D. S. WARNER
have received frequent requests to set forth this matter in the light of Divine
Truth, and feel that we should do so. We have been looking to God for light and
wisdom, and hope we shall be able to draw the lines where the Word does. First,
we find that marriage is a Divine institution. Matthew 19:6. Mark 10:9.
“Forbidding to marry” is a “doctrine of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1–3. That
the hand of God is even in the marriage of unsaved people is doubtless true to a
great extent; but more especially does He join His own children in this holy
bond. Let us now see
ARE SCRIPTURALLY ENTITLED TO MARRY
2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 7:39. Here we see that the Word of God forbids
holy people to marry sinners. While the first of these scriptures prohibits
yoking up with unbelievers in sect, or other organizations of men, it none the
less forbids joining in marriage with unbelievers. We charge upon all children
of God to observe these scriptures. By presuming to set aside the counsel of God
in this matter, many have lost their salvation, and pierced themselves with many
sorrows. Let not the father of lies tell you that you can find a happy life
outside the Word of God, especially when you know what the Word teaches.
New Testament does not directly re-enact the strict laws in Leviticus concerning
the marriage of relatives. And yet it seems to be taken for granted that
enlightened common sense, nature, and the Spirit of God forbid the union of near
kin. Hence Paul denounces the man who had taken his father’s wife, as a
fornicator of the worst kind.
law, in matters of food, marriage, and other things that affect human health and
happiness, is based on good natural principles. And though that code is
abolished, the principles remain unchanged. The Jew was forbidden the use of
pork by a rigorous law. But Christians should, in general, abstain from its use,
on intelligent health principles. So also the marriage of kindred, then
prohibited by the Mosaic Law, is now forbidden by the civil law and the
knowledge of the fact that blood relatives are more apt to be of the same
temperaments, and the marriage of such are often attended with sad results. But
we hasten on to the subject of
twelve different translations before us, we shall quote from those when they
seem to render clearer than the common version. The first text reads thus, “It
hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of
divorcement: but I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving
for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever
shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” Matthew 5:31, 32.
her an adulteress.” New Version.
her to be made an adulteress.” Rotherham.
does not seem proper to say that a man, by putting his wife away, necessarily
causeth her to commit lewdness. Hence we think the above translations more
probably correct. “He maketh her an adultress.” Namely, he makes her such in
the eyes of the people. Since the New Testament makes that sin, the only just
cause of divorce, by a man putting away his wife, even though she were innocent,
he exposes her to the public name of an adulteress. Hence the enormous sin in
the sight of God, of thus treating an innocent woman.
take your Testament and read Matthew 19:3–12.
of divorce were only allowed by Moses because of men’s hard and depraved
hearts. But this was subversive of God’s original plan. Christ, having now
come to change men’s hearts, no longer tolerates the putting away of husband
or wife, save for the one cause.
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.
these words, any man that will marry a second wife, the former not being dead,
nor guilty of fornication, is positively charged with the sin of living in
adultery in the second marriage.
question arises: If the woman is guilty, and is therefore put away, has her
husband a right to marry, again? So far as we know, if such right does exist it
is found in the above text alone. And we do not remember of a single instance
where a principle or a rule is sustained by a single passage of scripture. But
it is a fact that the New Testament throughout declares a person an adulterer if
he marry a second wife while the first lives.
a woman that hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he
liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall
be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law;
so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” Romans
is the uniform voice of the Bible under the present dispensation. But let us
look at Matthew 19:9 again. “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be
for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.” The question
that arises here is this: Does the exception extend both to the putting away of
the guilty woman, and the marrying of another? Or does it only apply to the
first. The construction, we think, would allow either conclusion. The language
positively asserts that if a man puts away his wife, and she innocent of that
sin, and marries another, he commits adultery. But whether, in case he puts away
a guilty woman, he can lawfully marry again, the Scriptures elsewhere must
decide. For the clause, “except it be for fornication,” may only justify the
putting away. And in the absence of a single other text that teaches a person
can marry while a former companion lives, we think it a violation of proper
rules of interpretation to take such license from this text. If the Divine
author of the Bible intended that we should be free to marry again, when a wife
is lawfully put away, would not the Scriptures have inserted the clause
elsewhere? And would it not have made that one exception to the positive rule
that man and wife are “bound by the law,” so long as both live?
