Grant divorced her husband for no Biblically-justifiable reason
and married Vince Gill, country music singer, on March 10, 2000.
law is not vague about sex. God goes to great lengths to reveal
the context in which sex is beneficial and productive, and the
context in which it is destructive and therefore, unlawful. From
the very beginning, God gave Adam a woman to be a helpmeet, a
lifelong companion. He calls them “one flesh” (Gen.2:7, 18, 21-24).
He unites them as only God can unite two people. God never intended
that this unity should be broken. He designed it so that a man
and a woman would come together with vows of faithfulness to each
other, know each other sexually and live with one another for
the rest of their lives. He designed it so that they would bear
children, the natural rewards of their union, and raise up these
children in the ways of the Lord in a stable, God-ordained family
unit. God willed that the wife perform the role of homemaker and
helper to the husband, and that the husband be the “bread-winner”
and the spiritual authority of his wife and children. God wanted
the mother and the father to be a great source of strength, encouragement,
and wisdom to their posterity. God wills that the parents and
grandparents show their posterity by teaching them and by example,
how to live in righteousness and peace, and how to fulfill their
distinct roles as husband and wife.
the Law of Moses, God reiterates the sacredness of this covenant
and sets concrete boundaries to define this wholesome unity which
he had in mind from the very beginning. The seventh commandment
forbids adultery. Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 sanction
death for adultery. Deuteronomy 22:20 sanctions death for women
found by their husbands to not be virgins after marriage. Numbers
5:11-31 says that men who are suspicious of the fidelity of their
wife should take her to the priests for a trial. God promised
to supernaturally respond to the suspicion of the husband by vindicating
the accused and thereby ending the jealousy or cursing the accused,
or else by smiting the woman with a curse and a disease. In Exodus
22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, if a man lay with a virgin,
he would be forced to marry her and would never be allowed to
divorce her for any reason. If the father of the woman would not
let them marry, then the man should pay the father the price of
the dowry regardless. The law of Moses sanctioned death to those
guilty of incest, rape, sodomy, etc. God’s laws on these matters
reveal that God takes the marriage covenant and sexual relations
very seriously! Wouldn’t you agree?
let me make an important comment before proceeding. God’s laws
on marriage and sex come best as a package deal. When we try to
apply one specific category of God’s laws on marriage and sex,
it can be difficult without the context of the rest of the commandments
on marriage and sex. On no topic is this more evident than divorce
and remarriage. For instance, if your husband committed adultery
on you, he could be stoned according to the civil laws of God,
then you would be free to remarry and would be perfectly blameless.
In our society where adulterers are not punished as they should
be, the woman whose husband commits adultery on her is at a disadvantage.
She has to either live with the creep or leave him! Neither choice
is good! So it might be difficult in applying the laws of God
regarding divorce and remarriage in a society such as ours which
rejects the other commandments and judgments of God regarding
marriage and sexual relations. Nevertheless, we should obey what
THE BIBLE says about divorce and remarriage, and we all should
be diligent in applying God’s principles in our lives, in the
lives of those around us, and in our society.
many contemporary theologians refuse to acknowledge the wisdom
and the practicality of these laws and the judgments thereof,
they admire this one:
24:1-4: (I’ll simply highlight the major points of passages
for brevity’s sake - please look these up if you are able and
if you doubt my conclusions.
If husband finds “some uncleanness” in wife, he may send her
out with a “bill of divorcement”.
The divorced woman may be another man’s wife.
If the man who marries this same woman later ends up despising
her, and sends her out of his house, he must give her a “bill
of divorcement”, and she may not go back to her first
husband (for that is an “abomination” to God)
If her second husband dies, she may not go back to her
first husband (that would be an “abomination” to the Lord.)
in Deut.24:1-4 is the Hebrew word, ervah, which is
also translated shame and nakedness. It comes from the word arah
which means to make bare, empty, destitute, discover, make naked,
uncover. Ervah refers to discovering something previously
unknown to husband which brings shame, disappointment, and extreme
dislike. If this uncleanness refers to sin, then the previous
commandments and judgments apply, and if the woman has committed
something worthy of death, then she should die as God dictates
in His law.
jump ahead a couple thousand years to the New Testament to get
Jesus’ commentary on this issue. First, let us understand the
historical context of Jesus’ time. In Jesus’ day, there was a
controversy about divorce and remarriage. This was called the
Hillel-Shammai dispute. Hillel taught that a man could divorce
his wife for any reason whatsoever, and Shammai taught
that men could divorce his wife only for fornication or
adultery. The controversy rests on the interpretation of the word
“uncleanness” in Deut.24. Jesus’ commentary on Deut.24 is critical.
He frequently corrects the prevalent misinterpretations and abusive
renderings of the laws of Moses, and the misinterpretations of
the passages on divorce are not excepted. He was questioned by
those who were obviously familiar with the Hillel-Shammai dispute.
