Many people feel justified in divorce today. The main passage they cite to justify this action is the following:
Matthew 19:7, "They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?"
Matthew 19:8, "He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so."
Matthew 19:9, "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."
Let's examine each one of these three verses:
The question about divorce that the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Why did Moses then command" reveals the misuse of Deuteronomy 24. Moses did not command divorce, he permitted it. God had instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden. He is not the author of divorce; man is its originator. However, to protect the Hebrew women from being taken advantage of by a verbal divorce, Moses commanded that, if the couple choose divorce, that it be done with a "writing of divorcement," an official written contract, permitting remarriage.
Some think they see a loophole in Jesus' statement when "He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so." (Matthew 19:8). Jesus is discussing God’s will for marriage “from the beginning”, therefore what He says in verse 9 has always been God’s law for marriage. God's original marriage plan, as instituted in Eden, had ideally never changed, though a relaxation of it had been allowed under Moses. But here, Jesus preceeded to restore marriage to its original intent.
Now, the divorce that Moses permitted is found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. This Divorce was not from the beginning, and Jesus says it is not for us today. As a matter of fact, for the first 2500 years of scriptural history, there was no such thing as divorce. It was only when the Hebrews were slaves for 400 years in Egypt that they learned the way of the Heathen, such as divorce.
It appears that the practice of divorces was at this early period very prevalent amongst the Israelites, who had in all probability become familiar with it in Egypt. The usage, being too deep-rooted to be soon or easily abolished, was tolerated by Moses (Matthew 19:8). But it was accompanied under the law with two conditions, which were calculated greatly to prevent the evils incident to the permitted system; namely: (1) The act of divorcement was to be certified on a written document, the preparation of which, with legal formality, would afford time for reflection and repentance; and (2) In the event of the divorced wife being married to another husband, she could not, on the termination of that second marriage, be restored to her first husband, however desirous he might be to receive her. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
The divorce mentioned in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is not a command from God, but was permitted by Moses, as Jesus confirms (Matthew 19:8). Why did Moses permit divorce? Moses perceived that if divorce were not permitted, in many cases, the women would be exposed to great hardships through the cruelty of their husbands. Moses tolerated a relaxation of the strictness of the marriage bond--not as approving of it, but to prevent still greater evils. And therefore if they had not been allowed to put away their wives, when they had conceived a dislike of them, they would have used them cruelly, would have beaten and abused them, and perhaps have murdered them. “But from the beginning it was not so” is repeated, in order to impress upon His audience the temporary character of this Mosaic relaxation. Moses did not direct it, or suffer it, in any such sense as to imply that God approved of it, or that it was right. It was a temporary regulation, suffered for a time on account of the wickedness of men, and in order to prevent the greater evils which that wickedness would otherwise have occasioned. It was a regulation as to the mode of putting away; not to justify that wrong practice, but to lessen, in some measure, its evils.
In cultures around Israel at this time, women sometimes were considered little more than property to be bartered or traded or retained according to the pleasure of men. In Israel, however, a man was not free to send away his wife and bring her back at his whim. The "bill of divorcement" gave her protection from such abuses.
It is dangerous to tolerate the least evil, though prudence itself may require it: because toleration, in this case, raises itself insensibly into permission, and permission soon sets up for command. This putting away "for every cause" (Matthew 19:3 - derived from Deuteronomy 24:1) of one's wife was a violation of the will of God. That God suffers the adoption, and for a time the continuance of practices, on account of the hardness of men's hearts, is no evidence of the righteous conduct of those practices. Nor is the giving of directions about them, and the adoption of regulations to lessen their evils while they continue, any evidence that God approves of them. The practices may still be a violation of what has been the will of God from the beginning, and obedience to Him may require them to be done away.
Moses gave them no commandment to put away their wives, but rather made a good stipulation for the wives to protect them from the stubborn hardness of their husbands. God sometimes suffers things to take place which are violations of his laws, and gives directions suited to lessen in some measure the evils of those violations, while men wickedly continue to indulge them. This, however, is not to be interpreted as if he approved of those violations, and God did not approve of divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
Observe, therefore, the wisdom of our Saviour's answer to the Pharisees; he refers them to the first institution of marriage, when God made husband and wife one flesh to the intent that matrimonial love might be both incommunicable and indissoluble. Observe farther, how our Saviour, to confute the Pharisees and convince them of the unlawfulness of divorce, used by the Jews, lays down the first institution of marriage, and shews them, first the author, next the time, then the end of the institution. He taught:
When Jesus said, "...For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept" (Mark 10:5), Jesus replies that Moses did not command but suffered or permitted (the word "commandment" used by Mark having reference not to the matter but the manner; that is, commanding it to be done by giving a writing) men to put away their wives because at the time when the law was given the wickedness of men made such a concession beneficial. Had the law propounded at creation been re-enacted by Moses, many would have refused to marry at all, preferring an illicit life to the hazard of matrimony under a stringent law, and others finding themselves unhappily married would have secretly murdered their wives to gain their liberty. As a choice of two evils, God therefore temporarily modified the law out of compassion for women. It was expected that as the hearts of men softened they would recognize the wisdom, justice and wholesomeness of the original law, and cease to take advantage of their permission to evade it. But men had not done this, so Christ himself had brought this concession to an end.
- That God is the author of the close and intimate union which is betwixt man and wife in the married condition.
- That it is not in the power of man to untie or dissolve the union which God has made betwixt man and his wife in the married state; and it is a great sin to try to separation them.
