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Let's Keep The Home Fires Burning #6


Intro: We live in an hour in which the home is under attack. Presently, 51% of all marriages will end in divorce. That is a rate of more than 1 of every 2 marriages. In some places like Knox County Tennessee, the divorce rate for first marriages is a staggering 66%. 2 out of every 3 marriages in the Knoxville, TN. area end in divorce! I see that as a great tragedy, and I am sure the Lord does also. Now, I realize that this is an unpleasant topic to preach about, but it is one which touches every life in this room in one fashion or another. My desire this evening in talking about the matter of divorce and remarriage is to be sensitive to those who have been affected by this terrible thing, but at the same time, I am obligated to share the truth of God's Word with you as it has been revealed unto me.

What I want from you this evening is for you to forget everything you have ever heard about this matter. Forget your prejudices and your preconceived notions and allow the Word of God to speak directly to your heart. This is an area in which I have devoted much study and prayer, because I wanted to arrive at the truth of this matter. As a result, my view tonight is somewhat different today than it was 10 years ago. I realize that not everyone who hears me tonight is going to agree with all that I say. That's all right! However, I challenge you to be open to the Word of God and if you find that you have believed incorrectly about this matter, then I challenge you to get in line with God and His Word. With these thoughts in mind, I would like for us to turn our attention to the Word of God and allow this Book to guide us in understanding this matter of divorce and remarriage, as we consider together God's Word To The Separated.


A. In beginning this section, Paul is addressing Christians who may be experiencing strain in the marriages. His word to them is simply this, "Do not divorce!" While some may feel that this is a tough stand, that is the clear word from God in the matter. In fact, Jesus himself said the same thing while He was here on the earth - Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18.

B. Perhaps a little understanding of the social conditions in Paul's day will be helpful in our understanding of his position. History tells us that in Corinth and in the culture as a whole, divorce was running rampant. It was not uncommon for people to have been married 15 or 20 times during the course of their lives. Paul is simply telling the Corinthian saints that God has a higher standard than that of the world. While the divorce and remarriage rates aren't any where near those that prevailed in Paul's day, there is still a serious problem in our society in regard to this matter.

C. The clear implication from these verses is that when 2 people are in a marriage relationship they become as one, Gen. 2:24. They also become a living illustration of the relationship between Christ and His people, Eph. 5:22-33. When that union is severed by divorce, we bring disgrace upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!

D. Ill. Surely some will say, "Well, doesn't the Lord allow for divorce at all?" The answer is "yes" and we will get to that before the message is concluded. For now though, we need to understand that God's perfect will is that husbands and wives stay together until death separates them one from the other, Mark 10:9. Now, having said that, I do not believe the Lord would have a woman continue to live in a situation where her live is threatened. Neither do I believe that she should keep her children in such and environment. There are situations where the physical and emotional abuse is so strong that the couple cannot continue to live under the same roof and according to these verses, separation is a possibility, but divorce is not an option in such cases! Please note that most divorces today stem from what are termed "irreconcilable differences" between Christians, there is no such thing! The Bible strictly forbids remarriage in these cases. In those cases where a divorce is obtained and granted then verse 11 tells us the Lord's mind in the matter. The separated people have one of 2 options available: 1.) Be reconciled, or 2.) Remain unmarried. That may sound narrowminded and strict, but that is the Word of God and not the opinion of this preacher! What if they remarry anyway? Then, according to the word of Jesus in Mark 10:2-12 and in Luke 16:18, they are guilty before the Lord of adultery. I do not believe that the Bible teaches that it is possible to live in a constant state of adultery. My feeling is that it is the act of the new marriage and the consummation of it that constitutes the adultery.

(Ill. In cases such as this, all I can say is that the divorce was a sin and that all the people involved can do is repent before the Lord and He will forgive their sin. Then, they are to live for the Lord to the best of their ability and forget the past. Their duty is to serve the Lord in their new relationship as best they can. Some would counsel the couple to divorce and for the partners to be reconciled to their former mates, but 2 wrongs never make a right! The best that can be done is that men and women serve the Lord in the place they presently find themselves.)

E. Ill. It would be impossible for us to exhaust every possible scenario in dealing with this matter. We can always produce another "What if?" case. What Paul is doing is simply laying down a biblical principle for life that can either be accepted or rejected by those who read it. To accept it will bring blessing, to reject it will bring judgment!)