His answers on this issue were not vague. We will first examine
the two times in Scripture when Jesus commented on this passage
in response to a question:
19:3-6: The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting Him, and
saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for
every cause? And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read,
that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother,
and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore
God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
does this response answer the Pharisee’s question? They asked
if a man could put his wife away for any reason whatsoever, but
he responded that a man should not put his wife away at
all! What God hath joined together, let not any man, Levite,
nor priest, nor judge, nor lawyer, nor husband, nor wife, put
7: They say unto Him, Why did Moses then command to give a
writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8-9: He saith unto them, 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, 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.
me summarize Jesus’ commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1-4:
Those that divorce for the reasons given in Deut.24 have hard
hearts, and divorce was not tolerated from the beginning.
The commandment only became necessary because of the stubbornness
Whosoever puts away his wife for any reason other than fornication
and marries another “commits adultery” (i.e. divorce was only
lawful if the spouse was guilty of fornication or adultery)
Whoso marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Likewise,
whoso marries a divorced man commits adultery.Lest we try to
over-emphasize one passage of Scripture at the expense of others,
let me also give the other references where Jesus comments on
marriage and divorce in the Gospels. I’ll just give a summary
of his comments.
What God hath joined together, let NOT man (husband, lawyer,
judge, pastor, etc.) put asunder.
To put away wife or husband and be remarried is to commit adultery.
Divorce was tolerated “for the hardness of your hearts”.
according to Jesus Christ, divorce was permitted in Dueteronomy
24 for the hardness of the people’s hearts. This is critical!
And divorce, although permitted for the stubbornness of the Israelites,
was not permitted for just any reason, but only for fornication.
Hillel was wrong, Shammai was right.
One may put away wife for fornication only.
To put away the wife for any other reason is to “cause her to
Whosoever shall marry a divorced woman commits adultery.
Whosoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits
Whosoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
the first passages might appear to leave room for remarriage if
the divorce is lawful (divorce for the other’s fornication), this
passage from Luke is less vague. If a divorced person remarries,
he/she commits adultery. If a single person marries a divorced
person, he/she commits adultery. In other words, all remarriage
is forbidden by God’s moral law. All remarriage is forbidden by
was not commanded in Deut.24, but permitted, for the hardness
of the people’s hearts. The populace was largely immoral,
hard-hearted, and rebellious. Reading of the history of the nation
of Israel, it is easy to see how they could be called “hard-hearted”
by Jesus. Apparently, the Israelites were leaving their spouses
for the most frivolous of reasons, and it required Moses to place
some limits on the reasons for divorce. One could only divorce
for fornication. Jesus’ commentary on Deut.24 restricts the interpretation
of the use of the word “uncleanness” to mean “fornication” only.
For no other reason could a couple divorce. Now the question remains:
why was divorce tolerated for uncleanness or fornication? Why
wasn’t divorce outlawed altogether?
my opinion, the permission for divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was
“damage control”. Divorce was and is necessary in an immoral
society to maintain some vestige of the sanctity of marriage and
prevent the destruction of civilized society. Perhaps Moses, realizing
the frequency of executions that would take place because of the
prevalent immorality of the Israelites, gave this commandment
allowing the husband to put away his wife without bringing her
to trial for her fornication.
was not uncommon for God to withhold the punishment due for transgression
of the letter of the law when immorality was prevalent. For instance,
after Israel heard with their ears the commandments of God, Moses
went up the mountain and they, after many days, made a golden
calf and worshipped it. The execution of every single idolater
was justified according to the letter of the law, but God saw
fit to only have 3,000 slain and the others were only to drink
of the bitter water and were struck with a plague. If God would
have enforced the civil judgment due for this crime, the entire
nation would have to be almost completely wiped out! So God saw
fit to withhold the execution of the civil judgment in a time
of popular immorality while still emphasizing the severity of
breaking His law. It was “damage control”.
in this time of Israel’s hard-heartedness regarding divorce and
remarriage and sexual sins, God made a way so the husband could
put away his wife and not bring her to trial, and divorce was
tolerated by civil government. He could have been justified in
bringing her to trial if she was not a virgin when he married
her, or if he could prove or even suspected she was in sexual
sin, but divorce of the woman without bringing her to trial was
tolerated. He could pity her and divorce her without having to
execute her or see her executed.
restrictions on divorce were necessary in order to maintain some
vestige of the sanctity of marriage. Otherwise, Mrs. Hezekiah
would be with her husband, Mr. Hezekiah, this month, then receive
a bill of divorcement from him, and next month be with Mr. Malachi.