When a passage in scripture refers back in time to a command from God, it usually starts, "It is written," or "the scripture saith," (as Jesus and the apostles often said), which tells us this is a command from God. But when a passage refers to hearsay statements, it is something spoken by man, not God. Look at this passage Christ Jesus spoke:
Matthew 5:31, "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:"
This passage is referring to Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Notice Jesus did not refer to God's Law by saying "It is written," or "the scripture saith." Now look at this passage that God himself spoke:
Jeremiah 3:1, "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?"
This passage is referring to Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Notice Jeremiah begins this passage with "They say..." (referring to men) then quotes Deuteronomy 24:1-4. If Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was a command from God, why would Jeremiah say "they" said this, instead of God (i.e. "the Lord has said," etc.)? The answer is found in Jesus's statement, "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so" (Matthew 19:8). You see, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is something man has permitted, it is not a command from God, and it was not part of God's Law from the beginning (Matthew 19:8).
And Deuteronomy 24:4 does confirm that a woman is defiled once she marries another man. It says when a woman divorces her husband and marries another (which Moses permitted), "...after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD." Or, more accurately stated in the Septuagint, "the former husband who sent her away shall not be able to return and take her to himself for a wife, after she has been defiled." Does not this refer to her having been divorced, and married in consequence to another? It is not divorce that defiles the woman, it is re-marriage. Though Moses, because of the hardness of their hearts, suffered them to put away their wives, yet he considered all after-marriages in that case to be pollution and defilement. This is why, on this ground, our Lord argues that from the beginning, divorce was no so, and that whoever marries the woman that is put away is an adulterer.
Jesus mentions only one exception in which divorce and re-marraige is allowed. This exception He gives is "from the beginning;" Jesus was not abolishing God's Law from the beginning and instituting some new law, he was laying down God's Law that God intended, that was from the beginning, and that was established for the first 2500 years of scriptural history. Let's look at this exception, that was from the beginning, now.
A similar passage to Matthew 19:9 is recorded here:"It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." (Matthew 5:31-32).
Jesus said only in the case of "fornication" is divorce allowed. Most people assume Jesus meant "adultery," but this is not so. To understand this statement, we need to see exactly what the Old Covenant legislation was regarding illicit intercourse.
- If a man was convicted of adultery, both he and the married woman that lay with him were to be executed (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22).
- If a married woman was convicted of adultery, both she and the man that lay with her were to be executed (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22).
- If the wife was suspected, but not convicted, of adultery, the husband had to take her to the priest with a "jealousy" offering (Numbers 5:11-31).
- If a betrothed virgin was convicted of adultery, both she and the man that lay with her were to be executed (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).
- If a man forces a betrothed woman to have sex with him, the man was executed, but the woman was blameless (Deuteronomy 22:25-27).
- If a man has sex with an unbetrothed virgin, they were both commanded to marry each other, and they could not divorce for the rest of their lives (Deuteronomy 22:28), unless the father refuses to give her to him, in which case the man was to pay the father money for humbling her (Exodus 22:16-17).
Note: there is no provision for divorce in any of the above situations.
- The only remaining possibility is that of a betrothed girl who is the innocent victim of fornication. She was not to be executed (Deuteronomy 22:25-27). But her fiancé might not want to go through with the marriage, even though what had happened was not her fault. He was allowed to divorce her and break off the espousal contract.
Now, let's look at this verse again:
"And I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:" (Matthew 5:32; 19:8).
This exception clause is recorded by Matthew only. Why then an exception clause in Matthew but not in Mark or Luke (see Mark 10:1-12 & Luke 16:18)? Did the Greeks, whom Luke addressed, and the Romans, whom Mark addressed, not need to know of the exception clause? Were only the Jews, whom Matthew addressed, permitted this liberty? The answer lies in the peculiar way in which the Jews contracted marriage.
When our Lord is recorded in Matthew 5:32; 19:9 as saying, "porneia" which is the Greek word for 'fornication', He is referring to fornication within the Jewish betrothal period. This passage is too often misinterpreted to mean "adultery" within the consummated marriage state. To try and make "fornication" (Greek "porneia") and "adultery" (Greek "moicheia") have the same meaning is untenable, especially when both words are used in the same verses (Matthew 5:32; 15:19; 19:19; Mark 7:21, 1 Cor.6:9, Gal.5:19, Heb.13:4). These two different words with two different meanings clearly describe two different acts.
Let's look at three different bible dictionaries, and notice the difference between fornication (sex without marriage state) and adultery (sex within marriage state):
- Fornication: This word is used in Scripture not only for the sin of impurity between unmarried persons, but for idolatry, and for all kinds of infidelity to God. (American Tract Society Dictionary).
- Adultery: Is a criminal connection between persons who are engaged, one or both, to keep themselves wholly to others; and thus it exceeds the guilt of fornication, which is the same intercourse between unmarried persons. Illicit intercourse between a married man and a woman who was not married, nor betrothed, constituted not adultery, but fornication. Fornication may be, in some sense, covered by a subsequent marriage of the parties; but adultery cannot be so healed. (American Tract Society Dictionary).
- Adultery: The parties to this crime, according to Jewish law, were a married woman and a man who was not her husband . (Smith's bible dictionary).
- Adultery: Conjugal infidelity. An adulterer was a man who had illicit intercourse with a married or a betrothed woman, and such a woman was an adulteress. Intercourse between a married man and an unmarried woman was fornication. (Easton's 1897 bible dictionary).
In the environment in which Jesus worked and in which the Gospels were written, a very careful distinction was drawn between what was fornication and what was adultery. In short, if any man (married or unmarried) has sex with an unmarried woman, it is fornication; and if any man (married or unmarried) has sex with a married woman, it was adultery.
