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Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
Jesse L. Kimbro
AT THE TIME of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, in 1787, divorce was so rare as even as to be practically unknown, but by the diversity of laws in the various states, and by the decline of marital morals, divorce has come to be one of the most shocking and disgusting evils of our day. -- Joseph H. Shoate
AMONG the social problems facing the present generation few if any are more serious and perplexing than that of divorce and remarriage. It is a problem having to do with an evil which gnaws at the very vitals of our social order, an evil the magnitude of which in these latter days certainly is no credit to our twentieth-century civilization. -- Linden J. Carter
This second and enlarged edition of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage by Jesse L. Kimbro is published at a time when the home and marriage state in our world society has deteriorated to its lowest level in human history, including pre-flood society. The condition among professed Christians is far worse than at any period since the death of the apostles. This evil, with its related sins is one more cause for God's judgments now coming upon us.
This writing was selected by the author from his excellent and much larger unpublished manuscript on the entire subject. While he scripturally explains many questions on marriage and divorce, the reader will readily notice his theme is love, around the text "husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church." He thus goes to the beginning and foundation of God's unchanging order. If the conclusion seems severe or uncommon, the reason is not in the truth presented, but rather because society has departed so far from God's order. This is our present condition, not only with marriage and family relations, but many other glaring departures in human society and among professed Christians.
W. J. Berry, Sr.
The subject of marriage is the greatest domestic subject to be found in all the Scriptures. It is great because it is the beginning of the home, the very foundation of home and family life. It also is a figure of the bond of Christ and the church. Now that the figure is fulfilled in Christ, His holy example is manifest in Christianity.
Husbands and wives who keep the faith of Christianity, and show it by their works, cleave to each other after the manner of Christ and the church. The apostle Paul, pointing to Christ and the church as the holy example, exhorted husbands and wives to live with each other after the manner of the example. He called it a great mystery. (Eph. 5:32) But those who have been called to follow Christ and to whom it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, may grasp the meaning of the example. But to know this mystery one must be wise as the shepherds who were keeping their flocks by night when Jesus was born. One must be wise to see the star which goes before him to the place where Jesus is. One must be wise to understand what it means to live according to the Great Example and His Bride.
Christianity is woven throughout as seamless as the Lord's vesture, with marriage a full and complete figure, and its fulfillment in Christ a perfect example for Christians who testify of Christ. To profess Christ and yet depart from the way and manner shown in the example is to deny the faith, to say and do not, to do as the hypocrites do.
The home was the first of two institutions God established on earth. The first was a type of the second. The second being fulfilled, it becomes the Lord's holy example.
Let us all take heed whether we be witnesses of Christ to testify of Him in our manner of walk, in our deeds, or are we rendering lip service only? If we render lip service, but do not testify of Christ in our deeds, we are worthy only to be condemned as hypocrites.
In order that we may examine ourselves, let us look back for the figure of Christ in the first marriage, and then upon the Lord and His Bride and consider the one holy example. Then let us take heed that we live after the manner of Christ and the church
We feel that the time of the judgment is at hand, and that it is time God's children give the more earnest heed to His word. The world now is as it was before the flood. The Lord has told us that it shall be so at the time of the coming of the Son of Man. In the days that were before the flood the children of this world were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the Ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Watch therefore; be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh. And blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing. (Matt. 24:37-46) Let us therefore be found so doing; thus proving our faith by our works. (Jas. 2:18) If we are so doing, our works and our words shall agree in one doctrine, or the doctrine which honors our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we walk not according to the faith, we will contradict what we say with what we do and prove ourselves to be false witnesses.
We know that what we have written on this subject will displease the carnal minded man and woman and that the wrath of the wicked shall rage; and we expect neither honor nor profit, but rather to be persecuted for Christ's sake. We know already what it means to suffer persecution and stripes for Christ's sake. But if our labor may be blessed of God to the benefit of a few who hunger and thirst after righteousness, we shall have our reward. If the Lord be for us, who can be against us? By the grace of God we trust to be delivered; and that God will give us grace to endure until our days are fulfilled. We have hope that then we shall be called into the glorious presence of the Holy One whom in this world let us worship in deeds and in words.
May God bless the reader to understand the intent of the writer, imperfectly expressed as it is, and to His name he all the honor and glory forever. Amen.
Law of God Concerning Marriage
The first question to be discussed is, What is the law of God concerning marriage?
The law of marriage was the second article of law the Lord God gave Adam in the Garden, and this law prevailed over the first. The first law was broken by Adam; but the second, never. From the beginning the law of marriage was indissoluble. The bond of marriage was to be from the beginning a figure of the bond binding Christ to His Bride, the church. It is the figure to which Paul referred, calling it "a great mystery." (Eph. 5:31, 32) The first law God gave Adam commanded him to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 2:17) The second law God gave Adam commanded him to cleave to his wife, saying, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife." (Gen. 2:24)
Then came the serpent and deceived the woman and caused her to break the law she received in her husband, and she fell in the transgression. But Adam was not deceived. (I Tim. 2:14) Until then, short or long as it might have been, Adam had kept both laws. But after his wife, to whom the second law commanded him to cleave, had fallen in the transgression, Adam could no longer keep both laws. After his wife had fallen in the transgression, to cleave to her, Adam necessarily had to go where she was. It was a figure of Christ coming to where His Bride was. But to go where his wife was , meant that he could no longer keep the first law. By the woman's transgression, the man was caught between the two laws. He could no longer keep the second law without breaking the first as the woman had done; but the second law was not to be broken; it was without penalty. Because she was bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, Adam had to cleave to his wife even though he had to break the first law to do it.
This second law was unbreakable, indissoluble, because it fixed a bond that was to be always a figure pointing to Christ. The figure must not fail because Christ was not to fail. If God had made the bond of marriage to depend upon what the wife does or fails to do, this, it seems, would have been the best time and event for the beginning of divorce with right to marry another. If any woman ever did enough to justify her husband in putting her away, Eve did enough to justify Adam. And if God had been going to establish divorce with right to marry another, it seems that He might have taken another rib and of it made Adam another wife. But not so; Adam must cleave to his wife. Of divorce Jesus said, "From the beginning it was not so." (Matt. 19:8)
The woman was called Eve because she was the mother of all living. She was the mother of Jesus, who is our life. His words are spirit and they are life. His manner with His Bride is our example. When He said He had given an example, He spoke not of one particular act, but to all He had done, to the whole of His life example.
Now, seeing that there was no failure in the figure, and no failure in the example, to be worthy witnesses of Christ there must be no failure in keeping the example. Indeed, there will be no failure on the part of those who keep the faith and testify of Christ in deed and in word. These prove their faith by their works.
Cleaving to his wife in obedience to the unbroken and unbreakable law brought Adam death in the figure. Jesus cleaving to His Bride brought Him death in fulfillment of the figure. Adam could not rise again, but Jesus rose and He raised up His Bride with Him. Now let the members of His Bride show forth the praise of their Lord, because His death brought man redemption. So now if we may prove our faith, we must cleave to our wives even unto death. Words alone cannot prove our faith. Even as Christ put not away His Bride, the church, for sin, no one who keeps the faith will put away his wife for sin. There are no detours in the way of the Lord--no divorces and new wives for those who keep the faith.
If any man's wife ever did enough to give her husband a right to divorce her, Eve did enough to give Adam that right. But from the beginning, divorce was not so. Divorce was not so at the beginning, neither after the beginning, hence it never has been so. This accounts for Jesus saying, "From the beginning, it was not so." Moses did not make it so by writing a divorce precept. Even the divorce precept he wrote was not given to those who kept the faith, but to the hard-hearted.
God instituted the bond of marriage and the home, therefore, it is an institution of divine origin. Men and devils can never dig down any institution the Lord God has established. It is holy. "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Moses Wrote the One and Only Divorce Precept
Our second question for discussion is, "By whom and for what cause was the divorce precept given; and to whom was it given?"