A few months later, she would receive a bill of divorcement from
Mr. Malachi, and she would go back to her former husband and marry
him again. Confusion would reign and the institution of marriage
would become practically worthless.
you see how this would destroy the covenant of marriage, the foundational
building block of any stable society, and would bring destruction
upon that society? You would have multitudes of frivolous divorces,
multiple remarriages, more and more single people not marrying
because of the cheapening of the covenant, bastard children, etc.,
and all this leads to a disintegration of a free and peaceful
society. But if there were a formal public proclamation of divorce,
so that all could know, and there was a law against returning
to the former husband, then some stability would be maintained.
Deut.24:1-4 is public “damage control” in an immoral society,
a society of hard hearts. In every case, divorce occurred because
of hard hearts, and yet divorce was necessary to maintain a vestige
of sanctity in marriage and to prevent the complete breakdown
of the society.
once had laws that prevented divorce save for adultery. This would
have prevented the break-down of society even if the vast majority
of Americans were wicked in their heart. Limiting divorce to this
situation alone, preserves the sanctity of the marriage covenant.
But the “no-fault” divorce destroys that, with more divorces,
more remarriages, and more single people not marrying as a result
of the public cheapening of marriage, more bastard children, etc.
spite of the fact that divorce would be civilly legal in a society
governed by God’s civil laws, divorce should NEVER be allowed
or condoned in the life of the Christian, because “hardness of
heart” should NEVER be allowed or condoned in the life of the
Christian! Does everyone see that? Can a hard heart also be
a pure heart? Would anyone think that “hard-heartedness” would
be justified in the life of a Christian? Would anyone dare think
that “hard-heartedness” is consistent with loving God with all
your heart, soul, mind and strength? Or is stubbornness and hard-heartedness
inconsistent with the love of God? (I think, the latter.)
closely! Some things might be forbidden by the spirit of the law
of God, yet tolerated by God in a civil society wherein non-Christians
exist. The moral law makes demands of us that the civil law does
not. For instance, hate is forbidden by the moral law of God,
as is unjustified anger and unforgiveness, etc., and yet there
was no civil sanction proposed for those guilty of these sins
in the Old Testament. No fine, no prison time, no execution, no
public flogging, no civil punishment whatsoever for these sins!
Those guilty of such would be condemned by God on Judgment Day,
and not by the civil authorities in this life. If the hateful
person acted upon their malice and transgressed another commandment,
such as the commandment forbidding murder, then they should receive
the appropriate civil penalty in this life. But hate and malice
alone was worthy of no civil punishment in this life.
me give you another example: lust was the same as adultery according
to Jesus in Matthew 5:27-30. Both were sexual sins. Those guilty
of lusting after another to whom they were not married were adulterers
at heart. Yet the law of God as codified in the Pentateuch never
pronounced a civil judgment upon those who lusted after their
neighbor. In spite of the fact that there is no civil sanction
against those who lust, lust always has been and always will be
strictly forbidden by the moral law of God in the lives of individuals.
Men are forbidden by God to lust, but they are not executed or
fined for it in this life. If they act upon that lust by committing
adultery, incest, sodomy, rape, or bestiality, then the law of
God does pronounce a civil sanction upon them. But lust
alone is not punished by the civil authorities.
same is true of divorce: it is forbidden by the moral law of God,
yet tolerated by a civil law ordained by God for a society where
ungodly persons exist. The same is true of remarriage: it is forbidden
by God’s moral law, and like lust, Jesus calls it “adultery”,
yet it is tolerated in society where hard-hearted non-Christians
exist. In a society governed by God’s law, it might be civilly
legal for man to divorce for the right reason (adultery) and remarry,
just as it might be civilly legal for a man to lust after another
or hate his neighbor in his heart. Yet the moral law of God forbids
divorce and remarriage just as it forbids lust and hatred. Understand?
If America ever returned to God and governed itself by His laws
and adopted His criminal justice system, then it would be legal
to divorce, for adultery only, and to remarry. However, it would
be “hardness of heart” to do so, Christians should not do it and
should preach against it. Being hard-hearted was not worthy of
civil sanction, yet it is sin nonetheless.
me summarize: there are NO grounds for divorce in the lives
of Christians, for they are not to commit adultery and fornication.
And if their mate commits adultery against them, they should patiently
pray for repentance and reconciliation and they should pray this
with faith, not doubting, and if their mate repents, they should
return to them. (How can you pray with faith for reconciliation
with your backslidden mate if you are looking for new prospects
for a mate?) When God’s bride (be it Israel or the Gentile
church) repented of her whoredom, God received her back. So should
it be with the offended wife or husband. She should work to bring
repentance to her backslidden mate, perhaps by sending friends
to rebuke him. She should fast and pray for him and plead for
others to do the same. She should plead with him in person, or
write him letters and call him incessantly, begging him to forsake
his sin and restore honor to himself and to his family, and to
give honor to God. If he repents, his offended wife should forgive
him and receive him, just as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven
and received her.
us now examine the teachings in the New Testament epistles on
this subject. Paul comments on this subject thoroughly.