Furthermore, to interpret Jesus, in Matthew 5:32 & 19:9, as giving grounds for divorce in the case of "adultery" contradicts Christ's teaching in Mark 10:1-12 & Luke 16:18, where divorce is never an option. It would also contradict the teaching of Paul who claims to be giving Christ's own command for "no divorce", and does not mention any exceptions, especially for "adultery" (1 Corinthians 7:10-11; 39)!
One should not expect that Mark and Luke would be so careless as to forget or neglect such important information (i.e. whether or not Jesus taught that "adultery" is grounds for divorce) in their gospels knowing that the audience of their day didn't have the convenience of reading Matthew's gospel along with theirs as we do today. They clearly understood Christ to be teaching that divorce is not God's will, and that remarriage after an unfounded divorce results in adultery:
Matthew 19:6, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Mark 10:11-12, "And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery"
Luke 16:18, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."
The reason Mark and Luke do not mention the exceptive clause is they were addressing a predominately gentile audience while Matthew was addressing a Jewish one. Certainly, the only time a "wife" could possibly commit "fornication" (as Matthew 5:32 and 19:8 state) would be during the betrothal period! Why? Because before the betrothal period, she would not be a "wife" yet, but she would be a single woman. And after the betrothal period, she would be married, and therefore, she would be committing adultery if she cheated on her husband, and it would not be called fornication.
In addition, if Christ was teaching that adultery is now grounds for divorce (in Matthew 5:32), that would have contradicted his statement he made just a few minutes earlier in Matthew 5:18, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Jesus clearly taught that no part of the Old Testament laws would pass, until heaven and earth pass and until all prophesy be fulfilled.
Now, picture this. Jesus tells the Jews, "No part of the Old Testament laws will pass away" (verse 18). Then, just a short time later (verse 32) , he says, "On second thought, the Old Testament laws have passed away! From this moment on, I command you to ignore God's Law. God says no divorce is allowed for adultery, but I say unto you that divorce is allowed for adultery!" Do you see a contradiction here? You see, the Jews would not have needed to hire false witnesses against Jesus at his trial; they would have simply executed him on the spot for teaching contrary to God's written law!
And one last point. If Jesus was saying that a couple cannot divorce for any reason, except adultery, this would mean the following. Picture a married woman who followed God with all her heart, and did nothing to provoke a divorce, but was divorced and abandoned by her husband. God said re-marriage was not from the beginning. However, since Jesus has a loophole now, all she has to do is sleep with another man while she is married, and now she can get a legal divorce, and legally marry another man! And if she doesn't like that man, she could commit adultery, get another divorce, and marry another man! In other words, Jesus would be promoting sin!
The Betrothal Period
For an illustration of what our Lord is referring to here in His reference to "porneia", or fornication, during the betrothal period and how it relates to the Pharisees question regarding a "bill of divorcement," one should examine Joseph's situation and the language used. When a couple was betrothed, they were considered husband and wife, and they needed a bill of divorcement in order to depart from one another. Scripture plainly says that Mary was Joseph's wife (Matthew 1:20,24, Luke 2:5). But at the same time, she was betrothed to him:
Matthew 1:18-19, "...Mary was betrothed to Joseph...Joseph...was minded to put her away."
Luke 1:27, "To a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary."
Luke 2:5, "To be taxed with Mary his betrothed wife, being great with child."
The Greek word for "put her away" (in Matthew 1:19 above) is 'aphiemi,' and is used by Paul to describe divorce in 1 Corinthians 7:11. In other words, a divorce was required to break off a betrothal, because she was his wife.
Lest anyone question whether a betrothed girl is a wife:
Deuteronomy 20:7, "And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her."
She was his wife, but he had not taken (lain with) her yet. Their marriage was not yet consummated. This verse also shows how seriously God views betrothal. So, fornication is still possible during the betrothal, therefore, it is necessary to continue to abstain from touching until the touching will not lead to fornication any longer. This time comes at the wedding and no sooner!
Deuteronomy 22:23-24 is another passage that defines a "betrothed virgin" (verse 23) as a "neighbour's wife" (verse 24):
Deuteronomy 22:23-24, "If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her...ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife..."
Another example of someone being a husband and wife during the betrothed state, before the marriage was consumated by having sex, is of Lot's two daughters. His two daughters were virgins, and never had sex with any man (Genesis 19:8), yet his daughters were married to their husbands (Genesis 19:14), as lot refers to these men as his son-in-laws. The reason Lot's daughters were virgins, yet had husbands, is because his daughters were betrothed to these men, but they had not consumated their marriage with sex yet.
In the Old Testament, and during Christ's earthly ministry, the wedding of a virgin was to be celebrated on the fourth day of the week, so that the husband could at once bring any complaint before the court sessions held on the fifth day of the week about his wife's not having been a virgin, although he had taken her to wife on this condition and paid the higher price that had to be paid to get a virgin. A man was not considered to have acted justly if he did not bring forward any complaints he might have about his wife's not having been a virgin. He was not to overlook his wife's not having been a virgin but was to accuse her in court and divorce her, if he wished to be regarded a just man. The betrothal meant that the marriage was legally valid. The betrothed girl is called wife and if the husband wishes to be free of her, he must give her a bill of divorce. A clause of the marriage contract has not been fulfilled, in that the girl was not a virgin, as the man was informed when the contract was drawn up and he paid for her the sum that had to be paid for a virgin. The husband is the party who has right on his side. He has fulfilled his obligations. The party who has acted unjustly is the girl's father, if he knew that his daughter was not a virgin but nevertheless asserted that she was and accepted as high a price for her as that which had to be paid for a virgin. The girl had also committed a crime in playing "the whore in her father's house" (Deuteronomy 22:21). Joseph "being a just man" therefore, probably was only being consistent with his historical culture and practicing that which Mary's son, the Son of God, permitted later in Matthew's gospel (Matthew 5 &19).
