God's Marriage Laws

The Letter of the Law, the Spirit of the Law

Correct Application, Erroneous Application

Article bY

God's Marriage Laws

The Letter of the Law, the Spirit of the Law

Correct Application, Erroneous Application

Article bY

With regards to God's marriage laws (or any of His Biblical laws), it is clear that God gave these laws to man to cause and help man do God's will and wish in any matter. Man in dealing with God's written laws very much should deal with them in the way that fulfills God's desire and will in the matter, and not merely follow His laws according to their technical wording. The Bible says the letter killeth (2 Cor 3:6). Yes, the letter or technical wording of God's laws in legalism can actually kill and do the very opposite of what God would will and desire in a particular situation! Thus Paul advocated that he was not a minister of the letter of the law, but a minister of the Spirit of the law (2 Cor 3:6). In old era times God ordained judges, whose job was to rightly apply God's laws. bY-1

God's written laws are to be an aid in discerning good and evil and determining God's will, rather than being a mechanical or legalistic law. Exodus 23:13 advocates being circumspect in following God's laws, Exodus 34:27 advocates following the tenor of the law, and Nehemiah 8:8 speaks of Ezra reading the law and giving the people the sense of the law. The will and desire of God on the matter is what matters. bY-2

In determining whether you are a minister of the letter of the law or a minister of the will and mind of God (the spirit and intent of the law), please consider the following old era marriage laws, and consider how you might apply them if you had lived back in that era of time; bY-3

In the Mosaic law, although husbands were allowed to put away their wives for various reasons, yet the law spoke of two particular situations wherein husbands were never allowed to put away their wives. Deuteronomy speaking of this says that if husband brings a particular grievous false report against his wife, he may not put her away all his days (Deu 22:13-19). Deuteronomy also teaches that if a man humbles a maid, he must take her to be his wife and may not put her away all his days (Deu 22:28-29). God through not allowing the erroneous man to ever put away his wife as this, intended to place a additional responsibly upon this husband, and appears was endeavoring to give the wife an additional blessing and protection. God by this law obviously was not trying to bring a difficulty or snare upon the misused wife. Note although God in the old era allowed troubled marriages to be dissolved, He never wanted the husband to do it in a oppressive and cruel way, thus if the wife wanted the divorce as well as the husband, such would have been a more acceptable separation in God's sight. bY-4

Now what do you think should be done in the situation where a man misused his wife and thus (according to the letter of this law) could never put her away, if the marriage in due time ended up being very troubled, and his wife herself would very much want to be released from this marriage and very much would want her husband to put her away? Remember God by this law was not trying to bring a difficulty upon the women but rather upon the erroneous man. Would this woman have to remain in this troubled marriage because of this law (which was intended to bless her), while wives of other troubled marriages had the opportunity of being released from that marriage? According to the letter of the law this wife clearly would have to stay within this marriage, note the law says he may not put her away all his days! bY-5

A minister of the letter of the law would be obligated to say this marriage simply can never be dissolved, even if the marriage is very troubled, and even if the wife would want it dissolved, and even though other unhappy marriages could be dissolved in that era of time. Yet a minister of the will and intent of God in that era of time would say, if the wife wants to be put away that makes all the difference, and would say that God by this law was not trying to bring a difficulty upon the woman but rather a blessing, and thus this husband with and yet only with her permission and desire can put her away. In this situation it is quite obvious that applying the letter of the law would do the very opposite of what the will and mind of God would do. How sad it is, when Christians merely apply the letter of the law and thereby do the very opposite of what the intent of the law would be in the matter! bY-6

In considering the above situation one should also consider that in that era of time, this man might even have a second or third wife he was placing his affections on and might just be keeping this wife only because he had to, while this poor wife might be quite certain that she could find a better life without him. In those days a woman after being put away was even quite free to marry another (Deu 24:1-4). bY-7

In considering exceptions to the law, one should consider that although Deu 22:28 strictly says one who humbles a daughter must marry her, yet Ex 22:16-17 speaking of the same situation says such marriage can be forfeited it the father of the daughter did not want it. Note if the girl herself didn't want the marriage, she in many cases likely could also have forfeited the marriage by moving her dad to refuse the marriage. Yet what if the daughter's dad was dead? God did not give written laws for every situation, He rather ordained judges with sound minds and a pure heart to follow the tenor, sense, and intent of the law. Are you a minister of the letter of the law or a minister of the will and mind of God? bY-8

