Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord,
How much more the hearts of men!
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
In these latter days, the true word is getting around and rapidly taking root about what Jesus and all of the disciples’ disciples taught for the first 400 years of the Messianic Covenant — that the husband and wife of youth are God-joined into a one-flesh entity which man’s courts cannot sever with the tallest mountain of civil paper, and a covenant bond which includes the Lord’s participation and which is, therefore, severable only by the physical death of one of the spouses. This is coming in spite of 60 years of false teaching and immoral practice in the American church, and despite 500 years of falsehood which the Reformation brought to church doctrine / practice in this area.
“Standerinfamilycourt” has come to personally know almost a dozen men and women who, in following Christ, were shocked and appalled to learn from a deep study of God’s word that what they thought was a valid marriage in the Lord, was actually legalized adultery, amounting to serial polygamy. Some found out their spouse was still married to the partner of their youth. Some found out that they were themselves still married to the partner of their own youth, and quite a few found out that the adultery was on both sides of the marriage. Most had agonized over their own soul and over the soul of the person they had adulterously married without realizing it was adultery. Most took at least several months, to a couple of years, to intensely study to be certain of this biblical conviction before acting to renounce and exit their sinful state. All were motivated by a compulsion to put Jesus Christ first in their lives and to never again stumble into unwitting sin at the hands of the rogue pastors who had betrayed them. Those who have a living covenant partner are praying fervently for the salvation or restoration to the kingdom of that partner and for restoration of their holy matrimony companionship. Many of those who were single prior to their adulterous marriage, while they could righteously marry another never-married or widowed person, are in no hurry to do so — they want to live for the Lord first and foremost.
But, it doesn’t always happen quite that way…..
Those of us who run ministry pages are contacted by many individuals seeking help and prayer, or seeking answers to questions. It is a tremendous privilege to help and pray for each one of them. But it is also a sacred trust whose aim must always be to build up the kingdom of God, pointing people toward the cross and toward heaven. When it comes to marriage, far too many big-name, well-respected ministries point people in quite the opposite direction.
A gentleman we’ll call “Bob” contacted our page. He complained of being hammered by his church, and had been kicked off several Christian social media pages because he was contemplating a civil divorce from his wife “Carol” who had been married briefly before. According to Bob, Carol’s earlier marriage was a drunken elopement when she was under age, and was quickly annulled after less than a week. Bob reasons that the marriage was consummated, so it must have been valid before the Lord. Though Bob and Carol eventually got saved together, he confessed that he never did feel as though he were one-flesh with Carol, and this must be the reason why. (She’s not happy, either, as evidenced by the way she sits around, piling on the pounds and not caring about remaining attractive to Bob, as he relates.)
Bob had been really studying up and talking with people in the marriage permanence movement, especially since he’d caught up with “Alice”, his old high school flame. Alice had married “Ted” whom she had become involved with before he had divorced a covenant wife to marry her. True to character, Ted is on the prowl again and sleeping around, but Alice has now found the Lord. Bob kept saying that he couldn’t help still being concerned for Alice’s soul since 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5;19-21 make it pretty plain that no adulterer will inherit the kingdom of God. “She needs to marry someone who can be all hers”, Bob declared, “and have a marriage in the Lord”. He sheepishly asked, “since God didn’t covenant with her adultery and didn’t make her one-flesh with Ted (who was still one-flesh with his true wife, “Tina”), Alice would be free to remarry, wouldn’t she?” He said he was pretty sure he has convinced Alice to come out of her non-covenant marriage after pointing out his studies to her. He believes he has mercifully snatched Alice from the hell flames. (Curiously, Bob fails to recognize that there are several other souls at-risk in this scenario, including those souls in the trail of jettisoned spouses and their children, but while Alice’s soul is precious to him, oblivion seems to prevail everywhere else souls are on the line.)
Back to Bob’s remarriage question….was Alice also married before she pried Ted away from Tina, Bob? “No, she was not”, Bob says. Yes, Bob, then biblically-speaking, Alice would be free to marry a never-married or widowed man, after exiting her adulterous union, but only in the Lord. That “only in the Lord” part is a huge “BUT“, however. As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 7, it goes far beyond whether or not the new hoped-for spouse is a believer, and even beyond that person’s biblical eligibility to marry:
But if you marry [speaking to the widowed], you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
– 1 Cor. 7:29-35
This is a very similar situation to someone adulterously remarried according to Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16:18, but whose true spouse has passed away during the adulterous union. There’s the small matter of God-joining, of creating the inseverable one-flesh entity. No marriage is holy matrimony unless and until He performs this. Most Christians presume this to be an automatic thing, either because they think the one-flesh state is a gradual human development (confusing sarx mia – Matt. 19:5-6; Eph. 5:31, with hen soma –1 Cor. 6:16), or because they fancy that God “defaults” to it somehow if all the biblical barriers are suddenly removed, for whatever reason. Is the Lord Most High a vending or stamping machine? Does He not retain sovereignty to join whom He will join, to forgive whom He will forgive, and to set the conditions for doing both? If He can judge the thoughts and motivations of the heart, can we really hope to “game” Him with our biblical technicalities?
