Marriage and Divorce

1. Do you think it is right according to God's Word for a married person to seek a divorce? You know that in taking the marriage vow one swears to love , honor, etc.., until death do part. Give me Scriptures on this, please.

2. Then is it right for a divorced person to marry again? Can a person who is saved or regenerated do such a thing? I think that nothing but trouble and sorrow will follow. My mother divorced my father and married again, and though her second husband was a fine man, she was never truly happy.

The whole question of marriage and divorce is a most solemn one. And it is one to which God's people should give earnest heed in these awful days of laxness along these lines.

1. There are circumstances, undoubtedly, when it is necessary and wise and Scriptural for a married couple to separate. And that is all that the word "divorce" really means: it is division. There is no thought of remarriage involved in the word itself. This matter of separation under certain conditions is covered in principle in 1 Cor. 7:10-16.

2. Under the Law of Moses, remarriage of divorced persons was authorized in certain circumstances (Deut. 24:1-4). But on this our Lord Jesus said in Matt. 19:8,9: "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoeveer 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." In this passage our Lord implies that one may put away his wife if she is guilty of fornication. But even here it is doubtful whether the husband is justified if "he shall marry another" while his first wife is yet living.

In Mark 10:1-12, which is a parallel account, no exception whatsoever is noted: "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" (11,12).

Again in Luke 16: 18 He says: "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husbanfd committeth adultery."

In view of all these Scriptures on the subject it seems clear that the marriage relation cannot be dissolved except through death; and as one who is authorized to perform marriage ceremonies I have always refused to officiate where either of the parties to the marriage has been divorced and the former partner was yet living. I have also always refused to officiate in the marriage of a believer to an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14 to 7:1).

William L. Pettingill, D.D.