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Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Indeed, lies, when believed, bind and destroy us. It’s not God’s will that we should be bound or dead. Jesus Himself claimed to be the Truth; He has come so we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). He has come to make us free – not to be lawless or selfish, doing our own thing, but to do His will.
The purpose of this writing is to set free those bound by the error that a married couple must remain together simply because they are married. Regardless of licenses, ceremonies, and approval of men, if God didn’t put man and woman together, in His sight the union is a lawless one, and the couple lives in fornication. If so, then they ought to part, discontinuing their sin rather than continuing in it.
It is commonly assumed that because two persons are married, they have come together by the will of God, not considering that men can marry against His will. It is also assumed that God’s hatred of divorce requires a blanket law for all – that divorce is wrong in all circumstances.
Based upon that conclusion, those whose marriages aren’t ordained by God in the first place are condemned to continue in their sin of licensed fornication. But many must find their way out of a situation not ordained of God.
Now I recognize a danger here. God forbid that I should give some fuel for the fire, encouraging those to divorce whom God has put together, but who are experiencing trials and hardships with each other. There must be an earnest seeking of the Lord by husband and wife to determine the will of God in their marriage. Did He put them together, or did He not? That is the question.
Why is there such a question? How is it that people can marry out of the will of God? And if they do marry unrighteously, are they doomed to a permanent arrangement? Are they obligated to sleep in the bed they’ve made for themselves? Does it say anywhere in the Bible that all marriages are of God and that people should never divorce?
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the Living God; as God has said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
While this warning has many applications, it must certainly be a warning to believers not to marry unbelievers. If this warning doesn’t apply to marriage, it doesn’t apply to anything. Didn’t God warn Israel not to marry wives from the Gentiles? Many are the passages in Scripture on forbidden marriages between God’s chosen and the world, both literal and figurative (Genesis 24:3; 28:1; Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 23:12; all of Ezra 9; Nehemiah 13:25-27).
If we sin in entering the forbidden, do we not sin in continuing? Did Paul the apostle say to the Corinthians, “Be not unequally yoked to begin with, but after you’ve done it, don’t worry about it; it no longer matters”? Is not repentance about turning around and reversing, if at all possible, the evil we have done?
You who say all marriages are of God, consider: Why would God tell us not to do something if it wasn’t possible to do it? Did He tell Adam not to partake of the Tree of Knowledge for no reason, or was it possible for him to do so? If it is possible to disobey God on a matter, He commands us not to offend, and warns us of the consequences of disobedience.
It is important to realize, however, that because of certain circumstances, a couple might just be better to remain together, though they weren’t to be married initially. There can be children involved or other circumstances and results must be evaluated before the Lord. Be honest and be prepared to obey, whatever the case.
Some think that because they acknowledge something to be wrong, the acknowledgment is all that’s needed. That’s not true repentance. Repentance isn’t merely acknowledging something to be sin; repentance is turning away from, and ceasing to, sin. Confession isn’t enough; mental assent isn’t enough; nothing less than a change in attitude and behavior will do. (Read Repentance.)
“Well, yes, now that I have AIDS (or herpes or syphilis), I recognize that promiscuity is wrong,” one says, as he or she continues to hop into bed with whomsoever, whenever he or she chooses. Or, “I thought there was nothing wrong with smoking, but years later, I have lung cancer. So now I know better,” one says, as he continues to smoke.
Solomon loved many wives, many “strange women,” and married as he chose, quite contrary to the express command of God: “You shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in to you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2). And what happened to Solomon? It says, “And his wives turned away his heart” (verse 3). He began to worship and honor their pagan gods.
Did it happen overnight? Did it happen in the first or second year? Five years later, one may say, “See, like I told you – nothing happened. I haven’t backslidden. I married with the intent of winning my unbelieving spouse to the Lord. So my wife or husband doesn’t believe yet, but these things take time.”
Yes, they take time all right. But the Lord said, “Surely they will turn away your heart,” so surely it will be according to His Word. “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old [he didn’t marry many of them when he was old], that his wives turned away his heart after other gods” (verse 4).
I tell you, you backslid the day you purposed to ignore God and His Law.
Backsliding isn’t always evident immediately in feelings, outward appearances, or consequences:
“There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof [not the beginning or the middle] are the ways of death,” wrote the man who learned by bitter experience (Proverb 14:12).
You can’t dishonor God and His Word and expect He’ll keep you safe in your disobedience and wilful disregard of His Law.
How is it that we all justify ourselves, rationalizing that while others won’t get away with it, we can handle it? “Oh, I won’t let him turn me away. I’ll be strong, I’ll pray, I’ll live a godly testimony before my husband, and he will be won to the Lord – I just know it! I really feel it is the will of God that we should marry. Didn’t Samson marry a Philistine woman? His parents were against it, too, but it was the will of God (Judges 14:1-4). How do you know it isn’t the will of God for me? I really love him, and he loves me. He says he doesn’t have a problem with me believing. He believes in God, too!”
