The place was the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan. The audience was a great multitude, including Jesus’ disciples and the Pharisees. The subject was divorce for any cause. The teacher was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6). The teaching of Jesus on this subject was clear and easy to understand. The Pharisees understood, thus their attempt to overthrow His words by way of an appeal to the old law of Moses (Matt. 19:7). But, Jesus goes on to state simply, expressly and authoritatively saying, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). In short, God’s command is for one man to marry one woman and to remain married until death parts them. If one shall put away his/her spouse and marry someone else, they have become an adulterer or adulteress and anyone who marries that put away person is likewise guilty of adultery. Jesus also provides us with the only exception to this rule. If one’s spouse is guilty of fornication, then their spouse may put them away and remarry without being guilty of adultery. One may argue about the different times and present all kinds of hypothetical situations, but God’s word is quite clear on the subject. One man and one woman, not two men or two women and the term limit of said marriage is to be the life of the couple.
It would seem that the single most important aspect of this entire lesson by Jesus is that little statement He made when He said, “…What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). God ordained the marriage of one man and one woman in the garden when Eve was created for Adam. Thus, union of two people in marriage is a case of God joining the two together as husband and wife. Who does mere man think that he is to try to “put asunder” two people that have been joined together by God. Neither of the two, nor any other human on earth has the right to do so. What God has commanded by way of the gospel of Christ is bound in heaven and cannot be changed by mere man. Peter said, “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (I Pet. 1:25). God told Israel, through Moses, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2). Paul told the Galatians that, “…though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). Yet, that is just exactly what many have attempted to do, change God’s word concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage. Though they may have changed it in practice, God’s word on the subject was already bound in heaven (Matt. 16:19; 18:18) and God has not changed it.
It should not surprise us that many would make such changes, nor that many would accept such changes. The apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders that, “…after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). Paul told Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Understanding what God has commanded concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage is simple and unchangeable. Yet, many ignore what God has said and violate it. In like manner, the same thing is done on multiple doctrines and practices upon which God has clearly spoken. When it comes to what one must do to be saved, God has revealed the means in His word, but man sets about developing and implementing their own doctrines and practices. When it comes to the one church of the New Testament (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4), God has revealed it and man has come along and ignored His commands, establishing various groups or denominations contrary to that inspired revelation. When it comes to the worship of that one church, God revealed His desires and man has added his innovations and removed parts that they were not satisfied with, thus making their own worship, pleasing to them rather than pleasing to God. It really matters not what the topic is, “what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”.
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]