Corinthians 7:10-11: And to the married I command, yet not
I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But
and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled
to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife
makes this comment here: “I command, yet not I, but the Lord”.
He clarifies that this is not just his opinion, but God’s opinion.
In this passage:
Remarriage is condemned - the offended wife should seek reconciliation
with her husband.
The woman should not depart from her husband, but if she does,
she should not divorce him.
Divorce is condemned - the offended mate should not divorce
the offender, even if they leave the house.
commandments apply to church government, not civil government.
The civil government would tolerate divorce for adultery and would
tolerate remarriage, but the church should not tolerate divorce
any more than it should tolerate lust, hate, unforgiveness, etc.
12-16: But 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. And the woman which hath an 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 a sister
is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to
peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save
thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save
comments here, “Speak I, not the Lord”. I highlight this to emphasize
the previous two verses. In verses 10-11, he plainly states God’s
opinion on the matter. In verses 12-16, he gives his own opinion
on related issues. If any interpretation of verses 12-16 contradicts
verses 10-11, then we should stick with God’s opinion and not
Paul’s. Right? However, I do think the proper interpretation of
verse 12-16 is consistent with verses 10-11.
the unbelieving spouse depart, Paul says, let them depart, and
“a brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases”.
All this can mean is that they are no longer obligated to fulfill
their husbandly or wifely duties to their departing spouse. The
woman cannot cook the meals and do the laundry of the man who
has left her. She cannot be his helper as God commanded. The husband
cannot (and shouldn’t have to) pay the grocery bills of the woman
who has left him and taken the children. It CANNOT mean that they
are free to marry, for that would be contradicting the teachings
of Christ and Paul on the subject.
summarize Paul’s comments in verses 17-24 of the same chapter.
Stay as you were when you were converted. Do not use Christianity
as an excuse to break up your marriage and your family. God honors
the covenants made between sinners, and becoming a Christian does
not negate those covenants. In verse 27, he says that the married
should not seek to be loosed from their marriage covenant. And
in verses 39-40, he says that the wife is bound by law to her
husband as long as the husband lives
read what Paul says about marriage in Romans 7:1-6. I will summarize
his comments here for brevity’s sake.
wife is bound by law to her husband as long as the husband lives.
Just as the Christian Jew is no longer obligated to obey all of
the ceremonial laws of as a means of approaching unto God and
has married Christ, so the woman is no longer obligated to obey
her former husband when he dies and she is married to another.
But until her husband dies, the wife is obligated to submit unto
him as her husband just as the Jew was obligated to keep the ceremonial
commandments before Christ’s death and resurrection. This passage
highlights the seriousness of the marriage covenant in God’s eyes.
The wife is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives, and
may not be married to another until he is dead.
conclusion, let us hear God speak through the prophet Malachi
on the grief brought to his heart when a divorce occurs. I will
cite from the New International Version of the Bible because of
its clarity in this passage.
2:14-16: God “no longer pays attention to your offerings or
accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, ‘Why?’ It
is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the
wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though
she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not
the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And
why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself
in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel, ‘and I hate
a man’s covering himself with violence as well with his garment,’
says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and
do not break faith.
hates divorce, which separates which He has united. To divorce
the wife or husband of your covenant is to “deal treacherously”
with them (as the King James Version of the passage translates
it). Do not do, my friend, what the Lord despises so. Do not deal
treacherously with the wife of your youth, or the husband of your
youth, for in so doing you deal treacherously with God!
Questions and Answers?
about two persons who divorced and remarried and then became Christians?
Are they in adultery?
Christians who were previously divorced and remarried should repent
of their adultery. But they shouldn’t necessarily separate. After
all, if two virgins lusted after one another before marriage,
then they also should repent of their “adultery” (lust is the
same as adultery in God’s sight), but they shouldn’t separate
after repenting. They should keep their vow.
are those who would argue that those who are divorced and remarried,
or those who married divorced persons, should separate just as
two persons living in adultery next door should separate. There
is a Scriptural example of married persons separating as fruit
of repentance: Neh.13:23-31. So this interpretation is not without
persons who divorced for unlawful reasons or persons who remarried
contrary to God’s law hellbound?
could argue that this concept of the sanctity of marriage and
the evil of divorce and remarriage was written upon the consciences
of all men. If this is the case, then certainly the transgressor
would be hellbound. You could argue that one could divorce because
of spousal adultery and remarry, and not be hellbound because
this was done in ignorance of what the law of God says on the
issue. I do not think you could justify divorce for any other
reason other than adultery.
lean toward the former. I think the laws of God regarding marriage
are written on the consciences of all men. I humbly admit I could
be wrong on this issue, and invite critiques of this view and
alternative interpretations of the passages I cite.