As demonstrated above, since betrothal was the first part of the marriage contract, they were considered husband and wife, although they were not officially married yet. This is why a "putting away," or a bill of divorcement, was necessary.
The above interpretation is consistent with the apostolic teaching in the New Testament where Paul gives no grounds for divorce in his epistles, especially for "adultery".
Why do Modern Translations render the meaning of porneia as Unchastity?
Modern translators tend to translate porneia in the exception according to the view of Erasmus. Thus the NASB reads "unchastity" in Matthew 5:32 and "immorality" in 19:9. The NIV reads "marital unfaithfulness" in both cases; despite the fact that lexicons commonly render the word porneia as "fornication" or "whoredom."
The fallacy of translating porneia as general "unchastity" in these verses is especially evident when we examine the context. Consider the following points:
We conclude that the modern translations present a mistranslation of porneia in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. The meaning of porneia is required by the context to mean something more restrictive than general unchastity, something other than adultery, something which allows Jesus' teaching on lifelong marriage to cause surprise to Jesus' disciples.
- If Jesus meant adultery (as "unchastity," "immorality," and "marital unfaithfulness" all imply), He surely would have used the term for adultery -- moichao. He was not using terms carelessly, especially in disputing with legal experts.
- The "unchastity" translations cause Jesus to say what would have sided Him with one of the factions of the Pharisees. In Matthew 19, the Pharisees were trying to draw Jesus into a controversy they had among themselves. (They asked their question, "tempting him.") One side followed a liberal teacher named Hillel, who allowed divorce for virtually any reason. The other side followed stricter Shammai, who allowed divorce only for marital unfaithfulness. Jesus followed neither. He said, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6); that is, "No divorce" (equivalent to saying, "I don't agree with either of you").The Pharisees objected. If Jesus had then changed His statement to mean, "No divorce, except for marital unfaithfulness," He would have been backing down from His original statement (equivalent to saying, "I agree with Shammai").
- Such a position would have occasioned no surprise from Jesus' disciples. They exclaimed (after His exception), "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry" (Matthew 19:10). If Jesus had merely been confirming Shammai's position (no divorce except for marital unfaithfulness), why would they think His teaching was so radical? Jesus clearly was teaching a position with which even the disciples were unfamiliar.
- The "unchastity" translations do not agree with Luke and Mark, who both clearly understood Jesus' teaching to be: Marriage for life; no divorce, no remarriage, period.
Understandably, translators are not to be expositors. They should not insert clarifications into the text. The restrictive meaning of "fornication," however, as the KJV renders porneia, is more faithful to the context than the words used in modern translations.
A Study of 1 Corinthians 7
1 Corinthians 7:15, "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."
Some have tried to use 1 Corinthians 7:15 as a proof-text to teach that remarriage is acceptable for the believer if "willful desertion" has occurred on the part of the unbelieving spouse. Out of poor exegesis, they oddly try and somehow tie 1 Corinthians 7:39 & Romans 7:2-3 to 1 Corinthians 7:15 with the conclusion that the believer is now "free" to remarry and not "under bondage" to a life of singleness as they imagine the text must mean. The problem with this misinterpretation is that "bondage" to a life of singleness and "freedom" to remarry isn't even Paul's point in 1 Corinthians 7:15.
Let's briefly look at the Greek text. In 1 Corinthians 7:15, Paul says "A brother or a sister is not under bondage (douloo) in such cases." He uses completely different words when he is speaking about the aspect of being under "bondage" to one's partner in marriage in Romans 7:2:
Romans 7:2, "For the woman which hath an husband is bound (deo) by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed (katargeo) from the law of her husband."
Or by a promise of marriage to one's betrothed in 1 Corinthians 7:27:
1 Corinthians 7:27, "Art thou bound (deo) unto a wife? seek not to be loosed (luo). Art thou loosed (lusis) from a wife? seek not a wife."
As we can see, Paul uses a completely different word, douloo, when he refers to the kind of duty or subjection the believer is freed from in 1 Corinthians 7:15. So, then, what is the "bondage" that the believer is "freed" from in 1 Corinthians 7:15?
The term "bondage" literally means "enslavement" (see Titus 2:3 where the same Greek word is translated "enslaved"), and the marriage relationship has never been viewed as an enslavement ! The apostle is simply saying that if the unbeliever threatens to depart if the Christian does not forsake Christ, then the Christian may "let him depart." One is not obligated to be enslaved to that unbelieving spirit of rebellion. But, mothing is said about a second marriage for the believer; it is vain to put words in Paul's mouth when he is silent.
If facing separation or divorce, the Christian in his or her seeking to be reconciled to the unbeliever, is not "under bondage" to change the unbeliever's mind about the divorce. This freedom from bonds is related to the preceding chorizo ("depart") and means that the Christian is not under bondage to preserve the union through legal maneuvers or by pursuing the unwilling partner all over the Roman Empire. The word "bondage" has to do with how the partners relate. Is the believer to function like a slave in relationship to the partner who is unwilling to maintain the marriage? Paul answers, 'No!' The word "bondage" is set in contrast with the word "peace." Peace in the midst of a difficult situation is God's portion for a rejected Christian partner, not a new marriage. Paul is simply saying in verse 15 that Christ's prohibition against divorce does not "enslave" the believer to maintain the union against the wishes of an unbelieving partner who insists on ending the marriage. The overly sensitive believer here (as opposed to some in Corinth at that time who possibly thought that they could divorce unbelievers, see vs. 12) should not feel fearful of our Lord's prohibition of divorce, but lay hold of His peace knowing that he or she did all that they could possibly do. They are not to blame if they cannot reconcile the unbeliever back to them, rather the hardened, insistent unbeliever is. Perhaps during this trying time the believer acted out of bitterness and strife by contesting the divorce or separation. He or she must avoid this and "live in peace".