Many people, mistaken though they are, think that Moses wrote a divorce precept allowing a man to put away his wife for any and every cause, and that Jesus came later and cut out all except one cause. We have heard people call the "every cause" divorce plan the Pharisees plan for divorce, and the idea of one cause as "the Bible cause," for divorce. But they err in both cases, not knowing the Scriptures. In saying that they do not know the Scriptures, I do not mean that they are ignorant of how the Scriptures read. Many of them could quote from memory much of the letter. But there are some who have memorized almost the whole Bible, and still do not know the Scriptures. If they had known the Scriptures, they would have known that nothing is further from the truth than to say that the law of Moses authorized divorce for every cause.
However, we will discuss this phase of the matter later. Now let us consider by whom the divorce precept of the Old Testament was given, to whom was it given, and for what cause.
The one and only divorce precept given with right to marry another was the one given by Moses. The divorce precept of Moses authorized divorce for one cause only. The one cause was fornication, as Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 19:9. Jesus at no time gave a divorce precept with right to marry another. Those who are carnal and all who are deceived mistake what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:9, and in Matthew 5:32, and seek to make-believe that Jesus gave a divorce precept with right to marry another for the cause of fornication. Then they make the further mistake of holding adultery to be fornication.
In Matthew 19:9, Jesus did no more than tell the Pharisees exactly what the law of Moses recognized as ground for divorce with right to marry another. And what the Lord said in Matt. 5:32 was without right to marry another. On that occasion, in His Sermon on the Mount, teaching His disciples, for the cause of fornication, He told them that they might put away their wives. But on that occasion, His only reference to marrying another was to say that "whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." And the Lord even laid the blame of causing the wife to commit adultery upon the husband who shall put away his wife, "saving for the cause of fornication." Then in Luke 16:18, Jesus said, "Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery." Thus the Lord makes it definite that to put away the wife and marry another is to commit adultery, also that to marry a wife who has been put away by her husband is to commit adultery.
Let us make an exhaustive study of the divorce precept as given by Moses to see that it is what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 19:9. In the nineteenth chapter of Matthew we read that the Pharisees tempted Jesus on the divorce question, asking the Lord if it was lawful for every cause. They knew it was not according to the law of Moses to allow divorce for every cause, but they wanted to catch Jesus in His words, herein they tempted Him. But first the Lord told them what the law of God is concerning marriage. Then the Pharisees asked Him why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement? Then in the eighth verse He told them why Moses did it. Now to the ninth verse: Note the conjunction, and. This shows that He is still speaking of what Moses did. In the eighth verse, He told them why Moses did it, and in the ninth verse He told them what Moses wrote. The pronoun you in "And I say unto you," addresses the Pharisees. What is said in that verse is said to Pharisees because it is what Moses wrote which we will show in this chapter.
To be convinced that Moses wrote the one and only divorce precept with right to marry another, the one and only one recorded in either the Old or New Testaments, and that the one Moses wrote was for no cause except that of fornication, let us study the divorce precept of Moses as found in Deut. 24:1-4: It reads as follows:
"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her; then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and he another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife, her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord; and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."
Whatever cause, or transgression of the wife against her husband, was herein by Moses written into the law as ground to justify divorce with right to marry another, it is referred to by the two words "some uncleanness." These two words are noted in the first four verses of the divorce precept of Moses.
If we had nothing more than the two words "some uncleanness" as we find them in the English version of the law of Moses on divorce, we would have nothing specific for so far as these two words themselves are concerned, then it might have been for every cause, anything and everything. But let us examine the two words in the original Hebrew text from which these two words were translated. The word some is from the Hebrew dabar, and the word uncleanness is from the Hebrew ervah. These two words are quite specific, and can in no sense be interpreted to mean every cause. The Jews thought they meant fornication and adultery, but according to what Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 19:9, they meant only fornication.
In the divorce precept of Moses there was a time factor as shown by this language: "When a man hath taken a wife and married her." The time factor is when--"when a man has taken a wife and married her." This word shows that it was at the first, immediately after taking a wife, and not a long time afterward. The original from which the phrase "hath taken a wife" is rendered is what in our day we call the wedding; and the original from which the phrase "and married her" is rendered as what in our day would be known as coming in unto her. Thus, in our form of language usage, it would be the same as saying, "When a man has married a wife and come in unto her." Upon so doing, he would find the cause called "some uncleanness" in our English translation. In those cases where the husband who has just taken a wife found that his wife was not a virgin, Moses authorized divorcement. In such cases the husband would find himself married to a woman who was guilty of fornication, and it shows that the divorce precept of Moses was exactly what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:9. And it shows that the divorce precept of Moses recognized fornication only as ground for divorce. Not even adultery was, under a strict interpretation, recognized in the law of Moses as ground for divorce.
On this point, the Pharisees were in error, since they recognized adultery the same as fornication as cause for divorce. But we will discuss their interpretation later, and the difference in adultery and fornication.
The two words "some uncleanness" are weak and indefinite renderings of the Hebrew words dabar ervah. The average reader, and especially the weak may read the English rendering and from man's opinion which is far from the truth concerning it. But that is not the worst. Deceivers, as already pointed out, take advantage of the unmeasured and uncertain meaning of the two words to cause weaker ones in understanding of the Scriptures to think that Moses wrote a divorce law authorizing divorce for every cause that might be conceived by the carnal mind. Then they turn over to the New Testament, particularly to Matthew 19:9, and deceive many by making believe that Jesus therein cut the divorce precept of Moses down from every cause to one cause. But all of that is erroneous. As previously stated, Moses gave the divorce precept for the one cause only, and in Matthew 19:9 Jesus told the Pharisees exactly what that one cause was. But the deceiver, the carnal and the sensual, knows that his deception would be found out if it were known generally that Moses authorized divorce with right to marry another for the cause of fornication only. One who knows this would be hard to deceive concerning what Jesus said in Matthew 19:9, for one having little understanding of the Scriptures would know that in Matthew 19:9 Jesus was not giving a divorce precept which was identically the same as was previously given by Moses, which Jesus said was not so. But in order to deceive the unsuspecting and make them believe that Jesus gave a divorce precept for one cause, they must first make them believe that Moses wrote his divorce precept for every cause. But any reader of a little understanding knows that what Moses wrote as cause for divorce is what Jesus said was not so from the beginning.
It becomes apparent upon a little study of English history from the time of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to, and including, the reign of James I, under whose authority our King James version of the Bible was translated, that there was a motive in giving a weak and indefinite translation to the divorce precept of Moses.
However much we may esteem and value our King James version of the Bible, it is a fact nevertheless, that its translation was at least an indirect result of a king's lust for new wives. Henry VIII was first married to Catherine of Aragon. She was the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen of Spain who fitted Christopher Columbus with ships and provisions with which he set sail resulting in the discovery of America. Catherine was the widow of Henry's older brother, Arthur, and she was six years older than Henry. After Henry ascended the throne he tired of Catherine, becoming infatuated with Anne Boleyn, lady of honor to Queen Catherine. He applied to the Pope in 1528 for a divorce from Catherine, pretending to be convinced that his marriage to Catherine was illegal. His application was denied, but he was determined to have his way. This he accomplished by having his Arch-bishop Crammer, together with other high church authorities in England declare the Church of England independent of the Roman Church. Crammer had previously pleased Henry saying that the case should be tried, not before the Pope, but tried "according to the word of God."
Thus the English church separated from the church of Rome, and Henry got his divorce from Catherine and married Anne Boleyn. But he was not long satisfied. He had Anne Boleyn executed on a charge, believed trumped up, of infidelity. Henry VIII married one after another until he had had six wives. The charges of infidelity to the marriage vow, were believed to be trumped up, just about as men in the churches are doing throughout this country at the present time.
