christain fundamentals

Marriage and Divorce in a Biblical nutshell

For something, seemingly, as complex as marriage and divorce, the Bible is pretty straightforward.

The following verses give a distinct and convincing synopsis of these important topics.

Original Design of Marriage

Even from the very beginning, God acknowledges marriage and its special cohesiveness in Genesis 2:24 where He outlines marriage as For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.This implies permanent monogamy in design and law.

Additionally, this refrain is repeated in the New Testament in Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8, and Ephesians 5:31.

Instituted as a Permanent union

Mark 10:9 asserts the permanence of God’s marriage design when it states “Therefore, what God has joined together, no person is to separate.”

Limitation on a marriage partner

The Bible is clear that we should only marry other believers. This is not only in 1 Corinthians 7:39 “A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband has fallen asleep, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” but also 2 Corinthians 6:14 which confirms this limitation “do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…”

God’s attitude on Divorce

The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 2:16 expresses God’s attitude on divorce “For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel…”

Exceptions to Divorce

In Matthew 19:8-9, Christ lays out one of two exceptions for divorce “He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery.”

In 1 Corinthians 7:15 Paul exposes the second exception “yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave. The brother or sister is not enslaved in such cases, but God has called us to peace.”

Submit to one another

A number of other verses establish the hierarchy and the concept of submitting to one another. For example, Ephesians 5:25 states “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” and 5:22 “wives, be subject to your own husband, as to the Lord…”

A really beautiful verse in 1 Peter 3:1-3 further addresses submissiveness regarding an unbelieving spouse “wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, as they observe your pure conduct with fear. Your adornment must not be merely external…but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible quality of a lowly and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

Scripture never states that women, in general, are to be subject to men in general. It does, however, affirm male leadership in the home (Ephesians above and Titus 2:5) and in the church (1 Timothy 2:11).

Miscellaneous verses

1 Corinthians 7:5 even gives instruction on marital relations Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Peter even elaborates on husbands honoring their wives in 1 Peter 3:7 “you husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

To sort of counterbalance the prayer hinder threat above, Paul states in Ephesians 5:33 “nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

Finally, another beautiful verse that addresses the children of mixed marriages is 1 Corinthians 7:14 “for the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. For otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.”

Conclusion

God established marriage as one of three primary institutions – marriage, the church, and government.

Much is reiterated about marriage, but basically the above is the distillation of what the Bible states on marriage and divorce.

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"It wasn't a potential atonement actuated by the sinner, it was an actual atonement initiated by the savior."

John MacArthur

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