To understand those conditions whereby God exclusively covenants with a union and supernaturally, instantaneously creates a one-flesh entity between a man and his wife, we must do as Jesus did, and look closely at the Genesis 2:21-24 account of the first wedding in the bible to discern what Jesus taught were the essential elements of “two becoming one.”
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Essential elements that were present at that first-ever wedding:
(1) Consent to live for life as one-flesh : “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh.”
(2) Witnesses: this included Jesus, and (apparently), the serpent, satan.
(3) Vows: “She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
(4) God’s hand as the officiant: “The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.”
(5) No prior living spouses: He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. Jesus and Paul repeatedly echo this last point throughout the gospels and the epistles.
Conspicuously-missing nonessential elements at that first wedding:
(1) A human officiant (also true of ancient Hebrew wedding tradition)
(2) A religious test
(3) Civil permission or regulation
(4) An age test (Eve was a “newborn”, after all)
Let’s leave Alice and Ted to the side, since it only takes an adulterous condition on one side of an immoral union to render it so for both partners – it is obvious that Jesus would not hesitate to call Alice and Ted’s civil marriage adultery. So, by this standard, is there good reason for Bob to err on the side of accepting that he is in a God-joined, one-flesh holy matrimony union, such that God would regard divorce out of it to be treachery and violence? At least to the extent of requiring Bob to take extreme care, time and prayer before he concludes that his vows to Carol are false and dissoluble?
Was there Carol’s / her first husband’s mutual consent to live as one-flesh for life in that impulsive, drunken and brief elopement which was civilly annulled? Was there consent to live as one-flesh for life in the sober justice-of-the peace wedding between Bob and Carol, given that they’ve done so for 15 years and borne three children? (Apparently, there were vows and witnesses in both instances, but in which situation did God actually create sarx mia ?)
Given the answers above, in which situation was God the Officiant?
Just how probable is it that Bob is indeed one-flesh with Carol despite his doubts? Is the misuse of God’s word to emphasize technicalities creating a form of legalism that would not normally be there in discerning the situation between these struggling, intertwined couples?
And is Alice truly snatched from the hell flames at this point, as Bob fancies, or is it too early to judge? Does one technically go to hell because they die in a state of adultery, or is this ongoing sinful state something that leads to greater heart-hardening and idolatry in the form of self-worship? Will she live on in unforgiveness toward Ted for his lifelong pattern of adultery, or will she continue to pray for his salvation? Who will be her first love as she goes forward with her life apart from Ted? Will she be motivated to encourage the reconciliation between Ted and Tina, his actual one-flesh? Will Alice look for ways to make godly restitution to Tina? If she succumbs to Bob’s already-contemplated advances, what then?
Before we close this post, let’s reflect for a moment on the famous 1970 cover for MAD magazine. This was exactly one year after Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the legislation in California creating the first-ever unenforceable-while-legally-valid contract in in the United States, and the only one such as we’ve seen since. September 1970 was still a few years before most Protestant denominations “updated” their doctrine and practice around marriage and divorce to make it more “culturally-relevant” and “empathetic”. Is this magazine cover not very telling of how far our society and the church has fallen, when a pagan periodical was drawing such shock value in a heathen society for behavior that today makes us yawn, shrug and produce voluminous “blended family” advice within our churches? Contrast that with the September 2015 spectacle of CNN and MSNBC reporters shaking their Gideon motel bibles at Mrs. Kim Bailey Wallace Davis McIntyre Davis, the elected issuer of Rowan County adultery licenses who was jailed for saying she would “lose her soul” for issuing Rowan County sodomy licenses.
If repenting prodigal spouses (and the movement as a whole) are constantly under unjust fire from the hypocritical harlot church, then carelessly or wrongly- motivated application of marriage permanence principles — most especially where there’s an apparent rebound relationship following in short order thereafter — simply undermines the credibility of the many who are indeed doing the right thing for the right, unselfish reason. Meanwhile, within the marriage permanence community, while unified that all remarriage wherever there is a living, God-joined spouse is always adultery, there is significant (and sometimes fiery) debate about the Gen. 2:21-24 point where that inseverable joining occurs. We still need to keep in mind that what the apostate church and the pagan world sees when Jesus isn’t really our first love in these situations (even if biblically-permissible)…is spouse-swapping!
For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s….
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!