Where Do We Go From Here?
Before we can ask, where do we go from here, we must determine where we are right now. In the light of the information we have just studied, and the realization of the incredible social, emotional, financial, and spiritual devastation it has produced, we must determine if we are prepared to make a life changing, quality decision, concerning what the Bible really says about marriage, divorce and remarriage.
If you are a pastor, we can identify with the consternation you are feeling because everything we were ever taught in the majority of commentaries we own justifies divorce and remarriage because they were written since the reformation. This is the only thing we have ever known. Few in leadershiptoday have ever been presented with the historicevidence of the doctrinal change which took place in the sixteenth century. We now know these same reformers/writers of commentaries, were the ones who changed the doctrine. We would urge you to carefully reassess everything you have ever learned in your years of training and your study about divorce and remarriage. The greatest struggle we encountered was being willing to reassess, by proper hermeneutic principles and re-evaluating all of our former convictions, regardless of the outcome.
Remember how the Jewish leaders answered Jesus when He asked them about John the Baptist’s ministry?
And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders, and spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? Or who is he that gave thee this authority? And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. Luke 20:1-8
Their answer had nothing to do with truth; but situational realities: “if we say this, this will happen; and if we say that, that will happen.” Consequently, they went away continuing to walk in darkness. The bottom line for us should be two things: what is my sole authority for all spiritual decisions and whose bondservant am I? Paul the Apostle declared all believers to be bond slaves of Jesus Christ, whose responsibility is to be faithful to Him. For every believer there is no other valid basis for making a decision, but “thus saith the Lord.”
Consider this; knowing we are called to teach a very self centered, self gratifying society, is your teaching about marriage and divorce and remarriage exactly like Jesus’ and the apostle Paul’s; or similar to Erasmus’ or the Reformers? You and I are by products of what we have been taught or read during our lifetime. It is virtually impossible to find books teaching the New Testament position on marriage and divorce in Christian bookstores today.
If we are to find the truth, we will have to do our own research and be willing to face the firestorm in our churches and denominational fellowships. Those who have initiated a divorce and then remarried: have violated (not broken) many promises to love, honor and cherish their covenant partner and to cleave to them and them only, so long as they both should live, as stated in their marriage covenant; lied to their partner and to God, because they made a holy vow before God and many witnesses, “till death do us part.” Thus by their abandoning of these promises, they are presently in a state of rebellion. Solomon said, in Proverbs 6:32 & 33; “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonor shall he get; and his reproach (shame) shall not be wiped away.” (Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, says “shall not be blotted out.”) No matter what they do, they cannot get away from the guilt and shame of their adulterous condition. This shame is in their spirit and remains. If we try to diminish this shame with man’s reasoning or by ignoring Scripture, we will surely answer to God.
If what you have read has challenged you to seek further truth, may we suggest in the mean-time you might begin by refusing to marry another divorced person until you have this very serious issue completely settled in your own heart.
May we also suggest you never tell a couple who have been cohabiting, unmarried, they need to get married. Two wrongs do not make a right. They should first of all repent of their fornication and individually seek God’s perfect will for their lives. Only then should they evaluate if they truly love each other enough and have sufficiently common goals and convictions in life to consider becoming married. Until they have done this, they should not enter into the marriage covenant. That sin of fornication will then be under the blood. We know today the divorce rate of those who cohabit before marrying is much higher than those who marry and then live together.
If you are a single person; you can settle this issue in your heart once and for all, thus allowing you to make a clear choice in considering who will qualify as a future mate. Court the person you feel the Lord has shown you should be your future life partner. Refuse to “date.” The same Holy Spirit that brought Joseph and Mary together can lead you to the perfect mate if you will wait on Him. Until then, keep yourself pure! If you will honor Him, He will honor you, in His perfect timing.
If He has called you to a life of celibacy, He will give you a peace about it and the grace to live a happy and fruitful life.
If you are presently seriously involved with another person, you can start now by keeping yourself pure.
If you allow yourselves to be alone too much, the enemy can tempt you and try to destroy your testimony through lust. Become involved together in ministry outreach opportunities and studies to better prepare you for future service together.