Here are a couple of commentaries to shed further light on 1 Corinthians 7:15.
"Many have supposed that this means that they would be at liberty to marry again when the unbelieving wife or husband had gone away; as Calvin, Grotius, Rosenmuller, etc. But this is contrary to the strain of the argument of the apostle. The sense of the expression, "is not bound," etc. is that if they forcibly depart, the one that is left is not bound by the marriage tie to make provision for the one that departed; to do acts that might be prejudicial to religion by a violent effort to compel the departing husband or wife to live with the one that is forsaken; but is at liberty to live separate, and should regard it as proper so to do." Albert Barnes' New Testament Commentary.
"Whether husband or wife: if such obstinately depart and utterly refuse all cohabitation, a brother or a sister-a Christian man or woman, is not under bondage to any particular laws, so as to be prevented from remarrying. Such, probably, the law stood then; but it is not so now; for the marriage can only be dissolved by death, or by the ecclesiastical court. Even fornication or adultery does not dissolve the marriage contract; nor will the obstinate separation of any of the parties, however long continued, give the party abandoned authority to remarry. If the person have been beyond sea, and not heard of for seven years, it is presumed he may be dead; and marriage has been connived at in such cases. If there be no person to complain, it may be presumed that there is none injured. But I have known instances where even a marriage after seven years' absence has been very unfortunate; the husband returning at the end of ten or twelve years, and to his utter distress finding his wife married to another man, and with issue of that marriage! There can be no safety in this case, unless there be absolute certainty of the death of the party in question." Adam Clarke's Commentary.
Besides, if Paul was saying that re-marriage is okay, he would be contradicting himself (1 Corinthians 7:11). Divorce does not give the right to marry again. To remarry is to enter a relationship of adultery.
What if a Faithful Woman has been Deserted by her Husband?
Paul's belief in the case of an unbelieving husband having divorced his faithful Christian wife is consistent with what he had earlier stated, "let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband" (1 Corinthians 7:11), and "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 7:39).
What if a Faithful Man has been Deserted by his Wife?
There is not one verse in the entire Bible that teaches that a man in this situation could not remarry another woman while his first wife was still alive. However, it would be wise to inform his potential second wife that should his first wife seek to be reconciled to him he is to accept her back (1 Corinthians 7:11).
1 Corinthians 7:25-28, "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you."
One interpretation of this verse teaches that if a Christian's (man or woman) spouse has committed adultery or abandoned them, they may not only divorce, but remarry. This view sees Paul addressing two men in two different scenarios. One apparently married, exhorted not to divorce, and the other apparently divorced, being exhorted that remarriage would not be a sin. Teaching that a woman in this scenario can remarry while her first husband is still alive is a false interpretation of this text as we have seen in Romans 7:2-3 & 1 Corinthians 7:11, 39. It is true, however that a man may remarry while his first wife is still alive, under certain circumstances.
Another interpretation sees this passage dealing with two kinds of individuals - "married" and "virgins" based on the context of verses 24-26. Paul is addressing his comments in verses 25-35 to unmarried persons, precisely virgins (7:25). Paul's main point set forth in verse 25 is the principle of marital status quo. Whether you are married or single, the Apostle Paul says stay that way! To argue that Paul is advocating the remarriage of divorced persons, and that this may be done without sin, is to violate the context of the passage and contradict the clear teaching of Paul elsewhere, and the teaching of Jesus in the gospels.
The correct interpretation is as follows:
1 Corinthians 7:25,27-28, "Now concerning virgins...Art thou (betrothed 'virgin') bound (by a promise of marriage or engaged) unto a wife? (better translated "woman", however a woman who is betrothed is considered a wife) seek not to be loosed (do not break off or seek to be released from your promise or engagement due to the present distress). Art thou (single man - a 'virgin' who is not engaged) loosed (free of an obligation or promise to marry) from a wife (or 'woman', as this Greek word is translated most of the time in the bible)? seek not a wife (or woman). But if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you."
According to the context of verse 25, Paul is addressing only one kind of individual, that is "virgins". I don't see that he's addressing married and divorced individuals, or married individuals and virgins. There are only two kinds of virgins; engaged virgins and single virgins, not already engaged. Paul now offers his advice to those virgins in verses 25-38. The context and the Greek support this interpretation. The "thou" of verses 27-28 is referring to the "now concerning virgins" of vs. 25. Since "virgin" in the rest of the New Testament is commonly used to refer to a betrothed woman (Luke 1:27; Matthew 1:18, 23; 25:1-13; 2 Corinthians 11:2), and "gune", Greek for "wife" or "woman", can just as easily be translated "of a betrothed woman" (see Strong's), this interpretation should be seen as the Biblical one as its interpretation does not violate Christ's and Paul's teachings. It is supported by the Greek and is contextually congruent with verses immediately preceding and, as will now be demonstrated, the verses immediately following.
Unfortunately, the betrothal debate is usually only considered by most exegetes in 1 Corinthians 7:36-38. Many have interpreted this section as Paul giving advice to the father of a girl who is beyond the marriageable age. Once again, since "virgin" in the rest of the New Testament is commonly referring to a betrothed woman, and "huperakmos" (Greek) defined as "highly sexed" (see Liddell and Scott), Paul is advising the betrothed man to marry his virgin (fiancée) if he finds his passion hard to control during their engagement. This is consistent advice from Paul, even within this chapter, while giving advice to the widowers and widows, "But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn" (1 Corinthians 7:9). There is nothing in the context or the Greek to support that a father of a virgin is in view here.