The purpose of God matrimonial laws is to create and preserve, peace, justice, and order among mankind. If God had no marriage laws and it was lawful and customary for a man to have any woman that he that day could attract to himself, or lawful for a woman to have any man that she that day could attract to herself, one can hardly imagine how much stress, anxiety, jealousy, and strife would be encountered. God's marriage laws in both the old era and Christian era have the vital purpose of making husbands and wives secure companions to one another, and to make a secure environment for the children. Truly we should be thankful for God's marriage laws. Remember these good laws very much need to be followed according to their intent and purpose rather than merely according to the letter. bY-10

Too many Christians do not properly understand how God's laws are good laws worthy to be loved, for which cause King David was moved to say "O how love I they law" (Psa 119:97)! King David in Psalms 119 repeatedly spoke of God's laws being good, something he loved, and delighted in. May Christians understand why James spoke of God's laws being laws of liberty and Jesus said the truth makes us free (James 1:25, 2:12, John 8:32,)! Although God's laws obviously do not allow man to do everything he on the spur of the moment might want to do, yet their end is blessing and freedom! Too many ministers of the Word in ignorance have turned to the letter of the law and "...turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." (1 Tim 1:6-7). bY-11

In considering divorce as in the old era it should be considered that after a wife was put away, she was not allowed to ever return to her past husband, as the separation was to be a permanent issue (Deu 24:3, Jer 3:1). It appears our wise God did not want men chasing their wives out of the house one day and a few nights later taking them back in. If taking back a prior wife was lawful, husbands might have sent a wife away and she after leaving might have gone to a prior husband and soon after returned back to her previous husband, and trading wives back and forth could have resulted. It is quite clear that such is what Jeremiah 3:1 is speaking of when it says, "If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?". A divorce also had to be done in writing as it needed to be an official act rather than just a quick angry decision (Deu 24:1&3). God had various written marriage laws in old times. Some such laws were, Priests were not to marry a divorced woman or a widow (Lev 21:13-14). If a servant left his master after his seven years of service were ended, his wife, if gotten from his master while serving, was to be left with his master (Ex 21:2-4). Wives taken from among the captives in battle, if later disliked could be put away, although not sold for money (Deu 21:11-14). bY-12

Although husbands in the old era for various reasons and quite freely were allowed to put away wives and marry others, in the Christian era Jesus set down new and much stricter rules with regards to divorce and remarriage. Yet although Christ did establish much stricter marriage laws in the Christian era He still allowed divorce and remarriage for the cause of fornication. Following are two such Scriptures; bY-13

(Mat 5:31-32) "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: {32} 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." bY-14

(Mat 19:3&9) "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? {9} 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." bY-15

A careful study of how the word fornication is used in the Bible, and the definitions of the Hebrew and Greek word underlying the word fornication, clearly reveal that the Biblical word fornication can pertain to adultery and any type of sexual sins. Paragraphs 2:3-30 of article aW give many related verses. That the word fornication can mean adultery or any sexual sins is acknowledged by numerous and possibly most writers, Bible scholars, and Bible translators. Before one continues reading the rest of this article he really should be convinced that the Biblical word fornication pertains to sexual sins of the married and well as the unmarried. One possibly should use his concordance and read every verse with the word fornication therein. In the KJV Bible the word fornicat(...) with it's different endings appears 44 times in 40 different verses. The writer was very surprised when he first studied every verse with the word fornication therein and discovered that many or most times when the word fornication is used, the Scripture context quite obviously is not in any way focusing on the unmarried but quite obviously is including the married as well. Before this study I had thought the word fornication largely excludes the married in it's use and meaning. 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 reads, "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: {10} Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world." Should one think this Scripture in using the word fornication is particularly intending to exclude the married from it's context? It does not appear so, but rather it appears to be speaking of sexual sinners of any kind. Many Scriptures are similar to this in their use of the word fornication. It appears most Scriptures that use the word fornication by no means are endeavoring to exclude the married from their context. Some revealing texts are, Jude 1:7, Acts 15:29, 2 Chr 21:11, 2 Cor 12:21, 1 Thes 4:3, Rom 1:29, Rev 14:8. One should also remember that the Hebrew and Greek words underlying the word fornication advocate sexual sins of any kind. According as the word fornication can pertain to sexual sins of the married, the above two Scriptures which allow divorce and remarriage for the cause of fornication, would yet (in the Christian era) allow the husband to put away his wife if she is involved in sexual sins and marry another. Yet obviously husbands should be patient and forgiving and not quick and cruel in putting away such a wife and marrying another. bY-16

