The Permanence View of Marriage

Posted: May 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

I subscribe to Voddie Baucham’s podcast, and one of the sermons I re-listened to recently had to do with marriage and divorce.  No, nothing is wrong. Thanks for asking, we are fine-just trying to think through where I stand on this particular issue.  I believe that Voddie Baucham makes a very strong case for the view that there is no lawful divorce or remarriage while a spouse is still living.  I know that the majority of  christians believe that divorce is a bad thing, but on the grounds of adultery or abandonment it is permissible.  I know for sure this is what the Westminster Confession says:

V. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.[11] In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce,[12] to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.[13]

VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:[14] wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their own case.[15]

I find myself more persuaded toward the Permance view though.  Mainly from reflection of the analogy between Christ and the Church and husband and wife.  How do you reconcile-a God who never leaves His people NO MATTER WHAT, and  if the people leave Him, He pursues-with divorce?  Below are some quick notes on the Voddie Baucham sermon, and I am interested in your opinions on it.  Even if you disagree, consider what he says.

Jesus said several times “…you’ve heard this … but I say this ….”

Divorce and Remarriage; a Permanence View. Jim Eliff

Divorce and wrongful remarriage are forgivable sins. We want to start here, at the heart of our faith in Christ. When Jesus died, He did not fail to atone for the misdeeds of His people in this critical area. Even the person who has acted as wrongly as possible in this matter may be fully forgiven, and may have a fulfilled life of service to God after repentance. Also, God mercifully blesses many second marriages that began sinfully. This is a mystery for which we can all be extremely grateful.

Matthew 5:31-32
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’
32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery
. ESV

Deuteronomy 24:1- 5
1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,
2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife,
3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife,
4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.
ESV

Our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees …

Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ESV

  • Permanence – No divorce, no remarriage under any circumstances – Boice, Piper
  • Semi – Permanence – Allows divorce, no remarriage –
  • Permissive – Allows divorce, allows remarriage – MacArthur, Carson
    Adultery only
    Adultery, Abandonment of believing spouse by an unbelieving spouse
  • Liberal – just about anything

1) One flesh permanent until death

Matthew 19:1-9

1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
ESV

2) Initiating a divorce is never lawful

Matthew 19:7-9
7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
ESV

Never does the Bible say it is lawful to divorce.

3) Remarriage after divorce is adultery if a former spouse is living

Romans 7:2-3
2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.
3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
ESV

Mark 10:10-12
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.
11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her,
12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
ESV

Luke 16:1-18
18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. ESV

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Comments
  1. JD says:

    It seems to me the more I listen to the likes of Voddie Baucham and John Piper, the more I am convinced that they present a great argument for why divorce is never justified, but, if you take the argument to its logical conclusion, they do a very bad job of defending the idea that you should stay in the second marriage even though it’s adulterous. The argument that Voddie Baucham makes is that it is an ACT of adultery, not a STATE of adultery. He raises the argument, for example, that when Jesus confronted the woman at the well, he said, “you have had 5 husbands…” and so in that he was acknowledging that they were all valid marriages in God’s eyes.

    But this seems to fall down when you look at the Greek. For instance,

    http://www.danielrjennings.org/TheClearNewTestamentPassagesOnDivorceAndRemarriage.pdf

    Also, drawing this conclusion from this interaction is expecting too much from the text. Perhaps it is more appropriate to contrast this with John the Baptist who lost his head because he insisted that the divorced woman whom Herod had married was still someone else’s wife, even though they were already “married.”

    It seems to me the ultimate question which needs to be addressed is whether or not the original marriage covenant can even be broken in the first place, or if we are just pretending it is when we remarry. If the first covenant is still a valid one in God’s eyes, then we are in a state of adultery, are we not? And if we are, how does it make sense that we are now in a new marriage that God blesses rather than judges as an adulterous “marriage” that needs to be repented of?

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