Christ did not intend to give license to a man to put away his wife and marry
again, may be clearly inferred by the effect His words produced on the minds of
His disciples. Read Matthew 19:10–12. They were driven to the extreme
conclusion that if there is no dissolution of the marriage vows until death,
“it is not good to marry.” They rashly concluded that if a man must abide
for life by the choice he makes, the marriage institution was too sacred to
enter. “But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they
to whom it is given.” By this, and the following verse we see that the
marriage law, under the New Testament is so high and sacred that the coarse and
licentious cannot receive it. Unlike the Mosaic toleration, it is not
accommodated to the “hardness of men’s hearts,” and lusts of the flesh.
The transforming, and spiritualizing power of Divine grace is abundantly able to
place men where they can live happy and contented, without the blessing of a
human companion, if that be their lot. Hence all divorcing, save for the one
cause, and all marrying of a second living companion, are inconsistent with the
New Testament, and derogatory to the grace of God.
it also be remembered that the Vatican Manuscript, which is chiefly the basis of
our Greek text, does not contain that clause, “And shall marry another.” And
the Emphatic Diaglott leaves it out. Were not the uniform voice of the
Scriptures elsewhere against such a proviso, we would perhaps take other
manuscripts against the Vatican. But the latter being strictly in harmony with
the Word throughout, is most likely correct.
a person should not marry again, even though a companion has been lawfully put
away, may be inferred from the fact, that the sin of adultery is by no means
unpardonable. And should a person guilty thereof repent, become saved, pure and
virtuous, what is there to hinder a Christian husband forgiving and restoring
such an one? Should not the duty of putting away an adulteress terminate, when
the one put away is substantially changed from that character, to one of virtue,
chastity, and piety? And if it be a Christian duty to receive back a restored
companion, should not that person remain single in order to be able to do so,
should the one put away become worthy? We are aware of the fact that this is not
the teaching of the law. But in many things the laws of the kingdom of heaven
are in marked contrast with the precepts of the abolished code, as Christ shows
in Matthew 5.
drop this point by asking two questions. Where is there a word in the New
Testament that would forbid the reception of a truly saved and reformed wife?
Second, Where is there a principle in the love of God and Spirit of Christ that
would close a man’s heart and home against a companion, when returning, humbly
asking pardon, and already forgiven of God and washed in the blood of Christ?
read Mark 10:2–12. Here we have again the same answer of Christ to the
Pharisees already examined in Matthew 19. But here it is recorded that the
disciples asked Jesus again of the same matter, to whom he thus replied:
he said unto them, 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.” Mark 10:11, 12.
both the man and woman are placed on the same footing. If either one puts away
his or her companion and marries another, the law of Jesus Christ holds that
person an adulterer, or an adulteress. There is no exception here.
we call attention to Luke 16:16, 18. “The law and the prophets were until
John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth
putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever
marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” Here is
the preaching of the kingdom of heaven. It is in exact corroboration of the last
text. Both declare that “whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another
committeth adultery.” “Whosoever,”— that is a very comprehensive word.
It means any person, under any circumstances. Yea “whosoever putteth away his
wife and marrieth another committeth adultery.” These scriptures do not allow
of a single exception. Hence they emphatically prove that the exception in
Matthew 19:9 was an interpolation, or only applies to the putting away, and not
to the marrying another. To say that the above text teaches one condition upon
which a person may marry another and not commit adultery, were to set that text
directly against Mark, Luke and Paul, who all declare that there is absolutely
no exception. But “whosoever” does so is an adulterer. Christ would not say
by Matthew, there is one exception to the rule, and by Mark, Luke and Paul
declare there is no exception at all. The word of the Lord does not conflict. We
may also reasonably conclude that if there were one condition on which a man
could put away a wife and marry another without becoming an adulterer, the
exception would have been mentioned in Romans 7:2, 3 and 1 Corinthians 7:39, in
both of which it is declared that the marriage law binds as long as both live.