This interpretation of Paul addressing the situation of a betrothed "virgin" in verses 36-38 is consistent and fits with the previous context of betrothed "virgins" in this entire section (verses 25-38). Paul has already spoken of the problems of the married and formerly married (widowed and divorced) in verses 1-24. He then addresses this entire section (25-38) to the situations of engaged couples and singles who need counsel regarding the present distress. In the rest of the New Testament, "virgin" is commonly used of a betrothed girl, and throughout verses 25-38 Paul addresses the men and his special notations are to the women (cf. vv.28b, 34). The question these engaged couples ask Paul is whether or not to fulfill their promises of marriage in view of the present distress. So when Paul says in verse 28, "But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned," he is not speaking to divorced individuals as a good number of people suppose. He is speaking to those who are bound by a promise of marriage (engaged) in verse 27. It is to this group that Paul says, "But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned" (v. 28a).
2 Corinthians 5:17
Some men and women feel that they can remarry another even if they are guilty of putting away their first spouse. They appeal to 2 Corinthians 5:17 and interpret it to mean "the old things (sin of divorce) are passed away... all things are become new (forgiveness means I can marry again in 'the Lord,' now)." No one is doubting that the Lord can forgive the sin of divorcing a spouse, but this does not mean that remarriage to a new partner, even though he or she may be a "Christian", would not then be considered adultery by our Lord.
If someone unlawfully divorced his wife, and repents, then he is forgiven for that sin, yes. But the Law still says if he marries another he would be committing adultery. For example, scripture does not say, at Luke 16:18, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: But if he repents of putting away his wife, then he is free to re-marry." It does not say nor imply that. Just because we are forgiven for one sin (divorce), does not allow us to ignore the law in another area (re-marriage). That law is still binding.
To give an example from scripture, when a thief stole under the Old Testament, he was to shed the blood of a goat, and then he would have to pay restitution. He would be forgiven for that sin by the goat's blood, but he would still be bound to pay restitution. There are still consequences to his forgiven sin. And under the New Testament, if a thief stole something, and repented and believed in the blood of Jesus Christ, that thief would still have to pay restitution to those he stole from. Just because he was forgiven by God for his sin of stealing, it does not mean he is free to ignore the law of restitution to people. That law is still binding upon him.
Likewise, just because a man is forgiven by God for his sin of divorce, it does not mean he is free to ignore the law of re-marriage to people. Even though the thief was forgiven, there are still consequences...paying restituion for his theft. And even though the man who divorced was forgiven, there are still consequences...he cannot re-marry once divorced. That law is still binding upon him. Forgiveness in one area does not permit disobedience in another.
In defense, I hear, "God didn't consider my former marriage valid since my partner and I weren't Christians." Where does Scripture teach this? It is simply not taught anywhere. Some have pointed to the case of Herod marrying his brother's wife to prove that God does consider the validity of non-Christian marriages (Matthew 14:3-4, Mark 6:17-18, Luke 3:19). God records Herodias as Philip's wife after her marriage to Herod. Some would say that this example of the marriage of two unsaved people shows that the idea that God has nothing to do with the marriages of nonbelievers is simply not true. In context, wasn't Christ contending with the Pharisees (unbelievers) over matters of divorce, remarriage, and adultery (Greek "moicheia")? God's holy standard for marriage is binding upon all, Christian and non-Christian alike. I hear, "that's not my God of love." As Christians, we are not allowed for subjective human definitions of God's love to overturn the plain meaning of Scripture which should determine everyone's concept of His love.
2 Corinthians 5:17, however, can and does apply to the Christian in the above situation (having sinfully divorced his or her spouse) if he or she truly has ears to hear its message. Regarding divorce and remarriage, as a new creation in Christ, you now have the divine resources necessary to obey our Lord's commandments as is fitting of Christ's true disciples.
Polygamy, Divorce, And Remarriage
Romans 7:2-3, "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man."
1 Corinthians 7:39, "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord."
We have noticed in our study of Polygamy and the Old Testament that a man could marry more than one woman and not be charged with "adultery" and hence stoned, but according to the Scriptures, a woman could not marry more than one man (a practice called polyandry), and that if she were involved with another man, she was charged with adultery and stoned. The reason the man is not mentioned by Paul in Romans 7:2-3 & 1 Corinthians 7:39 is because a man, according to the law, could marry another woman while his first wife was still alive and not be guilty of adultery (Exodus 21:10; Leviticus 18:17; 20:14; Deuteronomy 21:15-17; 22:28-29; 25:7-10).
In the matters of divorce and remarriage, it is Paul's pattern of writing in 1 Corinthians 7 to apply something to both the wife and the husband if it applies to both. Both the wife and the husband are admonished not to divorce (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). Both the husband and the wife are commanded not to divorce in the case that they are married to an unbeliever (verse 12-16). But only the wife is told that she cannot be joined to another as long as her husband is alive (verse 39). Therefore, the Biblical position on remarriage would be the following: If a woman gets divorced by her husband, she may not remarry another because she is bound to her first husband as long as he lives (unless the exception in Matthew 5 and 19 happens). If a man is divorced by his wife, he may remarry another, but he must pray for his first wife's return and accept her back as a wife if she returns (verse 7:11). If a man divorces his wife unjustly, he may not remarry another, for it would then be considered "adultery" (Mark 10:11).
The lack of understanding the lawful institution of polygamy has definitely muddied the issues surrounding remarriage today.
- If Jesus was referring to sex within an unmarried state in Matthew 5 and 19, why didn't he say so?