We now come to James I, under whose authority the King James Bible was translated. He was the only child of Mary, Queen of Scots, and was born in the midst of scandal. He is said to have been a weak king and cowardly, subject to flattery and favorites. He forbade English Separatists from meeting in their homes, requiring all to attend the Church of England. He was the king under whose authority the poor Separatists were harassed and persecuted, causing the Pilgrims to flee to Holland and from place to place from the year 1607 to 1620 when, on September 6, they set sail in the Mayflower with 102 persons aboard for Plymouth Rock. It was after these Pilgrims had fled from England and before they landed at Plymouth Rock that the Bible was translated under the authority of King James.
In this history we see that it was in order to accommodate a wicked king to marry a new wife, which he did again and again until he had married six, that the Church of England was established as the state church, and that it was under this authority that our version of the Bible was translated. Consequently, it appears as little wonder that on the divorce question the translation made under this authority was weak and indefinite. It is only human nature to avoid calling attention to corruption in its own tent.
Let us study the divorce precept of Moses, particularly the two words debar ervah rendered "some uncleanness" in the English version of the Bible. The rendering should have been strong and definite because the originals justify a strong rendering.
The word "some" in the divorce law of Moses is from the original dabar. It means act, affair, matter or thing. The word "uncleanness" is from the Hebrew word ervah. The word uncleanness is far short of its equivalent. Throughout the Old Testament the word ervah makes reference to sexual intercourse. The word is found in the original Hebrew text 51 times and in every case it makes reference to the same kind of thing. It means literal nudity, especially of the organs of procreation, being vividly descriptive inasmuch that, if the word were understood, it would he immodest and obscene when spoken in common conversation.
Of the fifty-one times the word ervah is found in the original of the Old Testament, it is translated nakedness forty-eight times; shame one time; unclean one time; uncleanness one time. Turn to the 18th chapter of Leviticus where the word nakedness appears in nearly every verse. Each time the word nakedness appears in that chapter it is from the same word in the original. Let the reader observe the use of the word together with the subject matter and context and its meaning will be clearly seen. Then turn to Ezek. 16:36 and 23:29, also to Nahum 3:5, and note the word nakedness in each text and remember that it is from the word ervah in each case.
There are other texts in which the same Hebrew word is translated nakedness in which the context throws light on the true meaning of the word, but the citations given should convince one who is open to the truth on this subject.
The third phase of this question to--To whom was it given? That is, To whom did Moses give his divorce precept? In Matthew 19:8, Jesus, speaking directly to the Pharisees, said, "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives." The "you" were Pharisees, hard-hearted unregenerates; unbelievers; great pretenders of religion, zealous and moral observers of the law of Moses, but unjust and without law of God in their hearts. To their class Moses gave the divorce precept for the cause of fornication with right to marry another. But from the beginning it was not so, said Jesus. On both occasions (Mark 10:5; Matt. 19:9) when the Pharisees tempted Jesus concerning divorce, He told them that because of the hardness of their hearts Moses wrote them that precept. Until this day the divorce precept of Most is the only divorce precept given with right to marry another, and it was for the cause of fornication only, and for the hard-hearted only; the unjust who know not the Lord. [Even this precept was for Israel only and ended at the death of Christ.--Ed.]
Now, Jesus having put the Pharisees to silence on both occasions, for the time being, let us consider what the disciples said to Jesus and what Jesus said to them concerning the same matter, observing the difference. The disciples had stood by on both occasions when the Pharisees tempted Jesus, hearing what He said to the Pharisees. And on both occasions, after the Pharisees had been put to silence and apparently had departed from their presence, the disciples asked Jesus again concerning the same matter. (Matt. 19:10; Mark 10:10)
After the disciples had heard Jesus tell the Pharisees that divorce was not so, not even that which Moses wrote, and that the husband and wife are no more twain, the disciples said (Matt. 19:10), "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." What the disciples said shows what they were thinking, namely, that if marriage was so indissoluble as Jesus had said, it was not good for a man to marry at all; that the risk of being in bondage to a lewd woman from whom they could not free themselves would be too great. The same kind of thinking is general among the people, even among professing Christians until this day. It is common human reasoning, but altogether contrary to the law of God. The disciples knew not at that hour what they knew later, which is that the husband is the head of the wife and the savior of the body, even as Christ is the Head and Savior of the church. (Eph. 5:23)
But Jesus said to the disciples, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given." That is, no man can understand the matter except it be given him to understand it. Paul said, (Eph. 5:32) "This is a great mystery." Because it is a great mystery, no man can understand the example Christ and the Church is to husband and wife until it is given him to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God. To understand it, one must be able to understand the very principles of Christ, what He is, what He did, and His manner of doing it. But it was given the disciples in due time to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
If we are called to be disciples, let us take heed to what the Lord said to His disciples as recorded in Mark 10:11-12. If we be of their calling, Jesus was talking to us too. In the house, the Lord tells His disciples what is so. It was this: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and shall marry another commiteth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put way her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery." (Mark 10:11-12) Thus Jesus tells us in absolute terms that, in the church, the house in which He abides, that one who puts away his wife and marries another, or the wife who puts away her husband and marries another, commits adultery. Definitely, the Lord says they are adulterers. And Paul told the church at Corinth and the churches of the Galatians that adulterers shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19-21) If it is true, and it is, that adulterers shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and that they who put away their wives or their husbands and marry others are adulterers, then they who do this thing are unworthy and cannot abide in the house of the Lord. They are without (Rev. 22:15) and cannot get in (I Cor. 6:9). Their names may be enrolled as members of the church, but they are without and cannot get in.
Erroneous and Contradictory Interpretations
Why do men who profess to know the Lord contradict what Jesus said to His disciples (Mark 10:11-13) when they try to interpret what He said to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:9?
When men interpret a part of the Scriptures in a manner which contradicts some other part of the Scriptures on the same matter, we know that their interpretation is erroneous. When the correct interpretation is made on any matter it will not contradict every interpretation that can possibly be made of some other part of the Scripture on the same matter. When men interpret Matthew 19:9 to be a divorce precept given by Jesus for those who bring His doctrine in deeds as well as words, they most certainly contradict all possible interpretations to be made of Mark 10:11-12. In that text, Jesus said plainly that whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. Luke records the same in regard to the husband putting away his wife, and in just as definite terms, saying, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery." (Luke 16:18) And Luke brings out another phase. It is, "And whosoever marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery." And then in very definite language, Paul in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 witnesses with Mark and Luke, saying, "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." Then if there was nothing else to make it clear to the student of the Scripture that Jesus in Matt. 19:9 was giving the correct interpretation of the divorce law of Moses, and one tried to interpret that text to make believe that it is a divorce precept given by Jesus, he most certainly will contradict all these other texts. ALL these make it clear that if a man or woman divorce wife or husband, or if they marry a divorced person, they commit adultery. But, as we have already shown, Jesus in Matt. 19:9 gave no divorce precept but told the Pharisees only that which Moses wrote as cause for divorce, and that for hardness of heart.
But when we interpret the Scriptures on divorce to say that the man who puts away his wife, or the woman who puts away her husband, or the man or woman who marries a divorced person, all commit adultery, we say the same that the Scriptures say. There are no exceptions. All of them, according to Jesus, commit adultery. Yet adulterers seek to justify themselves by interpreting Matt. 19:9 to be a divorce precept given by Jesus Himself in contradiction with what He said on those occasions recorded by Mark and Luke, and also by Paul.
Jesus said definitely that divorce was not so. Then when a man turns to Matt. 19:9 seeking justification in putting away his wife and marrying another contrary to what is so, he joins company with the Pharisees. He must go into the company of Pharisees in order for the "you" to include him, too. But when he does that, he can no longer be called a Christian even though he does give lip service to Christ. He is one of the kind of whom Jesus spake when He said, "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me." (Matt. 15:8) Such men and women contradict all the scriptures on marriage and adultery when they interpret Matt. 19:9 as if it were a divorce precept given by Jesus. And of course all interpretations of that text which contradicts, adds to, annuls, or takes from the very definite statement of Jesus, are erroneous and licentious. Men who make this contradictory and false interpretation do it usually with a motive, to accommodate their carnal lust and cloak themselves with the law for self-justification.