“So then if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall
be called an adulteress.” So many clear declarations all emphatically teaching
the same thing, must surely mean what they say.
far we have given more special attention to the putting away and marrying
another. Now let us see what the Word says
MARRYING A MAN OR WOMAN WHO HAS BEEN PUT AWAY
this the voice of inspiration is very clear and uniform. “And whosoever shall
marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” Mathew 5:32. “And whosoever
marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Matthew 19:9.
“Whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth
adultery.” Luke 16:18.
is no possible chance to bring in an exception here. These declarations stand
out positively and unqualified. If a person were to attempt to carry the
exception in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 forward into the above clause in those
verses, it would result in the following absurdity; namely, “Whosoever shall
marry her that is divorced—except she be divorced for the cause of
fornication—committeth adultery.” Any person can see that this were
extremely ridiculous. It would give license to marry a woman that had been put
away for lewdness, but prohibit the marriage of one put away innocently. It
would also imply a privilege for the divorced adulteress to take another
husband, but require an innocently wronged woman to remain single. Such would be
an abominable law. There is no possible dodging the above declarations. Any man
who, knowing these scriptures, will marry a divorced woman, while her former
husband yet lives, is guilty of adultery; is a willful sinner and can never be
restored to God’s power without repenting and undoing the evil. Much more
wicked and hateful in the sight of God is a man who will defame, and put away an
innocent lawful wife, to commit whoredom with a woman that is some other man’s
now come to the apostle Paul’s instruction on this subject, 1 Corinthians 7th
chapter. Read the chapter through. “I say therefore to the unmarried and
widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. And unto the married I
command, yet not I but the Lord. Let not the wife depart from the husband: but
if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and
let not the husband put away his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:8–11. Here are the
positive commands of Christ. “Let not the wife depart from her husband.”
“And let not the husband put away his wife.” No difference what lust may
clamor for, what earthly courts may grant, what human laws may provide, or the
devil himself may suggest. Let not the wife leave her husband, nor a man put
away his wife. And all of satan’s power nor man’s devices together cannot
set aside the authority of the Lord Jesus.
to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth
not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.”
the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell
with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by
the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your
children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him
depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath
called us to peace.
what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shall save thy husband? or how knowest
thou, O man, whether thou shall save thy wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:12–16. What
do these words mean? “Not I, but the Lord.” Verse 10, “Speak I, not the
Lord.” Verse 12. In the first instance he simply repeated what was given in
previous commands of the Lord, as we have seen in Matthew. Mark and Luke. In the
second instance he gave command by the authority of the Spirit of God, who was
not only to bring to remembrance what Christ had commanded, but to “guide into
all truth.” The latter were just as really the commands of God as the former.
See 1 Corinthians 14:37.
brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.” Namely, if their wife
or husband has departed from them. But are they in such cases at liberty to
marry another? By no means. Such must remain unmarried, or be reconciled to the
husband or wife. 1 Corinthians 7:11 To exclude all such loose ideas of the
marriage bond the apostle says in the same chapter, verse 39, “The wife is
bound by the law as long as her husband liveth: but if her husband be dead, she
is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord.”
death can dissolve the marriage covenant, and give liberty to marry another. And
while the New Testament recognizes and counsels subjection to civil authorities
it does not give any earthly king or court the power to set at naught its laws,
and legalize marriages, where the Divine law forbids. Hence a man willfully and
unscripturally married, is an adulterer in the sight of God, notwithstanding any
legal sanction his money may have procured for him.
then we have laid down the plain law of Christ on this subject. Not our views,
but just what the Word says.
A saint must not marry a sinner.
Neither man nor woman shall put away their companion save for the cause of
Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery.
“Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”
“The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth.” And there is
no partiality in this matter shown the man.
we as Bible teachers must present the truth, and God will seal its authority.