He did. When he said "except for fornication," his listeners understood him as saying, "except for sex during an unmarried state," since this word "fornication" (pornia) only referred to sex within an unmarried state. And the only unmarried state that required a divorce was the betrothal state.
- But if the couple were unmarried, why would it be necessary for an unmarried couple to get a divorce? Isn't a divorce only for married couples?
According to "the world," divorce is only required for a married couple. But back in scriptural times, divorce was required for a betrothed couple as well! A betrothal (espousal, engagement) is a "promise to marry." If one promises to marry another, then they are not married yet. However, under God's Law, they are considered husband and wife, even though they did not consumate their relationship with sex yet. Until they become "one flesh," they are not officially married.
The consequence of a man sleeping with a betrothed woman is the same as adultery because she was a man's wife (Deuteronomy 22:23-24), but Jesus uses the term "fornication" to differentiate between sex before the consumated marriage state, and sex after the consumated marriage state. Therefore, Jesus allowed a betrothed couple to divorce since they were not officially married yet. But once a couple has consumated a marriage by becoming one flesh, divorce and re-marriage is no longer permitted.
- "You claim when a woman commits fornication during the betrothal period, that it was not as serious as a woman who commits adultery during the marriage state. However, Deuteronomy 22:23-24 shows that when a woman commits fornication during the betrothal state, she was to be stones to death, just as a woman who committs adultery."
Deuteronomy 22:23, "If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband,..."
Notice that only those women who were "virgins" while betrothed were to be stoned to death. It is interesting how it differentiates between "a damsel", and "a damsel that is a virgin." Only the women who lost their chastity by consent were treated thusly, and not women who lost their virginity before being betrothed. Verse 28 says a similar thing in reference to only a betrothed woman who was a virgin, because after a woman was not a virgin anymore, a man would not have to pay money to her father for sleeping with her (this would prevent him from prostituting his daughter).
- "If divorce is not permitted, then an innocent party of adultery would have to be 'one flesh' with an adulterous spouse!! This would go against God's plan for marriage.”
I understand why one would feel this way. But I need to ask this question, "Where in God's Word does it say this would go against God's Plan of marriage?" Everybody is a sinner. Yes, adultery would go against God's Law of marriage. Definitely. I'm not denying that. But an adulterer is a sinner. Where does God say we are to divorce sinners? God's Word says we are to forgive those who trespass against us. Why would God say, “Yes, you are to forgive your partner when they sin…oh, except for adultery.” God's Word does not say that. It does not even say adultery is a reason to divorce anywhere in scripture! We are to forgive those who sin against us. God wants us to forgive our partner when they sin. Even if he is an unbeliever!
1 Corinthians 7:14, "And the woman (believer) which hath an husband that believeth not (unrepentant adulterer), and if he (unrepentant adulterer) be pleased to dwell with her (believer), let her (believer) not leave him (unrepentant adulterer). For the unbelieving husband (unrepentant adulterer) is sanctified by the wife (believer)…”
Any why must she stay with her husband? Our brother Paul assigns a reason why the believing party should not separate from the other needlessly, or why he should not desire to be separated. Two verses later, in 1 Corinthians 7:16, Paul says there is the possibility that the unbelieving party might be converted by the example of the other! This is also confirmed in another passage:
1 Peter 3:1, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word (unrepentant adulterer), they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;"
Now we have another verse, a second witness, that says we are to stay with our husbands! So that they may eventually be converted to Christ by his wife's mercy, forgiveness, and love. What kind of witness would that be if we did not forgive our spouse for sin? God forgave us when we did not deserve it, why not forgive our spouse when he or she does not deserve it?
If Jesus could forgive those enemies who were in the process of crucifying him (Luke 23:34), and Stephen could forgive those enemies who were in the process of stoning him to death (Acts 7:59-60), then we should certainly be able to forgive our spouse, who is 'one flesh' with us, if they sin against us. No matter what that sin is. Sure, it's going to be hard to forgive them, but remember what Jesus said, and he said this soon after his teaching on divorce:
Matthew 6:14-15, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
If Jesus was teaching that one could divorce a spouse because of adultery, then that would contradict his teaching to forgive those who commit adultery against us.
On the other hand, in a situation in which a man wanted to marry a virgin, and was betrothed to a virgin, and paid her father a dowry price for a virgin, then if she was raped, he was allowed to divorce her before he humbled her. The reason is because he had agreed to marry a virgin, and she was no longer a virgin. This was the agreement they had. She did nothing wrong, so there is no reason to forgive her; there's nothing to forgive! He was not divorcing her for anything she did, he was divorcing her because their contract/agreement/covenant was that his wife be a virgin, and since she was no longer one, divorce is permissible.
But if the man divorced her, how cruel it would be for her to never marry! After all, she was never married to him in the first place! Yes, she was his wife, but they were not married yet, only engaged. Therefore, she was free to marry whomever she wanted after she was raped.
And this is what Jesus taught. This is the only “fornication” he could have been referring to! Any other interpretation would contradict both the Old and New Testament Laws regarding adultery and marriage.
- "God was married to Israel! According to Jeremiah 31:31-32, God said he was “an husband” to Israel. In Jeremiah 3:8-10 and Isaiah 50:1, God states that he was married to Israel, and gave Israel a bill of divorcement. God would not do this if it was a sin to divorce in a married state.
Actually, the marriage between God and Israel was not consumated, the husband and wife relationship between God and Israel was only a betrothal (espousal), which would confirm the fact that divorce was only allowed during betrothal.
Isaiah 61:10, "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."
Jeremiah 2:2, "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown."
Jeremiah 7:34, "Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate."