But "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Gal. 5:4) Christ is of no effect unto that man or woman who goes to the divorce precept of Moses, as stated by Jesus in Matt. 19:9, because in so doing they seek to be justified by the law. Such persons see not the figure in marriage nor its fulfillment in Christ, neither show the faith of Jesus Christ in their works, but rather the faith and the works of Anti-Christ. Instead of looking upon the righteousness of Christ for their justification, they look to the faults of their wives and the failure of the law for justification. It is the same as saying that Christ will cleave to the Church, His bride, if the church will save herself from sin; whereas the truth is that Christ presented Himself with a glorious church, and not that the church presented herself unto Christ; the same as saying that the Church gave herself unto Christ, and not that Christ gave Himself for the Church; the same as saying that the Church must make herself glorious, and not that Christ made the Church glorious. The example of Christ is nothing to them. They are too blind, being blinded by their own lust, to behold the Holy example. Thus the blind leaders of the blind with hypocrites and Pharisees all fall into the ditch together.
In connection with other passages of Scripture on the divorce question, let us examine what Jesus said to the disciples in Matt. 5:31-32. Men blinded by their own lust mistake this to be a divorce precept with right to marry another. But not so. The only thing said about marrying another is to brand it adultery. And in that text, it is stated that if a man puts away his wife for any cause except that of fornication, he causes her to commit adultery. Thus the Lord put the blame upon the husband when his wife commits adultery.
In that text, verse 31 makes reference to the divorce precept of Moses. Then let us take notice of how the 32nd verse begins. This verse begins with a conjunction, but unlike Matt. 19:9, the conjunction is but--"But I say unto you." Having spoken of the divorce precept of Moses, Jesus is to say something different. This something different is to place the blame upon the husband who puts away his wife for any cause except that of fornication, the blame of being the cause of his wife committing adultery which she may afterward commit; and even if she be already guilty of adultery, he being the head, he must share the blame. The exception is that the husband is not charged with being the cause of his wife's sin if he puts her away for fornication. But fornication is the sin of an unmarried person, and the husband who puts away his wife for fornication puts her away for her premarriage sin of which he may not have knowledge until after he is married to her. We will discuss the difference between fornication and adultery later.
But why is a man charged with being the cause of his wife committing adultery if he puts her away for any cause except fornication? And why is he not charged with being the cause if he puts her away for fornication? If a man marries a wife who is a virgin at the time of marriage, the responsibility is upon him to save her from falling into shame, to nourish and cherish her, loving her with an effectual love which will cause her to love him and to lean upon him. If he fails and she fails he must share the blame. Then if he puts her away, and she marries another man, her husband who put her away is charged with the cause. But if she be guilty of fornication, of which he has no knowledge until after he is married to her, she is already fallen and he is not charged with the cause. In such cases, according to Jesus in Matt. 5:32, he may put her away. But he still has no Scriptural authority to marry another, except by the law of Moses. Christ gives him no right to marry another. Once he has married he has no further right to marry another as long as the one to whom he is married lives. Not even when the one he married is a fornicator. Besides, if he is no better judge of a virtuous woman in the first instance, how may he judge of a better one in the second?
Then if Jesus did not say to His disciples on this occasion that they were free to marry another, and on all other occasions He said plainly that they commit adultery if they do so, who has the right to read something into this text that is not in it? The Lord said (Rev. 22:18) that "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." And if any man reads something into this text that is not in it, he is adding to it. And the plagues are to follow. And when they read a new wife into what Jesus said in Matt. 5:32, they also take away from what He said in Mark 10:11-12, and in Luke 16:18, for they will be saying that it is not committing adultery although Jesus said it is. Then besides the adding of plagues, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.
In Matt. 5:32 Jesus taught the disciples that they might put away their wives for the cause of fornication. But they must remain unmarried because Jesus gave them no right to marry another. In such cases, they must make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake or else they forsake the kingdom of heaven. No; indeed Jesus came to fulfill all righteousness and not to dissolve the righteous law of the Father by giving a divorce precept, neither limited nor unlimited.
Fornication and Adultery, the Difference
The words fornication and adultery are synonymous in their primary meaning, both words naming unlawful relations of male and female. But the meaning of the two words diverge from their common point of synonymy to a difference which few students and almost no casual reader of the Bible have considered. After their primary meaning, the two words tell different accounts which mean a great deal from a Scriptural standpoint. And in our study of the Scriptures on the subject of marriage, divorce and the so-called cause therefor, we must keep in mind the difference or we may never come to an understanding of the matter.
Fornication is the sin of an unmarried person as previously stated, and in our study of the Scriptures on the subject we must remember this fact in every case where the word is used. Even when we come to study such texts as Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, in which reference is made to the wife, a married person, being guilty of fornication, it must be kept in mind that although a wife is a married woman the sin to which reference is made is that she committed before her marriage. Wives who are guilty of fornication are those who had been seduced prior to their marriage. When Joseph discovered that Mary was with child, and was minded to put her away privily (Matt. 1:18, 19), he thought she was guilty of fornication. Before that time and since, there have been many cases as Joseph at the first thought he had become entangled with, but never another virgin with child. Consequently, until the Father had made known to Joseph, he could think only that Mary was a fornicator. Men are fornicators, too, if they have known a woman prior to their marriage.
But adultery is the sin of a married person, man or woman. When a married man, or a married woman has unlawful sexual relations with one other than wife or husband, his or her sin is adultery. It is erroneous to charge a married man or a married woman with fornication except when reference is made to their pre-marriage sin. Their sin, when they sin in this respect, always is to be called adultery. Throughout the Scriptures, when the word adultery is used in reference to one's sin, with or without further explanation, it means that the one who committed the sin was a married person at the time of the deed. Thus the words adultery and fornication both tell their respective facts in this respect.
When a man or a woman divorces wife or husband and marries another it is called adultery, altogether the same as it would have been if they had cohabited in the second case without divorce because their second marriage is contrary to the law of God and is not holy matrimony. It is adultery exactly the same except in the one it is usually committed in secret without sanction of the state and in the other it is made public by authority of the state. But, scripturally, it is not marriage; their first marriage is still binding and, therefore the second is adultery.
When both parties to an unlawful sexual intercourse are unmarried persons, the sin is fornication on the part of both. When both parties are married, and the two are not husband and wife, the sin is adultery on the part of both. When one is married and the other is unmarried, it is adultery on the part of the one who is married and fornication on the part of the one who is unmarried. In the Bible and out of it whenever words are selected discriminately and used correctly, as in the Scriptures, the words fornication and adultery always are used in these senses. By this rule it is known that the woman taken in adultery (John 8:4) was a married woman. And by this rule, it is known that the man referred to in I Corinthians 5:15 who had his father's wife and committed "such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles," was an unmarried man; and that on the part of his father's wife, the sin of adultery. So on throughout the entire Bible.
According to Paul (I Cor. 7:2), a man avoids fornication by having his own wife. In the first place, one is not so sorely tempted by his own incontinency when he has his own wife. In the second place, even if he sins it is not fornication, but adultery. Consequently he does very definitely avoid fornication.
There is no text in the Bible neither in the Old nor the New Testaments, where there is so much as the shadow of authority for a man to put away his wife, or for the woman to put away her husband, for the cause of adultery. One may put away his wife, or the wife her husband, for the cause of fornication only. And then, no authority was given by the Lord to marry another, but they must remain unmarried. They are no more twain, but may be put away from bed and board only. Only Moses wrote a divorce precept with right to marry another, and Jesus said that what Moses wrote was not so. "What?," said Paul to the Corinthians (I Cor. 6:16), "know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith be shall be one flesh." Hence one body, one flesh, and no more twain, no not even for the cause of harlotry; for God hath said it, said Paul.