ALL UNSCRIPTURAL MARRIAGES BE DISSOLVED?
far we have plain positive commands and Bible teaching, and therefore may speak
with authority. But if we turn to the Word for directions what to say to those
who have more than one living companion, we find no clear command given as to
what they shall do. If, therefore, we stop where the Word stops, no person on
earth is authorized to positively say all must separate, nor yet can we give
them license to live together. Here then we must leave each case in God’s
hands. Secret things belong to him. And where he has laid down no positive
command for us to enjoin, he must have reserved the prerogative to himself, to
convict each individual by his Spirit of their duty. Let it be understood then
that we disclaim all authority to say to men and women in such case you must, or
you must not separate. Such must get their orders from God direct. And we may
safely say that no person in such marriage can keep salvation and victory while
living in doubt and uncertainty of the will of God in their case, much less if
living in conscious rebellion. The holy life is only maintained in the knowledge
and the performance of God’s will. And especially in a case of this kind will
Satan buffet your souls and destroy your confidence without it is positively
settled that you are living in the present will of God. Therefore let all who
have gotten into this unfortunate entanglement, open your hearts and conscience
before God, put your whole will subject to his will, and cease not to call upon
God until his Spirit assures you of his will in your particular case. Duty lies
in one direction or the other, and “they shall all be taught of God,” led of
his Spirit. Be sure and keep self out of the question, absolutely have no will
or choice of your own. Let every earthly consideration be utterly discarded. Be
ready to do that which, to your best judgment, would be most to the glory of
God, and that which your conscience would most approve of in the day of
the absence of a positive command to separate, or to live together under these
circumstances, it is manifestly wrong to severely judge in the matter. The
parties must clear their own conscience before God, and while they show the
fruits of the Spirit of God, they are entitled to our love and confidence.
does not the perfect law of the Lord give us some general principle, or some
ruling on similar cases from which we can infer the mind of God in this matter?
Let us see. We know that where men have done contrary to the word of God
ignorantly, after learning the fact, they are required to undo, and make right
in all cases where it is possible to do so, when they come to a knowledge of the
truth. But can men and women entirely undo the act of marriage? Can they cast
off that bond of natural conjugal affection that has united their hearts? We
think not, except it be by some unkind, and unjust conduct by which that love
might he killed. And surely God would not require that. Again, if they have
brought forth offspring, their union is still more irrevocable. We know that the
practice of any sin cannot find pardon without its discontinuance. But knowing
that God locates sin in the motives of the heart and will, it is very doubtful
that God holds a person as living in actual adultery when married to a second
living companion, if that relation was entered into in all good conscience,
sincerely supposing he or she had a perfect right to do so.
there is a difference between going into a thing knowing it to be forbidden in
the Word, and being now in the same; the step having been taken while in sin and
ignorance. This distinction is seen in the word of God treating on the marriage
have seen that believers are forbidden to marry unbelievers. But if a man or
woman gets salvation and having an unsaved companion must they separate? No.
But, “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not and she be pleased to
dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath a husband
that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her. let her not leave
him.” 1 Corinthians 7:12, 3.
the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is
sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they
holy.” 1 Corinthians 7:14.
we see clearly that a marriage state which the word of God forbids the Christian
to enter, now, being already bound in the same, he does not demand separation,
but even forbids them to part from each other. And who can reasonably say that
the same principle will not also apply to other forms of unscriptural marriage
that have been ignorantly entered into? Not only does our kind Heavenly Father
have a regard for the affections that bind man and wife, and in his wisdom and
mercy permit them to live together under circumstances that he forbids marriage
to take place, but we also see that he tenderly cares for their children, and
does not want to have them turned out and disgraced as illegitimates even
though, through ignorance, there was an unscriptural union of parents. The union
exists and they having children, it cannot be wholly undone.
would not the Lord have the same kind regard for innocent children of parents
who have married a second living companion? As the laws of the land legalize
such marriages, and the Protestant pulpit has lifted the standard no higher,
general ignorance has prevailed on this subject. Therefore many have married a
second companion without scruple. Many were unfortunately wedded the first time
through youthful ignorance, or persuasion, and were soon abandoned. The law
claimed to have dissolved the bond, and they have lived long and happily with a
second, and brought up children. Will God now require them in every case to
part, and bring disgrace upon their children? No. The principle already seen
relating to another form of unscriptural union we think must have some bearing
on this case also. But of course we only give this as inference and not as
positive teaching or legislation in the case.
