in order to avoid sexual sin? Notice that no exception is mentioned here, or in any of his other letters. If              1 Corinthians 7:15 does not say a person is free to marry in that situation, what is he saying?


Again, this is a series of arguments, so I’ll answer them separately. (a) The passage says “let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” It says nothing about having someone else’s husband or wife. In fact, Paul said a woman is “bound to her husband as long as he lives,” so “if while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress” (Rom. 7:2,3). If it were not for the exception of Mt. 19:9, it would be sinful for anyone to divorce and remarry. (b) It does not have to mention the exception of Jesus in order for the exception to apply. We must take the whole truth, or we do not have the truth. Paul did not say that you can take the wife of  someone else “if she has been put away.” In fact, he said you could not (Rom. 7:2,3). Jesus said “he that marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” That doesn’t sound like a good idea! (c) Verse 15 does not mention “remarrying.” That has to be read into the passage. The words “under bondage” (perfect indicative passive) means you were not and are not now under bondage (Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, by Spiros Zodhiates). The word “bondage” does not refer to marriage itself (surely they were married) but to slavery, the lowest form of servitude. Sometimes the believer may have to allow the unbeliever to depart in order to have peace, but that does not justify marrying another man.

Is God against divorce or marriage? We know divorce is wrong (Mt. 19:4-6). God is for marriage and against divorce. Satan is for divorce and against marriage (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Forbidding to marry is the doctrine of Satan.


(a)  The answer to this is to accept what Jesus said  – “he who marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Mt. 5:32; 19:9). If a single man marries her, he commits adultery, or if he has sex with her without marriage, he commits adultery. (b) Paul said if a wife departs “let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:10,11). Note that she was divorced but still had a husband. He was against her marrying someone else. If she had put away her husband for fornication, his instructions would have been different. (c) Satan’s doctrine was teaching that those whom God has permitted to marry are forbidden marriage. Neither Jesus nor Paul was teaching that doctrine, and neither is anyone who teaches what Jesus taught, teaching the doctrine of Satan.

If Christ’s teaching in Mt. 19:9 teaches that all who marry without “scriptural cause” live in sin and cannot be saved unless they dissolve the marriage, why was it not mentioned in Acts 2, or any other place in scripture? There were no doubt many such cases.


Acts 2 does not mention specific sins (except murder), but the teaching of scripture must be accepted and applied to every situation. Paul said some of the Corinthians had been homosexuals and sodomites, but Acts 18 doesn’t mention any of those sins when they were converted. What should we conclude? There is no mention of polygamists, and surely some of those first converts had more than one wife, so what should we teach on polygamy? Jesus said one man for one woman for life, with one exception for divorce and remarriage.  We do not have to understand why Jesus was so strict, but we cannot change what He taught.

Is it wrong to break a marriage bond? Yes it is. Is it impossible to break a marriage? No, it isn’t. Does Paul in 1 Cor. 7:28 say you sin if you marry again?


The one in this verse is not the person Jesus described in Mt. 19:9, and to so conclude is to pervert the Scripture. “If a virgin marries she has not sinned,” cannot contradict what Jesus said about marriage. If she marries a man who has been put away for fornication, she commits adultery (Mt. 19:9). So, if she can do this without sinning, adultery is not sin.

When a couple marries without “scriptural grounds”  are they are living in adultery, or are they living in marriage after having committed adultery?



Again, adultery is a sexual act, both by definition and plain Bible statements. They are living  in adultery because they are having sexual relations when not bound by the Lord. Another way to illustrate this is that Jesus said “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Belief and baptism are not salvation, but result in salvation, because of what God does. Likewise, those who divorce and remarry, without the cause of fornication, “commit adultery” because of the action that occurs afterward.

Does God condemn marriage? (1 Cor. 7:8,9) If God provides a way of escape for every temptation        (1 Cor. 10:13), would not marriage be the way of escape for sexual sin  (1 Cor. 7:2)?


Again, this assumes that the “unmarried”  (1 Cor. 7:2,8,9) are divorced individuals (who did not divorce for fornication). That is a desperate interpretation. The way God provides for us to escape is to do what He has taught, not to ignore it and rationalize that our situation is an exception to the rule. The way God provides for us to escape is to do His will. He nowhere authorized a man/woman to marry someone who was put away for fornication. He nowhere authorized a put away fornicator to marry someone else. He nowhere authorized those who claim they cannot help their homosexual inclinations from being fulfilled.

 Where does God’s grace and mercy fit in with the stand that will not allow marriage after sin has been committed?


God’s grace “teaches us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:12,13). God’s grace required a great sacrifice on the part of His Son, and it may require sacrifice on our part. We may not understand why God gave some of His laws. In fact, the disciples of Jesus reacted to His teaching with the exclamation, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Mt. 19:10). He didn’t change His teaching but said “there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Mt. 19:12). It is foolish to ignore His laws here in order to obtain temporary happiness and risk forfeiting eternal happiness.

Frank Jamerson  -  762 County Road 393, Killen, Al. 35645.


                       Copyright Midway Church of Christ 2014    This page last modified July 03, 2014