Yet too many Christians are still disagreed on what the word fornication pertains to, and too disagreed on what this liberty of divorce and remarriage really pertains to. Some Christians believe that the fornication spoken of in the above Scriptures (and the liberty for divorce and remarriage therewith), pertains only to dealing with invalid marriages or the engagement union rather than dealing with a real marriage union. Yet if the fornication divorce permission spoken of in the above Scriptures pertained only to the engagement union rather than the marriage union, why would Jesus after being asked whether one can put away his real wife for every cause, suddenly give a reason for divorce that pertained only to the engagement union?! (Matt 19:3-9). Considering how liberal divorces and marriages were in the Old Testament, why should one think that Jesus in being questioned about being allowed to put away a wife for every cause would all of a sudden given an answer which was to be applied merely to the engagement union (Matt 19:3-9)? As in above Matthew 5:31-32, why would Jesus after teaching that husbands can no longer divorce a real wife through a mere writing of divorcement, then suddenly be speaking merely of the engagement union, as He continued on and yet allowed divorce and remarriage for the cause of sexual sins? bY-17

It appears the fact that Jesus in the above Scriptures used the word fornication rather than the word adultery, is why some have decided Christ was not speaking of the marriage union but only of the engagement union. Yet one must remember the word fornication can very much pertain to sexual sins of any kind including adultery. One should research how the Bible uses the word fornication. In considering the very situations in which Jesus gave liberty for divorce and remarriage for the cause of fornication, it very much appears to the writer that Jesus was not speaking merely of the engagement union or invalid marriages. Note these issues are consider more extensively in paragraphs 12:18-23.5 of article aW. bY-18

If husbands in the new era could not put away their wives for the cause of adultery and marry another, one's wife could live in adultery and permanently leave her husband, while her husband could never put her away and marry another. Thus the husband of the unfaithful wife would be required to remain single until her death. That sure would be a great change as compared to how God's people in the old era could have numerous wives and could quite freely put away disliked wives and marry others. Although Jesus did get stricter with regards to divorce and remarriage, it appears one really lacks solid basis to believe He disallowed it altogether. bY-20

If Jesus in allowing divorce and remarriage for the cause of fornication, for some reason would have been giving husbands permission to put away their wives only if they were guilty of premarital fornication, one in so far would have an advantage in marring non virgins, because he could divorce them and marry another, if they were unfaithful to him and left him, while if he married a virgin he could never divorce her and marry another even if she permanently left him and went with another man. Paragraphs aW 5:10-13 speak more of this. bY-21

Although the Bible clearly is man's most important source of written direction, in considering these things one should still consider that the writings of Tertullian, early Anabaptists, Menno Simmons, and John Holdeman all with one voice, interpret Jesus' above teachings to allow husbands to put away a wife for the cause of adultery and marry another. Their writings are given in paragraphs 11:3-15, 12:24-25 of article aW. May Christians be careful to follow God's laws according to the good intent thereof, and be careful lest they disallow what God does not disallow for His children. bY-22

Some Christians likely feel the promises made in marriage vows in themselves should disallow remarriages after a divorce, and thus many second marriages should be broken apart simply because they conflict with human promises, and the divorced ones thus required to be single and children torn apart. Concerning the obligation and duty that wedding vows place upon Christians as well as non Christians, one must consider that God in the new era does not want people to make promises in the binding way of swearing or making oaths, as God's people did in the old era (Matt 5:33-37, James 5:12). God rather now wants all human promises to be made with the intent that if God approves and allows we will do this or that (James 4:13-16). In old times husbands were given authority to disallow and make void his wife's or children's vows (Num 30). How much more may God also disallow any of our vows if He wills to do so, since he is much greater than a mere husband, and since we should always make our promises as in subjection to God's approval and allowance to begin with. bY-23

If second marriages must be torn apart merely because they are not in agreement with earlier human promises, one should never even be allowed to serve the Lord, if he in his past promised someone he wouldn't serve the Lord. If human promises are always binding, one should also have to remain a permanent criminal, if he promised some crime organization his life long service. Although God obviously will hold one more to a good promise than to a bad promise, yet God can forgive human promises and only those promises that God holds people to are valid and active promises. bY-24