Relentless, the daughter prevails; her parents cave in to her entreaties and reasonings. She marries the unbeliever. But what did God say, as just quoted above? “For surely [not ‘chances are,’ not ‘maybe,’ not ‘likely,’ not ‘possibly,’ not anything but ‘surely’] they will turn away your heart after their gods.”
What do you expect when you disregard God’s counsel? Do you think Him a fool? Did He warn you for nought? Listen to me: Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (next to Jesus Who was not merely man, but God in the flesh). You read his proverbs, his Song, the Book of Ecclesiastes – only samples of all that he spoke, wrote, and did.
He built the Temple of God. His reign was one of peace and glory, a glory greatly admired by all nations roundabout. They came from far just to hear his wisdom and found, contrary to the usual, that what they had heard was less than what they directly discovered for themselves. Usually rumors are exaggerated; in this case, they fell short of the reality!
But we, in our youth, idolatries, ignorance, and arrogance are undoubtedly wiser and spiritually stronger than Solomon! Oh, yes, we can handle it! “This is different; I have Christ within whereas he didn’t,” we tell ourselves and others.
But we are all flesh; there is no righteousness with us, in and of ourselves, not in the days of Solomon and not today. If we disobey God, we can’t justify ourselves in any way. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
You can claim whatever differences you want, be they in you, in your circumstances, or in that thing or person you want. It won’t do. Go against the Laws of God, and you reap terrible consequences. There is no other alternative; I don’t care who you are. Your feelings, opinions, and perceptions aren’t the sure things here. Only God and His Laws are sure.
“Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). And when God speaks, He doesn’t speak in vain; He’s no fool or liar. When He speaks, it’s not mere opinion or speculation. His Word is fact; it’s Law; it’s truth.
What happened in the days of Noah? “…the sons of God [believers] saw the daughters of men [unbelievers] that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Genesis 6:2). That led to the destruction of the whole earth. Unholy, forbidden marriage is a terrible thing that brings terrible consequences. Have no doubt of that. And by bitter experience, many no longer have that doubt, sad to say.
Do you think that because you love someone, therefore it is of God? Think again. What did we just read of Solomon? Solomon, it says, “clave unto [his wives] in love” (1 Kings 11:2).
How is it that people can marry out of the will of God? The answer is simple: If one can steal, kill, commit adultery, worship other gods, or do any other evil thing, it follows that one can also marry out of the will of God. Where in Scripture does it teach that all marriages are of God? Search the Scriptures for such evidence. In the meantime, we will show what the Scriptures do declare.
Jesus said, “But I say to you that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).
This Scripture declares there to be grounds for divorce. One interpretation to these words of Jesus may hold true: By the Law of Moses, if a man had married a woman and later discovered that he had not married a virgin, he could rightfully put her away. He would be doing so because of premarital fornication on her part.
The other most common interpretation is that it speaks of one of the married partners committing adultery, thus defiling the marriage, thus creating grounds for divorce. But Jesus didn’t say, “…saving for the cause of adultery.” He said, “…saving for the cause of fornication.” Two different words translated from two different words in Greek: “pornia” (fornication) and “moy khaho” (adultery).
According to the Law of Moses, the penalty for adultery was death by stoning:
“And the man that commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10).
“Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned…” (John 8:5; see also Deuteronomy 22:23-24).
There is a difference between fornication and adultery. Fornication is voluntary sexual relations between two unmarried persons. Adultery is sexual relations between a married person and someone he or she is not married to, be it an unmarried or married person. In adultery, marriage is involved; in fornication, not necessarily so. When marriage violation was involved, the penalty was death.
While sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death, there are varying degrees and kinds of sins. For example, there is a sin unto death and a sin not unto death, John says (1 John 5:16). Fornication was not always punishable by death. In some cases, it was “punishable,” or rather “resolvable,” by marriage:
“If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her [sex outside of marriage – fornication], and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he has humbled her, he may not put her away all his days” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).
But notice what happens to one betrothed (engaged). Betrothal was as good as marriage. In that case, the offenders were put to death:
“If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she didn’t cry out, being in the city; and the man, because he has humbled his neighbor’s wife: so shall you put away evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).
Jesus would not have brushed off adultery with a simple divorce, even if He sent an adulterous woman away with forgiveness and no punishment (John 8). He wasn’t there to punish, but to save from horribly punishing sin, from the self-punishment of sinners. But He also wasn’t there to do away with the Law or treat it lightly.
“Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the Law until all is fulfilled. Therefore whoever shall relax one of these commandments, the least, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).
The point is that when Jesus spoke of divorce, He was speaking of fornication, not adultery, as the grounds. There is only one conclusion to be drawn: The people are not married though married; they are in fornication with each other.