The Pharisees of the Shammai school, the strictest of the Jews on divorce with the exception of the few just men like Joseph and John the Baptist, interpreted the divorce precept of Moses to include adultery the same as fornication. Like men in our day who do not know Christ and what He is to the church; not able to understand the holy example, nor that the husband is the savior of the body according to the holy example of Christ and the church; not knowing that the husband is responsible and must share the blame if his wife falls; the Pharisees thought adultery should be as weighty cause for divorce and right to marry another as fornication. And they so interpreted the law. But Jesus knew the law when He was but twelve years old, much better than the Pharisees ever knew it. (Luke 2:46, 47) And in Matthew 19:9 He told them exactly what Moses wrote as cause for divorce. The disciples, upon hearing Jesus say that even what Moses wrote was not so, were surprised and said, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." (Matt. 19:10)
Paul used the words fornication and adultery in Gal. 5:19 in a manner which shows that there is a difference in their meaning. Said he: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness," etc. Jesus used both words in Matthew 15:19. It is unlikely that Jesus or Paul would have used both words as they did if there had been no difference in their meaning.
The lip-service Christian who has already, or who plans to gratify his carnal lust for a new wife and to justify himself by accusing his wife of unfaithfulness, usually calls it fornication when it is adultery even when his wife has been unfaithful, doing so to make believe that Jesus in Matthew 19:9 gave him a right to marry a new wife. Hypocrites think it will cloak their carnal course to use the word that Jesus used in Matthew 19:9. Thereby many are deceived, for not many know the difference in the meaning of the two words, and few indeed would not think other than adultery would be equal cause for divorce, not knowing the responsibility of the husband as head and savior of the body and that he must share the blame when his wife commits adultery, even that Jesus in Matthew 5:32 said he is the cause.
The reason adultery is not the same as fornication for one to put away his wife is that the husband is the head and is responsible as savior of the body (Eph. 5:2), and if he does not save the body, he is at fault jointly with his wife, and he must share the blame with her. But in a case of fornication, the pre-marriage sin, the sin was committed before his responsibility as husband began and he, therefore, is not required to share the blame equally with his wife. But even in the case of fornication, he is given no right under the law of God to marry another.
Because the husband and wife, when joined together in marriage, are of one flesh, if one falls they both fall. The husband is called the head and the wife is called the body (Eph. 5:23), and it is impossible for the body to be guilty and the head innocent, or for the head to be guilty and the body innocent. In fact, the head must suffer more than the other, when the body commits a crime. Though a man commits murder with his hands, his head suffers most under sentence. And Christ, the Head of the church, suffered most for the sins of His bride. He suffered death for the sins of His bride, and that without a murmur; not an accusation. "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearers, so opened He not His mouth." (Acts 8:32) In giving the example, Jesus failed not; in keeping the example, the husband must not fail.
Love is the Constraining Influence Which Saves the Body
To what degree does a man love his wife when he loves her even as Christ also loved the church?
In his epistle to the Ephesians Paul said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it." (Eph. 5:25) But before one can understand to what degree a man loves his wife when he loves her even as Christ also loved the Church, he must know the Lord, and know what it means for the Lord to love. Consequently, no man can understand it unless he shall first know the Savior, even Jesus Christ; and to him it be given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. But if he has been made a partaker of the Holy Spirit, and has tasted of the good word of God and of the powers of the world to come, thus brought to the knowledge of the truth, being born again, he should understand to what degree Christ loved the Church, His bride, and then he may understand to what degree a husband loves his wife when he loves her "even as Christ also loved the church." The love of Christ for the Church is the yardstick by which the love of a husband for his wife is to be measured. One wise in these things may grasp the implication, knowing the power and influence of love to constrain the beloved.
Love is the most powerful influence in the world. Love is the master key to the whole matter; it is the heart of successful marriage. There is no other influence in the world like that of love. In I Cor. 13:1-8, the word charity is our English translation of the original Greek word agape which means love. Agape is from agapoa which in turn is from agan which means to love in a social or moral sense. Therefore Paul said, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal." So, then, if a man preaches ever so well, and with his mouth his doctrine be as of an angel for truth and of men in eloquence and his discourse characterized by force, art and persuasiveness, and he be without love in a social or moral sense, his fine speaking will become as nothing. And though one has the gift of prophecy, and understands all mysteries, and all knowledge, and has all faith so that he could remove mountains, but has not this love, he is nothing; nothing as a minister of Christ.
"Love is of God." (I John 4:7) It suffers long, is kind an envies not; it vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And while prophecies shall fail, tongues shall cease, and knowledge shall vanish away, love, called charity in the text, shall never fail. (1 Cor. 13: 1-8)
Love is a great mystery; so great a mystery in fact that in the absence of love no one knows what it is. Without love, one may mistake lust for love; and without love one is without power to restrain lust. "But the love of Christ constraineth us," said Paul in 2 Cor. 5:14. That is to say that the love of Christ both compels and restrains us. It is a power that forces us to produce unnaturally, and a power which holds us back.
Love is involuntary. We love God because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) No man knows how to begin to love; neither can he lay it down. One who loves, loves before he knew it; and one who loves loves regardless of what he knows. It is a power that will move a man and it will restrain a man from moving. Love controls man; not man controlling love. Love originates and is sustained without price or barter; it acts independently of the beloved. It is a power far greater than any power at man's disposal. One who loves will labor day and night for that which he loves and will put himself in danger of death for it, even for money if money is what he loves. But that which is referred to in 1 Tim. 6:10 as the love of money is not true love but is lust which true love will overcome.
If a man love his children he will exhaust his own body to provide for their welfare. He will give his own body a living sacrifice for the welfare and security of those he loves. Let a child he loves commit a capital offense against the law, the father, still loving that child, will exhaust his savings, trusting thereby to save his child from punishment proportionate to his crime. When he is without other resources, he will mortgage or sell the roof which shelters his more honorable children to secure funds which he will also spend in behalf of the law-breaking son. His neighbors marvel and say one to another that they would not do so foolish a thing. But they do not know what they would do until they are tried. Love will move a father, mother, brother, or sister to do things that seem unwise to one who does not love as they love. No one knows how far he will go for love's sake until the trial comes.
Then the husband who loves his wife "even as Christ also loved the church," will give his life, or suffer in any way for her sake. One who loves his wife even as Christ also loved the church will not hate her even though she does sin against him. But if a husband so loves his wife, and is wise, nourishing and cherishing her after the example of Christ, his love will draw his wife to him so completely that she is not likely to sin against him to the degree of giving her body over to another man. To Eve God said, "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and, thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." (Gen. 3:16) What God said to Eve, He said to every wife. The wife leans upon her husband, and her desire is to him just as God said it shall be. And the husband shall rule over his wife. But not by brute force. He shall rule by the power of love; it is going to be effectual if he loves his wife "even as Christ also loved the church." His wife desires to be ruled over when his rule is in this manner. No, a wife thus ruled over by her husband is not likely to give her body over to another man; but even if she might, and her husband ever loved her "even as Christ also loved the church," her sin will not kill his love. Christ's love for the church is not conditional upon the doings of the church, neither is a husband's love conditional upon the doings of his wife if he loves her even as Christ also loved the church. Because Christ loved the Church with an everlasting, indestructible love, He will never divorce His bride and take to Himself another even if there are "virgins without number" (Song of Solomon 6:8); and we might say regardless of the sin of His bride except for the fact that he has "presented it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:27) "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He hath loveth his wife loveth himself." (Verse 28)
But no man ever loved his wife "even as Christ also loved the church" just because he read it in the Bible. Love is not optional as the reading of the Bible. Love is of God (1 John 4:7), and it must come from God. One may love and not know how he became a lover. But one thing we know is that love, genuine love which God gives, is as indestructible as the love of God Himself. Solomon said, "Love is strong as death." (S. S. 8:6) When a thing is strong as death it is stronger than anything good or evil which man has done. Man cannot prevent death, neither can he kill love. Love being strong as death, who can know the strength of love?