Jeremiah 16:9, "For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride."
Jeremiah 25:10, "Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle."
Hosea 2:19-20, "And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD."
2 Corinthians 11:2, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
Further Background on Deuteronomy 24
Deuteronomy 24:1-4, "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."
The law of divorce is defined and described. When is best translated “if” and begins the conditional sentence. Then let him should be translated “and he writes her.” It continues the conditional element of the sentence and is not a command. Uncleaness seems to be a technical term (lit., “nakedness”) but the meaning is no longer clear. In 23:14, the same word is used to designate something “unclean.” However, other usage may mean “inadequate.” Whatever the problem, it was not adultery, since this was punishable by death (22:22). That the couple in view is married, not merely betrothed, is clear from the context, as is the possibility of divorce and re-marriage. The purpose of this law was to prevent hasty divorce, discourage adultery, and preserve marriage. The people of Jesus' day took this permission to divorce as a promotion of divorce but Jesus reminded them that such was not God's original plan, and that divorce was allowed by Moses only because of the “hardness of your hearts.”
The phrase, "some uncleanness" in verse 1, means any cause of dislike, for this great latitude of meaning the fact itself authorizes us to adopt, for it is certain that a Jew might put away his wife for any cause that seemed good to himself; and so hard were their hearts, that Moses suffered this; and we find they continued this practice even to the time of our Lord, who strongly reprehended them on the account, and showed that such license was wholly inconsistent with the original design of marriage (Matthew 5:31; 19:3, etc).
In this discourse, our Lord shows that marriage, (except in one case,) is indissoluble, and should be so:
The Jewish doctors gave great license in the matter of divorce. Among them, a man might divorce his wife if she displeased him even in the dressing of his victuals!
- By Divine institution, Mt 19:4.
- By express commandment, Mt 19:5.
- Because the married couple become one and the same person, Mt 19:6.
- By the example of the first pair, Mt 19:8; and
- Because of the evil consequent on separation, Mt 19:9.
Rabbi Akiba said, "If any man saw a woman handsomer than his own wife, he might put his wife away; because it is said in the law, If she find not favour in his eyes." (Deuteronomy 24:1). Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, in his Life, tells us, with the utmost coolness and indifference, "About this time I put away my wife, who had borne me three children, not being pleased with her manners."
These two cases are sufficient to show to what a scandalous and criminal excess this matter was carried among the Jews. However, it was allowed by the school of Shammai, that no man was to put away his wife unless for adultery. The school of Hillel gave much greater license.
The following is the common form of a writing of divorce:
"On the day of the week A. in the month B. in the year C. from the beginning of the world, according to the common computation in the province of D., I, N. the son of N. by whatever name I am called, of the city E. with entire consent of mind, and without any compulsion, have divorced, dismissed, and expelled thee-thee, I say, M. the daughter of M. by whatever name thou art called, of the city E. who wast heretofore my wife: but now I have dismissed thee-thee, I say, M. the daughter of M. by whatever name thou art called, of the city E. so as to be free, and at thine own disposal, to marry whomsoever thou pleasest, without hinderance from any one, from this day for ever. Thou art therefore free for any man. Let this be thy bill of divorce from me, a writing of separation and expulsion, according to the law of Moses and Israel. REUBEN, son of Jacob, Witness. ELIEZAR, son of Gilead, Witness."
Divorce hurts Children and Scars their Lives
Following is the testimony of one daughter whose parents divorced:
"Please, please don't sign them! O Daddy, don't sign those papers!" My pleadings must have added greatly to my father's burden, but the pen held firmly in his hand continued to write his name on the final paper.
Thus was my world destroyed and I with it, for on that day something died in the heart of a child. . . .
Bitter protests and tears were vain, for divorce courts do not consider human hearts when they collect their dues. Mother and Daddy were to be "free," but we children were not. I became a slave to despair. The quarrels? They ceased, to be sure, but cries of heartbroken children took their place, and I for one, longed to hear those quarrels if only it meant I could have my mother and daddy back! . . .
I wish I could take the hand of every parent harboring the thought of divorce, and lead you back with me into the valley through which I have come. If the hurt of an innocent child's heart, the bitter shock of a tender life, the tears of the unwanted, misplaced child, the horror and gloom could be called to witness in the divorce courts, no child would again have to walk the dreadful road that starts with the signing of those final papers in the divorce courts. Instead, the tears would become your own and in the valley you would realize that the ones who suffer in divorce and remarriage are the innocent children. (Anon., "Scars of Divorce," published by Gospel Tract Society, Inc., Independence, Mo., pages 1, 3, 6.)
Remember this important Truth...God hates divorce:
Malachi 2:16, "For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away [divorce]."
Marriage is a serious step. The vows are witnessed on earth and they are recorded in Heaven. The scripture teaches that marriage is a lifetime contract, never to be broken except by death. The scripture teaching on this topic needs to be clearly presented so that young people will be more careful in choosing a mate, and so that married couples will strive harder to make the adjustments needed to save their marriages.
The New Testament teaching regarding divorce and remarriage is very strict, especially in view of modern society's loose and compromising views of God's righteousness. And there is no question that many people have, through ignorance, involved themselves in some heart-breaking relationships. But this important truth must be observed; while we should be compassionate towards the weak and sinful by attempting to help them, we cannot lower the standards of the Holy Scriptures to a degenerate society! Rather, we must encourage and challenge noble people to rise to the elevating authority of God's inspired Truth. To be a true follower of Christ requires great sacrifices; it has even cost many their very lives. But regardless of the costs, let us be brave enough to seek the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth. The assembly of Christ should urge their fellow-citizens to respect and extol the virtues of the home as ordained by Almighty God.
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