MARRIAGE, DIVORCE & RE-MARRIAGE
We have had some people in the past few years ask us about our stance on the subject of divorce and remarriage. We have never had a booklet or article written on the subject, although we do have an understanding that was derived by much prayer, study and discussion back in 1986 by eight elders.
First, allow me to give you a little bit of background on how we arrive at decisions in our assembly. I know there are those that disagree with us and will have negative comments to make about what I am about to say. But I want you to understand that our policy-making procedure is taken directly out of the Scripture. At least, we believe it is and Acts 15 certainly seems to indicate that. Please read verses 4, 6, 7, 12 and 13. Then read the answer in verse 20. The decision was derived by a multitude in leadership positions.
Everyone agrees that the book of Proverbs is an excellent teaching tool. The question is, are you willing to do what it teaches you? If you read Proverbs 11:14, and Proverbs 15:22 and are willing to put your personal likes and understandings aside, then maybe you could learn something from these Scriptures. If not, you might fall under the category of Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25.
Proverbs 11:14 and 15:22 basically say the same thing. If you are bent on going on your own personal understanding, you could be setting yourself up to fall flat on your face. They also say the same thing as to gaining good understanding. In a multitude of counselors, there is safety. By the same token, Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 also say the same thing. Something may seem right to a man, but the end result is death.
To summarize the above, although we may have a personal opinion of certain Scriptures, we are willing to submit to the consensus of the multitude, believing that Yahweh works with the safety of the multitude as His word indicates. The end result we are all interested in is doing the will of our Father Yahweh. Sometimes, in order to achieve that, we must be willing to learn and change. The one thing we must never forget while we are studying is that ALL SCRIPTURES MUST HARMONIZE. If we have a problem accomplishing that, then maybe we have misunderstood something. We know that it is not Yahweh that has made the mistake. The multitude making the decision must harmonize all Scripture.
With that being said, let’s continue with what the study of the eight elders concluded. It was the consensus of the majority that two people could remarry if: (1) their former mate had been caught in the act of fornication and that is what caused the divorce; (2) if their former mate was a non-believer, and the non-believer was the cause of the divorce, or (3) if the divorce took place before baptism into the saving name of Yahshua.
In Matthew 19:9, Yahshua said the only reason for divorce was for fornication; otherwise, that person would be committing adultery. This would apply if both parties were in the Body of Messiah.
In 1 Corinthians 7:12-17, if a believer is married to a non-believer and the non-believer seeks to be freed by divorce, then the believer is no longer bound. Understand, the non-believing mate must take this action.
Marriage is a vow. If you break that vow, you commit a sin (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6). Acts 2:38 says that we should be baptized in the name of Yahshua for the remission of sins. Therefore, if the divorce was before your baptism, then that sin would be forgiven in baptism.
If you put an exclusion on any sin that can not be forgiven through the act of baptism, then you are putting a limit to the atoning power of the blood of Messiah. You would also be putting doubt on the believability of the word of Yahweh. After all, who gave us Yahshua, and why did He give Him to us? To deny the power of the blood of Messiah is to deny Yahweh Himself. You may feel comfortable in doing that. I am not!
To say that divorce and remarriage are not allowed under any circumstances today is to clearly ignore what the Scriptures are saying. Many people do not understand what they read in Matthew 19. Look at the question that is asked there. It is not asking whether or not divorce if legal or lawful, but whether divorce for any reason is allowed. Yahshua’s answer stated that, if you divorce for any reason except fornication, it is wrong.
Other grossly misunderstood Scriptures are those in Titus and Timothy. These Scriptures say a man that wants to be a bishop must be blameless. The strange part here is to listen to the multitude give their personal interpretation of “blameless.” They do not realize that this Scripture interprets itself. Notice: “...for a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of Elohim, not self-willed, not soon to anger, not given to wine, not a striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate, holding fast the faith that he has been taught so that he will be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
Also notice it says, “...the husband of one wife.” Does this Scripture mean that he could have been married only one time in his life, unless of course his wife had died? No, not really. What did Paul mean, and where did he get this idea? We are talking about a man that was a lawyer. He understood the law of Yahweh. He certainly didn’t make it up. This is where the harmonizing comes into play.
In 1 Corinthians 7:6-9, Paul is saying that if you do not have to get married, then you shouldn’t. Be like me, he says, and remain single. Notice! He said that this is not commanded, but is just his suggestion. Why would Paul say that? The answer is in verse 32 and 33. If you are married, you have to worry about supporting your wife and your children. If you remain single, then you could devote more of your time to Yahweh's work. The less time you devote to the many personal things you have going on in your daily life, the more time you have for Yahweh. Is that not what Deuteronomy 17:15-17 is saying? Do not multiply horses, or gold and silver or wives. Because if you do, it will turn your heart away from Yahweh. Would you like an example of that? Read 1 Kings 11:1-3. Solomon, the wisest man on earth at that time, multiplied his wives and did exactly what Yahweh said would happen. That is why Paul said that if you have to get married, do it rather than burn, but be the husband of only one wife. Do not multiply your wives. That is the point that Paul is trying to make. And Paul was specifically talking about men that would be in the service of Yahweh in all of these Scriptures. It was lawful to have more than one wife in those days. As a matter of fact, Yahweh had laws governing how men were to treat their wives. They had to treat them all fairly and equally.
When I hear someone say that you cannot enter into the service of Yahweh as a deacon or an elder because you have been divorced and have remarried (no matter what the circumstances—even if it was before baptism), then basically what you are saying is that you are not as good as I am. Be careful. That is dangerous ground you are standing on. Paul was killing believers before Yahweh recruited him. Acts 7:58 indicates that Paul may have even been involved in the stoning of Stephen.
We cannot explain everything in this short article. We just wanted to touch on a few points and give the outcome of our study. We will be happy to entertain any questions you may have that were not covered in this study. Please understand that the assembly is not encouraging divorce and/or remarriage. All we are saying is that it is not proper to use the Scriptures for personal interpretation just because you do not agree with a specific doctrine. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves. Certainly we would recommend that you work out your problems and keep your marriage together if at all possible. We would help counsel you to be able to do that very thing. But sometimes, because of the “hardening of people’s hearts,” that is not possible.
Another important point to remember is that there is no blanket policy that covers every situation. Each one is different and must be judged on its own merits. There is absolutely no “one policy covers all.”
May Yahweh bless you in your search for His truth.