Christ's love for the church was as strong as death. Let us "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." (I John 3:1) His love for the church was undying, indestructible, unfailing, undiminishing. He loved with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3) He loved His own to the end. (John 13:1) Nothing in life, nothing in death, nothing present or to come; neither angels, principalities nor powers; nothing above or below, nor any other creature whether good or bad, is or shall he able to destroy or weaken the love which is in Jesus Christ for His beloved. (Rom. 8:38, 39)
Husbands, do you love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church? Would you give yourselves for your wives, even as Christ gave Himself for His bride? If so, you will never divorce them, but you would lift them up instead of letting them fall, and thus you would testify of Christ in your works as well as words. If you do not love your wives "even as Christ also loved the church," you are not a worthy witness of Christ in the first place and when the time comes you will prove it. If you love your wives even as Christ also loved the church, do you think your love is conditional upon the doing of your wives? What do you think of Christ? Do you think His love is conditional upon the doing of His bride? or do you think the love of His bride depended upon Christ first loving her? Behold the manner of Christ's love for the church, His bride, and then answer according to what think ye!
Love is echo-like. That is the way we love God echo-like. It is because He first loved us. Love causes the beloved to love the lover. In this connection, Jesus said, "Sinners love those that love them." (Luke 6:32) In these words Jesus Himself taught that love is echo-like. Love is one thing that begets its kind even in sinners. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Gal. 6:7) And "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." (2 Cor. 9:6) The husband who nourishes and cherishes his wife sparingly, shall reap sparingly. But he who loves, nourishes and cherishes his wife bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. Therefore, the husband who loves his wife "even as Christ also loved the church," and nourisheth and cherisheth his wife even as the Lord the church, shall as surely have a wife who loves him, and whose desire shall be unto him; a wife who will not give her body over to another, for love will constrain her.
In his echo, a man hears a resounding of honorable words when his own words are honorable. When vicious and dishonorable, he hears his kind. Christ sowed love in the hearts of his people and He reaped love of them. The husband who sows love will reap love. If he loves his wife, even as Christ also loves the church, he shall reap love of his wife.
The very first effect of love is to draw the beloved to the lover. Then it is a safeguard to save the beloved from being drawn away. Love which may be compared to the love of Christ for the church is stronger than lust. Love is the greatest fortification against the tempter. Whatsoever remains of the imperfect in man shall be subdued by love because love will bear all things, and endure all things; and is as strong as death. It will hide sins and forgive transgressions. Love in no instance was ever overcome and succeeded by hate; neither will love ever turn scandalmonger against his beloved.
Paul said, "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church." (Eph. 5:28, 29) A man who loves his wife as his own body will never sue her at law for a divorce, scandalize her name, or in any way make her a public example. Instead, a man will endeavor to hide his own shame; and if his body sins, he will try to shield it. Does he love his wife enough to do the same for her? If not, he does not love his wife as his own body. And if he loves his wife as his own body, he nourishes and cherishes it. To nourish and cherish requires much patience, but love suffers long; and love constrains both to action and to restrain from improper action. In all these things, Christ and the church is the holy example--the yardstick, so to speak.
When the Lord Jesus Christ calls sinners to testify of Him, He makes us able to follow Him--to be His disciples. When He sent His disciples without purse, and scrip, and shoes, they lacked nothing (Luke 22:35), and until this day they will lack nothing. "But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." (Verse 36) Would God call a man to preach His gospel and leave that man unable to testify of the Lord Jesus Christ in his walk as well as his words? I do not believe so. By our works we prove whether this work has been done in our hearts--whether we have been called. The Lord most surely will make His ministers to love their wives so that in their lives they testify of Christ. If we be called, we must begin to show it in our house. Those who go forth in the name of Christ, but provide not for their own house, are worse than an infidel, having denied the faith in a manner that it may be seen. (1 Tim. 5:8) A man who does not love his own wife "even as Christ also loved the church" cannot provide for his own house, and what he does in the pretense of Christ will hurt the church worse than anything an infidel can do. But he who loves his wife "even as Christ also loved the church," will provide for his own, and especially for those of his own house. Let Christians have nothing to do with hypocrites, who are those that say, but do not according to that which they say.
Husband is Head and Savior of the Body
The next question to be considered is, "How is the husband the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church?"
In Ephesians 5:23 Paul said, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body."
In I Corinthians 11:3, the apostle said that the head of the woman is the man, and the head of the man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God.
In the sense that the husband is called the head in these texts, he is the leader, the one in responsibility, as the director; the one charged with shaping the course of, the director, etc. The word head in the text is from the Greek kephale. It is the same Greek word from which the word head in the following texts was translated: "This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner (Acts 4:11); "and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church" (Eph. 1:22); and "The stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner" (I Peter 2:7); and in many other similar texts.
The head of an institution or corporation has the greater responsibility. It is the same whether the institution be public or private, whether spiritual or of this world. The head is responsible for the coordination and harmonization of all departments and assistants. Failure is chargeable to the head in everything. Therefore, the husband as the head in marital relations is responsible for its success, or chargeable for its failure. If it succeeds, it is to his honor, and is evidence that he has done that which was his duty to do; but if it fails, it is evidence of his dishonor.
The husband is the head "even as Christ is the head of the church." Christ is the living example for everything that pertains to the life of a Christian including the relationship of the husband to his wife. If one knows Christ and the meaning of Christ as head of the church, he is capable of understanding how the husband is the head of the wife. And if one cannot understand how the husband is the head, he cannot understand how Christ is head of the church, either. But one who has been born again is thereby enabled to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), and is able to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God even as the Lord said to His disciples, "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God." (Luke 8:10) And if we have been born of the Spirit, and made partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted of the good word of God and of the powers of the world to come, and have thus been brought to a knowledge of the truth, it is given unto us to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, including the comparison of husband and wife to Christ and the Church, which Paul called "a great mystery."
The man is the head in all matrimonial relations, from the beginning of courtship to the end of the connubial contract. The man must begin the courtship and he must carry it through. The woman cannot begin a courtship that will be lasting. A man resents a woman's attentions in that respect; it is nature's way of taking care of the home. A normal man will automatically guard his God-given prerogative. Man desires to honor the woman, and likes to strive to draw the woman to him.
Male and female, when joined together in marriage, are one in the word of God. God has said they should be one, and so it shall be for God cannot lie. (Heb. 6:18) Their oneness is complete in all their connubial bond. In their whole connubial relationship they are so completely one that any sin against their marriage state stands against both, but especially against the head or husband upon whom the greater responsibility is laid. Before their espousal they are two and one may be guilty and the other innocent, but once they become espoused, they can no longer become guilty in part. The husband is no more innocent if his wife falls than an individual person's head, if with his hands that individual commits murder. In fact, the hands would not commit murder except the head first be at fault. So it is in the case of a wife falling; the head is first at fault. The head, therefore, is responsible for the maintenance of the marriage bond.
The husband is called the head, and he is called the savior of the body, always with Christ as the example. He who made them male and female saw fit in His own providence to place the responsibility upon the husband. The husband must cleave to his wife. (Gen. 2:24) He must rule over the wife. (Gen. 2:24) He must nourish and cherish the wife. (Eph5:28, 29) He must give honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel. (I Peter 3:7)
In all civil matters, one whose neglect permits the injury of another, is held to be at fault and liable for damages. Likewise, if the husband neglects his wife, and she falls, he is liable for the damage. In civil matters, to escape punishment for criminal neglect he must be proved insane, likewise, a husband to escape punishment for such neglect as that of letting his wife fall ought to be proved of unsound mind. And thus proved, he should not be permitted to marry another.