we find mention made of such a thing as men having more than one living
companion, and such are forbidden to be ordained as elders and deacons, 1
Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6. But it is nowhere said that all such should be
utterly denied the fellowship of the church of God, unless they dissolve the
maintain, therefore, that the scriptures, to say the least, leave us without any
good ground to condemn all thus living, as sinners and adulterers in the sight
of God; especially if they show the fruits of the Spirit
of God in their lives.
circumstance under which men and women have become separated from a former
companion, and taken another, vastly differ. One has been abandoned without
cause, another has wickedly departed from a lawfully wedded wife or husband
without excuse. One has married again through spite and base lust, and is
condemned for the act in his own conscience. Another out of pure motives, and
without the knowledge of any wrong attached to the act. Surely the just God will
not place both these cases under the same sentence.
marriage relation is a very sacred thing. And he who undertakes to dissolve
the same, assumes a fearful responsibility. Hence it appears that God who
knoweth all hearts has reserved to himself the right to command his children in
this matter, in all doubtful cases. However, there are many separations and
marriage to another which are so manifestly wicked that the sense of justice
that God has given all men must condemn the same, and all can see that
repentance must lead to a retraction of the unholy deeds. While upon the other
hand men have become separated and married again under circumstances that holy
justice would blush to disturb them.
NOT EVEN SUCH LIVE TOGETHER ONLY AS BROTHER AND SISTER AFTER ENLIGHTENED BY THE
has been taught by some that persons who are unfortunate in the matter of having
a divorced wife, and are married to a second, that if they live with her, they
should live in celibacy. But we find no such directions in the Word of God. To
take upon you such a vow, is but to go into bondage under the elements of the
law. It gives place to the devil, to tempt, harass, and buffet the soul. All
saints of God are taught by the Word and Spirit of God, and enabled by Divine
grace, to live temperate, pure, spiritual minded, and abstinent in all things,
to the full extent that God is glorified. And thus should they all live. Yea,
“this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remains that both they that have
wives, be as though they had none: and they that weep, as though they wept
not.” 1 Corinthians 7:29–31. How very forcibly those words come to us. upon
whom the end of the world has come! But this holy life of self-denial should all
be in the freedom of the Spirit and law of liberty in the soul, and not by
binding yourselves under a slavish law which brings a snare, and usually works
bondage and death. Flee from legality, and “live in the Spirit, and ye shall
not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” If you are conscious that God forgives
all sins of the past and does not require you to separate, then live in the
bonds of the Word of God as man and wife, and permit no man nor the devil to
accuse you, nor put an unscriptural yoke upon you. “Whom the Son maketh free,
is free indeed.” “Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.”
should a man or woman, through lust and treachery, leave a companion and
children, after living together for years, and take another, justice and
righteousness demand that he put away the late espoused, and return and render
satisfaction to the wronged family.
for a man or woman professing to be saved in the present light, to allow the
devil to “transfer his or her love” from a lawful companion to another, is a
sin and abomination in the sight of God, which no person can be guilty of
without first having lost the grace of God out of the heart, and becoming a
reprobate. And such will have to put away the unlawful wife or husband, and make
complete satisfaction to the wronged one before any saint of God can have
confidence in them.
out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,
thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but
to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matthew 15:19, 20.
from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries,
fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness,
an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from
within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:21–23.
the works of the flesh are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, heresies,
envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like: of the which I tell
you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things
shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19–21. And we are plainly
told “that they which do such things shall not inherit the kindgom of God.”
should not allow the fact that our merciful High Priest can forgive them that
are “ignorant and out of the way,” to cause us to lower the standard of his
Word one jot or tittle, nor in the least mitigate the guilt of the willful
the other hand, we should not stumble the souls of such as give evidence that
God has forgiven their wrong steps in the kingdom of darkness, because his Word
is inflexible toward them that sin knowingly. The Lord gives us both wisdom and
love, that we may properly balance the claims of justice to the law of the Lord,
and pity to the souls of men. Amen.