F. Can anyone argue the plain truth that God forbids divorce among His people? There are some statement that need to be made here that need to be heard and remembered:

1. God never intends for anyone to get a divorce.

2. A Christian couple should never divorce, but by the help of the Lord, they should reconcile their differences. No sin is too great to be conquered if both partners are walking in love one toward the other!

3. Divorce should be eliminated from the Christian vocabulary. It is never an option!

4. Divorce is never commanded in any situation.

5. Divorce and remarriage disqualifies you from certain positions within the local church.

6. Divorce is a sin, but no greater than any other sin and can be forgiven by the Lord.

7. Those who have been through a divorce are not second class citizens in the church and should never be treated as such. If God forgives, then His people must forgive as well!

I. A Clear Word


A. Paul now turns his attention upon couples where one is a believer and the other is not. Apparently, these relationships came about when one spouse or the other was saved after they had been married. Sometimes, though, this situation arises when a saved person steps outside the clear teaching of the Scriptures and marries an unbeliever, 2 Cor. 6:14. This, too, is a sin and must be repented of by the guilty party.

B. Paul's statement here is clear. He tells us that if the unsaved partner is willing to live with the saved partner, then the saved man or woman is not to seek a divorce. However, if the unsaved person wishes to dissolve the marriage, then the saint of God has no choice in the matter and should be peaceful about the situation and not stand in their way. Please note, that the Christian is never to seek the divorce!

C. Paul's reasoning becomes clear in verses14 & 16. In these verses, he tells us that the saved partner has the opportunity to lead their spouse to the Lord. He also lets us know that because one of the partners is saved and serving the Lord, then the blessing of God is upon the home. Whereas, if no one there were saved, this would be missing. By virtue of the fact that there is a believer in the home, the smile of God is upon the house!

D. Verse 15 states that if the unbelieving partner leaves the marriage, the believer is not under "bondage" in such cases. Does this mean they can remarry? This question is answered by Jesus in Matt. 5:35 and 19:3-9. Let's turn there as we continue to think about this important matter.

I. A Clear Word

II. A Conditional Word

III. Matt.5:23; 19:3-9 A CLARIFYING WORD

(Ill. In these two passages, Jesus addresses the area of divorce and remarriage. He establishes a clear principle that must be followed if we are to be right with the Lord.)

A. V. 3 A Challenge From The Pharisees - Their question was one of much debate in their day. It seems that there were two schools of thought in Jesus' day about divorce and remarriage. There were 2 rabbis whose teachings had gained widespread influence. One, a rabbi named Shammai taught that a divorce could only be granted because of sexual immorality. Shammai taught that any kind of sexual sin broke the marriage covenant and released the innocent party to marry again. The other rabbi, a man named Hillel, taught that a man could obtain a divorce for any reason. If his wife burned his breakfast, spoke to another man in the street, developed a wrinkle, or if he simply saw another woman that he thought was prettier, he could write her a bill of divorcement and send her out of the home. By the way, this was the prevailing view in Jesus' day, and as a result, divorce was running rampant in that society. Both of these views arose out of differing interpretations of Deut. 24:1-4. The term in verse one, "find no favor" was the one in dispute. It needs to be noted here that the real issue at stake was not marriage and divorce, it was simply that the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus and cause Him to lose favor with the people. As usual, He simply out maneuvered them.

B. V. 4-8 A Confrontation From The Master - They came to Jesus and said, "What about divorce?" Jesus simply responded by asking, "What about marriage?" He reminds them that when a couple comes together as a husband and wife that they become one flesh. He plainly states in verse 6 that this is a union that is not to be dissolved by man. Then, the Pharisees want to know why Moses allowed them to divorce. Jesus answered by reminding them that divorce was allowed for one reason, namely, the hardness of men's hearts. According to Jesus, marriages are intended to be lifelong and ended only by the death of either spouse. God's intention is that there be one husband for one wife for one lifetime! In fact, it is helpful to note that God Himself expressed His feelings concerning divorce in Malachi 2:16. In this verse, God says that He hates divorce.

Ill. I think that this needs to be said right here. Instead of worrying about how we can get out of a bad marriage. Instead of fretting about what God allows and doesn't allow, why don't we try to make our marriages successful? A happy marriage is not a myth, but a very real possibility when people do it God's way!

C. V. 9 A Condition From The Master - In this verse, Jesus gives the only legitimate exception from the no divorce rule. He says that in the event of some illicit sexual activity on the behalf of one spouse or the other, divorce is permissible. The Bible allows divorce on no other ground but this! Now, a little deeper study into this verse will be helpful at this point.