But in the sense that the husband is the head of the wife, and if he be one who has been conformed to the image of Christ and called to testify of Him, he is one whom the Lord has put in his right mind and he is without excuse. Such an one is neither idiot nor insane after the Lord has put him in his right mind. It is given to such to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Christ.
The head and the body, the husband and the wife, are one because God said they shall be. And Jesus said they are no more twain. And we all know that it is impossible to separate the head from the body or the body from the head, and both live on. No matter what the body does or what the head does, the body and the head cannot be made two again and both continue to live. Even harlotry is not enough to make them two again after once they are married. Paul said, "What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith He, shall be one flesh." (1 Cor. 6:16) Paul asked God to forbid that he should take the members of Christ and make them members of an harlot (ver. 15), but even though Paul would not make them members of an harlot, it is still the case that he who is joined to an harlot is one flesh.
From what Paul said, it seems that the church at Corinth had a case wherein the husband was charging his wife with unfaithfulness in marriage and claiming that he, the head, was no longer joined to her in the connubial bond. And it seems that the church, or some of the members, were being deceived by that kind of argument. We have seen such things in the church many times in our day. But Paul reproves them because of their lack of knowledge, saying, "What? know ye not," etc. And then he makes it clear that no matter how serious the wife's sin may be, even harlotry, they are still one flesh.
Paul reminded the church at Corinth concerning that case that God has said they are one flesh, and the oneness is so complete and indissoluble that even in such a case they still are one flesh. The head (husband) had no claim of innocency in such a case.
It is common in our day, just as Paul indicated was being done at Corinth, for husbands and their carnal supporters, to accuse the wife of harlotry and that therefore the husband is justified in putting the wife away and marrying another. But the husband, as head, is duty-bound to nourish and cherish the wife; and if he does it, he will save his wife from such. If he is a husband in the full sense of the word, his wife will be drawn to him and her desire will be to him. If she fails, he is not true as husband and head, and he must share the blame. And being at fault he is not without sin and may not cast a stone.
But those who know not Christ do not understand the great mystery and parable of Christ and the Church and they are apt to teach carnality rather than Christianity, and preach a doctrine of disgrace rather than the doctrine of grace.
Head is at Fault When the Body is Not Saved
Some Examples Given:
The next question is, "If the husband is the savior of the body even as Christ is Savior of the Church (Eph. 5: 23), but does not save the body, is he (the husband) to be held blameless and the whole fault be charged to the wife when she falls in shame?"
When God made the woman, and had given her to the man to be an helpmeet for him (Gen. 2:20), and Adam called her woman, saying, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (verse 23), God said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (verse 24) Jesus, referring to this law, said, "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 his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh." (Matt. 19:4-5)
The only reference to the wife saving the husband is what is said to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 7:12-16) concerning the unbelieving wife and the unbelieving husband saying, "For what knowest thou, O wife, whether you shall save your husband or how knowest thou, O man, whether you shall save your wife?" Paul said the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife. Of course Paul taught that for the unbelieving husband to be sanctified by the wife, the wife must be a believer, or one who has been born again and brought to the knowledge of the truth. In such cases, it is given to the wife to know the great mystery concerning Christ and the Church but to the husband it is not given. To the wife it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, but to the husband it is not given. Then, in respect to Christ, more is required of the wife than is required of the husband according to Paul. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." (Luke 12:48) "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes" (same verse). It often is the case that the wife has been born again and has seen the kingdom of God but the husband still is in his natural state and dead in sins, not born again and cannot see the kingdom of God. In such cases, according to the lesson Paul teaches here, the great responsibility is upon the wife to sanctify the husband in order that their union may be in harmony with the example of Christ and the Church.
But according to Paul (I Cor. 7:12) this is something he said and is not the law of God. In other words, it was Paul's ways of reasoning of the gospel. Paul reasoned that the law of God must have been written in one's mind before he or she can understand the vital principles of the truth. The law of God laid upon the man the responsibility of cleaving to his wife and thereby keeping the marriage bond unbroken. This responsibility being laid upon the man, he must, as Adam did, take the curse upon himself if his wife falls.
The law of marriage indissoluble as it is, by human reasoning seems hard pressing in some cases. Such as the wicked and slothful servant who put not his lord's money to the exchangers (Matt. 25:24-26) are always ready to say that the Lord is a hard man, and that His law is too strict in marriage. But there is a way appointed for everything to work, and everything including marriage works well in that way. But we must know the way before we may know how to work in the appointed way. We must know Christ before we can work according to His example. And while all men may have heard about Christ, no one knows Christ except he has been born again. In natural things it is through science that the way to do things is found out. In spiritual things, it is by the gift of God through the Holy Spirit that men know the way of Christ. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14: 26)
While marriage is for the children of this world, yet when the children of this world are called to follow Christ, it is given unto them to know the great mystery of the holy example, Christ and the Church. And being given unto them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, it is given unto them to know the way appointed for marriage to work successfully. And when once he knows that way, he can understand why the husband is charged with the responsibility of cleaving, and what the effect is when the husband "loves his wife . . . even as Christ also loved the church"; and wherein the husband is the head and savior of the body. To be without such knowledge is very definite evidence that one knows neither Christ nor His kingdom; and having such knowledge, but not living according to it, is very definite evidence that one is unworthy of Christ. One who professes such knowledge with is lips, but does not testify to the same in his walk, is a hypocrite.
Yes, the husband who professes to know Christ and the Church must prove it by His works. And in no manner can he speak louder for or against his profession than in the way he lives with his own wife. All the Lord has called from the calling of the twelve disciples down to this very day in which we live are charged with all responsibility as head and savior of the body after the holy example of Christ and the Church, and when one fails he is definitely at fault, and his fault is made manifest when his wife falls. And when he publishes his wife's sin he publishes his own fault.
Let us mention a few cases of what happens when the husband fails in his office as husband. The following are a few of the many cases of which we have had knowledge or which have come to our attention over a period of years.
1. A wife of twenty-nine thought if there had been a law to prevent women from marrying until they are twenty-five, she would not have married the man she did marry, and that she would have been unmarried when she met the man she said she was then madly in love with. She had married at seventeen and said her husband was good and kind to her, but later, she met the other man, and her love then died down to a placid friendship for her husband. She asked this question: Do you think I am doing the wise thing in staying with my husband for the sake of my three children, or have I right to my own life, as they say now?
This was a plain case of the husband having failed to nourish and cherish his wife, not loving her "even as Christ also loved the church." He had not given honor unto her as unto the weaker vessel. And his wife thinking that she was madly in love with the other man was due entirely to her husband's default. The other man had taken advantage of her husband's neglect and had exercised a false influence over her. The other man could not have done this if her husband had been head and savior of the body, loving his wife "even as Christ also loved the church," and manifesting the same by nourishing and cherishing his wife even as Christ the church.
A man-made law which would have forbidden marriage until the woman was twenty-five could not change the nature of this or any other woman nor make any way work except the way God has appointed for marriage to work. Nature remains the same regardless of man-made law. And it is as God said to the woman, "And thy desire shall be to thy husband." But this woman's desire was not to the man to whom she was married. The trouble was that he had not been a husband in the true sense of the word. What this woman needed was a husband who would have been a husband indeed; a husband who would have been head and savior of the body. The husband is to direct and manage with frugality. A husband must be provident and careful in nourishing his wife if he is to be a husband indeed. He must cherish his wife, but he must not be luxurious or lavish in worldly entertainment. To do so would be to make it convenient for his wife's attentions to be drawn from him instead of to him. And that is what had happened in this case. She said her husband had been "good and kind to her." He had consented for her to attend parties, and even to dance with other men. She thought this was being "good and kind," as she said. But far from it. Instead of giving her happiness, the result was unhappiness. The proper nourishment might have been less pleasant at the time, but the long-range effect there would have been a peace of mind and joy this woman knew not.