What should husband's be required to vow or promise in getting married? Jesus Himself in our time yet allows husbands to put away their wives for fornication and marry another (Matt 5:32, 19:9). The writings of Tertullian, early Anabaptists, Menno Simmons, and John Holdeman all with one voice according to Jesus teaching, allow husbands to put away a wife for the cause of adultery and marry another. Thus for what reason should husbands in getting married be required to vow to never take another wife until death part? Yet many Churches demand a similar vow of men at their wedding. The writer at his wedding was asked; "Will you... keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live". I having much respect and confidence in my church answered "yes". Yet now I have learned such vow demanded something of me that Christ never asked of husbands. Rather Christ allows the husband to marry another if his wife would become guilty of sexual misbehavior (fornication) and refuses to repent and possibly even would leave him. As God knows that I at my wedding was endeavoring to vow only according to His true will, I believe I now am only held to God's true requirement rather than to my ignorant vow. bY-25

Because of many errors in our day, both among those who merely claim to be Christians and those who are Christians, the dividing line between the Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of Christ is not a distinct as it should be. Yet the Kingdom of this World and Kingdom of Christ are two totally different kingdoms. Just because society or so called Christians believe in getting married does not mean they are a part of the Kingdom of Christ. The world believed in marriage just before the flood and will still believe in marriage just before Christ's return (Mat 24:38-39), yet believing in marriage alone does not make people a part of the Kingdom of Christ! Concerning marriages and divorces that were done in ignorance and unbelief and outside of the Kingdom of Christ, how should they be dealt with when those involved in them are won to Christ and His Kingdom? This is an important question that deservers a good answer. bY-26

In determining whether you are a minister of the letter of the law or a minister of the will and mind of God, please consider the following possible situations wherein two women from the world were won to Christ and His Kingdom, and consider how you might deal with them;

Wicked Jezebel lived carelessly together with her boyfriend for three years (although he preferred to get married), afterwhich Jezebel got very unreasonable with him and left him. Jezebel soon after leaving him got married to another man. Now Jezebel is very glad she didn't marry her long lived with boyfriend, because she after being won to Christ and His Kingdom is told her present marriage is good and acceptable because she was never divorced. bY-27

Mary although also non Christian was more conscientious then Jezebel, and hated to live with her boyfriend without being married, so they got married, although he preferred to just live together. Yet six months after their wedding he got very unreasonable with Mary and divorced her against her wishes. Mary was very grieved about the situation, yet some time later she got married again, which marriage turned out very well for her. They have numerous children which Mary and her husband love dearly. Yet now she after being won to Christ and His Kingdom is told she must leave her second husband whom she greatly loves, because her present marriage involves divorce and remarriage which may not be done. Her heart as well as the hearts of her husband and children are all broken, and they don't know what to do in this heart breaking situation. bY-28

Jezebel now is telling Mary that she feels very sorry for her, and wishes Mary had refused to marry her first boyfriend like she had done, because then God would allow her present marriage to stand! Are ministers of the will and mind of God instructing Jezebel and Mary, or are blind guides of the letter of the law instructing them? God knows Mary was more upright than Jezebel in her past, and her human marriage vows (promises) He can forgive. God knows Mary's prior marriage only lasted six months while Jezebel lived with her prior boyfriend for three years. Remember if God could not forgive human promises then one who promises to never be a Christian simply could never be a Christian, and one who would promise life long service in organized crime would always have to be a criminal. One should consider that concerning some marriages, God possibly never did acknowledge them as valid. Remember the real intent of God's good marriage laws is to create secure marriage partners and secure children and God wants His laws to be followed as to best fulfill their intent. Are you a minister of the letter of the law or a minister of the will and mind of God? bY-30

Following is given a parable which also should be considered in considering how to deal with past erroneous marriages when those involved in them have repented and want to become a part of the Kingdom of Christ; bY-31

Israel had a law that all who steal must get both of their hands cut off, thus they had basically no thievery done in their nation. No locks and keys were needed because everyone in this nation could be trusted! Many people wanted to become a part of Israel because of the security in this nation, and many did become a part thereof. Honest people and those who were fully resolved to be honest were anxious to migrate to Israel. Yet many people could not become a part of Israel because they had stolen in their past and Israel had the strange law that if anyone had ever stole, even if before becoming a part of their nation they would have to cut off their hands upon becoming citizens of Israel! One might say how ridiculous. One might also say allowing such immigrates to keep their hands would not disrupt the theft security of Israel, while rather only giving such immigrates a chance in Israel. Yet stop and think about Israel's strange law, is such not similar to what Christians are doing when they rigidly require those who were married and divorced in their sinful past, and who have now repented, to leave a established wife and family when they become a part of God's New Testament Israel? bY-32