1. What does Jesus mean by "fornication"? This word is translated from the Greek word, porneia- This word is defined as: 1) illicit sexual intercourse a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, etc. b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18 c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12, and is the word from which we get our modern word pornography. Since within the marriage relationship is found the only valid place for sexual expression, anything of a sexual nature that happens outside that marital union constitutes "fornication" and is grounds for divorce.

2. Does it refer to a one time act? No, the tense of the verbs indicate that this verse refers to a lifestyle of sexual perversion. If one partner falls into sin and then repents and seeks forgiveness and reconciliation, then there is to be no divorce. Both partners are under the obligation of doing everything in their power to ensure the success of their marriage. (Ill. I realize that this is a lot to ask of the innocent partner, but marriage is an illustration of the Lord's love for us and He doesn't throw us away when we fall! Remember the Lord parable in Matt. 18:23-25. We are to forgive and by the Lord's help and through His grace, the marriage can be saved!

3. Is the innocent partner required to seek a divorce? No, I think that was answered in the last point. Divorce is allowed, but is never commanded! The person who refuses to attempt reconciliation and who refuses to practice forgiveness is just as guilty as the one who committed the sexual sin.

4. Does the Bible allow for remarriage in the case of "fornication"? I think the principle is that when the Bible allows for a divorce, it also allows for remarriage. When preachers and others say that the Bible allows a divorce for a certain reason, but that it does not allow for remarriage, then I think we have entered the arena of producing our own Scripture. From my personal study, I have concluded that there are three scenarios in which the Bible seems to permit divorce and remarriage.

1. In the event of the death of a spouse - 1 cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:2-3.

2. In the event that a believing spouse is abandoned by an unbelieving spouse - 1 Cor. 7:15. This situation supposes that the spouse who departed did so in a desire to be united to another husband or wife, otherwise, they would have remained with their spouse, 1 Cor. 7:12-13. This, therefore, constitutes adultery and severs the marriage bonds. The abandoned spouse, it would appear, is free to remarry. However, if one spouse leaves the home and does not join himself/herself to another partner, then it would seem that remarriage is not permissible.

3. In the event that one spouse or the other is engaged in a lifestyle of unrepentant sexual immorality. This has already been covered previously and in reality, illicit sexual sin seems to be the ONLY grounds upon which divorce and remarriage is ever permissible. That may sound narrow, but that is the Word of God!

(Ill. I realize that many preachers take a very different viewpoint from mine. In fact, many feel that divorce is never allowed and that remarriage is also out of the question. I respect that point of view.  I just want you folks to know that I have agonized over this thing and have reached my position not because of what some friend preaches, or because of what I was taught in school, or to try and fit in with any group of men. I reached this position because I think it is what the Bible clearly and plainly says. However, if you feel differently than I do, then that is fine! You have to take your stand on the issue and then face God with the decisions you make in regard to it. I do feel that we can disagree about this issue and still enjoy fellowship one with another!)

(Now, allow me to clarify one more point before I close this evening. I do not perform weddings for those who have been previously married. I take this position, not in an effort to condemn anyone, but because only the people involved in the previous marriage and God in Heaven know the real reasons why it failed. If I were to start doing those types of weddings, I would have to play judge and try and make a godly decision based upon circumstances of which I have no personal knowledge. Therefore, since I am not commanded to perform weddings, I choose to marry only those who have never been married before. By the same token, I won't marry a couple where one is saved and one is lost. That is a clear violation of the Word of God and if someone is going to deliberately sin, I want no part of it! While it would be perfectly acceptable for me to participate in the remarriage of a believer who is divorced on Scriptural grounds, it would never be right for me to unequally yoke any couple together.)

Conc: We have covered a lot of territory tonight. I hope we are all clear on exactly what the Bible teaches concerning divorce and remarriage. However, instead of concentrating on what to do when the bottom falls out, we need to focus on making the marriages that do exist as strong as possible. Make your marriage a focus of prayer. Work at making it better.

To those who have been divorced, please know that the Lord loves you and if you have asked Him, He has forgiven you of your sin. You are not a second class citizen and have no need to fell guilty about your past. Neither I, nor this church, nor the Lord above condemns you for your past. Your duty is to submit yourself to the lord and to His will for your life and then serve Him with all your heart and ability as you travel through life. The Lord has a plan for you, Jer. 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

Sermon By Alan Carr


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