If this woman's husband had loved her "even as Christ also loved the church," and had been faithful as a husband after the example of Christ as the head and husband of the church, she would have been saved from falling under the influence of the other man. If it had been the other way around, and she had first married the man she then thought she was madly in love with, and had been twenty-five when she married him, and that man had let her do as the first did, and she had come under the influence of the first, she would have thought he was the man she loved. But if her husband had been good to her after the Christian example, she never would have been distressed under the false influence of the other man, and he would have saved her from her fall and consequent unhappiness. Her desire would have been to her husband just as God said to the first, and to all women.
In every such case the husband is at fault in not saving his wife from falling into the evil influence that deceives her and makes her think she loves the other man. Therefore, no matter how far she may go from him, even though she marries the other man, the husband must take the greater portion of the blame. Therefore, he is without Christian authority or precept to marry another. To do so is to deny Christ instead of denying himself for Christ's sake. Unless he can save his wife, and be reconciled to her, he must make himself an eunuch for the kingdom of heaven's sake.
2. This is the case of a preacher whose wife left him and went with another man. The preacher said it was because he was too poor in this world's goods to provide the luxuries she coveted. But it was not her husband's poverty in material things, it was his poverty in that wherein every man may be rich. If he had loved his wife "even as Christ also loved the church," he would have been rich in something more precious than rubies; and her price would have been above the price of rubies. If he had loved her "even as Christ also loved the church," he might have been as poor as Jesus in the things of this world, yet he would have nourished and cherished her after the holy example of Christ and she would have stood the closer to his side. No man's wife ever ran away from him to go with another man just because her husband was poor in this world's goods. Had he loved her "even as Christ also loved the church," and had manifested it to her by nourishing and cherishing her even as Christ the Church, rich or poor, his wife would have loved him, because "Sinners love those that love them," said the Lord. (Luke 6:32) And the woman who loves her husband will not depart from him to go away with another man. When a woman does so it is unfailing evidence that she did not love her husband, and her not loving her husband is unfailing evidence that her husband did not love her "even as Christ also loved the church." The woman's love for her husband is a subordinate love, depending upon whether her husband is an husband indeed.
This preacher went into the divorce court and thence to marriage court holding the hand of another woman and making another vow that he would do in the second case what he vowed he would do in the first but in which he defaulted. He published his wife's sin apparently ignorant of the fact that in doing so he published his own fault. Although he had pretended for years to preach Christ, Who rose for our justification, he now sought to make believe that he was justified because of his wife's sin. And so far as the civil courts and the lack of understanding and the carnal mind are concerned, he was adjudged and justified. But neither the civil law nor the carnal mind are concerned with the law of God, neither are they subject to it. (Rom. 8:7)
In 1 Cor. 9:27 Paul said, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself be a castaway." The preacher whose case we are considering had first failed in his duty as a husband, and then had denied Christ when he obtained a divorce and married another. Then he had failed to keep under his body to bring it into subjection, not making himself an eunuch for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He proved by what he did that his preaching was lip-service only, and that he himself was worthy only to be a castaway.
3. This is the case of a man who claimed to be a believer but that his wife was an unbeliever, and that his wife was not pleased to dwell with him, and that, therefore, he was free to marry another. His case was similar to the one above except there was no charge of immorality against his wife. But he obtained a divorce in the divorce court on the ground of desertion, telling his brethren and neighbors that 1 Corinthians 7:15 gave him the right to divorce his wife because she was an unbeliever and was not pleased to dwell with him. He was soon married to another woman.
The text he claimed gave him authority to marry another wife reads, "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases." He claimed that "Not under bondage in such cases" meant that he was not under his marriage bond. But he had not noticed the last part of that verse and the one following, reading, "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 thy wife?" When this man divorced his unbelieving wife, he made public the fact that he had no concern for her but manifested the fact that he loved her not as Christ loved the Church. Whether his wife was an unbeliever or not, this man was not the believer that he professed to be, for his belief was shown in lip service only, and his profession was therefore that of a hypocrite. He proved himself unworthy of Christ; an adulterer who shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Let him have his part in outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for "The Son of man shall send for his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 13:41-42)
4. This is the case of a man who after a few years of married life decided that he and his wife were hopelessly incompatible, so he left her and went out looking for another, expecting to marry one who was more congruent. He was soon married to another, yet professing to believe on Christ. And with this second wife he found himself more in agreement and his friends thought that surely he had done wisely in putting away the first and marrying another. But they had not considered the fact that it takes two to have a quarrel; neither had they considered the fact that love is forgiving, and that forgiveness blots out grudge; and that one who is a doer of the word will follow Christ's example in such cases. But this man had not done so toward his first wife; with his second he held himself under as he ought to have done with his first but did not.
This man's plea of self-justification was the plea of an hypocrite. He denied Christ in his doings. He even argued that God had not joined him and his first wife together. But in Luke 20:34 Jesus said, "The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage," yet this man decided that he and his first wife had not been given in marriage, and that, therefore, God had not joined them together, and that it was not man putting asunder what God had joined together, but that they were joined only by man and might as well be put asunder by man.
But man had nothing to do with one of them being male and the other female, and as certain as their Maker had made one male and the other female, and that because one was male and the other female, they had married in the first case, they were under the law of God concerning marriage and were "What therefore God hath joined together." God made them male and female, and they married because they were male and female, and under the law of God they were given in marriage and were fully and completely joined together and man neither had nor could put asunder their marriage. God has said "let not," and man cannot make the word of God of no effect.
5. This was the case of a comparatively young couple. The husband desired to finish his education and his young wife agreed to help him. They agreed that she would accept employment in an office as a stenographer while he went away to college. It was the most unwise thing to do because she was left behind while he went away. She was young and in the absence of her husband and in daily contact with other men, Satan had soon tempted her for her own incontinency and she was a victim of neglect. [Editor's Note: One of the greatest evils of these times is the practice of husband and wife, mother and father, following occupations which keep them apart and disrupt the close family life.]
In 1 Corinthians 7:4 Paul said, "The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife." Had they known this, or been duly advised by their parents, this wife would have been saved from her fall, and each would have rendered to the other their due benevolence. (I Cor. 7:3) In marriage, the husband and wife must "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." (I Cor. 7:5) A happy home is worth far more than any college degree.
"Defraud ye not one the other" admonishes to not remain apart in their due marital relation, and "except it he with consent," means that any being away from each other must be by mutual consent, agreement and understanding, and "for a time" means the period or space of time that they may safely restrain each his or her own incontinency. "For a time" may be a longer period for older couples than for younger ones. This is why marriages of so many old men to young women are unhappy. Then, as Paul taught, let them come together again, that Satan tempt them not for their incontinency.
It may be suggested that if this be so, then a widow or when one is compelled to go away for a long period, the wife would be without her due benevolence and being without power over her own body, would be in danger and likely to be overcome by her own incontinency. But the power of love causes one to become strong in such cases through the pain of compassion which we call sympathy and there is a reciprocating influence that braces one up to the end. It is different when it is by force from that which is voluntary. The husband may die comparatively young, and the widow remain unmarried living to a ripe old age as faithful as if her husband was constantly present with her. If he loved her "even as Christ also loved the church," she of course loved him; and in such cases compassion will be constant to the end just as if the husband was daily with her. The same strength may save both the husband and wife on and on when the husband is compelled to go away against their yearnings.
When love exists in their hearts, there is a psychological state of mind causing both husband and wife to live in a constant correlation of their souls and anxiety for the welfare of each other even when they are far and long apart which overcomes and subdues carnal incontinence. Death or enforced absence of either party generates this sympathetic benevolence and it holds forth day and night where there is love which may he compared to the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for His bride, the church. But voluntary absence will not--it cannot use this psychological influence to become active. So let everyone beware when they are planning to be absent voluntarily for a period longer than that referred to by Paul as "for a time." If this danger is disregarded, let the husband whose responsibility it is take the blame upon himself if Satan overcomes and draws himself or his wife away in unfaithfulness--Let the husband know in all cases that he is held responsible as the head and savior of the body.
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