If you are already married, you can start by eliminating the “D” word from your vocabulary. Divorce must never be an option. God has called us to reconciliation and peace. Learn biblical principles concerning marriage and strive to encourage your partner in every way possible to be all they can be for His kingdom. Always be ready to forgive, encourage and edify your partner. Remember, the Lord made you “One flesh” but you and your partner must work at being of one heart, mind, and spirit, till death.
If you are already experiencing marital difficulties, we encourage you to re-focus your commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He promised to never leave you or forsake you. He invites us to (cast all our cares on Him because He cares for you.) He is looking for those who will follow Him regardless of our circumstances.
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sister, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him.
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Luke 14:25-35
Your present situation has not taken God by surprise and He is not finished with you. If you now realize you were at fault, confess it to God and your partner and ask the Lord to help you be more like Jesus Christ in all your relationships, so your partner and others can see you are not who you once were.
Get busy serving the Lord in whatever way you can. Whatever you do, keep busy serving Him and other people in any way you can. Do not sit and soak! Do not go to a church where they encourage you to go to the “singles group” and pick out another partner. Do not listen to others who tell you to “forget your former mate and go on with your life.” That counsel is not scriptural, and invites disaster into your life. Acknowledge the fact you and your partner are one flesh until death and only then, will the covenant cease.
Your partner may have already remarried but that act is only on their account. It will not be on your account until you respond in an ungodly way. Keep your record clean and continue to love, pray for, and encourage your life partner.
If you are parents of a young couple who are unhappily married, do not encourage them in any way to divorce, regardless how perfect your child has been in the whole situation. Even if you despise your child’s partner, never encourage them to violate the covenant, but to find God’s answer.
Let me be clear about one thing. We have encouraged some couples to separate where there has been mental, emotional, and/or physical abuse.
And unto the married, I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. I Corinthians 7:10-11
In each of these instances, we have made it very clear to them they are still married and must not go looking for another partner. They should spend this time praying and studying to see how they might restore their relationship in a way pleasing to the Lord. We could give you many such illustrations of those who waited; and how the Lord did restore and bring healing.
The only place to go on from here, is into a more intimate relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ, putting Him, His word, and His will first place in your life. Only then will the “peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
First, we must tell you emphatically that God loves you more than you can ever know in your mind. Remember, He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the final solution for our sin and separation from God. At a time like this, it is important to remember it was our Lord Jesus who warned us to count the cost before we committed our lives to Him. Luke 14:25- 35 says He demands our unrivaled love and obedience or we “cannot be His disciples.” Grace is a powerful tool in God’s hands to help us overcome every difficult situation and He promises He will never put more on us than we can bear. Grace does not hide or skirt around the problem, but rather confronts it until it is completely resolved. Therefore, since you are under God’s grace, you have the power to overcome what seems to be an impossible situation.
To repent of any sin is to turn away from it and go in the other direction. To repent of a sin means to stop doing it. In other words, the only way a thief stops being a thief is if he/she quits stealing. Likewise, the only way to stop being an adulterer/adulteress, is to stop committing adultery.
God is so faithful! If you will seek His face, He will help you to be faithful as well. Faithful obedience to His word in every situation is the clarion call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember, breaking the cycle of any sin may seem impossible at first, but by His grace, you have the power within you to do it. Sin, not repented of, passes from generation to generation, and only you, by genuine biblical repentance can stop the cycle now.
When you’re ready, pray this prayer and begin to take hold of God’s promise to lead you to total obedience and victory in your present situation:
Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit has revealed truth to me I never understood before. The weight of my disobedience, though in ignorance, leaves me feeling like I’m being crushed under this burden of past failures and sin. I didn’t realize how wrong my choices were; but now, the fruit of them has led me to this difficult place in my life. I pray that You will forgive me and completely deliver me from these sins.
I am trusting You, Lord, to help me walk through this, experiencing your love and peace in the midst of this storm. Help me to be the person You have called me to be and to respond to your Spirit’s convicting influence in my life, by appropriating Your love and compassion.
Lord, I thank You for this truth. I resolve before You to do what is necessary to bring my life and the lives of my loved ones into agreement with Your truth. Thank you for hearing me. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
Please remember; God’s love is unconditional toward His children and He is waiting to see what you and I will do with His truth. Paul Said, in Galatians 6:8:
“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of his flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” AMEN!
Now that we understand the difference between New Testament truth and rationalistic/humanistic reasoning of men; it is imperative that we ask ourselves: Whom shall we then believe?