Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."

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Marriage Questions

God’s original law of marriage might be summed up simply as “one man, one wife, for life” (Genesis 2:24; Romans 7:1-4). Because of the hardness of their hearts, God permitted His people in the Old Testament to deviate from His plan. Polygamy was practised and divorce was permitted (Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:14-16). When our Lord Jesus Christ came, He restored God’s original plan for marriage (Matthew 19:3-9).

The general law of Jesus on marriage and divorce is found in Mark 10:1-2 and Luke 16:18. The Lord allowed only one exception to this general law: “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” (Matthew 19:9).

If one puts away his marriage partner, and marries another person, he is guilty of adultery (I Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21: Hebrews 13:4). If one marries a person who has been put away by another, he also commits adultery. The exception is “except it be for fornication.” If one’s marriage partner commits fornication, the one who has not committed fornication can divorce the fornicator and marry another. Divorce for any other cause is sinful!

1st Corinthians chapter 7 contains Paul’s answers to questions which were asked by the 1 Corinthians (7:1). These questions were not about God’s law of marriage and divorce. The church was under persecution. Under those circumstances, was it best for a person to be married at all? Verse 26 is the key to understanding Paul’s answers to the questions: “I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.”

Considering the “present distress” (time of persecution), Paul states: “It is not good for a man to touch a woman” (7:1). Even though it would be easier to be unmarried during a time of persecution, yet, it is better to marry than to commit fornication. Sexual activity outside of marriage is sin (7:2-5). Paul wished that everyone had the strength to remain unmarried and not be tempted. Because everyone was not that strong, he said they should marry (7:6-10).

Those who were already married should not separate. If a separation did take place, they did not have the right to marry another (7:10, 11). Concerning a believer married to an unbeliever, Paul said the marriage was a holy union. If it were not, then the children would be illegitimate. If the unbeliever in such a marriage refused to live with the Christian, the Christian was not bound to keep the marriage together (7:12-17).

Some may have become Christians after their marriages and wondered if they should remain with an unbeliever. One can be a Christian in any relationship as long as it is not sinful. If one is a slave or a free man, a Jew or a Gentile, married or unmarried, he could still be a Christian (7:17-24).

“What about virgins? Should they marry?” Because of persecution, it would be better not to marry. But if they married, it was not wrong (7:25-28). One who is married will have care and concern about his marriage partner and children. It will be more difficult for him in the time of persecution. Instead of marrying, Paul says it would be better to give oneself fully to the Lord’s work (7:29-35).

“What about a man who has a daughter who is old enough to marry?” It is all right if the daughter is married, but it is better for her not to marry (7:36-38).

“What about a woman whose husband is dead?” She is free to marry again, but she must marry a Christian. If a woman’s marriage partner dies, she would bring trouble upon herself to marry a pagan when pagans were persecuting Christians (7:39, 40).

In order to understand first Corinthians seven, we must remember several things:
1. God’s general law for marriage is “one man, one wife, for life.” There is only one exception to this.
2. Paul is answering specific questions asked by the Corinthians.
3. What Paul is saying is because it was a special time of persecution. He was not stating general rules dealing with the general laws for marriage which are found elsewhere in the New Testament.

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God’s Plan for Marriage

Marriage is nearly as old as the human race. It was ordained by the Creator Himself. It was God’s will that a man and a woman become one in marriage. No provision was made for either polygamy or divorce. Marriage was intended by God to be for life, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Also study, Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25; Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39. His plan, as given in the beginning, was: “one man, one wife; for life!”

It was not long, however, until men departed from God’s original plan. Polygamy began to be practised (Genesis 4:19). When the Law of Moses was given to Israel, the people had become so hard-hearted that God permitted divorce, but only under certain conditions (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Even then, God was not pleased with divorce. He said: For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce” (Malachi 2:14-16).

When Jesus came into the world and gave His law for all mankind, He did not give a new and different law of marriage. Instead He called mankind back to God’s original plan (Matthew 19:3-12). His commandment, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” is still God’s will for us today!

The Lord allowed only one cause for divorce. This cause is fornication on the part of one’s marriage partner. Fornication on the part of a marriage partner gives the innocent partner the right to divorce and remarry. But no such privilege is given to the guilty partner! To divorce and remarry for other than the one Scriptural cause is to commit adultery. To marry one who has been divorced who was not the innocent party is to commit adultery. “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.” (Matthew 19:9). Also read Matthew 5:31,32. Adulterers will not go to Heaven. They will spend eternity in Hell (1 Corinthians 6:9,10; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 21:8). Those who are living in adultery must repent, stop committing adultery, and seek the Lord’s forgiveness if they want to be saved.

The home is the basic unit of society. It is the function of the home to provide companionship, the satisfaction of basic human needs and the rearing and training of children. The community, the church, and the nation can only be strong when the home is strong. Many evil forces are seeking to destroy the home today. Among these evil forces are easy divorce laws, fornication, false views of woman’s role in society, but most of all, ignorance of, and a failure to obey God’s law of marriage which is given in the Bible.

God’s people must never compromise God’s will on marriage! We have no right to change God’s requirements! In a day when the world increasingly accepts divorce and remarriage for almost any cause, God’s people must stand out as lights shining in darkness (Philippians 2:14,15). It is not our duty to be changed by the world’s standards, but to bring the world to God’s standards. Paul states in Romans 12:1,2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” To this end, we should strive diligently to make our homes conform to God’s righteous ways recorded in His Word. It is very important that we teach our children that marriage is for life and divorce is sinful except for the one reason that Jesus gave. Let us never forget or forsake the divine admonition: “Marriage is honourable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). God’s plan for marriage is still “one man, one wife, for life!”

Let us teach our children God’s will on marriage, divorce and remarriage. We must set an example for our children and for the world by following God’s plan for marriage!