In considering God's marriage laws, one must remember that the real reason for them is to avoid havoc among humanity. They are intended to make husbands and wives secure companions to one another, and to make a secure environment for the children. God wants His good marriage laws to always be followed as to fulfill their intent. Yet how many Christians in legalistically enforcing and misapplying God's marriage laws have created havoc rather than prevented havoc? How many ministers of the Word in legalistically enforcing and misapplying the letter of law have disrupted what our God would have made a secure and happy family within His Kingdom. Yes, God's good marriage laws help to create the more abundant life that Jesus came to give. How it must grieve the heart of God when He sees the possibly sincere yet dreadful misuse of His good laws! Wouldn't the good laws of our good God give one who repents and comes into His Kingdom a chance in His good marriage plan? Are you a minister of the letter of the law, or a minister of the will and mind of God? Remember, if merely the letter of the law is followed such can do the very opposite of the good intent of the law, and remember the letter killeth but the spirit gives life! bY-33

Jesus obviously was the best doctor of God's law that ever walked this earth, yet His focus clearly was not on the letter of the law but rather His focus was on the mind and will of His Father in any particular situation. What kind of doctors of God's laws are we? Jesus didn't put to death the adulterous woman caught in the very act, as the letter of the law demanded, but shewed mercy (John 8:3-11). Too many Christians think conservatism and sacrifice is righteousness, and might advocate sacrifice rather than mercy, while Jesus rather said, "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mat 9:13). Are we shewing Christ's mercy to sinners and inviting sinners to repentance or are we possibly sincerely yet ignorantly and erroneously cutting off hands?! bY-34

Jesus said the weightier matters of the law, are "judgment, mercy, and faith" (Matt 23:23). May our judgment not merely be based on the letter of the law but may it be done with mercy and with faith in God's good laws which are sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb (Psa 19:7-10). Jesus did not come to break hearts and to create captives, but rather came to "...heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised," (Luke 4:18)! Are we His disciples? Note although the intent of the law at times will not demand the divorced and remarried to separate, yet the intent of the law at times will require such. Article aW extensively considers such different situations. bY-35

The writer himself is slowly discovering that various things he was taught and thought were laws of God were nothing more than the laws of men and darkness. It appears their is a famine in the land, not of natural bread but of the living bread of life. Amos 8:11-13 speaks of a famine of hearing the words of the Lord, and says many will run from sea to sea and shall not find it, and says in that day the fair virgins and young men shall faint for thirst. How many people need and are starved for complete truth, but can't find it anywhere? The writer in here writing was moved to tears in thinking of how misunderstood many of God's laws are, and in thinking of the great darkness of our time with regards to many subjects. Although there will always be many things we don't know or fully understand, yet oh may God help us learn those things that are important for our life and time, and help us be free of ignorantly advocating the erroneous doctrines and commandments of men! bY-36

In trying to discuss God's laws about divorce and remarriage with one person, I was told such subject is something to argue about. He didn't really want to talk much about it. Although some might foolishly argue about this subject may we quit doing so, and rather seek and find the truth on this subject as it is a vitally important subject. How can God's church be a light to the world when it is divided and in the dark about such an important subject! How can Christians win a erring world to the Kingdom of Christ when they are in the dark as to how to deal with the marriage situations they encounter among those who they are endeavoring to win to this special Kingdom? bY-37

It is no secret that Christians are very divided about this subject. It also is obvious that two opposing views cannot both be right, while rather both opposing views could even be wrong. Concerning a subject as important as this, hasn't God given His people laws that can be understood? Quite obviously God, His Spirit, and His Word will give sufficient light and we dare not resort to having no direction on this important subject. May we love and seek the truth as it can be found by those who love it and seek it with their whole heart. bY-38

In conclusion may God make "...us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." (2 Cor 3:6). May we remember that although God's laws obviously do not allow man to do everything he on the spur of the moment might want to do, that the purpose and end of God's laws is peace as a river and righteousness as the waves of the sea (Isa 48:18). May we find and experience that peace and those waves! bY-40

May we go and learn what God means in that He will have mercy and not sacrifice (Mat 9:13). May Jesus not have to tell us today what He told the Jews saying, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes" (Luke 19:44). May we rather see and experience the things that belong to our peace and also share it with others! Farewell. bY-41

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