How can they be married, yet not married? The marriage was put together by men, not by God. “What God has put together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9), but what man has put together, independent of God, I say, let God put asunder, because it is fornication, not marriage. And He does put marriages of fornication asunder, because the works and deeds of lawless man can’t be blessed or prosper. That goes for anything against the ways of God. So, no matter what men may say or do, people are only truly married if God has put them together in marriage.
Let’s take into consideration more Scriptural testimony in Ezra, chapters 9 and 10.
Again, acknowledgment or confession of sin isn’t enough. Repentance is more than that; it’s a change not only of thought, but of behavior. Once you know that what you’ve been doing is wrong, it’s your responsibility to stop doing it. What did the children of Israel do when Ezra made them realize they were in marital sin? They said, “We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing” (10:2).
Then they said, “Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the Law” (10:3).
Ezra replied, “You have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now, therefore, confess to the LORD God of your fathers, and do His pleasure. Separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives” (10:10-11).
Then they said, “As you have said, so must we do” (10:12). And they put away their wives and the children begotten of them. Yes, they did. I can assure you that in true repentance with works, God’s wrath was lifted, and blessing came upon them.
Dear reader, seeker to do God’s will, backslidden believer, did you marry an unbeliever? Are you married to one now? If so, in all likelihood, you are married according to men, according to the dictates and desires of the flesh, not according to God’s will. You may need to separate.
It doesn’t matter if you were “ceremonialized” in a church or pronounced “man and wife” by a pastor or justice of the peace. It doesn’t matter if your church frowns on divorce. You haven’t been created or brought to the faith of God to do the will of your church, your denomination, your pastor, or your family; you were created to do the will of God. There will never be peace or blessing for you from God until you obey. There’s no other way.
Many are the pastors and churches who don’t do the will of God or teach His Law faithfully. Of them it is written, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mark 7:6).
Those who fight for their lives cry, “God calls us to peace; He calls us to love. You can’t just up and leave your husband or your wife! God is not a God of division, but of unity, of order, of reconciliation. This teaching is not of God, but of the Devil!”
Read some of the Diabolical Doctrines dealing with many teachings found in the churches that are anti-Scriptural, anti-Law, and anti-Christ. Yet they are taught and imposed upon the people as God’s Truth by various pastors and churches.
Mark 7:7-13 MKJV
(7) “However, they worship Me in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
(8) For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the dippings of pots and cups. And many other such things you do.”
(9) And He said to them, “Do you do well to set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your own tradition?
(10) For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ And, ‘Whoever curses father or mother, let him die the death.’
(11) But you say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, Corban! (that is, A gift to God, whatever you may profit by me)
(12) and you no longer allow him to do anything toward his father or mother,
(13) making the Word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have delivered. And you do many such things.”
Is it hard to obey God? Yes and no. Hard for the flesh, but a joy for the spirit in Christ. However, He didn’t promise a rose garden or a visit to Disneyland. He said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). That simply means, “To be Mine, you must die.”
He said (paraphrasing), “Die now for Me, obeying Me, and gain your life; or keep your life, dishonoring Me, and lose it thereafter” (Matthew 10:38-39).
Yes, we do have to suffer the consequences of our sins, of our disobedience to God. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then killed her husband, Uriah, terrible consequences came on him many years later, which he couldn’t avoid, even though he had confessed and repented. He had to reap what he had sown. (Read The Wrath of God.)
We aren’t to continue to sleep in the bed of sin. God forbid.
What fruits did you have in disobeying God and marrying? Did you enjoy your fruits? Not only did you rob yourself in this life of the blessing of God, you also may have robbed the one you married of someone else he or she should have married, and the one your spouse should have married was also robbed.
Marrying outside of God’s will as a believer, you trespassed. Hopefully, you’ll know now that to continue your sin will only reap more evil. In repenting of your actions, however, God will be merciful to you, a sinner, and will forgive you:
Joel 2:25-27 KJV
(25) And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, My great army which I sent among you.
(26) And you shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the Name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you: and My people shall never be ashamed.
(27) And you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and no one else: and My people shall never be ashamed.
(Read all of Joel 2.)
Don’t be hasty in drawing conclusions. Seek the Lord and see what He would have you do in your particular circumstances. Write us and together we can ask God for direction and judgment.
I often recall the words of a hymn and realize the truth of them: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” So often have I known the sorrow of sin, and the release and joy of faith and obedience to God and His Word. It’s the only way – hard, yes, but always rewarding.
And having believed and obeyed, you’ll say in the end with awe, joy, and excitement, “God is Faithful and True!”
Consider the alternative to believing this false doctrine: You can have the peace and prosperity of God by being in His will, in celibacy or in having the wife or husband meant for you, chosen by God’s wisdom, rather than man’s.